I was on a panel, “Artists and Advocacy,” at the National Conference for Media Reform Conference the other week. The other panelists focused on innovative tactics to gain visibility and influence for pushing a policy agenda. That's an essential task, but I decided to focus on a different way to advance our interests in a way that is arguably more durable. Why not build our own commons-based markets and commons infrastructures?
The existing policy process is systemically corrupted by corporate money and influence, making it a Herculean task for public-interest advocates to prevail. Just look at the fate of net neutrality to date. And even if you do prevail, the political winds may blow the other way and erase those gains later.
Mind you, I am not making an either/or argument, but rather a both/and argument. We obviously still need to persevere in conventional policy advocacy, particularly on net neutrality. But with the Internet providing a easily accessible platform for wide-open creativity and the viral amassing of audience/participants, we should find ways to bypass policy altogether and develop our own enterprises to advance our interests.