Monday, March 29, 2010

Rupert Murdoch's Internet answer: More pay walls

Rupert Murdoch's Internet answer: More pay walls by Andrew Leonard

"As legend has it, King Canute's real goal, when he famously ordered the tide to halt, was to demonstrate to his subjects how powerless even the mighty were before God. Rupert Murdoch, however, appears determined to do Canute one better: As far as he is concerned, the tide will stop.

I am as perplexed as anyone at the challenge of building business models for journalism in the era of the Internet, but I remain skeptical that people will pay for general interest content online in any significant numbers. There are just too many options for our disposable attention time. If I had followed Glyn Moody's tweet to a pay wall, I would have just bounced off and gone elsewhere. And I am someone who lives and breathes news -- the next generation, reared on Facebook and YouTube and Twitter and able to Google more sources of primary and secondary information in 10 seconds than any previous generation of humans could in months or years? They will not pay.

I think Rupert Murdoch is about to find out that the Internet is like God. Even the mightiest will be humbled before it."

Note: with apologies for trying to say too much with too few words in the following, I'll be back to revisit and flesh out the thinking here. I regard what's at stake here as the greatest battle of our generation.

Andrew acknowledges and takes into account the nature of the Internet, but he seems to take it for granted that even some parts of the old model still apply. For example, the need for a news organization such as Murdoch's at all.

"Organization" has at least two very large meanings. The first meaning is that information, be it news or some other form, must be properly organized, a challenge the Internet has yet to seriously accomplish, but progress is being made.

The other "organization", consisting of people like Murdoch and his ilk, who sit at the top of our information supply today. With the Internet and some more work on it, we have no need for any of them, and they should simply disappear from our lives. Indeed, good riddance to them. It was Murdoch and his Neocon cronies that ushered us into that monumentally terrible military invasion of the Middle East. The way I see it, they can't be let to sink into the abyss of bad memories fast enough.

The first kind of organization we do need. It consists of architecture, design, definitions - and champions. If you work in or with the IT world, you know this. Given a useful design, and setting our minds to making it happen, *anything* is achievable. We can search and self-edit Internet content, and with the "new breed of editors" assembling (such as myself, I daresay), we're basically replacing that entire genre.

And I can't speak more lowly of Murdoch and his ilk. They've been sucking money from our population for so long, but more importantly spreading their bullshit propaganda at the same time. It was a great scheme for them, making money while spinning their webs of deceit, but "the jig is up" now and it's time for Poof! and the Big Bad Wolf to be gone.

The Internet is totally amenable to evolving into an information resource the likes of which many people can barely imagine today. It takes time and practice to assimilate what technology is delivering today. And then, the more you use it, the more you appreciate it - while it continues to grow and improve itself.

Murdoch and his ilk are going to fight this battle. It really is life or death for his empire, which drove him to the battle. Essentially it's about control of the Internet. I know he has powerful connections in Congress Good! Let it suck all of their ill-gotten gains.

But Murdoch and his ilk will not go down without a fight. This means, essentially, that we're now in a race between he and his kind who wish to control the Internet, and our ability to use the Internet to dispose of their authority.

Let's hope that enough people see and appreciate the value of the Internet and will defend it against this attack. In it's greatest sense, it can give us real democracy, and so much more. Of course, we must always pick the "baobabs" - the scourges, attackers and thieves and the like that breed on the Internet, but that's manageable and a useful role for police, to protect us from theft and attacks.

What we don't want is police and authorities in general having control over us. To protect us, we need a Constitutional amendment on privacy as a human right. It's too late to nip this problem in the bud, but at least we can stop it before it gets much, much worse. We need to firmly establish that gov't exists to serve and protect us, never the other way around. Knowledge and privacy are the keywords here.

To put this in perspective, consider that computers, the Internet, etc. are the product of all mankind, since the very first time a human wrote something down or counted something, the chain of events led to what we have today.

And what we have, this "machine", is owned by humanity, not Rupert Murchoch or anyone else, but by all of humanity.

The really incredible thing about all this is how efficient and incredibly cost effective the Internet is when you strip out the money extracted by Murdoch and his ilk. The cost of running the Internet is actually minuscule. It's computers and cables or airwaves, and organization. Factor in the value of having so much knowledge at your fingertips, the potential advantage to all mankind cannot be overstated.

On the other hand, if Murdoch and his ilk find a way to control the Internet - which is what this battle is really all about, then we're screwed big time.

Update I: See The Looming War on Bloggers


No comments: