We all travel across the internet. The mode of transportation is, of course, teleportation via hyperlinks, yet we travel anyway. Hopping. From site to site, page to page, in search of whatever gem of interest our minds may have conjured up.
Sometimes we even find what we are looking for.
More often then not, though, we find something else. Most of the times, this is somewhat of a disappointment - we were, after all, looking for something else. But on rare occasions, this something else we just found is so awesome that this doesn't matter - the sheer combination of awesomeness and serendipity more than makes up for our misplaced expectations.
Now the question is - now that we've found this piece of awesome, what do we do with it?
There are of course the basics. Giving it the Facebook thumb of approval, the Twitter (re)tweet of sharing, and the it of Reddit. But these things, while natural and rather straightforward, are still only the staple wares of the social media environment. While important, they still don't convey the sense of "oh my god this is so awesome I could like it THRICE!" that the more awesome things stir in us.
There are two ways to describe Flattr. One of them is that it is an easy-to-use tip jar, for universal use all over the internet. Any page that supports html - which is to say just about all of them - can sport a Flattr button. And any page that sports a Flattr button can receive a virtual tip from users who find that page good enough to have earned it.
This description is problematic. For one, it's real money that changes hands. But moreover, it places the focus on the money, and not on the most important aspect of it all.
The other way to describe Flattr is to say that it's all about people. People like you and me, who teleport around on the internet in search of things. Who sometimes find good stuff, stuff good enough to warrant a more generous thanks than ye olde facebook-like. Who, when we do find these gems, would like the option of pulling out the big gun when it comes to social liking.
Pulling the social trigger, so to speak.
Now, these two ways of looking at it are of course at work at the same time. It's not just a oneup of the other like-buttons, it's also a way to integrate passive income into the lives of people who do good things without necessarily selling their services. Like bloggers, for instance.
There is an old saying that simply being famous doesn't pay the rent. Which it doesn't. But with the internet, and the ability to connect people with each other, it certainly helps - especially if there is an easy way to say "here you go" when you stumble upon someone who's made something awesome.
Pull the trigger. Tip the jar. Make a difference for those who made a difference to you.