Tag Archives: washington post

Types of Publishing Platforms

There are three (maybe four) kinds of publishing platforms

Consumer-side economies of scale are currently disrupting the publishing industry. That is why the rise of consumer-side economies-of-scale platforms is currently the biggest news in publishing. The increasing power of platforms such as Twitch (widely used by gamers) is removing the prestige associated with journalism. Likewise, the loss of audience from “traditional media” (employee-produced, with no consumer-side economies of scale) means that traditional media needs to further cut wages, and cut quality.

There are three (and maybe four) important kinds of publishing platforms

  • Consumer-produced, consumer-side no economies of scale
    Most published content is produced by users of the service. Each additional consumer/producer does not increase the utility of the service for other users (in ways not related to producer economies of scale)
    Examples: WordPress
  • Consumer-produced, consumer-side economies-of-scale
    Most published content is produced by users of the service. Each additional consumer/producer increases the utility of the service for other users (in ways not related to producer economies of scale)
    Examples: infiniteChan, Facebook, Reddit, Tumblr, Twitch, YouTube
  • Employee-produced, no consumer-side economies of scale
    Most published content is produced by paid employees or contractors. Each additional consumer/producer does not increase the utility of the service for other users (in ways not related to producer economies of scale)
    Example: The Washington Post
  • Employee-produced, consumer-side economies of scale
    Most published content is produced by paid employees or contractors. Each additional consumer/producer does not increase the utility of the service for other users (in ways not related to producer economies of scale)
    Example: This may not exist in a pure form. But a pretty close example is Amazon Kindle, where the bulk of the material is created by paid authors, while reviews and annotations are shared between consumers.

Interestingly, Amazon.com is involved in three of these platforms. Amazon owns Twitch, Kindle, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post.

Just as interesting is the predictable way besieged “traditional media” (employee produced, and without economies of scale) attacks “new” media with consumer-side economies-of-scale. For example, the Washington Post employs Caitlin Dewey, whose only responsibility appears to be targetting media that has consumer-side economies-of-scale. Recent targets include

If you didn’t know the kinds of publishing platforms, you might think the Washington Post was just publishing objectively interesting news, or that Amazon was just a book seller.

The Audacity of Political Calculation

I was in some conversations several weeks ago where this possibility was discussed. I was told that one should never listen to Obama’s words, that there is no reason to believe his pledges, and that Obama would find a lawyer-like reason for getting out of any statement that was inconvenient. (These claims were made by an Obama supporter.) As someone who initially had sympathy of Obama based on hope of an honest national debate, I was skeptical.

But it turns out I was wrong. Obama’s words may well be worthless after all. From the Washington Post staff editorial:

The Politics of Spare Change – washingtonpost.com
BARACK OBAMA isn’t abandoning his pledge to take public financing for the general election campaign because it’s in his political interest. Certainly not. He isn’t about to become the first candidate since Watergate to run an election fueled entirely with private money because he will be able to raise far more that way than the mere $85 million he’d get if he stuck to his promise — and with which his Republican opponent, John McCain, will have to make do. No, Mr. Obama, or so he would have you believe, is forgoing the money because he is so committed to public financing. Really, it hurts him more than it hurts Fred Wertheimer.

Pardon the sarcasm. But given Mr. Obama’s earlier pledge to “aggressively pursue” an agreement with the Republican nominee to accept public financing, his effort to cloak his broken promise in the smug mantle of selfless dedication to the public good is a little hard to take. “It’s not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections,” Mr. Obama said in a video message to supporters.

Mr. Obama had an opportunity here to demonstrate that he really is a different kind of politician, willing to put principles and the promises he has made above political calculation. He made a different choice, and anyone can understand why: He’s going to raise a ton of money. Mr. McCain played games with taking federal matching funds for the primaries until it turned out he didn’t need them, and he had a four-month head start in the general election while Mr. Obama was still battling for the nomination. Outside groups are going to come after him. He has thousands of small donors along with his big bundlers. And so on.

