God knows how many times I’ve blogged about (a) the future of the Net NOT being 8 billion bloggers, and (b) why the Threebies – Big Barbarian Beasts – will take over in order to make it censorious and give it an agenda. But the evidence is all around us that the process is accelerating at an alarming rate.
Ian Dale has gone. Anna Raccoon has retired hurt. Guido gets the odd great scoop, but on the whole he’s become an online media-buying house, and doyen of the hard, vaguely anarchic Right. And as the blogging fad reaches its nadir, so too the control-freaks (sporting grey suits, thick necks and bizarre bigotry) are buying their way in.
Newsweek has bagged The Daily Beast, and – infamously – Arianna Huffington has sold out (in every sense) to the weird AOL cult. Huffpost was one of the last bastions of eclectic opinion and open-minded comment-thread management. Now – as The Slog discovered quite quickly – threaders either toe the Party line, or get banned.
Equally shameful is the decision by Steve Jobs to do a tablet deal with Newscorp, an arrangement that will see Rupert Murdoch’s News online portal getting massive access to all kinds of lucrative niches. You only have to read the output of The Sun and the New York Daily Post to grasp what an infestation of paid-for Murbollochs Newscorp online will be…..if it survives the UK Hackgate scandal, which I increasingly doubt.
One genuinely independent and unbiased UK title – The First Post – was founded by Mark Law and backed by ethical US financier Marty Finegold. Law’s editorial policy – “all over the place” – was a delight, and gave open-minded writers (including me) the chance to express their views in a calm environment free from off-limits subjects. But Law did not hang around long after the The Week founder Felix Dennis took it over; now it too is a sort of soulless online digest of news, largely devoid of interesting analysis.
Along with the agendas and the paywalls and the party lines has come the inevitable Invasion of the Truth Snatchers – aka, the superinjunction sector of the legal ‘profession’. Most online surfers know the identity of the soccer star who gratuitously used his hugely inflated salary to keep a grubby sexual dalliance out of the media. He has now instructed his hand-rubbing solicitors to force Twitter to hand over the names of those who ‘broke’ the injunction he had successfully negotiated….via a judge of whom the kindest verdict would be an assumption of dementia. If this isn’t money and influence flouting equality before the law, then what is? Worse still, it’s wasted money: the secret will out in the end, as Freddie Goodwin’s did yesterday. Only the superego believes in the eternal power of the superinjunction.
The word is that Twitter (a company based in California) will comply with the Court’s demand on behalf of this footballer. That too would be a sign that this once mould-breaking outfit has lost the plot.
For it’s not just the suits buying their way into the Web: former pioneers have turned into clones of those they once despised: Microsoft is down in the silo complex along with Google and Facebook, and the last of these is busy consorting with the Lloyd Blankfein and his fellow bonus-bandits at Goldin Sacks.
My original discipline of choice was modern history. Most folks in the elite use history to justify arid thinking, or ignore it in order to claim the future. Few if any of them ever learn from it. I take one lesson above all from history: it is not made by social trends and technology and climate – or any other pseudo-science. These things drive history, but they don’t change it. History is changed – and the future redefined – by very special human beings.
The overriding assumption of everyone from the cynically ignorant Establishment down to the chattering classes is that the future will be big, globalist, unethical and brutish. I think that the edifice will collapse before we get anywhere near that, because its internal contradictions almost dictate such a conclusion.
However, I also think that the future could and may well be media-combine dominated and invasive; and it is going to take ballsy individuals to stop that eventuality…because there is no inbuilt cultural reformation on the horizon to stop it.