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Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Big Tech + streaming video = bread and circuses

The shift from movie theatres to streaming home entertainment (eg, Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV+, Disney+, Netflix) is an intriguing one. I suppose this shift rides on the waves of people feeling increasingly unsafe in public places (eg, Aurora-2012FlavorWire-2015, TIME). Nevertheless, this shift feels more fundamental, like a 21st century version of bread and circuses.

Many sci-fi movies show a dystopian future (ie, opposite of utopian). In this dystopian future, mass advertisement and mass entertainment often plays an important role (eg, WALL-E). Moreover, it seems that reality typically follows fantasy (eg, inventions of Leonardo da Vinci, H.G. Wells). In a next blog, I will consider their causality.

Big Tech's ambitions in streaming video have puzzled me. The Netflix balance sheet shows that the investments are huge (ie, Variety-2019). The initial monthly subscription fee mirrors the price of a single movie theatre ticket. Once you're hooked to a streaming service, price hikes will start. In order to recoup your monthly fees, you may watch more rather than cancel.

In 1844, Karl Marx stated that religion is the opium of the people. Actually, he wrote: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people" (Wiki). Big Tech's ambitions for streaming video - whether or not in a dystopian future world - may well be alike.

Some 2,000 years ago, there was a similar situation: "Roman politicians passed laws in 140 BC to keep the votes of poorer citizens, by introducing [] cheap food and entertainment, "bread and circuses", became the most effective way to rise to power." (Wiki)

The future Power domain of the 7 Belief systems consists of 3 belief systems: Data-Info, Money and Technology (my 13 August blog). I now realise that entertainment and infotainment fit in Data-Info. The coupling of Money and Big Tech (ie, Data-Info + Technology) is likely to result in a New Order (my 29 October blog). The Knowledge equals Power notion seems gone. 

Hence, it's hard to see how the (very) strong future Power domain would result in a utopian rather than a dystopian future. Once again, it seems that reality follows (science) fiction

"By 2050, 6.5bn people, two-thirds of all humanity, will live and work in cities" (UN-2014FT-2015my 2016 blog). Urbanisation is marked by artificial lights, smells and sounds. Perhaps, streaming video offers some soothing to the human mind. I need silence and solitude for my thinking and writing. Any disturbance of my tranquility blocks my introspection

It's tempting to argue that Big Tech's ambitions with streaming video aim for the exact opposite. Numb people do not think - or oppose. Hence, the new bread and circuses.

Numb (2019) by Dotan

Note: all markings (bolditalicunderlining) by LO unless stated otherwise

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