creator economy

4 minute read

TLDR : Internet is allowing for permission-less leveraged creation. Short observations on the topic below stolen from others


The term ‘content creator’ has become mainstream. People want to grow up and become influencers/content creators. This is on observation on how media is impacting the landscape, reflections on attention, and the future of information consumption.

Individuals are replacing legacy media

PewDiePie vs NY Times. Who do you think has a larger reach? You have single individuals who have outsized reach over a fanbase. Individuals can change the ‘culture’ and flavour of society. People connect with individuals rather than faceless publishers.

Leverage

You can reach 1000x more people potentially by doing a good YouTube lecture versus an in person lecture. A Tik Tok chef is reaching millions more than the classically trained Pastry Chef operating locally. An online personal trainer is making 1000x more than a personal trainer not using the internet as leverage.

Permissionless

Anyone can create. From a 6 year old minecraft ‘let’s play’ to 80 year olds giving life advice on Youtube. This is beautiful, because humans are naturally creative. I don’t ever judge when anyone creates, because I know they are going to get better.

Observations :

Attention is the new currency

Those who can garner more eyeballs are the winners of the attention economy

Algorithmic curation

We are novelty seeking creatures. ‘Neomania’ as NNT calls it. The algorithm tends to push more ‘extreme’ content as it gets more views. It tends to prioritise for serendipity over depth.

The attention economy operates in ‘Extremistan

You get massive variations with big winners. It means that for the majority of creators, luck plays a huge part as with any business related endeavour. Compare that to the steady salary of a dentist.

Creators use their leverage to start businesses

Once they have a ‘following’, they start growing out businesses while focusing on their creation.

Those who win- win big

Those who win, also then tend to win big financially. This is a major incentive for many to create- the hope of making a living.

A tweet I ran across:

For learning, text > audio > video.

For earning, video > audio > text.

YouTube is about tapping into the collective intelligence of humanity

You can learn advanced maths on YouTube. You can learn how to play instruments. You can find out how someone who lives half way across the world spends their day.Not just YouTube, but blogs/podcasts/Tik Tok. Kids today are really smart.

Pseudonymous creation

You can have entirely pseudonymous creators who are earning under a fake name. For example : Corpse Husband on Youtube. Satoshi Nakamoto - a pseudonymous creator of a trillion dollar industry. Stolen from Balaji, but you already have many people separate their ‘earning name’, ‘speaking name’ and ‘real name’.

Too much information

720,000 hours of video are uploaded to Youtube daily. This Onion article seems a bit more real now.

More information is being packaged and unpackaged in the form of tweets, articles, videos, audio, podcasts. There can be a fear of missing out/ information overload . You can never get to the bottom of feed.

The trouble seems to be separating the signal from the noise in some sense. How do you know what to pay attention to? Largely, you aren’t choosing but the algorithm is nudging you.

I don’t have a good response to this. My solution tends to be:

  • shut it off. Put down your phone and go outside.
  • Create rather than consume (join the horde of creators)
  • Do and let go. Create and let go. Or as Neil Gaiman says: make good art. Create for the sake of creating.

Future

off centralised platforms

Youtube can decide to remove content from YouTube. Creators are at the mercy of a centralised authority. You already see many moving away from this as a sole assurance, using services like Patreon for support directly, cutting out the intermediary. It is likely that you’ll be able to ‘port’ your social graph from one platform to another, with decentralised options.

even better algorithmically curated feed

The algorithm can be improved and optimised to that you can choose what you want. If I want the algorithm to maximise depth, it will only show me maybe one recommended video. If I want to be entertained, then it will show me funny cat videos.

Gig Economy and Remote Work

COVID has already shown what it possible. People will more work on an as-needed basis, choose their own hours and work contracts, rather than fixed payed jobs. This can be beneficial, but it becomes highly meritocratic on a ‘global scale’. The best radiologist in India can report scans in the UK, the best software engineer can pick their jobs. The most skilled come out on top.

Conclusion

Software is eating the world. Naval : “Your company may not be in the software business, but eventually, a software company will be in your business.” Single individuals are becoming businesses and founders of companies.

One interesting observation is that the variance is increasing in the world. You can have a 25 year old with no job/prospects, 25 year old married with kids, 25 year old billionaire (Vitalik). I’m sure soon, you will have pseudonymous teenagers who are making millions with their SaaS or their artwork, or music.

Additional Reading

  1. https://signalfire.com/blog/creator-economy/
  2. https://blog.blockstack.org/balaji-srinivasan-on-building-a-pseudonymous-economy/

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