A few people lost in a cartoon forest -- the modern internet.

What Is 'Enshittification'? The Theory About The Possible Death Of The Useful Internet, Explained

Enshittification has set in, and for the weary internet voyager today, the current scroll offers little sustenance. Google Search unfolds endless miles of sponsored ad links, hordes of bots hawk their p*ssy in bio on X and Boomers on Facebook are mesmerized by AI-generated pictures of Shrimp Jesus.

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But what is this trend, and how did it get started? Why is everyone from communications scholars to brainrot meme accounts now using the word 'Enshittification' to describe the current situation?

What Is Enshittification?

Enshittification is a theory that the internet is getting worse because of how incentives work for the companies that run the big platforms. It charts out a typical life cycle that platforms like Google, Meta or X have gone through.

At the beginning of a tech platform's life cycle, when venture capital money flows freely and the company's goal is to sign on as many people as possible, it's great to be a user. Then, once a platform becomes entrenched and steady, it's okay being a user and great to be an advertiser: your product can be efficiently targeted to reach all these potential buyers.

At last, once a platform has been around for a while, cemented its monopoly, and there seems to be nobody who isn't using it, it's great for the executives working there and horrible for advertisers and users.

Cory Doctorow (@pluralistic@mamot.fr) @doctorow In the #enshittification cycle, a #platform lures users with a good deal at first, then it lures business customers (advertisers, sellers, creators) by handing them the #surplus; finally, it takes all the surplus for itself, creating a pile of s---: pluralistic.net/2023/01/21/pot.. 1/ Spotify Home Search 110 orary Liked Songs Your Top Songs 2022 PORTAL SOUNDTRACK Cam Backdood Juke (F Chub Mix 94 n Cuba Cura de Nuestra A Radicale Your The Songs 201 P Boogie woogie The Best of the Taking Heads Your Top Song 2000 Age ALT 8 B STUFF YOU SHOULD KNOW PODCAST Stuff You Should Know STAND- UPO Stand Up Comedy Co Comedy Central ? But Why: A Podcast for TALKS DAILY TED Talks Daily TED THE POSITIVE MINDSET PODCAST The Positive Mind P 30 FOR 30 30 for 30 Podcasts 2 132 TRUE CRIME DA True Crime Dally The P DAY THE P Trine Dey The Girls Bathroom The Girls Bathroom Sophie & Cinge the psychology of your 20's The Psychology of you... The Economist Podcasts CRI Lex Fride 202 PERD JOE HOC The Joe Rogan Exp ed Your Brain st Podcast On The Left 113.5K • Jan 27 ↑

Enshittification sees this lifecycle as an accelerating series of downgrades, a force of gravity that makes platforms worse for users because of how technology and capitalism are currently arrayed. Enshittification occurs because once it is large enough, there is no profit in making a platform actually work.

Seth Abramson @SethAbramson "Enshittification" should be added to the OED No other word describes Elon's management of Twitter so concisely Amal El-Mohtar @tithenai Feb 2 Been a while since I added to this thread but the enshittification of this website proceeds apace.twitter.com/TwitterDev/sta.. Show this thread 10:47 PM. Apr 3, 2023 46.9K Views . 58 Retweets 4 Quotes 290 Likes 2 Bookmarks :

Where Does The 'Enshittification' Theory Come From?

Canadian writer Cory Doctorow coined the term "enshittification" in late 2022 and early 2023. The idea draws on work by scholars such as Nick Srnicek and Shoshanna Zuboff, who have described a system of "platform capitalism" or "surveillance capitalism" in which big companies run the economy by collecting, leveraging, and selling data. Platforms do not sell a product, but rather access to a network and a set of tools. The platforms are massive middlemen.

t You reposted lan Miell @ianmiell Follow I have just returned to front end development after 20-odd years. Oh. My. God. What happened? Maintainability and simplicity used to be a feature, now it's considered a bug.

As Doctorow puts it, "a platform sits between buyers and sellers, hold(ing) each hostage to the other, raking off an ever-larger share of the value that passes between them."

What Is The Evidence For Enshittification?

In the past few years, internet users have pointed out many developments that seem to confirm either enshittification or its related cousin, dead internet theory. Memes that mock spam-generated content, AI-generated content, or the eccentric outputs of algorithms could be seen as memes about enshittification. As social media users drown under a flood of irrelevant spammy content, the only thing left to do is laugh at it and try to find the beauty, if you can.

ava @westcoastwinter It's cool how you could tweet something like "my family was killed last night in a home invasion" and there would still be a bot replying MY P---- IN BIO 4:42 PM Jan 24, 2024 · 17.2K Views .

For the full history of enshittification, be sure to check out GotFunnyPictures's encyclopedia entry for more information.

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