Social serfs?

From a thought-provoking Paul Ford article in the New York Magazine on the $1bn Facebook Instagram deal:


“When people write critically about Facebook, they often say that “you are the product being sold,” but I think that by now we all get that. The digital substance of our friendships belongs to these companies, and they are loath to share it with others. So we build our little content farms within, friending and upthumbing, learning to accept that our new landlords are people who grew up on Power Rangers. This is, after all, the way of our new product-based civilization — in order to participate as a citizen of the social web, you must yourself manufacture content. Progress requires that forms must be filled. Thus it is a critical choice of any adult as to where they will perform their free labor. Tens of millions of people made a decision to spend their time with the simple, mobile photo-sharing application that was not Facebook because they liked its subtle interface and little filters. And so Facebook bought the thing that is hardest to fake. It bought sincerity.”

The article inspires some rather fierce criticisms. One thread is about Ford’s comments on the code Facebook uses, namely PHP, and includes this nice profile of different coding communities:

PHP programmers are the unwashed masses who nail wooden wheel-barrows to the back of their jalopies to haul their monstrous piles of spaghetti code

Perl Programmers are escaped insane asylum inmates who travel by inflatable unicycle and speak in backwards esperanto

Python programmers are snobbish Montessori schoolers who drink imported coffee and smell their own farts while critiquing Phillip Glass music.