Context : GettingPaidForContent
Hmm. For a moment I thought it's a clever twist on MicroPayments : making donating as easy as possible with something like a one-click "pay this" bookmarklet.
But then I realize that the money is automatically taken as you surf. That pretty much makes it incompatible with my surfing habits. I often start the morning by opening 5 or 6 tabs with some of my favourite blogs, get side-tracked surfing off one of them, and then end up closing the browser three hours later without reading the others.
Presumably IndieKarma is gonna charge me every time I open the page, even when I'm not reading?
The other obvious question is this : if I'm a fan of a blog, aren't I likely to be reading it in an aggregator?
Which raises the even more interesting question : wouldn't some kind of voluntary payment / fandom deal be much more aptly managed in an aggregator? It makes much more sense for an aggregator to count posts than a browser to count visits. And subscribing to a feed already signals a level of commitment.
I think the IndieKarma model might make a lot more sense in aggregator space. Imagine something like bloglines and up the ante a bit. You get 10 dollars when you open your account. Each dollar gets committed to a feed, although the account is still only decremented a cent for each post you receive. If you want to subscribe to more feeds you have to start putting extra money in. When you've spent the dollar allocated to a feed, you stop receiving it unless you recharge the account.
The nice things about this service :
Any producer who generates RSS/Atom can sign up with no need to mess about putting anything on their site.
The ClayShirky argument : it's hard for a user to value an individual blog-post, but easier to value an aggregation of them. Pricing becomes more transparent.
The service offers the readers more than a way to feel good about themselves through their charitable acts; they're automatically unsubscribed from feeds they don't value anymore. For the people who complain about finding themselves swamped by several thousand feeds, this is a real service. In a sense it's offering to help the reader unconsciously manage their infoglut.
Once up and running, it wouldn't be hard for this service to add proprietory feeds, that are not available elsewhere. (Not entirely sure if this is a "nice" thing, but I can imagine some content providers would like it.) In a sense, it allows a more fluid mix of paid and free content. In fact, it could offer the whole spectrum from free feeds, feeds which are free but accept automatic donations if you choose to make them, through to paid-only feeds.
Compare this with Feedpass : http://www.techcrunch.com/2006/05/21/feedpass-does-absolutely-nothing/