Saturday, November 22, 2014

Podcasts, Livestreams And The Future Of The Media

On arriving in America, Columbus was surprised and somewhat annoyed by the discovery that all the banks were closed.

That's from the Jimmy Dore show, a podcast with some pretty Liberal, very politically engaged comedians I tried the other night. I'd heard Dore's name before but wasn't familiar with him. Apparently he's on comedy TV but I don't know how often. The podcast was along the lines of the Stephanie Miller show broadcast on KABQ AM 1350 in the mornings, a mix of humor, political satire and straight politics ala Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, or for that matter Rush Limbaugh. I've seen polls that show that more young people rely on Colbert and Stewart for their news than on the mainstream media, and the same may go for Limbaugh and his offshoots among conservatives.

For around eight years now I've listened to podcasts to inform and educate myself, keep up Lestist political and social analysis and just pass the driving hours. I've not noticed an upwelling of podcast popularity, but they've gained a measure of respectability and clout as the media has evolved in form and in how people partake of it and as "mainstream media" gradually loses audience and influence. Alec Baldwin until just recently hosted a podcast in which he interviewed movers and shakers in the entertainment industry.

I'd only listened to a few episodes of Baldwin's podcast, which had been on for two years when it was recently suspended for lack of funding, which may say something about the future of podcasts. Many I listen to are of actual radio programs and I can't say how podcasts extends their reach, because I don't know. I listen to quite a few Pacifica Radio podcasts, a few that are internet only, and a couple from radio station WFMU, just outside of New York City in New Jersey. The host of one of those, who hosts her own show that is podcast but also goes out over the airwaves, and is a producer at a podcast that only goes out over the internet, is immersed in a world of podcasts. Many of her references are from other podcasts.

Still, it's difficult to imagine many people slowing down long enough to listen to an entire podcast. We seem to need the visual stimulation TV provides to make us sit down and stop. I don't listen to podcasts, or books, except when I'm driving.


Occupy was being livestreamed as it happened, especially the nighttime meetings in Zucotti Park and the protests they held during the day. Many mainstream events are now live streamed, as was Nick Wallenda's recent tight rope walk between skyscrapers in Chicago and the Europeans' comet landing. I think this indicates that many people rely on their smart phones for most of their media intake now.

Amateur journalists can now livestream things over the internet seemingly easily. Somehow they upload video they're taking with their cell phones straight to the internet. Web sites that host livesreams seem to be run along the order of youtube. I've looked in on a few livestreamed demonstrations now. "Dream activists," children born as US citizens to illegal immigrants, began livestreaming their actions outside immigration and ICE detention centers about a year ago, and the general movement of young Chicano activists seems to have adopted livestreaming as a technique, as have the young Natives involved in actions both in the US and Canada trying to stop the Keystone Pipeline and tar sands oil extraction generally.

I followed a link to a site that was supposed to be livestreaming protests in Ferguson, MO, which have begun even before the much anticipated grand jury verdict is released about the charges that a white police officer murdered a young black man. The livestream, from a young videographer with the moniker Revolitionary_Z, who appears to be associated with the Free Thought Project, one of the main copwatch groups, was off at the time and instead he had a slide show playing that, to me, gives some insight into where young Leftist radicals are coming from now, a subject I've been thinking about since Jim Baca mentioned young people and the future of politics at his Only In New Mexico blog yesterday.

Some screen shots of Revolutionary_Z's slide show:

Add caption

This is apparently Revolutionary_Z


Note: If you have some time and are willing to wade through a few esoteric references to current philosophical movements, Socialist author Sharon Smith has written an article for Socialist Worker that makes the argument that only class struggle can unite the various and splintered groups and interests that people are trying to organize around. The article contains the gist of the Marxist viewpoint of class struggle and why you keep hearing language like "class struggle," which many on the Left dismiss as "boilerplate Stalinism" or with some other derogatory term and have relegated to the past.

Only as a class of workers do we have the power to confront Capitalism by shutting down the economy. We can march and carry signs about gay rights, women's rights, all kinds of rights, and while this kind of advocacy helps educate people to various kinds of oppression, it only keeps us divided in the long run. Socialism is inherently non sexist, non racist, against any form of oppression. Only it can take away the power of Capitalism to oppress.

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