The Science of Forgetting and the Challenges of the Creator Economy

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Sep 28, 2023

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The Science of Forgetting and the Challenges of the Creator Economy

Introduction:

In a world inundated with information, it's no wonder that our brains struggle to retain memories. According to cognitive psychology professor Norman Brown, forgetting is the default state for our brains. This poses a challenge for the science of memory, as well as for individuals trying to remember important events, such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. On the other hand, the rise of the creator economy has presented its own set of obstacles. The concentration of audience power among a small number of creators, the battle for the coveted bio link, and the reliance on social media algorithms all contribute to the complexity of this emerging industry. In this article, we will explore the science of forgetting and its implications for pandemic memories, as well as the challenges faced by the creator economy. We will also provide actionable advice for both individuals and startups navigating these domains.

The Science of Forgetting:

Our memory process involves three key phases: encoding, consolidation, and retrieval. When we encounter new information, our brains encode it through changes in neurons, creating a physical memory trace known as an engram. However, much of this information is lost unless it is consolidated during sleep. The hippocampus, a memory center in the brain, stores an index of where these memory neurons are located for efficient retrieval. Our memories are often centered around our life stories and emotionally impactful events. However, the more memories we accumulate, the harder it becomes to capture and recall them all. New memories interfere with older ones, making it difficult to retain a clear recollection of specific events.

Pandemic Memories and the Future Outlook:

As a society, many people may not want to hold onto their memories of the COVID-19 pandemic. The future-oriented positivity bias leads individuals to view the future more positively than the past. Remembering the past is a subjective process influenced by our current emotions, knowledge, and attitudes. This reality has direct implications for how we look back on the pandemic and shape our future perspectives. Without cultural artifacts and collective efforts to preserve memories, the pandemic may fade into the entropic dustbin of history.

Challenges in the Creator Economy:

The creator economy, characterized by platforms that empower content creators, has seen significant growth. However, it faces unique challenges that affect its sustainability and success. One major challenge is the concentration of audience power among a small number of creators. The phenomenon follows a power law distribution, with a few creators possessing the majority of the audience. This concentration makes creator economy startups fragile and dependent on these top creators. Additionally, the battle for the bio link, the single spot for promotion on social media platforms, creates a zero-sum game where companies compete to overpower each other.

The Graduation Problem and Algorithmic Feast and Famine:

Startups in the creator economy often charge a take rate or a percentage of bookings. However, as creators acquire their own customers and perform the underlying work, they may pressure startups to reduce costs. This graduation problem highlights the need for creator economy companies to provide substantial value beyond payment processing. Moreover, creator traffic relies heavily on social media algorithms, leading to unpredictable spikes in traffic. This feast and famine cycle contradicts the steady growth startups seek, posing a challenge for sustainable business models.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace intentional memory consolidation: To combat the natural tendency to forget, make a conscious effort to consolidate important memories. Take time to reflect, write in a journal, or discuss significant events with others. By actively engaging with memories, you can increase their likelihood of long-term retention.
  • 2. Diversify marketing channels in the creator economy: Relying solely on social media for audience acquisition is risky. Invest in additional marketing channels such as referral programs, SEO, and mobile app installs to drive predictable and sustainable growth. Avoid overdependence on a single platform to mitigate the impact of algorithm changes and maintain stability.
  • 3. Prioritize value creation over audience size: Instead of focusing solely on attracting large creators, aim to create value for a smaller niche of users. By providing a highly managed solution and leveraging AI or video-first strategies, startups can increase their value proposition. This approach allows for more substantial monetization and a stronger foundation for long-term success.

Conclusion:

Understanding the science of forgetting and the challenges faced by the creator economy provides valuable insights into memory retention and the dynamics of the digital content landscape. While our memories may naturally fade over time, we can take proactive steps to preserve significant events. Similarly, startups in the creator economy can navigate the complexities of audience concentration, marketing channels, and value creation to build sustainable platforms. By incorporating the actionable advice provided, individuals and businesses can enhance their memory retention and thrive in the evolving digital landscape.

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