It should be no big secret to anyone reading, massively powerful corporations dominate the U.S. and western mainstream media landscape. For us web entrepreneurs who heralded something called “citizen journalism” over the last ten years, our greatest fears have come true. Fat Daddy billionaires own your reality. But wait, there’ still hope! Enter Russia Insider. (I’ve included a number of key metrics from SimilarWeb, please observe)
Before I outline how Russia Insider is a poster child for Web 3.0, let me begin with an abridged history lesson of what became known as Web 2.0, or the digital craze following the “Dot Com Bubble.” I was a significant evangelist of this movement, as were many of my network and colleagues today. For the purposes of this article, suffice it to say Web 2.0 was a gripping and powerful paradigm, one that horrified entrenched media for its ability to empower normal citizens. It was this abiding fear that was the prerequisite to what we experience today.
Almost a decade ago, people like Tim O’Reilly, and others within my sphere, they once literally tuned up-side-down the ways in which communications criss crossed humankind. The traditional media types back in 2006 and 2007, they hadn’t the foggiest ideas or inclination as to how to make the shift from “telling the story” to being a part of it. The so-called “conversation” got so loud that it hurt people like New York Times’ publisher and other similar icons. Despite the re-taking of news and messaging though, the really good news today is, a new Tim O’Reilly may have emerged. Publications catering to western billionaires like George Soros etc. are in the crosshairs of Russian Insider, Russia Today, and a small cadre of citizen focused media around the world. The screenshot above, and those below reveal how the newest of these media is being adopted almost wholesale.
Web 2.0 – Resting In Pieces
Back in the days of Web 2.0, if it were not for web intelligence trickling upward from people like award winning tech guru David Pogue, the NYTs and other American media might not be here still at all. The corporate world in 2005 and 2006 was skeptical at first, then later scare as hell by the growth of citizen journalism, as Pogue alludes to in the linked post from 2008 there. When the big tech players weighed into the game, it was inevitable big money would scarf up dynamic little media, but we were all hopeful for a kind of free web miracle. As for Pogue, he discusses a unique “window” into the world of Microsoft and other corporations in the article linked, a strange symbiosis between Fat Daddy and John Doe, so to speak:
“They were (corporate blogs with comments) absolutely fascinating. They were glimpses into a faceless corporate world the public had never been offered before. Here were discussions of the process, the feedback, the features that were under consideration.”
Some reading this will never have heard of, or forgotten such archaic infirmities on the web, but I assure you digital conversations were once entirely one sided. Then big time innovators emerged, creating a wave of information freedom never seen before. From Jimmy Wales at Wikipedia to ground-breakers in the blog community like TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington, a flood tide of digital professionals had emerged. The battle cry of Web 2.0 and beyond was encapsulated in Wired Magazine editor Chris Anderson’s massively popular book; “The Long Tail: Why theFuture of Business is Selling Less of More.”
This is as far as I need to go in laying out a corporate horror story akin to a Stephen King epic. Selling less of more simply could not be allowed to happen. Understand, in 2006 8 companies dominated US media, but they were behind the learning curve, facing blogs and citizen communicators on a massive scale. Networks like Netscape, MySpace, Digg, Newsvine, Wikio, del.icio.us and 100 others captured the time and imagination of hundreds of millions. Then in rapid succession Web 2.0 unravelled, Web 3.0 became impossible, and it was the Fat Cats at big PR firms, select billionaires, and their network of powerful friends off Madison Avenue killed it. Competition in every space of shifting technology virtually ended.
Watch this video from Russia Insider
So what happened? Well, Google and 100 other trusted emissaries of the “open space” — they betrayed the loyal following en masse. This began when a billionaire bought MySpace against the wishes of that social network’s founder Brad Greenspan (whom I spoke with on many occasions), and then trashed the community later on. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation’s deal for MySpace seemed all business back then, but the bitter reality now is, MySpace was trashed on purpose. Today major media has recovered and prospered since Facebook consolidated the new “walled garden” siloing of community.
This discussion gets wordy and geekish, so I’ll spare the reader. Suffice it to say Google’s SPAM wars on sites, and a flurry of other corporate actions into the “citizen space” almost murdered the free web arena. Michael Arrington sold TechCrunch to the corporates, so did most other Web 2.0 evangelist/entrepreneurs… big money said “hell no” to an independent media, and the deed was done almost overnight.
