On pg 102 of Jonathan Taplin’s Move Fast and Break Things, he highlights email exchanges between YouTube’s founders, released in a court case, which suggest the invocation of ‘user generated content’ might be a matter of branding rather than a meaningful growth strategy for social media platforms:

In another email exchange from 2005, when full-length movies were being posted on YouTube, Steve Chen, a cofounder of the company, wrote to his colleagues Hurley and Jawed Karim, “Steal it!,” and Chad Hurley responded: “Hmm, steal the movies?” Steve Chen replied: “We have to keep in mind that we need to attract traffic. How much traffic will we get from personal videos? Remember, the only reason why our traffic surged was due to a video of this type…. viral videos will tend to be THOSE type of videos.”

Much critical literature has focused on how social media platforms ossify existing hierarchies and establish new ones. It is too easy to see this as an unexpected consequence of a new social infrastructure, as opposed to an outcome which was knowingly designed in from the start.

An interesting insight from This Town, by Mark Leibovich, pg 278-279. It would presumably be near impossible for a website like Politico to maintain its level of output without resorting to processes like this:

Sure enough, a few days later, Politico’s founding editor, John Harris, went on a new enterprise called “Politico TV” and revealed that that is exactly how the “stupid” story came about. “A lot of people’s stories generate from people’s rants,” Harris explained. “Alex Burns wrote up one of my rants.” Burns made some phone calls to prove—or “explore”—his boss’s premise that voters were stupid. Lo and behold, the premise came back rock solid.

From The Boy Who Could Change The World: The Writings of Aaron Swartz, loc 283:

But if it turns out that doesn’t work, I’ve also been looking into a system called Compulsory Licensing. The idea is that you pay about $5 more a month on your cable modem bill in exchange for being able to download all the music and movies you want. Then you anonymously submit what you downloaded and the money gets sent to the people who made it. The submission is done all automatically by your computer, so you don’t have to do anything.

If a critical mass of the dominant free providers were to do this, would it deter consumers from using ad blocking or merely piss them off and lead them to go elsewhere? From Boing Boing

The company says it’s not policy to do this — yet — but they’re testing locking Yahoo Mail users out of their accounts unless they turn off ad-blocking.

Many (many, many!) Yahoo Mail users actually paid for their Yahoo Mail accounts, in the form of a bundle with their cable or DSL subscriptions. Presumably you can get around this by just using a mail-client to pull your Yahoo Mail over POP or IMAP (the last time I checked, you could use Gmail to read your Yahoo Mail this way).


From Trust Me I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, pg 19:

There are thousands of bloggers scouring the web looking for things to write about. They must write several times each day. They search Twitter, Facebook, comments sections, press releases, rival blogs, and other sources to develop their material. Above them are hundreds of mid- level online and offline journalists on websites and blogs and in magazines and newspapers who use those bloggers below them as sources and filters. They also have to write constantly— and engage in the same search for buzz, only a little more developed. Above them are the major national websites, publications, and television stations. They in turn browse the scourers below them for their material, grabbing their leads and turning them into truly national conversations. These are the most influential bunch— the New York Times, the Today Show, and CNN— and dwindling revenues or not, they have massive reach. Finally, between, above, and throughout these concentric levels is the largest group: us, the audience. We scan the web for material that we can watch, comment on, or share with our friends and followers.