Claire Ryan's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the keep-calm-and-carreon dept

Hello there, dear Techdirt readers! Gather ’round, and let me tell you of my favorite posts on this fine day.

There’s nothing like starting the week off with a marketing disaster of truly epic proportions. Charles Carreon once again steps up and delivers, in a way that only the namesake of the Carreon Effect can, by filing more pointless paperwork to get back at Matthew Inman and The Oatmeal’s BearLove Good Cancer Bad charity campaign, then dismissing it and declaring victory. At this stage, you really have to wonder what exactly is going on in dear Charles’ head. Is there a customer base out there for his services who don’t know of his status as the laughing stock of the entire Internet (or, a more depressing possibility, who actually know but take it as a point in his favor).

He seems to think so, according to Ars Technica. When a man persists in digging himself into a hole at this speed, all one can really do is sit back with some popcorn and watch the dirt fly.

Sometimes it’s quite interesting to see how online marketing works in unexpected ways. Ginger Wildheart’s recent album success is a case in point, where loyal fans, crowd-funding, and word-of-mouth have catapulted his music onto the charts ahead of other, much bigger, label artists. It’s certainly a testament to the new paradigm of advertising and marketing, where being real and accessible to fans is far more powerful than a billboard every hundred feet, and it simply wouldn’t be possible without the Internet making communication effortless.

The naysayers will jump on the story and declare that crowd-funding can’t make everyone a success. To me, that’s always sounded a bit like complaining about how people climb a mountain. Some strap on the snowshoes and walk, some wait in line for a ski lift to become available, and some lucky ones catch a passing helicopter and get there in minutes. How they do it, though, isn’t as important as just reaching the top at all, and at least they have options now.

Speaking of music, Tim Cushing makes a great point in this article about its history — that it’s been largely about participation, not about being paid.

Many argue that today’s world will be the death of any form of artistic expression that can be converted to ones and zeroes, but what they’re really saying is that the very brief moment when art and commerce merged successfully is over.

It’s interesting to see how things have essentially come full circle. Before modern technology stepped in, playing and singing was just something people did as a natural byproduct of being human, like dancing or complaining about the weather. Then it could be recorded and sold, and the technology to make this happen needed experts, and the infrastructure to distribute it needed money, and the modern recording industry rose up to handle all of it. But music never stopped being something that people just did, and now that technology has progressed to the point where no experts are needed and the infrastructure is free, we’re left the curious case of the musical tradition of thousands of years being in direct competition with an industry that’s about one hundred years old.

My money is on the thousand year old tradition, by the way, in that particular fight.

I’m usually astonished and amused in equal measure by the actions of the various entertainment companies reported on Techdirt, but for once I got my giggles from someone other than them in an article about Netflix. Industry analyst Todd Juenger delivered a report that the big media giants should divert kids from Netflix to more long-term profitable avenues such as… traditional TV. Yeah, go ahead and try selling the idea of serial, static programming to a generation who have grown up with Youtube videos and BitTorrent. Let me know how that works out for you.

Go look at the original article, though. The analyst firm based all this on focus groups they conducted with more than a DOZEN parents. Wow, you guys! That’s like… more than TWELVE! Can you imagine the kind of calculations they had to do to extrapolate the opinions of over TWELVE parents to an entire demographic of millions? Personally, I am in awe of their analytical prowess.

Finally, the news that Matthew Inman may have lost his ability to form complete sentences with proper grammar and spelling is truly shocking. Let this be a warning to anyone who launches major charity campaigns after being sent frivolous legal threats.

This has been your weekly dose of the best of Techdirt, according to my rather vague definition of ‘best’. I shall now retire to the comments, and enjoy this brief moment of having the blue author box around my inane ramblings – I mean, my clever and insightful witticisms.

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Comments on “Claire Ryan's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week”

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Anonymous Coward says:

‘the musical tradition of thousands of years being in direct competition with an industry that’s about one hundred years old. My money is on the thousand year old tradition, by the way, in that particular fight.’

and you will lose, like the rest of us, because it’s governments that are in dire need of convincing and no one can convince a government what is right and what is wrong better than a big wad of money!!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

@ #2

has it stopped anything, really? obviously not because all that is now happening, certainly in EU is that the bits needed from the failed ACTA are trying to be pushed for inclusion in IPRED. if that fails, there will be something else, then something else. surely, it will not stop until either the peoples representatives realise that the people will not keep putting up with not being represented in favour of businesses or the businesses themselves realise that adapting and giving what the customer wants, sensibly, is the best course of action. how long can it carry on being ‘introduce, fight, defeat/fail, introduce’.

Claire Ryan says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Well, think about it this way – the whole ‘introduce, fight, defeat/fail, introduce’ tactic is really just training people to think about this and look at any new legislation more carefully. Do you think ACTA would have been defeated as easily if the SOPA protests hadn’t been so loud?

If anything the ACTA defeat showed that people were ready, and had become more watchful. The rise of the Pirate parties in Europe are a good sign of that. It’s demonstrated that this is something people care enough about to vote that way, and politicians are fools if they don’t pay attention to that.

