Monopolistic Digital Capitalism

I don’t want to turn this blog into one big quote of I started the evening out intending to write about design; I was scanning my archives for past musings on the subject (I’ve written about it a lot and am certain to start repeating myself); that led me to Design Observer, which led me to my Feedly category on design, which led me back to Hapgood.

One of the qualities of good design is its attention to detail. That attention to detail is preconditioned by a rigorous scholastic pursuit of the materials that make up the bedrock for expertise in this arena. Mike Caulfield is saturated with this scholarly attention to detail. He is a designer.

Today he writes of expertise and our political/digital malaise.

Monopolistic Digital Capitalism and Its Discontents

…so much of our current expertise compromised in some way, and the media is often a willing accomplice to its distribution. We see this, for example, in educational technology, where the totality of an “expert’s expertise” involves floating a startup…

I believe in expertise. I believe we need a return to valuing expertise. But the trend over the past 40 years has been to mint expertise wedded to particular political results…

What happens when powerful interests learn to print expertise and push it into circulation? They same thing that happens when you do such things with currency. With no clear dividing live between the counterfeit and the real, the value of all currency suffers.

As we can see, the alternative to believing in expertise–the sort of knee-jerk nihilism we are seeing in some political quarters–turns out to be far more frightening than even our corrupted version of scholarship. But you can’t address the nihilism without addressing the environment that fostered it.

Facebook doesn’t produce content. It figures out ways to monetize the content of others. The content providers on Facebook (you and me) make nothing, and Facebook pays the providers of the content we share nothing. Facebook doesn’t benefit if you read a thought-provoking piece on the platform on that you think about on your morning drive. It makes money when you scroll, skim, comment, like, share. Like a food scientist looking for the flavor profile that makes people eat 23% more tortilla chips, Facebook’s focus is not on satiety, or even curiosity, but compulsion.

Facebook relies on you having a compulsive relationship to Facebook that devalues direct relationships to other professional content providers. And so you get exactly what you’d predict you’d get.

Previous: Minecraft for the Under 6 Set

Archives | RSS