Puma 2021 Year in Review: Top Content & Events
🥂 We’re proud to share the Puma 2021 Year in Review: a three-part series encompassing the top developments in the web3 jungle and Puma Browser’s evolving role in this emerging ecosystem. Catch up on Part 1 and Part 2 here.
Puma kept busy with its storytelling this year. From blogs and newsletters to tutorials and an April Fool’s prank, our writing team spent the year firing on all cylinders. And beyond the written word, a major source of enthusiasm for Puma has come from a steady stream of virtual conferences that have taken place over the past few years. 2021 is no exception. It’s been our busiest year thus far, with three big events that were over and done before the end of summer.
Today, we revisit the Puma Content you enjoyed most this year, followed by the Events + Conferences that excited and informed us the most about web3’s future.
The State of Web Monetization
Hard to believe it was less than a year ago, but we kicked off 2021 with a long-form blog post covering the Web Monetization ecosystem and its many changes over the course of 2020. This was a comprehensive piece, covering as much of the landscape as possible.
We couldn’t possibly summarize the whole thing here, but we will provide a TL;DR of sorts, covering some of the major players and their accomplishments. Alternatively, you can recap the full piece on Puma’s blog.
- Grant for the Web provided almost a 100 grants to a wide range of projects related to the world of micropayments.
- Coil expanded its reach through partnerships with big content sites like Imgur and Twitch, while an impressive number of culture, comedy, and development blogs also adopted Coil-based micropayments.
- The Future of Micropayments conference debuted, featuring more than a dozen talks and networking opportunities with leading voices in micropayments.
- Puma Browser gained popularity as the first browser with native support for Web Monetization. It was demoed at The Future of Micropayments Conference.
- Cinnamon debuted as the first video sharing platform which features micropayments for content creators. The completely ad-free platform fosters the creativity potential that’s stifled when creators have advertisers on their backs.
- Web Monetization made waves in the indie gaming community this year. Both js13kgames and Defold held competitions featuring web monetization categories.
- Both developers and development blogs caught on to micropayments - dev.to, Hackernoon, and Hashnode all added support for web monetization for individual blogs while both sites integrated web monetization themselves.
Puma Acquires Netscape
On April 1st, 2021, Puma made headlines worldwide by acquiring tech giant Netscape, creator of the first major web browser, Mosaic aka Netscape Navigator! The Puma team then worked quickly to integrate Netscape into Puma Browser on iOS.
The easter egg was embedded within Settings » Theme and voilà! Users were thrown back in time to 1995, where Geocities, AltaVista, and CNet awaited!
How to Web Monetize Your Content and Support Creators Online with Micropayments
The title is a mouthful, but the post is well worth the time spent chewing and digesting. This new guide, by Puma advisor Amber Case, walks the reader through web monetization from A to Z. It covers the basics, argues for why it’s needed, and then dives into the gritty details of setting up your site for receiving payments via the Web Monetization API.
For anyone curious about web monetization but intimidated by the technical mechanics, this is your guide. Case covers all the bases in simple, easy to understand language, spanning a wide range of site configurations across platforms, like Webflow, Wordpress, Neocities, and more. Let Amber walk you through the world of web monetization here.
Puma News #1
In addition to debuting so many new features, Puma also debuted its first newsletter in the Spring of 2021, which was posted on both Substack and Puma’s blog. Inside, we covered many then-new features added to Puma such as:
- Handshake support: preview support for the alternative naming and certificate protocol.
- “Default Browser” for iOS: set Puma as your default browser on iOS! Navigate to Settings » Set as Default Browser, then select Puma Browser as the Default Browser App setting.
- Netscape Theme: a retro easter egg users could unlock in Settings » Theme » Theme Picker » Netscape.
- IPFS Support: iOS users can now resolve IPFS addresses in Puma like any other URL. Dip your toes in by entering the URL ipns://ipfs.io/ into Puma and tap Go. Welcome to web3!
- New Blog: we launched our newly-minted blog in December! Catch up on Puma and related news here.
