aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Friday, June 16, 2006
The value of the destroyer of weeds, thistles, and thorns
Some Apple fans were upset by last week’s anti iTunes demonstrations. I didn’t expect mainstream media coverage, and completely missed this Business Week story. I came upon it while reading EFF Staff Technologist Seth Schoen’s thorough, thoughtful and complete response to those who plead Apple’s innocence. I quote only the last in his list:
The Microsoft alternative is worse: The Free Software Foundation—which organized the Defective By Design campaign—is certainly not promoting Microsoft or any of Microsoft’s products as an alternative to Apple’s. And they’re certainly not being paid by Microsoft to criticize DRM! Although this campaign is focused on the problem of DRM in general, anyone who assumes that criticism of Microsoft means “use Apple” or criticism of Apple means “use Microsoft” has gone astray. Indeed, the assumption that Microsoft’s DRM is the same kind of problem as Apple’s is what led Defective By Design to launch its first protest at Microsoft’s WinHEC conference.
In a sense, the fame of the “Mac/PC” platform rivalry—just like the “Democrat/Republican” rivalry—is an obstacle to learning about new issues. If anyone criticizes Apple for labor issues (as a recent article did) or Microsoft for using digital rights management, the prominence of “Mac vs. PC” makes the general public assume that the critic wants everyone to switch to “the other platform”. This also makes it easier to dismiss a critic of anything as an opportunistic proponent of “the other side” (even in cases where the critic supports a third alternative or no particular alternative at all). Thus any critic of a Democrat can be dismissed by Democrats as a “Republican” and any critic of a Republican can be dismissed by Republicans as a “Democrat”. This particular protest campaign was organized by advocates of free software (if you like, of “Linux"), but Robert Green Ingersoll properly said that “[t]he destroyer of weeds, thistles, and thorns is a benefactor whether he soweth grain or not.” In my office at EFF we have a lot of Mac users who are quite attached to what Apple has accomplished, but who think that Steve Jobs is doing wrong by users with FairPlay.
Perhaps our culture would do well to give more respect to would-be “destroyer[s] of weeds, thistles, and thorns” without presuming that they are selling something, or even that they have an alternative in mind at all. Certainly all kinds of advocates want to be able to point out problems with existing business practices, even if they don’t know an alternative that they would rather you buy.
On the FCC’s “regulatory regime of censorship”
The President signed legislation increasing tenfold the “indecency” fines the FCC can impose on broadcasters. Unfortunately, it’s definitely Mission Not Accomplished in terms of giving parents real solutions to the problem of objectionable content on the airwaves. In fact, this is Mission Accomplished only for the few Americans who polls show want the government to control what everyone else gets to watch on television. Everyone else loses.
We’ll likely never again see on broadcast TV a repeat of a nearly three decade old show that featured several minutes of bare breasts, rape, bondage, whips, violence, the N Word. Yet Roots was beloved by America’s families and was even required watching in some schools. Is keeping Roots—or a similar quality, challenging, controversial program—off broadcast TV a “victory” for America’s children and families, as some lawmakers describe this increased censorship? Hardly. Yet that’s what will be the result.
What’s remarkable about this whole “indecency” debate is that our nation’s broadcasters, cable operators, regulators, and politicians all agree that parents should make the decisions as to what is appropriate for their children to watch. Yet they have combined to deny parents what they need to make those decisions: the freedom to choose the programming they want, and the power to avoid the programming they don’t want.
The result is a regulatory regime of censorship, which is bad enough, but catastrophic and unconstitutional when done so politically, arbitrarily, and unrestrainedly as is the practice with today’s FCC.
Instead of censoring, how ‘bout letting parents pick and choose what channels they want to subscribe to on their cable and satellite systems, so the ones they don’t want never make it into their homes? Channel Choice (aka Cable a la Carte), when combined with TiVo, the V Chip, onscreen Program Ratings, other tools, and good ol’ fashioned parental vigilance would constitute a more individualized and comprehensive family-by-family approach to the problem of objectionable content than today’s chilling and blunt one-size-fits-all censorship.
A side effect of media concentration:
As we found in our recent research study, when Clear Channel took advantage of "deregulation" to expand from 40 radio stations to over 1200, it replaced local programming on its new stations with Howard Stern and Bubba the Love Sponge. Beware the Law of Unintended Consequences - media consolidation and concentration unleashed Howard and Bubba in many smaller, more conservative communities. Voila - a surge in complaints against stations that had never before been accused of indecency.
