The answer is, both are true. There's a future to it because the world is shifting to a new economic model. It's flash-in-the-pan for the same reason - because we're shifting to a new economic model.
So if you're game, take a deep, relaxing breath for a rather meandering but brief sociological bus tour of 20th century history. On this tour, you'll learn why I think we're in the Greatest Depression and what's caused it. We'll be back in less than twenty minutes in the familiar world of revenue sharing.
Before and during the Great Depression in the early part of the 20th century, society changed radically all over the world. In the U.S., the modern middle class, based in the existence of the car and suburban living, sprang up. (See The Houses That Sears Built.) The new middle class became the parents of the baby boomers, the grandparents of Generation X and the great-grandparents of Gen Y. They caught on to new economic opportunities then arising.
These opportunities arose on the heels of a small number of major technological advances - the most landmark being not, as you may think, the telephone or radio, but the car. The car redistributed demographics in a way not seen since...well, the train. And before then, the horse.
The car moved hoards of people from centralized cities to outlying areas. Unlike the railroad before it and the airplane after it, the car moved individuals at will, not just groups of individuals on a prescribed and pre-routed schedule. The only limitations were the roads on which the cars drove.
The automobile was so quietly radical that in the U.S., FDR's New Deal focused on building an infrastructure of roads. The flexible and far-ranging auto dispersed people all over the country, creating entirely new demographic patterns that allowed for the creation of suburbs and commerce organized around new kinds of criteria.
While the new demographic patterns opened the door to new commercial opportunities, it closed the door on others. The world looked very different after the Great Depression, during the decades-long economic boom during the period of the baby boomers' coming of age.
This is more or less exactly like the Internet.
When you think about the way it moves individuals - or more precisely, changes their movement patterns - the Internet is less a new communication medium than it is a new transportation medium. People began to do commerce in an entirely different way. People began to conduct business in an entirely different way. People socialized in an entirely different way. They changed not just what they were saying and doing, but where they were saying and doing it.
I think the "Greatest Depression" we're experiencing now (and yes, darn it, we are!) is less due to the corruption of individuals or the greed of industries than it is to the growth of the Internet and a redistribution of what had been centralized, monopolistic-style wealth. People have always been corrupt. They've always been greedy. What they haven't been before, though, is transported by electrons.
Small changes on an individual scale translate to massive changes demographically. Because people no longer need to fly quite so much, or drive quite so much, or buy houses in centralized locations quite so much, or work in an office building, or shop at the local retail spots, the auto industry, the airline industry, the banking and lending industry, the construction industry, the bricks-and-mortar retail industry, and oh-so-many other industries are toppling like dominos.
The "Greatest Depression" that we're experiencing now is no mystery. It's been caused by the technological developments of the computer and the Internet.
To bring this back to writing content for revenue share on the Web...These online writing sites are new business models based on the new transportation medium that is the Internet. A housewife like me can work at home. I have a better chance of finding work online than I do finding it in my local area. The last time the average housewife was needed more in the home instead of out in public working was...the fifties? Sixties?
(Back then, people thought women had a duty to stay at home - and I believe the underlying reason for that is that it made the most economic sense given the nature of the economy at the time. And when women started pushing en masse for their right to a career in the sixties, it was because that, too, was an economic necessity. But anyway, that's another tangent for another time...)
Getting Internet access into every household and supporting new legitimate online business models, including building content on the Internet, is literally part of creating the new infrastructure, as building the road system was after World War II.
We're talking a long-term change here. Unless the world somehow loses access to the resources that make the World Wide Web and its home, the Internet, possible, legitimate business models that appear online are not flash-in-the-pan.
But as it grows, the Internet is also rapidly changing, becoming almost unrecognizable from one year to the next. So the business model of revenue share - and for those who haven't been following my posts don't know, revenue sharing is earning advertising revenue from content-based Web pages that you publish - is guaranteed to change as it grows. Many business models will appear and disappear in the next several years. Some major players who've taken the field will be forced to play fair. Scams will proliferate. New laws will regulate the shanty-style financial activity that has been of necessity set up in the "Wild West" that is Internet City. And revolutionary changes will occur to the world's commerce patterns, distribution of resources, and - dare I venture there - politics.
If you buy this theory, then you know now what to do to keep your head afloat during this depression. What not to do is fight tooth and nail all the changes that are afflicting the commercial model we've been living in since World War II. Instead of saying, "The old way was virtuous! The youth today have no values!" we should be saying, "The old way is dying! The youth are adapting to a new reality! We should learn from them!"
We should be watching the trends and doing what we can to enable the new Internet model of commerce. Not because new is automatically better. But because society changes as a whole when it needs to change. Not adapting to the change means not surviving. And the longer the old model persists in a struggle for power with the new one, without either side winning, the longer we'll be sunk in an economic depression.
So yes. We're on a sinking ship, and unless we bail and board the bright new one, we're in for seriously stormy seas.
Tell me what you think.