Enshittification pluralistic.net

Cory Doctorow:

This is enshittification: surpluses are first directed to users; then, once they’re locked in, surpluses go to suppliers; then once they’re locked in, the surplus is handed to shareholders and the platform becomes a useless pile of shit. From mobile app stores to Steam, from Facebook to Twitter, this is the enshittification lifecycle.


An enshittification strategy only succeeds if it is pursued in measured amounts. Even the most locked-in user eventually reaches a breaking-point and walks away, or gets pushed. […]

This essay has been enthusiastically passed around since it was published earlier this year, but I keep forgetting to put it into the syllabus I call a website. It is true of online platforms, software-as-a-service providers, operating systems, and services. You may quibble with individual aspects of Doctorow’s argument — tech company layoffs, for example, are probably less a result of their self-preferencing strategies and more likely because the company overbuilt itself by assuming the trend line of the pandemic would remain at a similar rate. There is little denying its compelling underlying premise, however.