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Friday, December 11, 2009

Visitor Computing Power Sold by Webmasters?

Will webmasters in the future not only sell ads, but also computing power, by letting their visitors calculate stuff in client side JavaScript... communicated back and forth via Ajax?

For instance, John, owner of, gets 100,000 visitors per day, who all spend minutes on his site. They are playing games but their browsers are idling most of the time as the players think about moves and so on. That could be, say, a million minutes of computing power a day.

So all the JavaScript computing power seems to get wasted. Could John now sell that computing power to companies who need large scale data crunching?

Because the visitor to John’s site should not experience lags, any calculation that won’t be finished – because the user switches to another page etc. – would not get sent back, and the same calculation would be received by another user to try again, i.e. it would all be handled low-priority and redundant.

And should there be a company handling all these transactions, e.g. providing the libraries – take a look at Really Cloudy – and connecting the company looking for number crunching with the webmaster looking for site revenues?

Imagine this: Google already runs AdSense, which can launch JavaScript on the client. Would it make sense for a company like Google to allow webmasters to opt-in to a number-crunching “ComputingSense” when they login to their AdSense account, with no additional JavaScript snippets needed to be included? Webmasters would get paid microamounts for crunching and the handling company would snap a commission. The transaction handling company would make sure that the company in need of computation gets enough computing power, as much as they pay for, by deploying the crunching scripts to not only John of, but also Mary of, Sophie of and so on. A disclaimer would be shown on every site as part of the snippet display, along with an opt-out option across all sites.

The calculation that would need to be performed on the client-side would probably need to be broken down into sort of semi-anonymous and semi-cryptic, as well as safe routines, which the transaction handling company would send out and collect via JSON, then recombine on their server. Perhaps a special language or API would need to be created for that purpose, one that would not be allowed to cause infinite loops or compromise the security of a site.

Would all this be technically possible? If so would it make sense?

[Hat tip to Nikolai Kordulla!]


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