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New Zealand's longest-running online daily news and commentary publication, now in its 23rd year. The opinion pieces presented here are not purported to be fact but reasonable effort is made to ensure accuracy.

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Goodbye ads, hello mining

1 November 2017

Ads, they're the scourge of the web.

It's pretty hard to go anywhere online today without running into a mountain of evil ads which clutter web-pages, deliver auto-playing video and generally just get in the way of what you want to do.

There are probably only a very few percent of the Net-using population who remember what it was like back in the early days of the web, when an advertising banner was a novelty, not an annoyance.

Hell, even this site (Aardvark) has advertising!

But what if the advertising disappeared?

What if you could compensate the owners of your favourite websites in some other way that didn't involve getting out your credit card or enduring God-awful banners and videos?

Well some are saying that this could happen. In fact there's proof that it has already begun to happen.

And the answer is crypto-currency, but not in the way you might think.

I'm not talking about paying the websites you visit some micro-payment delivered in the form of BitCoin or whatever.

I'm talking about letting those websites use your CPU for a few minutes to quietly mine crypto-currencies in the background, while you explore their pages.

According to this Arstechnica story that's already happening in some cases -- albeit covertly. However, others are suggesting that there is a valid business model evolving out of this.

Let's face it, browsing web-pages rarely pushes the average computer or smartphone to its limits in terms of processing power. It is quite possible to mine some coin in the background without perceptibly impacting the user-experience whilst on a website and popular sites that attract millions of visitors could actually generate quite reasonable returns on all that "borrowed" processor power.

Why fart around with subscriptions, firewalls, advertising and all the other annoying ways that publishers use to try and generate revenues -- when a few simple scripts could allow them to earn a cent or two from every visitor. Times that by a few million and you have some useful income -- income that would probably dwarf that earned by ads or subscriptions.

Will this take off?

I don't see why not.

So long as the sites bury a disclosure in the "terms and conditions" page then they're probably 100% legal and if they don't try to squeeze too hard, most users won't even know that the mining is going on anyway.

Sounds like a great idea to me.

What do readers think?

Would you spare a few CPU cycles whilst browsing your favourite website if it meant no more ads?

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