It’s not so feudal after all

From medieval Europe to the internet, feudalism has been adapted and applied to how we use and what we have access to online.


For all the freedoms we are lead to believe exist because of the Internet we have to pay to use it. This is a form of feudalism. We pay the rulers of the land, or the internet providers, to use the land, i.e the internet. This means that we are the peasants working the land and producing the value. Memes, for example, are the value.

It’s not really known when memes first began but according to Linda Borzsei they started when Scott E. Fahlman produced the first emoticon, or the “sideways smiley face” (2013). Borzsei identifies memes to be “a piece of content spreading online from user to user and changing along the way”. This is similar to what Jonathan Zittrain says about Wikipedia and how users interact with the website (2008). Zittrain expresses that users have the ability to edit and write articles for the website, this means that the content goes from user to user and changes along the way.


Just a few of the edits made to Angelina Jolie after she wore a dress on the red carpet


Dayum Brit, you badass. Memes have come a long way since the smiley face

angies leg 5

My fave :’)

When it comes to closed media, legacy media including newspapers are one of the most reluctant to yield their grip on what is left of their audience to the wild open abyss of the internet. Many Australian newspapers have joined online news deliverance but charge readers for the honour of reading their “news”. This is known as “the Walled Garden”, a failed model in most cases. People don’t want to pay for news they can get for free elsewhere.

So what makes us pay for something we can’t touch, or hold in our hands? Scarcity. Whether it’s an exceptional opinion piece or an exclusive interview, scarcity is the only thing that will appeal to consumers and get them to open their wallets. I call them consumers because prosumers, or produsers would seek their news from other places including Reddit where they could have an open discussion and share it with everyone, not just those who have paid the subscription fee.


Works Cited

Borzsei, L. K. 2013 “Makes a Meme Instead: A concise history of internet memes”,, viewed 2 Sept 2014, <>

Zittrain, J. 2008 ‘The Lessons of Wikipedia’, in The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It (pp. 127-148). New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, <>

2 thoughts on “It’s not so feudal after all

  1. I’m not 100% sure but I’m pretty positive that memes started on 4chan (of course), good example of user generated content, something not a lot of others have explored in their blogs. I agree with Patrick, I think you could have unpacked some of the concepts a bit more but some good points are raised. I like how you’ve made the distinction between consumer and prosumer – we tend to throw this concept around a lot in BCM but really we should only use it when it actually applies – when people are generating their own content.

  2. This is an interesting take on the “walled garden” and it’s effects. If you were to incorporate an analysis in the blog on the ways in which the wall garden exists in the internet aside from in the release of news, you may be able to better explore this concept and ways in which it may be beneficial. This was a good read and brought up some thought-provoking thoughts in relation to memes and subscription on the internet.

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