Jack Conte took the stage at SXSW24 last month and delivered a fantastic speech about the evolution of internet publishing from an early creator’s perspective.

Most tech talks are fullof jargon and futurespeak, but Conte’s was strengthened by personal anecdotes, humor, and a clear message about the power of creating on the internet.

And he didn’t say one goddamn thing about the bots—hallelujah.

One of the takeaways for me was the idea that the current algorithmic-driven internet was imposed not by the demand of users, but by the profit-seeking whims of tech companies like Google and Facebook. Of course, we all know this instinctively, but he offered evidence with a timeline that showed there was a major shift around 2016 to algorithms that reshaped engagement on platforms.

This has had far-reaching consequences, affecting everything from how people find audiences to the way that tech companies approach designing for the web.

Conte’s response to this has been to rethink Patreon as an app that offers communities and business. He mentioned competitors like Discord as part of a new wave of social media networks.

Also interesting was his thesis that his platforms and similar ones will allow creators to engage with their fans at a deeper problem.

Discovery remains one of the biggest obstacle that these new platforms haven’t solved. Conte was explicit that creators will still need to rely on legacy social media for reach.

Here’s the full video on YouTube: