[iDC] Murdoch's Move

Tom Matrullo matrullo at gmail.com
Tue Nov 24 13:03:33 UTC 2009

Mark Andrejevic says: "Pipelines are useless without some kind of content "

Thereby releasing a hobby horse I must delurk to foolishly jump on: I have
offered the similar thought that the separation of Internet into mechanical
pipes and "free" content is simply untenable.

Bear in mind that the pipe owners fail to see that our willingness to pay
for the delivery system only makes sense if content is there. Content
creators fail to see that in paying high rates for "connectivity", we (end
users) are persuaded we have already paid for "content."

A Murdochian system in which each content creator bills users separately
would fail - few could afford it. Pulling out of search engines is merely
suicidal. The ensuing despair might provoke a salutary reaction, however.

If the private corporate owners of the pipes are unable/unwilling to share
money they make "on the backs" of content creators, their profits might be
better employed if they were redirected into publicly owned or regulated
facilities, on the creaky model of utilities - (or something more up to

In view of the looming possibility that the owners of the pipes will own
Content (see Comcast's latest
why not consider an alternative - a blind pool that moves funds via micropay
from the profit centers of the pipe owners to help fund those who produce

- notes on this here:





Tom Matrullo


On Tue, Nov 24, 2009 at 3:08 AM, Mark Andrejevic
<markbandrejevic at gmail.com>wrote:

> One of the things that I had hoped to bring up at the conference's final
> de-briefing session before we ran out of time was the fact that while both
> the notions of work and play got worked over fairly well, the third,
> featured term in the title got a bit less attention -- at least in terms of
> considering how it might continue to change in the near future. The internet
> itself seemed largely to function as a taken-for-granted platform in the
> way, that interestingly is no longer the case for the media that it has
> helped to transform, such as radio, TV, and newspapers.
> It seems worth pointing out that the internet has changed quite
> dramatically in the past few decades and is likely to continue to do so for
> the foreseeable future. The recent, seemingly jarring news from the
> disconcerting duo of Microsoft and NewsCorp (
> http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/24/technology/internet/24soft.html?hpw) drives the point home, and was probably not so difficult to predict. Given
> the difficulties media outlets are having in leveraging their online
> presence into advertising revenues it's perhaps not surprising that the
> models that are making money in the new media environment such as that of
> the successful search engine may find themselves in the position of
> subsidizing content. In this case, I suspect the deal, if it goes through,
> is a misconceived one: the advertising model that works online is
> based on volume of users, and chopping up the pool of potential users looks
> like a losing proposition. It's a swipe at Google, but in the long run, it's
> a swipe at the logic of the search engine. Not to mention the fact that the
> Fox News/New York Post demographic is probably not the best demographic bet
> for online advertising.
> But the underlying logic that such a deal hints at might be a bit more
> robust: find the business model that works and use that to subsidize
> content. Newspapers have long been complaining that people aren't willing to
> pay for online content, but that is perhaps only part of the story.
> Consumers have demonstrated a growing willingness to pay for pipeline (at
> rates much greater than the cost of a daily newspaper): for monthly mobile
> phone subscriptions, pay TV, and broadband access. Pipelines are useless
> without some kind of content -- and an important part of the content, as the
> conference highlighted, has been provided by free labor of various kinds.
> When it comes to professionally produced media content, down the road, and
> legal hurdles aside, the obvious tendency would be toward the control of
> content providers by the companies that are making the money: those who own
> and operate the pipelines (perhaps also the major search engines?). The
> broader point is that the infrastructure and operation of the internet
> is dynamic and subject to transformations in accordance with commercial
> imperatives (challenging the principle of net neutrality, etc.) --  the
> functioning of the "platform" is in play -- along with the activities that
> it supports. It's not just what we mean by work and play that need
> clarification and exploration, but also what we mean, projecting into the
> future, by "the internet."
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matrullo at gmail.com
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