Astrodome Radio blocked, and Microsoft enters the Fray
Two questions for today are:
1) can we ever control people’s expression? What are the circumstances under which we should control people’s expression?
2) will the proprietary model (i.e., viewing information as private property like houses and cars)continue as the only paradigm for information and ideas?
The background for the first question:
The Harris County officials at the Astrodome are refusing to allow setup of a low-power radio station that would share information about services and act as a paging system. It would also share stories by the survivors that could help other survivors. The FCC has approved the station to operate for 90 days. Local volunteers have donated 10,000 portable walkman type radios and some have been distributed. But the astrodome officials will not allow the operation to be set up in the astrodome. We don’t understand the reason for this.
The project is spearheaded by Prometheus Radio working closely with Indymedia Houston and our community radio, KPFT.
As of today, Saturday, the organizers have given up trying to setup the radio inside the Astrodome and are soliciting FCC permission to build nearby and then beam the signal. I hope this will work. The paging system inside the astrodome is not effective. The information from the commercial media is not reliable. The voice of those in need requires direct expression, not filtered through commercial media. KPFT is running some stories and in-depth interviews from the Astrodome on their programming and that is something good.
The background for the second question is:
You know that I’ve been blogging (actually, ranting) about the proprietary compulsion of our media companies. As we try to find missing relatives, we have to go through a jungle of 55 (Yes, FIFTY-FIVE) websites. Yahoo thankfully saw the error and created a program that crawls like Google and searches other data bases. That has been a huge help. Now, Enter Microsoft, (pardon my hyperbole: the devil incarnate). This week Microsoft created its own website of missing Katrina persons. The coding of the microsoft database does does not allow Yahoo to search it. Not only that, but instead of developing an efficient search tool to search smaller and less-known databases that might contain useful information for us looking for lost ones, Microsoft has its staff entering data from other lists onto its own site. Yes, Microsoft is copying information about missing persons and entering that information onto its own site. This has to be the “private property idea” that is most counterproductive to our search efforts. Time is running out for this debacle to be fixed.
My hope is that the US mindset: “information and ideas are property that can be owned and traded” will eventually change toward the mindset of other cultures: “information and ideas are community owned and naturally and effortlessly shared by all in an ongoing evolution for the strengthening of community.”
How would you answer these two questions?
By the way, we continue to find missing relatives and more and more people are finding transportation to be reunited with relatives.