• What the “Creator Economy” Promises—and What It Actually Does (Kyle Chayka, New Yorker, 7-17-21) A lattice of new platforms and tools purports to empower online creators. In reality, it’s turning digital content into gig work. "“Creator” is a term with a more wholesome air, conjuring an Internet in which we are all artisanal blacksmiths plying our digital craft. But what, exactly, the word implies beyond that is up for debate. According to Taylor Lorenz’s reporting for The Atlantic, the term was originally marketed by YouTube, as early as 2011, as an alternative to vocabulary like “YouTube star,” which seemed to imply that only a few famous figures could succeed on the platform. But it’s now used to describe practically anyone who is producing any form of content online.
• The Game Is Rigged: Rethinking The Creator Economy (Tara McMullin, Explore What Works, 1-27-22) “Building an audience to monetize and building a customer base are two different activities that are often conflated. The confusion between the two strategies is a large part of what ends up making so many would-be social media marketers miserable.”
"The first way the game is rigged is that we’re playing a game that wasn’t designed for us....The second way the game is rigged is how these platforms manipulate unpaid labor. The reason posting more, learning what people like to share, trying out every new tool the platforms create, and responding to every comment seems to be the answer is that the platforms depend on our labor. They rely on us to fill the feeds with things that keep people scrolling, clicking, and viewing ads. The platforms care about us at a group level–they need those super users to stay on the factory floor. But they don’t care at all about us at the individual level."
• The Real Difference Between Creators and Influencers (Taylor Lorenz, The Atlantic, 5-31-19) From 2011 to 2016, YouTube worked hard to promote "creators," a term it applied to independent YouTube stars who could grow their audience (go viral) and monetize. In 2014-2016 Instagram grabbed attention with its Instagram stars or Instagrammers, and the term "influencer" gained in popularity. An infuencer is "anyone who leverages social media to grow a following and exerts influence over that following in order to make money."
• Why Women Are Called 'Influencers' and Men 'Creators' (Emma Gray Ellis, Wired, 5-29-19)
• TikTok and the Vibes Revival (Kyle Chayka, New Yorker, 4-26-21) "Increasingly, what we’re after on social media is not narrative or personality but moments of audiovisual eloquence....Vibes are a medium for feeling, the kind of abstract understanding that comes before words put a name to experience. That pre-linguistic quality makes them well suited to a social-media landscape that is increasingly prioritizing audio, video, and images over text. Through our screens, vibes are being constantly emitted and received."