Part 46. The Faucet
Water is essential for life, but too much water can suffocate someone. They drown,
killed by something that ought to be life-preserving for them. Control of water
-- its flow rate, its pressure, its temperature -- can determine whether the water
causes help or harm.
The water of life for a news publication, a magazine, or even an online website
is information. Control of the flow of information to a news organization can either
cause the organization to prosper and flourish, or to die of thirst. In some cases,
the flow of information can be used like a high-pressure water spigot, washing out
alternative news sources and setting the news agenda itself. This means that in
many cases, what we see on the news is not determined by the tellers, the writers,
the speakers that we observe; rather, it is the hand on the faucet of the flow of
information that determines what we see and hear and read. Of all the organizations
that manipulate the news via flow control, Microsoft is at the very pinnacle of
Microsoft can expertly target a particular computer publication by first determining
its flow of capital -- the other form of life-giving fluid needed by a business.
If a publication is financially weak, simply propping it up with heavy advertising
dollars builds a dependency upon maintaining Microsoft's favor. But even more, their
dependency is on Microsoft for the "inside information" about upcoming
Microsoft products. After all, Microsoft has more than a monopoly on operating systems,
office suites, and other products; it also has a monopoly on the *inside information*
about its own products. Since Microsoft uses proprietary interfaces and Rube-Goldberg-style
internal design architectures, only Microsoft can provide the kind of insider viewpoint
these magazines and other publications and media establishments need to fill their
pages with content. Only Microsoft knows which products they will hype, and which
are just placeholders to keep the competition from succeeding.
Therefore, Microsoft will target a particular publication -- or even better, a certain
individual writer within a publication -- and flood them with a high-level blast
of information about all sorts of Microsoft products. The monopoly position of Microsoft
forces the writer to keep up with all of this marketing-driven information, lest
they miss out on whichever product ends up being successful. Since the writer does
not know which of these products is bogus and will flop, he or she cannot afford
to ignore any of them. This crowds out the time necessary to keep abreast of other
developments in the computer industry, such as superior operating systems, new paradigms,
and futuristic programming languages. The faucet is turned on full-blast, and the
writer must either sink or swim.
Ah, but let the writer put into print that a particular Microsoft product is indeed
a crock, a laughingstock, or even just mediocre -- and suddenly that flow of information
may be cut off completely. The hand that cranks the faucet will quickly turn it
from full-on to shut tight. Now the flow of necessary content information is gone,
and the magazine or the writer begins to die from lack of information. Microsoft
is capable and willing to punish members of the media for failing to live up to
Microsoft's expectations that they will be nothing more than mouthpieces and front-men
for the Microsoft machine, making a mockery of the term "free press" by
co-opting the media into unpaid extensions of the Microsoft marketing department.
For when you write about Microsoft, it's either all or nothing; Microsoft will never
allow itself to be viewed as just another choice to be made among competing equals.
The flow of propaganda from Microsoft will either drown you or starve you -- take
Most recent revision: April 5, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.