For me, media is about the distribution of high quality information and entertainment. It’s about the exchange of money for that entertainment. That’s the media economy. He thinks the media economy is in “deep sh**.” Recently Radiohead tried to figure out a new business model for online, they should allow people to set their own price. 65-70% of people “stole” Radiohead’s music and didn’t pay anything. (I thought that figure was debunked?)
If I’m the anti-christ of Silicon Valley, who are the Christ figures? I won’t name names, but some have beards and some are here. Something has profoundly changed in media, what has changed is technology. Technology has enabled all of us to become authors, to distribute our content online, to become broadcasters.
Medias is being presented as liberating human beings, of making the world a more moral place. Just as Christ was trying to make man moral, the technology media evangelists are trying to make media into the engine of profoundly good social change. Last week I had a debate with Charlie Ledbetter. He said the internet and the digital revolution was good because we will become more equal, liberate ourselves, nad create better community. The premise is that we will all become more creative, our ability to become Hitchcock.
These are not business ideas, they’re moral ideas. They’re about liberation of self. It’s rooted in libertarian culture. Today’s internet reflects a climax in the way in which these libertarian idealists want to change the world. In the world this means the blogosphere, in Second Life. Priests invented a concept of heaven, but never figured out how to monetize it. The Second Life guys did. Anyone can create or recreate themselves online. The internet is a digital form of Christianity, we can reinvent ourselves independent from the physical world.
We’re using the internet to self-broadcast ourselves, as a battering ram against authority. Professionals aren’t born, they’re simply people that are more practiced and disciplined. The internet is trying to turn traditional media was never fair. It’s about finding talent, polishing talent, distributing, and selling that talent. You’re telling 95% of people that they’re not worthy. The internet tells us we’re all equal in our ability to distribute our ideas.
Some people say that’s the essence of democracy, it’s a “Christian democracy” and it’s not an idea he’s keen on. Real media, with concrete product, that is in big trouble, because the only company making money in this new economy are the vehicles of this self-made content. The traditional carriers of content, the carriers that selected talent, that published it and distributed it, are in great crisis. Music, newspaper business. The future of the media biz is dire. We need to reestablish the credibility of authority. We can’t be seduced by the cult of the amateur, the cult of the ignorant. We need to maintain the professional standards of media, remind the public that the traditional media ecosystem of fact checkers et al are essential to democracy.
If we do away with the credibility of newspapers, of books, then we have a true crisis because no one will know what happens in the world. For every Judy Miller there are thousands of honest reporters. We cannot back down in this populist rebellion, if we do then we’re going to regret it. We’ll only have Youtube, one long advertisement, where it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish between advertisement and content. The blogosphere is a device for dishonest people to hide behind websites and organizations to peddle their message.
We need to address this crisis before it’s too late, otherwise the Youtube generation are going to know nothing, and it will make them bad citizens. And it will impoverish political and moral life in this country.