The internet’s so, um, like, corporate now…

Tip o’ the hat to reader jeje, who altered me to a segment on the Brian Lehrer show this morning. It’s the one called “Open-Source Living”

This here’s a “pro and con” post.

Here’s what I did like:
1. When we only had the 22 letter alphabet, there was an “elite” that could read – and the public just listened to the priests read from the Good Book.

2. When we got the printing press, there was an elite that could WRITE, and a public that could only READ. and that dynamic, where there are a small group of media producers on side and a very large group of passive, increasingly fragmented (solitary tv watchers, etc) media consumers, persists for a long time. It continues all the way through the TV era, no disrespect to cable access.

3. Then came the internet, when all of a sudden, the public can write too!

So this has a nice tripartite structure; it’s nice and balanced. It sorta leaves out all the other media that we’ve had, like home movies, film, radio, TV, CableTV, telegrams, telephones, small town newspapers, etc. etc.

Some people might dispute that the telephone is media, but I think that we have to count it if were going to count the internet. Part of the “subversive” power of the internet is precisely the ability of citizens to communicate with each other WITHOUT the use of traditional media, or MSM, though I think that that term is just so stupid and hipster.

So yeah, the idea that, with the internet, the people had an opportunity to “write”, that’s not totally bogus.

So that cool stuff all happens in the first 2 minutes of the show. (here’s the con part) Then comes Rushkoff’s pet idea, and I think that it is truly an ivory-tower distorted notion. The counter examples just freaking abound.

He says that nowadays, we aren’t taught “true media literacy”. We lack an understanding of the “people who program our world”.  Instead of “seizing upon the creative power” that was the internet’s promise, we simply regurgitate re-order clips from the MSM. He says that because internet users are reduced to re-saying over and over what their corporate masters have told them to say, the internet has been “neutralized.”  And its become the domain of marketers just like everything else.  (I would argue that the marketers make the internet like a billion times more useful – they are the medium through which we “pay” for all the great content on nytimes.com and beyond)

He claims that net users don’t understand the “larger context” of – well I don’t quite get what. If you know, please tell me what larger context were supposed to get is OF, because I sure don’t get it. Maybe that’s his point, that I don’t get it.

But still, to pretend that the SMALL sliver of net traffic devoted to mashing-up corporate-produced content some how shackles the internet is just ridiculous.

Youtube is full of personal essays, arty videos, timelapses, politicians mortified by guys with cellphones, polemics against this that and the other, not to mention will.i.am. Man, he’s SO of the people.

Rushkoff says something odd towards the end of the seg. He says that you used to see people being subversive, like making phony GM ads on their “make us an ad” website.

But now, he says, that he just thinks that theres less of that now. Um, data please? I’m pretty sure that the wealth of corporate-excoriating, MSM-poking-fun at, subversive freaking behavior is at an all time high (on the internet) and it will continue to be at an all time high for a long time. We ain’t EVEN seen this shit peak.

So Rushkoff – eat it.  And Lehrer?  don’t go so easy on him next time.

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