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93

Great Platform Wars

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terms
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notes
Needs summary

Srnicek, N. (2016). Great Platform Wars. In Srnicek, N. Platform Capitalism. Polity Press, pp. 93-170

97

[...] The challenge today, however, is that capitalist investment is not suficient to overturn monopolies; access to data, network effects, and path dependency place even higher hurdles in the way of overcoming a monopoly like Google. This does not mean the end of competition or of the struggle for market power, but it means a change in the form of competition. In particular, this is a shift away from competition over prices (e.g. many services are offered for free). Here we come to an essential point. Unlike in manufacturing, in platforms competitiveness is not judged solely by the criterion of a maximal difference between costs and prices; data collection and analysis also contribute to how competitiveness is judged and ranked. This means that, if these platforms wish to remain competitive, they must intensify their extraction, analysis, and control of data--and they must invest in the fixed capital to do so. And while their genetic drive is towards monopolisation, at present they are faced with an increasingly competitive environment comprised of other great platforms.

relevant the whole platform wars thing

—p.97 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] The challenge today, however, is that capitalist investment is not suficient to overturn monopolies; access to data, network effects, and path dependency place even higher hurdles in the way of overcoming a monopoly like Google. This does not mean the end of competition or of the struggle for market power, but it means a change in the form of competition. In particular, this is a shift away from competition over prices (e.g. many services are offered for free). Here we come to an essential point. Unlike in manufacturing, in platforms competitiveness is not judged solely by the criterion of a maximal difference between costs and prices; data collection and analysis also contribute to how competitiveness is judged and ranked. This means that, if these platforms wish to remain competitive, they must intensify their extraction, analysis, and control of data--and they must invest in the fixed capital to do so. And while their genetic drive is towards monopolisation, at present they are faced with an increasingly competitive environment comprised of other great platforms.

relevant the whole platform wars thing

—p.97 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago
101

[...] 'once we understand this [tendency], it becomes clear that demanding privacy from surveillance capitalists or lobbying for an end to commercial surveillance on the Internet is like asking Henry Ford to make each Model T by hand'. Calls for privacy miss how the suppression of privacy is at the heart of this business model. [...]

on companies like Google collecting all sorts of privacy-infringing data on users

quoting Shoshana Zuboff in http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/the-digital-debate/shoshana-zuboff-secrets-of-surveillance-capitalism-14103616.html

—p.101 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] 'once we understand this [tendency], it becomes clear that demanding privacy from surveillance capitalists or lobbying for an end to commercial surveillance on the Internet is like asking Henry Ford to make each Model T by hand'. Calls for privacy miss how the suppression of privacy is at the heart of this business model. [...]

on companies like Google collecting all sorts of privacy-infringing data on users

quoting Shoshana Zuboff in http://www.faz.net/aktuell/feuilleton/debatten/the-digital-debate/shoshana-zuboff-secrets-of-surveillance-capitalism-14103616.html

—p.101 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago

referring to a type of subterranean plant stem; as a metaphor, means interconnected

103

they are more like rhizomatic connections

—p.103 default author
uncertain
1 year, 5 months ago

they are more like rhizomatic connections

—p.103 default author
uncertain
1 year, 5 months ago
110

A third dominant tendency is the funneling of data extraction into siloed platforms. When extensive means are not sufficient for competitive advantage, this approach tries to tie users and data to the platform by locking them in through various measures: dependency on a service, inability to use alternatives, or lack of data portability, for instance. [...]

it's funny how we think of all of these techniques as very standard capitalist tricks to ensure competitiveness, with the idea being that it buys the corporation time to deploy true innovation, when in reality they are fundamentally un-innovative and bad for users and, in the long run, remove market pressure to become more innovative and thus reduce innovation in the long run ... either you see the goal of a corporation as delivering a product and thus have to admit that these techniques are not in your best interest, or you explicitly acknowledge that the product is a means to the end of delivering profits to shareholders and thus have to ask why the hell you're wasting your life to make rich people richer

(the other tendencies: spreading into other related products/fields as business models converge and everyone competes with everyone else, and buying up other companies to aid in that quest)

—p.110 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago

A third dominant tendency is the funneling of data extraction into siloed platforms. When extensive means are not sufficient for competitive advantage, this approach tries to tie users and data to the platform by locking them in through various measures: dependency on a service, inability to use alternatives, or lack of data portability, for instance. [...]

it's funny how we think of all of these techniques as very standard capitalist tricks to ensure competitiveness, with the idea being that it buys the corporation time to deploy true innovation, when in reality they are fundamentally un-innovative and bad for users and, in the long run, remove market pressure to become more innovative and thus reduce innovation in the long run ... either you see the goal of a corporation as delivering a product and thus have to admit that these techniques are not in your best interest, or you explicitly acknowledge that the product is a means to the end of delivering profits to shareholders and thus have to ask why the hell you're wasting your life to make rich people richer

(the other tendencies: spreading into other related products/fields as business models converge and everyone competes with everyone else, and buying up other companies to aid in that quest)

—p.110 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago
113

[...] capitalist competition is driving the internet to fragment. There is no necessity to this outcome, as political efforts can stall or reverse it; but within a capitalist mode of production there are strong competitive pressures towards this end.

