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Come for the Network, Pay for the Tool Toby Shorin "The uneasy Web 2.0 truce between social networks, legacy media, and brands is falling apart. Once it was held together by ad tech. But advertising spends keep going up, brand content is at peak saturation, and audiences are slowly but surely evacuating the big social media companies. Can the three forces — social media, content, and commerce — find a new way relate to each other? Here enters the question of community. As high quality content and effective brand strategy move down the long tail, “community” has become an important concept for every post-Web 2.0 player. Crypto token holders, influencer fanbases, DTC brand customers, creator audiences, and new social networks are all often referred to as communities, and each has a stake in developing community for itself. A new business type here is the paid community: a direct subscription to join in. Today, most paid communities live on the outskirts of existing social platforms. But as they become normalized, paid communities are becoming a viable business model for smaller-scale social networks aiming to be both profitable and socially sustainable. This emerging new media thing, the paid community social network, has new rules and new risks, and just as it will require new skillsets to operate, requires a new way of understanding what both business and community mean."
Come for the Network, Pay for the Tool Toby Shorin "The uneasy Web 2.0 truce between social networks, legacy media, and brands is falling apart. Once it was held together by ad tech. But advertising spends keep going up, brand content is at peak saturation, and audiences are slowly but surely evacuating the big social media companies. Can the three forces — social media, content, and commerce — find a new way relate to each other? Here enters the question of community. As high quality content and effective brand strategy move down the long tail, “community” has become an important concept for every post-Web 2.0 player. Crypto token holders, influencer fanbases, DTC brand customers, creator audiences, and new social networks are all often referred to as communities, and each has a stake in developing community for itself. A new business type here is the paid community: a direct subscription to join in. Today, most paid communities live on the outskirts of existing social platforms. But as they become normalized, paid communities are becoming a viable business model for smaller-scale social networks aiming to be both profitable and socially sustainable. This emerging new media thing, the paid community social network, has new rules and new risks, and just as it will require new skillsets to operate, requires a new way of understanding what both business and community mean."
I don’t know if this is so much a neoliberal critique as a contemporary corona business plan or a neoliberal transformation of (virtual) third spaces into monetized content delivery. Pick your cover charge: outright payment for the astroturf or manipulative brainwashing for the astroturf. And yet, something real happens in these virtual environments. I read this and I thought about alt. newsgroups in Usenet and dating sites back in the day. Alt in the early days would allow for a (generally) commercial-free experience where ideas themselves were the point. The back-and-forth was organic and personal. Yes sockpuppets could be a thing and spam creeped in, but there was a more raw knowing of the parties ideas and beliefs, though less knowing of their identities. There were quite a few feminist pieces written about how this might be a utopia (it was early days). At any rate, for a time, these spaces grew a kind of real community, though often one biased towards the cognitive. Dating sites on the other hand, were all about the identities: a/s/l and a dozen other questions (1,000 other questions later on OkCupid and Match), everything except your specific name and number. While initially quite reductive, undoubtedly millions of ‘real’ relationships formed as a result of these first drafts. So the questions evoked in me are: To what degree and in what sense are virtual communities “real?” To what degree can they be facilitative of “real” relationships in (physical) first, second, and third spaces? To my mind, paying a cover charge at the bar where you will meet your spouse does not negate your marriage, but outright paying for sex will probably make it impossible to have a genuine (undistorted by money) relational connection. Are the ABC paid communities discussed in the article more like a “cover charge” or more like “prostitution” or does their newness require new categories and metaphors?
I don’t know if this is so much a neoliberal critique as a contemporary corona business plan or a neoliberal transformation of (virtual) third spaces into monetized content delivery. Pick your cover charge: outright payment for the astroturf or manipulative brainwashing for the astroturf. And yet, something real happens in these virtual environments. I read this and I thought about alt. newsgroups in Usenet and dating sites back in the day. Alt in the early days would allow for a (generally) commercial-free experience where ideas themselves were the point. The back-and-forth was organic and personal. Yes sockpuppets could be a thing and spam creeped in, but there was a more raw knowing of the parties ideas and beliefs, though less knowing of their identities. There were quite a few feminist pieces written about how this might be a utopia (it was early days). At any rate, for a time, these spaces grew a kind of real community, though often one biased towards the cognitive. Dating sites on the other hand, were all about the identities: a/s/l and a dozen other questions (1,000 other questions later on OkCupid and Match), everything except your specific name and number. While initially quite reductive, undoubtedly millions of ‘real’ relationships formed as a result of these first drafts. So the questions evoked in me are: To what degree and in what sense are virtual communities “real?” To what degree can they be facilitative of “real” relationships in (physical) first, second, and third spaces? To my mind, paying a cover charge at the bar where you will meet your spouse does not negate your marriage, but outright paying for sex will probably make it impossible to have a genuine (undistorted by money) relational connection. Are the ABC paid communities discussed in the article more like a “cover charge” or more like “prostitution” or does their newness require new categories and metaphors?
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