How the Internet Turned Us Into Content Machines


Key takeaways

We generated content for free, and then Facebook mined it for profit.


  • Content is digital material that “may circulate solely for the purpose of circulating,” Eichhorn writes in her new book,
  • One piece of intellectual property inspires a feeding frenzy of podcast, documentary, and miniseries offshoots.
  • flood of text, audio, and video that fills our feeds, Eichhorn writes, “Content is part of a single and indistinguishable flow.”
  • That business model is still what most of the Internet relies on today. Revenue comes not necessarily from the value of content itself but from its ability to attract attention, to get eyeballs on ads, which are most often bought and sold through corporations like Google and Facebook. The rise of social networks in the twenty-tens only made this model more dominant. Our digital posting became concentrated on a few all-encompassing platforms, which relied increasingly on algorithmic feeds. The result for users was more exposure but a loss of agency. We generated content for free, and then Facebook mined it for profit.
  • “cultural capital”
    • Note: Add to mental models (Bordieu)
  • Pop stars log their daily routines on TikTok. Journalists spout banal opinions on Twitter. The best-selling Instapoet Rupi Kaur posts reels and photos of her typewritten poems. All are trapped by the daily pressure to produce ancillary content—memes, selfies, shitposts—to fill an endless void.
    • Note: Not just your original creative work, but posting tons of fluff
  • clarify, in eloquently blunt terms, how it has created a brutal race to the bottom. We know that what we post and consume on social media feels increasingly empty, and yet we are powerless to stop it. Perhaps
  • Like so many technologies that came before, it seems to be here to stay; the question is not how to escape it but how to understand ourselves in its inescapable wake.
  • Our feeds are designed to “prod the would-be attender ever onward from one monetizable object to the next,” he writes. This has had a deadening effect on all kinds of culture, from Marvel blockbusters that optimize for attention minute to minute, to automated Spotify recommendations that push one similar song after another.
  • Cultural products and consumer habits alike increasingly conform to the structures of digital spaces.
    • Note: Medium is the message