There was an interesting article on Copyblogger last month about digital sharecropping, which is when content creators do the hard work of making stuff, and then companies like Facebook, Google, Pinterest, and others reap the economic rewards by hosting that free content on their platforms.
As the author of the article, Sonia Simone, explains:
The term sharecropping refers to the farming practices common after the U.S. Civil War, but it’s essentially the same thing as feudalism. A big landholder allows individual farmers to work their land and takes most of the profits generated from the crops.
The landlord has all the control. If he decides to get rid of you, you lose your livelihood. If he decides to raise his fees, you go a little hungrier. You do all the work and the landlord gets most of the profit, leaving you a pittance to eke out a living on.
A similar thing is going on right now in the world of Web 2.0.
You post your songs and videos and pictures and witty updates and essays and recording advice online — for free — and when you drive traffic to that content on Facebook, Google, Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, or any other site that you don’t own, the giant tech companies profit. Read more »