[okfn-discuss] public service publisher discussion documents out

Francis Irving francis at flourish.org
Fri Jan 26 10:55:27 UTC 2007

I would also add that I'd never heard of a PSP before, and still don't
know what one is after reading your article. Could you briefly
introduce the concept in the sentence where you first mention it?

On Fri, Jan 26, 2007 at 10:40:02AM +0000, Rufus Pollock wrote:
> Saul Albert wrote:
> >Hi All, I wrote this as a blog post for okfn. Would you all be terribly
> >embarrassed to be associated with it if I posted it?
> You should definitely post this (it's great!), though like Jo I think 
> that a few tweaks on the vocabulary front would improve the tone (and as 
> a result make it a more effective rant!) :) Below I've inserted some 
> suggestions.
> Regards,
> Rufus
> >Title missing.
> >-----------------------------------------
> >
> >I was glad when on Rufus' insistence ('It's your Civic Duty!') I decided
> >to go to ofcom's riverside HQ at London Bridge and participate in a
> >discussions with a bunch of other smart-looking white guys (and a few
> >gals) about what the UK's putative 'Public Service Publisher' should be.
> The 'smart-looking white guys ....' sounds a bit too po-mo ironic for my 
> tastes. I think the sentence reads better without it.
> >The room was filled with execs from Yahoo, Google, as well as
> >institutional players like the BFI and the Beeb. I guess I was (as
> >usual) the only person not on a nice fat salary at the table. But as I
> >said, I was glad that they'd invited me in the end.
> 'nice fat salary' -- sounds kind of resentful. Also I'd stick with BBC 
> rather than Beeb (people outside of the UK might read this -- you never 
> know!).
> >It wasn't the high quality biscuits that made me glad, it was the fact
> >that when the dodgy git from the 'creative' department at Wanadoo
> >suggested that the PSP's 1 billion budget should be given to the Telcos
> >and ISPs for their wonderful PSP-like job of carrying p2p content, I was
> >there to suggest that this might not be the best use of taxpayer's coin.
> We are letting our cup of sarcasm overrunneth here.
> >I did a lot of wry chuckling and head-shaking that day, a bit of
> >spluttering into my Perrier, and made a few (hopefully) more articulate
> >contributions none of which gave me much hope that the PSP would be
> >anything other than a funnel of public funds into another doomed online
> >offering to the great and gastly 'public' in partnership with all kinds
> >of poisonous corporates and some kind of monstrously distended
> >BBC-online.
> ditto. I think it would be a lot more effective shorn of the 'poisonous 
> corporate' type stuff. IMO you could just leave these two paras out -- 
> you've got more than enough to say.
> >Having read through the website http://www.openmedianetwork.org.uk and
> >skimmed the chunky pdf:
> >http://www.ofcom.org.uk/consult/condocs/pspnewapproach/, I was
> >pleasantly surprised to see that heavily watered-down mention was made
> >of non-restrictive IP models:
> >
> >"...it is unlikely that restrictive IP models will maximise public value
> >in a way which is consistent with the overarching thesis of the paper,
> >namely that new forms of public value can be found in the participatory
> >media environment which are distinct from those in the traditional world
> >of linear broadcasting."
> >
> >Whew! For the first few pages of guff I really wasn't sure we'd even get
> >that far.
> suggest: delete guff
> >Reading through the pickled reiterations of the BBC and OFCOM's mission
> >statements in relation to one another and the Internet, I was pleased to
> >see a pickled reiteration of the Creative Commons 'concept'. Of course
> >the terms in which it was described were vague enough for it to be
> >meaningless.
> repetition of pickled
> >I read the rest of the website with an increasing sense of despair.
> >This report, which I'm sure cost a great deal and provided many
> >Shoreditch twats like me with high quality biscuits just randomly grabs
> suggest: delete section on 'which cost a great deal and provided .... 
> biscuits' (IMO undermines your point)
> >Cool Things (flickr! youtube! wikipedia! - and puts them alongside some
> >snaggle-toothed UK Gov. Funded counterparts in a ditzy, glitzy 'already
> >out there' section:
> >http://www.openmedianetwork.org.uk/alreadyoutthere/default.htm
> >
> >Of course without these bright shiny colours and this undifferentiated
> >platform for mediocrity the report would be extremely dry - like the
> >pdf, which is actually much less depressing.
> suggest: you might want to cut this para
> >But the chief cause for my grumpiness is not the lack of distinction
> >between 'good' and 'funded' projects on offer as possible fundees of the
> >PSP, it's that somehow, the decision has already been made to turn this
> >PSP into a funding agency that gives money to people to make new media
> >'projects' - presumably with the overarching aims of 'educating' and
> >'entertaining' the 'public'. I use scare quotes because I'm scared.
> >
> >What I was really hoping for was a tiny little bit of strategic
> delete tiny -- 'tiny little' is just a bit too witheringly sarcastic
> >thinking: thinking that might actually recognise that the Net and the
> >emerging universe of electronic devices that people use to communicate,
> >create and use networks, and on which people build their own platforms
> >is an *infrastructure*, not a fairground.
> >
> >I was glad to see this one bit of input from our discussions on the
> >site:
> >
> >"what we see now are the equivalents of the 19th century end-of-the-pier
> >zoetropes and nickelodeons, but somewhere in there is the new cinema".
> >
