At the Neath working men’s club down the road, one of the staff tells me that Amazon is “the employer of last resort”. It’s where you get a job if you can’t get a job anywhere else. And it’s this that’s so heartbreaking. What did you do before, I ask people. And they say they’re builders, hospitality managers, marketing graduates, IT technicians, carpenters, electricians. They owned their own businesses, and they were made redundant. Or the business went bust. Or they had a stroke. Or their contract ended. They are people who had skilled jobs, or professional jobs, or just better-paying jobs. And now they work for Amazon, earning the minimum wage, and most of them are grateful to have that.
In a true tragedy of the commons, these viral media companies may ultimately be the victim of their own success if Facebook decides that the core product value and user experience is being infringed upon.
This doesn’t have to be a swift death. Facebook doesn’t need to use the nuclear option of banning these services to wreak havoc on Upworthy’s growth. Even a subtle tweak to the visibility of this content on Facebook would have massive implications for Upworthy’s sustainable growth and success.
Researchers have discovered a “wonder drug” for many of today’s most common medical problems, says Dr. Bob Sallis, a family practitioner at a Kaiser Permanente clinic in Fontana, California. It’s been proven to help treat or prevent diabetes, depression, breast and colon cancer, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, obesity, anxiety and osteoporosis, Sallis told leaders at the 2013 Walking Summit in Washington, D.C.
“The drug is called walking,” Sallis announced. “Its generic name is physical activity.”
One of the odd things about traveling between the Bay Area and New York a lot is the asynchronicity of mass culture between coasts: That is, the things that get popular in the Bay Area (PostMates, Burning Man) don’t always get popular in New York right away, and things New Yorkers think are a big deal (cronuts, Banksy) are greeted with shrugs in San Francisco.
I can sum up the bullish case for Uber in one word: Amazon.
Amazon began in 1994 as a bookseller, then quickly realized that the efficient warehousing and shipping infrastructure they’d built to sell books could be used to get all kinds of things to customers quickly. So they branched out, first to consumer items like kitchen tools and electronics, then to cars and art and all manner of other things, some of which weren’t even sold by Amazon but used Amazon as a sales portal. Then, they started shooting up all kinds of other businesses – Amazon Web Services, a now-enormous cloud data service that hosts an insane number of websites, a Kindle e-publishing business, and a streaming-TV service to rival Netflix. Now, when you think of Amazon, you don’t even think books, or any other single category. You think, “Here’s a place I can go to get stuff.”
In a piece for the Atlantic, writer Robinson Meyer argues that while Upworthy and its many imitators have found success with their signature style, it was just a part of a larger story: Upworthy is one of the smaller traffic kingdoms in the middle of a distribution battle between Facebook and Twitter.
It has been argued by some that the tremendous growth advantage provided by the perfect storm of Upworthy’s viral strategy and social networks’ viral ambitions may not be an ethical or healthy practice. As part of a long essay over at Gawker, Tom Scocca argues that it is symptomatic of a larger problem of the way we communicate online. Namely, that it’s limiting: To go viral the Upworthy way, to be spread and shared and tweeted about, you have to be liked. You have to be nice. You can’t be divisive or mean or disagree. Who wants to invite a buzzkill?
“The result of this approach, the Upworthy house style, is a coy sort of emulation of English, stripped of actual semantic content: This Man Removed the Specific and the Negative, and What Happened Next Will Astonish You,” says Scocca.