Web 2.0 will make us all into middlemen 22:23 on Sunday

The web 2.0 promise is that it will make us all into producers, agents, salesmen, support people, etc. We can and will be fulfilling all kinds of middleman and sub-contractor roles for companies.

  • Some we will be doing on purpose, and
  • some we will be doing accidentally, ie. we will be indirectly supplying companies with useful data.

Still the question of incentives remain, and for me it is especially interesting in the second scenario of indirect use. Let’s say a travel agency utilizes Flickr by linking to destination photos by tag. For us who supply the photos, our personal incentive of sharing pictures with friends will have been fulfilled already. But what happens when we realize our content is helping someone, in this case the travel agency, to make money? In this case a payment of use is not an incentive, but a royalty.

A hat tip of inspiration to Steve Rubel.

2 Responses to “Web 2.0 will make us all into middlemen”


  1. Janne Says:

    I think it’s a fair trade – after all, if other people get to use my pictures to make money, I can use their pictures to make money for myself.

    However, if this balance is broken, then we’re in trouble. Which is one of the reasons DRM sucks. DRM is not something everyone can afford, and therefore it tilts the balance (or would, if it wasn’t so easy to break).

  2. Niko Says:

    Experience tells me this balance only works for so long. Eventually (for most people at least) there comes the tipping point when they forget they traded their photos for the right to use everyone else’s photos, and they start to demand royalties. When that happens, I don’t know.

    Someone might be happy if a big travel agency uses their photos. They might be happy if a small guy selling shirts uses their photos. But the same people might also get greedy when the small guy buys a Porsche with the shirt money.

    So, I think the balance is never truly and equally balanced, and it only works as long as you don’t notice the lean.