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No One Is the Enshittifier of Their Own Story

A collection of 1950s white, suited boardroom executives seated around a table, staring at its center. The original has been altered. In the center of the table stands a stylized stick figure cartoon mascot whose head is a poop emoji rendered in the colors of the Google logo. The various memos on the boardroom table repeat this poop Google image. On the wall behind the executives is the original Google logo in an ornate gilt frame.

Today for my podcast, I read No One Is the Enshittifier of Their Own Story , my latest Locus Magazine column, about the microfoundations of enshittification:

Therein lies the tale. The same people, running the same companies, are all suddenly behaving very differently. They haven’t all suffered a change of heart, a reverse-enscroogening that caused them all to go to bed the kinds of good-natured slobs who made services we love and wake up cruel misers who clawed away all the value we created together.

Rather, these people – leaders of tech companies and the managers and product designers they command – have found themselves in an environ­ment where the constraints that kept them honest have melted away. Whereas before a manager who was tempted to enshittify their offerings had their hand stayed by the fear of some penalty, today, those penalties are greatly reduced or eliminated altogether.