In our June 30th Media, Money and Metrics class, we saw how the traditional RFI model of media describes the relationships between agencies, advertisers, the media and consumers. There is a three-way relationship between advertiser, media, and consumer. The advertiser gives media money in exchange for RFI. Media gives the consumer content in exchange for time. The advertiser gives consumer products in exchange for money. Finally, the agency is separate from this triangle and engages solely with the advertiser: the advertiser gives agency money in exchange for services. The common commodity exchanged, with the exception of the consumer-media relationship, is money.

However, new developments in communication (primarily the internet) are changing this role. Any online media outlet becomes both advertiser and agency, so these players are removed from the RFI chart, leaving a single relationship between the media and the consumer. Money is now pushed out of the picture. Money is the crux of capitalism, and capitalism is defined by change: a new and better company comes along and puts the weaker, older standard out of business. This has been happening for ages, though as Adriana said, we might be at a stopping point with companies like Amazon and Google.

Companies are attempting to put money back into the equation, but perhaps money is no longer required in the same way as before. Money was the uniting factor in the previous relationships between four groups, but once that number is reduced to a single two-way relationship (or actually, many two-way relationships), people may no longer need to rely on money. If every consumer is attached to Amazon, Amazon can act as a hub for people to get what they want without money; consumers already set up their own barter and exchanges through services like Craigslist. It appears that capitalism is eating its own tail.

This sounds like socialism, but the internet is already touted as socialist. People collaborate to develop Wiki’s and open source software. Anyone with the right equipment, which grows more and more in reach of the populace as technology develops, can be a filmmaker, journalist or celebrity sensation. Some argue that social media cannot be socialism because participation is voluntary (whereas socialism, in the form of North Korea, Cuba, or the USSR, is not), while others argue that the cooperation and collaboration of the internet and social media certainly sounds like socialism. Social media makes communication between companies easier; while it is not the drive behind the change, social media definitely helps facilitate change.

I am not a communist, but I studied one country’s take on communism extensively while pursuing my undergraduate degree in Russian Studies and have a purely academic interest in the area. Modern Americans have negative ideas associated with communism because most confuse it with the authoritarianism of the Soviet Union or North Korea. For one, Soviet communism is not the same as Marxist communism. Marx describes a utopia; Stalin created a hell. In addition, communism and capitalism are economic, not political terms. Though both have political implications, they are economic and social systems, not forms of government. Therefore, there is no reason that the internet cannot exist as a socialist state while political systems maintain their current order, perhaps with some modification.

Marx’s idea was not that the proletariat would rise up, overthrow the existing capitalist regime and establish a communist one in its place as the Soviets did. Rather, the revolution would naturally occur once capitalism had grown too large to sustain itself: it would come from within the system. It seems that the Internet already could take this path as a possible outcome.