We can break the cycle with self-hosted platform-agnostic tools. Most everything these platforms do is available off the shelf - the differentiations don't actually matter. The content creators aren't being given an audience, they build audiences for the platform. Everything the platform does once it has to start making money is in service to the platform and the investors, not the "workers", or the users.
Except, often critically, the very network effect that those platforms help foster.
Try self-hosting a viral video and see how far it gets you. It's much harder to break through. This very discussion is taking place on a platform that focuses a network effect for a very specific but sizeable audience. How would it take place otherwise?
I agree with you that it would be better if everyone self-hosted and was able to charge what they wanted. I think it may be more realistic to hope for more platforms—competing with each other—to whittle down the rent they are able to seek from the creators that bring them value. Make them compete for the content creators. And, if they grow too unwieldy, regulate them (or threaten to) so that they set reasonable ground rules.
Maybe the ongoing collapse of American cities as places that are unaffordable for anyone other that the ultra-wealthy will push software engineers in this direction. The housing crisis in San Francisco alone should demonstrate that class interests of white collar employees are more aligned with those of the workers on the platforms they create then those of their current owners.
"Regardless of whether the U.S. is able to maintain its trade barriers, a sustainable long-term structure would be a pilot-owned airline. If the pilots are the owners there need be no conflict concerning distributing profits. "
This is ridiculous. That some cities in the US are unaffordable and becoming more so is a result of democratic decisions. Californian voters are like Irish voters, disproportionately property owners, and you see the same insane rise in property prices in much of the English speaking world. There are the occasional bright spots, like Seattle but the problem has a bloody obvious solution, build more housing. Tokyo’s rent and house prices have been basically flat for two decades while population increased by 50%.
San Francisco has the planning and zoning and housing it votes for, just like New York. If the desirability of any area increases and housing doesn’t then housing gets more expensive.
That a society is ostensibly democratic tells you little about how the levers of power actually function around things like urban policy and real estate development. You also need a theory of power and means of change to implement whatever it is you want to accomplish. Per my original comment, I think a greater solidarity between white collar workers and the working class, as they both get soaked by rising rents and home prices, could provide a possibility for this kind of change.
Sure, less popular creators can get some monetary support from a more progressive society arrangement. But they won't get more popularity, unless you can explain how your society arrangement leads to equitable redistribution of popularity. In other words, the median book author might get a nice basic income, but their book will still get crickets.
A large percentage of Americans live in cities. Are they all ultra-wealthy?
As a random example, if someone is shopping for a steak, they normally would go to a market, grocery store, or butcher shop in a popular plaza near their home. If you’re in America, most likely that steak is sourced from a farm owned by a large corporation. You could go to local butcher who sources their meat from local small farms and add 30 minutes to your shopping, but it doesn’t have potatoes and green beans you'd like on the side of that steak dinner. Some people will absolutely make that trip, but not nearly as much as if that butcher got a shop in the popular plaza near everything else, owned by a commercial real estate company.
While the physical shopping example obviously has more friction than the digital example, the value is still high to provide a centrally located platform for consumers, creators and businesses to congregate. The power is rightfully focused on those that provide that platform.
I did see an interesting an interesting article about hosting your own content and then use shadow copies, linking back to original, on Medium, etc. I never tried it though, and I am not convinced it would be a good idea.
Another idea to go with this is giving the followers/subscribers a way to help the content creator that isn't (directly) monetary -- serving as a CDN for their content. I think the tools are actually even all there right now (torrenting, live stream relaying tech, DHTs, etc) -- it's just no one has created a compelling platform that is super easy to use -- I mean like no set up -- Enter your patreon/stripe, click "Stream" and start streaming, tell your followers to download the app.
There are some alternatives out there though:
An app like these, but with as little set up as possible and the right pairing for an easy path to profitability (again, probably just hooking up a stripe/patreon) and the right amount of social features would blow this wide open.
People often talk about the problem with moderation, but people on Twitch solve that mostly by empowering certain members of the audience to be moderators (who are happy to contribute and glad to get some power/special status).
Another problem that often is mentioned is discovery -- how will people find the good content? I think you can leave discovery to other platforms for now or find a way to solve it later -- worst case we can literally re-grow the way the old internet did it -- start with web rings, and scraping. In the extreme case, if discovery becomes such a bad problem, someone will step in and charge for it (whether on the supply or demand side).
