Getting Ready

Elaborating on the Wheel model, Renaissance and Dawn

Laxey Wheel
Laxey Wheel

What we talk about when we talk about content (thank you Carver)

Up until now, MOFFAS Dawn (the resource side of the system) mainly works on e-commerce sites and their physical merchandise, through reading, mapping and minimal GEN ai profiling (I’m shamefully behind the schedule and, if I have to be honest, a tad lost on that). However, this is only a portion of the consumable resources that are available on the Internet. Digital content, especially the creative kind, such as blogs, podcasts and graphic novels, is another major category that’s seeing an exponential growth. Clearly, these content consumables are different than their tangible siblings, but those pretty unique properties they possess innately are yet to be explored fully. Consequently, although monetizing content has become an accepted norm (imagine ten years ago asking people to pay to read an online article), it’s still largely done in a fashion that is similar to that of physical products. The non-physical digital objects end up being treated as physical products in a transaction-oriented platform-based environment, such as Netflix, OnlyFans and Medium. In general, the standard operation involves having retail users pay the platform for access to gated content and the platform then taking a cut. Of course, there are differences between one platform and the next regarding actual arrangements (between platform and creators as well as platform customers); for instance, with Substack you subscribe to a certain account (newsletter) while with Medium the paywall is site-wide.

Creator’s individuality and independence

When we buy a physical product, the product has a brand regardless where we get it. A CatLotto shirt from Amazon is a CatLotto shirt. When we wear the shirt to a Post Malone concert and some dude spills a full bottle of beer on it, it is still a CatLotto shirt. The situation is subtly different with (creative) content. When we read an article on a platform site, its brand (sense of identity) often depends on whether the creator is an already famous person. Barack Obama’s “congratulations, Warriors” tweet can still be read in his signature voice while mine is counted as one of the Twitter responses under the trending hashtag. It’s debatable whether heart emojis plus a crown can be classified as creative content, but my point still stands: multi-tenant platforms inevitably diminish and weaken an individual’s identity, and such effects tend to be stronger on intangible assets.

Individual freedom

Elon Musk has been in the headlines a lot lately for various reasons. A regular theme, though, is his tireless “fight” for freedom of speech. I have many disagreements with Mr. Musk and sometimes it’s sad to feel like if one is any more “normal” he or she cannot be this successful, but this is not about him. I am also not going to make it about freedom of speech as the whole subject is unnecessarily politicized and weaponized. The bottomline is: one shall be allowed to say whatever he or she wants as long as such actions do not inflict harm on another party, directly or indirectly, because everyone is equally entitled and freedom is more than true or false. What I am actually more interested in, as far as the Wheel model is concerned, is whether freedom is possible and favored within a platform model, at all. In the end, there’s only one set of rules for an entire user group, suppliers or consumers, and one single source of discretion; it’s hard to imagine that everyone’s freedom, to each their own understanding, can be respected and protected. To take a step back, if we do have to compromise for the sake of the community, where do we draw the line and how do we come to agree on such a line?

Creative content is to be shared.

By nature, digital content is easy to share. No matter how glorious a video is, under the hood, it is just a chunk of 1s and 0s that can be easily manipulated (compared to tangible goods). I can even argue that it’s made to be shared. My best friend and I might not share a closet, but we sure share many airdropped selfies on our phones. When such sharable digital content is put on a server and made accessible on the Internet, technically, it is set up for sharing on a large scale. Note that the word “sharing” here does not mean daily social actions such as sending a link to friends or posting it to Facebook; it refers to the behavior of consuming the same target content with others, although in the digital world “the same” usually means a copy of the original file. In reality, however, not only is such sharing (understandably) restricted, it is what most platforms and software companies actively and proactively prevent the users from doing. Recently, Netflix announced that they would start cracking down on password sharing because this common practice had cost the company significantly in profits. I imagine it to be quite a difficult task to execute, but even from a privacy point of view, that’s already questionable — a primary owner’s identity has to be verified through household IP address and device ID data. While I unconditionally support intellectual property rights and believe that we still don’t pay talents enough for their quality content, there are better ways to achieve fairness on both sides. If we are to take full advantage of the digital nature, we can make information unprecedentedly affordable and accessible for all while supporting and liberating the creative communities.

When there’s a wheel, there’s a way.

I am definitely not the only weirdo that’s obsessed with wheels. The almighty Leonardo da Vinci, who I always see more as a scientist than an artist (purely insane to think that he’s still one of the greatest in history), designed several wheel-shaped perpetual motion machines. Just like all the other similar attempts throughout the history, those machines didn’t work and, as a matter of fact, da Vinci himself never thought they would, remarking, “you will find the impossibility of motion above believed” (Sir Issac Newton wasn’t born yet). However, the more relevant question here is:

Leonardo da Vinci's Perpetual Motion Machine
Leonardo da Vinci’s Perpetual Motion Machine
Wheel model
Wheel model
Winding Stream Party
Winding Stream Party
Tim is a fiction writer that loves to write about oak trees and peonies.Veronica loves to read novels with an oak tree as the lead.
Tim writes on his own website: https://timsheroes.me. He includes a paywall, a tipping jar and a link to Patreon there.
Everyone needs to eat. Tim also posts his writings on Medium and Substack. In both places, he uses monetization.Veronica finds out about Tim and his interesting series of Oak Tree 1984. However, deep in student debt, she does't want to spend money on Medium just because of one series, nor does she want a newsletter subscription through Substack because she is not fond of peonies. Is Veronica being unreasonable?To the contrary, Veronica's precise demands are what the market should be about. We live in an era of information overload, but 90% of the information is noise, distraction (manipulation) and useless junk that clots the channel and makes people anxious.Veronica initiates a Wheel for oak tree fans through the Cartwheel program. Surprise, surprise! There are other oak tree fans and together they have enough to power the Wheel. Tim connects his oak tree on https://timsheroes.me to Dawn so that oak tree fans can read his creations directly on his site. As the Oak Tree Heroes Wheel runs, more oak tree fanatics find out about it and join Veronica. There are also ones that are not able to join due to financial difficulties, but there are always donated one-time passes for them to pick up. Due to the increase in traffic and backlinks, the SEO of https://timsheroes.me has also improved.
Surprise, surprise! There are other oak tree writers and they join Tim to make the Wheel more competitive against others.
At some point, Veronica is tired of all the oak trees and leaves for a Pine Wheel.Later, the Wheel becomes not as lucrative for Tim, now having a cult following, so he makes an exit and founds a All About Tim Wheel.Now the Oak Tree Heroes Wheel doesn't have enough content to keep the readers satisfied. The wheel is soon demolished. R. I. P.

Apart and Together in Dawn

While Lova, the consumer-side system, is built to be proactive and aggressive (after all, I did name her after a deadly sniper), Dawn is laid-back, lazy and “mellow” by design. It doesn’t mean he’s incapable in any way; the reasoning is that since the resource side will always be more collective and accumulative (think about oligopoly, Pareto effect, etc.), which results in a natural tendency to deterministically outgrow and outpower the individualistic consumer end, a contained resource system is simply “safer” and more likely to comply with the human-centric values.

Renaissance Stamp Seal for this post

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