Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

�50,000 to get a book on recommended list - Sunday Times - Times Online

�50,000 to get a book on recommended list - Sunday Times - Times Online

The ethical and intellectual bankruptcy of the media industry is the one elephant in the room that we don't often talk about in our society. Aren't we supposedly living in a world of free expression, integrity of journalism, and artistic merit that produces nothing but the finest output in the world?

Well, not exactly. Payola for music (hello, Sony), bribes for best-seller list placements, partisan and shoddy journalism (hello, Fox and NY Times)...see the pattern? I rarely find myself agreeing with anything from Chomsky, but I must say that the evidence and arguments presented "Manufacturing Consent" paint a brutally compelling picture of the rot and corruption of the American media industry. Big Media corporations, of course, aren't helping dispel any of these notions as they continue to fall lower and lower in their cluelessness on one hand and brazen peddling of truth- distortion and crappy art on the other. I'd much rather take my chances on what comes out of "fuzzy collective-intelligence claptrap" as cool and enjoyable over any of the real crap produced by the media machine today. Nothing offends me more than blatantly fradulent marketing devices like Oprah's Book List or the top 50 pop Countdowns designed to influence my media consumption...arrrrgh!!!

While the notions of suburban hell with consumatons (yes, I am coining this word here and now : my short form for "consuming automatons") droning from Wal-Mart to Shell Gas Station to Home Depot to Cineplex all their lives is depressing enough, the scenario that sends shivers down my spine is being surrounded by people whose thinking has been completely dominated by the media machine. In my personal experience, admittedly a very limited one as I am no globetrotter but nonetheless, nowhere is this more evident than in the US. I am yet to see a population whose reading, thinking and media consumption habits in general are more driven by the manufactured coolness and/or usefulness neatly categorized and ranked by Big Media. Members of Oprah's Book Reading Club : please take the Red Pill!!!

-- Mahashunyam // 8:57 PM // 4 comments


Exactly what Herbert Marcuse talks about in "One Dimensional Man" (,
// Blogger Elad Kehat // 12:15 PM

Yeah, it's called cooperative merchandising, and if you're surprised about it, then you don't understand retail. Most retailers, in most industries, do it (think grocery store customs displays and end-caps, Amazon recommends emails, et al). The tradeoff is that people smell the difference between genuine editorial recommendations and functional advertisements and approproaitely treat them as such.

This is not new, nor is it an interesting opportunity to drag Mr. Certainty, Chomsky, out in some fuzzy reference to how we're all drones.

Whatever you think about her, (and I don't think that list is funded by publishers--it's more like they win the lottery when Oprah picks them) Oprah's recommended some good books, and probably has done more to bring a big chunk of people back to serious literature than anyone.

And the US is home to some of the most media-savvy, rat-smelling, smart consumers around. Media neither blasts us more than other places, nor do we fall for it more than other places.

This is the first truly boring and shitty post I have seen on this blog. Think harder!
// Anonymous Anonymous // 8:16 PM

Hey Scott,

The point is that it's inefficient, and bad for consumers, who even if they can "smell" the bs, often can't do anything about it. If they could, there would be no reason for the payoffs.

So from a strategic pov, it's a pretty stupid move in the medium-long run (as we've seen recently across media + other industries).
// Blogger umair // 11:21 AM

"Manufacturing Consent" was Chomsky's finest hour, IMO. I think the US media was forced to marginalise and/or demonise him as much as possible from that point onwards just to make it harder for that book to be used as source material in political science, and heck, marketing theory for that matter. It really does not make big media look good, mainly because Chomsky & Herman's methodology is spot on, and they're talking market theory, not conspiracy theory - it's all very convincing. Of course, the academic style makes it pretty boring to the average reader - angry diatribes sell better.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 5:51 AM

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