Thinking about public spaces and microtransactions.

These two things are not related.

But I'm still thinkin' about 'em at the same time.

1) We got no public spaces. They're mostly gone, usurped by commercial spaces.

2) Payment processors have rendered payments of less than roughly $1.50 worthless.

I'm going to discuss each of these things in thread form.

There's a park in front of my apartment complex, and it has a giant electronic billboard facing it, that plays video and audio 24 hours a day. It's a public space made commercial.

We treat coffee shops like public spaces, but they still close at 10pm, and give you dirty looks if you don't buy something.

Hell, three nights a week when it's cold out the lady and I will just go wander around various retail establishments so that we can get some walking in, and not be out in the wind and the rain.

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When I get together with friends, we mostly have to do it in someone's home, because our options are that or a bar or a coffee shop, because even commercial spaces that were at one time geared towards socialization and drawing a crowd have either disappeared or shifted their business model to one that places greater emphasis on consumption.

(Most arcades are gone, for example. Tabletop stores are moving towards a more event based model, where there is some kind of buy in for the evening.)

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I can't blame these retail establishments for doing these things. Money is tight, inflation eats it away. Wages increase at a rate bellow inflation, anyway. Our buying power is lower than it has ever been.

Of course businesses are struggling to keep up.

Of course traditional public spaces are being eroded by more value extraction.

There's so little to go around from all of us, and capitalism is a game with winners and losers.

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I never lived on a college campus, but I had lots of friends that did. I spent a large portion of my late teens and early 20s in the Public Spaces that college campuses provide. Every building, it seemed, had a huge ground floor with tables and electricity and wifi, and some of them also had free coffee.

I imagine that this is what it would be like if we made libraries more focused on being community spaces, gave them longer hours, and encouraged socialization or events in the evenings.

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And my apartment complex has that kind of a lounge area. Many apartment complexes do.

But when I was hanging out on campuses, I would just walk in to a building, plop down, and start working.

I've never been to an apartment complex that didn't have access control on the doors to the building, the doors to the lobby, the internet connection, and the printer. You know?

Heck, at this place I have to swipe my dongle to get a cup of coffee.

It's almost a public space, but it isn't really.

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@ajroach42 i'd like to suggest that part of this may be classism.

people who can afford to pay to be in a pay-to-play space would rather pay so they don't have to be around the "kinds of people" a free space attracts.

this is inspired by my time working as a staffer in college at our campus center, which was one of those completely open public spaces you talked about. as a free open indoor space that was also open late we had homeless people hanging out frequently. (cont.)

@ajroach42 that didn't bother us staffers, they almost never interfered with anything we had to do. but we had so many rich white people complaining to us about their mere presence in the same building as them, like we would or could do anything to kick them out or something.

@ajroach42 and in places like coffee shops, there's an expectation that visibly poor/homeless people who can't "pay to play" will be kicked out. which makes dipshits like the people who complained to me at the infodesk about a homeless person existing in the building more comfortable being there.

@xyzzy There is unquestionably an element of classism at work here, but I think that the problem goes deeper than just classism.

Because there aren't very many pay-to-play spaces left either, and those are often overcrowded and noisy to the point of being useless.

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