We don’t slump in our chairs for free, buddy.
The woman behind the counter was wearing a tank top that had “Namaste!” written across the front of it like the Coca Cola logo. Her hair was red and wrapped in an orange scarf. Her nails were pink glitter and she had a pendant of Guadalupe hanging from her neck.
“Can I help you?” she asked.
Yes. I want to look like you. I want to be so thoroughly anchored into some sort of pop culture aesthetic that nothing can knock me over or wash me away or make me hate everyone. I want to sleep again.
“I’d like to take some yoga classes,” I said.
-from Zazen, fantastic debut novel by Vanessa Veselka. More info at http://www.redlemona.de
Let’s get fucked up and recolonize Drop City.
One time I had a meeting with someone who asked about my father’s profession. “He owns a construction company,” I said. To which they said, “he’s an entrepreneur” implying I didn’t realize that my father and I were cut from the same cloth. It was slightly condescending, like a “didyouknowconstructionworkersarejustlikeus?” and it kind of perfectly embodies what I fucking hate about start up culture.
Yes, my father is an en-tre-pre-neur. I’ve known this. He called it being “self-employed” - it meant we had awful insurance. My father worked from 6am-5pm everyday and he didn’t tweet about it to anybody.
And this was manual fucking labor. Your quotes about working hard and prospering? You sit at a computer all day or get coffee at Balthazar with a client. Want to know hard work? Lay some brick.
Think you’ve been nervous before a fundraising meeting? There aren’t safety nets in construction. Our family’s income was contingent solely on him getting new clients. He got new clients through referrals. Those referrals were based on how well he built someone’s house.
There was no networking in my father’s world. No “construction meetups” for him to hear inspiring talks or meet someone who can help him with his business. Everything fell solely on his shoulders and if he fumbled it meant his livelihood.
He used duct tape for bandaids of cuts from saws and errant hammer mishaps, so don’t tell me about carpal tunnel. When you complain about wanting a standing desk, I think about how he laid cement on summer days. Your seminar for “building and managing a great team”? Let me give you my dad’s phone number so you can ask him about making sure workers who each speak only one one of three different foreign languages communicate well enough with each other to get a roof raised.
So don’t patronize me as if I don’t realize that my father is an “entrepreneur”. I watched him live a life harder than most just so he could say he was his own boss.
Great. Now can you explain Bnter?
Did you think this was a joke? Then you’re hired! We’re looking for a few young minds to mold, and in return for unspecified work, you’ll be mentored in ways we haven’t thought of yet.
Thanks to a generous and anonymous benefactor, 3 interns will receive a $200 stipend. Don’t let people convince you otherwise, internships should be (poorly) paid positions. Because, in our case, you won’t get anything else out of this.
Serious inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org - please demonstrate financial and emotional need. Applicants who lack ambition and have a disinterest in media are preferred.
Everyone who uses the internet (or at least everyone who isn’t a terrible person—which, yes, significantly reduces the scope of the word “everyone” here, I know, but in any event) is in widespread agreement that content farms and scraper sites are pretty awful. I mean, remember how we all applauded when Google updated its algorithms to combat copycat sites from beating out original content providers in search results?
So anyway, here’s my question: how is this any different?
That’s a screenshot of an article page on Byliner, this week’s most-talked-about long-form content curator. It features a hefty chunk of republished content, one link to the print version of the original source (also known as the “ad-free version” or the “revenue-free edition” or the “making publishing an unsustainable industry version”), and one link to bypass the original source entirely and send the content directly to Read It Later.
How is this fundamentally any different from a scraper site?
I’m having a really hard time wrapping my head around how its ideologically consistent to villainize copycat sites while at the same time celebrating the launch of services that facilitate both the removal of content from an original source as well as the repackaging of that content in another form.
What’s the difference? Is it because the Byliner is well designed? Or because scraper sites are run by machines in foreign countries and the content on Byliner is being hand-picked by Real People Who Care About Reading? Or something else entirely? Or am I just incredibly daft and confusing two completely different things here?
It just strikes me as deeply worrisome and deeply, deeply inconsistent that we’re all on board when a site like StackOverflow complains about a scraper site repurposing its content for search engine results, and yet when someone comes along and does the very same thing to traditional content publishers we just roll our eyes at all these old media dinosaurs moaning and groaning about their shrinking revenue streams.
So can anyone clear this up for me? And it’s a tough question! Because as readers we can all appreciate new and innovative and convenient content discovery services and delivery channels, but still I think we should be asking ourselves: how is a machine removing original content from its original source, repackaging it and redelivering it fundamentally any different from what a site like Byliner is doing?
YM would like to answer your question with a question: who the fuck cares?