aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Half of those surveyed said President George W Bush was right to suggest that “intelligent design” - the notion that God played a role in evolution - be taught alongside Charles’s Darwin’s theory in public schools while 37% thought he was wrong to do so.
The poll highlighted the divide in the deep debate in the United States on whether creationism should be taught in public schools.
The Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll found that 69% agreed that “evolution is what most scientists believe, so it should be taught in public science classes.” Twenty percent said they believe “scientists are wrong, so evolution should not be taught” while 11% suggested teaching both views or were undecided.
Just 23% of those surveyed said “humans evolved from other animal species through natural selection,” while 54% said they believe “God created the universe and humans in a six-day period,” Seventeen percent said “God caused humans to evolve from other species.” Six percent were undecided, the Cincinnati Post, a Scripps Howard paper, reported.
People are at best conflicted. Evolution’s opponents have successfully co-opted our rhetoric of protecting “controversial ideas” and our elevation of “debate” and “diversity” and “academic freedom” to create an effective argument that we can call illegitimate all we like, but majorities of the American public are buying into it.
I think the way to deal with this may be to take a positive stand for teaching comparative religion in public schools. That may just satisfy the majority who clearly don’t want to say they believe in evolution but know in their hearts that their kids need to understand it if they don’t want to be mullet-headed morons unable to function in modern society.
A biology teacher at the military college here made a similar suggestion at a party last year. Here’s why I like it: Arguing the facts hasn’t worked. This positively reeks of comprimise, a good thing. And it shows respect for the other side’s beliefs.
Matt Stoller, copyfighter
Pointing to this article on how Dan Glickman (onetime Democratic Congressman, now “the movie industry’s top lobbyist") went to UCLA and got catcalled by students there, Matt Stoller returns to the issue of dems and copyright law for the second time this week (and includes copyright reform in his 2006 dream platform). His conclusion:
Copyright is about culture and new technology, but the narrative it touches on is old. The use of technology is simply a voting issue, because it explains to a younger generation in their own terms what it means to have two classes in America, one rich and one poor, one that has access to participating in the culture and one that can only consume it.
It’s like guns. Copyright is a symbol of a lifestyle and a set of values. Communitarian, libertarian, progressive.
So let’s wizen up on it, Democrats.
Absolutely positively 100% right-on Matt! Now how about a copyfight section on MyDD?
How to tame your entertainment budget. Not!
Today the Times promises something - How to Tame an Inflated Entertainment Budget - but offers nothing:
The average American spends more on entertainment than on gasoline, household furnishings and clothing and nearly the same amount as spent on dining out, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Among the affluent, the 20 percent of households with more than $77,000 a year in pretax income, more money is spent on entertainment - $4,516 a year - than on health care, utilities, clothing or food eaten at home. [...]
Entertainment budgets will only grow larger. With a proliferation of electronics like giant flat-screen TV’s, video iPods and devices to send music, photos and video from room to room in your house, not to mention a proliferation of services to deliver entertainment on cellphones and laptops, you will be opening your wallet more often.
How do you get a handle on it?
Yes, how? “Consider Netflix.” Huh? Their own story says it only saves you if you up your consumption!
They go on with lots of statistics on price per minute of entertainment enjoyed, borrowing a page from cable providers who note your price per channel has gone down - even as the average person still watches only 12 to 15 television channels. Remember a la carte pricing? Now that would cut entertainment spending.
Instead of paying 99 cents to download a song on iTunes, Yahoo charges $5 a month, if you pay for a year’s subscription upfront, so you can download as many songs as you want onto your computer or MP3 player. [...]
But in Yahoo we also see just how costly the reliance becomes. Just a few months after starting the service, Yahoo doubled the price. If you don’t pay it, you lose the music. That may be one reason it has been slow to catch on despite being cheaper than iTunes.
Here’s a tip: If you want to put payment of your subscriptions on automatic, use a credit card rather than have payments deducted straight from a bank account. It’s easier to manage credit card payments and it may be easier to monitor for price increases.
