Month: January 2015

The End Of Blogging?

Here is Noah Millman commenting on Andrew Sullivan’s decision to retire. What is the future of blogging?

Forgive me if I see Andrew Sullivan’s departure from blogging as more than just a routine retirement by a pioneer in a new media field. Rather, I see it as an extremely negative omen for that very field.

Andrew Sullivan was not just one of the pioneers in creating the blogging form, and in demonstrating how you create a personal brand on the web. Beyond that, he was one of the first to understand that what he was doing, most fundamentally, was not writing, or even editing, but curating – organizing the vast trackless swamp of the internet into material that his audience would be interested in.

And beyond that, he was pioneering a business model that I believed held the best hope for anybody getting paid for producing “content” in the age of on-line distribution. He asked his audience to pay, to subscribe to what amounts to “the web as I see it.”

I say that that is the best hope for anybody getting paid for producing content based on the following syllogism.

First, there are only three ways to monetize traffic. Either you give everything away for free and sell advertising. Or you get people to pay for specific content. Or you get people to pay for a subscription to a whole suite of content.

The problem with the first is that on-line advertising is massively deleterious to the on-line reading (and watching and listening) experience. And it doesn’t work very well in terms of motivating purchases. And most efforts to mitigate the one or the other are massively corrupting of the creative or journalistic enterprise (as Sullivan was well-aware).

The problem with paying for specific content is that you don’t know whether the content is worth purchasing until after you’ve purchased it, which creates a substantial barrier to purchase. If you’re talking about a feature film for which you can consult Metacritic or Rotten Tomatoes or whatever to learn whether it’s likely to suit, that’s one thing. But if you’re talking about a news article, or a web short, or a poem, that’s not an option.

The problem with subscriptions is that, generally, the way they are enforced is by creating a paywall around the content. Nothing gets inside the wall unless it was worth paying for up-front. And once it’s inside the wall, the only way to access it is to be a subscriber. This creates a two-tier world where most people are producing and distributing stuff without compensation, hoping to get them “hosted” by sites that don’t pay them, and eventually to “graduate” to paid work. But the prevalence of so much free work means that there is constant, brutal pressure on compensation for content-creators.

Read the whole thing here.

David P. Goldman on the dilemma now facing France

Here is a short insightful piece by David P. Goldman (aka Spengler) at PJ Media on the choices and decisions France faces in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attack in Paris.

What Can France Do Now?

Posted By David P. Goldman On January 8, 2015 @ 9:55 am In Uncategorized | 56 Comments

Along with journalists and writers everywhere, I mourn our murdered colleagues at Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly that had the courage to poke fun at Islam, and paid a horrendous price. This is a new and terrible step on the part of the terrorists: they have threatened individual journalists for years and forced a few into hiding or witness protection. But the assault on the premises of a news organization and the massacre of its staff is an entirely new thing. We have never seen anything like this before in the sorry history of terrorism.

How will France respond?

France now faces an existential dilemma. By most independent estimates France now has a Muslim population of 6 million, or almost 10% of its 65 million people. If we assume that just 1% of this population are radicalized to the point of engaging in or providing support for terrorist activities, that is a pool of 60,000 individuals. We are not speaking of 60,000 potential bombers or shooters, but a support network that will allow a much smaller number of terrorists to blend into the broader population. In the “no-go” zones of France now effectively ruled by Muslim gangs, moreover, the terrorists can intimidate the Muslim population. France already has lost the capacity to police part of its territory, which means that it cannot conduct effective counter-terror operations

To put that number in context, the whole prison population of France is less than 70,000, of whom 60% are Muslims. It only takes a few dozen trained terrorists with an effective support network to bring ordinary life to a stop in a major city. France has had the toughest enforcement policy against radical Islam among the major European nations, as Daniel Pipes observes. But French security clearly has been overwhelmed. The use of assault rifles and (reportedly) a rocket launcher by highly-skilled gunmen in the center of Paris is a statement of contempt towards the authorities on the part of the terrorists.

The means by which France could defeat the terrorists are obvious: To compel the majority of French Muslims to turn against the terrorists, the French authorities would have to make them fear the French state more than they fear the terrorists. That is a nasty business involving large numbers of deportations, revocation of French citizenship, and other threats that inevitably would affect many individuals with no direct connection to terrorism. In the short term it would lead to more radicalization. The whole project of integration as an antidote to radicalism would go down the drain. The effort would be costly, but ultimately it would succeed: most French Muslims simply want to stay in France and earn a living.

There is no good outcome here, but the worst outcome would be the degeneration of France into a hostage state.