Piecework, Political Economy and the Internet

by Henry Farrell on April 1, 2008

This “piece”:http://www.portfolio.com/views/blogs/market-movers/2008/04/01/blogonomics-valleywags-pay by Felix Salmon on the problems that Gawker Media is encountering with pay-per-pageview is pretty interesting.

Golson’s take-home pay is so much larger than his base salary that his base salary ($2,500 a month) has become basically irrelevant. Instead, he’s been relying entirely on his PVR of $9.75 per thousand pageviews – a rate which has seen him taking home more than $4,000 a month so far this year. For Golson, then, his realistic base salary is in the $4,000 range – much higher than the $2,500 which Robischon is referring to. … The problem here could have been partially fixed if Robischon had decided to give Golson a more realistic base salary to begin with. But Robischon’s boss, Nick Denton, wants fixed salaries to be as low as possible: he hates it when a writer doesn’t justify his salary with pageviews, and the best way of ensuring that situation never arises is to make the fixed salaries as low as possible.

This PVR is being lowered, leading to a strong reaction from Golson and others. Salmon explains their anger in terms of psychological mechanisms such as loss aversion, which are indeed applicable. But I think that there are two other things going on, both of which have to do with the economics of piecework. And after all, paying people on the basis of the number of pageviews their articles receive is a glorified version of piecework.
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Cohen and Lindsey on Bloggingheads

by Chris Bertram on April 1, 2008

Two people I’ve read with interest and profit over the years: Stanford’s Joshua Cohen and Cato’s Brink Lindsey manage to have a very reasonable conversation on bloggingheads. Topics include Rawls on baseball, Obama and Wright, the McCain campaign. Check it out.


by Kieran Healy on April 1, 2008

Fafblog returns! Like, for real! Not a rickroll. We hope it’s not a nasty prank on the part of Giblets.

So here we are

by John Holbo on April 1, 2008

I’ve been wondering when the ‘we are not torturers the media should stop spreading lies’ meme would smoothly transition to the ‘obviously we are torturers why is the media peddling old news?’ meme. It’s been a slow train a comin’, but here it is.