Wow, thanks for the tip! That’ll save me, uh, nothing!
The shame of this story is that it uses a statistic that consumers find true and troubling - that the price we’re paying for the services we’re
getting actually using is going way up - to do little more than promote spending on those same services.
Friday, November 18, 2005
La Nouba at Downtown Disney
Georgia’s Poll Tax exposed
The chief sponsor of Georgia’s voter identification law told the Justice Department that if black people in her district “are not paid to vote, they don’t go to the polls,” and that if fewer blacks vote as a result of the new law, it is only because it would end such voting fraud.
The newly released Justice Department memo quoting state Rep. Sue Burmeister (R-Augusta) was prepared by department lawyers as the federal government considered whether to approve the new law. [...]
Burmeister said Thursday that the memo’s record of what she said “was more accurate than not,” but added: “That sounds pretty harsh. I don’t remember saying those exact words.”
Well, Justice Department attorneys do remember her using those words, and since she’s willing to concede they’re pretty accurate, they deserve to be judged accordingly.
Needless to say, this isn’t going over well in Georgia. Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), a veteran of the civil rights movement, said, “It’s unbelievable that any elected official would say something like this. It doesn’t have any, any merit. This is an affront to every black voter and would-be black voter not just in my district but in the state of Georgia.”
It also raises questions anew about the priorities of Bush’s Justice Department.
This law is a naked, racist, attempt to restrict the voting rights of blacks, yet the outcry from liberals has been rather muted compared to Diebold. This isn’t subtle or reliant on machines. The Georgia Legislature used chicanery to take the voting rights away from blacks.
Make voting mandatory
The theory the article suggests is that in countries in which there’s a strong belief that voting is a civic obligation, people vote so that other people can see them voting. So a vote-by-mail option, by making it less necessary for people to be seen voting to get social credit for voting, actually reduces the reason for people to vote.
If that theory is correct, then what policy - short of manditory voting, which I think is a good idea that will never happen here (if we can make taxpaying and jury duty manditory duties of citizens, why not voting?) - should we use to encourage voting? Perhaps the “I voted” stickers should be made of nicer material and be more prominent.
I’m reading Freakonomics. They’d love the mail observation, probably not the legal requirement. I’m inclined to like it - civic duty invests us in our civil society.
There is no abortion debate
Michael Kinsley makes the good point that in Roe one side wants to uphold precedent while in Lawrence the other side does then notes:
Machiavellians of my acquaintance believe that it is the anti-abortion folks who are getting conned. The last thing in the world that Republican strategists want is the repeal of Roe. If abortion becomes a legislative issue again, all those pro-choice women and men who have been voting Republican because abortion was safe would have to reconsider, and many would bolt. Meanwhile, the reversal of Roe would energize the left the way Roe itself energized the right. Who needs that?
Abortion is the most important issue in American politics. It shouldn’t be. Others have as big an impact on the lives of individuals and a far bigger cumulative effect on society. No other nation obsesses about abortion the way we do. But many Americans believe that legalized abortion is government-sanctioned murder or something close to it. And many others (including me) believe that forcing a woman to go through an unwanted pregnancy and childbirth is the most extreme unjustified government intrusion on personal freedom short of sanctioning murder. For many in these groups, abortion is almost by definition an issue that overwhelms all others, or comes close, when they are deciding how (and whether) to vote. It is also, on both sides, a reliable issue for opening wallets.
Yet there is no abortion debate. Or at least the debate is unconnected to the reasons people on both sides feel so strongly about it. What passes for an abortion debate is a jewel of the political hack’s art: a big issue that is exploited without being discussed.
What’s in a name?
No not that name. The other topic I’m so fond of…
The name “Google Print” is gone; the new name is ”Google Book Search.” Says The Future of The Book, “‘Print’ obviously struck a little too close to home with publishers and authors.” From Google Blog:
When we launched Google Print, our goal was to make it easier for users to discover books. Now that we’re starting to achieve that, we think a more descriptive name will help clarify what our users can do with it: namely, search the full text of books to find ones that interest them and learn where to buy or borrow them.
