Metafilter's freaking out about it, but Jason Kottke's idea of macropatronage is an interesting one. The idea is essentially that regular folks can sponsor Jason so that he can go about blogging and doing web projects full-time. The write-up:
I'm attempting to revisit the idea of arts patronage in the context of the internet. Patrons of the arts have typically been wealthy individuals, well-heeled foundations, or corporations. As we've seen in many contexts, the net allows individuals from geographically dispersed locations to aggregate themselves for any number of reasons. So, when you've got a group of people who are interested in a particular artist, writer, etc., they should be able to mobilize over the internet and support that person directly instead of waiting around for the MacArthur Foundation or Cosimo de Medici to do it.
Whether Jason "deserves" to live off of his work or not is ultimately up to fans and supporters, which to me is about as pure as it gets. If you're not big on him, try to think of an artist you love and ask yourself how much you'd be willing to pay to keep that artist doing his or her thing for the next year or more.
Donations of course aren't a new idea, but I think the micropatronage term is an interesting switch in the fan/artist dynamic. "Donations" in context of the arts sounds like a tip -- "the artist is clearly doing okay on his or her own, but here's a bit extra." "Patronage" however sounds more serious -- like the work couldn't have existed without it.
Jason's doing it for something relatively intangible too, which should be of interest to musicians as the Internet is rapidly making music intangible. If you believe CDs are dying and want artists to resist DRM, the only thing musicians might soon have left under their control is whether new music gets made or not. Maybe micropatronage fits into that somehow.