Tag Archives: strike

NEOs: Near Earth Objects, or Nasty Existential Obliteration

meteorite impact sculptureHere’s something else that, alongside finding we have living neighbours on the planet next door, might give the space programs of the world a much needed kick in the backside. President-Elect, take note of the large number of Near Earth Objects, and our current inability to track them all effectively, let alone deal effectively with one on a collision course:

The numbers here are stark. NASA’s Near Earth Object Program reports that we’ve found 5,955 NEOs, some 763 of which are at least one kilometer in diameter. 1008 NEOs larger than 140 meters across come within 4.5 million miles of Earth’s orbit, dangerous to us because perturbing influences could change their trajectories in the future. Centauri Dreams believes that the discovery of an object on a collision course with Earth would galvanize the space program as researchers looked for the best ways to deflect its path. The problem is time.

As existential risks go, a meteor strike is rather different to the others – statistically less likely to happen (or so we hope), but fast and utterly devastating of it does. Keep watching the skies, people… [image by larkspurlazuli]

Harbingers of revolution: economic crisis or General Consumption Strike?

AdBusters corporate logo mashupA significant factor in the current financial crisis, so the newspapers tell us, is people spending less money in the marketplace. Conventional economic logic describes this as uncoordinated and irrational behaviour, a kind of emergent phenomenon that pushes the system into recession. [image by BdR76]

The culture-jamming movement would like to suggest otherwise, though. To these economic activists, what we’re seeing is a conscious decision by a growing section of the population of the world to drop out of the consumerist lifestyle to a greater or lesser extent. And they see it not just as positive, but as a prerequisite to the revolution:

Ours is not a purely nihilistic campaign, we do not revel in economic collapse out of spite but instead because we believe that only after an economic decline will it be possible to bring about the necessary changes to capitalism that will assure a sustainable future. We are also taking steps to insure that the money we save by decreasing our consumption goes to organizing mutual aid societies that will provide services to our needy compatriots.

To join the General Consumption Strike is easy: spend less, live more. Consider doing without your high-speed internet, cell phone service, beer or wine, restaurants, gasoline, new clothes, fancy electronics and tourism. Think of the money you will save, the fewer hours you’ll need to work, and the more time you’ll have to live. […] Stay strong, this is a once in a hundred year opportunity!

I’ve a fair amount of sympathy with what’s being said here, but the language and rhetoric of revolution always sticks in my throat, no matter how close I am to the philosophy behind it – and imagine there are people with more to lose than myself who will be even more riled by it.

But maybe the culture jammers are right; tough times breed strange behaviours, after all, and rebranding a crisis as an opportunity is just one of many. [link via No Fear Of the Future]

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to dumpster-dive for my lunch.

Striking writers look to open new internet ventures

Whilst I’ve talked in the past about the future of online content, it appears for some writers an internet based career is rapidy becoming present, not future. The LA Times reports that a number of the writers and creators involved in the Hollywood writer strike are in talks with venture capitalists and advertisers about creating their own content sites. It may be that if this strike continues long enough, some writers may not come back at all to the studios. It’s also interesting to note that the words quoted most by the writers invovled is ‘United Artists’, the organisation that structured good deals for creators way back in Hollywood history.

On the web, there’s also a good round table discussion featuring Tobias Buckell, Pyr editor Lou Anders and David Louis Edelman at SF Signal about the use of the internet to promote writers via community, rather than advertising. Charles Stross also had a good rant about the idiocy of the Kindle earlier in the month.

The writer as entrepreneur

Striking writers outside Disney studios The WGA writers’ strike rolls on, pitting the justifiable desire of creatives to be paid a fair deal for the fruits of their labour against the same sort of grasping tactics that are causing the music industry to eat itself like a cancer. [Image by NoHoDamon]

While I’m supportive of the writers’ position on this issue, I’m intrigued by the outsider opinions. Techdirt points us to an LA Times article discussing the rise of alternative financing models in the movie industry, and suggests that if the big studios stick to their guns they will actually hasten their own demise by creating an environment where smart and talented writers can bypass the traditional system and take their scripts straight to the market, funding their productions using a venture capital process similar to that used by technology startups.

Now, I’m not an economist or a script-writer (and nor do I play either of them on television), but I find the underlying logic of this idea appealing – it seems to be a business model that fits the internet age. But then TechDirt, as fascinating a read as it is, is very much biased toward the independent operator/startup philosophy (as demonstrated by its previous coverage of the WGA strike). Perhaps this idea places too much of a burden on the writer – whose job is, after all, to write. But then again, it’s an accepted truism that novelists must self-market if they hope to be successful, even with the support of a publisher.

I guess only time will tell. But from my personal point of view, a significant lessening of the corporate homogeneity of Hollywood could only be a good thing – it might result in a movie industry that produces more than one film every year that I can actually be bothered to go and see.

[tags]writers, Hollywood, strike, entrepreneurship, business[/tags]