Attention tokens: is Brave doing enough?

The Brave token was designed to help preserve attention. But now that its initial implementation is clear and people are starting to use it: is it doing the right thing? Doing enough? Do we need other attention tokens to interact with it? Is there more that we’d want ethical tech to do that is disincentivized by current markets, thanks to a coordination problem, which a targeted token could solve?

This is certainly the season to experiment with such solutions. Or to try to influence Brave’s direction.

I like the Brave initiative, and i am using it every day on mobile and desktop. I like the idea that it is promoting a more ethic web where content creators can get payed without the need to participate in the toxic system that tracks our every move. Blocking tracking and ads is not enough, proposing an alternative for revenues is as important.

I need to dig closer on the payment system regarding privacy protection, and yet i need a better understanding of the full BAT economy but i have a very positive opinion of this initiative.

"I like the idea that it is promoting a more ethic web where content creators can get payed without the need to participate in the toxic system that tracks our every move."
The last I’ve seen, Brave allows google et al. to know of almost every page that you visit on the web. Have they stopped doing that? Brave whitelists anything and everything at the drop of a hat in favor of compatibility.

Btw, humanetech has also designed their site to allow google spying everywhere here. They needlessly use google-analytics and recklessly use google fonts.

Yes Brave is blocking google analytics, i am not sure if by default or not. You can block all scripts too, but will brake a lot of things.
I am not affiliated with them, just find the project interesting (i am using other browsers too), but you have the right attitude for sure.
And sure humantech forum is open to crawling, is in clear http… but no tracker (detected by ghostery at least).
The humantech www has several useless trackers and google fonts, and CDN tracking, also not https.

Let me drop two links for them here, use matomo -former piwik- for your tracking (https://matomo.org/) and let’s encrypt your site (https://letsencrypt.org/)

valere. thanks for your reply. The last I saw, Brave also blocks remote fonts BUT they foolishly allow the css that comes along with those fonts.

Also, Brave whitelists (for all users) anything that breaks a page – even if I’d rather it not be whitelisted. Brave’s claims to be a privacy oriented browser are, to my mind, just a sales gimmick. Their income comes from selling ‘acceptable’ ads.

Ghostery? That’s a big topic but there are other ways to track besides cookies, as you know; and also Ghostery is a fairly big corp itself these days and so they have what they deem “acceptable” things which a privacy advocate would object to.

Have you used uBlock Origin?

Yes adblockers is a big topic :smile: What i like in ghostery is the way they educate on the trackers that are present on the current page, with details of what kind of personal info they collect. I probably need to look back at it, i’ve seen that they have been acquired by cliqz but i don’t know much about it ( i’ve just tested their browser a bit last year).
For sure Brave is riding the blockchain hipe, and that maybe a sales gimmick, like you i am not confortable with ‘acceptable’ ads, but there are non intrusive ads.
Currently i am not using uBlock, i have tried it after ditching adblock (don’t like their white list business model).
I am downloading it again now, thanks.

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@outline i re-isntalled uBlock, but i def miss the list of trackers with names and what kind of things they collect that ghostery is offering. It would be nice to have that on uBlock.

And also i looked and ghostery has been acquired by Cliqz that is owned by a media/tech company Hubert Burda Media. Never heard about it ;D but it owns some shitty media in france (Nouveau detective, same kind of newspaper that will smith is reading in Men In Black, i don’t know the english name for that).

It’s hard to see what is ghostery exactly going with their business model, they use to have an opt-in data collection of ads blocked that they wanted to sell to advetisers. Now they are doing a new thing with cliqz :confused: https://www.ghostery.com/faqs/human-web-data-collected/
I wish them good luck on anonymizing browser history

EDIT
Ah ah, and the ‘Sharing Human Web Data’ Opt-in is checked by default :upside_down_face:
How to call Opt-in a thing that is Opt-out

I’m also VERY interested in what the Brave Browser is doing. By cleaning up the ad space - it should lessen malware ads, return more funding to content providers (fewer middle players, less fraud), they promise the ads will be less intrusive.

