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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  1. icon
    Greevar (profile), 8 Jul 2012 @ 1:03am

    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.

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