Let 2023 be a year of experimentation and invention!
December 7, 2022 2:08 PM   Subscribe

Robin Sloan on how Big Tech's recent stumbles can open the door to a new internet: Some of you reading this were users and/or developers of the internet in the period from 2002 to perhaps 2012. For those of you who were not, I want to tell you that it was exciting and energizing, not because everything was great, but simply because anything was possible. The concrete hadn’t set. Now, after a decade of stuckness, the pavement is cracking — crumbling — and I want to insist to those of you who lived through that time, and those of you who didn’t: we all have a new opportunity.
posted by Cash4Lead (41 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
> The milestone that will impress me, honestly, is an AI agent with a bank account. Obviously that will also terrify me. But/and, maybe this is Sloan’s definition of artificial general intelligence: given a bank account and a few bucks to start, can this thing make it in the world?

I remember that game!
posted by genpfault at 2:29 PM on December 7, 2022


This is a good read and embodies my feelings about this tumultuous era in tech. We're in the chaotic part, but we'll look back at it 5 years from now and think, wasn't that a crazy time, when we didn't have X yet and everyone thought the next big thing would be Y? I can't wait to see what people build.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 2:34 PM on December 7, 2022 [6 favorites]


Not more cult of the amateur bullshit that refuses to address why the Big Tech companies won out. Or that the issues we're dealing with today have roots deeper than just capitalism.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:44 PM on December 7, 2022 [12 favorites]


I've been thinking for awhile that with both podcasts and YouTube/etc. we are in a new "Silent Movie" era, when actors and directors did 40 movies a year. There's future decades worth of shaking-out that will certainly be speed-ran this second time around, but I bet a lot of the business models will still be derivative of the past, just like we've seen in streaming music.
posted by rhizome at 2:46 PM on December 7, 2022 [2 favorites]


since 2012 the potential has been there for things to be done and some things have been done

big tech has nothing to do with that and it's also not dead yet
posted by pyramid termite at 2:52 PM on December 7, 2022 [2 favorites]


I remember that game!

When I played it it was called Universal Paperclips.
posted by mhoye at 4:14 PM on December 7, 2022 [6 favorites]


Big Tech is directly responsible for leveraging market position and capital to suppress competition in an effort to control every variable and marketplace. From buying out and killing competitors to quietly introducing a thousand tiny dark patterns to make not giving up your valuable data harder than just giving in because it looks like there's just no viable alternative.

All that capital is still floating around looking for the next money tree, but it really is a moment when it's no longer the path of least resistance to just let the big ones get bigger. Tech layoffs are tough but many of those folks have been effectively competitors-to-be who were comfortable.

Setting aside the many who will suffer (there are many, I'm not pretending they're not the majority), there will be a few who have the savings and the frustration and see the opportunity to make something new.

Of those, most will just do the same thing and hope to grab some of the existing late-capitalist pie, but for a fraction of those there is a real opportunity to try the Good Parts of the Internet again, with considerably more attention paid to the inevitability of bad actors all the way up to the state sponsored kind. And of those even some smaller fraction will consider how to make solutions that are intersectional by default.

At this moment, it's more possible than it was a few years ago when I left all social media because the positives were dwindling to barely any.

The new civil society of media has a small opportunity to ride a zeitgeist of backlash against what got us here to make a few things better.

Few of these issues are new or insurmountable, they just were too expensive to plan for and address when you're trying to pump up stock numbers and can take advantage of a naive investing class who believes in magic.

