That said, I have somewhat high expectations. E.g., I would hope that such a platform doesn't take too large a cut (e.g., Apple app-store sized cut) because that's offensive to both readers and creators.
In China, where credit cards never existed, they already have a micropayments infrastructure. Sending payments is massively cheaper there and some businesses there, such as Podcasts are way more successful due to this model. Some podcasting subscriptions are sold for 1 yuan (15 cents).
As long as Visa/Mastercard exists, I don't think we will see this come to the US. I wouldn't hold out for crypto either - it's not a technical problem. The technology has existed to make this reality for years.
The easiest approach might be to partner such a service with an existing alternate payment processor. Lots of people are already content to leave a few lunches worth of money in Venmo, which would both reduce payment fees and streamline the mental effort of buying articles. And cynically, an auto-refill setup would also reduce people's awareness of how much they were paying.
There are still major hurdles for this model - do you serve content and then hope you get paid? Do you offer refunds on articles people dislike? But I think the actual transactions can be managed, and I think the clearinghouse model could potentially resolve a lot of the other issues besides. As a quick example: 'refunds' for bad articles become vastly easier when haven't paid a transaction fee and can blacklist people who abuse the mechanic.
A billion from micropayments and a billion from one payment should be equivalent..?
Common approaches include:
- Caps on monthly transaction counts
- Caps on monthly payment amounts, with usage monthly fees
- Flat costs added to percentage fees
- Percentage fees with a minimum charge
Similarly businesses which know they'll see numerous small payments mostly just charge enormously high fees. The Apple Store and Google Play both take 30% transaction costs, and I suspect they pay their processors noticeably more than the common ~%2 rate despite their size.
Crucially, the swipe fee is the same if the transaction is $10, $1,000, or $1. Micropayments are hard to make work on top of this infrastructure because the payment network eats up 60% of a $1 transaction and nearly all of a $.50 transaction.
(Hating small purchase decisions might be a common view, since microtransactions are all about long-tail profit exceeding a normal purchase price. But I'm still curious what the demography looks like.)
A non-subscription model for a Netflix service would be closer to fractions of a penny per view.
Everything Netflix talks about is getting users to spend more time watching shows, not less. They certainly want subscriptions because they make more money, but they do it by aggregating a ton of content into one subscription and providing it at effectively no variable delivery cost. The result is that users pay less per hour watched than can be provided by anyone a la carte.
Their adherence to a subscription modivates the view of getting users on the platform for as long as possible, regardless of what they're watching. A pay per view model would twist motivations another way.
That seems like part of what Brave is trying to do with the BAT: Use BAT split among websites based on the amount of time you spend on each site.
I'd rather see a self contained library that allows websites to easily insert a button which lets you tip 0.02c or whatever to them with a single click. No idea what you'd need to do to create something like that, but it seems like a really compelling way to get people to spend on sites they like. A tiny amount of pennies sent via crypto with the press of a single button could be a sizable stream when you've got scale to it.
You can explain this problem away with appeals to floating networks that ride on top of bitcoin, eth, like lightning etc...however it's unclear why those would be any better than a lower cost ACH or other debit processing system.
As you said, other crypto solutions including Lightning Network, ETH, etc are faster and will be able to scale to orders of magnitude more transactions in the near future.
On top of that ACH or other systems require you to put in real banking information rather than having it be a separate wallet you use to pay.
It allows a more complete separation from payment processors.
Don't get me wrong, the value of USD, GBP, or YEN can rise and fall relatively quickly. The conversion rate of GBP to USD dropped from about 1.40 GBP/USD to 1.20 GBP/USD in the span of a year. But cryptocurrencies can cause devastating losses. BTC dropped nearly 30% from Dec 2017 to late Jan 2018, and it has been on the decline ever since. It seems that the only way for a business to confidently convert BTC into the 0.25 USD would be to do nightly-ish transactions.
I'm familiar but not well versed in BTC operations. I don't know how much overhead (fees) would go into nightly transactions, and how much the fees would rise with the volume of each transaction.
Correct. There are so many cryptocurrencies out there, and scams are so widely perpetrated that it's absolutely insane to keep any significant amount of money in it.
In the case of MTGOX it's like the world's largest bank just blinked out of existence. A company could be insolvent overnight. At least most major governments have incentive to keep their shit together for fear of a societal collapse.
