I’ve seen Enshittification so many times…

First, read this: The ‘Enshittification’ of TikTok | WIRED. It’s Cory Doctorow demonstrating precisely why TikTok (and Meta and Twitter and Google and Amazon GrubHub/Postmates and Uber/Lyft and AirBNB/ENVO and Tesla) and pretty much 93% of every other hyped awesome Internet thing feel so lousy and expensive despite starting out so strong in the 2010’s. To wit, Enshittification is “Make people dependent on a place/thing, then start charging them rent”

I have seen Enshittification so many times. I was there when AOL enshittified. I was there when Yahoo enshittified. I was there when Oracle and PeopleSoft enshittified. I even remember when some NON Internet companies like Circuit City and Media Play and Linens-n-Things enshittified. I am now getting to see whether Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro and Blizzactivision can interrupt enshittification (the prospects don’t look too good but we’ll see).

I guess the thing that is interesting are the companies that avoided enshittification… Off the top of my head the tech companies that have been around forever are ones like Sony and Apple-when-Jobs-was-around… they never did things like stock buybacks or massive layoffs (that I can recall)… the companies they purchased were bought to keep the intelligence and experience, not just the IP. One that is a bit more interesting is IBM: It shifted mightily and turned themselves into a tech consulting company and sought to own the weather.,, but they weren’t enshittified so much as they sold off the things they were making to keep them from being tied to the plain-jane retail market (reminds me a lot of GE, actually).

The other things that haven’t enshittified were public/open-source things. PHP/Wordpress/Pick-Your-Favorite-JavaScript-Libraries weren’t terribly enshittified (Compare that to Shockwave/Flash). HTTP wasn’t enshittified (compare that to browsers). Declaring things utilities are usually the easiest ways to force private companies to reverse/stop enshittification.

Now, OpenAI is here. ChatGPT and Dall-E and all these other “useful tools” that are cheap-as-free and have companies and shysters champing at the bit to get around having to pay artists and writers and moderators… but like all the other pre-enshittified services, it has a bunch of Actual Humans behind the scenes constantly tweaking and pruning things to make it actually useful… and like most enshittified services, the humans will be the first thing to go when it comes time to let the advertisers in to pluck from the burgeoning userbase… then enshittify the whole thing. Needless to say, I am warning everyone trying to convince me of how cool it seems.

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