How The Internet Can Save Us, And Why It Won't Last

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Title: How The Internet Can Save Us, And Why It Won't Last
Creator: Mie Tsukikoushi
Date(s): August 35, 2001
Medium: online
External Links: posted here
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How The Internet Can Save Us, And Why It Won't Last is a 2001 essay by Mie Tsukikoushi.

An aside, Mie Tsukikoushi was the originator of the phrase The Pit of Voles.

Some Topics Discussed

  • copyright, power, culture-jamming
  • while not fandom-specific, it encourages people to step away from mainstream media sources and created their own material

The Essay

There's always been a huge measure of control inherent in our entertainment. Want to write a book? Find a publisher. Want to make a movie? Find a producer. With the exception of small grassroots movements like 'zines and independent music, entertainment has ALWAYS been a case of the Few providing to the many. All that content is strained through the screen held by the Few: shaving off the rough edges, dumbing it down, making it more palatable to the masses, removing possibly offensive material. Some Providers screen more than others; some Providers have to. And it ALWAYS comes down to the Few's financial concerns in the end. Will it sell? Will it be popular? Will we be able to stay in business one more year?

There can only BE a few Providers, after all. Only a Few can afford the immense outlay of money required to stay in business. Only a Few can afford the government licensing, the fees, the equipment necessary to produce their content. Only a Few can deal with regulations, laws, rules, legalities, and other such things.

I'm not saying that's wrong. I'm just saying that that's how it is.

Except with the Internet.

Ladies and gentlemen, we're in the middle of a brief shining period in modern history, a possible renaissance of entertainment, and so many of us don't even recognize it.

For the past three or four years, and for the next two or three, if we're lucky, almost anyone can afford to be a Provider. Think about it! All it takes to have your own webpage is a personal computer, an ISP, and webspace, and right now, right NOW, you can get unmonitored uncontrolled webspace for free. For FREE. Personal computers are getting cheaper by the day, and more and more people have them; an ISP costs about $10-$20 per month!

And the audience! It's not just thirty dedicated people that live in your area any more. It's everyone who has access to the Internet, and more people have access every day! It's so EASY to reach people. So easy.

Finally, finally, for this tiny time period that we'll someday reminisce sadly about, loving something is enough of a reason to provide content about it for everyone to see. If you do something well, anything, then it's uncommonly easy to draw attention to yourself, even without the numbing advertising that beats down on us every day. Word of mouth WORKS again. Emails flash all over the country, all over the PLANET, and people discover you. YOU. Not the you filtered through the Provider's screen.

It won't last.

Either the Government will get us, or the Media, or the Corporation.

The Government? Frightened like a big dumb animal by the screams of outraged protest groups, it lumbers towards legislating us all out of existence, damning smut with one hand and damning commerce with the other. It's not hard to envision a future in which prospective webmasters must obtain a Government license to run a website, and pay a yearly fee in the thousands, just to do what we can do now nearly for free.

The Media? We're stealing their thunder, aren't we? Every hour you spend on the computer is an hour less you spend in front of the television! So they fuck us from the front and the rear and in the mouth... from the front, flinging down lawsuits and cease-and-desists from on high, screaming about copyright violation and libel and slander; from the rear, quietly hiring away all the real talent and shoving it through the meatgrinder of Fame, forcing our Best and Brightest to once again filter themselves through the screen; in the mouth, plastering their hideous ads all over the Internet in an attempt to tame it, but it somehow manages to run wild and free despite the ads. Only now, it limps, just a little.

And the Corporation, oh, the Corporation. Go ahead. When you think of your computer, there are two or three huge gleaming mass-marketing-frenzy names you think of. Either company would be more than thrilled to dominate the Internet entirely, becoming the Provider, filtering all content through its OWN screen. If they don't like your site, why, who can find it? Suddenly, it's not there! Your computer won't recognize your site! And they can do it, too; like a blue whale, inhaling smaller companies through its gaping maw like so much plankton to become... part of the whale. Part of the Few. Part of the Provider. I expect that a phrase akin to that will shortly enter our lexicon. "What happened to This Cool Site?" "Became part of the Whale, man. Part of the Whale." "Well, fuck."

For the sake of all you hold holy, take advantage of this brief shining moment in time where you have this amazing freedom. Get a website, get a weblog, get a homepage, and SAY something. Don't feel required to rehash the Provider's content, either. Make your own. Write, draw, sing, or just think out loud, and support those people who do. It's gotten so easy, and soon, it'll get so much harder.

And some day, we'll look back on these shining ten years, and wonder how we could have let it get away from us. Go see it, while you can, and take photos to show your kids. Because in twenty years, they'll never believe us.

Fan Comments


I've always thought that some day all this self-publishing-goodness would fade..."Allow us to introduce you to the concept of a "meritocracy" - the closest thing to a form of self-government we have. In The United Meritocratic nation-states of the Internet, those who can do, rule. Those who wish to rule, learn. Everyone else watches from the stands." - from an on-line article I found while wandering mindlessly.

Let's just hope they never find out about our little scheme, ne? ^^