Enshittification - Cory Doctorow

I thought this essay from Cory Doctorow captured the essence of technology companies today.

I’ve personally experienced the decrease in quality on the major platforms over time: where simple things like search results have gone from magical to baffling.

I also learned a bit more about the relationship between Facebook and online journalism. Doctorow’s explanation went beyond advertising revenue and talked about the strategy which made the news dependent on Facebook: a fact which has real-world consequences.

Finally, the conclusion I drew from the essay was that making oddly specific guarantees is not as crazy as it sounds. If I guaranteed that my users would see the content they subscribe to, that might not make much sense until you read the essay and see how Facebook and other companies make money by not doing that. I would also guarantee to business partners that I’m not using a honeymoon algorithm to lure them to my platform. And, I won’t hold their customers for ransom: extorting a fee or refusing to allow interoperability. That’s part of the end-to-end principle mentioned in the essay.



Think of enshittification as the digital equivalent of entropy. In a closed system (eg monopolised market) both increase.

Let’s not be fooled however by the so-called “link tax” moves in Australia, and now Canada. Old media also practised enshittification of content and ads, back when it was more dominant. In the 2000s they lost to new media because of their massively highly ad rates, and failure to adapt. “Link tax” moves are, in my mind, a game being played between the old enshittifiers and the new enshittifiers. With governments in the middle, and almost wholely ignorant of the game that is being played. If publishers suceed they will become even more dependent on Big Tech for money. Meanwhile both are trying to win over governments to their case, with selected stories that outrage you, lobbying and funding of think-tanks and NGOs.

Overall consumers and small business are the losers unless, and until, the monopolies are tackled effectively. Then enshittification (entropy) might decrease in a fairer parts of the market (system).


Long new piece in FT by Doctorow. Worth a read, even for those who already know his perspective and brilliant analysis of :poop: ‘Enshittification’ is coming for absolutely everything


https://archive.is/1O12l for anyone paywalled


“After all, isn’t “enshittification” the same as “capitalism”? Well, no.”

well, yes, it is, essentially, insomuch as the latter will always result in the former

many people would resonate with the saying ‘money is the root of all evil’ while simultaneously being repulsed by those stating that capitalism is cancer and thus the elephant in the room is avoided

How money and the profit motive destroy everything

Capitalism will die - but will it take us with it?

you cannot have a monetary system such as we do and expect that somehow, magically, it isn’t going to incentivize greed and corruption and devolve into exactly where we now find ouirselves, and no, i’m not attempting to promote communism, marxism, socialism or any other common 'ism

the problems couldn’t be more obvious, but the potential solutions are demonized by those who thirst for power and control

every key system we have is laughably retarded whether it be finance, government, education, healthcare, media, etc. and while i admire those who act ethically and take risks to repair our systems, they are in fact fighting symptoms of the disease and failing to imagine completely new systems

contrary to what many might assume, greed is a learned behavior and thus it can be unlearned

we absolutely and desperately need a new world order, just not the one that’s being promoted by the self-serving psychopaths currently pulling the strings

personally i like a lot of the ideas put forth by the Venus Project and by people like Peter Joseph, James Corbett, Ben Stewart, Buckminster Fuller, etc.

I don’t think capitalism is an inherently bad system. The problem is that people end up doing what money wants instead of money doing what people want.

i think you just described exactly why it is an inherently bad system - that will always be the case; the system will always return to a state of greed and corruption because it can do nothing else

the more relevant question is, why is money needed?

the answer is, it isn’t

that statement, while admittedly highly controversial, is only controversial to those who fail to imagine what a well functioning society, absent our current monetary system and the plethora of problems that entails, might look like

people have survived, and still do in some parts of the world, without money and without government, and can do quite well as long as they have access to the resources they require (building materials, food)

now admittedly such societies are generally primitive, but primitive or not, they also have something that we generally do not and that is a fundamental and a vital connection to the earth and a degree of happiness and contentness that we lack

so now, what kind of society could be constructed if it were based, first, on a close relationship with the earth whilst leveraging technology and science? could it possibly be any worse than the corrupt mess we have created which we laughingly call “civilized society”?

when greed is removed from the equation, through proper education, the vast majority of problems are eliminated

a universal basic income is in the pipeline, obviously, and it is certainly a terribly rotten idea, however there was an interesting experiment conducted, in the U.S. i believe, though i forget where, in which the people in a town were given a monthly income (i believe it was $1000) - the results were very interesting:

  • while many might assume everyone would lose their incentive to work and sit around watching the boob-tube all day, it was largely the opposite that was true - people still went to work
  • people were happier and more productive at their job because it makes a huge difference knowing that you don’t have to be there
  • violent crime was reduced
  • there were fewer domestic arguments, couples were happier

there were several more key benefits, though i don’t recall them at the moment

when one is freed of the enslaving burden that our current monetary system dictates, obviously the quality of life improves

there’s another example i like to provide and though it may seem tangental, i think there’s a very important lesson to be learned here

in a large town/small city, in Europe as i recall, the government announced it would switch all the traffic lights to flashing yellow, from all sides, along a highly trafficked roadway

chaos, right?

