Today, Instagram updated its terms of service, and the Internet exploded. The new terms said that businesses could pay Instagram to display your photos "in connection with paid or sponsored content," Nilay Patel explains. So, Miller Lite can use your photos of bars to advertise itself on the site.
If that sounds like whatever to you, then stay away from the tech blogs, which spent Tuesday afternoon in apoplexy. All day, I could feel myself getting angry that everybody was getting angry, and I couldn't quite figure out why. I think this is why:
There's a brilliant Louis CK interview with Conan O'Brien from a few years back, where he recalls listening to an imaginary friend complaining about the hour-long wait before his plane takes off. Louis CK unloads: "Oh really, what happened next? Did you fly through the air incredibly like a bird? Did you partake in the miracle of human flight, you non-contributing zero? Wow, you're flying! It's amazing!"
"Everything's amazing," he concludes, "and nobody's happy."
What the heck does this have to do with Instagram? Getting there.
We live in interesting times in the start-up world. Bio-tech is in a rut. Hardware is risky and expensive. So many of the smartest and most creative entrepreneurs of their generation have dedicated their lives to making you things for free. They're writing software, or creating online marketplaces, for you. Free. Of. Charge. Think about that. Think about how their brilliant software delights you, makes you literally happy, fills your spare time, organizes your work time, invents convenience where you never expected it, swallows your boredom in sepia tones, begs hours of your precious attention, does a bunch of other emotionally and productively and ontologically rewarding stuff ... and almost all of it is either vanishingly cheap or utterly free! Not since the cavemen, probably, did the brightest minds in the world turn their attention to making things that nobody had to pay for.