At any rate, the current dominant examples like Coinbase do not seem to share the same problems as Mt. Gox and having watched a security presentation by one of their executives, I believe they have great practices to prevent hacks.
Not sure whether they are instantly selling the coin or keeping part of it or what. I suppose it would depend on a company's risk tolerance. In the case of digital content, I might be willing to accept the volatility risk in exchange for access to a relatively untapped market and supporting a censorship-resistant monetization platform.
Stable coins, like DAI and USDC also offer many of the benefits of crypto ecosystem with nearly zero volatility relative to the dollar.
When it's a secondary method, it can be used as a way to invest in a growing market. You can potentially react to volatile changes in a currency if it's part of an investing strategy without worrying if your company will fold overnight. If it's your primary means of accepting payment, then your income is essentially tied to the volatility unless you cash out immediately.
Stable coins would be the obvious solution, but then I wonder what's the drop rate of someone who is only familiar with BTC and not other coins?
The goal would be to make this a ubiquitous system (which is what Brave is trying) where users would have a wallet of BAT where each "coin" represents a small easy to exchange tip.
Users can buy BAT wherever, recharge their wallet and tip micro amounts to websites.
Brave currently just has a BAT wallet with recharging that doles out a percentage of each token to whatever websites you visited based on amount of time spent there.
If the system is ubiquitous enough, the volatility will go down as more people are seeking to purchase the coins.
The coins will have a limited supply which is subject to a minimal amount of inflation as defined by the group which works on it.
Also, and this cannot be overstated, they were often fun.
I believe it was partially the UX that got people spending. For example, ITunes won't grab album art for the tracks in your library by default. You'll have to have an iTunes account with a registered CC number. Retrieving the art is free, but it can't happen without those payment details. I dislike looking at collections that don't have the art displayed, so I put in my CC.
So now, when you're exploring the interface and come across some new music/movies you're interested in, the friction involved in purchasing is near-zero; point, click, confirm the purchase and it's yours.
At some point, someone will create a CMS plugin of some kind that adds a "purchase this article for $0.50" banner and handles the payment processing and fees. The challenge will be to incentivize users to put their details in.
I really like the concept but I don't use it because it doesn't support the mac KeyChain.
In the early days of internet, we had plethora of new media networks. No more. The same with science websites, smart websites for children, hobby websites, etc etc. Big tech is killing content on the internet, and instead we have fake news controversies and privacy scandals.
This is very serious stuff for society and democracy and knowledge.
Edit. Think about it: Google and FB have 80% share of the ad market, and they actually don’t create the content. The rest 20% goes to all the publishers from the entire world.
For the media industry, with the investment group shutting down, one of the biggest backers of digital media companies over the past decade has backed out.
“What are the bets being made in publishing and content companies and ad tech right now?” said a former executive at a company that was invested in by Time Warner Investments. “There’s zero. It’s just not happening.” 
And it makes sense, tbh. Most of such investment failed - mashable, mic, buzzfeed, huffpost. Problem is, it seems that media just does not produce unicorns which will allow you to pay for failed investments.
Shouldn't an internet-native company already be well aligned to these shifts? Not necessarily. For instance, one of the shifts underway is the increasing transience of markets. That is, markets are created, undergo change, and die-off at an accelerating pace. This is just one fundamental shift underway, there are others, and companies will not exist very long if merely a portion of the company is aligned for this new environment.
I am merely asking because from my perspective I feel I could never conclude such things and I have no idea how it happens?
I see this sentiment often but I see no support for it. There is no link between the premise and the conclusion. Plenty of things in the world have no business model: much fits under the umbrella of philanthropy. Others are provided by government, which provides some things for which there used to be a business model but now isn’t (public transportation for instance).
So it is with journalism. Philanthropy for instance could support it. So could government. In the US the idea of government doing this raises hackles, but it’s not uncommon worldwide; see the BBC for instance. Even in the US you see some journalism funded with government and philanthropy (Frontline on PBS.)
This isn't about BuzzFeed "sucking".
But rather, about its screwing over its employees while trying to appear "hip" and "anti-establishment".
Can we move on?
Until Jonah digs into his piggybank and coughs up the backpay owed to his laid-off employees - no.
