Farhad Manjoo’s recent New York Times article, How the Internet Is Saving Culture, Not Killing It, presents an impressive perspective on how online platforms are sustaining commercial content and cultural production.
It’s well-established that the Internet has enabled extraordinary creativity, and provided numerous new means for creators to get paid. DisCo has explored the wide variety of ways that creative people and small businesses make money, and how new online subscription models reduce piracy. Internet-based services have held their own by artistic standards as well. Over the years, we’ve also seen substantial research debunking the notion that the sky is falling. Yet these impressive developments often run up against an ill-informed but entrenched conventional wisdom weighed down with pessimism. When the N.Y. Times had covered the changing industry of commercial creativity in the past, for example, even very positive findings were characterized as “maybe not an apocalypse.”
Manjoo’s article breaks from this tired trend, citing a host of encouraging data. This data demolishes the notion that the Internet is undermining cultural production. In fact, it’s likely to save cultural production as we know it. He observes:
In the last few years, and with greater intensity in the last 12 months, people started paying for online content. They are doing so at an accelerating pace, and on a dependable, recurring schedule, often through subscriptions. And they’re paying for everything.