Maybe that's what we can work toward: civil media rather than social.
posted by abulafa at 4:25 PM on December 7, 2022 [14 favorites]


Is this a read for those of us who did a little mild web development in the period from 1996-2000, or is this a ‘get off my lawn’/‘sit down grandparent’ type situation?
posted by eviemath at 4:25 PM on December 7, 2022 [6 favorites]


More of the former than the latter, eviemath. It's a hopeful look at what's possible rather than a beaten-down diatribe or a dismissal of potential. I guess it could be "cult of the amateur bullshit" but I think I prefer that to many of the other options.
posted by cgc373 at 4:29 PM on December 7, 2022 [3 favorites]


Eh. Having read it now, in terms of the specific content it’s a fair amount ‘get off my lawn you kids’ situation. I am happy that the author is so breathlessly enthusiastic about the topic that obviously excites them, however; and wish more of the same for them in the future. It’s nice to see people excited about their topic of interest. Especially when I can choose to engage or not depending on my own energy levels, because it’s just their private blog on the internet.
posted by eviemath at 4:49 PM on December 7, 2022


The article is definitely Cult of the Amateur Bullshit, but its heart seems to be in the right place - offering a platform to talk about things and an exhortation to not be dissuaded at the first thousand "Yeah, but"s.

It will be mocked for being blissfully unaware of all the quiet advancements made in the protocols and security spaces, because it does imagine a naive "but peer to peer via overlays!" dream that kinda ignores the way those overlays became rich attack surfaces decades ago. So it's a little security naive.

The article also hand waves all the money spent (and eventually due) for storage and compute infrastructure which - ultimately - is still Someone Else's Computer who gets a say in whatever revolutionary use you plan to put their metal toward.

But even despite all this, I dusted off my Mastadon accounts, I began catching up on my Gemini Protocol LISTSERVs, and I took a tiny sip of hope.
posted by abulafa at 5:03 PM on December 7, 2022 [7 favorites]


Random Darknet Shopper was arguably an "AI with a bank account", for some fairly broad definition of AI.

We've rate limits on automated processes everywhere. We're slowly adopting more adversarial threat models that enforce rate limits externally, but..

It turns out real world resources actually map rather poorly into a one dimensional measure like money, so while engineers may build tools for money systems, internally they typically design non-money systems.

It's like how companies only behave capitalist externally, but really behave communally internally, or work best if they do.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:22 PM on December 7, 2022 [2 favorites]


Thanks, but "opportunity" has become one of those buzzwords that instantly raises alarms every time I hear it. (Did you know that in some languages, the word for "opportunity" is the same as the word for "crisis"?)
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:18 PM on December 7, 2022 [1 favorite]


A part of me wanted to write a defense of this piece, or to suggest that Robin Sloan (whose work has been posted to the blue since 2009) is a lot savvier about the Internet and the culture that surrounds it than he's being given credit for, or to look at all the different "avenues" he suggests in his long-and-quite-nuanced post to suggest that maybe the thing he's talking about here isn't the thing he's getting criticized for talking about in this comments thread.

Maybe tomorrow. But man, at the moment it just bums me out that a guy who's made a lot of cool things online, and whose anti-Web3 essay was one of the definitive "enough with this bullshit" essays critiquing what's wrong with the modern internet, is being dumped on for reasons as inane as some of the ones in this thread.
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 8:05 PM on December 7, 2022 [20 favorites]


Robin Sloan is one of the rare folks who understands how the value of technology isn’t about the technology but is about how it touches people’s lives & all that can engender for the greater good. I think his work has done just fine without a expert understanding of security protocols. Probably done more than most people who understand security protocols.

Or, what Tom Hanks CBT sez.
posted by armoir from antproof case at 8:34 PM on December 7, 2022 [3 favorites]


"The best movies are those about movies, the best books are those about books"

Hmmm. All I can do is think of a lot of counterexamples :)
posted by storybored at 8:49 PM on December 7, 2022 [3 favorites]


Is this a read for those of us who did a little mild web development in the period from 1996-2000, or is this a ‘get off my lawn’/‘sit down grandparent’ type situation?

I am definitely someone who did web development in that time frame. And while the tone of this article seemed wonderful at the start, I quickly realized I had no real clue about most of what he was talking about.

