The quantity of hearts on a story reveals how popular it is. It really doesn’t reveal how valuable it is. Value is something that can only be revealed by willingness to pay/spend/sacrifice.
“When it comes to the society of Medium users, if we look at where the hearts go, we can…
Xerographica
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We know that’s simply not true.

One measure of value is how much someone is willing to pay for thing in financial resources. It is in no way the only measure, or in some cases the most useful measure.

You keep confusing value and worth, and it doesn’t help your argument.

The number of hearts on a story reveals how popular it is just as the amount that a story might have donated to it would reveal how popular it is. Literally, only how popular it is.

People like myself, by whatever metric, might not be able or willing (or even interested) in paying for writing like a commodity item. People who would be interested in paying for writing like a commodity item very likely have different interests and intents than myself. You are making the assertion that the desire and interest in giving money of notable value to an intermediary is meaningful as a signal taken as an aggregate of what is valuable.

I’m simply pointing out that it is only an indicator post hoc and doesn’t serve any particular useful purpose in the context of what Medium provides.

This is because, unlike your desires, your dollars are limited.

And more because supplies are limited.

I don’t actually get how you don’t understand this, but I’m going to try one more time.

Economic constraints are only useful and interesting when supply is limited. Material goods are limited by nature, because physical items are reified.

That is in no way paralleled with the supply of writing on Medium. In fact, quite the opposite.

Supply is plentiful. There is a vast and almost incomprehensible supply. There are always more writers producing more material than I could consume, even if I spent all day simply consuming it, at any point. Supply is not a problem.

You assume that I, as a consumer of content, need to signal via the marketplace to writers and other functionaries what I find of value. But you assume that the writers and functionaries are the providers of value.

That’s not the case. I, as a consumer, am the provider of value — and that value is my attention.

If we’re being honest, in the marketplace of ideas as represented by Medium — writers should be bidding with their money for my attention-time. I am the thing in short supply, a potential interested audience. I am the container of value, not the writers, and barely the platform.

See, my attention is what I signal with hearts. My interest in giving more attention is part of that signal. Interaction with a writer signals my attention time. Interaction in support of a curational group signals my valuable attention. In theory, aggregate stats which tell a writer or curational group whether or not I’ve read their article signals that value.

I have plenty of things to do. I don’t have to read articles on Medium. Nobody does. There are 10,000 possible contenders for my attention.

Financial sacrifice is just one possible signaling mechanism. It’s a strong signaling mechanism, but it’s not useful in all contexts — and its absence does not mean things are not a marketplace already. You seem incapable of recognizing a marketplace that exists, analyzing the signals that propagate between value provider and value consumer, and making assessments based on that analysis. It’s pretty funny.

The fact that you keep trying to sell me, one of the most economically savvy, economically literate, and pro-market people on Medium on markets tells anyone who’s watching exactly how much your assessments are worth. They certainly won’t pay for them.

Unfortunately, there are far too many places/spaces that aren’t markets. Medium isn’t a market. Neither is Netflix. Neither is the NY Times. Neither is the Cato Institute. Neither is the public sector. In none of these places/spaces are people given the opportunity to substantially and specifically participate in the prioritization process.

Assertion is not argument. Especially when the assertion is wrong.

Let’s take for example Netflix, because I’ve already dealt with the issue of Medium actually being a market.

Netflix is absolutely a market and the signaling mechanism is actual attention (along with actual money). Studios take money in exchange for access to their library to Netflix who, in turn, gives access to those libraries to users in exchange for funds. Those users then watch the things that they’re interested in, Netflix receives the signal along with what people rate good and bad, then uses that information to maintain access to shows which are popular, effectively wagers on shows which are untested but which might be popular which they judge by the attention marketplace of their viewers, and offer money to the studios above and beyond what they would prefer to offer in exchange for shows and libraries which are less likely to be performers but which the studios would like to receive money for.

The studios are trying to optimize receiving the most money for the least access to the library. Netflix is trying to optimize getting the most access to the most libraries versus spending as little money on the studios as possible versus getting as many new subscriptions and continuing subscriptions every fiscal quarter which means maximizing the attention budget their users offer up.

That is absolutely a market. In fact, it might qualify as three interrelated markets in some analyses.

As a result, an incredible amount of society’s limited resources are used in ways that are far less relevant to society as a whole.

Any time someone says stuff like this, what I hear is, “some people decide to do things I don’t like; we should do something about that.”

You can imagine I don’t hold that in much esteem as a position.

Also, it’s completely orthogonal to your argument and doesn’t provide you any support. It is really pretentious though, so kudos on that.

So no, looking at where hearts go on Medium does not, in any meaningful sense, reveal people’s values.

Again, assertion is not evidence. It’s not even fact.

People have talked at length about what they mean when they heart an article. There are quite possibly over a thousand posts on that very subject. Many people have different thoughts and thought processes around what they’re communicating and they signal the heart on an article — but at no point does it not represent a value judgment. Exactly which value is always available for debate, but that it is a value?

To suggest that people actively signaling their interest is not “in any meaningful sense” revelatory of people’s values is to be willfully ignorant and willfully dismissive of active signaling in a marketplace.

That doesn’t actually provide assurance that you know about anything that you’re spouting. It just doesn’t.

If you perceive that I’m “misappropriating” it, then feel free to explain your perception.

Well, for one, it doesn’t have anything to do with the thrust of your argument, provides no support to your contentions, and exists only as a pretentious reference to an actual economist.

But beyond that…

You would have to actually contend that there was a war that the users of Medium were not interested in being involved in. Just as a single place to start.

It’s misappropriated. It’s misused. It’s ill-conceived. It has nothing to do with what you want to argue.

As I’ve said, if you want to argue that Medium should be implementing a micropayment system which pays out to writers and publications/curators in proportion to people saying “pay the dude” on individual articles and publications, I would back that play. I would even say that those interested in engaging with that particular form of signaling might even be limited to a minimum investment of $5 per month with no upper limit and that would be a much more potentially lucrative revenue stream then the current subscription model. I wouldn’t have a hesitation suggesting all that was true.

I would then turn around and say, “as a user, that really doesn’t provide a lot of value if the argument is I get better content — because I don’t trust that other users have my interests or best interests at heart.” I don’t think that’s particularly controversial. You could then make arguments about it being a much fairer way to apportion some of the money that Medium receives, and I would agree with that, but then I would point out, again, that if naked contributory numbers are what controls my top suggested reads/front page, people wouldn’t be paying for articles — people would be buying advertising, and I don’t like being advertised to.

But that would be a rational and logical argument based on actual understandings of observable economics. That’s not what you’re doing.

I’m not sure what you’re doing, but it’s not sensible economic analysis. It’s not sensible user facing interface analysis. It’s not sensible funding analysis. It’s fairly ignorant of the economic realities. But I can’t tell you in a positive sense what you are doing.

I can’t help thinking that’s a failure of your argument.