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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

QOTD: Is the military-industrial-entertainment complex trying to ensure we stay passive consumers, not active creators?

blipvert Max Headroom

Have you had your digital soma today?

Sue Gardner, executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, observed in a recent interview on the Australian radio show “Future Tense” that Wikipedia participants who transition to tablet devices seem to contribute less as a result, because those devices “are better for watching videos and surfing the internet than for typing text.”

Her real point was that this is not just a problem for Wikipedia, it’s also a potentially profound shift in how to think about what the Internet is for. Instead of being a place where all sorts of people create all sorts of things for all sorts of audiences, Gardner continued, “I think increasingly what’s happening is, partly as a result of the kinds of devices that are being manufactured and that people are buying, people are moving toward a more consumption-based Internet experience from a production-based experience.”

(I’m quoting Rob Walker at Yahoo! News; go to Australian ABC’s Radio National to listen to the radio program he’s quoting, or to read the transcript.)
Bronxbee, who sent this in, writes:

now, won’t this actually be an advantage for those large media corporations that are always complaining the internets is stealing their stuff? is this marshall mcluhan to extremes?

This might work to reduce piracy, if we’re all just too couch-potatoey to bother pirating, but far more insidious to me is the likelihood that we’re moving back toward letting Big Content have a monopoly — or near monopoly — on the news and entertainment we consume. Will we lose the Wild West feel of the Net, where so many people who might otherwise have been vegging out on the sofa in front of the TV have instead been spending their free time starting blogs and writing fan fiction and creating Web comics and analyzing publicly what they watch?

Was Fox Mulder right? Is the military-industrial-entertainment complex trying to ensure we stay passive consumers, not active creators?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTD sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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