What Is The Enshittocene?

  • by Vivienne Austin

Have you heard of Enshittocene and how this is coming for absolutely everything around us?

Last year, Cory Doctorow introduced the term “enshittification” to describe the deterioration of digital platforms. This provocative term gained significant traction and was selected as the Word of the Year for 2023 by The American Dialect Society. Cory Doctorow is a multifaceted individual in the realms of science fiction, activism, and journalism. He has authored numerous books, with his latest being “The Lost Cause”, a solarpunk science fiction novel that offers hope in the face of the climate crisis. Amongst his recent works, he has written “The Internet Con: How To Seize The Means Of Computation”, a guide to dismantling Big Tech. The Enshittocene is only the latest of his futuristic concepts to make his way into our worlds.

What does enshittification mean? Doctorow's concept delves into how platforms have taken over the internet, why they are rapidly declining, the significance of this trend, and potential solutions. We are witnessing a process of enshittening, where the services we value and depend on are disintegrating into nothingness. Enshittification not only identifies the issue but also offers a remedy. It doesn't merely signify a worsening situation, although it can be used in that context. The process involves three stages: platforms initially cater to their users, then exploit them to benefit their business clients, and eventually exploit these clients to reclaim all value for themselves. Ultimately, there is a fourth stage: their demise.



We can’t think of better examples than Facebook, Tumblr or even Yahoo. From social platforms to search engines, they all declined (or are currently declining) to leave space to their competitors, who are possibly doing something better with their tech, for now: TikTok, X (formerly Twitter) and even Google seem to be taking the lead. Before this, the same happened between MySpace and Facebook, and the same is happening now with an ever growing number of digital platforms and apps popping up everyday.


The Enshittocene concept is surely an interesting one, especially to us at Scarlet Desitiny, who are ever so captivated by what the digital world has to offer. Is the Enshittocene Era coming for everything then? If we were to really think about it, every digital platform is bound to have a peak and decline moment, in order to make space for something better. Or maybe the Enshittocene Era is just a word we can use for the world we live in: One in which everything is bound to fail and make space for better technologies, better algorithms, better everything.


It certainly would be interesting to attend one of Cory Doctorow’s talks about Enshittocene to understand the concept a little better, but for now, here’s a video we can recommend to you if you want to learn more. 


[information sourced on thefinancialtimes.com

Images sourced on canva.com]


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