The article is also correct that this is because online aggregators unlike supermarket tabloid stands present no supply line incumbent advantage.
Offline content is a combination of ads plus upfront price. That requires some form of friction and seems to be where content is moving. This fits better with the necessary expectations of incumbent content providers that their way of reaching customers should have some incumbent distribution advantage, because in the end it needs to be a stable job for people providing the content and for the shareholders taking the risk of providing the company that create those jobs.
People forget that smaller media firms like Buzzfeed, Vox, Huffpo, etc all thrived under a neutral FB, Google, etc. Remember when these companies were supposed to be the "new media"? What changed?
Buzzfeed did this to themselves. They demanded that fb, google, etc censor and pick favorites and they chose the big boys over buzzfeed.
What buzzfeed didn't realize is that their competition isn't infowars, breitbart or foxnews. Nobody who read those sources would ever waste their time on buzzfeed. Their competition was the NYTimes, CNN, MSNBC, Washingtonpost, etc. Now that buzzfeed has successfully helped these large media companies get preferential treatment with FB, Google, etc, there is really no room for buzzfeed. The big boys took buzzfeed, vox, huffpo, etc's market share. I bet these large "authoritative" companies are seeing a rise in traffic and increasing ad revenue. I wonder where that increase is coming from? Infowar fans? Highly unlikely.
There were arguments that Buzzfeed was attacking it's potential readers for political reasons to their own detriment. I think the meme "get woke, go broke" hints at this. The question is why did they and so many other new media outlets let ideology get in the way of their own success?
This isn't to say that there isn't value in traditional journalism, and I think the viability of member-supported radio is a testament to that. But the old guard of for-profit journalism is obsolete, and it's quickening its own death by going hog-wild with unverified sources, hit pieces, and lack of fact checking.
Are you under the impression that government corruption and injustice are things of the past?
Now anyone with a phone can record video of events as they happen, and anyone with a YouTube channel can report on the news and make political commentary for a mere fraction of the overhead that media firms operate on.
Except that we live in a world of deepfakes, astroturfing, and a dozen other reasons not to trust what is posted on the internet by any random person.
And building on my comment above, Random Joe isn't going to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars investigating illegal arms sales, contract fraud, or hundreds of other things that big journalism companies do routinely.
member-supported radio is a testament to that
Member-supported radio doesn't cover 1/1000th of what local newspapers do.
I think you may not understand the value of professional journalism, past and present, perhaps because you haven't been exposed to it, or its consequences.
Oh, come now.
> Except that we live in a world of deepfakes, astroturfing, and a dozen other reasons not to trust what is posted on the internet by any random person.
And professional journalists are going to be immune to these things? A lot of the time, journalists actually repost what they see on Twitter and YouTube. I suppose that in an ideal world journalists would wise up in the face of deep fakes and trust their various sources a lot less, but caution != profit.
> And building on my comment above, Random Joe isn't going to spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars investigating illegal arms sales, contract fraud, or hundreds of other things that big journalism companies do routinely.
I don't agree that you need Big Journalism for that job to be done. Individuals in the press who are outside Big Journalism, as you put it, can do the same job independently and for a fraction of the cost.
> Member-supported radio doesn't cover 1/1000th of what local newspapers do.
Sure, local newspapers have an edge over public radio, but you can also use that same argument against Big Journalism, which despite its resources can't do the same job that local newspapers do.
> I think you may not understand the value of professional journalism, past and present, perhaps because you haven't been exposed to it, or its consequences.
That's not a fair assessment at all.
Idealism often dies when people start owning larger personal responsibilities.
I'm under impression that government corruption and injustice has little to do with kim kardashian reaction gifs. Yes, I know about Buzzfeed News, see below.
Yeah, no. I can give you one recent example of professional journalism. Series of articles by John Carreyrou about Theranos, which were later followed by "Bad Blood" book.
Buzzfeed had 1700 (!) employees, as of Dec 2017, according to wikipedia.
Had the whole buzzfeed, news included, produced anything remotely comparable?
Do not degrade professional journalism by comparing it with Buzzfeed.
Journalists, in their true form, turn data into information.
That is more important than ever in our context free world of video snippets and misleading quotes.
which is probably why even big brand journalism hasn't really changed. the list of outlets that i block on twitter and apple news (the latest of which is forbes, for yet another installment in their "latest iPhone update has a NASTY SURPRISE" articles) grows weekly, but i can't get out of the clickbait content tsunami.
