Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I Want My Share

In the business section of yesterday's issue of The New York Times there was an article entitled "Online, A Nation of Serfs" by David Carr. The article was also posted online under the title "At Media Companies, A Nation of Serfs." Currently valued at around $50 billion, Facebook has 500 million users worldwide(as of July 2010). The point of the article was that Facebook's value, the value of other social networking sites, and all sites with user-generated content is created by people for free. As users continue to add content to sites like Facebook, they contribute to the overall value. In Facebook's case, it is being made into an empire by all of the unpaid users. Facebook's value comes from advertising, which continues to "flow toward social and amateur media," which makes "low-cost and no-cost content" the norm.

In New New Media Dr. Levinson says " the new new medium is not ours completely" (132). Facebook and all other sites which users can contribute to are owned by other people or companies. We have the right to supply content, but we don't have control over the layout, advertising, the code, etc. Referencing the same point, Carr cites the Tumblr of Anthony De Rosa. “We live in a world of Digital Feudalism,” he wrote. “The land many live on is owned by someone else, be it Facebook or Twitter or Tumblr, or some other service that offers up free land and the content provided by the renter of that land essentially becomes owned by the platform that owns the land.”

Everyone with a profile helps make Facebook a media outlet, a news source, and a social network at no cost. With every video posted on someone's wall, every link to another website, and comment on a status, Facebook becomes the one place to do everything. Carr thinks content can "remain bifurcated into professional and amateur streams, but as social networks eat away at media mindshare and the advertising base, [he's] not so sure." If sites with user-generated content offer free information, then why pay? I think there is value in paying for news created by journalists or reporters, but more and more people seem to disagree. I hope that in the year 2157 there isn't a site that runs a monopoly on all news and media provided by users. It hardly seems fair that the people running Facebook own something worth $50 billion thanks to user content, and at the same time newspapers, with content written by journalists, are dying.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent, excellent point. Whereas mass media produced content for us to consume in order to attract an audience for advertisers, social media let us produce the content ourselves. And it is a form of labor and productivity, but perhaps is better understood in terms of a gift economy, where in freely giving things away we earn status.