Skip to main content

Mike Masnick on Hollywood's Historical Hysterics

I love just about everything Mike Masnick writes (even though I throw in the occasional asterisk to his techno-optimist viewpoint). He recently posted this piece on the hysteria that has surrounded Hollywood each time a new technology shows up on the scene to threaten it.

This latest example comes courtesy of Mary Pickford (), claiming that Pay TV will be "the death of the motion picture industry."

Or, in a similar vein:


Of course, this has clearly not come to pass, and I can appreciate Masnick's point about history repeating itself, but I say in the comments:

The difference between the disruption seen in 1959 and the disruption today, is that it was two different (but related) industries that were vying for control of a distribution medium. Throughout media's modern history, the reigns of power have changed hands but there was still scarcity in play (sometimes artificial, sometimes natural). The gatekeepers changed positions, but they were always gatekeepers.
The Internet removes that scarcity, and removes those gatekeepers. I'm not saying that we won't find a way to benefit from this new structure, but I am saying that it is truly novel, and not just a continuation on a historical curve. I'm not sure that history can inform us on this matter.

If one wants to look to history to help make sense of the economic and cultural disruption that the Internet is enabling, we can't just look at (historically) recent changes in the entertainment industry like they are on a predictable curve. We need to look at those technologies that fundamentally altered the world. Pay TV and VCRs don't inform us on the disruptive power of the Internet nearly so much as studying things like the printing press and the assembly line. And one of the most important lessons we can learn studying those phenomenon is that the people of the time had a horrible track record of prediction, because they couldn't see the revolutionary nature of what was right before their eyes.

As always the Techdirt comments are great, so (while comments are always welcome here) take comments over there, where the real discussion is taking place.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Re-Opening Experiment

We should remind ourselves that, this Memorial Day weekend and the weeks that follow, we are subjects in a grand experiment to see how good we are at social distancing as stay-at-home orders are being slowly lifted. The state's stay-at-home order was never meant to keep you, individually, safe from infection. It was meant to keep hospital's safe from being overwhelmed by too many of us needing them at the same time. In Michigan, the daily new cases of COVID-19 are higher today than they were when we locked down in late March. We are testing whether or not we can open up (with all of our new precautions and protocols) without spiking the rate of spread, but make no mistake: it *is* an experiment, and we *are* the test subjects. Please don't get careless as things start to open up. We need to get our economies back on track, but we are still a long way (and a vaccine away) from being out of the woods. Stay vigilant, folks. Wash your hands. Wear a mask. As has always been the

A Christmas Present

What more could I ask for? Wine. Innovation. A blow against government over-regulation. A story about a penniless Yugoslavian immigrant. Capitalism. And whooping some French ass. All from Reason.tv. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night. http://reason.tv/video/show/red-white-and-sacrebleu

VMWorld Wednesday

Today I noticed three things: 1) All the good sessions ran today. 2) Lines for everything! 3) You can't do back-to-back sessions all day without burning out. Today's sessions were not to be missed, and everybody knew it because lines starting forming 45 minutes before some sessions. VMWorld has been on their toes, however: I didn't miss any session that I wanted to hit, and the most popular sessions from Monday and Tuesday got added back to the schedule on Wednesday and Thursday so everyone would have a crack at them. This is some very nimble work for a conference this big. Well done, VMWorld! Here's the photolog: My morning run takes me down to ferry building and up the Embarcadero. Here's the view at sunrise. This lovely scene is the hallway in my hotel. Creepy, but swank! Lines! Today was the day of lines! This was the line first thing in the AM for the Labs. More sidewalk art outside of Moscone South. Bean-bag Alley - where people and devic