Six would be easier to remember
In other fake news, the day after Democrats were skewered on The Daily Show, Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland went on The Colbert Report and was asked to name the Ten Commandments. Now everybody’s talking about it. Crooks and Liars has the video:
Colbert: You have not introduced a single piece of legislation since you entered Congress.
Westmoreland: That’s correct.
Colbert: This has been called a do nothing Congress. Is it safe to say you’re the do nothingest?
Westmoreland: I, I, ..Well there’s one other do nothiner. I don’t know who that is, but they’re a Democrat.
Colbert: What can we get rid of to balance the budget?
Westmoreland: The Dept. of Education.
Colbert: What are the Ten Commandments?
Westmoreland: You mean all of them?--Um… Don’t murder. Don’t lie. Don’t steal Um… I can’t name them all.
Steve Benen of The Carpetbagger Report observes:
Westmoreland co-sponsored a measure that would require Congress to post the Ten Commandments in both chambers… For what it's worth, I used to debate this issue quite a bit when I worked for a certain organization, and I found the question — "can you name the Ten Commandments?" — to be very valuable. Every time I'd do a radio show with someone who wanted the government to endorse and promote the Decalogue, I'd just ask them to name each of the Commandments. They never could. I always wondered why they just didn't bring a copy with them, but it apparently never occurred to them. (They'd sometimes turn the question around and ask me if I could. I kept a copy on my desk.)
OH Dem: “Let the drunks have their time on the road”
In Fake News News: The Daily Show Tim Russert interview was a bore. But the Jason Jones Donkey Showdown piece is a must see. In it he visits “prototypical” Erie County Ohio Democratic precinct captain candidate Jean Miller:
JONES: Tell me about your fundraising.
MILLER: Uh, I didn’t do any fundraising.
JONES: What did you do to campaign.
MILLER: I didn’t.
JONES: Why am I voting for you then?
MILLER: Well I don’t know, you’ll have two to pick from.
JONES: You’re certainly a Democrat alright.
Then there’s this:
MILLER: Nine out of 10 people are drunk driving from four o’clock Friday afternoon to like 5 PM Sunday. So I said, decriminalize it. I think we should make that period of time legal for anyone to drive drunk. The fact is, it’s legal to drink alcohol, we not legalize it… You’ve got all them other days for them to get to soccer. Let us have two days, you can have the other five.
From there, Jones visits a bar to conduct focus groups. And the Indecision 2006 fun has just begun.
A sidebar in the NetBob story:
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Launched in Minnesota in 1936 with the advertising slogan ‘Tastes fine, saves time’
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ More than five billion cans have been made worldwide
Ã¢â‚¬Â¢ Hormel halted UK production of Spam, moving the operation to Denmark, in 1997
Click here to join the SPAM FAN CLUB.
JWT buys up Huff Post adspace
JWT, the oldest advertising agency in the United States, has purchased all the ad space on The Huffington Post home page for one week, starting tomorrow. The Web site will showcase nine of JWT’s best television commercials with links, so that visitors can send the spots via e-mail or instant message.
JWT is hoping that the year-old Huffington Post can deliver that elusive phenomenon: a viral marketing sensation, in which consumers spread marketing messages to each other over the Internet.
The agency also wants to show that it is hip and modern enough to compete in the nontraditional category that has obsessed the advertising industry.
At The Huffington Post, the agency has found an experienced partner in Jonah Peretti, a founding partner of the Web site, who is overseeing the technical aspects of the JWT project.
Mr. Peretti’s name has been tied to viral media since 2001, when he traded e-mail barbs with Nike after the shoemaker refused to let Mr. Peretti order a pair of customized Nike iD sneakers emblazoned with the word “sweatshop.” Much to Nike’s chagrin, the e-mail exchange quickly spread over the Internet, and is considered an early example of how viral media can work.
Now Mr. Peretti and The Huffington Post are hoping to make a handful of previously run commercials from JWT alluring enough that visitors will not only click and watch the spots, but will also e-mail them to others.
NetBob’s Spam victory
NetBop Technologies developed a filter it called “bopspam” aimed at combating unwanted e-mails, known as spam.
But US-based Hormel Foods, which makes the meat product of the same name, initially objected to its registration.
Experts believe the Swansea company is the first in Europe to secure such a written trademark using the word spam.
NetBop’s managing director, Andrew Downie, 24, said his company first applied to register the name in October 2004.
Hormel’s trademark lawyers opposed the application, but at a preliminary hearing the Patent Office indicated it would rule in NetBop’s favour.
Hormel dropped its opposition and NetBop has finally received its trademark certificate.
Via Fixing Email.