Over-the-air television and the other America

If you’re an OTA viewer you’re feeding on cultural leftovers, quite literally. If you’re not, your baseline cost of living is poverty line times 1.5 or something. Sure Netflix is somethingteen dollars (or is it more by now? I don’t follow such things) a month, but for all practical purposes assumes you have wired Internet access. Figure a hundred a month, or no paywalled programming, back to diet of slop. Even going to the movies once-every-few-months (not cheap, but at least not a monthly commitment) leaves you out of some loops, as parts of the feature films business is going into Netflix-exclusive distribution and the like. I rationalize it as, oh, well, I’m a grownup, I’ve made my own bed, should have known the starving artist life might not be the best way to “feed my head.” But now even children watching Sesame Street on PBS are feeding on the leftovers of the children of HBO subscribers. This may have unforeseen social impact. If you’re out of the pop culture loop, you have less to bring to the water cooler, so to speak. It could in theory even hobble some people’s career development (because networking) for example. I mean, let’s be blunt, almost all the advertising that’s commercially viable on the “simulcast” channels, really any of the OTA channels outside what’s left of the part of network prime time that’s still at least half-a__edly vying for Emmys (targeted by Target), literally shouts “hey loser” at its audence. It’s pretty much down to lawsuit bait and Medicare scams. What else you gonna sell to a penniless audence?

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Quotebag #126

Aral Balkan:
In the PC 1.0 era, individuals had ownership and control of their machines. If, for example, you installed an app and it used your 9600 baud modem to phone home and report on your behaviour, we called it a Trojan – and we understood it to be malware. Today, we call a far more sophisticated and ubiquitous version of this the extremely lucrative business model of Silicon Valley.
quoderat:
It’s no use having a plan to conquer the fucking galaxy if society is optimizing itself to devise ever more clever ways to con people into clicking on ads.
Cory Doctorow:
Once upon a time, the internet teemed with experimental, personal publications.
Kisle:
also there is categorically never a market under capitalism in which power relations are equal enough for a fair deal
Shane Burley:
Fascism is the violent inequality of society moving from the implicit to the explicit, and it will continue to return unless that implicit element is addressed and demolished.
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The trouble with social media

The problem with main$tream social media isn’t the fact that it’s closed source, but the fact that it’s for-profit. I’m happy to see that people are interested in creating alternatives that incorporate some combination of decentralization, software freedom, or user governance, but I’m dismayed that seemingly none of them are going for the jugular and attempting a non-monetized implementation of the capabilities associated with social media. One promising example is the Okuna website and one of the items on the nav bar is “angel,” and of course I get that sinking feeling. I click it, and sure enough, I scroll two thirds of the way down to the bottom of the page and confirm that sinking feeling that that’s angel as in investor.

I believe the ubiquity of spyware and spam is a consequence of a technical ecosystem (if you want to call it that) in which monetization is a prerequisite for anything happening. I do of course know there’s no such thing as a free lunch, even if you’re willing to code for free, someone has to pay the hosting bill. Thing is if the monthly hosting bill is a few dollars (rather than a few tens or hundreds of dollars) there will probably be any number of middle class (or even low income) hobbyists who will eat that cost, with an attitude that it’s well worth it if it means I can put an ad-free site online, or post my writings without answering to editorial authority, or whatever other noncommercial communications goals one might have. So it is that there was a renaissance of DIY ethos during the era of dial-up ISP’s, whose 5, 10, 20 clam a month plans customarily included a few megs of filespace for at least some static HTML content. I think the death of the blogosphere (and the corresponding rise in commercial “social media” as a replacement communication outlet) really kicked into high gear around 2008, with the recession, and a growing number of people reaching the conclusion that they don’t have the luxury of NOT monetizing their hobbies. But the thing about monetization is that it is a do-or-not-do proposition. Once the camel’s nose is in the tent, EVERYTHING that’s cool about noncommercial feats of creativity is instantly a lost cause. You can’t implement monetization in digital media without tamperproofing the technology, basically DRM, but tamperproofing also includes ad-n*[blocker]s for even values of n. In turn, you can’t tamperproof paywalls (or adwalls or whatever) without killing general purpose computing.