As a side note, I almost wrote a rant on HN the other day about the "passion economy" (I believe it was on a article about restaurant), but thought better of it because I just don't think the HN crowd is ready to hear opinions against the current state of the capitalist system since most here are benefitting handily (the same insular view that prevents workers in tech from unionizing). I think it's growing in popularity because people are growing increasingly unsatisfied with their work prospects and are being fed fantasies about how they could succeed in a low-effort second job vaguely related to something they like doing. I think most people trying to become twitch streamers or make it big on youtube or as influencers would stop if their jobs paid them wages that made them feel financially secure. Sure some people would still stream/play/market or whatever, but they'd do it at their own pace and be much less focused on making a profit (and trading away rights/benefits to larger platform companies to do so). The real problem here isn't these companies, it's a unregulated capitalism creating a walking nightmare of "gig"s (whether it's an actual gig economy job or a full time job that pays you gig wages), giving people just enough so they can survive but not enough to thrive -- perfect for picking up another one of the gig economy jobs to try and get there.
Passion is great for hobbies. Passion should not be an ingredient or path to being a good employee or being a good citizen. Rigor yes, dedication, sure. Passion (I.e. suffering as it were), no, no that is that companies who want to milk you tell you, of managers who want to extract more from you and away from work life balance say. Sorry, but no.
Now she has a 'boring office job', but at least she gets a predictable salary and career progression. Many times passion alone doesn't pay the bills.
I read most of the post with the viewpoint that the author had a vested interest in a very specific interpretation of what's essential the story of the internet: the long tail. I see no evidence that the entire market for any of the examples has exploded in total value, which to me means we're just seeing a shift in delivery channels. Traditionally authors all made very little while a few best sellers took the majority of the money, same with musicians. If the new currency is audience, consumption or some other metric why does that indicate the fundamental distribution has changed?
And how does the work become "meaningful and deeply rewarding"? For some, it may come just from repetition. Others manage to abstract their occupation away and source the meaning and rewards from families and lifestyle their work supports. But there are people for whom this doesn't work, and this is where I believe the "passion" mindset comes from. A lot of jobs are not only not meaningful, they're net harmful to society. And most people don't get to choose what they're working on anyway, economic considerations make the choice for them. So there's a tension.
"You don't look for a work you're already passionate about. You grow passion by doing meaningful work that is deeply rewarding."
This is a great advice for many management ppl.
This is kind of the harsh reality of being an artist though: how successful you are is less about the quality of work you do and more about how hard you can hustle. The person who makes unoriginal garbage art but is good at selling themselves is gonna beat the recluse who does high quality, innovation work but doesn't put themselves out there every single time.
They may be creating something the world has never seen.
They may be devoted to waking up humanity.
The only person I know to be at this level of passion is Leo Gura.
>Passion (I.e. suffering as it were),
If it something you passion about, its not suffering.
> Passion noun: 1. strong and barely controllable emotion.
Passion isn't enthusiasm or reliability when people demand passion they aren't demanding a state that can realistically be delivered for 30-40 years, they're insisting that people operate at a level that will quickly burn them out and force other healthy components of their work out.
An employee and employer should have a mutually beneficial relationship where each party adds value to the other. The employer is using labour to produce wealth and the employee is gaining a reliable wage for their labour. The relationship (generally) ends at 5 when the employees go home, demanding more from employees is counterproductive, off-putting and sometimes abusive.
1. As a former game developer I can tell you that overtime has effects well beyond that day, these stories are more extreme than mine but here ya go: https://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/how-crunch-affects-game...
well it is off putting, feel abusive, surely you will quickly burn out if you don't have passion for it.
Come to think of it, the rise of multiple competing content platforms would actually lower the top performers' revenues due to the audience splintering.
Given that A16Z likely holds some stake in the mentioned businesses, I would treat this as simply another piece of marketing material for some upcoming IPOs.
In developed countries, today's winners win bigger. The losers stagnate. Globally, many have been lifted out of poverty.
The poor in developing countries are doing better. The wealthy are doing better. The middle class is not.
We need to think less about “the future of work” and think more about “the history of work”.
What people need to embrace is the Discipline Economy. It’s simple. Find something that is of value to society and pays enough, then work everyday to be better and better at it until you reach your maximum potential, and you will be rewarded. No passion required. You just get up and do it, every workday. And at the end of the day, clock out and go do whatever you want.
