Elsewhere

The argument that the tech giants have to be broken up in order to foster journalism is for the birds. We have, in the English speaking world, plenty of evidence that it’s not necessary.

There is one joy to this though. It is true that the tech giants profit from network effects. But then so too did the newspapers, as above, when they were the local monopolies themselves. And there is a certain satisfaction to seeing those who lived by network effects dying by them too.

30 thoughts on “Elsewhere”

  1. The biggest problem with the press is that they failed to notice the grooming gangs in Rotherham etc.
    According to the Jay Report, for 10 years girls were being abused and the police were ignoring it at best and sometimes helping and the press failed to notice.
    They deserve to die – sorry to sound harsh but its true.

  2. It isn’t an economic issue, it is a cultural and political one. They decide who can express an opinion and who cannot.

    The railroad barons may have overcharged people to travel, but I doubt they turned up at the ticket offices and pulled individuals out of queues and made them walk instead.

  3. Agree with Rob. Either these monopolies need to be broken up so that every opinion has an outlet, even Tim’s.
    Or they need to regulated as utilities with no right, or responsibility, for regulating content- that becomes the responsibility of the one expressing the opinion.
    Perhaps a choice could be offered. Either they register as utilities, with neither the right not the responsibility for content. Or they register as publishers with both the right and the responsibility to regulate content.

  4. Rob +1

    Tim says:

    After all, diversity of opinion is rather more important to democracy than the number of people employed to scribble those opinions down.

    Great! Now try saying “refugees not welcome here” on Facebook or Twitter and see what happens. Or try running a popular right-wing news site and see what Google does to your rankings, PayPal or Patreon do to your ability to make e-shekels, etc.

  5. “It isn’t an economic issue, it is a cultural and political one. They decide who can express an opinion and who cannot.”

    On their platforms, sure. Real life has plenty of these restrictions. You can behave in certain ways in a JD Wetherspoons that you can’t in a sewing circle. WH Smith don’t sell jazz mags. Waitrose stopped selling foie gras.

    You want to go Full BNP/whatever, there’s 4Chan. Pornhub will host any video that is legal, and some people have gone this route because they weren’t welcome on YouTube.

  6. The cultural and political issue is not so much the control exerted on people expressing opinions as the control of what billions of people get to see. Even with all kinds of extremism around (and, as Tim can tell us, google thinks his sites are extremist), these few companies have the choice to put it on page 1 or page 71. And most people won’t even realise it. We know which papers lean left and which lean further left because there is competition. When you only have one source there is nothing to compare to.

    Leaving farceberk &c in charge of the media is potentially almost as bad as leaving the Party in charge of the media.

  7. @Steve
    You use Farcebook & Twatter? Why? They obviously don’t like you. Both are heading towards being dead platforms. For exactly the reasons you’re complaining about them. There was an article I was reading yesterday. There’s people dealing drugs on Facebook. Sellers have Facebook pages. Potential buyers go there to get good deals. Facebook are going to be policing & closing accounts. Yeah, OK. Nice PR exercise. But what f^^^^^^g difference is it going to make. People are still going to want to score dope. Dope providers’ll still want to sell it. They’ll just go somewhere else.
    It’s amusing. The big tech companies totally fail to to understand the internet. And I’d be confident to predict, 5 years time. peoplell be saying “Facebook? Is that still going?” And Facebook will be populated ‘by ageing snowflakes & everybody’s grannies. What’s Farcebook’s business model? It sells advertising. What does advertising do? It sells stuff. And Farcebook’s excluding the sort of people who buy stuff in copious quantities & making itself user friendly to the sort of people buy f**k all. Clever.

  8. On their platforms, sure. Real life has plenty of these restrictions. You can behave in certain ways in a JD Wetherspoons that you can’t in a sewing circle. WH Smith don’t sell jazz mags. Waitrose stopped selling foie gras.

    No, it is much worse, as Google, PayPal, etc are dominant players in the market. In your analogy WH Smith owns the entire High Street, IS the High Street, or has sufficient power to effectively exclude you from the High Street. “Build your own High Street”, the standard Libertarian response, isn’t a practical one.

  9. I think the analogy for old time newspapers is modern day websites.
    The analogy for modern tech giants is the railway system, maybe the postal system, that conveyed old fashioned paper around.
    Would we have been happy with the railways or the post deciding what they would and would not transport? OTOH would it have been reasonable to make them liable for the content of the paper they transported?

  10. Breaking companies up is also a hundred year old solution.

    “Or they need to regulated as utilities with no right, or responsibility, for regulating content- that becomes the responsibility of the one expressing the opinion.”

    That is the actual current U.S. law. The problem is the fascists can’t leave that alone, and the companies are finding it advantageous to play along. They are protected as platforms, but they are evolving into publishers.

    Don’t break them up. If they are going to fvck with content, give them responsibility for it like any other publisher.

    Fvck journalists. They have devolved to enemies of the people.

  11. bloke in spain,

    “And I’d be confident to predict, 5 years time. peoplell be saying “Facebook? Is that still going?” And Facebook will be populated ‘by ageing snowflakes & everybody’s grannies.”

    It’s already pretty much there. Not only are kids not on there, but a lot of other people only use it occassionally. What do I use FB for? Mostly to share holiday stuff with family and friends, and they do likewise.

    They screwed up a bunch of things. Like, timeline. I want everything, from everyone I follow in order. I don’t want Facebook trying to figure out what I want. And their screwing around means I miss things like tour dates. So, when Bands in Town became a thing, I switched there.

  12. I don’t want Facebook trying to figure out what I want

    Yes, it’s weird. You can refresh the page five times and the order changes bizarrely.

