[iDC] MySpace staff cuts
michelsub2003 at yahoo.com
Thu Jul 2 16:43:34 UTC 2009
Thank you very much about your two interventions, the spirit of which I share.
But I also would like to warn about a too overt stress towards the 'selfish' attitudes of 'competing for attention'. Just as important is the sharing part.
Rather than see humans, as the neoliberal camp, as univocally motivated by rational self-interest, we should be stress the multiple and mixed motivations,
Neither the sharing platforms nor the commons oriented peer production can be exclusively explained by rational self-interest or narcissism alone.
I would argue that the success of both as new social modalities is their capacity to see and design a social system where the individual and the collective interest re-inforce each other, rather than, as in liberalism, just hope that self-interest ultimately leads to optimal social results.
Somewhat similar is the following point, which shows how at a certain stage of human moral development, self and group are not seen as opposites:
A distinction made by Heb Shepard, summarized by Rosa Zubizarreta:
from the perspective of "primary mentality", 'individual' and 'group' are experienced as opposite... in order to have a strong group, it appears that we need to 'give up'
some of our individuality; conversely, to be 'individuals', it appears
we need to 'distance' ourselves from the group...
in contrast, from the perspective of "secondary mentality" 'individual' and 'group' are experienced in a synergistic way:
the MORE room there is for people to be individual and unique and
eccentric, the stronger a group we will have; conversely, the more real
support i can feel from the group, the more individual and unique and
eccentric i can be...
More details via http://p2pfoundation.net/Primary_vs_Secondary_Individual-Group_Mentality
"[what's crucial is] whether we are experiencing the 'two
sides' [of individual and collective] as a 'zero-sum game', where the
MORE room there is of one, the LESS room there can be for the other...
OR instead, as a potential synergy, a 'creative tension' where the well-being of each, enhances the well-being of the other....
Herb Shepard, one of the pioneers of organization development,
wrote years ago about the distinction between what he called "primary
mentality" and "secondary mentality"....
from the perspective of "primary mentality", 'individual' and
'group' are experienced as opposite... in order to have a strong group,
it appears that we need to 'give up' some of our individuality;
conversely, to be 'individuals', it appears we need to 'distance'
ourselves from the group...
in contrast, from the perspective of "secondary mentality"
'individual' and 'group' are experienced in a synergistic way: the MORE
room there is for people to be individual and unique and eccentric, the
stronger a group we will have; conversely, the more real support i can
feel from the group, the more individual and unique and eccentric i can
i think that what Shepard was referring to as a 'mentality'
(whether primary or secondary) resides not just within each of us, as
individuals, but also, within a group, or culture, or social
not just in 'individual consciousness' OR in 'group structures', but in BOTH...
so we as individuals, we can always discover or create ways to
'resist' structures that are organized along the lines of 'primary
mentality', and, find ways to create forms of social interaction, that
support 'secondary mentality"....
AND, at the same time, the social forms of organization, _do_
making one or another form of mentality, more likely... Our ways of
talking and thinking and organizing ourselves, tend to be rooted in one
or the other mentality.....
i think it's also important to recognize, that these forms or
structures, that embody and support these different kinds of
consciousness can be 'habitual' and 'informal', rather than
'explicit/formal'... so even when a community has rejected the
conventional forms of organization which could be seen as embodying
primary mentality (voting, majority rules, bureaucratic structures,
it's still the case, that the community will tend to have a
particular 'culture', or 'way of doing things'... and that culture will
not necessarily be 'secondary' since as individuals, we still tend to
carry the "primary mentality" within us, even in the absence of
conventional forms of organization...
so the desire to 'belong', to 'get along', to 'not be excluded
from the group', along with the internalized belief, that to do so, we
need to 'not make waves', can tend to silence a lot of potential
and encourage conformity to the prevailing cultural norms... (the
>From: Michael H Goldhaber <michael at goldhaber.org>
>To: Jean Burgess <jean at creativitymachine.net>
>Cc: "idc at mailman.thing.net" <idc at mailman.thing.net>
>Sent: Thursday, June 25, 2009 7:48:30 AM
>Subject: Re: [iDC] MySpace staff cuts
>Why weird? The idea that the Internet exists to make money is the prime mistake, as I have been arguing for years. It is about exactly what YouTube so directly provides: a means for individuals to compete for attention. Some relatively few companies such as Google have found ways at least temporarily to profit but most of the Internet is not about money at all. Far more "transactions" are pure attention transactions. Twitter and Facebook are two examples of platforms that allow attention transactions that their founders and other hope will make money somewhere down the road. Maybe that will be the way YouTube did, by being bought by Google. Now Google is stuck with an albatross, but if it cuts it off all YouTube users will be angered, and that's just about everyone.
>People on this list seem mostly to have adopted the perverse attitude of Wall Street: the Internet should be about making money for corporations. The only difference is that most here see that as bad. Both Wall Street and you fail to consider that something else is really going on, that most corporate hopes will not pan out, the would-be profiteers are mostly just patsies for the attention seekers and payers. Even Google is probably much more useful for the new economy than not. Its making money is beside the point.
>Let me add: this new economy is not primarily about advertising or about collecting info on audience members, except in Norman Mailer's sense of "Advertisement for Myself."
>On Jun 24, 2009, at 8:33 AM, Jean Burgess wrote:
>Sean, thanks for this concrete example. It points us to something I find very interesting.
>>On the one hand, you have the massive unpaid workforce of people who through their various activities co-create the value (however defined) of platforms for user-created content. On the other, you have the profound inability of most of these platform providers to make any real money out of that activity - once you factor in bandwidth costs, and at least thus far.
>>YouTube is a particularly sharp example of this -where UGC is both the driver of YouTube's growth and a ruinous waste of bandwidth because nobody wants to run their ads alongside it: it's unpredictable in content and not clearly enough located in any particular national (that is, US) market.
>>For platform providers like YouTube Inc, the "users" who provide content (and who have to a very significant extent built the thing we call YouTube) are, I suspect, seen as mere placeholders (one day, the "real", monetisable content will replace all those pointless skateboarding cat videos). The trouble is, YouTube now has a culture of its own: and its "attention economy" is in practical terms incompatible with commercial media logics.
>>I really do think this is a weird situation.
>>On 24/06/2009, at 2:17 PM, Sean Cubitt <scubitt at unimelb.edu.au> wrote:
>>What’s so fascinating is just how small the workforce behind a global player can be; pointing toards the economic scale of content production by users
>>>Extracted from a longer piece at
>>>June 24, 2009 - 10:15AM
>>>Social networking site MySpace plans to cut 300 jobs, or two-thirds of its overseas work force, in an effort to rein in costs and focus on countries where it has many users and better business opportunities.
>>>The move comes a week after the News Corp. unit said it would cut 420 jobs in the U.S., or nearly 30 per cent of its domestic work force. Combined, the cuts will reduce MySpace's employee base by nearly 40 per cent to about 1,150.
>>>"Our goal to tap into as many international markets as possible drove us to create too many offices around the globe, and with them came inefficiencies," chief executive Owen Van Natta, a former executive at rival Facebook, said in a memo sent to employees.
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