Creators and Consumers… Blurred lines

Technology has done a lot to blur the lines between creators and consumers. In one sense, a lot of people that were once consumers are now creators.Instagram is a perfect example of this change in that most users are playing both rolls. This was the sea change that I felt when I first logged in to Twitter.  Technology has made it so much easier for everybody to create. You can make a pretty good sounding record in your bedroom. You can make pretty great videos and edit them from your smart phone. This is the good part of blurring the lines between creators and consumers.On the other hand, technology has blurred those lines by co-opting or even hijacking the relationship between creators and consumers in a way that the individual user can’t control. That’s not necessarily the fault of technology itself, but the current state of affairs with the billion user Facebook network and very small list of network providers has given too much control to centralized private networks.  Facebook and Google now have a huge amount of knowledge and control over the information that people consume. And while traditional media companies like the New York Times or your local paper had a lot of control over the content they were sending you, they weren’t able to track that and they were just one of the many options available to consumers. Same goes for television. So that line between creators (publishers) and consumers has gotten blurred in that it’s now brokered through large private networks such as Facebook, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Google and every other major player.The problem with this second example is that creators are getting financially destroyed. The fact that everybody is now a photographer or recording artist or writer doesn’t actually hurt professional photographers, recording artists, or writers. If anything it keeps interest high and grows the industry. But the large private networks controlling the relationships between these creators and their fans or consumers is destroying the creators ability to earn a living wage.  Let’s say you love a creator and want to support them. How do you do that? You could buy their book, but would they get any money? You could listen to their songs on Spotify a thousand times and they’d get a couple pennies regardless of whether or not you are a premium user. You could follow them on Facebook… where’d they still have to pay to Boost their content before you’d ever even see it.This is why I love RSS. Creators publish a distributed syndicated XML feed on the internet. Consumers use an app to fetch data from that location.  They see everything that the creators publish and nobody is hijacking that relationship. It’s a direct unburied line between the creator and the consumer.  A user has a list of URL’s and can use any number of apps (including, but not limited to The Old Reader) to access those feeds. What if you could just leave Facebook when you didn’t like their product anymore without losing access to your friends or the writers, musicians, or other creators that you value so highly? What if you creators and consumers were directly linked to each other and technology facilitated that instead of owning or hijacking that relationship?  Let’s make the change.

Creators and Consumers… Blurred lines

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Technology has done a lot to blur the lines between creators and consumers. In one sense, a lot of people that were once consumers are now creators.

Instagram is a perfect example of this change in that most users are playing both rolls. This was the sea change that I felt when I first logged in to Twitter.  Technology has made it so much easier for everybody to create. You can make a pretty good sounding record in your bedroom. You can make pretty great videos and edit them from your smart phone. This is the good part of blurring the lines between creators and consumers.

On the other hand, technology has blurred those lines by co-opting or even hijacking the relationship between creators and consumers in a way that the individual user can’t control. That’s not necessarily the fault of technology itself, but the current state of affairs with the billion user Facebook network and very small list of network providers has given too much control to centralized private networks.  

Facebook and Google now have a huge amount of knowledge and control over the information that people consume. And while traditional media companies like the New York Times or your local paper had a lot of control over the content they were sending you, they weren’t able to track that and they were just one of the many options available to consumers. Same goes for television. So that line between creators (publishers) and consumers has gotten blurred in that it’s now brokered through large private networks such as Facebook, Spotify, Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Google and every other major player.

The problem with this second example is that creators are getting financially destroyed. The fact that everybody is now a photographer or recording artist or writer doesn’t actually hurt professional photographers, recording artists, or writers. If anything it keeps interest high and grows the industry. But the large private networks controlling the relationships between these creators and their fans or consumers is destroying the creators ability to earn a living wage.  Let’s say you love a creator and want to support them. How do you do that? You could buy their book, but would they get any money? You could listen to their songs on Spotify a thousand times and they’d get a couple pennies regardless of whether or not you are a premium user. You could follow them on Facebook… where’d they still have to pay to Boost their content before you’d ever even see it.

This is why I love RSS. Creators publish a distributed syndicated XML feed on the internet. Consumers use an app to fetch data from that location.  They see everything that the creators publish and nobody is hijacking that relationship. It’s a direct unburied line between the creator and the consumer.  A user has a list of URL’s and can use any number of apps (including, but not limited to The Old Reader) to access those feeds. What if you could just leave Facebook when you didn’t like their product anymore without losing access to your friends or the writers, musicians, or other creators that you value so highly? What if you creators and consumers were directly linked to each other and technology facilitated that instead of owning or hijacking that relationship?  Let’s make the change.