After its recent IPO, Twitter is valued at nearly $25Billion. Now what is Twitter? Millions of tweets created and shared by users plus some ads. But how many users get a piece of that $25Billion? Well, none.
Where would Facebook be without Friends? What would Twitter, Amazon, Yelp, and any network whose value is based on our data, be without us – sharing photos and feelings, making purchases, registering opinions. More than programming or advertising, TV has always been about selling our eyeballs. Likewise, today’s online giants are selling our visits, our clicks, our shares.
JARON LANIER, in his new book, WHO OWNS THE FUTURE?, writes: “At the height of its power, Kodak employed more than 140,000 people and was worth $28 billion. They even invented the first digital camera. Today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography is Instagram. When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people. Where did all those jobs disappear? And what happened to the wealth that all those middle-class jobs created?”
He believes the emerging business model in which companies with relatively few employees profit off the participation of all of us, could doom any hope of a rebirth of the middle class. Lanier wants to solve a problem not many are talking about, and he envisions a radical solution — “a highly humanistic economy – one that will reward people for the valuable information they share with networks and the companies that control and profit from them.