There is a bandwagon that has brought us to this space. It is of finding something that can’t be quantified in value. This is from moving from the basic needs of an individual of food, shelter and clothing and trying to crave an attention. An attention that makes someone listen to our emotions, our adoration of God, rants about Nigeria or colour of Lady Gaga swimsuit. There were times we read Newspapers, consumed content and took columnist as infallible priests. We now own blogs or scribble on Facebook pages. It is a digital era spanning into social media of user-generated medium.
We belong to the Google generation. We have learnt to separate content from the carrier. The carrier possibly MTN, IPNX or GLO reserves a right to charge for its transmission medium and links across the oceans to overseas servers but content online should be free. Why should I write this note and charge you for reading it! We move from one Google app –Gmail, YouTube, Google Alert, Chrome or login to Facebook and twitter account without using a payment card. So is ‘Free’ not the spirit of the web? Can we ever be receptive to willingly pay for any content or service that dots the web?
Have we ever pondered if we ain’t giving something away possibly something we can’t monetize? I mean our privacy as Facebook makes its settings more clumsy or our loss to legal entitlement as Terms and Conditions are too lengthy. Shouldn’t we ponder that when we do a Google search and click a link, we are making the search query better and profiting Google. How sure are we that our private information doesn’t get passed on to advertisers to maximize advert-targeting potential? But who really cares when we voluntarily share our relationship status or put a picture of our drunken pictures at a bar? When our utmost secrets and convictions find its way to the status update bar, how much privacy or respect for our rights do we care for?
I have always seen this web commerce into two states of economic model. A group of volunteers in a collectivist system who trying to find self-expression or have access to a boutique of information is making Silicon Valley happy. If Facebook is valued at 50bn dollars which is much more than Ford Motors with all its automotive plants dotted over the world, where does this bogus valuation come from? It comes from the new friend request sent, childhood photo now uploaded or video innocently shared to your friend. So when Facebook says it has over 500 million followers with over 10 billion connections or Twitter boasts of 7000 tweets per second, a premium is placed on the personal lifestyles we create on the web as a tool for marketing. So we have a capitalist upper class of geeks and entrepreneurs who are pushing up their valuations by putting a price on our orgasmic excitement as community to share with each other. A short story is about two friends Chad Hurley and Steve Chen started the Youtube in 2005. Less than two years when anonymous people like you and me created content by sharing videos, it was sold to Google for $1.65bn. We were not paid from the bogus cash. The same goes for Skype, an invention of an open lab founded by Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, was sold for the third time to Microsoft at $8.5bn.
Things are never going to be same. Newspapers in print will go but news will sell in another medium. Britannica Encyclopedia has lost market share to likes of Wikipedia. Music stars might accept to forgo illegal online music sharing because it gives them a platform to be well known and called for concerts, endorsements and tours. People will be arrested for shoplifting but they will find it not wrong to lift a phrase from this note without thinking about copyright.
Everything is virtual and quick and but we love it that way. You can ask yourself how many friends you have on Facebook and how many have you truly define the word ‘friend’. If in the midst of a raging storm you need help, how many would you talk to? It’s a digital world coded in restless oscillations of electromagnetic waves. It’s a new dawn in human age, so much endless thoughts on how this new digital culture will vaporize traditional habits in every sphere of man.