Blockchain startup Honeycomb, was pitched as one of the “smartest, most clever” startups in a technology feature in 2018’s Online News Association Conference (ONA18).
NiemanLab, part of journalism standards organization Nieman Foundation, questioned if a startup like Honeycomb could convince users to mine cryptocurrency with their mobiles and donate it to news organizations.
Mine Monero on Your Mobile – then Donate it
Honeycomb’s software would allow users to mine the cryptocurrency Monero on their mobiles while their phones are dormant and on charge at night. Then, these users would donate the proceeds, via Honeycomb, to news publishers. Users would need to run their chosen news application and Honeycomb on their mobiles.
There are some key benefits, such as supporting independent press and good journalism. There is also the potential to encourage more news applications that no longer need to run adverts or collect user data to monetize their news feeds. The software is a way of paying for news, so publishers which currently charge subscriptions might even consider a “free” service and use Honeycomb instead.
Co-founder Orlando Watson explained to NiemanLab that revenue from cryptocurrency mining is revenue that never existed before and could now “support an investigative journalist for a year or coverage of a really important environmental story,” adding that:
Any new revenue is worth it for a news organization.
Honeycomb is now looking for publishers to join the platform and begin testing its capability and Watson says they already have interest from publishers, nonprofit newsrooms, and international organizations.
A Niche Product?
But, only nine percent of Americans surveyed by Digital News Report have ever received a news alert on their mobiles, let alone used a news application. Then there is the problem of Apple banning all crypto-mining applications for iPhones, so the service would be limited to Android users. Google Play also banned crypto-mining apps from the Google Play Store.
After that there is the problem of convincing users to donate to news publishers rather than other good causes, and what happens if users have the option to crypto-mine on their mobiles – for themselves?
Though a very credible way to provide much-needed support for journalism, news, and free press in general and for readers to pay for news services, Honeycomb may be targeting a small niche of those willing to do so.
Co-founder Watson shared his aspirations with NiemanLab:
I would love to see us as a broader journalism community, people who care about sustainable and quality journalism, harness the power of new technologies rather than be the victims of it.
The general public is learning more about how the web is monetized, and how much data is secretly collected and used by advertisers. As they do, they are more likely to be able to make informed actual choices of who to reward with data, patronage, or even crypto-mining donations.
As the decentralized web and blockchain technology grows in reputation and user expectation, innovative blockchain startups like Honeycomb could well have a place. It will certainly face competition to convince new, informed, technology users who will realize how monetization of data and the internet works and be looking to use this to their advantage.
Do you use a news application on your mobile. Would you reward publishers and journalists using Honeycomb?
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