Then at the end, he kind of pooh-poohed Mastodon... which happens to be the best thing I've experienced online in many moons. So this piece didn't do much for me.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:02 PM on December 7, 2022 [2 favorites]


We leak considerable metadata if we build Ethernet based overlay networks like ZeroTier and Tailscale, which Robin Sloan promotes, ditto Apple's new thing.

You'd leak less if using Tor onion services similarly, which operate at the TCP layer. I'll caution Tor onion services have the semantics of a single TCP port though, which makes Tor based overlays single purpose, and this helps when running non-privacy aware applications over Tor.

You'd leak far less information if you used some mix network instead of Tor, but the extra latency meshes poorly with streaming, and requires applications overall, so this'll become crazy expensive, but all new applications could integrate security well enough to share overlays.

It turns out security really dictates network levels protocol behavior, which makes everything tricky. It's partially but differently why TBL's semantic web attempts always fail.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:38 PM on December 7, 2022 [4 favorites]


A part of me wanted to write a defense of this piece, or to suggest that Robin Sloan (whose work has been posted to the blue since 2009) is a lot savvier about the Internet and the culture that surrounds it than he's being given credit for, or to look at all the different "avenues" he suggests in his long-and-quite-nuanced post to suggest that maybe the thing he's talking about here isn't the thing he's getting criticized for talking about in this comments thread.

The thing to remember whenever anyone brings up amateurism is that amateurism is class warfare. The term's origin and etymology are rooted in the idea that it is somehow "superior" to do something for the "love" of that activity as opposed to making money, while eliding over the fact that the only way you can do that is if you don't have to worry about where your paycheck is coming from. There's also the indirect reference to the infamous "Thousand True Fans" essay, which got dissected here.

If Sloan is going to "insist on an amateur internet", it would be nice if they actually address the baggage that term brings to the table.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:56 PM on December 7, 2022 [2 favorites]


amateurism is that amateurism is class warfare ... If Sloan is going to "insist on an amateur internet", it would be nice if they actually address the baggage that term brings to the table.

Sloan doesn’t use the term Amateurism (the beblief/philosphy), he mentiones an amateur internet as one of several internets:

"I want to insist on an amateur internet; a garage internet; a public library internet; a kitchen table internet."

This seems fine to me. Even if it’s not clear what he means by amateur precisely, I don’t read it as saying that nobody should be paid for anything on the internet. He’s saying: let’s do some hiking this weekend and maybe we’ll discover something beautiful on the way.

Now, if an unsponsored hike in the forest is class warfare then I’m Genghis Khan.
posted by UN at 2:26 AM on December 8, 2022 [3 favorites]


, he mentiones an amateur internet as one of several internets:

"I want to insist on an amateur internet; a garage internet; a public library internet; a kitchen table internet."


I'm pretty sure he's only talking about one thing there, but calling it by different names to paint a fuller picture of what he means.
posted by timdiggerm at 2:39 AM on December 8, 2022 [2 favorites]


Are public libraries amateur?
posted by UN at 2:42 AM on December 8, 2022 [2 favorites]


No, but I think by that descriptor he wants to highlight their accessibility, their space for community and every day people with expectations of commerce.

As for "kitchen table", I suspect he's evoking his own "Home Cooked App" concept
posted by timdiggerm at 4:45 AM on December 8, 2022


The thing to remember whenever anyone brings up amateurism is that amateurism is class warfare. The term's origin and etymology are rooted in the idea that it is somehow "superior" to do something for the "love" of that activity as opposed to making money, while eliding over the fact that the only way you can do that is if you don't have to worry about where your paycheck is coming from. There's also the indirect reference to the infamous "Thousand True Fans" essay, which got dissected here.

This still strikes me as a bad-faith reading of Sloan's writing, and an incredibly reductive one to boot. I, too, run in leftist circles and know how to formulate arguments like this. I also have read more than one single thing by Sloan ever, I have a pretty good understanding of where he stands w/r/t labor issues, and I could play the same logistic game and saying: no, he's talking about a labor-owned Internet, one in which the individuals actively participating and content-creating own the means of production. His focus on decentralization is a critique of the Internet as privately-owned property, and his emphasis on blogs and RSS harkens back, not to an "amateur Internet," but to a model of online posting which made its authors money, rather than shunting the fruits of their labor over to an absentee rentier/managerial class.

