The difference between the web and native applications is the presence of links. These links are the reason why the web is a "network", as they connect pages together, making a graph. Google and its PageRank algorithm have leveraged that graph to rank websites, by assuming that the sites which have the most links are the most relevant.
Memberships > Attention
However, since the beginning, these links have also formed communities. Websites which discuss the same topics tend to link to each other, creating de-facto communities of interest. The social web reinforced that trend: people following each other formed more communities. Creators gathered groups of users around their work. Whether they are blogger or journalists, musician or even developers, they formed groups which attracted users because of their values, the content they produce, or even the tools that were offered to the members of the community.
Up until now, we monetized the web through attention. The creators who were able to "steal" the most would be paid the most. We're obviously reaching the limits of that model. It is time to start considering that these communities have value for their members... and that these members actually want to contribute to their communities as well.
A protocol for memberships
Unlock is a protocol for memberships. Creators have locks which define the terms of the membership (price, duration, quantity, or even currency!) and consumers can purchase keys to these locks.
In practice, that means that the protocol empowers creators (or anyone, really!) to create locks for their communities. It's an open protocol, so anyone can participate: there is no gatekeeper or middleman.
Locks themselves can be used for many different things, limiting access to content (paywall...), to features (software licenses...), or even status (patronage...).
Leading by example!
We're putting our money where our mouth is. Starting today, we've added a lock to this website. We decided to limit access to the comments to the members of the community.
You can unlock your membership by clicking on the bar at the bottom below (we actually set a price of 0 Ether, so you only pay for gas fees). Once you have a key, you will be able to read and write comments.
An important thing to note is that once the transaction has been confirmed, you will receive a Non Fungible Token on your crypto wallet. Like any other token, it is yours, and you can sell it, using OpenSea, for example.