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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Control the Medium, You Control the Product?

The historical record, as I’ve also argued, is also quite unequivocal on the folly of allowing those who own the medium to control the message See: The Vertical Integration Elephant in the Room
 For differing points of view some might have a take on the process unfolding in our society today as a sign of the way things have always gone? Do you feel the same?

A Thomas Nast cartoon shortly after the Supreme Court affirmed Alexander Graham Bell's patents (library of congress)



Strike!

At least seven major cities adopted measured service in the 1880s: Boston; San Francisco; Buffalo; Pittsburgh; Indianapolis; Washington, DC; and Rochester, New York. The policy had a pro-consumer aspect; it expanded the market of any local exchange carrier to people who didn't want to pay a big monthly service fee, thus extending the circle of individuals any rate payer could call.
But while measured service initially succeeded in San Francisco and Buffalo, it failed everywhere else throughout the decade. Consumers could not shake the suspicion that its real purpose was to get them to pay more money to the telephone company. And so they resorted to what we would call boycotts and they called "strikes" to make their dissatisfaction known.

"The term 'strike' has come to be associated primarily with a work stoppage," John notes, but "in the 1880s its meaning was broader. A corporation could be struck not only by workers, but also by consumers and even lawmakers."

As early as 1881, for example, Washington, DC's "Telephone Subscribers Protective Association" launched a boycott of its exchange when the company adopted measured billing. It wasn't very long affair, just twelve days. But 300 out of the city's 700 phone subscribers participated. That was all it took for the firm to surrender and bring back flat rates. See: Mad about metered billing? They were in 1886, too

3 comments:

Euphonium said...

Your quote: "Consumers could not shake the suspicion that its real purpose was to get them to pay more money to the telephone company. And so they resorted to what we would call boycotts and they called 'strikes' to make their dissatisfaction known." seems to be diametrically opposed to the content of the original: "These uprisings, however, were anything but worker's revolts. Charles M. Fay got them exactly right; they were run by the city's business elites. Actual union leaders chuckled over this irony. One noted that if the company's telephone operators had gone on strike, these same subscribers would have called in the police to break the walkout."
Curious.

Euphonium said...

re: The historical record, as I’ve also argued, is also quite unequivocal on the folly of allowing those who own the medium to control the message ..
There would appear to be 4 distinct, but occasionally overlapping, entities involved in this medium massaging - Government, Business, non-financially, non-organizationally allied but interested parties (the 99%, if you will), and the outliers/mavericks who can crystallize a movement, and direct it (Ghandi, Christ, Cesar Chavez). Today, I would surmise, the major force (in the US) would be the Business entities who create Lobbyists and laws, and suffer congress, and therefore, the Government, to do their bidding.
The currency of this force is money - power results from money, but money drives the machinery. And the people are the force of nature - passive as the ocean.

Plato said...

Hi Euphonium,

The reason for the re posting of this article blog posting was to draw attention to what is new in society can be seen as it makes its way into what we will use everyday and is, "parted and parceled" in order to arrive at the biggest dollar value for that same new invention.

I would be then comparing the internet, as a medium of expression and how the transmission is much the same as if it were part of the early history of telecommunication with regard to the Bell Invention.

You see?

Best,