GOOD

Social Media as Public Goods?


We've heard this idea floated about newspapers before, but now Ethan Zuckerman asks: should we think about Facebook, Twitter, and other social media as public goods? In the absence of viable business models, people are starting to wonder if these online titans-which have no problem raising money, or building an audience-should be supported the same we support schools, nonprofits, and other institutions we deem valuable to society."Services like Facebook and Twitter are emerging as critical pieces of social infrastructure. It may be worth thinking of them as public goods. We know a lot of different ways to provision public goods-states maintain them using taxation, private entities build them and charge access fees, communities build them and rely on user support, NGOs provide services and use a hybrid of user fees, donations and foundation support. I don't think it's crazy to think that this might be how we choose to build social networks in the future."It's perhaps another version of "too big too fail," but I guess in this case it's something more like "too useful to fail" or maybe even "too important to fail" (all you what-I-had-for-breakfast hating late-adopters be damned). But I can't help but wonder: is this a defeatist attitude? Is there not a market solution to this problem-for newspapers (well, how about news organizations) and social media? Curious what the rest of you think.Via @umairh. Photo (cc) about the internet, the future of social media, and the opportunities and goals of communities by Flickr user birgerking.
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