[clug] Why the web has gone sour

Alex Satrapa grail at goldweb.com.au
Sun Feb 14 16:48:33 MST 2010

On 15/02/2010, at 09:13 , Lana Brindley wrote:

> http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/why-the-web-has-gone-sour-20100214-nzo5.html

Some guy I've never heard of writes a book about how trolling on the Internet didn't leave him feeling enlightened.

As for "information wants to be free" - that's a term coined by William Gibson, if I'm not mistaken. The original idea was that humans are a chatty bunch by nature - our earliest history is only verbally recorded, passed down from generation to generation as stories. We love telling stories, we love communicating useful or interesting words to our peers. Thus any time we learn something new (or hear or see something new), the innate desire is to communicate this new thing.

That's why we have art in the first place - artists are simply people who are well practised in communicating these new things or strong emotions through some form of media.

"Lanier believes that by fetishising and over-stating the power of this collective so-called intelligence we undervalue individual humans."

News Flash: Democracy is based on exactly the same "wisdom of the crowds" ideal.

Except that the guy who originally proposed Democracy as a political system was painfully aware that not all people were able to act in the common good, and others would not take any interest in the politics that influence their lives. There a word for those people: "Idiots". No, go look it up - it's derived from the Greek word for "layman", someone unaware of or unconcerned by politics.

I do agree with his comments about "information overload" being due to software designers insisting on flooding people with useless facts.

"One effect of the so-called free way of thinking is that it could eventually force anyone who wants to survive on the basis of mental activity ... to enter into some sort of legal or political fortress - or become a pet of a wealthy patron - in order to be protected from the rapacious hive mind," writes Lanier. "What free really means is that artists, musicians, writers and filmmakers will have to cloak themselves within stodgy institutions."

What artists need in order to survive is a means of getting their product to market for a fair price. What artists do not need is a rabid religious rampage where anyone who violates copyright is sued into oblivion. There's no respect to be garnered there. For copyright laws to be respected, the copyright holders must treat their potential customers with respect.

Stores like the iTunes Music Store seem to me to be an ideal world, where Apple markets its product (the store) to as many people as possible, small musicians market to the Apple iTMS, and the people who want the music can get access to it for a fair price.

What I don't know is whether a particular artist (eg: Hayley, "Dreadlock Cowboy") will get paid more of my $20 if I buy her album from the iTMS or CDBABY. Note that CDBABY ships a physical CD in the post, so I expect the cost of provision is higher for CDBABY.

I wonder if people would have more respect for copyright legislation if the copyright legislation itself was easier to handle? I wonder if people would be more interested in paying for music if music was affordable and accessible? I hear the iTMS isn't doing so bad. How's that Plays For Sure vs Zune thing going? Is there an equivalent from someone else, which ships unencumbered media such as Ogg Vorbis/Theora?


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