Seriosity, a seriously cool company hard at work developing applications for the expanding serious games market, has begun making waves with its "Attent" email token app, thus opening the door to efficient new micropayment systems woven through increasingly popular webware.
Wired: Every employee is given virtual tokens — say, 100 a week, — that they can attach to e-mail they write. If you really want someone to read a message now, you attach a lot of tokens, and the message pops up higher in your correspondent's Outlook inbox.
The early word is that assigning more tokens to more important messages truly does encourage recipients to digest them.
Wired: When a work group at IBM tried out Attent, messages with 20 tokens attached were 52 percent more likely to be quickly opened than normal. E-mail overload ceased to be a problem.
Now, imagine if these tokens represented actual micropayments - small amounts of money or services IOUs - and were expanded to include replies and quality communication feedback scores. My bet is the quality of communication would increase. Employees, students, peers, family would all be far more likely to open and reply to messages, even from advertisers or spammers, that offered them large enough value.
Considering the growing economic pressure to STEM Compress currency units (Second Life's Linden Dollar, PayPal, TipJoy's Micro-Tip system, to name just a few), pegging email tokens to real-deal micropayments seems like the next elegant and logical step toward a more fluid information economy. Furthermore, such a development would also 1) lend support to the steadily rising value of human attention by creating a new means of income pegged to information processing by humans and 2) open wide a new frontier of advertising or "acceptable spamming" that many ad haters have been clammoring for (check out this future prosumer micropayment scenario by Adam Cutsinger).
So, I wonder what Seriosity's next move will be? Will they be the ones to lead the latest, potentially supra-lucrative, charge into micropayments (possibly facing a backlash from the uber-protective SEC / Govt.)? Or will the idea be lifted, perfected and scaled by prosumer gorillaz like Yahoo, Microsoft, Ebay, Amazon, Apple or Google for any number of their respective people applications?
With growing expertise in content monetization and sharing via AdSense, Google sure looks to be the likeliest mega-trailblazer in the prosumer-focused micro-economics domain.