That's an interesting observation. It seems like how most people who watch sports have little to no interest in playing themselves, even recreationally, but they "join" a team because of the sense of participation they get. Not sure if that's the best analogy, but it's reminiscent for me.
1) Right now WSJ has three columns of text because they want consistency with their hardcopy, but it doesn't feel right for a laptop.
The others are ok sources but still too much opinion mixed in for my money. Can't somebody just give us the facts?
What happened with that story about the magic Chinese spying chip, found only on SuperMicro motherboards sold to Apple? Did they prove it true? Did they retract it?
There is a point about this, if I can't trust them with things I have an idea about, how can I trust them with things totally foreign to me?
The problem is that the trash tarnishes the brand its reputation. Buzzfeed may do great things, but I won't read any of it because the overwhelming majority of what it publishes is crap, and I never know if a headline is important, or clickbait.
I'm not inherently against those titles, even the NYT gets a bit cute with their longform stuff to draw in readers. But it is a bit more frustrating when there are lots of vacuous articles to sort through; it's still pretty hard to discern their investigative stuff from the fluffy longform pieces.
Of course, the BuzzFeed News imprint has a whole section devoted to R. Kelly right now, and seems to be aiming no higher than a CNN or USA Today mix of hard news and fluff. Add to that the occasional bout of serious hackwork written in their "real news" style, and I'm not overflowing with hope.
Perhaps more to the point, it looks like this composite approach didn't actually balance the books, or we wouldn't be seeing layoffs right now.
I used to be pretty optimistic about this model, starting around the time Buzzfeed hired Mike Giglio from Newsweek and started doing in-depth stories on Syria. After all, traditional newspapers run cartoons and ads; even the NYT runs an extensive Features section. BuzzFeed looked like a modernized version of that same practice, with its fluff model updated to interest an online, click-based audience instead of a subscriber on Sunday morning.
But these layoffs call into question whether clickbait is in fact a way of funding good journalism, or whether Buzzfeed was just converting investment money into respectability. Buzzfeed overall is cutting staff 15% over multiple rounds of layoffs, but Buzzfeed News already dropped 17% of staff in round one. The entire teams for national news, national security, and health went, as did the Spain office. Maybe tellingly, the entertainment desk kept two staffers.
I think it's still an open question what the role of serious longform work is for Buzzfeed. One narrative says that the individual readers value both investigative and fluffy content from one source. If that's true, good reporting isn't an act of charity. It's just low-margin content produced to keep readers (or maybe staff?) in the same way that grocery stores sell staples like eggs basically at-cost while they profit elsewhere. Another narrative says that listicle readers (and writers) don't care about the presence of serious coverage (at least from Buzzfeed), so if any part of Buzzfeed News isn't running a profit it's not advancing the company.
(Even more broadly, I think it's an open question whether there's any known way to profit on mass distribution of investigative journalism. It seems to rely on patronage models, outright charity, or in a few areas contract work like Bloomberg Terminal.)
While it was easy to dismiss failures of pre-internet publications as merely failing to adapt to the new medium, BuzzFeedNews was Internet-native, and still failed.
I think that was much more the case when the brand was the only brand. When the company lived or died by its chocolate, or single brand of appliances etc, even if the founder was gone, I think a lot of care was taken. Now a brand is commonly one of 10 or 30 in a portfolio, I don't think there's much care left.
When the parent has a dozen appliance brands you can play loose with the trust of any or all. Half the product may be little more than badge engineering. When there's dozens of food brands in the book, or the market leading brand gets bought, it's virtually certain they will be worse than they used to be. Often quite a lot. The perception of the brand might carry that for years.
BF is an odd one as it's trying to become a respectable news outlet, without letting go of the junk that made them. Now the perception has to go the other way, up. A much more difficult move.
At least (for now) if you buy a Samsung or LG you know who to be pissed off at.
Sometimes you only need to buy the reformulated market leader once to realise there's no reason to ever buy it again.
Trust may turn out to have been a 20th century concept.
(like Buzzfeed's equally dodgy counterpart, News Corp and its different newspaper/news site names).