No, we don’t think that this new name will change what some folks think about this program. But we do believe it will help a lot of people understand better what we’re doing. We want to make all the world’s books discoverable and searchable online, and we hope this new name will help keep everyone focused on that important goal.
RELATED: I missed the webcast of last night’s NY Public Library forum, THE BATTLE OVER BOOKS: Authors & Publishers Take on the Google Print Library Project; I only hope it’s archived and available soon.
UPDATE - Lessig on the morning after: “ I awoke this morning more resolved about the wrongness in the rhetoric around this issue.”
Thursday, November 17, 2005
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May they crash and burn.
Don’t get us wrong; we didn’t invent the idea of working with bloggers to make media, we certainly didn’t invent the concept “open source,” and there’s plenty of room for everyone to do what we’ve been doing. But they chose the same name that we established in May and, seeing as how we work in the same industry, people might find that a little confusing. And that has us puzzled.
OSM, get it? It’s not MSM--the pejorative nickname for the mainstream media. [Blogger Roger L.] Simon says this site will “emphasize” bloggers, what he calls “citizen journalists.” The goal is a “global news service of the future,” with a “firewall” between news and opinion.
Alaskan Pork alive & well & aided & abetted by big media
It’s a classic case of Congress pretending to respond to public demands. Congress passed the most bloated and expensive transportation bill in American history - complete with 6,371 pet projects, a new pork record - sparking cries of Republican excess. In response, lawmakers have “trimmed” the legislation without actually cutting a penny.
In fact, the bridge linking Ketchikan and Anchorage may still be built. Instead of a congressional earmark, Alaskan officials can just go build the bridge themselves with federal money.
But there are two stories here, and John gets the other one right. This is a media story:
Why didn’t the Washington Post report: Congress refuses to delete money for Bridge to Nowhere? Nope. They put a headline and first couple of paragraphs that make you think the bridge has been killed and Congress did the right thing. When in fact, Congress went out of its way in order to trick the American public. That should be the headline, congressional deceit.
Both the Times and the Post buried the lead, buried the real news, and reported - spotlighted - the spin. So much for the value of editors. As to playing to audiences, John also points out that the one paper to get it right was The Anchorage Daily News.
The end of “off”
A friend wondered how to turn off his TiVo. I said you never turn it off. He was baffled. But even when we do turn off TVs & VCRs:
They remain ever in standby mode, silently sipping energy to the tune of 1,000 kilowatt hours a year per household, awaiting the signal to roar into action.
“As a country we pay $1 billion a year to power our TV’s and VCR’s while they’re turned off,” said Maria T. Vargas, a spokeswoman for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star program, which sets voluntary standards for energy use, and grants its ratings to the most efficient products.
The end of “off:”
[T]he words “off” and “on” no longer seem to apply; a better word might be “idling.”
“They won’t even say ‘off’ now; they’ll say ‘power,’ “ noted Alan K. Meier, a senior energy analyst at the International Energy Agency, a consortium based in Paris. “My washing machine draws five watts even when there’s no sign of intelligent life.”
It doesn’t cost much to make a more efficient device: sometimes just 50 cents a unit, they say. But consumers don’t consider invisible energy use - “there’s no labeling of power use in ‘standby,’ “ Mr. Meier said, and “no way for people to recognize what a low-standby device is” - making government-imposed energy efficiency the best hope, he said.
PR & Tom & Alexis
I happened to catch an hour of her radio show on Sirius Satellite Radio last Thursday night. Called “Whatever,” Alexis co-hosts the show with the daughter of Martha Stewart Omnimedia Chairman Charles Koppelman, Jennifer Koppelman Hutt. The airing wasn’t touted. It was, as one Sirius exec stated, “a soft launch.”
