India Uncut

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Sunday, September 24, 2006

"Everyone's got a factory"

Chris Anderson, whose book The Long Tail I had reviewed here, says in an interview with Nick Gillespie:
What we’re realizing is that talent and expertise and knowledge and writing ability is much more broadly distributed than our previous forms of identifying it revealed. The old model was if you want to make a movie, you had to get your foot in the door in Hollywood. If you want an audience for your music, you’ve got to get signed by a label. If you want to write a book, you’ve got to have a publisher.

The old model said: We control the factory, and you have to go through us. Now everyone’s got a factory, and we find that there are more people who have talent and, more important, they’re making things that our filters haven’t previously recognized as having appeal. They’re making stuff because they want to make stuff and because they can. Most of it’s crap, but a surprising amount of it is not crap, and you’re getting these grassroots, bottoms-up hits that are resonating with subcultures that we traditional gatekeepers would never have bothered with.
Blogs are a part of what's enabling this, of course. The stuff I write here wouldn't fit into traditional forms of journalism, and at most I could email it to friends in a pre-blog era. Even then, how long could I keep that up? Blogging gives me an audience of a few thousand, meaningless to a bigtime publisher, but enough of an incentive for me to keep at it. It also allows me to control my content, and not have to listen to some editor somewhere who'd tell me stuff like, "But aren't you overdoing the cows?" or "What is this 'fun comes' business? Passive voice is baaad English."

Of course, the long tail thrives not just because of the content but also because of the filters that helps us navigate this content to find what we want. I try a dual role here, actually: I try to provide interesting content, and also to be a filter to some of the exciting stuff out there. I think I do okay on the first front given the limited time I have for this, but not so good at the second one. That will change.

Anyway, back to Anderson's interview, in which he identifies himself exactly as I would, as a libertarian who admires politicans who are "socially liberal and fiscally market-oriented." He says:
They try to enable markets wherever possible and there’s not a kind of default inclination toward regulation. It’s a mind-set that doesn’t look to government first for answers but looks to government last for answers.
I wish we had even one politician in India who thought like that. But our chappies will look to government first for answers because that is how they get to enhance their power, and also because the contituencies they appeal to are too used to the idea of a paternalistic government to realise the harm such paternalism does. Free TV sets will sound good to all slum-dwellers, who will not realise that the costs of those TV sets, and the kind of policies they represent, keep them from becoming prosperous enough to buy their own TV sets.

I'm a huge fan of TV sets, by the by. But only when they are in midair, thrown from the 84th floor of a hotel, passing the 14th floor restaurant where I'm sitting looking out and wondering if I should order one more drink.

(Reason link via Boing Boing.)
amit varma, 1:14 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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