I can construct all those arguments using this single text provided, all without misreading or misinterpreting a single line, and they'll all ring true. And in my case, because I happen to be familiar with anything else that Robin Sloan has ever written, I happen to know that my own leftist/pro-labor reading of Sloan's piece works because it lines up with Robin Sloan's own stated political ideals.

One of the dude's major shticks is "amateurism" in the sense of "how can we develop platforms and tools and methods of communication that are so rich and robust that would-be 'amateurs' are incredibly well-prepared to learn how to do what they're doing, attract an audience, and create sustainable platforms of their own?" Another is emphasizing and owning up to the fact that the web is defined by technologies, not just by its "content" layer, and looking for ways to make "developing new technologies" a communal act that's accessible to people who aren't in the developer community, since he thinks it's extremely risky to keep the actual development part of web development so corporatized. This essay of his is an extension of things he's written about for literally over a decade.

I happen to be familiar with Robin Sloan's political outlook because I'm a professional programmer whose passion project involves developing new tools to help people develop online platforms, and whose central focus is a leftist/Marxist attitude towards ownership and production. And one of the central tenets of my development philosophy was hugely influenced by an essay Sloan wrote ten years ago, which I—as a recent insecure-and-broke college graduate—wrote him over. (To which he replied with encouragement and a few terse, useful reactions to the mess I'd sent him, both of which I was extremely grateful for at the time.)

My immediate reaction to reading this piece was that I wanted to do more of a close-reading of it, because I find a lot of its branches really interesting (and disagree with a couple of them in ways that at least make for thought-provoking arguments). But I don't see the point in doing that here. The guy wrote a compelling and substantial 3,500-word series of theses, and the response was a bunch of terse dismissals along the lines of "he's so fucking anti-labor" and "he's such a cranky old man." Why even attempt discussing this in good faith when that's the reception good faith gets?
posted by Tom Hanks Cannot Be Trusted at 5:06 AM on December 8, 2022 [17 favorites]


Ah, I think my comments were unclear. I am the cranky old person saying “get off my lawn” in response to the article in the scenario I was setting up.
posted by eviemath at 5:44 AM on December 8, 2022


I was enjoying this until I got to the part where they shit on Mastodon. Mastodon’s slipping a lot of potential in under the guise of “it’s like Twitter”. Some of it is, in fact, being blocked by Benevolent Dictator For Life Gargron’s desire to make it like Twitter. But it is a solid gateway to The Fediverse and as more stuff starts getting built on ActivityPub we have the fact that there’s an account migration protocol to let you transparently leave this Twitterlike experience for something different without a single person who follows you having to lift a finger. Some people are still acting like they are Extremely On Twitter but they’re getting a lot less reward for doing so, and this means they’re learning that being flesh-eating piranhas is no longer a good strategy for gaining an audience.

I own a part of the discussion platform. I am an artist who mostly draws furry porn and I’m running a small corner of the Fediverse and that’s fucking huge IMHO. Your admin can still be a fairly remote figure if the server’s too big but they can be someone a lot like yourself, for good and for ill, instead of some dude in Silicon Valley riding high on $zillions of VC money. It is the “amateur, garage, public library internet” being actively called for in the text above the part where the author of this piece says “but not Mastodon”.
posted by egypturnash at 7:22 AM on December 8, 2022 [3 favorites]


an AI that can have a bank account can also have paid henchmen . . . and an island lair . . .
posted by Heywood Mogroot III at 7:39 AM on December 8, 2022


The guy wrote a compelling and substantial 3,500-word series of theses, and the response was a bunch of terse dismissals along the lines of "he's so fucking anti-labor" and "he's such a cranky old man." Why even attempt discussing this in good faith when that's the reception good faith gets?