Here, in a recent quote from Free Press on just “who” controls the media, we find some familiar bedfellows in the shell game that became Web 2.0:
“Giant companies like Apple, Facebook and Google are slowly reconstituting the Internet’s walled gardens of old. As these companies try to steer us to their increasingly closed versions of the Internet — and to marketers who benefit from mining our personal information — we must fight for policies that protect our rights as Internet users.”
Now, because of a history of mergers and acquisitions, these companies further concentrated their control over what we see, hear and read. In some cases, they companies now control everything from initial concept or public relations formulations of ideas, to production and final distribution. Factor in mega wealthy business tycoons like Murdock, their associated interests with politicians, and then the markets, and what you have is a horror movie of individual freedom.
Just looking at what Murdoch and his colleague control is evidence enough news is really advertising for their interests. Web 2.0 is today, resting in little bitty pieces, except for a few powerful independent voices. Enter corporate media’s recurring nightmare, Russia Today, Russia Insider, and the opposing view for whatever reason.
Powered by People
Sometimes a lie is reason enough for a shift to take place. About the time political/corporate forces made the decision on an all out war on truth over Russia and Putin, a serious mistake was made by some very smart public relations people. It was a big mistake because there are millions of really fair minded people in the world, and they’re not stupid. Gullible, maybe, but certainly as smart as most corporate CEOs.
As we see every day in the news now, an army of advisers to presidents have emerged arrogant and unscathed, poking their chests out before us, “the mob” they so desperately marginalize. The lie that is this new war on Russia and humanity, it’s gone too far. This is the gross miscalculation, the one that will end up costing some publishers everything.
It was this kind of “overkill” that sent me and 100,000 other interested parties to find out first hand, what the truth in the world today is. What if Russia Today, the people of that besieged country, the essence of Gaza Palestinians, those nasty Iranians Obama and the others have described, what if ten million sound bits from the ruling elite in the west are wrong? What if Google killed 60 million bloggers for corporate reasons? How much money has to be involved for tiers and tiers of reporters to parrot a single note for months on end? These are questions we are finding the answer to now. And the answers are not good news for The New York Times and BBC.
What the 1% have underestimated are the billions of people on the other side of their machinations. The citizen is still here, much needed, brainwashed as we may be to an extent, but crucial to the plans of politicians and stock brokers that need our support, our money. As for the emerging evangelist of Web 3.0 news, not unlike Tim O’Reilly or Jimmy Wales, one such may just be Russia Insider’s editor and publisher, Charles Bausman. This Moscow expert in finance, investments, economics, financial markets, new media, and international relations launched the new media platform as a bootstrapped venture not unlike TechCrunch or the Huffington Post, a response like my own, over the insane bias of western media, not just for Russophobic news, but news of all sorts. Begun last September, the massive response to volunteer contributions for Russia Insider in the US and Europe is a hopeful reminder a free press is indispensable for hundreds of millions of people. To quote Bausman:
“The problem is media control by a few corporations and interest groups, and their close ties with governments and business interests. Instead of challenging, questioning, and fostering open discussion, they tend to promote those interests.”
It should be clear for you now, what I am proposing about Russia Insider and other independent media is quite irrefutable. The very survival of a free press is resident in movements like these. To further illustrate, Ruth Coniff at The Progressive outlines the fearsome concept (and the hope against) our web falling victim like radio, TV, and cable, to become nothing more than a corporate ad network. The ongoing battle between those behind FCC regulations battles are but one segment of a greater battle going on. This is why you MUST support the efforts of independent media like Russia Insider. And when such citizen powered media once again covers Times Square, we’ll have a say and the truth in journalism again.
The only voice you really do have, the single most powerful tool at our disposal, is a free and balanced information and data conduit. The community of humankind is not just on Facebook, it’s resident in every one of us that seeks both sides of any story. Without news from both sides, your reality is not even solid, it’s made up by somebody you never met.
I leave you with a quote from someone I always considered a friend (though we have disagreed), Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales;
“What can we put into the hands of people under oppressive regimes to help them? For me, a big part of it is information, knowledge – the ability to defeat propaganda by understanding it.”
That said, I am sure we need to absolutely define who the true oppressors are.