Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tech Media Misunderstandings

I listen to a lot of tech media podcasts and I think, for the most part, they don't know what they are talking about. Even as, on one hand, they instinctively know there is something terribly wrong with 'digital right managements' and other content-use restrictions, they still champion the content over the infrastructure. Sure, some content is worth a lot, but it won't get anywhere without the infrastructure, and we know most of the content is literally not worth anything- and that's including content people are trying to charge us for. Let's get rid of intellectual property and we'll see a great re-calibration, not only between relative prices of content and infrastructure, but also between various kinds of content, or more precisely, between various kinds of content makers, for the content itself is likely to be free. Infrastructure will always cost something, and if they are no longer distracted by chasing the potential profits in the imaginary property sector, the infrastructure companies will settle down and happily sell us fast and ubiquitous broadband.

Tech pundits also regularly misuse the word monopoly. Apple created iTunes and when the iPhone came out, they put in apps. The app-store and iTunes in general is not a monopoly. Your power company is a monopoly. The government creates monopolies by the threat or use of force. Apple can make any of a myriad of decisions about iTunes and accept or decline whatever apps it wants- this shall never be a monopoly because people can compete with iTunes, as well as the iPhone.

In addition, it would be nice, every once in a while to hear a pundit point out that perhaps we don't need a law with regards to cell phones in cars. Apparently it's extremely dangerous to text while driving. In a free market, insurance companies would write into their contracts with you that you shall not text while driving. Then you won't text while driving because you know the first thing your insurance company will do is get your cell-phone records to see if you were texting while driving in the event of an accident. By the way, if, instead of the stupid laws we have in this country, the insurance companies were actually doing what I suggest above, I am pretty sure my last two accidents would have been avoided because I am believe both of the people who hit me were on their phones at the time of the accident.

And finally, the president and all his sycophants say something all the time, which is 'let me be clear', or 'the president has been very clear' and this is usually followed by some stated commitment to a warm and fuzzy vagueness. This has got to stop, and tech journalists, as well as other journalists ought to be the ones who stop it. If the president was clear, then they should be able to provide us with time/place, and some kind of policy to get from here to there. They don't have time, place, or any policy but to shovel anything they can get through Congress so that they can set up a new bureaucracy.

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