There’s a fascinating revolt going down in the treasury section of the online handmade marketplace, Etsy. See here, here and here for example. I happened upon it this evening, glowing with excitement to see crafters taking up in arms.
If you don’t know about it, here’s news on the source of this particular up-swelling upset.
What I’m particularly drawn to in this, is how online activism can sustain itself within a 100% corporate owned space (a website). I was curious about this in my masters thesis when looking at Youtube and watching as users needed to navigate carefully through the labyrinth of regulations to maintain webspace while being subversive. YouTube flat out mutes a video, deletes videos, and just delete accounts when it wants to. There’s no binding agreement where users have rights in the matter. The terms that you *do* agree to are for the benefit of YouTube anyways.
So when I happened upon these clever insertions into the etsy mainframe, I was intrigued. How DOES one navigate cyberspace, specifically externally managed spaces like etsy, Youtube, Facebook… with complete self expression? Etsy has since removed the comments feed under the original piece and has issued out an apology at the top of the interview with the featured seller. I appreciate Etsy’s public declaration of what they are committed to, however I do not agree that a mass producer on that level can be considered a crafter in the spirit of Etsy. But isn’t that for Etsy to decide?
The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. – Audre Lorde
I see that the true power that we have is to recognize our power as creators, consumers, and viewers, and speak up in asking what Etsy’s intentions are, what Etsy is committed to… and hold them to that. Creating alternative spaces is a smart way to ensure diversity and options for all of us, as well as to create another board to go to when Etsy shuts down access for complete free expression.
I as a consumer only truly have power when I remove myself from complete dependencies on these other companies. My screaming and punching the floor when yelp deletes my comments, or YouTube mutes my video doesn’t actually hold these companies accountable when I’m still “buying” their product through using it. I admit that I type this in WordPress, on my Macbook, using AT&T internet through PG&E electricity in the city of Berkeley… and it’s not all going how I want it to go. So there’s a choice for me in there. Am I committed to changing it? And if so, maybe it’s time for me to learn how to write on paper again, and maybe it’s time for me to start supporting my truly local truly handcrafted neighbors instead of the international resellers on Etsy. This is where true change is rooted. What are you committed to? What are you doing about it?