Most important I think though is - it comes with an option to use micro-payments to websites instead of relying on ads. I think this is important because ads waste my time and are designed to manipulate people. I suspect the most vulnerable are most susceptible to ads and so content gets created to pull in those vulnerable people more than others (because that’s where the ads work best).

Subscription income models (or this micropayment system) seem to promote better content - I think NPR and Wikipedia are good examples of this.

I have many concerns about Brave though:
Mainly that it seems to be setting itself up to be a monopoly (should it succeed). If they do that, then I think we’d wind up back in the same boat we are with the frightful 5 tech companies… maybe a little better off… but I think we could do better. We need a democracy 2.0 controlled “monopoly” - like using deliberative polling to elect board members etc. something to keep the monopoly working for users instead of manipulating them.

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These are still my biggest concerns with Brave, would love to hear comments from others:
How and who will make the decisions of:

  • what percent Brave will take for itself.
  • what percent users get, publishers get, advertisers get. It sounds like it is someone at Brave Software Inc who will decide that… right? What’s to stop Brave from pulling a google and deciding to take 70%? While Brave is small, I suppose market pressure will but once large… then what?

Can Brave deny advertisers or publishers even if they pass KYC? I’m guessing the KYC process is between the publisher and someone at Brave or is it with the publisher and a third party?

I’m trying to understand what power we are granting Brave and what will control or counter it.

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It’s a very unethical product, because it’s just yet another complicated and useless product to try to promote another crypto scam. In my view all cryptocurrencies are self-promoting scams that are fueled by pure selfish greed.

I can argue this and show you proof, but the basic reason is that the crypto protocol is free and open source and yet people stupidly are paying billions for coins which should be worthless given the protocal (which is that part that has value) is free.

Do you need anymore proof that they are unethical than to see their coin has a market cap of over $200 million? Maybe the founders sold all their coins a few months ago and bought megayachts when their coin was going worth over $0.80. For any poor suckers who they scammed into buying their coins, they are now selling for $0.20 (though worth $0 as the coin protocal is free).

If they really want to pay websites, pay them in real currency using PayPal or somthing else which is demoninated in a government supported currency. A good online moetary system already exists and works better than thier scam coins.

valere: you’re right, sharing should absolutely be unchecked by default.

peripatetic: You may not like cryptocurrencies and tokens, but not all of them are scams. Whatever you think of Brave’s approach, it’s not one of the scams.

John: the monopoly concern is interesting. Yes, the protocol designers will decide some distribution details once, but it’s not clear to me they will be able to change that design thereafter. KYC is a process handled by Brave, though they could use the services of a third party to decide who passes. But it applies only to who they allow to participate in the initial distribution of tokens. [For now. however: if it turns out their token is classified as a registered security, the whole model might have to be rethought.]

I agree that all crypto projects should be met with healthy skepticism, but I’m not sure I agree that crypto tokens are inherently worthless.

The way I understand it, a blockchain needs some kind of exchange of value because miners are incentivized with fees for verifying transactions on the blockchain. Having a healthy distribution of nodes on the network is what keeps a blockchain fully decentralized, and that only works if miners are incentivized for using their computing power to verify transactions.

So while the protocol that makes blockchain technology free to adapt for whatever purpose may be free, the computing power that runs an actual blockchain network is not free, and that’s why tokens have to be worth money to make it work. There is now a whole ecosystem of different applications with seemingly infinite variations on this basic idea, so I’m sure a blockchain afficionado will be able to point me towards some project that contradicts what I’ve said in some way. The way I understand it though, this is the basic idea underlying all blockchain applications as originally conceived.

I don’t know about Brave, but I have studied blockchain technologies some time ago. I am not into cryptocurrencies (damn, I could have been a multi-millionaire right now :wink:).

