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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Life as a techno-serf

Lately, a lot of thoughts have been streaming through my head about
Techno-serfs. That's essentially what thr vast majority of people using the internet have become.

The only people making money on the internet are the people who provide the platforms. We, the happy little serfs, toil away providing free content so the techs can point to their
various platforms -- blogs, MySpace, Spotify, Reverb Nation, YouTube, Twitter,
FaceBook, etc etc -- and say, "See. It works. Gimme a billion dollars."

Meanwhile, the payout to artists, if anything at all, is less and less --
Spotify's "royalties" being the perfect example. Compare that to what was
happening on mp3.com a dozen years ago, when you could make thousands a month --
sometimes tens of thousands -- if you figured out a smart way to promo your
music. Those days are long gone and won't ever some again.

What mp3.com did was set the hook firmly in the fish's mouth.

We're now all told that participating is the way to "Success". But is it really?
(We are all also told that we must scale back our expectations.) Playing a set
all the way through accurately -- that's success. And when it pays, it is NOT on
the internet.

Back in the early 1990s, when I still lived in Manhattan, a very successful bond
trader told me over drinks one evening (I was raising money for a project, and
yes -- he put up a few thousand) that with the collapse of the Soviet Union
there were some very powerful and wealthy people who were hoping to institute a
form of worldwide corporate serfdom -- his exact words -- over the next 20 to 30
years.

No one could have predicted social media and so forth. But the net result is the
same -- we are all serfs toiling for corporate / tech masters for, at best, a
pittance and often for naught.

The masses, of course, haven't a clue about their enslavement. People happily
participate, happily make the technocrats wealthy, and think they are so slick
and hip. Being on the internet -- why it's almost like being on television:
'there's my name, there's my face, there are my words, and it's all on a screen!
Now look! I'm on Twitter. I have followers!'

Meanwhile, college grads can't find jobs and it's tougher and tougher for young
people, as the layoffs continue, especially in the public sector where seniority
is everything.

And here I am doing it, too -- writing and blustering and creating page views
for blogger.com. Is it any better when one knows oneself to be a sucker? Haven't
figured out the answer to that yet.

Uke Jackson

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