Flattr - Initial Impressions

Today, I got my first ever tip, via Flattr.

It was (predictably) for vCardSplit. My gift that just keeps on giving... the cockroach of software!

Flattr isn't quite like other payment systems. This isn't a donation of a fixed amount - with Flattr you put money into a tip jar on a monthly basis, and go round "Flattring" things.

The act of a Flattr is kind of like a Facebook like - it can be public, which is why they call it "social micropayments". People can wander along to my profile and see what I've Flattred. If I chose to allow it, they could even see the amounts.
(But I don't. And yes, there's also an option to simply hide all your activity as well - including past activity. The company is run by Swedish folks, who seem to understand privacy.)

The clever bit is that at the end of each month, Flattr takes your monthly allowance and divides it equally amongst all the things you Flattred. So you don't get to determine the amount - it's just taken care of.

Didn't Flattr anything? Nothing goes out!

Want to Flattr someone more? Just go back next month. Or click twice, and set up a monthly subscription to their work...

The idea is that, on grander scales, it'll all even out for those being Flattred - some people give proportionately small amounts during busy months, and some people give proportionately large amounts during slow ones.
But it's better than nothing, and more likely to happen because the costs are fixed for the person giving.

Plus, it's a simple click to say "this is good enough that I want to give you some money".
How cool is that?

Flattr take a cut, of course - and at the moment, it's a fairly high 10%. The hope is that as it scales up, their costs will drop and that rate can be reduced.

Frankly, that 10% is the only thing I'm not too keen on - but nothing's free, and I really like the idea. Up until recently, I'd only experimented in using it to give, and the main problem was just finding the time to experiment in using it to receive.

So on Sunday, I integrated Flattr with my website as a test.

It was pretty easy! Especially as there's a Drupal module for it, so it was pretty much "install module, configure permissions, configure module, done".

So then I started looking at PayPal donate buttons etc.
I wanted to put all methods of donation live at once, so I thought I'd turned Flattr off, but I evidently didn't!

But this was probably a good thing. I've crossed the Rubicon - I'm not just (very occasionally) using Flattr to give to others, but now I'm offering them the chance to give to me.

I really like Flattr, both in idea and implementation. Really, if anything, what it's mostly missing is that critical mass of people using it.

I hope that it gets the scale it needs, and am happy to be adding my +1 to the party.

And remember, I don't know if I've got tuppence or a tenner from this first Flattr, as this month's payment dividing hasn't yet been done. So I'm not biased, and can honestly say I've not been paid for my thoughts here!

Building The Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935 [Exhibition]

Some exhibitions cost a lot. In theory, Building The Revolution: Soviet Art and Architecture 1915-1935 cost me a tenner. In practice, it cost a lot more as I walked away with three heavy hardcover books...

For me, there are two major things I learnt at this exhibition:

  1. Constructivist architecture is absolutely my kind of thing
  2. Some fellow named Richard Pare has already taken every photograph I ever wanted to take, and taken them brilliantly

This exhibition is a mixture of photographs and other mediums, mostly pencil drawings with a couple of paintings. The drawings are there to show the Constructivist influences on the architecture, and I must be honest none of them particularly moved me. Being shown the foundations of art is like being shown the foundations of a building - not as interesting as the whole thing!

However, the back story to the non-photographic art was interesting - much of it had been saved by George Costakis, who was allowed to own the art as he was a foreigner and not subject to the state suppression of "unsuitable art". I certainly admire Mr. Costakis' actions, as without him a lot of early Soviet art would have disappeared forever.

Of course, the photographs were my real interest - interesting buildings, many approaching 90 years old or more, and which are therefore showing signs of dilapidation. Anyone who's been with me when taking photos knows that's my kind of thing.

To get a taste of the exhibition, check out the wikipedia page on Constructivist architecture, and look at those buildings!
The brief flurry of constructivism in the Soviet Union led to some truly astonishing buildings, but it ended when Stalin came into power - he preferred a more neo-classical style. Another reason to dislike Stalin, as if anyone needed one more...

The exhibition is well laid out, divided into different types of architecture - state and communications, industrial, education/recreation/health, and finally Lenin's Mausoleom. This works well, preventing the scale of the state offices and industrial buildings from jarring with some of the more compact yet brilliant designs for social clubs. The overall layout and pacing of the exhibition was superb, and the decision to culminate with Lenin's Mausoleum - in an area painted solid Red - was a suitable high point to end on.

I also took the audio guide, which was an excellent companion and well worth the extra £3.50, being filled with facts and snippets of interviews with curators of contributing collections and with Richard Pare himself.

A highly recommended exhibition, even if it did show me that my photographs are effectively derivative of a fellow I'd never even heard of until today!

Overall, I'd score this one as 5 out of 5 - highly recommended.

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