I’ve had this concern from the very beginning. I’ve had to mainly accept that there are things we may not be able to control. I want crowdmatching tied to the deeper ethics and economics we stand for, but maybe we can’t force that other than promoting our values.
I want to say this pitch: Crowdmatching only makes sense for public goods. There’s no reason to use it if you already have a model with paywalls and ads or similar. Nobody cares about being matched when making a simple transaction (“I will watch this ad or pay this fee in order to get access”). The only reason anyone needs crowdmatching is because everyone can freeride with public goods. Crowdmatching is a solution for public goods that face the freerider problem. If you have no freerider problem, you have no need for crowdmatching!
In short: crowdmatching is designed for public goods, it’s the wrong tool for anything else.
But there’s some gap between wanting this pitch and it being unarguably true. A half-assed private-goods use of crowdmatching is possible.
At best, we can push the message, tie the ideas together, get people to care about public goods, criticize any other use of crowdmatching, and accept in the end that we could appropriated whether we like it or not.
I saw a billboard ad in 2011 or 2012 saying “Occupy this!” with a picture of a sofa for sale. I was once at a franchise grocer where the radio was bizarrely playing the Doors’ “When The Music’s Over” and it got even to the part with the raw, no-instruments, yelling “We want that world and we want it… now?? …” only to suddenly be interrupted by the store’s automated sales jingle telling shoppers to check out the latest sales deals.
There is NOTHING that is immune to grotesque appropriation, the creation of a lesser-version, the deconstruction of a deconstruction etc. So, we shouldn’t hold on to unrealistic hopes. But we should absolutely do all we can to reinforce our values. Let’s definitely identify all the worthwhile steps.
We are making a much bolder pitch than Liberapay. We’re not just saying that public goods are nice, let’s fund them. We’re saying as strongly as we can that public goods are better than club goods — and that public goods should serve the general public, not just be infrastructure for private businesses. We’re explicitly contrasting crowdmatching in opposition to paywalls and ads. We’re describing a vision for the world we want to see. And we’re presenting more ambitious goals for greater funding and greater crowd-size and more democratic involvement — not just some tool for fundraising that’s got a new algorithm.
As put so well by Shauna Gordon-McKeon (in personal chat I had with her), better for Snowdrift.coop to succeed politically and fail technically than the other way around.
If we can tie the political economics to the mechanism strongly enough, we just might succeed at getting a critical mass of people to associate the ideas even if they are possible to tear apart if someone with enough power tries to do so. It remains true that we’re designing the mechanism for the political and economic goals. The choices we make are never going to be good fit for paywalled club goods, even if we can’t make them unusable there.