Monday, April 10, 2006

More Social Networking; Video on Demand; Growth of Indy Media; Your Momma

1. Following up on my entry on social networking for social change: the Los Angeles Times reports that LA teenagers made extensive use of "their communal pages on the enormously popular MySpace website" in organizing the March 24 student walkouts to protest proposed Bush Administration immigration policies. Meanwhile, it seems that South Carolina Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer is drawing some petty, puritanical criticism for his MySpace page.

2. Via the Center for Creative Voices in Media blog:

Another giant leak in the dam that keeps broadcast TV from being "broadcast" over the Net. Per Brooks Barnes in WSJ: "Walt Disney Co. plans to make much of its newest and most popular programming on ABC and other channels available free anytime on the Web...On April 30, ABC will unveil a revamped Web site that will include a "theater" where people with broadband connections can watch free episodes of "Desperate Housewives," "Lost" and other hit shows on their computers."

The implications of this development for broadcasters, cablers, talent, etc. are significant. For this is Video on Demand, which cable keeps touting as its trump card -- and now who needs cable TV if you've got broadband? Because if you've got broadband, you've already got cable TV -- it's called Internet. Broadcast and cable networks are all becoming one -- content made up of individual pieces (shows) that the consumer can demand or avoid as he/she pleases.

Meanwhile, the city of Atlanta has launched its own Video on Demand service.

3. Over at the San Francisco Chronicle, the mainstream media continue to wake up and smell the day-old coffee:

The invasion of Iraq and the three years of war that followed it seem unlikely to go down in history as a proud era for American journalism.

Critics on the political left and right, journalism professors and even many reporters agree that the media -- print and electronic alike -- failed to provide accurate, unbiased or complete coverage of the past three years and particularly the run-up to the war...

"What the war has done is hurled kerosene onto the fire," [said Thomas Kunkel, dean of the Philip Merrill College of Journalism at the University of Maryland.] "It provided the passion, and when people are passionate about things, they get active about things."

So instead of creating a ripple of letters to the editor, canceled subscriptions and advertiser boycotts, those unhappy with the mainstream media were able to create vocal displeasure through their own media -- media that grew larger each day, feeding on itself and on traditional media for content.

Soon, the blogs demonstrated an ability to make, or remake, news overlooked or handled differently by the mainstream, from analyzing a Wall Street Journal reporter's downbeat letter home from Baghdad to sharing a list of accomplishments purportedly made by the U.S. military since the end of major combat, and from the questionable Bush National Guard memos to Trent Lott's poorly received birthday comments.The result: lots of energetic criticism of the mainstream media, and the budding of a new alternative media, arriving just when traditional media is under enormous financial pressures from corporate mergers and downsizing.

4. Also in the Chroncile, from an interview with UC Berkeley journalism professor and author Michael Pollan:

Culture used to be a very reliable guide. Culture's just a fancy way of saying your mom. And your mom learned from her mom. There were a whole set of cultural rules and taboos and practices and that shaped people's eating -- and those have fallen apart.

Gray is the new black-and-white; the Web is the new Mom!


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