network, users and economics – NOTES


Networks, Users and Economics

Martin Lister


To understand the web is to understand the tension between culture and commerce. Internet developed unsystematically. Numerous actors and factors (economic, regulatory, communication). The tensions between the actors produce the development.

Desire for communication + capitalism = web 2.0

Destroys some industry actors whilst building new monopolies.

Networked media is not teleological. Never stable, always upgrading.

Media is shaped by human creativity, tech affordance and econo power.



Collection of networks that link devices and servers. Definition focuses on smooth data flow. No normative suggestions. Not a Centre > Periph. Like old media. Network.



How media adapts to being put online. E.g. streaming, MP3, social media presence, etc.



Now meaningless. The multiplicity of the web has fractured “mainstream” culture into many fragments. You can’t be counter without something to counter against p.6



p.8 an engaged, smaller audience will generate more ad revenue than mass media ad campaign. People buy into the brand rather than just seeing the ad. Viral innit.



Capitalism sets the base. Need for profit, property rights. The internet is a cultural superstructure that develops from this base. In between is people’s determination. The tension between base and superstructure enables and limits the formation of the superstructure. P.9

p.11 – You can do what you want within the networks you can pay to access. Whether you get an audience is another matter. See also. Marx – People make culture just not always under conditions of their own choosing.


INTERNET POLITICAL ECONOMY – p.12 Low barriers to entry leads to ever widening market of people trying to compete for the capitalisation for profitability (google buying you out, etc). Once invested you need to deliver the user numbers for the investors so market and promote. This shapes the user experience. Then community management becomes important to brands. If it can get its users to become brand ambassadors then the audience will grow. Also you can harvest user data and sell it on.

p.14 – do a post on political economy of drumeo? Tension between user content and copyright of cover songs? See posts on forum.


p.15 – the social significance of an invention only becomes apparent after it has been selected for investment and production. What gets invested in and produced is heavily influenced by social and political concerns.

p.16 it’s not just about what is technically possible but what is materially possible. This gives the media its social form.



Copyright is based in capitalist economic base. Copyright was only needed when low cost reproduction was technically possible. Pre-internet copyright violation was mainly an issue for corporations.

p.29 With cultural products what is the commodity? How do you get the income?

Q: are these online teachers skeuomorphs of IRL drum teachers? Well that would depend on whether you consider IRL drum teachers to be defunct with an iconographic image. Probably not on both counts.

Q: Has drumeo had any problems with people replicating their own copyrighted material? Their loops, pdfs, playlongs and whatnot are all available for download.

p.30 Drumeo continuing bias of western recorded music

p.33 the internet allies reproduction with distribution. Major challenge for copyright.

p.36 long tail, better to have lots of niche markets than one mass market. – see also pianeo

p.37 “a long tail is just culture unfiltered by economic scarcity”. BUT don’t confuse diversity of consumer choice with diversity of political or economic power. ALSO don’t think that hits will cease to exist.

p.39 trad media gatekeepers have been replaced by audience and reccommendations. HOW DOES THIS APPLY TO DRUMEO? How does the suggest a lesson forum work?

p.41 the big money is still being made by enteprises that can influence all the big players in a social network, either by data harvesting or influencing their choices. The problem is still how to convert attention and reputation into revenue. (APPLY TO DRUMEO)

p.44 web 2.0 archive and analyse user data so you can better tailor yourself to said niche.

“unique hard to create data” – arguably drumeo’s strength. Particularly with the student analysis.

Data should be captured as a side product of using the site. – drumeo struggles a little with this as there is significant barriers to recording yourself.

No point in hard fences and paywalls. Presumably drumeo is relying on it’s cache of unique hard to find data to overcome that. Hard to find yet convenient compared to trying to find good quality lessons, on many topics in one place.

p.45 web 2.0 is for users to generate and classify information, not an external authority. DRUMEO STRUGGLES WITH THIS

Q: WHY IS THERE NOT A DRUMMING WIKIPEDIA? There are a few threads on the forum where teachers are putting up their own lessons. Are there economic imperatives/tensions coming from the capitalist base that precludes its development?

p.46 – wikis make the process of knowledge production transparent – the text is no longer fixed.

Interesting tensions with video drum lessons and their constant reminders that any time you are shown something “wrong” it might fit another style of music.


p.46 – web 2.0 has historical antecedents. Is it fair to term it a new paradigm?

p.47 technology becomes a transparent two way membrane rather than an experience structured through resources, economics and power. < rather like drumming, the quest to be fluid, at one with the kit at the same time what you often see is the product of hours of practice. Practice needs resources, economics and power.

Web 2.0 shows how our creative expression becomes commodified and sold back to us see also p.57 particpation and self commodification are one and the same thing < DRUMEO

p.50 virtual life is projecting the self over distance. You are separating the self from the body. In the drumeo forums I select a key aspect of myself (I am a drummer) and project it online. Kind of ironic for such a physically grounded activity. There are parallels here with how I use drumeo, endlessly browsing lessons telling myself “oooh I should learn that, Oooh that’s an interesting point, etc” I convince myself I am learning when the time would actually better be spent putting it into practice.

CONTRADICTION – If drumeo was truly successful you wouldn’t spend much time on the site at all.

p.53 common bonds of shared adversity key to building a community. < trials of learning drums


p.53 online community can be analysed by common relationships, shared values and shared spaces.

p.54 online groups weave offline and online together

p.57 CMC is also embodied and enmeshed in social reality. It’s only a problem if you think society and identity are solely material and cyberspace solely discursive. All of them are a mix of material and discursive.

p.57 wireless apps make physical locations available to data and change how we exp. Them. (see lit long and curious Edinburgh app).

p.62 we are all fans, convergent content – in the future when a song is released will the drummer appear on drumeo and teach you how to play it in a lesson? For that the drummer would have to be a fan of drumeo. Reflexivity?