I'm sorry, but nobody is owed agreement, and disagreement is not in of itself bad faith. For me, calls for an "amateur internet" bring back memories of the arguments in the early naughts that everyone would be a creator, and as such the idea of creative labor would dwindle away as we would be trading our creative works with others - a viewpoint that completely ignores how creativity actually works while devaluing creative labor. Not to mention that the whole concept of the amateur is anti-labor to the bone - the term was literally created as a way to diminish people participating in an activity (sports, in the original construct) for pay, and is used to this day to attack the value of labor. This is the whole point of the cult of the amateur - to promote amateurism as superior to working for recompense.

Or to put it another way - if it bothers you that people point out that an anti-labor term is anti-labor to the bone, perhaps the answer is to stop using an anti-labor term.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:51 AM on December 8, 2022


Well, there are two different ways that “amateur” is used. One, indeed, denigrates the labor of those “professionals” paid to do a task. But the other denigrates people who lack access to upper middle class educational opportunities or social prestige, in a manner that is itself classist. That is the use that says that some politicians know more about the bodies of marginalized people than they themselves do, or that (to reference another current thread on the blue) a management consulting firm will produce better advice than the long-term employees of a company - amateur as opposed to officially sanctioned or officially/formally trained in the approved orthodoxy. So you really have to look at and argue from the specific context rather than make a blanket argument about what reference to “amateur” universally means.
posted by eviemath at 8:15 AM on December 8, 2022 [1 favorite]


(That is, I, too, watched The English Game and understood its critique of the source of the split between amateur and pro sports. And the original French meaning certainly also places amateurs well within the upper classes, for all practical purposes. But language is flexible and changes over time, some words do take on almost opposite meanings to their original senses, and nowadays “amateur” is not only used as the opposite of paid.)
posted by eviemath at 8:23 AM on December 8, 2022 [1 favorite]


eviemath: Well, there are two different ways that “amateur” is used. One, indeed, denigrates the labor of those “professionals” paid to do a task. But the other denigrates people who lack access to upper middle class educational opportunities or social prestige, in a manner that is itself classist.

Wasn't there some talk about dilettantes a few years ago that maybe came at this without such freighted language?

If he's saying that people should be able to try things that aren't their day job -- efforts they do for fun/passion, and not to afford to live -- then I can see where I agree with that.

(Just a thought.)
posted by wenestvedt at 8:35 AM on December 8, 2022 [1 favorite]


If he's saying that people should be able to try things that aren't their day job -- efforts they do for fun/passion, and not to afford to live -- then I can see where I agree with that.

I think that is what he is saying, as I guess he himself is not a programmer, but I guess occasionally writes programs for his personal & household use. I personally think the "hanging in the garden with my boo talking" post is a deeper thought (I mean, yay! there's not a set of 'amateur police' or whatever shutting non-pros down.), and that the creations of the corporations of the past decade have made amateur programming better, so I'd not be so inclined to throw them out. But that doesn't scan as well as 'kitchen table internet'.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:54 AM on December 8, 2022 [1 favorite]


Yeesh. I can't with both the lefter than thou and the illicit appeal to authority here. I'm glad he wrote other things, I'm glad they've been valuable and meaningful, that doesn't mean everything he says is gold and disagreeing with parts where he's showing a shallow understanding is, at least, this website working exactly as I prefer it to.

Every era has had issues with excluding and erasing some part of the Internet that also makes it function and thrive, exploiting labor, exploiting regulatory arbitrage, exploiting class and creative resentment, exploding gatekeeping here while recognizing the value gates have in protecting the marginalized there.

Can we agree that we'd all like the Internet to suck less for everyone even if it means it sucks a bit more for those of us most privileged in the current system in exchange for sucking less for those oppressed and exploited by it? Because that's what I'm reading as the goal here - the means this writer suggests aren't thoroughly vetted but the concepts trend in the right direction.

