Making Friends

By Chris Nolan  |  Posted 2005-02-09 Print this article Print

And the Downhillbattle folks arent out to win any friends among folks who might be some of their biggest supporters. Criticism of Apples iTunes and rants about the music industry business model are given prominent play on the site. Thats fine. And theres a place for that sort of activism, too. But thats the very sort of stuff that makes recording executives dig in their heels. It also helps the recording industry win Congressional support for its cause, particularly in a Republican-led, pro-business Congress.
A different sort of problem exists with the "Endangered Gizmo" campaign. Its a cute little cartoon warning consumers that many of the things they love—the Replay personal video recorder, the iPod—could be crushed by big business "dinosaurs" who dont want to change the law.
For geeks, this is clever. But like Downhillbattles arguments—explicit and otherwise—its preaching to the choir. EFF is an organization of people who know and like new innovative devices for themselves. Less geeky consumers are more interested in what the machines can do. An ad campaign—a real live multimillion-dollar advertising campaign with a name like "Dont Let Them Stop the Music"—would be a lot more effective. This isnt to suggest that the Recording Industry Association of America or the Motion Picture Academy of America—both of whom think suing their customers is good business—are right on this issue. They arent. Thats why you dont see them out there wasting their money. Theyre fighting a backroom battle because they know—eventually—that the popularity of the digital video recorder and the iPod will change the current system. They just want to make sure that when it changes, it does so in their favor. The movie and record folks have a simple strategy against tech companies: Delay. They want to delay changes in the law as long as possible so they can think up new business models that address technological changes. In the meantime, of course, its business—and revenue—as usual. Tactics like EFFs and Downhillbattles play into that tactic by leaving consumers—except for those already interested in the issues—out in the cold. Technology and Politics columnist Chris Nolan spent years chronicling the excesses of the dot-com era with incisive analysis leavened with a dash of humor. Before that, she covered politics and technology in D.C. You can read her musings on politics and technology every day in her Politics from Left to Right Weblog. Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on government and politics.

Standalone journalist Chris Nolan runs 'Politics from Left to Right,' a political Web site at that focuses on the intersection of politics, technology and business issues in San Francisco, in California and on the national scene.

Nolan's work is well-known to tech-savvy readers. Her weekly syndicated column, 'Talk is Cheap,' appeared in The New York Post, Upside, and other publications. Debuting in 1997 at the beginnings of the Internet stock boom, it covered a wide variety of topics and was well regarded for its humor, insight and news value.

Nolan has led her peers in breaking important stories. Her reporting on Silicon Valley banker Frank Quattrone was the first to uncover the now infamous 'friend of Frank' accounts and led, eventually, to Quattrone's conviction on obstruction of justice charges.

In addition to columns and Weblogging, Nolan's work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Republic, Fortune, Business 2.0 and Condé, Nast Traveler, and she has spoken frequently on the impact of Weblogging on politics and journalism.

Before moving to San Francisco, Nolan, who has more than 20 years of reporting experience, wrote about politics and technology in Washington, D.C., for a series of television trade magazines. She holds a B.A. from Barnard College, Columbia University.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel