On Tuesday, New York Times Op-Ed writer Joe Nocera wrote a fascinating article about Jaron Lanier’s recent book “Who Owns the Future?” Within the review, Nocera cites Laneir’s harrowing perspective on how the new digitally-centric economy ultimately decimates the middle class. A simple comparison between Kodak and Instagram blew away Nocera. And then me. And probably you, in turn…
“At its height, Kodak employed more than 140,000 people…When Instagram was sold to Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012, it employed only 13 people…Instagram isn’t worth a billion dollars just because those 13 employees are extraordinary…Instead, its value comes from the millions of users who contribute to the network without being paid for it…Networks need a great number of people to participate in them to generate significant value. But when they have them, only a small number of people get paid. This has the net effect of centralizing wealth and limiting overall economic growth.”
Collaborative networks hold such promise for intellectual and artistic advances; if Lanier is right, we need to innovate to add economic ones as well. Or better still, find ways for more people to return to that old fashioned idea of making stuff.
By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Olson
PS: I stepped away from this blog for a while. But I’m getting back to it now–mostly as a repository for bite-sized information I find interesting. Hope you will to.