It was a hoot. In one hour, Alexis complained in detail about not knowing what do or how to act on The Apprentice, confessed that she had slept with the cameraman assigned to shoot her, and had experimented with lesbianism. She certainly seemed and sounded serious about all of it. Hutt was surprisingly funny too. She prattled on with a pretty good yarn about being summoned to New York dining hot-spot Nobu to meet Alexis and Martha for dinner only to be stuck manning a table for eight alone for almost two hours waiting for the Stewarts. Martha called her to let her know her progress toward showing up at which point Hutt informed her that fellow Sirius star Howard Stern and his daughter had just sat down. Stewart insisted Hutt ask the already peeved hostess to re-seat her next to Stern’s table. Who knew Martha was such a Howard fan?
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Liberal failings in the copyfight
Matt Stoller points to this from the Progress and Freedom Foundation:
Fair use has outlived much of its usefulness in a market with ever-increasing digital offerings for sale at varying price points, Progress & Freedom Foundation Senior Fellow James DeLong told a congressional subcommittee today.
I guess what else can we expect from “a market oriented think tank” but I am appalled at how wrong-headed this argument is. None of the copyfighters I admire has weighed in yet, but Matt takes up the cudgel:
You might have heard of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an organization that has worked on defending the internet’s open model of information flow since 1990. They are fighting this fight, along with the Free Culture movement, and a great group called Public Knowledge. Boingboing, the extraordinarily popular and awesome blog which many of you may read, is a leading proponent of progressive reform of copyright.
The Democrats in Congress and good government groups like Common Cause are not. It’s a common thread - reformers in the campaign finance world are working to restrict freedom on the internet, because they don’t really act as if individual freedom is a positive good, only that corporate corruption is a clear wrong… Democratics in Congress, with the exception of some fine leaders like Rick Boucher and Zoey Lofgren, are largely clueless or actively malicious in this battle. Until our elected leaders begin to understand that there is value in freedom, that the digital world is not some weird place where freedom of speech is entirely subservient to commercial interests, we will not be a progressive party.
It’s worth remembering how this sausage is made:
Connie Lawn, White House correspondent for USA Radio Network, became the first member of the press corps to inquire about McClellan’s job status, asking if he had considered resigning. McClellan said he had not.
Lawn, who has covered the White House since 1968, explains that reporters’ questions are the most important part of the press briefings - “to get those questions on the record, to get them out there in public.”
Lawn knew how McClellan would respond to her question about his possible resignation over the Plame affair.
“For most of us, the answers are preordained. We could write the answers before we get them,” she says. “It’s a ballet. It’s a dance.”
Bigger fish to fry
Washington oddsmakers are now keeping a close eye on McClellan.
A White House correspondent, who asked not to be identified, predicts McClellan, who replaced Ari Fleischer as press secretary in summer 2003, will soon be leaving his post. “I’m expecting very big changes,” the correspondent says.
Of all the people this White House needs to get rid of, he seems the most inconsequential to me. He’s taking the flack, and suffers from a “credibility gap,” while the others stay put? He’s just doing his job, as untenable as it is.
On the other hand:
[Gannett columnist Deborah] Mathis believes he does not have the aptitude to continue as the White House’s top communicator. “I’ve been through a lot of press secretaries,” she says. “There are some really good ones out there. There are some average ones out there. And there are a few who have no business there. And I would put Scott in that last category.”
Maybe he’ll sing when he’s free. I can dream can’t I?
Via Think Progress.
Alito, the man
I hate to admit this publicly but I honestly wondered if Bush didn’t put Miers up just to have her shot down and eliminate the need to nominate anything other than a white male. And what a male he is:
The man nominated to replace the first female Justice in US history isn’t just not a woman—he’s a man who was a proud member of “Concerned Alumni of Princeton”, a group formed to oppose the admission of women to that male bastion. ("Q: How many Concerned Alumni of Princeton does it take to change a light bulb? A: Six - One to change it, and five to sit around and talk about how good the old one was.")
Now, this was back in 1972, a rather long time ago, and at a rather young age. So one might be tempted to draw a veil over the episode. But not Samuel Alito. It seems that then-Mr. Alito was still bragging about his anti-woman-at-Princeton membership in 1985, when applying for legal work in Meese’s Justice Department. (And it probably was a shrewd move, too. In any case, he got the job.)
