The InsiderOne Daily Report

  Thursday, February 1, 2001

Free To Be Bad, Really Bad

InsiderOne's Michael Goldberg writes: All of a sudden professional content — you know, the kind of stuff seasoned pros have spent half their life learning how to create — is out. For about the last six months, I'd say, pro content has been on a downward slide. What's in now is user-created content, like what you find over at (a site that I happen to like), which is mostly comments normal folks post in reaction to some professional bit of writing that appeared somewhere on the Web. What the suits like about this kind of content is that it's free. Free is good because free doesn't cost anything. If you've got a site trying to make a go of it from ad revenue, the more page views you can generate using free content, the better. For the suits, anyway. It means they won't lose their jobs, or their shirts. From a big-picture perspective, though, it's not so good for our society, or us. Oftentimes free is also bad. Ten years from now I can imagine people making use of the New York Times archive to research what idiotic things Bush had to say about California's energy crisis. I don't imagine there will even be archives, and if there are — well, 67 people's opinions about the VH1 100 best albums list, or Britney swearing backstage (imagine!), just don't strike me as having real shelf life. Of course you could argue that articles about Britney swearing backstage, written by pros, published on Web sites and in newspapers and magazines all over the world, aren't exactly "The Great Gatsby" either, and of course you would be right. In the world of TV, where they keep developing new kinds of sets with flat screens and high-definition images, but seem unable to create a half dozen weekly shows worth watching, we are all well aware that the concept of the moment is "reality TV." Viacom's MTV pioneered the concept with its "Real World" series, and Viacom's CBS turned it into the equivalent of a successful diamond mine with "Survivor." The thing about these shows is they're cheap to make, and you don't have to pay the actors (well, I guess they have to pay them some kind of minimal union rate). It's practically like having an entire cast of free actors — only they're not actors. It's scary what people will spend their time watching. Who in their right mind wants to watch a bunch of yahoos on a desert island try to be the last one left standing? Amazingly, millions of Americans. Or what about this "Temptation Island" thing? Put some couples on an island along with a bunch of supposedly attractive singles (hunks and model types) and then see what happens? This is entertainment? No wonder George "Let's drill for oil in Alaska" Bush is in the White House. How dumb are we?

Datastream: Mark Kozelek continues his AC/DC fixation with a new album on Badman Records, What's Next to the Moon. The new release features beautifully played acoustic interpretations of 10 AC/DC songs, including "Up to My Neck in You," "Bad Boy Boogie," "Walk All Over You," "I Want Blood" and "Rock 'N' Roll Singer." This is the follow-up to Kozelek's EP, Rock 'N' Roll Singer, which featured different versions of three songs that appear on the new album. Of course you know, since we previously reported it, that Kozelek has re-formed the Red House Painters, and that their new album, Old Ramon, will be out on Sub Pop April 17. ... Artists currently set to play the fourth Yo Yo A Go Go fest in Olympia, Wash. July 17–21 include The Gossip, The Need, Mountain Goats, Mirah, Rebecca Pearcy, CO CO, Evaporators, The Cannanes & Stewart, and Space Ballerinas. More to come.

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Michael Goldberg is the president of He founded Addicted To Noise in 1994.

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