You don’t need to be doing something you like, you need to be doing something that sustains you. If that also happens to be something you like, then that is a gift, similar to being tall, or smart, or attractive. Life will be easier for you then, but that is not the default. Someone still has to shovel the piles of shit or dig a ditch.
The Passion Economy appeals to people who don’t ask what they can do for society, but rather what society can do for them. It’s selfish, and unsustainable. Passion doesn’t last forever. Discipline does.
I have a keen interest in future society/economy/technology and in a world with guaranteed minimum income, I hope people spend time on niche passion projects and not just binge on Netflix and HBO.
Unless society changes what it values, at which point you are fucked.
I strongly believe that if you stay curious and pay attention to your work, any work can be(come) meaningful and rewarding.
Devise your own faster/better/lighter shovel or digger, or your own process for shovelling or digging etc.
The human mind is beautiful in that if you "feed" it the right way, it outputs the most amazing stuff.
How can you possibly hope to disrupt work with these types of values? </s>
Honestly I wish there was a stricter policy on HN for posting corporate content marketing puff pieces. These a16z blog posts do nothing more than hype companies in their portfolio.
It doesn't go into how feasible making a living income is actually, merely highlights the top earners in specific platforms... Rather suspicious to me.
It'd be interesting to see the payouts on these platforms evaluated on the basis of something like the Gini coefficient (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gini_coefficient).
Actually, it's better for these platforms to have the average be low bc it means they have exposure to as many creators as possible. The cost of supporting each marginal creator is basically zero so they want to maximize their odds of onboarding a creator that will be successful even if that means onboarding hundreds of unsuccessful creators to get them.
Anyway, "passion" is usually/often code for "doing what you love instead of being paid", which may be fun but doesn't have a good retirement plan.
It obviously occured to them, but they can't "monetize individuality" if you actually let people know there's no money in it for most.
By contrast, 99.99% of writers earn either nothing or very little from their "passion", because approximately nobody has the time and interest to read all of their stuff. It's a terrible career choice that people should be dissuaded from more actively.
I would imagine it's the same or similar for all other "passion gigs".
Taking into account a competitive global environment with many traditional/productive jobs disappearing and being replaced by a much smaller number of extremely hard-to-get content creator jobs, I don't think it's going to end well. It's starting to look like that Black Mirror episode where people end up living in a box and generaring electricity with their legs.
It's getting increasingly difficult to achieve these passions -- requiring people to feign "passion" just so they can work jobs that often negate these real passions (namely, free time, but often more) just burns people out and sucks their souls dry.
Sure its can be hard, but there is nothing better you can do other than just keep trying.
That's the reality of capitalism. The successful outliers are so rare, they may as well be fictitious characters in a fairy tale. Their experience has no meaning, no bearing whatsoever on the lives of real people. Their only purpose is to propagate the lie which holds the system together for their own benefit and at the expense of everyone else.
Companies often drag their feet and try to get away with not paying at all, counting that you will give up or they will find another sucker.
Top talented are rare, just enough talented are plenty. Good opportunities are rare, most of capital is in hands of top 1% so capital is also rare.
We believe our arguments are a bit more pointed and speak to the dynamics of the gig economy vs. [name your catchy other economy here].
It's absurd for 0.01% of popular, early-adopter creators to be making $millions on these platforms while 99.99% with the same output quality and skills struggle to earn enough to cover a fraction of their living costs.
But of course equal wealth distribution and commons ownership is a blindspot that the Silicon Valley sociopaths will never pursue.
A very small portion become superstars and a majority fall somewhere in the middle, this is a natural phenomena.
What these platforms have allowed to happen is allowed individuals to capture more of the value they individually produce, with the result being these creators with abilities to perform BEYOND the average do much better.
Of course you don't see the natural selection cycle - the fact that many do not perform as well, and need to find some other - low competition - arena to express themselves in. In which they can perform more efficiently to capture more value for themselves. Typically in high competition environments it becomes harder and harder to make a profit.
These concepts should be obvious, I find it therefore distasteful and deplorable that one could somehow demean these platforms by saying that they "create a small number of superstars who earn orders of magnitude more than the average creator, with all other creators getting a relative pittance". They question the metrics the individuals who voted with their time and money used to decide "merit" because they didn't win by those metrics.