aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Thursday, June 29, 2006
Hillary has to prove she’s a woman
Hillary doesn’t have to prove her guy chops. She doesn’t have to prove she’s a man, she has to prove she’s a woman. No one in America thinks she’s a woman. They think she’s a tough little termagant in a pantsuit. They think she’s something between an android and a female impersonator. She is not perceived as a big warm mommy trying to resist her constant impulse to sneak you candy. They think she has to resist her constant impulse to hit you with a bat. She lacks a deep (as opposed to quick) warmth, a genuine and almost phenomenological sense of rightness in her own skin. She seems like someone who might calculatedly go to war, or not, based on how she wanted to be perceived and look and do. She does not seem like someone who would anguish and weep over sending men into harm’s way.
Et Tu Bono
I just signed the Bono petition. You should too:
You have dedicated a major part of your life’s work to fighting for good causes, bringing pressure to bear on the powerful and political elite to effect positive change. In the same way that you have called for action from world leaders, we now call upon you to look at the facts surrounding Digital Restrictions Management (DRM), and join us in demanding an end to handcuffs on technology and culture.
The recording industry claims that if they don’t impose these handcuffs, online music distribution will be disastrous for artists. We have heard these arguments before. In the early 1900s, music publishers cried out that the fledgling recording industry was usurping the profits of musical composers. We heard it again in the 1980s, when industry executives vehemently assured us that the VCR would destroy the movies, and audio cassettes would kill music.
In all these cases, people copied, swapped and shared, just as they do today. In each instance there was an explosion in the amount of art enjoyed. More, not less art was created. More, not less, money was collected by business - though the music companies did not always care about supporting the musicians. The fact is, the more art we are exposed to as a society, the more art we appreciate. The act of copying and sharing creates more art lovers who can support more artists. Copying and sharing have been vital protagonists in the flourishing story of music.
The art of music changes with technology. With the digital tools now available to them, young people are remixing and “mashing up” music and visual art to make new original works. Copying and manipulation of the media are necessary to do this, but DRM restrictions prevent it.
Your record label’s parent company Vivendi-Universal plays a leading role in imposing these restrictions on digital technology. Meanwhile, trade groups like the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lobby continuously for ever more draconian restrictions and pursue intimidating lawsuits against fans they accuse of circumventing them.
As technologists we have come together in an effort to help raise public awareness of the threats posed by DRM. Because of your past accomplishments as a musician and activist, you command the respect needed to bring this debate to the public. Musicians in Canada have already formed a coalition to stand up against the actions of their record labels (musiccreators.ca), but we need artists everywhere to be conscious of what is being done in their name. We the undersigned urge you to speak out in favor of technology and culture free from digital restrictions.
Answering Jean: We the People want to make our media
In response to my post remembering 1994, Jean asks:
I’m curious - your history should give you really interesting context here: do you really believe the maajority of people really want to “publish”, and - even if you do - don’t you think that the fact that most people don’t have anything of interest “for others to consume”, the concept of community publishing falls apart under it’s own weight of junk and disinteresting content? Aren’t we forgetting the art and value in trained/well done journalism?
Where to begin?
Yes, I really believe that the majority of people - at some time under some circumstances - want to publish. Back in 1994 that may have been a hard sell; today it seems self-evident. Whether it’s Blogger or Wordpress or MySpace or Facebook or Flickr or PhotoBucket or YouTube or Google Video or Craigslist or eBay or Wikipedia or whatever comes next, people have demonstrated that they want to publish.
But the really nettlesome point of what you had to say is found in this belief “that most people don’t have anything of interest ‘for others to consume.’” Setting aside for a moment the examples above, let’s look at what the content industry has given us. I invite anyone to look at the schedule of any media channel - broadcast, cable, satellite, radio; you name it, any channel - I think you will find that the majority of what is on that schedule is of no interest to you. Add it all up and you will find that the majority of what the content industry gives us we, individually, have no interest in.
I’m guessing that what we the people produce and put out there probably stacks up about the same. But the content industry has an interest in selling us new improved versions of the same repackaged movies and rerun series or tired sequels and all the while marginalizing the media that we the people make. This is nothing new. I just happen to have some examples from 1991: here an MTV segment and here one from Entertainment Tonight, both trashing our media. And both followed by my commentary which, if you happen to be a regular reader, you will have heard it all before.
As producers of uninteresting junk, I assure you that we the people can hardly hold a stick to you the cable industry (here a random example that happened to be forwarded to me by an in-law). And please spare me the “we’re only giving the people what they want” argument. I’ve argued before that the lowest common denominator fallacy is demeaning and destructive. It’s circular reasoning faults the public for choosing among the only options presented, and blames us for the poor quality of the options!
Now, about the “art and value in trained/well done journalism.” I am not forgetting about it, I am an avid consumer of it. I appreciate, admire, read and enjoy professional journalists. I do not aspire to and make no claim to being a journalist. Blogging for me is a process: to document, develop, deliberate and deepen my thinking. And also to engage - though not solely to engage. I am happy to be a citizen who happens to participate in civic life and the world of issues and ideas, both with far away friends and with strangers like you, Jean. It all adds up to a creative outlet that I enjoy (even more than watching TV).
In sum, I’m seeing two trends out there that I hope and expect to be born out. In one, people are buying large screen high-definition home theater systems on which they want to display high-end high-quality professional media. In the other, screens are getting smaller and more widely distributed and ubiquitous but with lower resolution. I will gladly cede you the professional that large-screen high-resolution space if you will only please not disparage me and my ilk for enjoying ours.
Steven Berlin Johnson’s having no fun with his universal remote:
...Because of all that irritation, I ordered a Logitech Harmony universal remote (the 680) I think—mostly because I saw that Chris Anderson was using it. It sounded cool—you plug it into your computer for the setup process, and the software walks you through all your media consumption habits and equipment, and configures the remote for you. So I get it from Amazon yesterday, and start going through the installation process. Early into it, the software tells me I need a firmware upgrade for the remote, which I download and install. And then, halfway through the installation, the remote appears to crash, and it’s now completely unresponsive.
Let me just repeat this for the six of you who are still reading: I buy a new remote control to simplify my media experiences, and it crashes during a firmware upgrade! And then stops working altogether! I suppose that’s one way of simplifying your media experience—use a remote that literally does nothing. At this point, I think it’s preferable to the alternative.
It’s not that I don’t agree with him that there’s an opportunity for Apple in the Home AV space, rather it’s that I fault Apple for going too far in the other direction with manuals and support.
Just the other day a commenter on a year old post complained about Apple’s poor service. And my own experiences with iPods once lead me to complain that iDon’t (though I actually do continue to use mine daily).
Much as I enjoy the Microsoft produced parody, If Microsoft Had Marketed The iPod, what it illustrates for me is that we need a middle way. I’d like to see a new company emerge as the next Apple to fill that other space.