Friday, October 27, 2006

It's irrelevant, it's boring, you wouldn't read it if it weren't in your dentist's office, it's a third rate Newsweek. Let's face it: Maclean's sucks

This was Maclean's cover this week:



Now, I'm about as likely to notice Maclean's on the newsstand as I am to pick up a copy of Reader's Digest, but I was at a lecture given by Barry Wellman this week and he pointed it out.

I knew that there was no way that I was going to be convinced that the internet 'sucked' by anyone, never mind someone writing in Maclean's, but I was interested in what the point of the article was. So I read it (on the internet). And there goes five minutes I'll never get back.

Steve Maich doesn't think that anything special has come from the internet. Which proves that he is either intellectually dishonest or not qualified to write an article on the topic. To sum up the points of the article are:

There are way better inventions than the internet. For example, the washing machine. It's hard to argue with that. After all, doing laundry makes things all nice and clean, whereas the easy access to porn means that the internet makes you dirrrty.

The music industry (and the entertainment industry at large) is suffering because of file sharing. Personally, I can't sleep nights for the thought that Clive Davis may be forced to sell a mansion. Yes, things are changing. This has meant significant shifts in the music industry. Technology has reduced production costs, it is now cheaper and easier to distribute music, and artists are less reliant on promoters to get heard by an audience. I sure hope that they don't figure out a way to transfer these lower costs to the consumer. I don't dismiss the serious problem of copyright infringement (or at least no more than Maich dismisses the fact that many people are, in fact, paying for music online), but every new technology has had consequences for older industries, does that mean the technology is bad? (Is the author still upset by what the Spinning Jenny did to the traditional yarn industry?).

People can say whatever they want on the internet and get to hear things that the mainstream media would never say. Much like the washing machine argument, this one is hard to disagree with. After all, I am more likely to pop virtual bubble wrap than I am to read an article in Maclean's, but that's because I happen to find it more intellectually stimulating. I am sick to death of hearing criticism from old media that I am reading the wrong things and only those things that confirm my own beliefs. If everyone who regularly reads blogs agrees to subscribe to one piece of old school dreck will journalists agree to stop writing articles like this? I would be willing to pay to stop having to hear this argument repeated endlessly. I find it tiresome that in 2006 anyone presumes to know what I should be interested in, or what is 'good for me'. And it is illogical to think that I am more likely to read things I disagree with when I have to pay for them in print form than I am to read them for free on the internet. Of course, that's not quite what these journalists usually mean. Rather they would prefer that we access unbiased, neutral sources written by professionals who use facts, rather than bloggers who only have opinions. Conveniently, these supposedly unbiased, neutral publications usually pay their salaries. Isn't it great when your belief system coincides so well with your financial interests?!

People spend time online when they could be talking to their neighbours. I suppose I could be having deep discussions with the old lady who nearly burnt down my building or the girls who sing James Blunt songs at all hours of the day, but I'd rather spend time reading the musings of complete strangers in Chicago or New York . I apologise for being responsible for the downfall of civilisation.

People are being scammed online. People who agree to give someone access to their bank account with the promise that they'll be able to help them sneak money out of Nigeria deserve to be robbed.

Won't somebody please think of the children. Children are being solicited sexually online! You know what the biggest threat to children is? People they know. Family members, teachers, clergymen, coaches, scout leaders. If you notice that Uncle Bill is on your daughter's buddy list, I would strongly recommend that you have a chat with her.

Basically, this article points out that the worst of human nature can be found online. Whereas Maclean's Magazine? Why that ain't nothin' but mediocrity!!

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