Success of content becomes closely tied to fame, mediated through platform, and decoupled from quality or pedigree.
#3072 Created Updated 04/28/2017
There rate at which Web content is created far exceeds the growth of the Web audience. The total Web content collection (47 billion pages as of 9/29/2016, according to Google**) has surpassed the world population (6.9 billion on 9/12/2012).
In contrast, only 65 million books have ever been written, and total world newspaper circulation is only 3 billion pages per year. Here's a kicker: the total web content includes most of the newspaper content, most of the book content, and soon will also include most of the world's broadcast content.
Better, or worse, the Web can handle any amount of future content expansion. Content expands without meaningful technical restrictions. The Web is elastic, theoretically capable of expanding to meet any content flow or load. If there is money to be maid, the infrastructure can expand to handle it.
However, physical-world news and commercial entertainment content production is relatively finite, driven by physical-world revenues from print, broadcast, music, movies, etc. Real-world production and is poorly coupled economically to the Web method of consumption, which consists of self-directed consumers grazing like cattle, or pillaging like Vikings*.
Originally-produced content is multiplied and redistributed on the Web, literally by default. Individuals, web publishers, content aggregators and re-publishers, automatic harvesters, well-intentioned amateurs, and rapacious professionals magnify content by reproducing and redistribution material from all sources. Original text, images, music, and movies are copied and re-posted innumerable times, fluffing up the total amount of available content many-fold. Many, many, many-fold.
Added to that is the enormous output of the social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, blogs, reader responses in publications, crowd-sourced services like Wikipedia, and more. Facebook users, by themselves, spend a total of more than 10 million years worth of time on Facebook this year alone. 10 million years worth of mundane comments, "likes", family news, responses to responses, forwards of forwards -- all qualified as "content."
As a result, major content producers remain trapped in the economics of the print and broadcast worlds, paying the high cost of production of original media content, while their original output fuels (in part) the production engines of legions of copycats, bloggers, posters respondents, and re-publishers and Facebookers.
Consequences? In a situation of high demand, price will rise and quality will decline under normal capitalistic pressures. Republishing curiously lowers the value of the original creation effort (by diluting the business model of the creator), but dramatically raises the aggregate power of stolen or re-purposed creation in the long run (through reproduction, derivation, amplification and licensing).
Individual creation is simultaneously being de-valued commercially, but raised in value in terms of topology and centrality (i.e., attention). Success of content becomes closely tied to fame, mediated through platform, and decoupled from quality or pedigree.
(Trend: detecting pedigree remotely, the renaissance of copyright, critical journalism to normalized promotion)
* No Celtic, Viking or Bovine-related offenses intended, of course.
** http://www.worldwidewebsize.com/ 20160929