Tag Archives: complimentary content

Going On The Account: Getting The Word Out

Found an interesting article about the Canadian government denying scientists access to the press.  Which I could go on about and find some pithy way to tie it to the recent work, had there not been a kerfuffle about Forbes.com stealing a story from The New York Time’s online site.

But since in the end, it’s all about communication, there’s a trunk from which both branches spring, so…


What’s interesting in both of these pieces (which you’re welcome to read in their full at the links, no need for me to skim either of these while I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with my life…) is yet another example out there of how going forward various interests are trying to contradict Stewart Brand’s famous slogan and make folks shell out shekels for info.  Which might have made sense, say,  before the model of complimentary content was embraced as a way to get users to go online in the first place.  People forget that when the Internet was opened up in 1994 to allow users not tied to CompuServe to find sites directly, one of the big selling points was the amount of content that was available for free.

But as is true in any environment, the climate changed and adaptations needed to be made.  Access was a lot easier to the Web, connectivity allowed more folks online, profit margins shrank through a few recessions and realignments, and suddenly the days when you needed to get data through GEnie, Prodigy or (shudder) AOL seemed to info providers as golden as the 1950s used to to a lot of Americans.

(Truth to tell, online service providers had as bad a problem with connectivity via dial-in issues and bad load timess as the 1950s did with segregation and the Red Scare, so on some level it is a good analogy…)

Which makes for this move to provide more centralized control of the flow of information look like a goal for the future.  Which is all we need, an ambitious goal for the future…

…that harkens back to an old classic, mercantilism.  And we all saw how well  that  ultimately worked out…


Of course, I can’t entirely write it off, as it did give us some very solid models of pirates to fascinate us with.  Never forget your roots, after all…

Mind you, Kim Dotcom is no  Bartholomew Roberts in any way, shape, form or any other comparative you could find.  In fact, you could argue that digital pirates are not as big a threat as the buccaneers sailing the Spanish Main back in the day, despite what some media interests will ask you to believe.  If anything, the study done by the National Bureau of Economic Research makes it clear that the main threat to the studios’ profits is the lag time between domestic and foreign release for films, which can be countered by closing the window between the two.  The fact that the broadcast window between DOCTOR WHO on BBC and BBC America shrinking from months to hours could cut down on downloads for this show probably played into the Beeb’s thinking about distribution; that we don’t hear a lot about  pirating of this show as much as we used to in 2005 seems to support the action.


So assuming that we are heading into a New Mercantilist Era, or if you rather a Digital Mercantilitst Model, are we going to see the same issues that brought the 18th Century down around the Great Powers hit the big media companies as hard?  Will we see efforts to hold onto empires that lead to revolution, bankruptcy and wars to the death?  (Such wars taking place not on the steppes of Russia or the plains of Belgium, but in courtrooms in Delaware, of course.)  And will it be the pirates who again offer resistance, and ultimately models and examples to follow, that will impact the new (media) world?

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