19 January 2012

About the Money: Internet Content

For much of its existence the Internet, considered as a stream of content in a tech structure, was not about the money. Much like academia, from where it mostly came and existed for a long time, where money is a factor, projects do not happen without it. But content is not primarily determined by money.

Ways have been found to approach monetizing internet technology and content, that is a developing technology in and of itself. But it is still not primarily about the money, there is a difference between monetizing and business activity.

Monetization is dependent on the system you operate in, not on you or customers, so you cannot produce a static model of it, in the sense one can produce a set of statements, which is partly why it is hard to value internet companies like this, there is a systemic difference in the structure of their statements. It may still be possible to find a static structure in sets of statements as this blog has discussed, though.

I am a big admirer of Hollywood and I agree to produce those films many of which are big additions to culture, takes vast sums, which must be recovered, as this is a big, successful, important business. That is the point, internet content providers are not necessarily businesses.

They can be, in the case of e-commerce, but many are not. It is partly because costs are very low, unlike Hollywood. In Hollywood the big producers need protecting, but on the Internet, the small, the many producers who exist there need protecting. How to do that, is the real issue, in my opinion.

In a way costs are not low, the lower you keep the costs, the more work you must do, so you absorb the costs yourself, in your time and effort, however you can do this (but there is a good reason why web designers, programmers and so on get paid a lot).

In fact it is a place where costs can potentially be absorbed by the producer, without negating their ability to produce, in fact potentially enhancing this ability. That is hard, but it is a productive spur for the economy and future growth, I believe. It may be that real growth depends on such spurs, and that is a great reason for keeping the structures that exist now.

It is possible to see SOPA as a development in the move of the Internet to a business model. In makes sense like this. But the Internet is another kind of model, one determined by the system it operates in. Distributed, granular, accessible to all who can access it. To gateway it, attacks this fundamental nature of it.

That nature is pretty unique and there is no direct mapping between content production and monetary reward, yet, what we might term commerce. There is something approaching this in the convergence of sheers numbers of visitors and ad technology, but even here there is a lack of commercial certainty, if only how to get those numbers in commercially viable ways. If that is found, it may make for a static structure in statements.

But it may not be something which can be found, given the nature of the system it operates in. That is, the uncertainty may be a property of the Internet. To change that, what do we end up with. Many see nothing, and they may be right. It is that wildness and depth that attracts people to the Internet and that comes from its uncertainty. That is its moat and it is one all can profit in.

As an artist, you can work away on a great work of art, but it is very hard to get it to where it gets seen, that tends to be gatewayed, that gateway leads to the directness (and the $$$). Now, that visibility is not automatic on the Internet, but the system is not geared towards decisions being made about the content, to get it out there.

It is the place where, if you build it, they may come. That needs to be preserved. Because it is such a motivation for everybody, it is the source of that realization of the dream, equal opportunity for all. And such a potential driver of economic development.

There are none of the drawbacks that gateways inherently have, the Internet is not governed in any real sense because there is no need for laws to impose equality of access and so on, that is its power, it has it already. That motivation is some say the only new game in town these days, but it is such a game, and when it monetizes, like catching a dream, it does it like nobody's business.

It is the great development on the Internet to see how content, not commerce or technology itself, monetizes.

That story is being written, and it depends on the architecture for it being preserved. The Internet is the friend of those who produce for the sake of it, but would want those earthly rewards as well and that is a friendship for the very small and the very big, right, left and center, in equal measure.

But that is the foundation for a new economy. It is a matter of working with the uncertainty of the Internet, not against it.