In answer to the question posed in the title, I don’t think we can do much to reclaim our rights as producers of content and use value in netarchical platforms. However, we can work to raise awareness on the subject and help the shift toward real P2P platforms. This is already happening right now, with Diaspora enjoying a revival in the wake of Ello’s failed promise to deliver a true alternative to Facebook. The following article was written by John Robb and originally published in Home Free America.
“We don’t get ownership because we don’t expect ownership… We’ve been conditioned to give away our work and our patronage for free while the schmucks on Wall Street walk away with buckets of money.”
Do you contribute to Facebook, Yelp, Reddit, or sites like that?
Most of us do contribute to some sites like this and our contributions, more or less depending on our contribution, are the reason these companies are valuable.
Our contributions are the reason people come to these sites day after day, so why don’t we get a bit of ownership for our contributions?
Lots of ownership goes to the employees. But, nobody goes to these sites for the high quality software, elegant design, or robust hosting. Further, all of the tech they are using is the result of innovation by other people.
Most of the ownership goes to the financing. Yet, these sites don’t cost much to run. A pittance actually. The cloud makes them very cheap to operate. In fact, the amount is so small, nearly all of the money needed to launch these sites could be raised by the customers using these sites.
We don’t get ownership because we don’t expect ownership.
We’ve been conditioned to give away our work and our patronage for free while the schmucks on Wall Street walk away with buckets of money.
There is a small glimmer of hope things might finally be changing (it’s something I tried to do back in 2010-12 and got my ass handed to me for trying to do it).
My hope is due to three things:
- Desire to do the right thing. We don’t see enough of this in Silicon Valley anymore, despite the fact that all great innovations start with getting the “why” right. Reddit’s CEO, Yishan Wong (formerly of Facebook) is doing the right thing. He’s planning to make Reddit’s users into owners, depending on their contribution to the site.
- There’s a way to create a form of liquid ownership that doesn’t require Wall Street. This new method is based on the bitcoin blockchain. That technology makes it possible to issue ownership to contributors in a decentralized and trusted way.
- The combination of blockchain stock, Yishan’s example, and the experience of participants will set in motion a wave of change in Silicon Valley. The message is: if you want to build an online company, you better find a way to make your customers/contributors owners.
PS: This is potentially a sea change in financing/ownership. There’s much more to this. Wall Street’s banksters should be worried.