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Glossary of Web Monetization Terms
We’ve created this glossary for you to refer to.
Web Monetization. Browser API that allows the creation of a payment stream from a user agent to a content creator.
API. Application Programming Interface. Software interface that allows two computer programs to communicate with one another. Connects two computers. A user interface creates a way for a computer to talk to a person. A software interface allows computers to talk to one another.
Coil. Coil is a for-profit membership service that streams micropayments to content creators according to members’ content consumption or attention. Coil essentially provides payment support for Web Monetization. Coil charges members $5 a month.
Micropayment. Just as it sounds, this is a financial transaction involving small sums, even under $1. The term originated before the web and was used to discuss paying copyright holders for content.
Internet Protocol (“IP”). A protocol, or set of rules, governing how data are routed between networks. Protocols define how networked computers communicate with one another and Internet Protocol defines how networks communicate with each other.
Interledger Protocol (“ILP”). A protocol for sending packets of money across payment networks or ledgers. It is neutral – not tied to any company, currency, or network – and is designed to work across any type of ledger.
Digital Wallet. App or software that allows users to make transactions electronically. Cash app, Paypal, and Venmo are all examples of digital wallets.
ILP-enabled wallet. A digital wallet that is compatible with the Interledger protocol. Uphold and Gatehub offer ILP-enabled wallets.
Payment Pointer. A unique identifier used by Web Monetization to move money from one user to another. It’s like a bank account embedded on web pages that Web Monetized sites use to identify the destination of funds sent to content creators.
Payment Streaming. Just as it sounds, payment streaming is the transfer of funds from a digital content consumer to the digital content creator. The longer a consumer spends on the creator’s site, the more micropayments are streamed.
Digital Platform. A business term. The marketplace created by the information and content exchanged on a software application. There are content platforms (YouTube), social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter), and crowdfunding platforms (Patreon, GoFundMe). where the community is a vital part of the business structure.
Web3. A loose term meant to indicate a shift in the architecture of the web and a move towards decentralization and blockchain technology. You can think of this generally as a move from platforms to protocols. Web3 tools allow users to access protocols and bypass centralized platforms.
Browser Extension. Software module for customizing a web browser. Some well-known browser extensions include Adobe Acrobat, AdBlock, Grammarly, Google Calendar, and MetaMask.
Plugin. Computer software that adds new functions to a host program without altering the host program itself. Plugins can be added and removed. WordPress users will be familiar with WordPress plugins, which, when added to the WordPress site, make available a variety of new functions.
Open Source. Pertains to software whose computer source code is made freely available. Open source is the opposite of closed source programs such as Adobe Photoshop. Oftentimes the copyright holder for the code will couple a permissive Open Source license—such as a Creative Commons license—with Open Source software so that users have the right to use, study, change, and distribute the software without needing permission from the creator. Collaborative projects such as Linux and Chromium—the software that runs the Chrome web browser—are released as open source projects.
Web Monetization for the Arts is a course on streaming payments designed for classical musicians and small performing arts groups. The project is funded by Grant for the Web.