How the Internet Is Saving Culture

Farhad Manjoo:

The internet taught a whole generation that content was not something you really had to pay for. So for years, digital content companies — especially those in the online news business — looked doomed to pursue a scale-only, ad-based business model. They tried to reach tens of millions of readers, viewers or listeners in the hopes of getting pennies in ads per user. Not only was that unsustainable, it was also ruining culture: It left no room for small acts and subtle niches, and it turned everything into overheated clickbait. Things looked gloomy.

And yet, now:

More than 20 years after it first caught mainstream attention and began to destroy everything about how we finance culture, the digital economy is finally beginning to coalesce around a sustainable way of supporting content. If subscriptions keep taking off, it won’t just mean that some of your favorite creators will survive the internet. It could also make for a profound shift in the way we find and support new cultural talent. It could lead to a wider variety of artists and art, and forge closer connections between the people who make art and those who enjoy it.

Obviously, I hope Medium is a part of this story. Regardless, it is starting to feel like the time is finally right for this... The internet has long enabled art and endeavors such as journalism to scale reach like never before in the history of human kind. Now it's time to scale business models to match.


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