Media and communication

Flattr V: Changing values

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The simplified distribution that came with Internet, pressed cost down to near zero in conveying content, and means that supply can be never ending (Kollock 1999). If the value of a product, material, or service is created by supply and demand, and how hard it is to get hold of the thing in question, one can see how a digital network may change how value is determined (Appadurai 1986). If we take the example again of the informative video on YouTube showing how to replace the memory on a Macbook Air, we can imagine that it hardly has a value to say a TV channel to broadcast. They wouldn’t see a demand since it probably wouldn’t generate any greater audiences and thus no ads. But by cutting out this TV channel as an intermediary, the Internet can entail that the film can be published directly by the creator using an open network such as YouTube, and it can then reach the people who need it and value it higher than the TV channel.

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With Flattr the creator behind the film may also have a chance to get paid for their work by those who value the film higher now has an ability to pay for it. Without the Internet the film would probably not have been published, and without Flattr the creator is unlikely to have been paid for the film. Flattr can thus possibly change how users value content online and in extension the way they think about payment. We see a possibility of evaluation and payment differencing more in society at large. With a more differentiated evaluation of content, one could also envisage an increase in consumption since it could mean a greater width in the range, meeting more needs.

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At the same time, the concept of flat-rate fee of which Flattr partly takes its name is seen as another way to evaluate than the theory of supply and demand (Appadurai 1986). The flat fee means the user pays the same amount for anything no matter how much you use it or how large variety there is, which can both fit in well with the Internet’s never-ending supply of content and partly a political dimension as it compares to the Left’s ideas such as maximum cost of child care and flat-rate of public transport (Kollock 1999; Bolling 2010 ; Kulturnytt 2010). Here Flattr can be linked to left-wing ideas on how value is determined politically rather than by the market. Flattr might want to be perceived as a rebel against the capitalist establishment.

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