Fine. Politicians do what politicians need to do. But they ought to spare us the self-congratulatory back-patting while they’re doing it.

Now we know that Obama’s words, if they are said honestly at all, can be parsed so that they mean whatever Obama wants at any time. Can we now discount the value of his words to zero? If so, what other actions can be assume are worthless? (His appointments? His associates? His profession of Christianity? What else?)

Washington Post Criticizes Ginsburg Over Foreign Law

Citing Foreign Law,” Washington Post, 21 March 2006, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/03/20/AR2006032001674.html (from NRO’s Bench Memos).

I’ve applauded Chief Justice Roberts successful attack on so-called international law. Roberts’ victory is all the more encouraging because of the division of the Supreme Court on a closely related matter: foreign law.

Foreign law, which has been attacked by the Attorney General and Justice Scalia, differs from “international law” in that it is actually law, somewhere. While there was once a real international law based on the Catholic Church, in modern times “international law” means at best the socialization of states and at worst a strange morality.

When applied to cases in the United States, both are threats to our freedom and democracy. Freedoms we hold dear, like free speech, are routinely ignored by other countries like China and Germany. At best, an “honest” use of foreign laws by the Courts would lead to a lessening of freedoms in the United States, as are laws are harmonized with the less-free acts of foreign parliaments and potentates.

However, those lovers of “foreign law” are not so honest. They wish to use foreign law to get opinions that would be impossible otherwise. For example, liberal justices like Ruth Bader Ginsberg will use European criminal law (which is more liberal than American criminal law) to liberalize our justice system, but have not (yet) used European abortion laws (which are more conservative than American abortion laws) to make life safer for the unborn.

Don’t take my word for it: take the Washington Post‘s:

At the same time, Justice Antonin Scalia offers some reasonable criticisms of how the court has used foreign precedents — that is, selectively, when foreign law supports results that the court cannot justify based on American authorities alone. As Justice Scalia points out, justices cite foreign precedents in capital cases, where European law is far more liberal than American law, but not in abortion cases, where it is more restrictive.

Ginsberg, recognizing her weak position, has compared those who oppose permissive use of foreign laws to the old Apartheid government of South Dakota.

Of course, she also hides behind sex stereotypes and complains of right wing terrorists-sympathizers in Congress, so it’s not surprising behavior for her.

Strange Washington Post Style Review of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice

Condoleezza Rice’s Commanding Clothes,” by Robin Givhan, Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A51640-2005Feb24.html, 25 February 2005 (from Democratic Underground).

The story is so astounding, so great, so wonderful, and so bizarre, I’m quoting it in toto

Secretary of State TrinitySecretary of State Condoleezza Rice arrived at the Wiesbaden Army Airfield on Wednesday dressed all in black. She was wearing a black skirt that hit just above the knee, and it was topped with a black coat that fell to mid-calf. The coat, with its seven gold buttons running down the front and its band collar, called to mind a Marine’s dress uniform or the “save humanity” ensemble worn by Keanu Reeves in “The Matrix.”

As Rice walked out to greet the troops, the coat blew open in a rather swashbuckling way to reveal the top of a pair of knee-high boots. The boots had a high, slender heel that is not particularly practical. But it is a popular silhouette because it tends to elongate and flatter the leg. In short, the boots are sexy.

Rice’s black high-heel boots: As a fashion statement, absolutely powerful.

Rice boldly eschewed the typical fare chosen by powerful American women on the world stage. She was not wearing a bland suit with a loose-fitting skirt and short boxy jacket with a pair of sensible pumps. She did not cloak her power in photogenic hues, a feminine brooch and a non-threatening aesthetic. Rice looked as though she was prepared to talk tough, knock heads and do a freeze-frame “Matrix” jump kick if necessary. Who wouldn’t give her ensemble a double take — all the while hoping not to rub her the wrong way?

