Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Is It STILL Just Me...?

Astute readers of this blog may remember my friend Nicole providing me with this link, which was in response to this link, which in turn was a response of this link.

The article that Nicole sent me brings up several points, some good and some bad. First, I would like to point out that if you're trying to argue that you deserve more money, I would not send one of the writers from Crank Yankers or the Andy Milonokis Show as a representative. That's just bad PR. Yes, of course we deserve more money, look at all those hilarious prank phone calls we made! Nice try, WGA, but I'm not falling for it.

Second, they claim that being able to watch television shows online is comparable to being able to download songs, which is, uh, not correct. I would compare being able watch television shows online to something more like being able to listen to the radio online, since you're not really downloading a streaming file. However, when I steal full seasons of Scrubs and Flight of the Conchords using bit torrent, yeah, that's a lot like downloading music.

Third, this article makes the claim that much of the strike revolves around the issue that the internet is revolutionizing the way everyone is doing business, which I couldn't agree with more. However, it's because the internet is changing the way that we take in our entertainment that I think this strike simply won't work.

I pay $36 a month for my cable internet. Actually, I pay $36 a month divided by myself and three other roommates, so it's more like $9. I won't waste your time telling you about the wonders of the magical interweb, but for those nine bucks a month, I have completely eliminated the need for television, radio, newspapers, the video store, any video game consoles or games, and one could argue that my cell phone and postal service are slowly becoming obsolete.

Now, I will not make the claim that any of those things are better on the internet. An email is not the same as a handwritten letter, playing Playstation with a keyboard isn't all that great, having a physical CD in your hands is nicer than an mp3, etc., etc.. And do I think that Ask A Ninja is better than Prison Break? Well, yes, I do, but I understand that one is held up to a higher standard of production value than the other. Can you guess which one? (Hint: It's not the one with the $20 ninja costume in it.)

However, even though none of these things are better, there's a reason that the internet is revolutionizing the way we take in our entertainment. And, I would like to emphasize my opinion on this: progress always follows short-term economic benefits.

I don't think I'm the first person to think this, or at least realize that I'm thinking it. Pretty simple really: If 100 people were offered the choice between something good and something cheap, the majority will choose the cheap something, provided the level of cheapness doesn't it make it a worthless purchase. This is why we have suburbs in America. This is why we haven't invested any money to discover fossil fuel alternatives. This is why non-biodegradable products will keep flourishing over environmentally sound products. This is why sustainability will be impossible in areas where they have to cut down forests in order to grow enough food to eat. Until you make something cheaper, you can't change anything.

Ok, whatever Kevin, you douchebag, but what does this have to do with the internet? Well, I guess I'm suggesting that the media as we know it is going to change dramatically over the next few years. It's already happening with print news, as it slowly begins to lose money to internet news and cable channels. If I were a more pessimistic person, I would even go so far as to say that newspapers are about to disappear forever, and someday I'll be perusing a museum with my robot grandchildren saying, "See that, Blanka Jr.? I used to read those before I discovered free things." And yes, I really will name my progeny after Street Fighter characters. But the point is that the internet will eventually, at the very least, remove profits from a lot of business models as we know them. Damage has already occurred in the music industry. It's even happened before, when the big switch from radio to television occurred. I'm guessing that I'm not the only person in the world to realize that I can save literally hundreds of dollars by splitting a ten mbps rate with three other people.

Do I think that media companies will be shutting their doors for good in the near future? No, nothing so dramatic. However, I think a strike that demands more money from a company that will most likely be losing money in the next few years is not the way to go. I hate to say it, WGA, but jump ship. Quit the strike, but don't go back to work for the television companies you formally worked for. Get your friends together and start up your own youtube channel, podcast show, myspace page, or whatever. Because if you want to make money off the internet in the future, it looks like that's going to be the way to go.

I mean, they were puppets that made prank phone calls. Who the hell thought that deserved a raise?
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