I'm tempted to ignore half of what he suggests because he's excited about some Mac-only web browser and i think that shows he has no concept of where and how most people even use the Internet. But the notion that browsers exist with some universality and can be expected to keep existing in some form does lend an opportunity for non-professionals to create more of what they wish existed.

But Jesus, ideas are the things with value, authors are human and humans are notorious for believing things based on their emotional state more than reason, which is why an appeal to authority of a given author is so offensive in a discussion where that author has some good and some clearly silly ideas - including shitting on one of the rare successful non-corporate wins like Mastodon.
posted by abulafa at 9:41 AM on December 8, 2022 [5 favorites]


My immediate reaction to reading this piece was that I wanted to do more of a close-reading of it, because I find a lot of its branches really interesting (and disagree with a couple of them in ways that at least make for thought-provoking arguments). But I don't see the point in doing that here. The guy wrote a compelling and substantial 3,500-word series of theses, and the response was a bunch of terse dismissals along the lines of "he's so fucking anti-labor" and "he's such a cranky old man." Why even attempt discussing this in good faith when that's the reception good faith gets?

A thousand times this. NoxAternum I get that you've got all the answers and that substantive engagement with this topic is beneath you but maybe you could rustle up the tiniest bit of respect for the rest of us on this dumb blue website and just skip the thread. Even if we're in here being all kinds of wrong, I assure you its OK. You've had many many threads dedicated to what you personally think is important, and I think at this point you could stand to make room for other people to have theirs.
posted by wordless reply at 10:02 AM on December 8, 2022 [2 favorites]


I like the optimistic "joy of creation" vibes from the author, although the examples cited don't seem to support that point. "Build it and they will come" is how Google and Facebook became the tech giants they are today. Also, they raised a lot of money. The post doesn't really address how to build a better product, or how to push the entrenched out.

I dunno how "a new web browser (but built on Chrome, of course)" or using that VPN software with my friends can achieve that.
posted by meowzilla at 10:03 AM on December 8, 2022 [2 favorites]


I dunno how "a new web browser ...

The web browser is just about everyone's interface or viewport to the Internet. It's overdue for a rethink. A very simple technical example - the average popular newssite sends a megabyte or more of code-libraries (though the page may only be using a few trivial functions or effects from each), fonts, ad-getters, trackers, cookies, ovens to bake those cookies, grandmothers to man those ovens... it's about time there was some consensus about what capabilities should actually be in the browsers themselves, instead of having all this baggage sent with every page, which might only have a MB or less of actual novel content.

I count myself fortunate to have worked as an Internet and webapp developer/programmer from about 1996 to 2019. We need new young minds to not treat the status quo as immutable, and to envision new possibilities.
posted by Artful Codger at 4:00 PM on December 8, 2022 [1 favorite]


It sounds like you're just describing RSS. There are a multitude of reasons why news orgs are uninterested in distributing their content in that manner, the most obvious one is that the ads you want removed pay for their business. That's specifically why some are describing the author here as naive.
posted by meowzilla at 6:06 PM on December 8, 2022 [3 favorites]


But language is flexible and changes over time, some words do take on almost opposite meanings to their original senses, and nowadays “amateur” is not only used as the opposite of paid.

The problem is not amateur being the opposite of paid,, bbut the moral superiority baked into the term over that position. The word is derived from the Latin word for love (amor), in order to emphasize that the amateur is doing the activity for love or passion, rather than the base desire of compensation - and in doing so is morally superior. And this moral argument continues to be part of the word to this day, even with all of those changes to the meaning that you bring up. It's the meaning the NCAA and major universities call on when using the term to "defend" their theft of billions of dollars of value from students (many of whom are minorities) - and when those students finally clawed back some of that value, it's what prompted the creation of images like this attacking those students. It's also the meaning that enables abuses throughout various creative industries as the idea that taking into account things like using one's art to provide for themselves is somehow a betrayal of said art, and that the creation of such art demands the artist subject themselves to abuse and privation.

