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posted by janrinok on Wednesday January 25 2023, @03:02PM   Printer-friendly
from the circle-of-life dept.

Here is how platforms die: first, they are good to their users; then they abuse their users to make things better for their business customers; finally, they abuse those business customers to claw back all the value for themselves. Then, they die.

I call this enshittification, and it is a seemingly inevitable consequence arising from the combination of the ease of changing how a platform allocates value, combined with the nature of a "two sided market," where a platform sits between buyers and sellers, hold each hostage to the other, raking off an ever-larger share of the value that passes between them.

[...] Search Amazon for "cat beds" and the entire first screen is ads, including ads for products Amazon cloned from its own sellers, putting them out of business (third parties have to pay 45% in junk fees to Amazon, but Amazon doesn't charge itself these fees). All told, the first five screens of results for "cat bed" are 50% ads.

This is enshittification: surpluses are first directed to users; then, once they're locked in, surpluses go to suppliers; then once they're locked in, the surplus is handed to shareholders and the platform becomes a useless pile of shit. From mobile app stores to Steam, from Facebook to Twitter, this is the enshittification lifecycle.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26 2023, @08:34AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26 2023, @08:34AM (#1288680)

    Have we run into the limits of imagination again?

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  • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 26 2023, @02:11PM (2 children)

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 26 2023, @02:11PM (#1288699) Journal
    Indeed, but not on my part. We have this game played all the time. Capability != what people actually do. Reminds me of people buying a fancy sports car. The car can do all kinds of amazing things, but you'll get pulled over/arrested, and/or lose control of the vehicle at an inopportune moment because you're racing on a normal road with normal drivers not the highly controlled circumstances of a specialized race track. The capability of the sports car can't be realized.

    Here, we have similar issues. And I know we do, because we already have income. It may not be basic, but it is pretty close to universal (around 58% []in the US in 2021). This magic you speak of hasn't happened yet which indicates to me that it won't happen with UBI either. It's just a fantasy driving this.

    Finally, the elephant in this room is who will pay for it and how will we control negative effects like increased inflation and debt? Glancing through US spending, there's only about $3 trillion (mostly Social Security) that can be theoretically replaced at present. JoeMerchant's proposal of $15k per would generate about $5 trillion in new spending (over 330 million citizens roughly). So right there, even if things go without a hitch, we've increased spending by about $2 trillion per year (40% increase). And we've created two additional problems: what happens when someone promises more UBI and gets elected? Each additional $3k is another trillion USD in spending per year. There's now an incentive for voters to vote for their interests and against the future of the US (or other developed world country).

    What happens with mundane things like inflation - while I've heard it might be going down, it was 8% for a bit, that's $400 billion in baked in spending increase for a single year of UBI, if you want it to keep up with that level of inflation. And it doesn't help with medical cost increases (from Medicare in particular) which are set to soak up many trillions in US federal spending in future years.

    Given that US government spending is already a significant contributor to inflation, we've put in a positive feedback mechanism for inflation. By itself UBI won't cause runaway hyperinflation, but historically when a government does one big dumb thing, it usually does many others. This reduces our room for error, all for terrible reasons.

    Rather than build a fragile society with a bunch of couch potatoes, how about we build a resilient society that can handle the troubles and disasters that a society routinely faces?
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26 2023, @06:29PM (1 child)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 26 2023, @06:29PM (#1288753)

      > who will pay for it

      The same people who pay 50% of all income to 1% of the population.

      • (Score: 1) by khallow on Thursday January 26 2023, @06:45PM

        by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Thursday January 26 2023, @06:45PM (#1288759) Journal

        The same people who pay 50% of all income to 1% of the population.

        Here's hoping other people get the clue too.