Internet, media, marketing and honesty

Over the past 15 years of using the internet, one of the memes that always comes up is that of “connecting people” and that of getting to the bottom of things, the “spreading of knowledge”.

My experience is a different one: it used to be this way. I remember when researching about my canoo trip in northern Canada, I found lots of really useful pages of people who had done these trips before or who lived in the area and took pleasure in informing. This sort of research has pretty much disappeared from my life, because it’s almost impossible to find valuable information. SEO and bland content farming created a worthless web of information (pardon the pun).

Going hand in hand with this is the delusion of democratizing relationships because you can now directly “connect with your fans”. As this latest story on Mashable about George Takei’s ghostwriter shows, it’s the same as it used to be: the audience is falling for manufactured publicity from professional media creators, only now it’s even harder to recognize and the audience is actively helping to promote it.

I’m sorry, but this doesn’t strike me as a free thinking society but more of a blatant display of how sheepish humans can be and how important it is to be alert and observant.

Jaron Lanier – Interview

Please read the whole interview, but this really sums up what’s going on in the media business and how the “everything must be open” fetish is turning into a destructive force, because it puts the ideology before the people:

What really turned me around wasn’t thought or theory, though – it was practice. I had been part of the recording industry – I was signed to Polygram and so on. At that time, I knew people who had middle-class jobs in the industry – studio musicians and what not – and after the decline of the music business we found that we were having to have constant fundraisers to help somebody afford some operation or deal with some other adverse circumstance.

It became clear to me that we had actually destroyed lives and I don’t want to become like Stalin and say that to make an omelette you have to break some eggs. You don’t want to get into a situation where you think that the ideology is more important than people. If you see that it’s not working for people you don’t say: “Oh, well, those are just the people who don’t get it, those are the ones who get left behind, those are the expendable ones, they don’t matter.” I think you have to say: “No, it’s the ideology that needs to be improved. It’s not working well enough.” So it was really that experience that turned me around.

Tim Berners-Lee Calls For More financial support of the culture business – Techcrunch

This is from an interview with Tim Berners-Lee

Turning to the economic argument, Berners-Lee conceded there is a problem with current online business models — especially when it comes to finding ways to pay musicians. The web should be “about spreading culture, music and getting payment back to musicians”, he said. ” We’ve got to find new ways of doing that.”

via HTML Pioneer Tim Berners-Lee Calls For More Online Innovation To Break Down Cultural Barriers And Build New Business Models | TechCrunch.

Annenberg Lab – Transparency report

This report shows the relationship between piracy infringing web sites, the ad networks distributing advertisements to them and the major brands who unwillingly support the pirate web sites.

It is important that the broader Internet community starts to realize that we don’t live in 1999 anymore and that almost any activity on the Internet is being monetized. But the participation in that monetization is kept from the creative community who, more often than not, create the films, books, music, pictures that drive the majority of traffic.

Frictionless sharing

I just read this paper on frictionless sharing and I like to comment on something written inthr paper. Quoting is not allowed without permission do I just rephrase it, but the whole idea goes back to what I wrote a couple of month ago

Basically the part I’m talking about deals with recommendations: in the case of a little restaurant I like, recommending it to friends may help to keep the restaurant in business longer.

This is the argument used by most people in favor of filesharing and unlicensed distribution of music. But as you can clearly see: sharing a recommendation is all fine and dandy if you encourage your friends to support the act/artist/musician/producer as is the case with a restaurant. But sharing the actual work will have the opposite effect: less people will buy the music and the act/artist/musician/producer will go out of business.

And an industry that has been reduced by roughly 65% in the span of 12 years (meaning, we lost 3 major labels and now are left with two and also lost many many independent companies) is proof that something is broken in a medium that means so much to people and that helps young people to define who they are. It saddens me to have to argue with people (even colleagues) about business models, legality and such instead of just sharing a recommendation to a good piece of music.