The Mass Amateurization of Everything

Dave Winer, a popular blogger, gave a speech about blogging. The video is here and a reviewer said this:

Dave started by noting that it’s easier for the user to become a manufacturer than a manufacturer to become a user. What’s wrong with the manufacturers of the world? They come down from the mountain with their product for you to buy and worship, and then maybe two years later they return with the next product for you to buy and worship. Dave then asked the audience to think about how things have changed over the past ten, fifteen, twenty years, especially around travel and dealing with travel agents.

When it comes to making money, Dave dismissed ads on websites. Instead, the websites should be ads for ourselves and we should learn who shares common interests. An example he provided is Engadget: how long until Engadget is providing feedback to manufacturers around exactly what they & gadget lovers want? This would make manufacturers fulfillment houses for visionary users.

The Value of Blogging

Top bloggers offer blogging tips, and now some are packaged as a free Firefox extension. With each word we write we are selling ourselves. In some cases a blog post is worth over a billion dollars.

Faster Communication & Feedback

What is important is not blogging itself, but communication. Everywhere you look communication is getting faster and cheaper. You can test an idea and see market response in near real time.

Why is that important? If you care about something it is easy to talk about it in a meaningful way and create ideas that will spread far and fast. The faster they spread the more profitable they are and the further you can spread your next idea. If you mess up packaging your message you can repackage it and launch it again.

Success & Emulation

When I do not read much my writing gets bad. When I read my writing quickly improves.

Some people spread ideas directly, while others chose to emulate them. One of the biggest historical drivers of innovation has been the rate of substitution. When another person replicates what you do in their community you then need to do something else to keep providing value. On the web one only stays original if they are willing to take big risks or constantly change. The worst ideas die and the best stick around, spread, are emulated, spread, are emulated, etc etc etc.

Every day there is a new list of ideas.

Copyright is Irrelevant

The Internet crosses all borders, touches people at every moral and socioeconomic background, and is largely controlled by amoral profit driven machines, thus it has no respect for copyright. The end result is that you either actively participate in the database of content, conversation, and idea sharing, or attempt to lock out your content and ideas, only to see others claim / repackage / profit from them.

Does journalism cost too much? Too bad. Nobody is at fault. Is my price point too high? Someone in China is probably selling my ebook for $10 (or less). It is probably on some torrent websites too. Can I stop them? Probably not.

Packaging is Virtually Free

It costs almost nothing to record videos. YouTube has beta features which allows consumers to swap out audio with officially licensed audio files, show others what you are watching, and comment with others watching the same thing you are. By and large the paid video market died before it was even created.

Others leverage distribution and add features to add value to your content. The shared experience becomes the content, and unless you opt out you are in the network, hoping to keep getting paid for offering up the scraps of original content, hoping to stay relevant.

Online Substitution

Increased communication and information sharing leads to more of the same. You either submit your content to the machine, or they will grab as much as they can for free, then point off to those who are borrowing it and running ads against it.

If Google had rights to music lyrics, they would let you go from here to reading them here. But if you do not give Google rights they just link off to the top free sources sharing your lyrics. The same is true with your videos and stories...content in any format. If you do not share your stuff then whoever talks about it and represents it best online gets credit for it as though they created it.

So either you put the official video online, or someone records a concert, or people see a cover / alternate rendition. If you somehow manage to block all that then it is as though you don't exist, and you are losing marketshare to those who are being talked about.

While YouTube is only a couple years old, The Wall Street Journal already published an article about how to be a YouTube star and it being too easy to game most viewed stats. No surprise those articles were free samples. Even the journal has to give away content to keep their relevancy in a market of mass amateurization.


Just search for typos like amature and amatuer to see porn webmasters working the dictionary. There are so many misspelled results that Google doesn't even try to correct the misspellings. :)

Published: May 22, 2007 by Aaron Wall in publishing & media


Lea de Groot
May 22, 2007 - 1:17pm

I would have phrased it as
"There are so many misspelled results that Google's algorithm doesn't even recognise that they are wrong"

Tyler Dewitt
May 23, 2007 - 1:33am

very good that guys got sense, about people pushing people back because there writing might not be the best, but how is someone going to not get good if they don't try.

Some people are marketers, some people are good writers, but do not know how to deal with people, or create ideas, some people are programming, but have no business sense to market there skills.

Every ones unique in one way or another.

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