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The great enshittification

The great enshittification

So I went on vacation last week to an all-inclusive resort. I haven’t been to a AIR since I was pregnant with the youngest -13 years ago – but I have been on luxury cruises and have stayed in high end hotels. I am currently working on a post about that but, I did write a fair but honest Tripadvisor review… that was promptly throttled. It took 3 days to “approve” my review so now it is buried 3 pages back while 5-star reviews were automatically approved. The review appeared after I made a scathing post on facebook. As the kids would say: SUS.

I did a bit of digging and it seems that I am not the only one who has experienced this phenomenon. Apparently Tripadvisor now partners with brands and that gives them more control over the kind of ratings & rankings they receive. After years of having a community-built model that enshrined trust in the website, it is now just another pay-to-play platform that prioritizes business over transparency.

This speaks to the larger phenomenon of what Cory Doctorow calls the “enshittification” of the internet. All of the platforms we have grown up with and contributed to have now been raked over by capitalism and our data and our eyeballs are sold to the highest bidder. Etsy is now just a slum of drop-shipping, Reddit (which, like Spotify, has never turned a profit) is selling its communities to the highest bidder to mine for AI, and even Bandcamp has been recently bought out and is moving towards maximizing profit and minimizing payouts to artists.

This topic seems to be ramping up lately, so here are some interesting links:

“We’re at the end of a vast, multi-faceted con of internet users, where ultra-rich technologists tricked their customers into building their companies for free. And while the trade once seemed fair, it’s become apparent that these executives see users not as willing participants in some sort of fair exchange, but as veins of data to be exploitatively mined as many times as possible, given nothing in return other than access to a platform that may or may not work properly.” Are we watching the internet die?.

“Viewers may hardly see MrBeast having fun in his videos because he’s not actually having a good time. In podcasts, Donaldson tells hosts that he goes so hard, he won’t stop working until he burns out and isn’t able to do anything at all. With a laugh, he admits that he has a mental breakdown “every other week.” If he ever stops for a breather, he says, he gets depressed. MrBeast is so laser-focused on generating content on YouTube that he describes his personality as “YouTube.” He acknowledges that this brutal approach to videos, which has cratered many creators over the years, is not healthy. “People shouldn’t be like me. I don’t have a life, I don’t have a personality,” he said in a podcast recorded in 2023.” The end of the MrBeast era: Jimmy Donaldson warped YouTube in his image — but YouTube is warping him back.

“Everything used to work symbiotically. Then, those entities unceremoniously flipped to become extractors of the web, pulled up the digital drawbridge and never looked back. And all have been made significantly worse by doing this… They want your attention, intellectual labor and links (to them) all for free, but will not reciprocate even just your ideas if they’re external. They’re attention roach motels (traffic goes in, it does not come out). There is no ‘focus on the user’ any longer. Users like hyperlinks, which are internet lindy and a representation of our digital freedom: sharing what we want, with our online communities – links included. Personally I’ve witnessed this happen everywhere: my own links on social are shown to increasingly fewer followers, while posts without links do fine.” You aren’t upset enough about the war on hyperlinks: Our freedom to share links with our own digital communities has in many places already been taken from us.

This Apex Money post also has a link to two posts in r/professors that are a depressing read for anyone with kids. I have warned my own children about using AI for their schoolwork. But what is fascinating is that we have this happening:

Essay created with AI -> Essay run through AI detection scrubber before submission -> professors run essay through AI detection program AND AI detection scrubber detection program


The Eldest has told me that some teachers have moved to only doing homework assignments in class, in pen, and submitted in person (not online) as they were experiencing so many ChatGPT submissions that it had become untenable.

Also, there is a great link to the Honest Broker in that post that I had also queued up to post here but is worth reading as well. The Rise of Dopamine Culture. I’ve seen it posted everywhere so it is definitely resonating with people.

I am still recovering from our trip – I don’t know if it is just a horrible reaction to mold or if it is something more serious like Legionnaires Disease (I wish I was kidding) but my breathing is horrible. If it doesn’t clear up by tomorrow I am off to the doctor’s. So much for our last HURRAH of a luxury vacation until the kids finish high school!