Timothy M. Denton

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Youtube becoming more popular than television

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Nothing changes faster than business. What people want, and how they get what they want, changes on a dime. Thus news that YouTube is presenting cooking shows that draw viewers in the millions and half millions is not a surprise, except maybe to the lawyers for the Canadian broadcasting and media production industries.

But of course they are aware. Yet the belief that law defines reality and not the other way around, constitutes the bedrock of legal training. Make everything subject to policy! is the prime directive of the law school. Policy trumps fact: lesson #1.

As Yanan Wang writes in the National Post today about Hannah Hart:

Her cookbook was a bestseller last year. Episodes of her online food series, “My Drunk Kitchen,” regularly go viral. And with more than 2 million subscribers, her YouTube channel is more popular than those of Jamie Oliver, Martha Stewart and Mario Batali combined.

And Hart is among dozens of cooking shows featured on You Tube.

What never fails to astound me is the persistence of mental models, such as the Broadcasting Act, or pre-20th century physics, long after the foundations of the model have been swept away. These models are believed in. Here is an example. In Shakespeare's time, the mental revolution inaugurated by Copernicus and Kepler had taken effect: people knew as a fact that the earth went about the sun. Yet, as you can read in Shakespeare's allusions to the fiery planet Mars in its warlike path about the earth, his mental furniture, and that of his audience, still accepted a Ptolemaic earth-centred universe.

They were caught between mental maps, one obsolete, one in being but not yet fully recognized. And that is where the ideologists of the Canadian broadcasting industry are today. They go home and watch Netflix; they experience an Internet-driven video entertainment system, and yet are obliged to believe that this thing they experience can, like the cable industry before it, be made an adjunct to a broadcasting policy predicated on limitation of channels and choices.

The argument that the Internet needs, can and ought to be regulated under Canada's Broadcasting Act is absurd on its face. It is laughable were it not so seriously entertained by proponents of Canada's highly protected video production and broadcasting industry.

Do they experience cognitive dissonance?

Some people cannot be persuaded of the truth of quantum physics until they see the blast of the nuclear bomb. And some cannot be convinced even then.






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Timothy Denton is a lawyer by training who practices principally in telecommunications and Internet policy and domain name issues, with a strong concentration on explaining what the technology is and what it means.


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Guest Tuesday, 12 November 2019
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