The future is a series of small steps leading away from the wreckage of the past, sometimes its actors walk face forward, blind to the history played out behind their backs, other times, they walk backwards, seeing only the unfulfilled destiny of a vanished time. The promise of the tactical media of the future - the end of the spectacular media circus as everyone begins to lay their hands on cheap 'do it yourself' media technologies made possible by new forms of production and distribution - was inspired by a distinction between tactics and strategies made by Michel de Certeau in 1974.
U.S. Media Interests: Champions of Profit, Propaganda and Puffery: on the decline of American free press under media conglomeration.
With precious few exceptions most notably the nation's "City Papers," independent Internet sites - like the Indy Media Center -- and grass roots broadcasters such as Pacifica, U.S. print and broadcast organs from the New York Times to the Los Angeles Times, from NBC to Fox, and from AM radio bands to FM bands, spew out a vile and banal concoction of information that numbs the mind and homogenizes the thought processes of a U.S. citizenry scurrying about to support the "war effort." So-called "news programs" seek to pacify and assure during the commute, the thunderstorm, the shopping spree, the murder. Weather, roads, guns, cars, food are all endowed by newsreaders with character as if those "things" are conscious entities. As Herbert Marcuse so adroitly pointed out, in this environment people don't "see" themselves, they project themselves into "things". Viewers are commodities to the U.S. media interests. "Thought" need not apply here.
[via also not found in nature]
Plugging into Bourgeois Time: The Meaning of "Speed Ramping": David Cox discusses the manipulation of time in movies, television, and commercials.
In a nutshell: The role of time itself in contemporary culture has been radically altered by the role played by technology and communications time is represented in ways consistent with its effects on people in our society. Time is a fluid, changeable, negotiable entity. It is measured and chopped up and sold like every other commodity. We are living in Bourgeois time - hence like commodities themselves, how time appears and is thought is available on the marketplace as well: some products offer fast time, others slow time, others both.
Preparing for the Coming Era of Participatory News: on the future of news. [via Snowdeal]
This is a quiz about your future. It's about how you view some basic elements of the emerging Digital Age.
1. Do you care if a few giant companies control virtually all entertainment and information?
2. Do you care if they decide what kinds of technological innovations will reach the marketplace?
3. Would you be concerned if they used their power to compile detailed dossiers on everything you read, listen to, view and buy?
4. Would you find it acceptable if they could decide whether what you write and say could be seen and heard by others?
Those are no longer theoretical questions. They are the direction in which America is hurtling.
[via Boing Boing]
Big Brother, My Butt: Jonah Goldberg takes issue with media references to Big Brother.
I bring this up to make a simple observation: Big Brother never existed. The book 1984, in which the phrase was coined, was a work of fiction. I say again: Big Brother = Not Real. 1984 was a n-o-v-e-l.
I don't mean to talk to you like you're idiots or uneducated, but there are a lot of people who seem to think that during the 1950s or 1960s, there was some government agency or maybe even a real person named "Big Brother" who intruded on everybody's life. Just last week the Denver Post ran an editorial titled, "Is Big Brother Back?" Again: He was never here!
Novels do occasionally have social relevance and predictive value though, that's part of what makes them interesting. It's called a m-e-t-a-p-h-o-r.
There were unconfirmed reports yesterday that the United States is not the center of the world.
The White House had no immediate comment on the reports, which set off a firestorm of controversy in the nation's capital.
[via The War in Context]
National Security Action Memorandum No. 63
Washington, July 24, 1961.
TO The Secretary of State The Secretary of Defense Director, U.S. Information Agency Director of Central Intelligence
SUBJECT Policy Guidance and Preemption of U.S. Government-Controlled Broadcasting
After consultation with the heads of Departments and agencies concerned, the President has approved the following:
1. The Department of State shall provide foreign policy guidance to all international radio broadcasting and television stations controlled by U.S. Government agencies. This includes stations of the Armed Forces Radio and Television Service and the Voice of the United Nations Command in Korea, operated by the Department of Defense, and those stations [less than 1 line of source text not declassified] influenced or financed by the Central Intelligence Agency.
2. This guidance shall be relayed through the U.S. Information Agency, which will provide supplemental information policy guidance as required. The Director, U.S. Information Agency shall establish appropriate procedures for conveying guidance.
3. The Director, U.S. Information Agency is authorized to preempt time on any of these radio and television stations for special programs when he deems it to be in the national interest. The Director, U.S. Information Agency shall establish appropriate procedures for arranging for such special programs.
4. Every effort shall be made to avoid public awareness of the relationship between the various ostensibly non-governmental broadcasting stations and the U.S. Government.
[via Secrecy News]
Forgotten Coverage of Afghan "Freedom Fighters": on the change in media coverage regarding the Afghan Mujahiddin between the 80s and today.
There has, in short, been a fairly dramatic and Orwellian shift in the tone of public discourse regarding Afghanistan. While Islamic extremism is now viewed with great hostility, in the 1980s U.S. policy strongly supported such extremism; there is scarcely any recognition that a little more than a decade ago, the U.S. press waxed eloquent about the Afghan "freedom fighters."
There can be little doubt that journalistic partisanship strongly shaped the agenda of news reporting during the Afghan war of the 1980s. Another problem was direct manipulation of reporting by the U.S. government, which was supporting the Mujahiddin guerrillas during both the Carter and Reagan administrations. (Indeed, we now know that U.S. aid to the Mujahiddin was secretly begun in July 1979, six months before the Soviets invaded--International Politics, 6/00.) This press manipulation began early in the conflict. In January 1980, the New York Times (1/26/80) reported that the State Department had "relaxed" its accuracy code for reporting information on Afghanistan. As a result, the Carter administration generated "accounts suggesting Soviet actions for which the administration itself has no solid foundation."
The Urge to Merge: an hour-long radio program on the effect of the recent Appeals Court ruling removing restrictions on a single company owning both cable franchises and broadcast TV stations in the same market.
Who controls the news? After court rulings this week, doors are wide open for new deals that could make the Rupert Murdock/Sumner Redstone world of media magnates even smaller. With fewer and fewer people deciding what stories get covered on radio and TV and in the papers, some say cross-media monopolies are undermining the market. If the only thing keeping editors honest is competition, what's to prevent a 500-channel, but one-view world?
Supposedly, the FCC; the organization charged with protecting the public and keeping stories like Citizen Kane from coming true. But the new FCC chairman thinks more free market and less regulation is good for the economy and good for you. The leaner, meaner media, mergers and the FCC.
Bulgaria's M SAT TV has joined the top ranks of newscasting, right up there with Naked News, with its new show "The Naked Truth", which features women stripping in time to the teleprompter. They plan to launch a similar political analysis show next year.
What's the world like?
A flock of sheep.
One falls into the ditch,
the rest jump in.
- Kabir (Sakhi: 240, The Bijak of Kabir, trans. Linda Hess and Shukdev Singh)
"On TV screens across the globe, for more than two months now, the sheep have been jumping into the ditch without a bleat of protest."
The Times has started to require free registration to get at their articles. It's also painfully slow today.