Archive for March, 2015

An abundance of crap devalues the good junk

March 12, 2015

Earlier today a tweet from Alyssa Rosenberg caught my eye. She was linking to this article in the Business Insider that goes into detail about how the author finds the $15 price tag that HBO is putting on its new Now service to be too high, especially in comparison to Netflix’s sub-ten dollar rates. Rosenberg comments that she is always surprised how people put a low value on content they love, and I think it’s a good observation. I think the problem is that there is now so much crap out there for free that paying anything for something feels wrong somehow. Steve Kovach, the author of the Business Insider article, uses Netflix as his counter example for a service that charges less but has a significantly larger pool from which view from, but he could have just as easily used Youtube.

Try it. Go to Youtube, click on something trending that tickles your fancy, and then see how quickly you get sucked down the rabbit hole. It doesn’t matter if the video quality sucks, if the script writing is non-existent, and the actors (assuming it’s not animal tricks and or kids trying to be overly stupid on skateboards) are not exactly Meryl Streep caliber.

And it doesn’t matter.

Open up Netflix and see what’s trending. Pick a category to browse and see how far you scroll down and how much of the catelog is stuff that amazes only in the sense that someone shelled out the cash for it to be made in the first place. Then look at how much of the crap you watch (I watch a fair chunk).

For less than ten buck a month we are granted access to a near unlimited cache of crap. For the cost of an internet connection we have youtube. $15 for HBO? Yeah, I like True Detective. Yeah, I’m curious about Game of Thrones.

But $15?

The next hour I spend on youtube is nothing. Hey, look, it’s Earl Sinclair covering Biggie’s Hypnotize. 

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my twitter feed has gone silent

March 3, 2015

For a long while, I was off of twitter. I’ve never been a big poster, but I did have those that I followed and enjoyed reading the barrage of tweets and retweets from, experiencing the news and the world through their lens as filtered through the little blue bird. Then plugin I used suddenly disagreed with the browser I was using, and I was off twitter as I eventually migrated to a new browser and found my plugs in again.

In that time, I lost one of the lions of my twitter feed. David Carr collapsed in the newsroom of the New York Times and died on February 12th. It was a death I noted at the time, felt all of the normal pangs of mortality you start to feel after thirty and seeing someone else you now consider “young” go well before their time. It didn’t immediately strike me how large of a loss this was to my web of interests, though, to the interconnected nodes of information that I routinely draw upon, open up, and muck about it to maintain some semblance of connection with the human race.

Then I got my app for for running my twitter feed up and going again, I started remaking all of the little groups I had put together, and David Carr was still sitting there. Waiting. I added him to my Must Read group, where he had been before, knowing however that I would not have anything from him cross my feed again. After a lot of clicking, arranging, re-arranging, I settled myself for the time being and just let twitter run away in the background, figuring to check on it in a half hour or so just to see what was coming up again.

A lot of what came up before. My sports group clicked along with updates from the local reporters of my favorite teams. The publishers, agents, etc. that I follow was filling up another group with their assorted tweets. Then there was my Must Read group. There were tweets in there, to be sure, but someone was missing. It was noticeable immediately, and it was only then that the real loss of David Carr began to sink in. I had allowed my Times membership to lapse, so I wasn’t a regular reader of his column, but I had been a devoted follower of his twitter feed. On February twelfth alone, before he so wrongly passed away, he had seven posts and I have since went back and read all seven; the last of which telling us to tune in to a talk he was taking part of with Glen Greenwald, Ed Snowden, and Laura Poitras. The day before he had eleven posts including a retweet of a story of an Australian man who knit sweaters for injured penguins.

He was a prolific and varied tweeter, pushing into twittersphere whatever tickled his fancy at the moment. In 140 characters he unfailingly delivered his message. I have also read his autobiography, The NIght of the Gun. Now I think of the family Mr. Carr has left behind, and how great their loss must be. I’m not sure anything can ever truly assuage that loss. Over time, the feeling of it will hopefully lessen. Then maybe they can take solace in the bit of Carr all of us still has left to us, his words. From the archived articles at the New York Times to his still existent but silent twitter feed, there is a wealth of Carr still out there. Still accessible. The things that have survived him, that allow him to reach across the void. His words. Whenever we want, we can still take a small break in the day, and hear him speak, about the media, or about penguins in funny sweaters.