First PR merged! | 2023 Jan 1-7

First PR got merged!

I got my first PR merged! This is a major milestone for me!

I was going to make another PR to the ldk-sample, but from the feedback I’ve gotten I realize this sample repository really doesn’t need much work on it. Although it’s nice to have slightly lower stakes to build up my confidence contributing, my time (and LDK maintainers’ time reviewing or responding) is better spent on other areas, i.e. rust-lightning. Plans for this week:

  1. Dig into an open PR (on rust-lightning), try to ask a non-trivial question.
  2. Take on a good first issue (on rust-lightning).

I think it was really valuable to make my first PR and I’m really thankful for the maintainers spending time reviewing my code. I feel much more comfortable contributing to LDK now that I’ve done it once already. Excited to continue and get better!

To know a language deeply

One thing I’m particularly excited about is to get to know Rust more deeply. For most of my programming career, I’ve just bounced around using different languages partly for fun and partly as they were fit for whatever I was doing. I’ve enjoyed that, and it’s made me a stronger, more language-agnostic developer. However like everything in my life at the moment, my programming language endeavors are trending towards doing less with more depth, and I’m excited to learn about Rust.

The internet didn’t have a native currency so it used attention instead

I saw somewhere on Twitter some quote “the internet didn’t have a native currency so it used attention instead.” It’s been really marinating this week. I also hear people rave about micropayments, but hadn’t really read much into it.

This week I realized some pretty cool connections about why the internet is the way it is, and how micropayments (notably an internet native currency like Bitcoin combined with a near instant payment protocol like Lightning) can improve how the internet works on a fundamental level.

The current method of monetizing free services using ads sucks.

I think this issue has been talked on enough, so I’m going to leave my summary as supplemental under this toggle. This is how I understand the internet how it is today. Most people will only use an internet service if it’s free *handwave handwave*. These free services can provide a lot of value. However, these services require resources, and need to pay for themselves somehow. The friction for paying is pretty high (especially if someone is across the world paying in a different currency), and putting services behind a paywall loses a lot of users. So they monetized using ads. The company would like to make more money to stay in business, to improve the product, and because why not. To even provide the service for free for long enough to accumulate a significant user base or to just develop the app the an acceptable quality they probably took on venture capital funding. Many of these investors care more about turning a profit than respecting their users, so they only further put pressure on the company to maximize profits. Anyway, because their revenue is intrinsically tied to retaining a user’s attention to see more ads, to make more money they must maximize “engagement,” i.e. getting the user to spend as much time as possible on the service. Maximizing for engagement has a lot of detrimental effects, such as making people spend too much time on an internet service, influencing them to buy things they don’t need, violating users’ privacy (all platforms are technically incentivized to do this to just make their product better for users, I think it might be more of a matter of respecting privacy) to make them spend more time and surface ads that are more likely to get users’ to spend money, incentivizing creators to cater content to engagement instead of actual value, and perpetuating emotional insecurities, political strife, and misinformation. What started out as services that were fun and useful have become threats to society. Most of these things apply mainly to social media platforms, in which the companies have monopolies over the content and the moderation of the content, making it difficult for alternatives to emerge.

What if we had micropayments? Micropayments as in you could really easily pay fractions of a cent to anyone on the internet. It would be easy for tons of users to pay individually insignificant amounts that sum to significant amounts at scale for the service, merchant, or creator.

My thoughts are still mostly half-baked and as I tried to write this I realized a lot of nuances in forming a business model using micropayments. Generally however, I think it will allow for new business models to emerge that may make it easier to monetize without ads.

Will keep thinking on it.