The Future of the Browser
The Future of the Browser Conference debuted virtually on Wednesday, May 26. As a sequel to last year’s Future of Micropayments Conference, creators Amber Case and Anselm Hook organized another virtual "unconference" with a focus on the future advancement of web browsers.
After a Dune-themed introduction, an array of prominent folks across the international web3 ecosystem delivered keynotes, tutorials, and demos.
Puma Browser CEO Yuriy Dybskiy gave a talk titled Handshake and New Web Protocols, discussing Puma’s early support for bleeding-edge web3 protocols. Puma has been an early supporter of technologies such as decentralized naming services Handshake (HNS) and Ethereum Naming Service (ENS), and distributed peer-to-peer data sharing/storing protocol InterPlanetary File System (IPFS).
As the first mobile browser to natively support micropayments via the Web Monetization API, Dybskiy envisions Puma as a conduit for distributing and promoting emerging technologies that can usher in the future, decentralized web.
While many kept the focus on the future web, other talks focused on the mistakes of the past and the potential for innovative solutions. Several talks made pointed criticism aimed at the ad industry, though overall, the conference maintained an optimistic and enthusiastic tone.
- Jonathan Sampson of Brave provided a history of some of the landmark achievements in forming the web browser along with their unintended negative consequences.
- Mozilla fellow Matt Mankins focused on the unfortunately “reserved for future use” HTTP 402 status code (aka “Payment Required”) and his proposal for how it can be properly implemented.
- Conference organizer and cyborg anthropologist Amber Case interviewed longtime UI guru Scott Jensen, discussing a myriad of design issues that have come and gone over the years.
Breakout sessions for networking — featuring a number of topic-assigned rooms to choose from — fleshed out the festivities. A lively discussion tracing online identity and its evolution from the web’s beginning was one of the highlights.
The event set itself apart from a typical conference in a number of ways. It featured an intention-setting meditation from Tiana Garoogian, a relaxing musical interlude from experimental artist Crystal Quartez, one-on-one networking, and ended with a virtual hangout via Mozilla Hubs.
Videos from the conference have been made available from the creators through this playlist. Enjoy and keep an eye out for the next edition of this unconference event series!
Web Monetization Workshop
In late July, our friends at Coil hosted a virtual web monetization workshop, spanning two days and featuring a host of prominent names from across the ecosystem. Among the presenters were two from Puma’s team: founder and CEO Yuriy Dybskiy and strategist Amber Case. Ahead, we’ll recap those two presentations, which you can watch, along with all the other exciting presentations here.
Web Monetization in Puma Browser
Kicking off the event was Puma’s founder and CEO, Yuriy Dybskiy, who gave an overview of Puma Browser. Dybskiy began by stating the basic idea behind Puma Browser. “It’s a browser focused on making micropayments seamless in the browser and a focus on privacy”. Dybskiy’s demo covered top features of Puma Browser’s Web Monetization powers.
- Ad-free: games like Sushi Party will serve ads unless the user has a Coil account, at which point a “no ads with Coil” message appears and the ads vanish. And blogs like Reductress will display a large number of unsightly ads until micropayments are turned on, at which point the ads disappear without refresh.
- Bonus features: Flood Escape from Enclave Games illustrates some of the creativity at work in the web monetization community. Developer Andrzej Mazur has provided the game for free (and ad-free!) to the public, but Coil users are given extra features in the form of bonus coins and slower cooldowns.
- Charity Mode: Puma’s Charity Mode feature allows users to send micropayments to a charity while browsing any site, not just sites that have web monetization enabled. This allows users to alleviate the guilt accrued from wasting time online by sending some money toward a good cause. To enable this feature, navigate to Settings » Charity Settings. You can also enable the feature on a per-site basis under Settings » Charity Enabled Sites.
The Future of Micropayments
Later, Puma advisor and tech-guru Amber Case gave a presentation titled The Future of Micropayments. Her presentation examined web monetization at a high level, describing the various problems with payments online, and introducing Web Monetization as the solution.
Case began by discussing the current, old-school models for creators to monetize online:
- Closed marketplaces: Facebook, Etsy, Kickstarter | Problems: You are beholden to them, they can change or go out of business.
