I was intrigued by Douglas Rushkoff’s article “The People’s Net”, even though it was published in 2001, because I felt that it was centered on issues that are still very much prevalent today. Essentially, the article addresses the fact that while big-name corporations try to use the internet to their advantage, in advertising and otherwise soliciting purchases, it is individuals who really take the internet to its full (and originally intended) potential.
This article resonated with me for a number of reasons. Most of all, I am intrigued by the ways in which everyday people can turn the internet into a means of profit. Popular bloggers get free clothing, food and other goodies in the hopes of that they will give the products good reviews on their sites. Youtube artists get record deals and make money by adding advertisements to their videos. Sites like etsy and ebay (and even amazon) allow ordinary people to sell goods, whether purchased or made, to others across the world.
My question is this: Why do we have such a different view of these people compared to corporations? We are so quick to decry big-name companies for putting banner ads on the our favorite websites or box ads on the sides of our facebook, soliciting our business, but we have no problem when our favorite blogger talks about a product that was sent to them, free of charge, by one of these big-name companies? Is it because they are recognizable individuals, rather than a large group of faceless people hiding behind a company name? Is it because we acknowledge the fact that they started from the bottom, building a following and therefore earning the right to use the internet as a means of profit?
I’m curious about how others view this. As I learned from this article, the internet was created as a free means of sharing information. It was an opportunity for the individual to rise above industry. Do you think today’s internet has accomplished this, or has it instead just transformed the individual into another pawn in the efforts of big-name corporations to get our business? Where is the line drawn?