Although it is fair to say that my days of hating on MTV are over (since there are so many alternatives for good music programming nowadays – online I mean), my general disappointment with their trash content was reawakened by this recent clip. It reminded me of something I read recently which I thought was nicely written. Here is an excerpt from ©ontent, a collection of must-read essays by Cory Doctorow (must read for anyone interested in copyright issues, internet culture and the evolution of entertainment industries). Please note the bold.

2.6 Metrics influence results

Agreeing to a common yardstick for measuring the important stuff in any domain necessarily privileges the items that score high on that metric, regardless of those items’ overall suitability. IQ tests privilege people who are good at IQ tests, Nielsen Ratings privilege 30- and 60-minute TV shows (which is why MTV doesn’t show videos any more — Nielsen couldn’t generate ratings for 3-minute mini-programs, and so MTV couldn’t demonstrate the value of advertising on its network), raw megahertz scores privilege Intel’s CISC chips over Motorola’s RISC chips. Ranking axes are mutually exclusive: software that scores high for security scores low for convenience, desserts that score high for decadence score low for healthiness. Every player in a meta- data standards body wants to emphasize their high-scoring axes and de-emphasize (or, if possible, ignore altogether) their low- scoring axes.

It’s wishful thinking to believe that a group of people competing to advance their agendas will be universally pleased with any hierarchy of knowledge. The best that we can hope for is a detente in which everyone is equally miserable.

I guess we all kind of knew MTV not playing videos must have something to do with selling more commercials, but to have its quantifiable source revealed is interesting. Viacom unknowingly disbanding what was probably an extremely valuable body of programming and production units is ironic now, seeing as how they are trying to duplicate their initial success online and are having trouble competing with independent non-corporate backed sites.