Getting Flattened by Platforms

With more agreements with ResearchGate, are publishers ceding the crucial strategic position?

The Internet used to be fun, but something ruined that.

It’s becoming clearer and more mainstream that massive amounts of blame lie with the platforms that interposed themselves between users and original sources. They wrested control and creativity from users, and forced everyone into economic constraints they established and controlled.

This has caused culture to stall out, and is leading people back to physical media and its benefits.

From Network to Media

When Facebook evolved from a social network to social media, it was a crucial step in the creation of one of the most powerful media companies in history — one that separated people from sources, could change the world with weightings in algorithms nobody understood, and hid behind legal protections meant for common carriers, not private media purveyors.

Now, with platforms becoming more prevalent — ChatGPT and similar LLMs and GAIs represent massive new platform environments and platform feeders — the threat to authentic human sources has escalated. Of course, the threat remains essentially financial since one of the traits of Internet middleware is that it doesn’t pay its sources much, if anything.

  • One top priority for ChatGPT is fighting not to pay licensing fees — a classic Silicon Valley extraction-to-extinction play.

One of the latest victims of the platform economy is Pitchfork, the music review site. Started in 1996, the music review periodical did very well until two platforms peeled users away — advertising conglomerates and ML- and now LLM-driven recommendation systems within streaming services. It still exists, but is being merged by Condé Nast into GQ as a cost-cutting strategy. As Casey Newton writes in his “Platformer” newsletter:

For a certain kind of millenial, the news hit like a death in the family.