> >But dismayed to see that it hadn't been understood.
> >
> >Deep breath.
> this section onwards is *really, really* good. I almost feel it should 
> be at the start or at least higher up because you may have lost readers 
> before they got here -- and that would be a real loss as this is so good 
> (maybe a rason to slim down the previous paras?).
> >'Cinema' isn't a project. It's a complex and interlinked infrastructure,
> >that was only allowed to develop because of the difficulty Edison
> >Laboratories would have had in patenting the Kinetoscope in Europe -
> >partly because he'd borrowed from prior British inventions. In fact, it
> >was two British inventors: Birt Acres and Robert Paul who extrapolated
> >this invention into the first 35mm camera - which they never managed to
> >patent effectively. This didn't stop a war raging over patents - led by
> >the Pathe Freres company in Europe and Edison's Motion Picture Patent
> >Company (a.k.a. the 'First Oligopoly' in the US, patenting and
> >controlling technological development, owning cinemas and developing
> >monopolies throughout the industry. The judiciary of the US - through
> >public interest patent-busting and anti-trust suits finally broke this
> >Oligopoly in the early 19teens, only for others to form - consolidating
> >the power of the Film and global mass media industries in Hollywood as
> >the 'Independent' studios and thier 'star' systems emerged in the 30's,
> >leading to intense vertical integration of the whole film industry in
> >the run up to WWII, which put the nail in the coffin of the British Film
> >Industry. It's been interestingly pathetic since then.
> >
> >The British Government's intervention in this consolidation process was
> >the 1927 Cinematograph Films Act, which put a quota on British Films
> >being shown in UK Cinemas - leading to overproduction of crappy low
> >budget quota-fillers. Nice.
> suggest: crappy -> low-quality
> delete 'Nice.'
> >So the question is not which of these 'projects' is the next cinema?
> >The question is - what underlies these projects? Who are the Edison Labs
> >and Pathe Freres, MGMs, Paramounts, Foxes, RGOs and Loews of the Net?
> >Who is defining and owning and shaping how the Net is used, understood
> >and extended?
> >
> >These days, it looks like the Search Engines. The Googles, the Yahoos,
> You are absolutely spot-on here. I've just posted something about this 
> on my personal blog:
> http://www.rufuspollock.org/archives/157
> I've been meaning to repost the first part under the title: 'Regulating 
> Search the Open Way' or just 'Open Search' on the OKFN blog asap.
> >the information associators who have a semantic stranglehold on the Web
> >and increasingly on other parts of the Net. This is not to mention the
> >infrastructure owners: the DNS demagogues, the backbone bonapartes:
> >the people who can hit the 'off' switch or suddenly start metering
> >access to their network territories.
> >
> >But what could a Public Service Publisher do about this? Surely it's in
> >the public interest to address the fact that the infrastructure we're
> >all using to do business, publish, and do business online is dangerously
> >similar to Cinema's vertically integrated hollywood-centric monopoly?
> monopoly -> oligopoly (?)
> >Clearly, the PSP is going to do absolutely nothing:
> >
> >"A further key role for the PSP would be in ensuring that search
> >mechanisms for its content - and conceivably for all public service
> >media content - become as efficient as possible. This would never extend
> >to the development of a search engine, but it would involve working with
> >search engine specialists and the major global and local players in
> >search to establish tagging and discovery mechanisms to facilitate
> >this."
> >
> >Wonderful. We're going to help them tighten the stranglehold they
> >already have.
> >
> >My response to these discussions, emailed to the organisers after the
> >session doesn't appear on the empty 'responses' section of the site.
> >For the record, this is what I thought the PSP should do at the time:
> >
> >- Researching and advising on best practice in metadata, exchange and
> >  archiving standards.
> >- Researching and advising on best practice in legal preservation and
> >  maintenance of publically funded IPR.
> >- Producing and maintaining high quality free educational materials for
> >  groups and individuals in how to publish their video/audio/text online
> >  and archive it well enough for it to not contribute to the backlog.
> >- Investing in open source software and shared IPR projects that are
> >  consistent with and facilitate the above goals.
> >- Research and develop systems for traversing, searching and making
> >  inferences from data generated by the aggregation of all this published
> >  material, and make that data, and those queries available via open APIs.
> >
> >Last, but not least, I interjected a little plea:
> >
> >    Please, please *please*, don't lets reinvent any wheels. There are
> >    some great projects and initiatives out there, mostly organised
> >    along very ad-hoc and non-institutional lines. If this PSP idea can
> >    be kept human-scale at the edges, can be smart and careful in how it
> >    invests money and time in things, it could become part of an
> >    existing international ecology of open source publishing platforms,
> >    advisory organisations and citizen-publishing initiatives.
> >
> >I'm sorry to say, it looks to me like the PSP we're talking about isn't
> >just going to reinvent the wheel, it's going to be a state-run factory
> >for reinvented wheels.
> This end section is fantastic. You've definitely got to post this.
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