In that same 1985 application, Alito made a point of stating that “I personally believe very strongly” that the Constitution doesn’t guarantee a right to abortion. Again, not alone likely to be a disqualification; many people believed that then, many do today, including some who would follow Casey’s re-affirmation of Roe despite their personal beliefs.
What’s most troubling here is Alito’s explaining this ‘deep personal belief’ away when visiting when Senator Specter. He doesn’t say he’s changed in the intervening 20 years. He doesn’t say, personal beliefs don’t necessarily decide cases, personal beliefs then may not control legal decisions now—which would have left the issue open. (And he certainly doesn’t say he’s changed or grown in 20 years—that might startle the base.) Rather, today Judge Alito says that what he said 20 years ago should be ignored: “I personally believe very strongly” was just language used by ”an advocate seeking a job.” What does that mean? He was lying? Puffing? Being parsimonious with the truth? But we should believe him now because he’s a judge seeking a much better job?
Politics over good judgment
That’s what Kenneth Y. Tomlinson says the inspector general is guilty of. And precisely how, as the inspector general documents, Tomlinson operated:
Investigators at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting said on Tuesday that they had uncovered evidence that its former chairman had repeatedly broken federal law and the organization’s own regulations in a campaign to combat what he saw as liberal bias.
A report by the corporation’s inspector general, sent to Congress on Tuesday, described a dysfunctional organization that appeared to have violated the Public Broadcasting Act, which created the corporation and was written to insulate programming decisions from politics.
The former chairman, Kenneth Y. Tomlinson, who was ousted from the board two weeks ago when it was presented with the details of the report in a closed session, has said he sought to enforce a provision of the broadcasting act meant to ensure objectivity and balance in programming.
The report has no teeth - “No sanctions or further action against Mr. Tomlinson will follow from the report’s findings” - and nothing will come of it.
The problem with public broadcasting from the beginning has been that without a dedicated and reliable public funding source it can not truly be public. Instead it has to grovel for annual appropriations, placate corporate givers and attract a wealthy audience. That’s public?
It’s done many things well, but I’m more and more thinking it costs too much for the little we get. And the cost I’m describing is not dollars and cents; it’s about allowing the Right to cast it as “liberal” and wail about our tax dollars while comprimising its journalistic standards and forcing a conservative shift.
My answer is to serve those audiences commercial television won’t, and to include a broad range of perspectives but most particularly those not found or under-represented on commercial television. Those of low-income, under-educated and working-class people for example.
That ain’t gonna happen.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Too bad nepotism isn’t one of the seven deadly sins
SZ at World O’Crap has the latest on the Dobson progeny:
When we looked at Ryan Dobson (tattoo enthusiast, extreme surfer, author of the book Be Intolerant, and son of James “Focus on Somebody Else’s Family” Dobson) back in June 2005 he had just gotten married to Laura, the fellow surfer whom he met circa December 2004. (Well, it was a second marriage for Ryan, who was divorced in 2001. And since his former wife is still alive, Ryan is apparently committing adultery, if you go by what Jesus said). Read on.
Baptist Ire: Gay org chased from Macon campus
When I heard a while back that a Georgia Equality presentation at Mercer University was cancelled, I was skeptical. We all have friends who are faculty there.
The university president has a history of tension with the Georgia Baptists. He certainly tried walking a line as he caved. From The Christian Index, the Baptist newspaper of Georgia:
“The Mercer Triangle Symposium is an organization recognized by the Student Government Association, and though the University does not sponsor this organization, we do respect the right of students to assemble and discuss wide-ranging social and religious issues.”
“As president of the University, I am very much aware of the views and deeply-held feelings of all of our Baptist allies, and we have sought to balance a genuine sensitivity to the viewpoints of the many Baptists who support the University while preserving a community of respect for all students and faculty.”
