Media and communication

Flattr VII: A revolt against consumer culture or yet another commodification?

Sunde talks in a blog post from 2011 about how the idea of ​​Flattr arose, and explains how the debate in the media with media companies across the table functioned after The Pirate Bay:

Their question was always “how can we make money now that the internet kills our business”. Their answer was always (and still is) to close down the internet or at least let them control it, since they are the ones “suffering from the internet”. And because of their huge wallets and the power these groups has over the media, we still let this discussion be part of our everyday life. We let the entertainment industry dictate the terms of our discussions about internet freedom and culture. And they’re not even a real stake holder in those matters!

I became very upset about the fact that everyone tried to solve the wrong question. Instead of finding a solution they’ve told us to find, I set out to find the real question. And it was; How can we make a sustainable solution for sharing information freely? By defining the question we can find a solution.

In 2006 I started thinking about a technical platform for this. I called it “Share Donate” to begin with. The idea was that if everyone puts in a small portion of money, it will end up being a lot of money combined. In scandinavia we have the saying “many small streams form a big river” which elegantly describes the concept I was going for. People that wanted to share their information could join and get part of the money. A platform both encouraging and rewarding free access to information.

          (Sunde 2011)

There is a clear ”we” represented by Sunde, and possibly Flattr members, and a clear ”them”, represented by the media companies in the post. Sunde depict the opponents as agenda-setting through their big wallets and power of the media as an explanation of how they have been dictating question and answers in the discussion of payment and Internet content. But he explains the debate more as a discussion of freedom and culture, a typical hacker culture discourse .

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He continues to portray himself as a kind of hero figure which instead of buying entertainment industry’s packaging of problem and solution, went out to look for the real question. Sunde insinuates that the media companies are trying to dictate not only what to think, but also from which perspective we should think from, in a discussion which he says is not ” their ” but ” our”. He portrays himself almost like a martyr or knight by declaring that he went out to look for how, in a sustainable manner, we can have free content on the Internet.

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There is a clear duality in the image of capitalist resourceful media companies on one hand described in the context of negative words like ”big wallets ”, ”dictate”, ”power”, ”control” and Sunde’s Flattr idea on the other hand described with positive words such as ”culture”, ”freedom”, ”sustainable” and ”freely” . We can thus see how Sunde wants to distance Flattr by putting him and the network in antithesis to media companies. He portrays himself as a rebel against the establishment that we can recognize from the hacker culture discourse but also from the discourse of authenticity and genuineness discussed in previous post.

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