At the Grassroots Use of Technology Conference / National Writers Union Digital Media Conference I got to hear a lot of people bemoan how hard it is to make a buck as a creator in the digital age.

A comparison was made to the Open Source Software movement and I made a very quotable statement ( by Twitter standards): “Journalism is the software upon which democracy runs”.

Other than the awful mixed metaphors, I think I made a good statement: coding software has a very clear correlation between the work itself and the measurement of the final product at the end. Journalism: not so much. Of course some people do talk about how access to information and analysis from diverse viewpoints is vital to the continued health of our Democracy, but they get shouted down by Glen Beck. Newspapers themselves (or Cable Access TV or whatever is going town the toilet today) are usually discussed as some impalpable, circularly-reasoned necessity rather than put into context as providers of a what __is necessary for the kind of society we want to live in.

Call me progressive, but let’s talk about what we need to build tomorrow, not reinforce today.

Here’s a quote I have trouble disagreeing with from Mark Lloyd’s Communications Policy is a Civil Rights Issue:

…to argue that getting out of the business of regulation is the only constructive role for government to play is as blind as it is disingenuous. The challenge is to create a set of rules that reflects the best nature of our society. As Newton Minow makes clear in Abandoned in the Wasteland, the issue is not really whether the market provides good choices, but whether citizens have a real say in what those choices are. The issue is whether the parent must let his child be a consumer, or, more to the point, a product to be sold to advertisers, or whether the parent has a right as a citizen to demand more.