Porn and Activism: Signs Your Platform Is Working

From Ethan Zuckerman’s post on his Etech talk The Cute Cat Theory of Digital Activism:

We [at the website hosting service Tripod] sincerely believed that the purpose of the web was to give college graduates helpful information about renting apartments, applying for jobs and investing their money. Our users rapidly told us that what the web was really about was publishing their own information… which left us with the difficult challenge of figuring out how to make money off of people’s collections of cat pictures.

User-generated content, on average, is a lot less interesting than professional content. But there are a lot more people creating their own content for fun than those doing so for a living, and in aggregate, that content is at least as interesting.

Among all the cat videos and porn, it turns out, there’s lots of quality content out there. Build a useful platform, let the pornographers road-test it, and soon you’ve enabled a community to do something valuable.

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