cr> Speculations re/ Cyberpace Inc economics


Richard Moore


1)      Artificial-scarcity pricing structure
        There's only one point of natural scarcity in the architecture of
cyberspace, and that is CONSUMER-HOURS.  There will be nearly unlimited
bandwidth and content offerings available to the info-structure, but each
user/consumer has only a limited amount of time that can be spent each day
consuming/viewing information products.

        The obvious and natural capitalist objective, assuming a goal of
maximizing overall cyber-profits, would be to establish monopoly ownership
of the Straits of Consumption -- the local loops into the home.  Thus, as
with today's broadcast television, the true marketplace becomes the selling
of ACCESS-TO-CONSUMERS -- BY the straits-controllers TO the
information-product distributors.

        Thus Disney pays Southwestern Bell for the right to sell Bambi to
Bell subscribers.  This payment might be in the form of royalties on Bambi
sales, or it might be simply a stiff direct-charge for network access:
that's a matter of bi-lateral deal-making.  The consumer pays Disney to see
Bambi, or alternatively, an advertiser-pool pays Disney (more than Disney
pays Bell) for the right to sponsor a freebie Bambi broadcast.  Thus is
re-incarnated the market structures so profitably exploited in today's
broadcast-television and cable industries.  Artifically created scarcity
creates the conditions for maximum profit extraction from an
investor-producer-broker-distributor-outlet channel system.

        In order to implement this best-of-all-possible capitalist
scenarios, it is necessary to establish a laissez-faire
communications-regulatory framework which will give monopoly robber-baron
capitalism a free hand to lay down the rules of the cyber-road, and then to
systematically exploit the traffic.  The groundwork for such a regulatory
regime has been firmly established by the Telecom Deform Act of 96, and the
jockying-for-position of the players is underway in the spate of recent
info-industry mergers.  Already the "spectrum wars" have begun, with the
probable outcome that wireless distribution will become monopolizable,
completing the corporate capture of the Straits of Consumption.

        A consequence of this cyber regime is that the price of delivering
information to a user is set artificially high, since that's the
point-of-leverage that scales the overall profit-making operation.  The
price is not based on the cost of providing network bandwidth, but on a
maximize-overall-profit formula.

        Thus, due to capitalist profit-seeking maneuvers, non-commercial
use of the info-structure will be prohibitively expensive.  Community
networking, access to government information, democratic discourse --
indeed the whole familiar Internet phenomenon -- will not be economically
viable in the robber-baron cyberspace of tomorrow.

2) Politically-motivated content policies
        The Cyber-Baron club -- the masters of our information future --
will be the telecom companies, the cable operators, and news &
entertainment conglomerates -- together with the more general corporate
community which will be involved through cross-ownership, interlocking
directorates, advertising, and underwriting.  In other words, cyberspace
will be run by more or less the same Corporate Establishment that runs
today's news & entertainment industries, which is why I refer to that
future environment as Cyberspace Inc.

        It is abundantly clear from today's television programming what the
political landscape of Cyberpace Inc will be: corporate-slanted propaganda
in place of news, skillful promotion of neo-liberal globalist agendas,
careful management of voter perceptions re/ politicians and elections, and
the use of propagandistic entertainment to instill consumerist,
pro-corporate values.   In other words, Cyberspace Inc, besides delivering
monopolist profits to its operators, will accomplish the corporate elite's
goal of controlling the public mind and preventing the possibility of
genuine democracy.

        Thus, due to political class-interests, Cyberpace Inc. will be
actively inimical to the public good, by virtue of the propagandistic slant
that will govern the selection of content to be granted a right-of-way over
the privately-owned cyberways.


 Posted by Richard K. Moore  -  •••@••.•••  -  Wexford, Ireland
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