- Recurring subscriptions: Patreon, Netflix | Problems: You must sign up for multiple services and constantly keep track of them.
- Advertising: put ads on your own site | Problems: Privacy violations, UX and aesthetics compromised.
The web originally had a 402 “Payments Required” HTTP status code written into the spec. It was never implemented. Now, some developers are trying to fill in this missing piece of the web’s infrastructure.
Micropayments are a potential solution. Case went on to describe micropayments as a way to enable “The Missing Middle”, or “small one-time purchases” that are not possible through any of the models listed above. Things like single blog posts, small tips, donations, a single tutorial, etc. Micropayments make payments for these use cases possible.
Specifically, the Interledger Protocol and Web Monetization API have made this a possibility. Interledger is a web protocol that allows for the streaming of payments, across different ledgers, and without the transaction fees associated with normal payments.
From here, Case went through the process of how Coil/Interledger-based micropayments work from end to end. For those who are unfamiliar, check out some of the great documentation available at webmonetization.org.
Case ended the presentation with a call to action, asking viewers to “think bigger”, much like Interledger has. She believes “it’s possible to remake our realities with atomic protocols and communities.”
In the late summer 2021, Puma founder Yuriy Dybskiy had the opportunity to present at the Browsers 3000 hackathon, a six week virtual event organized by IPFS with the intention to “explore and accelerate the development of web3 in the browser.”
Dybskiy’s talk, Building the Web3 Browser We Want to See in the World, focused on the then-recent developments in Puma Browser. Ahead, we’ll provide a recap of Dybsky’s presentation, which can be viewed on the IPFS Youtube channel.
- Web Monetization - Puma’s first unique feature was support for micropayments via Interledger and the Web Monetization API. Using Puma, Coil subscribers can stream micropayments to sites that specify a payment pointer (basically a wallet address). For more info on this topic, see our guide to getting started with Web Monetization. Then, just as Dybskiy did, you can check out games like Sushi Party and sites like Reductress to see the difference between having micropayments on and off.
- Handshake - Puma was the first browser to natively support Handshake via the hns.to gateway. Handshake is a decentralized, permissionless naming protocol, and an alternative to the DNS-based naming protocol most of us are familiar with. Handshake has several advantages over DNS:
- Users can own instead of lease their own TLDs (Top Level Domains).
- It provides better security and information protection for the owner
- Censorship resistance due to its decentralized nature
- Versatility. Names can be used for more than just websites. They can be used for logging into sites, rather than having to keep track of dozens of separate user accounts, along with other creative use cases.
- Bigger character set, including emojis. Checkout one of the goto HNS example sites, Flamingo Handshake: 🦩🤝/. Then, read about HNS news and scope other resources at The Shake.
- ENS - Dybskiy then demoed Puma’s preview support for ENS (Ethereum Naming Service) by resolving a typical ENS address, http://almonit.eth/#/. These domain names act as a more user-friendly way of referring to Ethereum and other crypto addresses, along with an array of other benefits which you can read about on the official ENS site.
- IPFS - Last came a demo of support for IPFS (InterPlanetary FileSystem), the distributed web protocol for file storage. IPFS has the unique ability to locate files by their contents rather than location and that’s just the beginning. It comes with an array of additional features that you scope via their official documentation. Puma’s iOS users can resolve IPFS addresses just like any other. That said, Puma’s support is somewhat limited (and available only to iOS users), with future updates and Android support forthcoming.
🥂 Cheers to the Year That Was
2021 is nearing its conclusion, and we can confidently say it’s been the biggest year for us at Puma. We’ve adopted a number of important web3 protocols which, we believe, will help reshape the web. We’ve found new partners who are building important projects and share our values. We’ve evangelized and spread the word about Puma through written pieces and spoken at a number of exciting conferences. And due to all of this, we’ve maintained a steady increase in adoption and fans on social media for which we are very grateful.
We at Puma would like to thank anyone who has been involved in making this happen, no matter how small of a part you might have played. Thank you to our team, whose hard work has made Yuriy’s vision a reality. And thanks to you for supporting Puma Browser. We're thrilled with how the year has unfolded as we look ahead to 2022!