I've been taking a look at PointCast, the latest flashy "news utility" available to Net users. It's an impressive piece of software, at first glance: It scans various news services and gathers the latest published stories, CNN news, stock quotes, horoscopes, and weather forecasts, downloading them all onto your PC and making it easy for you to scan the latest news of the day. It's the first genuine appearance of the "electronic newspaper" often mentioned in TV commercials hyping the so-called "information superhighway," and it seems tailor-made for people who want to get their news directly from the source. What's more, it's free: you don't have to pay any subscription fees (yet). The service is supported by advertising, which means that in addition to the news of the day, users are constantly exposed to ever-changing, flashy ads in one corner of their screen. But that's a small price to pay in order to get the latest news...isn't it?
Let's stop and think about this for a moment. Packaged network news (with no chance for you to comment or express your opinions)...CNN (which is now owned by the Time Warner corporation)...horoscopes (among the most worthless time-wasters in any published newspaper)...and stock quotes (the heart and soul of the Conspiracy, with its eternal belief that Money is God). I don't know about you, but there's an alarm buzzer going off here. The Robot is shouting "Warning! Danger!" and I'm wondering just what the Conspiracy is gaining from PointCast. After all, NOTHING is free; the CON is always trying to come up with new ways for us to sit back, turn off our brains, and let THEM dictate their opinions of what is "important" and "newsworthy" to us.
PointCast offers everything the CON wants us to have: flashy graphics, lots of ads, and a limited selection of news bites; none of the articles in its newsfeed are very long, and they only give us a brief sampling of the facts...just like TV. The different categories of news on PointCast, from "Businesses" to "Lifestyle" to "Sports," are labeled "channels" by the software...just like TV. And the ads flash at us non-stop, using bright colors and lots of animation to catch our attention...just like TV.
Presumably, the focus on CNN as a source of "world news" comes from a contract between PointCast and CNN. It seems highly unlikely that PointCast will ever bother seeking contrasts with the alternative news sources that present news stories with more content than O.J.'s latest court fiasco, such as Mother Jones or In These Times or any number of alternative press publications. It isn't hard to figure out who Adbusters was attacking when they printed their commercial spoof which stated:
"BAFFLED BY WORLD EVENTS? We know how you feel. So to help you understand, we decided to get tough with the facts. We made it our mission to present complicated world events in a easy-to-understand American perspective. Our correspondents and editors eliminate local contexts, unusual ideologies and tricky historical details. And they take special care to remove any facts that might lead you to wonder what's really going on. So if you want to keep in touch with whatever we feel like telling you, watch GNN. GLOBAL NEWS NETWORK - The Leader In News Management!"
PointCast may indeed be what the Conspiracy wants you to have, because it takes to THEIR look at the news...while flashing non-stop advertisements at you. It's the ads that are the REAL money-maker for PointCast. Remember that when we're talking with the business of news, the news itself is the least important part of the package. PointCast, just like TV, is trying to build itself an audience so that it can make money from advertising. The news stories provided by the service are the bait to let you be drawn into the trap of the Conspiracy, so that you become one more potential buyer of products.
But does this mean PointCast is worthless? Hardly! Fortunately for us, we are SubGenii, and this is the Internet. There are many means at our disposal for us to stay in touch with the REAL news, keep our minds free, and avoid the trap of the Conspiracy.
PointCast can be used as a way for us to keep track of what the Con wants us to know. The Net IS incredibly vast, and it can be a real pain to try to track down even the most basic news stories. Gathering the news together in one site -- even if it's only Con-Approved "news" -- makes for a good starting point. Every so often, a piece of useful information DOES leak through the Conspiracy's filters, and if PointCast enables us to catch it before it disappears, then the program isn't completely worthless.
What sets US apart from THEM is that we don't have to be satisfied with merely reading an online newspaper like PointCast.
Once we've had our fill of THEIR packaged news stories, we can then go on to get further information about the issues. We can go to the Web sites for alternative information...Web sites that are rarely (if ever) mentioned by the Big Mass Media Services. (Since when did Reuters ever include a link to Covert Action Quarterly?) What's more, we can peruse that great, chaotic, unending storm of truth and propaganda known as USENET. The newsgroups give us to-the-minute bulletins on the latest events, by the people who actually MAKE the news!
When the skirmish between the SubGenius Police and Mike Enlow was mentioned in PointCast, were the SubGenii content to merely read that article? Hell, no! They scurried off to alt.binaries.slack to see what was actually going on...where they were bathed in the glow of the orgozmonic radiation emanating from the domain of S.P.(U.T.U.)M. The SubGenii are still hanging out on alt.slack (or on their own newsgroups, including alt.slack.goathead and alt.friends.sterno). Despite the fact that many of us have built our own Web sites, we STILL correspond regularly through alt.slack, because the live interaction of the newsgroup is a far greater source of Slack than anything we could get from a Web site.
And what about the non-stop ads? This, fortunately, can be overcome by the simplest of tricks. Several applications for Windows include an "Always On Top" option: the application will stay on the foreground of your screen, and it won't be covered up when you use other Windows applications. Simply call up one of these utilities or icons and COVER UP the ad screen on PointCast! Poof - no more ads! You may have to move it around every so often, but you won't be distracted anymore by those annoying ads. One more avenue of the Conspiracy's attempt to control your mind will be closed.
And thus, we stay ahead of the CON game, while letting THEM think that they can beam Their mind control lasers into our brains...just like any other Normal, Pink, Glorpizied Human Being. HA! With only the simplest of efforts, we can slip through their fingers and keep our precious Slack. "Bob" knows how much we need our Slack, in these final few months before X-Day!
Reverend Modemac (firstname.lastname@example.org) First Online Church of "Bob" "There is no black and white." URL: http://www.tiac.net/users/modemac/ (FINGER email@example.com for a FREE SubGenius Pamphlet!)