Media and communication

Flattr & CouchSurfing IV: Final words on what has just begun

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There are clear contradictions in values ​​in both networks’ texts. In the CS case, we find it for instance in the text regarding how members should not get paid while they themselves take in capital from investment companies. In Flattr’s case we find it for instance in the text about how the big players have freedom restrictive usage policies while they themselves have user control that frees them to opt out of content for their registry or in how the network propagates free availability of content while encouraging the creators to create secret content only to those who paid. Values seem appreciated to try to convey as long as they are in line with the network’s interests, such as more spread in order to attract investors and partners. However, values become less important are not as important when they go against the underlying organizations’ interests, which we have seen can create profile problem for the networks.

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The networks show how a capitalist culture may mean that authenticity and the experienced genuine become redefined. Something for individuals highly desirable will be in an environment of money what in theory you cannot get with money. We see this in CouchSurfing in the form of travel but also at Flattr as an encouraged amateur culture. What can we expect from the studied networks in the future? CouchSurfing can currently be seen as a strong brand with its global spread and enhanced capital through investments. Although there are other networks or new ones with activities similar to CouchSurfing, CS as a player has an advantage in being a strong brand that can create recognition and with its large membership can attract new members. When it comes to choosing network for travel a large spread globally will conceivably be an important factor in attracting members. CS has already expanded its operations with activities outside of travel, and the network can thus have mapped out a path where it widens its social function for users. An important question for CS’s profile and popularity may be on the dissatisfaction of the network’s early members about the changes to a business able to make profit will pose a serious threat, or if the possibility of staying free play a bigger role for the individual than potential interests behind the network. CS has nevertheless already changed travel and payment for several million people.

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If Flattrs idea of ​​voluntary payment takes hold in society, the network can become a part of our future everyday use of the Internet. But just as in the case of CouchSurfing, if Flattr’s function should prove successful, other actors could present similar services that can outcompete or serve as an alternative to an already known brand. It remains to be seen whether Sunde’s new service gives a similar importance to our society that The Pirate Bay has.

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The newer media such as the Internet is challenging traditional norms and values. The question of how payment can or should work on the Internet is a hot topic in today’s connected society. Creators and producers, media companies and entrepreneurs, lawyers and politicians, idealists and Internet users generally must all take a stand on the issue. There are different interests, agendas , beliefs and hopes, and thus debate around payment for content and services on the Internet has only just begun.

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