The phylogeny of podcasting duly recapitulates the ontogeny of every other online format

White middle-class youth, always the last to know, finally discover rap, the rock music of the ’90s.

The Face published that aperçu circa 1994. I’d have to dig through boxes to locate a citation. But if I were going to hunt around for 25-year-old magazines in the first place, I’d go looking for Wired.

Everything that is happening to corporate podcasting already happened to every other Internet format, from instant messaging to blogs to MP3s. Every medium started out decentralized, independent, and personal, then got subsumed into the military-industrial-entertainment complex.

But only those who remember the olden days realize that. Everyone who was younger than age 18 in 1994 knows the Internet as a corporate manifestation. We used to worry that “the Internet” would come to mean simply “the Web,” and look how naïve we were there. Now you can go a full day without ever being exposed to an HTTP protocol, but when that happens all you’re exposed to are corporate constructs, from Facebook to Instagram to WhatsApp. (Yes, even your instant messaging is corporate, and in the example I just cited, not even private.)

Blogs and Plastic

To paraphrase someone you weren’t expecting, Ntozake Shange: “I could not stand being sorry and coloured at the same time. It’s so redundant in the modern world.”

Manhattan magazine hacks could not tolerate existing in the same universe as blogs. Writing for screens was inconceivable to these has-beens. They never quite twigged to the fact that they’d been writing on screens since the days of WordPerfect 5.1, which indeed were happier days by virtue of that software alone.

Essay‑ or article-like writing that did not go through an editor and did not get typeset and printed and did not pay you money was definitionally worthless. Yet they could not shut blogs down. Magazine journos had no choice but to start up their own half-assed competition, Plastic.com.

The result was the style of flaccid lifestyle-magazine copy that blogs, which got straight to the point, had made redundant.

  • Although [a Plastic contributor] didn’t give us any kind of opinion on the matter, Steven Spielberg has issued a statement saying he no longer wishes to participate in the Boy Scouts of America as a board member due to their policies of discrimination against gays. As always, the Boy Scouts responded with a rousing chorus of “You say ‘discrimination,’ we say ‘standards.’ ”

    According to CNN, Spielberg “did not name the Boy Scout policy that he considered discriminatory” (weak, Steve), but it “appeared clear that he was referring to the organization’s controversial exclusion of ‘avowed homosexuals’ on the grounds that they violate the group’s values.” Normally Plastic discriminates on the grounds that a user-submitted story must contain actual opinions and not just cut-and-pasted story copy, but in this case we made an exception. See how tolerant we are?

    (Not being accustomed to editing on screens, Plastic hacks missed the echo of story.)

  • If this were The West Wing, we could expect a moralizing speech about how public figures shouldn’t be judged on what they do in their private lives – or a cold, political speech about how indiscretions can cost otherwise honorable people their jobs. But this is Hollywood, and though West Wing showrunner Aaron Sorkin was arrested on drug charges on Sunday, we think he’ll be just fine in the long run. For the record, Sorkin was found with “a quantity of hallucinogenic mushrooms” in his bag. Guess that explains Ainsley Hayes….

Corporate blogging was a contradiction in terms

So is corporate podcasting.

You have everything you need, indeed literally everything, to make a go of podcasting without selling out to a corporation. Every successful self-made podcast, no matter how one might define successful, started from zero.

All this has happened before

So quit being dumb enough to let it happen to you.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2021.03.22 20:02. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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