Changing the world… I recently saw how following the metrics of eyeballs, many people stopped streaming a popular show… just when it got to a ‘woke’ scene. Perhaps the writers genuinely believed they would change the world. Perhaps they just knew their employers wanted that, under the belief that it would appeal with a ‘popular’ narrative, at least with everyone they knew. And the deplorable people who didn’t like it would just watch. They needed their world changed.
Oddly it will change the world. But the writers and actors world, not everyone else’s world. The impact they might have had… probably worked out the other way around on a lot of the audience, and reflected very badly on their careers. Given the movie establishment, they may well even fail upward, like a well-known woke editor who destroyed every sf mag she edited… and kept being hired. And then she’d crash the next one, as the entire short fiction field spiraled downward.
The law of unintended consequences is an iron one. If exactly what we planned happened… well, sometimes it even does. But it’s what ELSE happens that we don’t always expect. I was listening to a biographical history of a pair of folk singers – one of them was there when music producers realized suddenly that they controlled the media, the record labels, the radio stations… they didn’t have to accept what the public thought they liked, they could decide what the public had to buy – very like modern publishing and the media. Oddly… that proved a slow downhill spiral, both for the ‘chosen’ (Who did well… for a while, but just didn’t endure) and ‘outcasts’ – who either had to make their own audiences or vanish. The pool of those outcasts shrank, they did have it tough… but the survivors did not all vanish, but built their own bases, which were not perhaps as powerful, but lasted and lasted. With the development of the net and reaching around those gatekeepers, those ‘stayers’ are growing.
The same is true in publishing, where the gatekeepers having thought they owned everything and could decide public taste, and use it to shape the world according to their desires… have found indies growing to point where there are more of them than there are more of them, earning more money than the traditional publishing houses.
At the moment there are several big tech companies (Facebook, Twitter, various mass media) who have been throwing their weight around, pushing their desired narrative to the exclusion of all else, and forcibly silencing all those who don’t co-operate. The intended consequence was supposed to be getting only their side of any story heard. The law of unintended consequences being what it is, what they’ve done is to give nurture to a lot of smaller competitors who don’t have the size or sometimes the convenience of the existing behemoths. If the behemoths had stuck to boiling the frog very slowly… these upstart companies would never have had a hope in hell of growing. But because of the heavy-handed interference – some of the competitors did, and grew fast. And inevitably the behemoths or their lackeys accused them of whatever they could try and pin on them, attacked their hosting companies, their revenue streams, rather than the behemoths change their strategy and cool the water — the frogs are feeling they have to leave for anywhere else. They won’t come back.
It’s a bit like taking a pot that is boiling over because you have the heat turned up too high… and jamming a lid down onto it, and turning up the gas up a bit further. Whack-a-mole is a futile game, if your process keeps generating moles, every time you hit one. In the end, this process ends with the pot either exploding, or at the very least blowing the lid off and putting the gas flame right out.
So: down this line, one of the petty lackeys of Trad Publishing’s establishment decided to take down Baen Books because they weren’t complying with the narrative and were allowing a range of authors and opinions to be aired, instead of just their chums and prescribed opinion. They attacked Baen via Baen’s Bar – which is an author/reader chatroom — which, since Facebook, has lost a lot of use — with a bunch of wild conspiracy theory rubbish about it being a place that fomented violence, and he and his little coterie of chums (totally spontaneously I’m sure) demanded that hosting companies etc shut it down – and silence opinion he and his friends didn’t like. He jammed the lid down, as hard as he could.
Well, Baen’s Bar is back, using a different system. Why don’t you all go and help it give an unexpected consequence that the jackass did not expect – like a lot more use than it has had for a while. Seeing as Facebook is trying the same lid down stunt, likely to affect many Baen authors and readers, it might be time.