Monday, May 29th, 2017

Originating the idea of the “digital calling card” — a 1996 talk

It was in 1996 that the author of this post first used in a major public forum the phrase “digital calling card” — in a speech at Hershey, Penn.  Reading the text of that speech 14 years later, it’s amazing how much of it remains relevant today.  Here’s the part that referred to the “Digital Calling Card”(SM) technology:

Here’s a graphical depiction of how Clickshare works. Think of Publisher A as an Atlanta newspaper and Publisher B as a Boston newspaper. And imagine for a moment that both of these papers have web sites and that in each case they enroll users for $5 a month and allow their own users “all you can eat” access to basic news resources for that price. Now lets suppose a baseball fanatic in Atlanta wants to read a Red Sox pregame workup and finds a link to the Boston newspaper’s story at the Atlanta web site. Click . . . the reader goes to the Boston site. But here the Boston server, in the present world, says “Sorry, access prohibited please subscribe.” The user, faced with paying $5 for one article and starting a second ongoing $5 a month relationship just skips the article and the Boston paper loses a sale.

Now consider if both newspapers were running Clickshare Web Server Software and were Clickshare Publishing Members. Repeat the scenario. Now the Atlanta readers request goes out with a digital calling card. And that card, read by the Boston server, says, “This user is a Clickshare enabled user and has an account at the Atlanta Clickshare member.” The Globe sells the article for, say, 10 cents at wholesale. The reader gets his article with no additional password or challenge. At settlement time, Clickshare Corp. applies a 10 cent charge to the Atlanta newspaper’s clearing account and pays the Boston newspaper 8 cents, keeping 2 cents as a transaction fee. The Atlanta newspaper to charge its user whatever it wishes. It could pass along the 10 cents, apply a 20% retail markup to 12 cents, or bundle the Boston story as part of a premium subscription package. Clickshare does not set pricing at the user level because it doesn’t own the user the home base publisher does.

A similar reference to the “digital calling card” technology appears in a later piece: “TV in the ’50s, the ‘net in the ’90s: Three examples of real-world clicking, and why per-click will work in the Clickshare System.”

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