"A Paradigm Shaft"

Although you might want to skip a few introductory paragraphs of this interesting Wired article with Jaron Lanier, it’s worth reading for his take on social media and it’s cornering of the entire internet.

When we use the term “social media,” what we tend to mean is these giant platforms that have effectively taken over the internet for almost everybody, almost all the time. And they do so using this weird business model where, any time two people connect, it’s financed by a third person whose only motive is to manipulate those two in a sneaky way. So this whole architecture is on every level based on sneakiness and manipulation, often using weird behaviorist, hypnotic, unacknowledged techniques to get people more and more engaged or addicted and persuaded, or to get them into compulsive behavior patterns that aren’t necessarily in their own interest.

He describes how the internet got to where it is today, but also talks very positively about where it could go and how it could achieve it in order to escape this sneaky and manipulative state of affairs.

An example that can serve as inspiration is Netflix. At first the business was “We’ll send you discs by mail.” A very common worry about that idea at the time was that you could just get all the streaming content you wanted for free. Which was true, but the response to that is, well, (A) we can make an overall experience that’s still worth the money, because it’ll just be easier, less hassle or less risk. And (B) we can expand our value proposition so it’s actually saving you money versus cable. So if you look at Netflix’s ability to start a subscription business, I think it gives you hope that business models can change, and if people are used to free things, they actually can be persuaded that a paid model makes the world better.