At the time, my view was that, Buzzfeed, and others, were just attempting to ride the tsunami of free Facebook traffic for a wildly bloated valuation in hopes to hoodwink a legacy media company into buying them before the party ended. They spent what would have been their profits, and then some, on shining their turds. It was a gamble and they mostly lost.
Here’a a new post by the Director of Quizzes who was laid off: http://www.fluxblog.org/2019/01/how-laid-off-are-you/
Your listicle is not defending democracy, and confusing these two groups has led to a great devaluation of trust in the remaining real journalists.
> Wonder why suddenly quizzes took over your Facebook? That was because of @LouisPeitzman, who made one viral quiz that unleashed everything else (he probably can apologize to you personally for that).
This isn't a layoff of journalists, its a layoff of custodians of low-brow content farm writing. If that's all, then the main problem in the journalism-apocalypse is that these people were called journalists in the first place.
> "A bunch of people were laid off (and more to come! Fuck!) who quite literally created and shaped the internet as we know it today."
I think this what people mean when they talk about Poe's law https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poe%27s_law. For a short while I thought I was reading a parody.
> "BuzzFeed changed the internet, for better or worse (if you say worse to me right now please eat my ass)," ... "They gave moral clarity, heart, and a mission that was never craven click-lust, but driven by serious consideration of humans"
It seems the team builders there failed on the moral clarity bit. At least there is more work to be done, but time has run out it seems.
It's interesting to observe how confident they are that they shaped the internet for the better. Something tells this is not an anomaly and most of them share that belief. This is a great example self and group brainwashing. And notice the part where if you disagree with them, you get immediately attacked. Clearly the qualities of a sophisticated investigative journalist, ready to report news in an unbiased and objective manner.
It's also very important to delineate between Buzzfeed the site (which is effectively a trash tabloid the likes of what you are likely to find near the grocery store checkout), and their news org, Buzzfeed News, which is probably at least decent (except for their recent reporting on the Mueller investigation with no evidence) and where the layoffs seem to be happening.
In either case, these are venture capital firms without a working profit model, I think the main Buzzfeed site has resorted to selling cooking ware to capitalize off the popularity of their recipe sections.
Buzzfeed News is a separate org, and to be honest, the sharing of the brand probably does more harm to the new org than good even though its done some respectable reporting in the past.
“It’s time for the ultimate Asian food showdown”
“Here’s one reason some vegan meals could still be harmful to the environment”
“This trailer for the movie on serial killer ted bundy has raised a lot of eyebrows”
“This guy had the best response after someone said his tinder profile was ‘lame’”
However, took a look at BuzzFeed News and its front page wasn't much better.
I, personally would rather far more facts, research and understanding over emotional rants that give no regard to actual truth in reporting.
This annoys me to no end, but from all websites. The websites are so concerned about being "FIRST!!!!" that their articles are littered with incomplete sentences, incorrect use of words, etc. I'm sure these are articles that are meant to be iterated on to get the final product, where the writer intends to revisit for cleanup or review by an editor. However, it always seems like there is no editor role, or the pointy hair bosses scream for an article to be pushed now, clean up after its online. Or maybe it's like software "let the end users QA for us"?
I just finished re-watching the final season of the The Wire where they spend a lot of time in the newsroom. Of course it's television, but seeing the interaction of the editors trying get the writers to fix issues was pretty glaring in light of online publishing.
But looking at your (short) post history, you seem to be all about one liners and skimming versus reading before making a comment. So I'm likely correct here since I read into it slightly.
I'm highly skeptical of 'new journalism's focus on the emotional reaction people are having to a piece of news rather than context, impact, and analysis. I think that this new style of journalism does not accomplish 'speaking truth to power' and further often serves to amplify voices that reinforce the views of the most powerful. Being a PR-mouthpiece is not noble.
Thus, I think it is harmful to refer to 'new journalism' as journalism because it is quite distinct in both nature and effect, as it blurs the lines between something regressive and something noble.
These people loved telling factory workers and especially coal miners to "learn to code". You could tell there was a certain smug glee, taking perverse pleasure in the fact that aging white males (can't imagine any of the other coal miners) in MAGA hats (all coal miners wear them all day long, right?) would have to get educated and somehow enlightened.
Now these writers are annoyed that people on Twitter are saying they should learn to code. Well... that's just funny, and very well deserved.
