Citizen content producers as sharecroppers

Again with the Nick Carr …

If you have a MySpace account, you’re a sharecropper, according to Nick Carr. You are, apparently, enriching the landlords without sufficient economic benefit. I guess that’s what he means.

What’s being concentrated, in other words, is not content but the economic value of content. MySpace, Facebook, and many other businesses have realized that they can give away the tools of production but maintain ownership over the resulting products. One of the fundamental economic characteristics of Web 2.0 is the distribution of production into the hands of the many and the concentration of the economic rewards into the hands of the few. It’s a sharecropping system, but the sharecroppers are generally happy because their interest lies in self-expression or socializing, not in making money, and, besides, the economic value of each of their individual contributions is trivial.

Carr calls this development unsettling. But doesn’t explain why. And his contention that the sharecroppers are generally happy seems to belie that statement. If everybody is happy, what’s the problem?

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