I must ask why we aren’t focusing mainly on federated networks, which slice the network into pieces small enough (we would like to hope) to fit into consumer-level hosting plans (we would also like to hope) in ways that still allow more or less frictionless search for and access to people and content throughout the network.

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Quotebag #126

Aral Balkan:
In the PC 1.0 era, individuals had ownership and control of their machines. If, for example, you installed an app and it used your 9600 baud modem to phone home and report on your behaviour, we called it a Trojan – and we understood it to be malware. Today, we call a far more sophisticated and ubiquitous version of this the extremely lucrative business model of Silicon Valley.
quoderat:
It’s no use having a plan to conquer the fucking galaxy if society is optimizing itself to devise ever more clever ways to con people into clicking on ads.
Cory Doctorow:
Once upon a time, the internet teemed with experimental, personal publications.
Kisle:
also there is categorically never a market under capitalism in which power relations are equal enough for a fair deal

 

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Should I sign Larry Sanger’s Declaration of Digital Independence?

I’m of two minds on the subject. I agree with everything in Larry’s declaration of digital independence and as far as I know, I agree with the petition language (although I haven’t yet followed the link to change.org). But as they say in Leftbook these days, self care means don’t read the comments. I don’t know which breaks my heart more irreparably, the fact that the Internet I once loved has degenerated into a cesspit of monetization gimmicks and aggressive spyware, or the fact that the open source movement I once loved has degenerated into a frat house, a Tucker Carlson fandom, basically a dumpster fire.

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Autistic representation in media

I used to sometimes joke (somewhat tastelessly I’m sure) that there are three categories of autistic people systematically underrepresented in media, at least news media. Those being

  1. autistic adults
  2. autistic girls
  3. autistic boys whose name is something other than Daniel

The last one probably never had any basis in fact, but a decade or so ago I could have sworn I could have made a regular drinking game around the autistic boy in the inspiration porn turns out to be Daniel someone or other. I think the news media have (as was inevitable) discovered autistic adults. But I think that this has come with a very strict editorial policy that the definition of autism (for journalistic purposes) basically amounts to dual-diagnosis cases that include an autism spectrum disorder and also an intellectual disability. (I hope I didn’t use a functioning label). It seems one of the hard constraints on American society, and the American economy in particular, is that disability (for occupational purposes) has to include at least one of physical or intellectual. There is no such thing as a non-physical, non-intellectual disability. If there were, then certain people would be able to “double dip”, that is, benefit from programs for people with disabilities, ranging from sheltered employment to SSI to school accommodations and more, but also enjoy some measure of “the life of the mind”, whether that means leading a somewhat examined life, having a few opinions of one’s own, being a serious candidate for a job with responsibilities, or the simple dignity of having the baseline level of credibility that comes with the functioning label called “competent.” More to the point, if there were such an area of overlap, such a Venn-diagram intersection to put it in the nerd vernacular, it would be hard not to ask the question of whether there’s anything meritocratic about a job market in which virtually all paid employments at all levels come with social filters such as job interviews, let alone a de-facto requirement for “networking” or even something as aggressive as “elevator pitches.” It would be hard to maintain the pretense inherent in saying “earning a living” when one means “winning a living.”

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Innovation=entrepreneurship, another repeat-until-true meme

Part of the problem is that at some point the hype machine made a regular meme campaign of using the words innovation and entrepreneurship interchangeably. I can only assume that the goal of this aggressive framing is to create a social consensus that unmonetized innovation doesn’t count. Maybe it’s Team Capitalism’s response to those of us in the Tesla-was-more-of-an-innovator-than-Edison camp. Because entrepreneurship is a very competitive winner-take-all arena of combat, and because history is written by the winners, all our stories about innovation are in hindsight, about the one in ten startups that don’t fail, and the structure and format of these stories has become very predictable and cliche, to the point that they’re telling the same story over and over. Basically the stock news story that has come to be called “entrepreneurship porn,” like inspiration porn, except about entrepreneurship/innovation (again framed as being two words for the same thing) instead of disability. One can make a regular drinking game around instances of entrepreneurship porn appearing in a news broadcast and the enterprise in question turns out to be cupcakes.

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