The Maker Movement: Why newspapers are upset that John Brennan lost his security clearance

The coordinated attack against Donald Trump by the major newspapers this week was quite extraordinary. They were of course upset that Trump took away the security clearance of the old CIA Director John Brennan. I can see why, because Brennan was a major source of leaked stories to them and he was using his connections within the intelligence community to fill their papers with negative stories against Donald Trump. Losing that access made the media mad. But there is more to the story which I discovered while listening to the things my 5-year-old grandson is interested in that I think really has the modern media in a twisted state—the “maker movement.”

My grandson I think has developed a remarkable vocabulary for being only 5. One thing that is different for him in relation to my own childhood is that he really doesn’t care much for movies and television. He doesn’t really have a favorite show on the Disney Channel or a movie that came out which we’ve taken him to that just inspired him greatly. If I might have experienced such things from early movies like westerns, Star Wars, or even science fiction epics like 2001: A Space Odyssey, for him its all about video games and YouTube. I watch some of these YouTube productions with him and they are quite elaborate, which makes sense since every home can now be its own television studio. The personal computer has decentralized the movie and television studio and just about anybody can be a producer of video content. And video games provide a much more interactive storytelling experience for young people. For their generation video games are allowing developing minds to have more control over what happens in their experience, decisions made, customizable settings, even the experience duration since online gaming is so popular these days.

At five years old my grandson has at his finger tips so long as he has access to a phone or computer an almost infinite world of individual video content producers on YouTube and YouTube Kids that is as good if not better than what Sesame Street and the PBS show The Electric Company produced. And there is a lot more of it without reruns like the networks produce. Some of these videos are quite sophisticated technically. He likes to watch videos of video game players who provide commentary and special effects to games he wants to learn about, such as the new one just released on the Nintendo Switch called Hello Neighbor. Hello Neighbor is unusual because it started off as a kind of indie title made by “makers” which is becoming quite common these days from programmers who aren’t part of some corporate giant. The game has been popular and has made it to a more polished version on the major computer game consoles. So there is this entire big industry going on that fills the minds of kids that has nothing to do with traditional media. The time that these kids spend on this stuff is truly jaw dropping leaving traditional media completely lost in how to maintain their audiences. For kids I only see an upside, but it is certainly different from what it was when I grew up.

That’s when I realized that I was part of the Maker Movement too, this blog site has become quite popular and was created out of my frustration with how limited the newspapers were. I used to write for several publications and I was a frequent “letter to the editor” kind of person, but I found the word counts extremely limiting. The newspapers had to do that to leave space for their advertisers. But once personal computers became the window to the outside world essentially replacing the television in that same role, blogs and alternative news sites became more trusted and convenient than traditional media that you had to walk to the end of your driveway to get. Television ironically is now replacing the movie experience as film and video production has been decentralized as well leaving Netflix, Amazon Prime and many other outlets, including YouTube as part of the personal theater experience. It’s all part of putting the means of production in the hands of individuals as opposed to governments and large corporations.

I’ve been studying the efforts of Cody Wilson, the author of Come and Take It and the radical young man who is printing 3D guns and distributing the plans online which has everyone’s attention including President Trump. He started out as a liberal, very progressive person out of college and as he became a producer migrated into a more conservative personality, which is usually what happens to people who make things. When Karl Marx indicated that he wanted to put the means of production into the hands of the people, he wasn’t thinking of what that reality might look like, which is what the Maker Movement is. For the first time in all of human history the ability to build and make things is in the hands of the people and it doesn’t look the way that communists had envisioned. And people aren’t turning more liberal, they are turning more conservative because the act of making things tends to do that to people.

Donald Trump himself was a builder of buildings, a Maker in his own way so it only makes logical sense that he is the president of this particular time, and he gets what is going on. He became president because of the decentralization of information. If people had a choice twenty years ago when cable television was still new and the internet required a dial-up modem and an AOL pass to use a chat box Trump would have never had a chance. But the moment people had alternatives, a president like Trump emerged and won against the entire established system. It’s not that Trump did anything different, it’s just that more people had access to him and the voting process than ever before and it took that control away from traditional media, and they don’t like it.

Insurgents like John Brennan used the CIA to control entire nations through their state sponsored media and it works in communist countries in ways that satisfies central authority types. But this new Maker Movement is quite extraordinary and people aren’t going to go back to how it was before. My 5-year-old grandson won’t be reading USA Today in the future or The New York Times. Likely it will be some blog site or some version of that technology which publishes the news the way that the Maker Community wants it. News won’t come from some centralized source the way it has since the times of the printing press. And it is that which the major newspapers were mad at. Trump is just the byproduct of their own terminal existence. The reminder of how powerless they really are these days is in Trump’s constant popularity in spite of their efforts and even the audacity to take away the security clearance of one of their most trusted news sources is a sign of their modern ineffectiveness. The production of entertainment and news is no longer controlled by a few big companies. And the source for that news is no longer controlled literally by the CIA and the FBI. Its controlled by the consumer and that is a history changing notion that will have lasting implications in every action humans engage in, especially elections.

Rich Hoffman

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