For the United States it is voting day at last.
As early as tomorrow freedom will ring across the land as all the political ads will finally stop running. Yes, for once in my life, I’ll be happy to hear about side effects (up to and including death), how much money I won’t have in my retirement and garments specially designed for Americans and made in China so they can inhale whole containers of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream (where a pint is still 16 ounces) and finger the remote control – all at the same time!
This day brings a lot of craziness.
I’m not going to miss the ads. Let’s take a look at Measure WTF. Ostensibly this measure was brought to the ballot via the citizen initiative process. What does that mean? Most likely that paid canvassers collected the signatures. What’s that? I love the smell of democracy in the morning.
I hate to be the bearer of bad news (actually not true) but I think I’ve figured out how it works. (I don’t just bitch, either. I’ll also include solutions. I’m proactive that way.)
- Netflix is the only source for Netflix Original programming: House of Cards and Orange Is The New Black.
- Hulu is the only source for Hulu Original programming: None come to mind but I do know they’ll have commercials.
- Amazon Prime has mostly the same shit.
- iTunes offers the same content but at premium ala carte prices.
- HBO is the only source for HBO Original programming: The Newsroom and Game Of Thrones.
- CBS is a bunch of greedy dillholes: Survivor and Big Bang Theory.
- MLB is the only source for most MLB Original programming but only if you have enough money. Otherwise they won’t even stream the goddamned World Series. (I was actually surprised by this, but only for a nanosecond.)
I prognosticated to my wife a long time ago that the days of accessing “content” would soon be coming to a close. This week we moved much closer to that reality. You like some shows on Hulu and some on Netflix? You’ll have to buy both even if the remaining majority of their DNA is essentially the same. Exclusivity is the ticket to getting customers to pay more than once. And make no mistake, it is all out global thermonuclear war on your wallet. That is the only thing that matters. They don’t do this for fun.
Sure, you love kids, so you gleefully punched out one, two or even octo-quantities of them. (Hint: Almost as many as a nine-round ammo clip.) But then, like a baby chick a few days after Easter Sunday, they stick around and are always underfoot, demanding attention and care.
It’s not like you can make a chicken-and-egg scrambled omelet with them and viola! Problem deliciously solved! (Although an amazing number of parents do find a way to carry out filicide but that’s decidedly outside the scope of this post.)
Like the vast majority of my blog posts, it all started when I decided to set foot out of my house…
Looking for some dinner my wife and I drove into the parking lot of the divey Chinese restaurant. The lot was amazingly full. What gives? The food must be awesome here, eh?
But when we walked into the dining area, only two tables were occupied. Huh?
That’s when I slapped my head and yelled, “D’oh!” I almost forgot I live in Oregon. That’s where they have a state-run lottery and run a continuous stream of commercials urging the citizenry to go out and gamble because doing so accomplishes “good things.” (Like increasing revenue into state coffers.)
Sure, they simultaneously run anti-gambling ads but that’s only because they like a mixed-up, dazed and confused populace. Let’s blast ’em with a hot mix of pro-gambling and anti-gambling messages … at the same time, they seem to be saying whilst rubbing their hands together in glee. That’ll learn ’em a lesson!
Indeed. What’s not good for the individual is apparently good for the state.
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Every book on building websites and blogs has stressed the following point since ancient humans first described their hunts using stick figures scrabbled onto cave walls:
Content is king.
I guess that’s why the latest It Thing that makes the internet go is building innumerable barriers to content. A new day dawns. Welcome to the Lack of Information Age.
The paradigm shift away from content is now complete. Content is an old and busted philosophy. The new reality is stark and simple. It’s called Money Grub. Low class, I know, but somehow it always comes back to the almighty dollar.
One website I really enjoy recently sent out a bulk email containing the urgent news. Web traffic is surging while revenue (dependent on advertising) is plummeting into the toilet. As you might imagine, that’s not a very effective combination. This immensely successful website is now asking for donations and characterizes the situation as their very survival at stake.
Being one of the biggest and best websites on the web is no longer good enough to guarantee survival.
Meanwhile, the assault on our eyeballs, patience and intelligence is is full swing. How do they ignore the old adage “Content is King?” Let me count the ways.
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Television commercials used to employ this rather snarky trick. (No doubt they still do, but I eschew commercial-based television so I don’t really know. I’d rather chew off my own leg and/or mate with Miley Cyrus.)
The trick worked like this:
You’d turn on the TV and select a show. You’d adjust the volume to a reasonable and comfortable level for watching the show.
Then, a commercial would come on and the windows would get blown out of your house. Shellshocked, with blood leaking from your ears due to the burst eardrums, you’d scrabble in vain for the remote control and fail. But it didn’t matter because it was already too late.
Like always, advertising is a subtle business with a deft touch.
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“Grandpa, tell me again the way video worked in the old days. You know, back when you were a kid!”
The old man chuckled as he rocked the child on his withered knee. “Timmy, we didn’t call it video. It was television or TV.”
The child squirmed angrily. “Tell me, grandpa! Tell me about TV!”
“Alright, young pup. I’ve told this story so many times. I still can’t believe you want to hear it again …”
“I do! I do!” interrupted the child.
“… but here goes. The TV was a box we kept in a special room. Just like we usually keep the refrigerator in the kitchen.”
The kid nodded, indicating he understood the strange concept.
“Television wasn’t something you did at your computer. Or carry around in your pocket.” The old man pointed at the device held in tiny hands on which Timmy’s total attention was affixed.
“Sure, it took a minute for the TV to warm up. But once it did, you could turn a thing called a dial as fast as you wanted. Oh no. There were no remote controls back then. You had to earn it. The point is, if you listen, goddamn it, that the picture would change just as fast as you could turn that dial.”
The old man paused for dramatic effect.
“Back then,” he whispered conspiratorially, “there was not such thing as … loading.” He punctuated the sentence by spitting on the floor.
An angry female shout came from the other room. “Pops!! Cut that out.”
Gramps had to get in the last word. “Pah! That’s before you youngins came along with your so-called digital and ruined it all.”
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