Tuesday, February 18, 2014

The Walled Garden And The Commons

There are many parts of the world where the feudal concept of those born to privilege and those born to serve still exists. Indeed, you could argue that it still exists in all countries. The UK is dominated by a wealthy elite who grew up in the walled garden of Eaton and Oxford (the Prime Minister, the Chancellor, the Archbishop and the Mayor of London).

Us commoners, with our unprivileged backgrounds can only wonder at how your reach such heights.

Equally, there are the media walled gardens, from Fox/Sky to Liberty/Virgin and Comcast/TWC, to name but few.

But worst of all are the online walled gardens: of course, Google isn't a walled garden. Well, it wants you to think that it isn't, but it casts a wide and dark mantle. Try being online and not using any Google product for a day. You my be free to come and go from the Google walled garden in the same way as you are not to use a bank or a supermarket, but, boy, is it difficult.

However, the real issue is that walled gardens are dominating  devices. Buy an Android and everything is Googlified: you can't get Office or Final Cut Pro. Buy Apple iPad and you can't get Office and you can't load your own, paid for DVDs onto your iPad. Buy Microsoft Surface and Dropbox doesn't work.

They just can't help themselves, can they ? They all make noises about open communities and the cloud, but they all miss the point. Especially if you're not American.

To have 95% of your digital life, as an European, controlled by American entities is brutal. To know that they are then spying on your every word and communication is salt in the wound.

We may be digital serfs or digital commoners, but we have no magna carter. We have no rights left in the face of sinister global organisations that need curtailing before we are locked and buried in their walled gardens forever.

We may love Google and Facebook and Twitter and Dropbox, but they will draw us into their diabolical walled gardens and take away all of our rights, and possibly more.

What does this mean to the TV industry ?

Well, just have a look at Liberty, Comcast and Fox. Go figure. We are yet just digital serfs an every day we give away a bit more of our commons.