There's no point closing the barn door after the horse has left the barn. There's even less of a point once the horse has left the barn, galloped away, been captured by another farmer, put to use pulling plows for a decade, died, sold for meat, turned into glue, and licked off the palm of an ADHD preschooler.
But man's reach must exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for? The traditional media is perfectly willing to go to the pre-school and issue a tendentious lecture to the pre-schooler, and possibly to the glue. In today's episode, highlighted with appropriate skepticism with Scott Greenfield, traditional media figures are approaching the problem of sleazy and dishonest aggregation (or outright theft) of their content by forming a committee, the "Council on Ethical Blogging and Aggregation," to explain to the internet how it ought to be working. The New York Times highlights the committee membership:
An august list of names has signed on to the effort: David Granger, the editor in chief of Esquire; James Bennet, editor in chief of The Atlantic; and Adam Moss of New York magazine. Of course, all three oversee robust Web sites that do a fair amount of aggregating themselves.
The committee includes digital media natives like Elizabeth Spiers, editor in chief of The New York Observer; Mark Armstrong, a founder of Longreads.com; and Jacob Weisberg, chairman and editor in chief of Slate.
So, in effect, it's 1910 and the representatives of Ford Motor Co. and Big Hay are meeting to see how their constituencies can share the streets.
It's nice of them to try. But changes are not going to happen because a well-intentioned committee proposes ethical guidelines. It will come, as Scott says, organically:
Just as growth in the blogosphere is organic, so too is its ability to self-police, which it's been doing since the beginning. Someone says something stupid or does something inappropriate, and someone else jumps down their throat. If a blog sells crap, no one reads it. If a blogger steals from others, others call it out and ridicule it unmercifully. This was how the wild west and the blogosphere worked, and worked incredibly well.
So, best of luck there, Council. As Scott points out, like any good modern movement, they're concerned with graphics. They've decided that the best way to convey their steely grasp of new media is to ask everyone to denote attribution by using symbols reminiscent of the one Prince used to signify his flagging career in 1993.
This post was inspired and based largely on the work of the lawyer usually known as Scott, and occasionally as "stop making fun of my marketing ideas, asshole."
Last 5 posts by Ken White
- Free Speech Triumphant Or Free Speech In Retreat? - June 21st, 2017
- The Power To Generate Crimes Rather Than Merely Investigate Them - June 19th, 2017
- Free Speech, The Goose, And The Gander - June 17th, 2017
- Free Speech Tropes In The LA Times - June 8th, 2017
- I write letters - June 1st, 2017