Clay Shirky has an interesting point in his response to the MT debacle:

The dilemma for people who build communal tools is this: if you want something that hooks people emotionally, you cannot have rational users, and vice-versa. And when you build a tool that helps create a social fabric, changes to the tool trigger social anxieties.

As you’ll see from the comments, class gets brought up here. I’m gainfully enough employed now that if I live cheaply I have money over to travel far and even to take the occasional taxi home from the airport, and yes, I could afford $69, but not long ago it would have been a choice of having fresh fruit and vegetables for my child this month or a software licence. Obviously, it doesn’t help that Dave Winer’s calling MT users whiney children, backing this up with an astonishingly myopic statement like this:

Yesterday we saw people complain about spending $60 for a big useful piece of software like Movable Type. I paid $60 for a cab ride in Geneva. A good dinner is $100. A hotel room $150.

$69 means very different things to different people.

Mum says all these posts about Movable Type are excruciatingly boring. I’d try and think of something more interesting, but it’s cold and raining and I miss my boyfriend. Ah well. I’d do better working on those timestamps.

5 thoughts on “social fabric rent

  1. matt

    Love the way “rent” functions as verb *and* noun in your title! That says it all, I think. But essentially I’m with your mum.

  2. Jill

    My, I hadn’t even thought of the noun meaning of “rent”, but you’re right, it’s excellent. How clever of me. Or of language or something.

  3. George

    Winer’s comparison does not work. We should not compare MT to other products/services that have always had a cost. We should compare MT to a product/service that was once free but is free no longer.

    Seats in the back of cabs are very useful, but if cabbies started charging extra for them, I’d be pissed.

    Napkins, plates, forks, knives, and spoons are very useful tools, but if restaurants started charging extra for them, I’d be pissed.

    Beds, phones, toilets, and towels are very useful tools, but if hotels started charging extra for them, I’d be pissed.

  4. bryan young

    If a good dinner costs $100 and a hotel room cost $150, I have never had a good dinner or stayed in a hotel(notice he didn’t even say “good” hotel) in my life.
    Of course this reminds me of that book that came out a year or two ago where the author worked minimum wage jobs and found out you can’t really survive on that and then she appeared on a million shows as if the fact that poor people don’t make a lot of money and have crappy jobs was some sort of revelation (I never read the book so there may well have been more to it than that). People are out of touch with the lives of people below their social class.

  5. Aine

    Winer is spoiled and should, perhaps, take a look at the real world. Millions of people have lost their good-paying jobs over the last three years, and unless you’re young, single, childless, and renting a place to live (free of a mortgage), you can’t just pack up and move to India or wherever else the jobs have moved to. I’d like to see Winer try to survive on the “commodities” the government issues to the hungry and needy in this country, it would be a rude and bitter awakening to him.

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