Internet is a leap of human intellect: it lets individuals learn from the collective, and the collective learn from individuals.

Google is the first accelerator to that leap. Without it, people cannot effectively manage the huge number of websites. Previously, personal memory and colleague network are the main search engines.

Web 2.0 is the next accelerator. Facebook, twitter, reddit…

These are all tools to obtain better content. Google gives you what you search for. Facebook gives you what your friends search for. Twitter & reddit give you what your like-minded search for. Quora is also a good one that assist you where Google fails.

This commonality is because, as cost of sharing information goes down, cost of obtaining information goes up: “Information is abundance, but attention is scarce.” To be precise, it’s not the cost of obtaining information, but the cost of filtering for the right amount of information that match YOUR attention. Each day, for example, you have 1-2 hours to read news; but the internet provides you with thousands of hours worth of news. Not surprisingly, working adults (stereotypically) lose their interest in many things, as their free time is significantly shorter, and there is no effective way to scale down the time for each interest: either you do it, or you don’t.

Of course, this is a good problem. The solution is very simple: each of us has a personal filter that keeps track of what we have read, our preference, and filter the right information for us, according to our available attention. I would want to see friends updates, then major news, then minor development tips, then active technical discussion… depending on how much time I have that day/week.
If it’s so simple, why has no one else implemented this?

Because it would kill the internet.

The internet is free, upon the premise that you pay for it using your attention. Google is powered by ads. Facebook is powered by ads. Anything that you don’t pay for is powered by ads.

Of course, individually, you don’t have to care about TOS and just go ahead implementing your kick-ass filtering algorithm, whichever way you like it. Oh, and don’t forget to block those ad domains, too!

But futuristically, if you want to fix this one and for all, I think we need a micropayment platform.

User U joins platform P by paying up-front cost 5$. Platform P then provides user U with the content filters they want: ads blocked, API, programmable filters… User U then visits sites S1, S2, S3, S4… Sites S1 then charges P all the cost from users U1, U2,… the cost they’d get from advertisers.
This system is engineered such that no real transaction is actually micro: user U pays in chunks of 5$, and platform P also pays in chunks of 5$.

Turns out, it’s not easy to implement this system: platform P would have to deal with so many available websites. Well, but that’s exactly the problem Google ran into a decade ago. This time it’s a little bit harder: not only content matters, but representation matters, too.