and it was a bit chaotic, at first, but in the end it was found that:

  • driving times were reduced
  • less fuel consumed
  • fewer vehicle-vehicle accidents
  • fewer vehicle-pedestrian accidents

i associate the traffic lights with authoritarian control and the removal of them (essentially) with returning that control to the individual and it was very clear which system worked better

the experiment forced people to think and work with each other rather cede their responsibilities to an authoritarian system that rules at the barrel of a gun

the lack of antitrust action since Microsoft has been a huge factor. What happened with AT&T tells you how that can mitigate enshittification dramatically, and enable wider innovation to flower.

i don’t recall what happened to AT&T, but there are many obstacles to meaningful innovation

in 1969 the U.S. put men on the moon and since then there has been no substantial innovation that i’m aware of other than the proliferation of the internet and wireless phones, neither of which are really innovative

patents are just one of the obstacles - we live in a “what’s in it for me me me” system instead of an open society where knowledge is freely shared and which promotes true innovation

AT&T, and all the other companies that were bought and sold, are owned by a smaller and smaller number of umbrella corporations which makes competing difficult or impossible, one reason being that they lobby to put costly restrictions in place that only they are able satisfy

but again, the more relevant question is, why in the world do so many think that enslaving themselves via a wildly childish monetary system is a good idea when one could have everything they need, along with a massive reduction in stress, with a better system (that is not designed by neanderthal-minded psychopathic nut-jobs like the WEF/UN/etc.)?

i think that’s the stumbling block that pro-capitalists face; they think that, absent capitalism, they will lose something when it is precisely the opposite that is true, assuming of course that new systems aren’t rooted in greed which is only possible by dumping the silly idea of money - it’s simple: you cannot have money without greed and greed will always promote corruption … just look at the world we live in and attempt to identify a single important entity that isn’t hugely corrupt

The Venus Project

The Venus Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to designing human habitats that simultaneously enhance human well-being while remaining fit to the carrying capacity of Earth and local ecosystems, accommodating multiple resource scenarios. In service of this purpose, The Venus Project explores new sources of energy and a new resource management paradigm.

The Choice is Ours 2016

sans the “anthropogenic global warming” lunacy, this is a great introduction to the project

This film series explores many aspects of our society. To rethink what is possible in our world, we need to consider what kind of world we want to live in. Although we refer to it as a civilization, it is anything but civilized. Visions of global unity & fellowship have long inspired humanity, yet the social arrangements up to the present have largely failed to produce a peaceful and productive world. While we appear to be technically advanced, our values and behaviors are not. The possibility of an optimistic future is in stark contrast to our current social, economic, and environmental dilemmas. The Choice Is Ours includes interviews with notable scientists, media professionals, authors, and other thinkers exploring the difficulties we face.


Zeitgeist: The Movie (2007) is a treatment on mythology and belief in society today, presenting uncommon perspectives of common cultural issues.

Ungrip - YouTube

At a major juncture in his life, rob in the pagé family began down a road less traveled to free himself from fear, government control, and reliance on public energy and food supply, and shares his journey that led him “off the grid”.

Ben Stewart & Dan Stewart, creators of Esoteric Agenda and KYMATICA, focus the essence of this film around the journey through transitional and groundbreaking moments in a human’s life.

The purpose of this film is not to provide legal advice, nor is it to simply educate, but rather as inspirational fuel. To become more of what we already are…

You are the most powerful technology. Don’t ever forget that.

Apart from obvious conflicts–like clean industry–harms mainly come from norms and not essential parts of the theory.

I’ll take the improvements over feudalism and mercantilism. I think money and the free market create vital signals we need to manage limited production.

For all Adam Smith knew, we could go 99% of the way toward solving our problems in a marketplace. And we could solve the other problems with regulations that are actually enforced. That’s fine with me.

Mostly, people just want to act rationally and solve problems.

Mike, you’ve done essentially what every person before you has done when i asked them what the world might look like if they were to design new systems; i’ll take ‘this’ over ‘that’, as though it were impossible to imagine something far better and indeed it is if one limits themselves to merely rearranging our existing systems or attempting to repair inherently broken systems

a slave will never see themself as a slave if they cannot see the bars of their own prison cell

Mostly, people just want to act rationally and solve problems.

agreed! so then why is the world situation getting consistently worse? why are there still wars? why are people still starving? why is corruption still rampant in all out major systems? why is life expectancy dropping? why is pollution still a thing? why is there still so much crime?

there is one answer to all those questions

i’ve provided some links to information provided by highly intelligent people who have been working the problem for longer than you or i have been alive - whether you consider it or not is your choice

and for the record, i am absolutely not promoting feudalism or mercantilism or socialism or communism or fascism, etc.