You are browsing the archive for 2016 February.

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by nmw

Free Spech, Freedom of the Press and Paid Content

2016-02-10 in Uncategorized

If you think your so-called right to free speech grants you the permission to post a full-page ad on the cover of the New York Times (or on the homepage of nytimes.com), I think you are mistaken.

By the way: I also think there is some confusion about the role of advertising in the global economy. Most people think an online advertisement costs little or nothing. The truth is: It costs a lot, but companies like Google will pay very little (almost nothing) to companies like the New York Times for the right to place Google ads on the pages of the New York Times (never mind that Google also probably uses the ads to track which New York Times articles people are actually reading – in order to sell them something Google makes more money on when those people use Google to search for something else).

Yet I digress….

Back to your so-called right to free speech. It ain’t free. There’s a traditional German song called „Die Gedanken sind frei“ (i.e. „thoughts are free“) – and while that may be true, you can’t always say what you want (something people like Edward Snowdon and/or Julian Assange maybe should have thought about a little more).

Yet I digress again….

I think quite a few people think that my view of literacy involves needing to pay for valuable domain names – and I think there may indeed be some credence to that point of view. If / When people then conclude that my arguments are against their so-called right to free speech, then they are (in my humble opinion) wrong.

In case you don’t know: There’s no such thing as a free lunch. There’s no such thing as free anything. I paid to write this post – not with money, but with time… and with blood, sweat and tears. You are also paying to read it – there is an „opportunity cost“ you are paying for not doing something else instead.

Ergo: Free speech is not free.

Everything costs something. One of the basic tenets of free markets is that people can freely choose to value different things according to how much they are willing to pay for them. I bet there is even a price for placing a full-page ad on the cover / homepage of the NYT (BTW: Google has been placing ads on their homepage for many years already – but most people don’t even realize that).

If your content is worthless to you, then it seems reasonable to post it somewhere that seems to cost nothing. However: If you expect me to pay attention to it, then that seems rather unreasonable to me.

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by nmw

Why Literacy Rates Still Remain So Low

2016-02-09 in Uncategorized

I often lament that the vast majority of people who are active online are still by and large illiterate. I may be right, I may be wrong, I may be somewhere in between – but why does it matter?

Perhaps it matters for many reasons, but my primary concern is that I feel personal whim – whether my own personal whim or someone else’s – should not be the judge of what is good or bad.

If more people were more literate, then the web would be more of a self-organizing system. People who write about advertising in sports might publish their ideas @ sports.com … people who share their ideas about the influence of money in politics might post these to a site like influence-of-money-in-politics.org … and so on. This already happens to a limited extent – let me describe it thusly: Over the past recent decades, the WWW-population has transitioned from being about 0.01% literate to maybe being somewhere around 0.1% literate… – and let me point out that some might rejoice at the exponential growth!

Why don’t I also rejoice?

Because there are a large number of quite influential agents who seem to be opposed to any increase in the level of literacy. Indeed, there is every reason to believe that a large portion of the literate population are indeed such influencers who seek to diminish the voice of the vast majority by
keeping them misinformed, uneducated, … basically: illiterate.

These influencers are strongly represented not only among the literate minority, but also among the world’s leading brand names … and are household brands with stronger stangleholds on the vast majority of masses living in quiet desparation than gigantic armies of grade school English teachers could ever muster. Did you mean you didn’t know that already?

Why am I not surprized?

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