Rice’s coat and boots speak of sex and power — such a volatile combination, and one that in political circles rarely leads to anything but scandal. When looking at the image of Rice in Wiesbaden, the mind searches for ways to put it all into context. It turns to fiction, to caricature. To shadowy daydreams. Dominatrix! It is as though sex and power can only co-exist in a fantasy. When a woman combines them in the real world, stubborn stereotypes have her power devolving into a form that is purely sexual.


Rice challenges expectations and assumptions. There is undeniable authority in her long black jacket with its severe details and menacing silhouette. The darkness lends an air of mystery and foreboding. Black is the color of intellectualism, of abstinence, of penitence. If there is any symbolism to be gleaned from Rice’s stark garments, it is that she is tough and focused enough for whatever task is at hand.

Countless essays and books have been written about the erotic nature of high heels
. There is no need to reiterate in detail the reasons why so many women swear by uncomfortable three-inch heels and why so many men are happy that they do. Heels change the way a woman walks, forcing her hips to sway. They alter her posture in myriad enticing ways, all of which are politically incorrect to discuss.

But the sexual frisson in Rice’s look also comes from the tension of a woman dressed in vaguely masculine attire — that is, the long, military-inspired jacket. When the designer Yves Saint Laurent first encouraged women to wear trousers more than 30 years ago, his reasons were not simply because pants are comfortable or practical. He knew that the sight of a woman draped in the accouterments of a man is sexually provocative. A woman was embracing something forbidden.
Secretary of State Grandma
Rice’s appearance at Wiesbaden — a military base with all of its attendant images of machismo, strength and power — was striking because she walked out draped in a banner of authority, power and toughness. She was not hiding behind matronliness, androgyny or the stereotype of the steel magnolia. Rice brought her full self to the world stage — and that included her sexuality. It was not overt or inappropriate. If it was distracting, it is only because it is so rare.

Update: ZenPundit is not amused. Perhaps his faith in The Economist is misplaced.

Update 2: Riding Sun wonders if Rice just wanted to cosplay Neo.

Update 3: Negrophile is bitterly unimpressed, but does provide us with a technocrati blogwatch link (this and this work, too).

Insurance and Retirement

Social Security Formula Weighed: Bush Plan Likely to Cut Initial Benefits,” by Jonathan Weisman and Mike Allen,
Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A45726-2005Jan3.html, 4 January 2005.

Currently, the social security system combines two philosophically different programs — an insurance program to guard against poverty in old age, and a retirement program to allow retirees to live comfortably. They are seperate because higher wage-earners are better treated by the retirement program (rich people are paid richly to not work under SS), but anyone who has worked 40 quarters gets the minimum insurance benefit.

The problems with this are obvious. Why should poor current wage-earners disproportionately pay for rich retirees to earn more in retirement than they can earn working? Why are we going bankrupt as a nation to support the idle class?

President Bush sees this problem, and intends to fix it

The Bush administration has signaled that it will propose changing the formula that sets initial Social Security benefit levels, cutting promised benefits by nearly a third in the coming decades, according to several Republicans close to the White House.

Under the proposal, the first-year benefits for retirees would be calculated using inflation rates rather than the rise in wages over a worker’s lifetime. Because wages tend to rise considerably faster than inflation, the new formula would stunt the growth of benefits, slowly at first but more quickly by the middle of the century. The White House hopes that some, if not all, of those benefit cuts would be made up by gains in newly created personal investment accounts that would harness returns on stocks and bonds.

But by embracing “price indexing,” the president would for the first time detail the painful costs involved in closing the gap between the Social Security benefits promised to future retirees and the taxes available to fund them. In late February or March, the administration plans to produce its proposed overhaul of the system, including creation of personal investment accounts and the new benefit calculation.

Brilliant. Benefits continue to rise in nominal dollars, and the difference between nominal and real is felt by the richest Americans. While all Americans will have the right to individuall invest, it is the wealthiest (and hence the suavest) who will depend on private accounts the most.

Bravo Mr. President!