Will the Internet Always be Laissez-Faire?

Worldwide connection is what the internet promises. And slowly, we’re getting there. The benefits are pointless to list -they are just that many. As the world slowly gets closer geographic divides are less dramatic. Oh sure, they exist. A bandwidth connection is not going to change drinking water from dirty to clean…at least not directly.

This greater interconnection is bridging gaps. It’s also unmasking new ones. The greatest example? Online contracting. Last year’s coverage of digital writers’ unionization was not that surprising. They, for all intent and purposes, were the third wave of guinea pigs in online media.

Digital content merely needed to earn enough clout. Unfortunately, it is not the economics that propel such change. Rather, it was a larger union’s acknowledgment that digital content creators were, in fact, on the level. Part of them. Would Vice or other enterprises grow so large or fast with organized employees? Probably not. What it means, though, is that there is now a precedence.  

The irony, of course, is that digital media is innately transient. It is everywhere and nowhere. The use of offices by larger enterprises almost seems outmoded. Yahoo experimented with the remote model years ago. Against expectations, it actually increased productivity. It was also unpopular with numerous employees. This was a time before the huge influx of SaaS that we see today.

Where are Union’s Place in the Digital World?

WGAE’s acceptance of digital creators is nifty, don’t get me wrong. But their addition also belies antiquated practices and assumptions. Vice, Gawker, Salon, etc. are all NA-based organizations. They also grew and expanded as international entities. Anyone with an internet connection can view their content. Language and relevancy are increasingly the only gaps that matter. Content is now literally intangible.

The beauty of remote organizations are their decentralization. How can old and smelly unions -so 20th century!- be relevant? They aren’t. Content creators on the east, arguably, are looking backwards. They are reaffirming the old and its exclusiveness. They are denying the true nature of their work and its format/channel.

The world wide web is…world wide. Contractors are of different skill levels and capabilities. They charge drastically different wages. Organizations rise and fall within a matter of months. Near all enterprises, large and small, outsource for labor. Contractors come from Southeast Asia, Eurasia, South America, and elsewhere. They never see each other in real life.

“Outsourcing” takes on new meanings within such an environment. “Inside” and “outside” change as well. There will always be a contractor who is hungrier. Unsurprisingly, these are typically international.

Chop shops of all sorts exist. They particularly overlook artistry. It is a mere vehicle for SEO when left to more brutal marketers. They only care what Google cares about. Writing like Hemingway is only vogue because it transfers better to mobile. Funny enough, that’s not depressing. That’s progress. Fads like keyword stuffing are at end, thank heavens. Grammar matters more every year.

Of course, language is not the only victim of such practices. Coders, social media experts, entire businesses -they all feel pressure to sacrifice quality for efficiency. Why? Moolah.

Regulation itself, collective bargaining -these are things contractors must begin asserting. Capitalists will argue that it stymies growth…but growth of what? There’s already enough useless ripoffs on the internet. The only countervailing point is that the new will have a harder time disrupting the entrenched.

But what do third-rate international marketing firms disrupt? Nothing. Collective bargaining, if anything, will force proven organizations to pay better while maligning online bloat. Everyone benefits -clients, contractors, and the quality enterprises that bring them together.  

Pics courtesy of John Edwards via Creative Commons

Posted 8 years ago on 15 August 2016

About John Lion

John's interests include technology and social dynamics. He has significant experience writing copy for SaaS organizations. Reach him by emailing

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