What I found was that blockchain is still way too immature to be used on larger scale, in real systems. That many (most) projects and cryptocurrencies are either based on unethical principles (scams, greed, misinformation, etc.), or based on best intentions, but unviable.

Discussions around all of this are very heated and confusing. I found the best discussions to occur on (the well-moderated) Hacker News. The general consensus seems to be that blockchain is probably suitable for a very small set of use cases, and 95% or more of all blockchain projects are not viable, and would be better off using other, more stable, existing technologies. Note that most of the ideas/tech that constitute blockchain are not new all.

The most innovative part is the trustless consensus mechanism. But even this has a score of problems, such as inefficient proof-of-work mechanism, centralization (of miners), and breaks down for transactions involving non-digital goods (needs fallback to existing mechanisms, such as trusted 3rd-parties).

On cryptocurrencies only the following: There is much money to be gained by speculating on them, and hoarding coins. This is because all crypto’s are deflationary in nature, not inflationary. This encourages saving your coins, not spending them, which is a problem for wide adoption. Bitcoin - the mother of all crypto’s - has a huge centralization problem, which should make you hesitant to use it.

Now many blockchain ideas are truly great, and make me salivating (like OpenBazaar). But until all the Hype and FUD subsides I’ll be watching from the sidelines. Great blockchain technologies may still exist in, say, 4 or 5 years.

This is just my point of view, and I don’t want to spend time discussing further, in fear of ‘religious conflict’ and because there is so much to do for CHT and my own startup at the time. :slight_smile:

All I can say is: be very careful and well-informed - perform your due-dilligence - before you commit yourself to anything blockchain!

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@aschrijver Very intelligent answer!

As you so elegantly put in your answer there are relatively few practical purposes for blockchain. I’m not sure coins should even need to exist at all. I’m sure most of the real uses are non-monetary and what we see is just hype which I call “scam”.

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I was not planning to say much about blockchain (I won’t), but if you are interested in it, then it may be worth to watch this video:

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I’m very interested in what people think of what Brave Software Inc - Brave Browser - is doing to hep the internet - it seems to have a better strategy to help users and the internet than Mozilla.
The CEO, Branden Eich, used to be a leader at Mozilla.
Brave addresses the ad issue on the web – promoting better content and less user distraction:

  • Content providers aren’t getting enough money, meaning we (users) are losing content (nothing is free)
  • Fraud – something like 7 billion dollars per year lost to fraud and not paying for your content or apps
  • Malware – ex. Ads doing bitcoin mining in the background
  • Horribly distracting – especially auto-start video ads
  • Takes time for you device to download and display ads on each page

Brave browser:

  • simplifies the ad system be removing middle players and providing much more security
  • Allows micropayments instead of advertising if users choose to do so
  • might be setting itself up to be a monopoly – I worry about that a lot
  • Brave Software Inc is a privately held company, I don’t like the idea of doing open source work that makes a private company money… but the cause they are supporting still seems worthwhile. I wish they were non-profit.

Good summaries:
https://www.brave.com/how-to-fix-the-web/

Mastodon discussion: “Brave “privacy” browser is malware”

If you are considering Brave then you might want to go through this Mastodon thread first, and then make up your own mind:

Great find. Like many people I have always been suspicious of Brave as just another crypto coin scam. To anybody who can do the simplest of math, their model is to give 1/1,000,000 of a penny to publishers. It seems clear to me the people being helped by Brave are the makers of Brave, via their multimillion dollar coin scam.

There are many other browsers out there (I recommend Firefox) and ad blockers (I recommend uBlock Origin) which are community-created and open-source and have no ulterior motive.

Yes, and add Privacy Badger to the mix for completion.

That discussion is pretty one-sided.
I recommend looking at other conversations where staff from Brave has replied. For example https://www.reddit.com/r/privacy/comments/ap8rnv/brave_privacy_browser_is_whitelisting_trackers_of/

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