Which is why I look askance when someone calls for an "amateur internet" (and then follows up with "for people who care about creating worlds together, rather than getting rich" - the sort of turn of phrase that has historically been used to attack creative laborers for being concerned about making money) - and given the heavily anti-labor history of the word in the past through the current day, I think pointing out that history is relevant.

Which leads to...

NoxAternum I get that you've got all the answers and that substantive engagement with this topic is beneath you but maybe you could rustle up the tiniest bit of respect for the rest of us on this dumb blue website and just skip the thread.

It's interesting that pointing out that "amateur" has a long, ignoble anti-labor history and that the nascent internet was hostile to creative labor (in large part because we live in a society that is hostile to creative labor, to be fair) is somehow disrespectful and not "substantive engagement". I was just finishing college and watching the bottom of the tech industry fall out back in 2003, and I remember the push back then that the internet would revolutionize creative fields by allowing all of us to become "creators", and then we would all show off our creations to others, causing the "abusive" creative industries to wither on the vine. Of course, this ignored the reality that a) not everybody wants to be a creator (and this is perfectly fine, despite the arguments from people like Tim Berners-Lee that creation is the obligation of internet users), b) even if you are a creator, that doesn't mean you want to develop a completely orthogonal skillset to get your creations out, which c) led to leaving the openings that Big Tech used to get in by providing tools that allowed creators to create while handling the parts that they didn't have the skillset for.

That's not to say that Big Tech doing this was right or good - history bears out that they have done a very poor job here at best. But there was a reason that they beat out the concept that Sloan is pushing - they grasped that not everyone wants to have to learn HTML to put their ideas out to the world, and thus intermediation could be very lucrative. This is why the argument of middlemen being inherently bad (a rather popular argument during that period) has always failed - it turns out that middlemen can in fact provide value in the form of skillsets and contacts that the creator may not have. To me, at least, Sloan is arguing for a position that lost out because it ignored how creative labor actually works, and does so using anti-labor rhetoric that undercuts creative labor. (I still find it amazing how the thing that undercut the cult of the amateur the most was intermediaries giving more people the ability to get into creating and making - which in turn got people to realize that creative labor is labor.)

As I said before, nobody is owed agreement and disagreement is not in of itself a sign of bad faith. Instead of complaining that people are rejecting the argument being put forth, try actually addressing why they are, because you might find out there's an actual rationale behind it.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:34 PM on December 8, 2022


You’ve… you’ve never heard “amateur” used as an insult?

Huh.

Suffice to say, you seem to be missing a common and entirely different modern usage of the word.

Now, the part where you’ve added a more specific critique of the usage in this specific article, instead of relying on your incomplete generic definition. That is useful.
posted by eviemath at 6:56 PM on December 8, 2022


Creative labor is not the same as creativity or doing a project that involves doing things that are creative. That makes creative labor like other kinds of labor.

A mechanic working on a weekend hobby project that involves machines isn't laboring for anyone but themselves. If they want to get paid for that, fine I guess. But then they have two jobs and one less hobby.

I understood the article to be more of a call to action for that community. It's like: if you're like me and have an old piece of junk got sitting in the garage, it's the year of wrenching, 2023 yay!
posted by UN at 2:55 AM on December 9, 2022 [1 favorite]


Meowzilla, I wasn't talking about advertising content, I was referring to the non-content functional stuff that just about every modern page now includes, though their page might only need a fraction of the passed code. It's about time that much of the expected capabilities be securely included in a new browser standard, rather than as externally provided code vulnerable to hacking and spoofing.

I also think the use of the term "amateur" has been appropriate; Sloan is hoping to inspire a new generation of developers (pro and hobby) to envision uses and applications that us old farts have missed.
posted by Artful Codger at 4:08 PM on December 10, 2022


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