Monday, January 23, 2012

SOPA, Super PACs, and Tech: Envisioning Media and Politics 2.0

So it's been a busy week in the world of technology and politics. As a big chunk of the tech industry got behind the day of SOPA/PIPA protest on the Internet, constituent forces were energized and some members of Congress actually shifted their public position. Across the Internet, there was a sense of victory. The tides had turned. Momentum on our side. But this was not the war. This was not even The Battles of Lexington and Concord.

Barely a day after the SOPA protests, the Justice Department and law enforcement officials in eight other countries shut down file sharing site MegaUpload, arrested a handful of MU employees, and seized "over $50 Million in assets." It was as if the pro-SOPA/PIPA message machine demanded a head, something that would enable the media to say, "See how much these guys make? See how bad this problem is?" Of course, the irony of the entire MU thing is that any legal action that results from the whole thing is taking place in an pre-SOPA/PIPA environment.

But let's look down the road. Here are a couple of links -- dots to help paint the picture taking shape in my thoughts:

Here's a link to a post, RFS 9: Kill Hollywood by Paul Graham at Y Combinator. Here's a snippet:
Hollywood appears to have peaked. If it were an ordinary industry (film cameras, say, or typewriters), it could look forward to a couple decades of peaceful decline. But this is not an ordinary industry. The people who run it are so mean and so politically connected that they could do a lot of damage to civil liberties and the world economy on the way down. It would therefore be a good thing if competitors hastened their demise.
Sarah Lacy at PandoDaily has some thoughtful insight into entrepreneurs taking down the Hollywood industry.

Also noteworthy is Michael Arrington's thoughts on the SOPA/PIPA fight. While I don't completely agree with him that the problem is "big government", I do think that he is spot on regarding the influence of lobbying money being the real underlying factor shaping this battle.

And finally, just to add a note of flavor, here is a post from Nicolle Belle at Crooks and Liars. This is just a nice reminder about how the media and the industry of politics all profit from this. This isn't just politicians, lobbying and Super PACs, it's ad revenue and it's content generation -- it's multi-threaded reality TV that dwarfs the Kardashian enterprise. 

Questions that I Keep Asking
Why is it that money and incumbent interests tend to drive the political winds with little regard to constituent interests or long-term value?

Why is it that, instead of faster Internet and universal broadband, we get laws proposing The Great Firewall of America?

Why is it that I have only found a handful of television programs in the past two or three years that I consider worth watching? Why is it that, with over 700 options being piped through the cable box, most of the programs that I watch aren't available there?

I sometimes wonder how come, with 12-15 channels devoted to "24 hour news" and another 30 channels that feature news programs, I find so little useful news or analysis on television.

Why is it that, somewhere in Hollywood, somebody seems to think that if they just delay giving Netflix and Redbox new release content, you and I will suddenly run out and buy that content on Blueray?

Do we really want -- or trust -- anyone sitting at the switch, deciding what content can come down our pipe, controlling what we can say, see, read or hear?

No comments: