Kenyatta believes that the democratization of media will result in better content. I myself am less optimistic. Case in point: the “Most Popular Photos” page on Yahoo! News. Yahoo! keeps records of how often its news photos are emailed to others, and collects the most popular photos of the day there. This is photojournalism as selected and edited by your peers, freed from the shackles of Big Media. And this is how they’ve chosen to cover (or uncover) the Olympic Games. Now you might object that traditional photojournalists took these pictures, that Big Media is still behind the curtains, pandering to the masses. Fair enough, but keep in mind what one of the first applications of moblogging was. Don’t expect disintermediation to raise the level of discourse. What it will do is increase the sheer amount of stuff out there, so along with more ass, we’ll have more weird stuff, more edgy stuff, more brave stuff, more really really good stuff. It’ll be the long tail at the end of the power law curve in terms of audience, but it will be there, if we can find it.
Another excellent article by Henry Jenkins at MIT Technology Review, on the fan-driven grey-market spread of anime. Copyright cartels take note:
Japanese corporations have sought to collaborate with fan clubs, subcultures, and other consumption communities, seeing them as important allies in developing compelling new content or broadening markets. In courting such fans, the companies helped to construct a “moral economy” that aligned their interests in reaching a market with the American fans’ desires to access more content.
Many have argued that cultural rather than legal, technological, or economic solutions are crucial in resolving the bootlegging crisis hitting American media companies. Rather than suing their fan base, perhaps they should study how their Japanese counterparts profited from this first wave of underground circulation, seeing it as promotion rather than piracy.
I read danah’s rant about the NYT going on the offensive against bloggers, but I hadn’t realized just how far it went until I saw more sniping in a review of Nicholson Baker’s new book:
Jay is a deeply unhappy man. His wife has left him, his girlfriend has left him, he has lost his job as a high-school teacher, he works as a day laborer and has declared personal bankruptcy, he spends his days reading blogs. (About the deranging influence of blogs Baker makes a sterling point.)