So… yeah. I am still hopeful. I don’t think I’ll be losing my money any time soon. I don’t think there’s enough money in the world to quash the natural inclination of seven billion people to create and share in the same way they’ve done for generations.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Muchas gracias

Thanks for the shoutout in your very nicely done Favorites post, Claire. It was a rather lengthy post and I had even more I could have added, considering the daunting amount of creativity I see springing up everywhere.

About half the people I’ve Friended on the FeeB are non-stop geysers of creative effort. Not content with simply running various netlabels (Aural Sects, Revolving Door Records, Curious Absurdities, to name but a few), these artists also crank out track after track of their own material, cross-pollinating each others’ efforts. Stuff that doesn’t end up on an album or compilation is posted at Soundcloud or on their own personal Bandcamp pages.

Dozens of new tracks are posted every day. It’s amazing and ridiculous and overwhelming. All of this creativity and all without any guaranteed payday in the future. When Chris Dodd says something as asinine as (paraphrased) “Piracy has taken away the incentive to create,” I just lawl heartily and watch my FB feed fill up with freshly-minted music.

Hell, even I got into the spirit and cranked out A Music(k), using free, but powerful tools (Paul’s Extreme Stretch and Audacity). It’s not much and it could have been better, but it feels good just to participate. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of creating something and more and more people are realizing that, thanks to barriers being flattened by the onward march of technology.

Androgynous Cowherd says:

To me, that’s always sounded a bit like complaining about how people climb a mountain. Some strap on the snowshoes and walk, some wait in line for a ski lift to become available, and some lucky ones catch a passing helicopter and get there in minutes. How they do it, though, isn’t as important as just reaching the top at all, and at least they have options now.

Making matters worse, it’s the ones that bought helicopter rides to the top complaining that people are now sometimes actually climbing to the top. And the helicopter pilots’ union lobbying to get mountain-climbing outlawed because it’s “unfair competition” with their business of providing helicopter rides to the top. And when that failed, some of the pilots dynamiting one of the most popular spots to hammer in a piton along the relatively easy climb on the south face.

Greevar (profile) says:

I keep seeing a pattern.

This pattern appears in every article that talks about the injustices that corporations (and their lobbying organizations) and the government officials they bribe thrust upon the people they are supposed to serve (corps and government). The pattern I see is that every problem in policy, economy, and ecology all have one common thread that is at the core of it. That common thread is money and the endless pursuit for more money. Money is power, if Citizens United has made anything more clear about our society. Power corrupts and those that have power, always seek to gain more power. Those that have power also fear to lose it. This forces such people to act in very irrational, and often detrimental, ways.

Any behavioral economist would probably agree that money introduces incentives that compel people to behave in a manner that suits themselves, even if that behavior is harmful to themselves (immediate or long term) or others. Take shareholders for instance. They rarely care for the long term solvency of a company nor it’s utility to society. The shareholders care only about the quarterly statement. This compels CEO’s to behave in a manner that suits themselves insofar that it makes the investors happy and keeps the CEO living in the level of luxury they are accustomed to. So they lead their company to create products that aren’t necessarily the most useful or beneficial to the market, but generate the most profit. They tend to design products with only one focus in mind: profit. Whether it’s good, bad, or horrific, is immaterial. What matters is if the product generates lots of profit.

So, I think the core issue we should be looking at is the incentives that a monetary economy injects into society. The primary and only incentive in place in a capitalist economy (for example) is to gain profit and grow. Everything else is just a means to that end, good or bad. The common assumption about capitalism is that it encourages superior products through competition, which encourages innovation. However, if you go back to the previous statement, the goal isn’t to create superior products, it’s to gain profit. If that goal is met by introducing inferior products, then the imperative of capitalism has been met. The goal to gain the most profit possible can actually encourage capitalists to stifle competition (patent lawsuits) so that their inferior product can proliferate in the market without any competitors (through monopolies) forcing them to improve them.

Therefore, I believe that the problem is misaligned incentives. If the supposed goal is to produce better and more beneficially innovative (hence possessing higher utility) products then, that needs to be what is rewarded. Things that are truly beneficial to us intellectually, logistically, technically, and ecologically should be lauded. Since money really only encourages the pursuit of more money by any means necessary, a new reward must replace it. I think that reward will be, and should be, abundance; abundance in knowledge, food, technology, existentialism, and culture should be the reward for our hard work. If we all work together (or at least as many as it takes to accomplish the goal) to create abundances for everyone, we all win.

Now, let me clarify what I mean by “abundance”. I don’t mean that we all can sustain perpetual growth and materialism. I mean that there is enough of everything that is useful to a society that all members of that society can have access to it without rationing. For example, air is abundant, but it is finite. It means that nobody has to go without food, medicine, education, shelter, opportunities to improve one’s self as a human being, and so on. It means an end to materialism because it has no place in a society that seeks to improve themselves for their existential enrichment rather than to attain higher social status because you have the most sought after “luxury” item. Luxury items only exist today because we have an economy of scarcity and exclusivity. Without those, “luxury” status of items are impossible.