In his closing statement Godsey asserted, “Holding steadfastly to the rich and noble heritage of our Baptist forbearers and the Christian values that have shaped and sustained Mercer for generations, we affirm our historic values, while including within them an unwavering devotion to the open search for truth, to religious and intellectual freedom, and to respect for the diversity of beliefs among the members of the University community.”
Godsey also mentioned that Georgia Equality, the state’s largest and most influential gay rights organization, planned an Oct. 20 meeting at Mercer. He cancelled the event because the group was an outside organization that did not meet the criterion for having a meeting on the Mercer Campus.
That wasn’t enough for Georgia’s Baptists. The executive committee of the Georgia Baptist Convention voted Monday to sever ties with Mercer University:
Griffin Bell, a Mercer trustee and a 1948 graduate of Mercer, said he suspects the committee members were upset over an October event at Mercer called the Mercer Triangle Symposium. The symposium sponsored a National Coming Out Day in October.
“I would surmise that that’s what it’s about,” Bell said. Executive committee members “were quite upset with the gays and lesbians on the campus, and I supposed that had something to do with the action of the executive committee. I understand they might be embarrassed about the lesbian-gay meeting, but in time that will pass. I really feel bad about it from both sides.”
He said some kind of event had to cause such a drastic measure.
“It couldn’t be some long-standing thing. Otherwise we would have been negotiating about it,” Bell said. “This was no negotiating at all. It was out of the blue. They obviously became very upset about something.”
Amid the controversy, the Mercer Triangle Symposium disbanded Monday.
Doug often characterizes his hometown Baptist church as a hotbed of moderation. I believe the silent majority of Georgia’s Baptists are more in line with Godsey who describes himself as “a religious moderate who follows traditional Baptist principles.”
Godsey won last time around. It’s hard to know who will win in this climate, but the University looks to me to be thriving. And I wonder how much of their money actually comes from the Baptists.
A democracy of groups
News is one of the most effective uses of an oddly named technology created in 1995 by a Portland, Ore., programmer named Ward Cunningham, which was based on the idea that information should be shared openly and remain accountable to everyone. Known as “wiki,” the software allows the creation of Web pages that can be edited indefinitely by anyone with access, regardless of who wrote the original work.
Although initially conceived as a form of communal publishing, the wiki is quickly evolving into a multipurpose interactive phenomenon. As evidenced in the aftermath of Katrina and the London bombings a month earlier, wikis can be a life-saving resource that provides real-time collaboration, instant grassroots news and crucial meeting places where none exist in the physical world.
Segregated and harassed
My reaction to a recent graffiti incident at school was jaded. It shouldn’t be; a survey of 103 Iowa gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender students from 48 schools found:
92%: Said they hear homophobic remarks frequently at their schools
83%: Said they’ve been verbally harassed because of their sexual orientation
61%: Do not feel safe at school because of their sexual orientation
59%: Said their books or other property has been stolen or deliberately damaged
34%: Reported physical harassment like being pushed or shoved because of their sexual orientation
18%: Reported being punched, kicked or injured with a weapon because of their sexual orientation
Via Gay Orbit.
Monday, November 14, 2005
A couple of Stewarts
Broadsheet (or at least one Broadsheet contributor) has a little thing for Martha Stewart’s new live talk show, in which the recently incarcerated domestic goddess and awkward TV personality seems to really be making an effort to let loose. The result—in the couple of episodes that we’ve watched—has been a series of mind-blowing moments… Martha was tasting wines with her friend and crafting “mentee,” “Sopranos” actress Lorraine Bracco. When, during a break, a producer brought out a crock in which the women could spit out the wine, Martha commented on-air, “But I don’t want to spit. I want to swallow. It’s been that kind of weekend.”
And today must have been that kind of day.
Sony’s sneaky slimy consumer sellout protested
USA Today yesterday:
New York University sophomores Inga Chernyak and Diana Rosenthal took part in a demonstration near campus the other day.
It had nothing to do with the Iraq war, a political election or any of the other hot-button issues students normally want to protest. Instead, the pair and about 20 other NYU students were out to rally consumers against what Chernyak calls a dark force that has invaded her tech life: digital rights management.
Ah, my alma mater. Via Alan Wexelblat:
As Jefferson Graham’s story makes clear, consumers aren’t happy. Artists aren’t happy. Electronics companies aren’t happy. But don’t expect the Cartel to back down. They’ll just batten down the hatches, stonewall, and wait for this to blow over. They’re holding on to the fantasy that DRM will save their sinking business models and along the way they’ll twist the courts, Congress, and device manufacturers to their wills. The rest of us should, presumably, shut up and suffer in silence.
They take the media that today lets you do everything copyright permits—timeshifting and quotation, format-shifting and backup—and they take away all those things. Then they painfully dribble each of those rights back as a “feature” that you pay extra for.
Drip, drip, drip—each drop of functionality painfully and expensively squeezed into your living room, every time you want to do something you used to do for free.
That’s not a business-model. That’s a urinary tract infection.
It’s alleged to be the fastest growing new broadcast format in radio today (I think that honor might actually go to latin radio, but it’s certainly one of the most popular), based on the idea of pulling the songs played from a much longer playlist and having no DJs. Thought this might be interesting as an attempt by the notoriously conservative radio industry trying to adopt long tail-influenced techniques.
The radio metrics groups classify the stations as Variety Hits, and they draw from 1000+ songs for the playlist, vs. the flagship Clear Channel stations (like New York’s Z100), which I believe recently had a rotation playlist as short as 80 songs, their site lists fewer than 30!
Chris sees “a nod in the Long Tail direction” but remains skeptical:
The main problem with radio is not the relatively small size of the playlists (although that doesn’t help); it’s that music is polarizing--people may like one song but hate the next, so they’re prone to switch stations or switch off entirely. As MTV found out a decade ago, there simply is no single playlist that can keep enough people listening long enough to please the advertisers. MTV switched to reality shows because they’re sticky. Radio is switching to talk for the same reason.
Compared to personalized playlists (iPods), a choice of hundreds of narrow-targeted playlists (satellite) and just talking to friends on the phone, even the stations with the most diverse playlists are chronically limited. It is the curse of broadcast: with just a few dozen stations in each city, most must aggregate audiences in the tens of thousands. In an era of infinite choice and narrowcasting, such mass-market broadcast distribution--the ultimate one-size-fits-all model--just can’t compete.
I grew up in an era where radio largely determined music culture and was by far the strongest marketing vehicle for new artists, but I suspect that my kids won’t think of radio as a music medium at all. Given the numbing effect of Casey Kasem and America’s Top 40 on my adolescence and early music taste, this may be no bad thing.
I’m torn. The old me, from when I was in local cable television, emphasized live believing that was an element that attracted viewers. With the student the other day I said I’d emphasize local, “the one thing we all have in common is that we all live here.”
I’ve left live behind except for news and sports, though the Live West Wing debate seems to have worked so I’ll add specials and events. I’m inclined to want to hang on to local. As everything else goes global, it’s got to be a niche, no?
Of course, both live and local leave music behind.
As if on cue
When Andrew Sullivan went on hiatus he said he hoped to be back in “say, nine months” with “a new direction or approach to refresh the material.”
Today, nine months and two weeks later, he announces his move to Time.com and characterizes it as a lease not a sale:
Time.com, with all sorts of internet links, technical support and a huge potential audience, will, I hope, make this blog more accessible to more people, bring more advertizing and marketing to the site, and take the blog to a new level of exposure. We have plans to add new features to make the site more interactive and more easily read and searched. As for my new home, I’ve been a contributor to Time for a while and think the world of their editors. As for the deal, I can simply assure you that I have retained exactly the same editorial control as I have had since the beginning. This is a blog. I won’t be running posts before any editors before they appear. I will continue to write simply what I believe or think, however misguided I may be.
While I wish Andrew well, I won’t hold my breath waiting for my move.