The Commercial Limits of the Internet – “The Facebook Illusion” by Ross Douthat in The New York Times

May 27, 2012

“There were two grand illusions about the American economy in the first decade of the 21st century. One was the idea that housing prices were no longer tethered to normal economic trends, and instead would just keep going up and up. The second was the idea that in the age of Web 2.0, we were well on our way to figuring out how to make lots and lots of money on the Internet. The first idea collapsed along with housing prices and the stock market in 2007 and 2008. But the Web 2.0 illusion survived long enough to cost credulous investors a small fortune last week, in Facebook’s disaster of an initial public offering.”

Of course, I’m not on Facebook and I’m no fan of social media in general, so I’m primed to seek out disconfirming evidence of its success. (And let’s be honest, a company started by a 19 year-old in his Harvard dorm room in 2004 that made a billion dollars a year in 2011 is, by any measure, a success – whatever its future prospects).

For those reasons I tend to fall under the sway of the sort of arguments made by Ross Douthat in The New York Times “The Facebook Illusion.”  Read his piece and see what your take is. It confirms my prejudices so I think it’s clearly correct and expertly reasoned. Obviously, Facebook is Evil. Remember, you read it here first.

I’m also a huge fan of Thorstein Veblen’s seminal work The Theory of the Leisure Class. So I just love stuff like this:

 “. . .leisure is clearly the basis of the Internet. From the lowbrow to the highbrow, LOLcats to Wikipedia, vast amounts of Internet content are created by people with no expectation of remuneration.”



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