Wednesday, May 06, 2009

On the Dangers of Walled Gardens and Locked Gates

Steve Pratt of CBC Radio 3 has an excellent post on 'walled gardens' vs Setting your content free (which is an old topic/rule but still totally relevant.) Canadian media companies, from my point of view anyway, still haven't fully grasped the concept, or they are still very resistant to it. You should definitely read Steve's post but this one is about something related, but slightly different.

Canada's media juggernauts have done such a terrible job of covering Canadian arts and artists that, in the free and open media environment that we currently live in, more and more of the artists are losing interest in the media Juggernauts. Over at NxEW I talk to musicians, promoters etc., daily that don't really care about the old rules, or even the old media much anymore. They are more than willing to ignore SoCan policies, and the advise of others who 'represent' them in Ottawa and elsewhere. They give their music away freely (to me and others) without restrictions or conditions. They don't care about or want a Canadian DMCA and, while most of them would be more than happy to get coverage from 'old media' they no longer count on or rely on it. Instead they (we) are building their own press, their own audience, their own contacts and this shadow media is growing by the day in terms of size and popularity while traditional media debates how it is going to survive. I've seen evidence of similar things happening in Canadian literature, film, and other areas of the arts.

By paying so little attention to Canadian art and artists, and by fighting so hard to protect their entrenched status, much of Canadian media has essentially alienated themselves. As I said in the comments on Steve's blog, rather than lock the barbarian hordes out, they have locked themselves in. Essentially they have decided to wall themselves away and take all of the 'gold shekels' with them with the assumption that without any shekels the 'hordes' would have to come back to them.

What they don't seem to understand is that media is organic and like Michael Crichton said in Jurassic Park 'life will find a way.' You cannot legislate how people consume media any more than you can legislate how people breathe, it's something people just do, not something they think about (except for a few odd ones like me). If you take away all their media people won't die, they won't even be particularly upset by it, they'll just create their own - which is exactly what is happening. Without any of those 'shekels' people have just created their own currency, their own 'economic system' and life is moving on just as it was before. Meanwhile the old kings behind their well fortified walls are starting to discover that they can't eat shekels and are getting hungry.

As I said above they have locked themselves in and rather than, as they expected, having the upper hand in any negotiations may well have to negotiate their re-entry into the culture, a culture that no longer cares about shekels.

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