    Also every third post seems to be an advert or some non-profit pushing some propaganda. It’s shit, how is it worth tens of billions?

  13. I lurk on Facebk to look at martial arts/gun pages etc as they have info and links to Youtube how-to vids. But I gave them minimal info to join and most of it false. If they are trying to market my details they will starve.

  14. Dennis, He Who Is Unpublished

    Journalism is all about journalists publishing stories for other journalists. Purchasers of content, such as newspaper subscribers, do not enter into the equation. These two fact go further in explaining the decline of newspapers and journalism than anything Google and the rest of the tech fascists have done.

  15. Rob,

    “No, it is much worse, as Google, PayPal, etc are dominant players in the market. In your analogy WH Smith owns the entire High Street, IS the High Street, or has sufficient power to effectively exclude you from the High Street. “Build your own High Street”, the standard Libertarian response, isn’t a practical one.”

    I’ll maybe give you PayPal, but the others are daft.

    What is excluded from Google’s search results? There’s porn, nazis, red pill guys.

    Facebook? You don’t have to use it. You can use it alongside 4chan, Twitter and everything else.

    And the high street analogy doesn’t work. If someone owns your high street, it’s a large cost to go to the next one. But there’s no friction with the web. You can start using Discord in seconds.

  16. What is excluded from Google’s search results? There’s porn, nazis, red pill guys.

    I believe Worstall has stated that this very site is “soft censored” or shadowbanned. What’s the solution? Oh right, go start your own Google. Very helpful.

  17. “I believe Worstall has stated that this very site is “soft censored” or shadowbanned.”

    If I type in “Tim Worstall” it appears in the index as the top result.

  18. “The railroad barons may have overcharged people to travel”: passenger trains in Britain were never very profitable. Presumably that’s one reason why so many railways went bust in the 19th century.

  19. I think the question is rapidly becoming : What *is* a “journalist” nowadays?

    With every single person connected to the internet able to publish whatever they want for the fee of connection + piffle for the actual site ( if they want to be fancy…) as opposed to the hurdles ( and costs ) of getting your words in dead-tree format and distributed around even your local area…
    There’s simply no comparison. And no contest.

    I trust at least some people here have done the stencilling thing in their Wild Youthful Days. Whether it was concerts/parties or political manifestos… you ran into a couple of practical problems there that the internet has not at all.

    So everybody can be a “journalist”, at least when it comes to publishing Opinion. But with everybody being able to do so, the commercial value of Opinion has drastically dropped.. Which, of course, upsets the people that had a cushy job and Status writing Opinion. They aren’t the elite few anymore.

    Investigative Journalism, on the other hand, is Hard Work, and not infrequently tied to a certain amount of danger and a *huge* amount of dislike displayed by the Powers that Be. And not exactly well paying or cushy job-wise.
    Which isn’t everyones’ cup of tea, so the value of that kind of journalism is actually increasing, especially given that the whole “Editor says No” barrier is gone.

    Then there is of course the Humorously Shaped Vegetable stories, which *always* sell, since people want to be entertained.. A good scandal will do, but the turnip purportedly shaped like mr. Stronginthearm’s nethers always wins.

    “Journalism” isn’t dying because of the large tech giants. It’s dying because of the fundamental change in publishing the internet has made possible. And the resultant drop in value of the musings of people who are of the opinion they can tell me what I should think makes the world a better place.

  20. “If I type in “Tim Worstall” it appears in the index as the top result.”

    And what happens if you search for classical liberal/libertarian leaning economics blogs? Or Brexit supporters? Or critics of senior lecturers at Islington technical college?

    Sure, if you know Tim you’ll find him. If you know his field, even if you know what you are looking for, he’s de-prioritised.

  21. Those overnight trains could be loaded with print from one, perhaps two, print works and be in every shop before opening time.

    Yep. Back in 1970s one of night porter’s jobs was to buy papers ordered direct from train station seller – gave him a chance to chat with other night porters too.

    The station hotel np phoned all the others when train arrived.

  22. “It’s dying because of the fundamental change in publishing the internet has made possible.”

    Nah. Woodward and Bernstein killed journalism in the early 70s. As well as scientific polls and science research. The Left realized that they could use the press, not to report public opinion, but to shape it. The press was drunk with power when they managed to depose a president.

    Polls and scientific research are also guided by agenda. Their design begins with the desired outcome, and are then shaped to get the desired answer. The answer comes before the question.

    That’s why Trump drives ’em crazy. Their wand isn’t working. Their 50 years of power is waning. Rather than dying, this is an opportunity for journalism to come back. To report; not to influence.

    Limbaugh has said many times that the primary answer given by journalism students to, “Why do you want to become a journalist?”

    “I want to change the world.” The corruption is complete.

  23. BiS – You use Farcebook & Twatter? Why?

    I don’t use Twitter. I do use the Facebook to communicate with friends.

    The old rules were that people had freedom of association and businesses mostly stayed out of politics (apart from quietly donating to pols).

    The new rules are that HyperMegaGlobocorp businesses like Facebook, Apple, and Google (the F.A.Gs) are aggressively, obnoxiously, in-yer-face political and also you’d better bake the damn cake for any loudmouthed minority that ambles along or be dragged through the courts for years:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-49350891

    So people on whatever the right of centre is these days need to learn and apply the new rules. I want Google doodles celebrating the great Christian victory at the Siege of Malta. I want YouTube to be forced to monetise Count Dankula and Milo. I want Apple to sponsor heterosexual pride marches and men’s rights organisations. Most of all, I want our autistic billionaire would-be overlords to be absolutely terrified at the astronomical fines and/or jail time they’ll face if they’re caught suppressing conservative or libertarian speech.

    It’s not too much to ask, it’s just applying the new rules.

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