Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Digg' in without monetary motivation

As usual, Kent Newsome has some thoughtful analysis of the Kevin Rose/ Jason Calcanis conflict. In fact he's writing with some very insightful personal experience. However I have to think that it is quite possible that Kevin's wording is a little misleading (although of course he's free to correct me if I'm wrong):

Kevin states in his post:

"Ya see users like Digg,, Reddit and Flickr because they are contributing to true, free, democratic social platforms devoid of monetary motivations."

If he means that the contributing users are devoid of monetary motivations, then he is correct. I think more often than not, people will construe that he's claiming Flickr, Digg, etc.. to be devoid of monetary motivations - which of course is preposterous.

Now are the contributing users actually devoid of monetary motivation? Well there's currently no monetary motivation on Digg to do it, so perhaps they're not devoid of it, but it's effectively a motivation that's all dressed up with no place to go. I think the point is that they are not contributing great links to make money. If they are, they should be doing it for Netscape. That might leave Digg with contributors who are simply doing it for the love of it. This is not a bad thing.

Part of Dave Winer's post just begs comment. He writes:

"No doubt Kevin is going to make something like $20 or $30 million when he sells Digg, which seems a pretty likely outcome. What will the users get?"

What should the users get? Where did it state that contributors get anything? If people start worrying about who's going to benefit from they're content or effort, they should start worrying more about the policies of the places they publish it. If you are worried that Flickr/Delicious/YouTube are going to make profits on the back of your work without compensating you, check their policies. If you're not satisfied they won't (and you're likely correct), then move on. Find and support services that pledge not to do that. OurMedia comes to mind.

Now I'm all for the 'user' - I'm a card-carrying member - but I realize quite simply that I'm publishing these words courtesy of Google (who owns Blogger). And if I really did care about who's profiting from my content (now that's a joke) I'd check Blogger's policies and go somewhere else if I wasn't happy with them (or host it myself).

While it would be nice if Digg paid all it's contributors if and when it gets bought, I think that's pie-in-the-sky unreasonable. Do you expect Google to pay you for all the search data you're giving them day after day which they use to build profitable services and products? These people have every right to make money with a novel idea. Cripes I'm not even American and I support that! :)

Maybe once users start realizing how important their content is, there will be a shift to organizations which protect that content. For now, I'm happily giving away my content. If a day comes when that happiness turns to anger, I will have no one to blame but myself.


John Walker said...

I couldn't agree more with your analysis. People use Digg because it's a great site with lots of interesting links to information that would otherwise be hard to find. People who post links for review post them for a couple of reasons, in my estimation...

- It's enjoyable to contribute to a site that's given you much joy
- It's cool to see how much others enjoy the things you enjoy

I guess the thing that is interesting to me about this debate is that I never even considered being paid for my submitted sites. In actuality, a part of me is amazed that I get to benefit from the site for free! What a great concept, even in the age of web 2.0.

Will I be sore when Kevin Rose sells this thing for big bucks? No way! I'll simply admire the guy and be happy for him for a great and a well-executed idea.

I give Calacanis marketing props for turning logic on its head and making at least some question the entire idea, though I don't understand the logic at all.

Really, should start paying those Yahoo Answers people money for their answers? What about other sites? Seems like a slippery slope to me.

Ian Betteridge said...

I agree with you in the sense that there's no contract - or even an assumption - that the users should get anything. What makes my bile rise, though, is the rhetoric that Kevin is using. A "true, free, democratic social platforms devoid of monetary motivations"? Kevin should learn a little more about what "free" and "democratic" means before spouting that crap.

Oh, and of course what he means by "devoid of monetary motivation" is "devoid of monetary motivation for the users". It's perfectly fine for him to have some monetary motivation - and gain a decent wedge of monetary reward - but woe betide any of that largesse trickle down to the people who, at the end of the day, create at least 50% of the value of his site.