—p.113 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] capitalist competition is driving the internet to fragment. There is no necessity to this outcome, as political efforts can stall or reverse it; but within a capitalist mode of production there are strong competitive pressures towards this end.

—p.113 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago
116

[...] The industrial internet will undoubtedly give rise to some successful firms who may be able for a time to derive extra profit, above and beyond what their competitors receive. The key question, though, is whether or not this in the long-term overcomes the lack of profitability and the overcapacity of global manufacturing. This seems unlikely, as nothing in the industrial internet program appears to radically transform manufacturing, but rather simply to reduce costs and downtime. Rather than improving productivity or developing new markets, the industrial internet appears to drive prices still further down and to increase the competition for market share, thereby exacerbating one of the main impediments to global growth. The platform owners will simply siphon off more of the revenue generated, leaving direct manufacturers with even less. On top of this, the widespread turn to austerity is continuing to depress aggregate demand across the world, and the global trends for productivity are in decline. [...]

—p.116 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] The industrial internet will undoubtedly give rise to some successful firms who may be able for a time to derive extra profit, above and beyond what their competitors receive. The key question, though, is whether or not this in the long-term overcomes the lack of profitability and the overcapacity of global manufacturing. This seems unlikely, as nothing in the industrial internet program appears to radically transform manufacturing, but rather simply to reduce costs and downtime. Rather than improving productivity or developing new markets, the industrial internet appears to drive prices still further down and to increase the competition for market share, thereby exacerbating one of the main impediments to global growth. The platform owners will simply siphon off more of the revenue generated, leaving direct manufacturers with even less. On top of this, the widespread turn to austerity is continuing to depress aggregate demand across the world, and the global trends for productivity are in decline. [...]

—p.116 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago
120

[...] lean platforms are entirely reliant on a vast mania of surplus capital. The investment in tech start-ups today is less an alternative to the centrality of finance and more an expression of it. Just like the original tech boom, it was initiated and sustained by a loose monetary policy and by large amounts of capital seeking higher returns. While it is impossible to call then a bubble may burst, there are signs that the enthusiasm for this sector is already over. Tech stocks have taken a massive hit in 2016. There has been a wave of cutbacks on employee perks in the start-up sector--no more open bars and free snacks. [...] What is likely to happen is for a large number of these services to go out of business in the next couple of years, while others will move towards becoming luxury services, producing on-demand convenience at high prices. Whereas the tech boom of the 1990s at least left us with the basis for the internet, the tech boom of the 2010s looks as though it will simply leave us with premium services for the rich.

—p.120 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago

[...] lean platforms are entirely reliant on a vast mania of surplus capital. The investment in tech start-ups today is less an alternative to the centrality of finance and more an expression of it. Just like the original tech boom, it was initiated and sustained by a loose monetary policy and by large amounts of capital seeking higher returns. While it is impossible to call then a bubble may burst, there are signs that the enthusiasm for this sector is already over. Tech stocks have taken a massive hit in 2016. There has been a wave of cutbacks on employee perks in the start-up sector--no more open bars and free snacks. [...] What is likely to happen is for a large number of these services to go out of business in the next couple of years, while others will move towards becoming luxury services, producing on-demand convenience at high prices. Whereas the tech boom of the 1990s at least left us with the basis for the internet, the tech boom of the 2010s looks as though it will simply leave us with premium services for the rich.

—p.120 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago
128

Rather than just regulating corporate platforms, efforts could be made to create public platforms--platforms owned and controlled by the people. (And, importantly, independent of the surveillance state apparatus.) This would mean investing the state's vast resources into the technology necessary to support these platforms and offering them as public utilities. More radically, we can push for postcapitalist platforms that make use of the data collected by these platforms in order to distribute resources, enable democratic participation, and generate further technological development. Perhaps today we must collectivise the platforms.

—p.128 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago

Rather than just regulating corporate platforms, efforts could be made to create public platforms--platforms owned and controlled by the people. (And, importantly, independent of the surveillance state apparatus.) This would mean investing the state's vast resources into the technology necessary to support these platforms and offering them as public utilities. More radically, we can push for postcapitalist platforms that make use of the data collected by these platforms in order to distribute resources, enable democratic participation, and generate further technological development. Perhaps today we must collectivise the platforms.

—p.128 by Nick Srnicek 1 year, 5 months ago