November 15, 2005

"The media" is more and more an oxymoron

Laughing Collie, in Controlling corporate media, references a conversation about how people should interact with big media:
hastka and I have had several interesting discussions regarding corporate media. We've pretty much agreed that insecurity and inadequacy sells product, and that until we start refusing the constant pressure to always be "good consumers" and invariably buybuybuy spendspendspend, we're going to be stuck with that kind of media barrage -- that they do it because it works.
Hastka noted "media needs to be driven by something other than profit." So here's the question for everyone: how do we persuade the corporates and their media to consider things other than "profit first"? Do we penalize them legally, or refuse to buy their stuff, or engage in some sort of "vigilante justice" against their buildings, or what?
Saying "the media" is more and more an oxymoron"the media" is more and more an oxymoron. There are many sources of media. With barriers to entry crashing, there are going to be exponentially more sources of media every day.
Barriers to entry include, the cost of creation, distribution, and marketing of media. Each cost is falling through the floor. While in accordance with Sturgeon's Law ("Ninety percent of everything is crap"), most of this media is dreadful, the cream is very much worth checking out. Some examples:
  • Creation Costs: Film making buffs now have contests where groups of volunteers using borrowed equipment make 20-40 minute films in a weekend for less than $1000. The best of these equal the quality of the kind of media that you would see on the Independent Film Channel.
  • Distribution: Anyone with a cheap computer can make a weblog post or an audio podcast (or even a video cast) and have their material available worldwide.
  • Marketing: Voting and referral systems (like the iTunes music store rating podcast popularity, Memorandum or Digg rating news stories and weblog post popularity) can create viral effects and expose little known media to millions of viewers.
Corporate media have huge costs for creating, distribution, and marketing their media. The new King Kong movie will cost well over $100 million to make, distribute, and market. The people who put it together must have a business model that has a chance to pay those expenses and make a profit. No one would put up the $100 million otherwise.
The explosion in non-corporate or semi-corporate media won't have to cover those huge costs. They can be supported as a hobby, by donation, by advertising, by subscription, or by lots of other means. Their media can be driven by lots of motives other than profit.
People with weblogs are already a part of this media revolution.
Posted by georgegmacdonald at 12:28 PM

November 11, 2005

It's not about Arnie's ego

My friend, Laughing Collie, came out against the recent California special election in Arnie's ego gets slapped. I respectfully disagree on a few points, I thought that this special election was worth while for one major reason: I strongly supported Proposition 77 which would have taken redistricting away from the legislature.

I try to support measures that I believe will help elect more moderate candidates and candidates that are willing to work in a bipartisan way to solve problems. I support the idea of open political primaries because I believe it will help moderates of both pirates get elected. I supported Prop 77 because I belive that moderates are much more likely to get elected in completive districts.

When the legislators draws their own districts, they draw them so that each seat is "safe" (has  a massive party majority for the legislator in power). Thus, the politicians have no reason to reach out to the political center, all they have to do to get elected is preach to their party base. This promotes political polarization, not moderation and bipartisanship.

It also means that politicians do not have to worry over much about losing elections. As Michael Barone, author of "The Almanac of American Politics", states in his weblog post: "...the bipartisan redistricting plan adopted for the 2002 elections so safeguarded incumbents and their parties that none of the 53 congressional, 40 state Senate, and 80 assembly districts changed partisan hands in 2004."

100% of the 173 seats up for election in 2004 were won by a candidate of the incumbent party. That was not an election. It was a coronation.

The entrenched special interests in California who benefit from the current political situation (especially the public employees and teachers unions) were against Proposition 77 . They spent a lot of money to knock it down and they won.

Democracy lost.

In my opinion, had Proposition 77 passed, it would have been Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's legacy gift to the people of California. I don't much care if he passed anything else or got reelected. He would have given us back our democracy, and some of our power as citizens.

And that would have made the special election worth all the money and bother.
Posted by georgegmacdonald at 12:59 PM