Silicon Valley Can Do Better Than Facebook | TechCrunch
What’s Wikipedia worth? I think it’s priceless, but back in 2008, Business Insider estimated that if it were to become a commercial enterprise, Wikipedia would be worth $7 billion. Say it’s just half that—adjust for the Henry Blodget factor—and you’d see that the value of contributions to Facebook, were they as valuable as the time spent contributing to Wikipedia, ought to be worth $6.125 billion per day.
But it’s not. Contributing to Wikipedia increases the availability of the world’s knowledge. “Liking” Starbucks contributes only to the knowledge advertisers can use to better target you.
It’s much better to watch television. Television, like Facebook, gets paid by advertisers for your time.When advertisers pay TV channels, the money flows to many different pockets. There’s the TV stars, of course, but there’s also the crew: the craft-services, the set designers, the costumers, the line producers, the sound engineers, electricians, gaffers, writers and key grips. All the people who make the TV show get a slice of that advertising dollar and these are good jobs, many unionized, that don’t require a fancy Stanford computer science degree. And each person employed making TV shows pays taxes and pumps their salaries back into the economy.
And the product of their work can be exported. When the U.S. sells movies and TV shows abroad it improves our balance of trade and helps make the products we import, such as iPads and oil, less expensive.
When advertisers pay Facebook, the money goes into the pockets of Facebook shareholders, employees and computer makers. Most of Facebook’s stock is held by a single person and only a small, select group of highly skilled programmers can secure a spot on the payroll. The wealth created by Facebook gets concentrated into the hands of a few—some of whom have refused to pay taxes on their gains—instead of being recycled into the greater economy. And the computer makers that supply Facebook rely on components imported from other countries, sending capital abroad and weakening our balance of trade.
Facebook’s rise is great for Zuck, but unless you’re among a privileged few, it isn’t good for you.