I haven’t heard it said in the tech blogosphere that the Hollywood writer’s strike cuts right to heart of the philosophy of the entertainment industry and what goes on on the Internet. But it does. It’s a classic faceoff, and in this case, the execs, the nemesis of the Internet, seem to be taking the side of the Internet. They can’t promise the writers a share of the money they make on the Internet because they don’t see how they’re going to make money on the Internet. How can you share something that doesn’t exist??
When we talk with people from the entertainment industry they explain how they can’t just release stuff on the Internet, because they have agreements with the rights holders that assume the realities of the old more restrictive distribution system. Those are the writers.
Now you can see how real the concerns are, when there are real people who express them, and how the execs are in the middle.
I’m a net native (even though I’ve heard young people question whether anyone my age can be) and while I appreciate the human concerns, there is no meaningful way to be sympathetic. I’m not going on strike, even though I am a writer. I don’t ask to be paid for my writing. I haven’t been paid for writing software in a very long time, but I keep doing it. Yet I look in my bank account, and somehow the balance keeps going up. In the end, that’s all that matters.
I don’t hold on to a principle that I must be paid for what I do. I look at money as separate from my living. I live through my work. Some of it pays, and it’s unfortunately unpredictable what that is. Welcome to the net, welcome to the 21st century.
I heard a report on Nightline how the writers of The Simpsons are producing YouTube videos, and they’re funny. Of course they are — the people who write that show couldn’t possibly write something that wasn’t. They should keep doing them, I suspect they will.
Never mind how you get from point A to point B, we’re going there. Creative work won’t be directly paid for in the future. And we’re already in that future. Read my essays from the 90s to see how angry this made me. Now the anger has subsided, as a software writer, and it will subside for the Hollywood writers too. This may be the moment when the system breaks. It looks more and more like that.
I was sure that when Facebook backed off the privacy invasion of its “Beacon” service, that MoveOn would crow. We’re so powerful, they say, we got the giant software company to back down.
But as Valleywag points out, the war in Iraq still rages, Bush is still President, and MoveOn is still a creepy organization that sends out prodigious amounts of spam, and when you ask them to stop they respond with more spam.
Facebook wants to change, but like everything in tech there are tradeoffs. Open up more (good spin) and lose some privacy (bad). They figured no matter what they did people would protest, so they did something extremely radical, people freaked, they backed off, and now will do something less radical, which is probably what they were planning all along.
FB is a smart company run by people with IQs higher than typical creeps at political action committees. God knows what they’re thinking at MoveOn, but they lost my support with this ridiculous incursion into techland.