TDR says:

Re: I keep seeing a pattern.

Agreed, Greevar. I think if companies were legally obligated to provide quality product and service in a way best for society as a whole, rather than being obligated to shareholders for profits, things might be different. As well as shareholders being legally obligated to look in the long-term and directly suffer any consequences of their companies’ bad practices.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: I keep seeing a pattern.

I’m not sure how you reconcile that statement. There are a plenitude of goods that are just barely “good enough” that they will sell because that’s all the businesses care about. If it sells and makes strong enough profits, then it’s “good enough”. There’s no incentive to make it better and more useful than before. In fact, they only reason most companies innovate new products (e.g. smartphones) is because they want you to throw away the old one and buy their new product. There’s nothing to drive them to try harder than they absolutely have to. They just do well enough that it sells and profit margins keep climbing. If they can get away with selling the public a piece of junk and profit from it, they’ll do it. As long as people are willing to buy garbage, they’ll keep making it that way. What’s truly good for society is not very profitable, if at all.

Monetary rewards do not guarantee better goods. People making better goods because they need to be made, now that’s something else. In a system devoid of monetary economics and having an abundance of nearly everything (through resource efficient design and automation of production), people will come together and make something innovative because they feel it’s necessary. What’s the reward for that effort? They get to use that innovative good to make everyone’s lives better and other people build on that innovation. It’s a positive feedback loop. Things get better because they keep getting better. You put more time into making useful goods (e.g. technology) more useful, which encourages people to make it even more useful. It snowballs, so to speak.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I keep seeing a pattern.

The only reason they can get away with short term profits versus long term benefits is because of regulatory capture and government granted monopolies. If there were better choices in the market consumers would not reward bad companies or brands with their purchases.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: I keep seeing a pattern.

It doesn’t matter that they get away with it. What’s important is that they have a reason to try. The incentives in place encourage them to make certain there aren’t choices in the market and they will see to it by any means necessary. Why? Because money and power are the only incentive they care about. As long as that is a factor, it will overrule any other priority. It’s even worse when you realize that even honest people have to play the same ruthless game just to keep up or be swallowed up by the big guys. The system itself encourages this irrational and harmful behavior.

Anonymous Coward says:

I just read this, apparently Apple is being sued in China for stealing Chinese intellectual property, oh the irony.

2 billion Chinese against 300 million Americans, it will be a slaughter on the patent front.

200 hundred countries, 7 billion people, patenting everything under the sun.

It will be fun to watch American companies having to pay through their noses to be in any market outside the US.

What are those people thinking?
That monopolies are all good and well?
There is a reason people revolted violently against such things in the past and that is because it doesn’t fraking work.

Lurker Keith says:

Side show while we wait for Carreon's next move?

Popehat has a story of a Carreon-esk move by an cartoonist going after Something Awful for daring to post & critique her single-panel comics (the thread was spificially discussing “bad cartoons”), something that has been spelt out as Fair Use. They can’t agree if she’s gone “full Carreon”, as there’s no lawsuit as yet, but they beleive she’s at least at a 4.

It’s come up that she’s sent such notices out in the past, but this appears to be the first time the Streisand Effect kicked in. She’s also posted comics to critique herself, making her a hypocrite.

Anyway, she got into a number of arguemnts on Twitter, ultimately memory-holed much of her web presense (according to the Popehat commenters tracking the breakdown in real time), & seems to have set her Twitter to private (Popehatters have gotten some screen captures, however). & here’s where it ties into Carreon: one of the commenters baited her & sent her to the parody Carreon site. lol (note, she commented that she had seen the name, & asked if he was a real lawyer… so, she has no excuse for not expecting this) It appears she bought it for a bit. There’s a question of if she will actually call the real Carreon (the commenter feigned ignorance & said the other site was a typo, & gave the real link).

Further down, Popehat commenters started talking about the possiblity she may go after 4chan… & that it looked like she may have mixed up 4chan w/ Channel 4 (I think she may be a Brit). lol If true, that would be disasterous.

Her situation parallels what we saw w/ The Oatmeal, just w/o a lawsuit, so far. Popehat has not missed this little fact.

Oh, & when talk of 4Chan came up, they also started talking about the possibility of her going after imgur, & how that was likely to tick-off Reddit.

One comment I want to post from the thread about Carreon, this woman, & them possibly going after 4Chan:

by Dave on Popehat

Wow, if she really gets Charles Carreon to sue SA and 4Chan I think the internet will finally gain critical mass, and become self aware. Then in the immortal words of Private Hudson “Game over, man, game over.”

Nearly forgot. She’s been complaining about deformation, since much of the critism has been about the apparent racist aspect of much of her work, & when Ken Tweeted asking for evidence of deformation, she blocked him immediately. Later, she called him, & didn’t appear to like what he had to say… It seems she doesn’t realize Popehat is ran by an actual attorney.

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