Ghost Sites of the Web

Web 1.0 history, forgotten web celebrities, old web sites, commentary, and news by Steve Baldwin. Published erratically since 1996.

December 04, 2007

Does Anybody Actually Miss Television?

Both Hollywood/TV Writers and Media Owners Need to Get a ClueRemember TV? That big glowing one-way box that sat in your living room, providing your only window into the world? You still see them once in a while: at pizza parlors, or in airport waiting rooms, but it's an endangered device, and nobody takes it seriously anymore.

I don't own a television. Nor does my daughter, nor do many of the younger people I work with. The magic brand letters NBC, CBS, ABC, and even MTV mean nothing to them. The shows they grew up with have been so mediocre that there isn't even nostalgia for TV the way there was for the older generation, who still fondly recall Star Trek, Mission Impossible and Hawaii-Five-O.

The death dance between writers and network owners entered its first month, with neither side willing to budge. The TV writers remain darlings with newspaper writers (another endangered bunch), and for this reason alone the strike remains in the public eye. But time is on no one's side in this battle, because today's media audience isn't suffering because TV long ago stopped being a "must watch" medium.

Sadly, both the union writers and the network owners are dinosaurs, and it's sad to say them dying this way, so bitter, so hardset in their positions, so unwilling to face the fact that tomorrow's world of entertainment may lack a bargainable compensation model for a long time to come. In this new world, there will only be two kinds of content providers: a tiny group of people who do it for the money, and a much larger group who write their words and produce their works because, as they used to say in the 1980's, they have "something to say and a place to say it."

There is no doubt in my mind that the future belongs to the latter, not the former.

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November 19, 2007

I Was Totally Wrong About "Quarterlife"

I Was Totally Wrong About QuarterlifeWow - was I wrong about Quarterlife, which I predicted back in September would sink without a trace. Instead, it's headed directly for network television, thanks to the writer's strike that is crippling broadcast media. Look for the network guys to be trolling around Youtube looking for more dregs to serve up to the broadcast audience -- you could be next!

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November 06, 2007

Both Hollywood/TV Writers and Media Owners Need to Get a Clue

Both Hollywood/TV Writers and Media Owners Need to Get a ClueA number of people have sent me angry e-mails decrying what they term to be an overly unsympathetic stance re the Hollywood/TV writers who are now on strike. One e-mailer even called me "a running dog for the networks."

Let me be clear: I'm a (non-union) writer by trade and so I'm naturally pro-writer. I frankly don't think much of the professionalized, unionized class of writers who churn out the lowest-common denominator material that passes for entertainment on television, but that doesn't mean that I'm any more sympathetic towards the media owners who employ them. Media owners, who've historically squeezed creative types since the dawn of time, are the lowest of the low, and they deserve every ounce of pain that a sustained writers strike will rain on them.

My point is that both of these classes: media writers and media owners, need to get a clue. The model that underlies the whole structure of entertainment is collapsing, and both classes going down with it. Neither can count on the old model surviving much longer: frankly, I doubt that there will even be a "media industry" in five years. I don't have much hope that media owners will make it through this transition, but writers who stake their creative claim to the emerging new model have a chance, if they can free themselves of their dependence on what I called "the corporate teat" and set out for themselves on line.

The going won't be easy, the money won't be as rich as they're used to, but at least they'll be laying a foundation for their future. They should use this time off to think about what they would do if NBC, CBS, and ABC went away (because they will go away), step up to the online content plate, and start pitching, not to the networks, but directly to the people. It's the only way out of this morass.

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November 02, 2007

Hollywood/TV Writers Want to Strike? Nobody Cares!

Hollywood Writers Want to Strike? Nobody Cares!The pampered, overpaid union writers who churn out the mediocre crap you might still watch on the boob tube are probably going on strike this Monday.

All I can say is Boo Hoo Hoo. You "writers" have been sucking at the teat of the corporate Hollywood/Network TV/Mass Media pig for far too long. The pig is dying and now you want your pound of flesh, but it's much too late: you should have been out trying to do something original, something real, something that wasn't wood-chips-for-money right here on the Web, eight or ten years ago, instead of continuing to serve this decaying beast with the only brain that God gave you.

It's not easy out here - writing for the Web will make you at max maybe $200 a month if you're good, but that's the way Tom Friedman says globalization works, and it's good enough for me. Give up your addiction to the bones that Big Media throws you from its Dioxin-laced table and strike out on your own: you'll have a few tough years but if you've never spent a couple of seasons living in your car (as I have) your pampered life can't possibly have enough in it to produce any truths worth writing about. Sorry but I have no sympathy for your plight: you hitched your life to the wrong horse and guess what? That horse doesn't need you anymore: American went sub-literate in the 1970s and nobody's going to miss you.

Writers? You aren't writers, just self-important pawns in a game that doesn't matter in an age of distributed, user-generated content. You're going down, and so are your masters. It won't be pretty but you had your chance and you missed it, and the good old days of erudite corporate ass-kissing for big paychecks aren't coming back anytime soon.

A close encounter with reality, American style, is just what you miserable hacks need. Sorry, but there's no laugh track to prop you up this time around.


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