The web isn’t a cool geek playground any longer. It is a vital part of everyday life. And decades of trying to find a way to monetise something open and decentralised took their toll. When I look back at when I started publishing on the web there was a genuine “build it and they will come”. Or, to be more precise, “write it and they will come” – as good content, structured in a clear way, was the big winner. To a degree, it still is, but the question is who will come.
Good content still gets you found. But it also invites a lot of people to quote, steal or find some other way to associate their – often terrible – products with it.
Christian Heilmann on the new web.
… Yeah I admit it. I just like the irony. Definitely go read the rest of the article, though, particularly you oldskool DIYers out there.
Still, the visual remnants of vaporwave have long outlasted its radical ideological underpinnings. Almost immediately, its pastel, geometric, softcore aesthetics were gobbled up by media platforms, in particular the image-driven platforms Tumblr and Instagram. The pastiche compositions of Arizona Iced Tea cans and old Windows desktops were very quickly made available on all these commercial interfaces, which were not only feeding on a countercultural art movement—they were likewise consuming the ghosts of an internet they had long since murdered. The critique offered by vaporwave—its defiant sense of utopia—was immediately and effectively erased, leaving only a commodified, nostalgic aesthetic. And this aesthetic detritus, its millennial pink, Memphis-esque shapes and squiggles made entirely for Instagram, became cold, devoid of joy and playfulness, something the Consumer Aesthetic Research Institute, an ad hoc, Discord-based volunteer group which runs a popular series of blogs and Facebook pages cataloging various aesthetic tendencies across the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s, simply calls the “bougie design aesthetic.”
Kate Wagner on ravenous capitalism.
This is actually from that article about Web 1.0 that was going around a while back, but this paragraph in particular resonated with me because I always passionately loathed that pastel-pink faux 90s1 Instagram aesthetic—aggressively thin, white, feminine and middle class as it is—and now I have an academic reason I can trot out to explain why! Awesome!
- … Yes, yes. I know. [↩]
Decentralization upends the social network business model by dramatically reducing operating costs. It absolves a single entity of having to shoulder all operating costs alone. No single server needs to grow beyond its comfort zone and financial capacity. As the entry cost is near zero, an operator of a Mastodon server does not need to seek venture capital, which would pressure them to use large-scale monetization schemes. There is a reason why Facebook executives rejected the $1 per year business model of WhatsApp after its acquisition: It is sustainable and fair, but it does not provide the same unpredictable, potentially unbounded return of investment that makes stock prices go up. Like advertising does.
Eugen Rochko on decentralization.
The $7.2 billion number represents about 5% of worldwide online ad spending. To give you an example of how fuzzy this number is, the WFA (World Federation of Advertisers) says that the actual amount of fraud could easily be 30% — or six times this.
Believe it or not, if fraud accounts for just 10% of the online advertising system, in 9 years ad fraud will be the second largest source of criminal activity in the world, second only to drug trafficking.
Bob Hoffman on ad fraud.
Given that both the people being ripped off (i.e. companies advertising online) and the people doing the ripping off (i.e. people selling online ads) are both part of a garbage ecosystem, I’m really not sure exactly what I feel about this…
Speaking of Ye Historye of Ye Internete… whatever happened to You’re the Man Now, Dog?
I still unironically love the YTMND format—it’s pretty much the distilled essence of neo-dada—and its ignominious demise is a lesson in the damage the follows in the wake of libertarian-style un-moderated “social media-ification”…