WHAT BRAND IS YOUR HYSTERIA?
Over the weekend, I was greeted by a headline that led to a head-scratching moment.
"UN COULD TAKE CONTROL OF INTERNET..."
What does that even mean?
Is Ban Ki-moon coming to my house to unplug my Ethernet cable and telling me, "No more cat videos for you!"
The headline comes courtesy of that bastion of conservative political news aggregation, The Drudge Report.
OF COURSE, DEAR READER, YOU ARE NOW QUESTIONING MY SENSIBILITIES
Why on earth is your relentless scribe reading the king of muckraking conservative hysteria?
Well, let's just say that it started right after 9/11.
As a news aggregator with a no-nonsense, white-space layout, Drudge was an expedient way to find relevant news stories from around the web.
Since then, Drudge has remained on my reading list mainly because it links to some of the most ridiculous news stories anywhere.
Like dogs accidentally shooting their masters, mail carriers hoarding tons of mail in their homes, and any number of tales from around the globe about humongous benign tumors.
And the Drudge headlines, especially concerning Anthony Weiner, are laughably atrocious. (We leave them and the website's "Balls To The Wall Coverage" to your imagination.)
BUT HOW IS THE UNITED NATIONS GOING TO TAKE CONTROL OF MY DRUDGE BROWSING?
Funny you should ask. I wondered the same thing.
And let's remember that The Drudge Report is a politically conservative website.
Tagline: "Those in power have everything to lose by individuals who march to their own rules." (Just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it?)
Anyway. I clicked the headline.
The link takes the reader to a story in The Wall Street Journal.
Let's remember that the WSJ is characterized by "conservatism, center-right, economic liberalism." (Thanks for the description, Wikipedia. Hope the UN doesn't squash you along with my cat videos.)
Let's also remember that the Journal is also the country's largest daily newspaper by circulation at 2.4 million copies.
AND THE PAPER'S TAGLINE IS, "THE DAILY DIARY OF THE AMERICAN DREAM"
Seems awfully Horatio Alger for an otherwise staunchly literate business journal, doesn't it?
Anyway, from the Journal, August 28, 2016...
HEADLINE: "An Internet Giveaway to the U.N."
SUBHEAD: "If the U.S. abdicates internet stewardship, the United Nations might take control."
Basically, this is about the United States government ceding monopolistic control of ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers).
ICANN is the nonprofit that ensures the stable and secure operation of the internet by coordinating names and IP addresses.
DOGS AND CATS LIVING TOGETHER!
The impending doom of the internet is encapsulated in an op-ed piece by formerWSJ publisher L. Gordon Crovitz:
"The only thing worse than a monopoly overseen by the U.S. government is a monopoly overseen by no one--or by a Web-censoring U.N."
Seems that, like nature, ICANN will abhor a vacuum and seek control by someone, anyone--but most likely the U.N.
Crovitz concludes: "Congress still has time to extend its ban on the Obama administration giving up protection of the internet. ICANN has given it every reason to do so."
And the Wall Street Journal is usually a pretty clear-eyed, rational publication as business goes.
Where will my cat videos go?
And all those stories about whoppingly huge benign tumors?
How will I continue to source The Absolute Truth according to Wikipedia?
BUT...HOW WERE OTHER NEWS BRANDS WERE TREATING THIS STORY?
So, a quick google of "ICANN" yielded a top story from TechRepublic.
Yes, the online journal of "IT decision makers."
Apparently, when they're not spinning the propellers on each other's hats and playing beer pong, the geeks at TechRepublic are serving their IT compatriots by living up to their tagline, " Empowering the People of Business and Technology."
From August 18, 2016, TechRepublic's News Editor, Conner Forrest details how the U.S. is "lessening its control of the [web address] naming system." He quotes Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist for the Center for Democracy & Technology, who says:
I do think everyone will get benefits
from the ICANN/IANA transition to a
global stakeholder community, including
the business community, as it is a solid
sign that the US is serious about globalization
of the internet and not trying to maintain
what we might call digital colonialism.
Hunh. Looks like the conservative-business brand and the it-empowerment brand each see things a little differently. Digital colonialism, indeed.
YOU SAY "POTATO" AND I SAY "PANIC IN DETROIT!"
So, in this fairly shallow and pointless examination of the pending global crisis, your relentless scribe turned to a less widely known source.
The magazine Reason was founded in 1968.
It began life as a "more-or-less monthly mimeographed publication." (The devil is definitely in the details available at Wikipedia. One hopes the U.N. doesn't turn the whole internet into a game control panel for Pokemon Go.)
The Reason tagline is, "Free minds and free markets." A classical-liberal publication of politics, culture and ideas, it has been named one of the "50 best Magazines" a couple of times by The Chicago Tribune. (Tagline: "That THAT, Rham Emanuelle!")
October 15, 2014--yes, almost two years ago-- Reason staff writer Zenon Evans offers a story headlined, "Overseer ICANN Breaks Up With U.S. Government."
SO IT'S NOT AS IF THIS SITUATION WAS SNEAKING UP ON US LIKE AN SINISTER, REGULATORY NINJA IN THE NIGHT
The Reason article details the machinations of the break up between the U.S. government and ICANN.
Then, Evans concludes:
When the U.S. suggested in March that
the relationship would come to an end,
conservative media and politicians freaked
out and accused the Obama administration
of handing over power to censorship-happy
countries like Russia and China. This was
inaccurate. The U.S. didn't have much power
to hand over anyway, but the move does
effectively silences criticism from Russia and
China that the U.S. did have too much power.
Hunh. Well then.
CUE MUSIC: "FREAK OUT" BY LE CHIC
All that pressure got you down?
Has your head spinning all around?
Come on along and have a real good time, indeed.
Branding and editorial politics.
Distilled thinking and over-simplified arguments.
Hell if I know.
BUT IT WAS A LOT OF FUN TO LOOK AT HOW EACH OF THE BRANDS HERE REPRESENT THE PROBLEM
The Drudge Report, " Those in power have everything to lose by individuals who march to their own rules," offers a subtly inflammatory, fear-mongering headline in, "UN COULD TAKE CONTROL OF INTERNET..."
The Wall Street Journal, "The daily diary of the American dream," offers a more reasonable sounding, business-framed debate in "If the U.S. abdicates internet stewardship, the United Nations might take control." But still: dogs and cats living together!
TechRepublic, " Empowering the people of business and technology," comes off as purely tech-idealistic about things and seemingly has no obvious political agenda. (Crafty, propeller-head technocrats. Hey, it's in the name: TechREPUBLIC.)
And finally, Reason, "Free minds and free markets," points to the hysteria of two years ago and says, "Uh, yeah. No."
AH, THE POLITICS OF HYSTERIA
The "Politics Of Dancing" was so much easier.
And while it is truly an inane song, there is one verse with an ironically prophetic view on the state of the art:
"The broadcast was spreading / Station to station / Like an infection / Across the nation."
Removed from the dance beat of the Re-Flex arrangement, the words seem...appropriate?
And subsequently, the song poses an important question: "Is this message understood?"
It seems an easy reply: yes.
That doesn't necessarily mean the message is correct.
But rest assured that, whatever your bias, turning to one's preferred brand for confirmation of that bias is going to yield the correct opinion every time.
Branding: not just for small business owners any more!
Blaine Parker is prone to ranting about any and all things related to brand. In many ways, he is a professional curmudgeon. While there is no known vaccine for this, the condition is also not contagious. Unless you choose it to be so.