Sympathetic Stupid

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Copyright vs Genocide

At ...My heart's in Accra, the tireless Ethan posts on the contrast between a protest on DRM and a protest by refugees from Darfur.

Do people care more about DRM than Darfur? Definitely, is my immediate, cynical response. People as self-interested agents means you obviously care more about the songs on your iPod than the dead bodies on the other side of the world. There is, however, probably more to it than that. Maybe it seems like DRM can be fixed, with a moderate amount of action, whereas the problems of Africa seem intractable. Maybe there's no easy target; blame the record companies for being tight, but whose fault is poverty and corruption in Africa?

But I reckon it's more to do with comparative visibility, which then comes back to the role of the media. Darfur appeared in the public consciousness for a week, maybe two, and then dissolved into the background noise. It gets a passing mention once in a while, but I don't think most people realise there are still problems. Why is it no longer mentioned? The media is notoriously fickle, but that's not surprising, because so much else has happened in the 30-odd months since the conflict began. Not just Makybe Diva, either.

Ethan thinks this is where the blogosphere should come in, but that it's ineffective because the blogosphere focuses on technology. There's no doubt that most people with blogs are geeks, but probably also that most people who read blogs are geeks. My Mum, for instance, wouldn't know what a blog is, let alone where to find one. Maybe 5% of people in the developed world regularly read blogs (if that), so how useful can they be?

Anyway, read his post and think about it.