Personally, I'd rather they didn't all learn to code. Steel mills are hiring. Mao said to make steel.
With that said, "people on Twitter are saying" is somewhat disingenuous when there was an active and coordinated effort to target journalists that had been laid off with exactly this phrase "learn to code" by 4chan users.
You can even see them coming out of the woodwork in the green posters below. They want to doxx and harass others online but don't have the stones to even voice support to such behavior under their actual tags.
Care to cite some examples of BuzzFeed employees displaying such callousness?
Like any profession or trade there will be individuals more skilled than others, and individuals more honest than others; although not always both at the same time. As it stands your eagerness to paint all journalists with the same brush is likely causing people to (consciously or otherwise) discount your argument outright. Even worse; a certain subset of the population is going to be actively antagonized by this language because it so closely resembles language used by a politician that they have very strong negative animus towards.
Would your disdain for an entire profession be as vigorous if the layoffs were occuring en masse at Breitbart or Fox News?
Buzzfeed and to a large degree HuffPo was a clickbait outrage yellow journalist organization. They make news for ratings, not to inform, they go for outrage.
If it was were the AP or Bloomberg or some org that reported primarily the information and facts of a matter, I might be concerned.
There are some good journalists being let go, but they'll likely land on their feet. But I'm not upset that Buzzfeed or HuffPo are slowly going under. They do more harm for democracy and an informed populace than good.
You say lead by 4chan. Do you know how 4chan works? Did you watch the video, its not just 4chan. Besides, 4chan is just a bunch of trolls, why would you get upset as a public figure, by trolls. Twitter is a cancerous cesspool, like 4chan, if you don't want to read that stuff, just stay off of it. You shouldn't take it seriously, but I do agree that journalists can be callous towards others in the same situation then suddenly incredibly sympathetic when its happening to themselves.
If their version of harassment is some trolls telling them to "learn to code" that's just more of the overly dramatic, hyperbolic reporting that got me to discount them as legitimate news to begin with, and if anything makes me feel like laying them off was probably the right choice.
The focus "coal miners" is comical. There are some 69,460 coal mining jobs in the US, 15,900 of them "blue-collar". That's less than the number of people who work at Google. I get that this is usually shorthand for blue-collar workers. But at the same time very real energy policy decisions are being made ostensibly to keep this small group of people in their jobs. Investing in better access to retraining is probably a better move.
The other fuels consumerism, depression, and relegates women to either damsels in distress, objects of conquest, or abuse victims.
I wonder in what ways, and what are the effects of such depictions. If only there was some group of people interested in researching such a thesis...
Parfumerie, by Laszlo, inspired The Shop Around the Corner, In the Good Old SUmmertime, She Loves Me, and more.
In addition to https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html, you might find these links helpful for getting an idea of the spirit of this site:
But in the case being referred to here, it's not just that the subject being studied is ridiculous, it's the reasons she studied it in the first place:
Several issues here:
1) She knows nobody cares and studies it anyway. Not a smart move. At least you can argue some people might care about a PhD thesis on the works of Shakespeare.
2) She directly tackles the question you raise and the answer deserves ridicule:
"Why study romantic comedies? They’re formulaic and predictable and light and fluffy. Everyone knows how they’re going to end. They don’t mean anything. Why devote years of my life to them when I could be studying The Odyssey"
Hmm, good question. Because:
"Well, for one thing, I’m interested in stories about women. And all those abovementioned stories, those stories we take so seriously, those 'real' texts, are about dudes."
To recap - she admits that she did a PhD in a subject nobody cares about, studying texts that "don't mean anything", for no better reason than because more useful or meaningful texts involve men. In other words - it's gender studies. The stereotype that people with gender studies degrees find it hard to stay employed is being proven true right here.
There is also his Wikipedia which gives a good amount of info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Thompson_(writer)
Got that right. Partly because adverts are boring and uncreative ... much like Buzzfeed
"now advertisers ... can reach the exact customers [at] Facebook and Google."
That has yet to be demonstrated. Was it ever true? Is it still?
"Back in 2015 I wrote that BuzzFeed [Was] the Most Important News Organization in the World... So what went wrong?"
I glance at many newsfeeds every day. I found little value in Buzzfeed. So, you were wrong.