Stop Talking to Each Other and Start Buying Things

Catherynne M. Valente, on the now-familiar cycle of web communities (via Andy Baio):

All the rest are gone. Dismantled for parts and sold off with zero understanding that the only thing of any value the site ever offered was the community, its content, its connection, its possibilities, its knowledge. And that can’t be sold with the office space and the codebase. These sites exist because of what we do there. But at any moment they can be sold out from under us, to no benefit or profit to the workers — yes, workers, goddammit — who built it into something other than a dot com address and a dusty login screen, yet to the great benefit and profit of those who, more often than not, use the money to make it more difficult for people to connect to and accept each other positively in the future.

This is not my favourite piece of writing, but I think its cathartic style benefits the subject. One of the best reasons for preferring protocols over platforms for online communities is that we know how it always goes for centralization. Yet, we keep throwing our hat in with the next well-funded thing because this time, maybe, it will be different, right? The problem for engineering-led protocols is that it is not possible to simply add usability. Given our economic climate, I do not think it is a coincidence that commerce-driven platforms sit briefly in a sweet spot where they are incentivized for people but not quite exploiting them.

Funny how I am linking to another piece about how things end or close or stop on the last day of the year.