Josef Anvil's Favorite Techdirt Posts Of The Week

from the the-web-kids-revolution-was-not-televised dept

We’ve come to the end of another week at Techdirt, and I have to say that for once, I’m not completely outraged about “the system.” The reason for my renewed sense of optimism comes from stringing together my favorite Techdirt posts for the week.

Hmmm. I just reread that and it didn’t seem right, as I don’t really have a list of favorite posts for the week. Instead I see quite a few posts that all support my single FAVORITE post of the week. Yes, there is one single clear winner this week that really needs to be addressed. Before I talk about that post, I want to look at the framework around it and will try to be quick.

Crowdsourcing an innovation agenda, sounds cool and it could be the start of something. It even seems that it’s not a matter of “if” it develops but rather “how,” since people are tackling the issue from different angles and with new platforms. Then we have crowdfunding which not only seems to be working but is picking up steam and is yet another one of those things that is just fun to watch.

Next we have the stories about the takedown and the aftermath of the takedown and, as usual, the internet routes around the damage and most users of those services barely notice. They wake up and their service is gone, so they move to the next one. Then leading up to the big finish we have to look at being right vs being realistic, piracy vs innovation, and online vs offline rules, which are all looks at how the internet has changed the world in which we live.

So where does all of this lead? To Glyn Moody’s article about the “We, the Web Kids” manifesto, my FAVORITE post of the week and possibly my favorite post EVER on Techdirt. This one article encapsulates almost everything that is discussed in this forum. Whether the debate is about SOPA/PIPA/ACTA/TPP or TSA or RIAA/MPAA or WIPO or Google or Facebook, we have to accept the fact that we are all far more connected than ever before, some of us are even hyperconnected, and it has changed us. We no longer just accept the opinions of “authority,” we want FACTS, we want data, we want the truth (or close as possible). This article details a fundamental shift in the way people THINK, and it’s not just the “web kids.” Personally, I didn’t grow up with the web, but I’m certainly not so blind as to miss how integrated into my life it is. Before the web, I didn’t talk to people all over the world on a daily basis, now I do. How I consume media is completely different, as I get to choose what, when, how, and why. In other words, the way things are done has CHANGED because of the internet.

This manifesto is a wake up call to politicians and corporations around the world. Your citizens and consumers have changed. They are becoming or have become a part of the digital era. They Skype, Tweet, FB, and IM their ideas, opinions, and comments without giving much thought about the process. They Google everything, they shop on their phones, they record video and post it before the “real news” can, they text while in meetings, they create with Gimp and NVU, they work with OpenOffice, and they consume media thru Netflix, HULU, Spotify, Grooveshark, HuffPo, and YouTube. They want to throw away physical storage and move stuff into the “cloud,” if you let them. They don’t want to hear that consumers shouldn’t dictate the market, because they know how to write reviews and share information. They don’t want to hear about laws being bought, and are willing to speak out and challenge the “old ways.”

One last point I would like to focus on, in the manifesto, which I found particularly engaging is the awareness of CwF + RtB, albeit heavily focused on RtB. In the digital world, we realize there isn’t much of a cost for packaging or distribution and so naturally we don’t see any reason to pay for those things. “But…but…but… the content is so valuable.” NO, it’s not. Charge me $9.99 for an ebook, and see how fast I discover new authors who will charge me $.99 or $.10 for content that is just as good. For $9.99, I want more than just pages of content that I can’t resell.

Sadly, because the content industry controls the broadcast medium, the digital revolution was not televised.

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Josef Anvil (profile) says:


Thanks for the thumbs up, Marcus. Reading that manifesto just clarified how integrated the web is with our lives, almost the same as the telephone before it.

That manifesto explains why the content industry doesn’t understand what is going on. They are at war with human nature but think they are fighting against technology.

All I would say to the content industry is that they take a hint from the auto industry. Once the consumers know what the actual cost is on a product, its EXTREMELY hard to convince them to pay what you think they should pay.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:


Not me. I like my local storage and the control it give me, thank you.

I think that is indicative of how slight and subtle the “generation” gaps have become. Personally I agree – I derive comfort and peace of mind from having my key data stored and backed-up locally. And yet I also have succumbed to relying entirely on gmail for my email, which is a crucial part of my life. I figure this is because I am right on the cusp of the “web kids” generation that the manifesto talked about – I got my first internet connection at age 10, so I’m not purely web-raised, but mostly so. Meanwhile, people only slightly younger than me are not aware of any substantive difference between local and remote storage. Hell, they aren’t even clear on what a web browser is, or the difference between a “website” like Facebook and an “application” like Photoshop.

Sure, sometimes that sends shivers down my spine, and I’m betting it does yours as well – but we gotta get over it. It actually makes perfect sense. We should live in a world where computational, communicational and storage capacity are all effectively infinite and thus not distinguished or even consciously acknowledged in any clear way by most people – that’s fucking awesome! So we should be happy that’s the direction things are headed (despite some serious problems and concerns with the imperfect state of things at the present moment – things which we can be aware of, and thus enjoy a certain small advantage!)

Anonymous Coward says:


“Meanwhile, people only slightly younger than me are not aware of any substantive difference between local and remote storage. Hell, they aren’t even clear on what a web browser is, or the difference between a “website” like Facebook and an “application” like Photoshop.”

Jesus, I can’t believe kids today are that computer illiterate.

“Sure, sometimes that sends shivers down my spine, and I’m betting it does yours as well – but we gotta get over it. It actually makes perfect sense.”

Perfect sense that they’re retarded? Yeah, it makes perfect sense?!

“We should live in a world where computational, communicational and storage capacity are all effectively infinite”

I’m sorry, but they’re not infinite. Servers and other Hardware will always be finite.

And what happens when the FBI raids them and shuts them down for whatever bogus reason? What will the computer illiterate next generation do then? Whine and moan like always?

Josef Anvil (profile) says:


That was a pretty amazing nuance you picked up on Marcus about how people perceive storage. That’s what the manifesto is all about, a shift in thinking that is far more pervasive than anyone ever imagined. I went online at 24, so I get the feeling of being barely included in the “digital generation”.

Two things popped into my head from personal experience. The first was trying to convince a friend to buy a netbook and she told me that she could do everything she needed to do on her smartphone. It dawned on me at that moment that there is a huge population of users that really doesn’t see the need for a full on laptop or desktop, and suddenly the whole tablet market made perfect sense.

The other thing was when a friend of mine asked if I had a CD with a program he needed and the first thing that I thought was; who uses CDs anymore? I have flash drives or I know where to download, but I really don’t remember the last time I used that CD slot on my laptop.

The music industry wants to sell us CDs, but we don’t have anything to play them on. They don’t fit in my iPod. Piracy must be the cause of the drop in sales of CDs.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:


Does everyone who drives a car to work need to know everything about how a car works? Does everyone who makes a phone call need to know how telecom networks work? Should everyone forget 99.9% of the time that SatNav works, and instead buy a bunch of map books for the .1% of the time that it doesn’t? Should nobody use voicemail because the service might go down, and instead buy an answering machine?

Should we all own generators, in case the grid goes down? Should we all learn how to hunt and trap and farm, in case the food supply chain falls apart? Should we all stockpile some weapons, in case society crumbles?

Yes, there will always be people who prepare themselves for some of these things, but society can not advance if everyone tries to be prepared for it not existing at all. We want people to take things “for granted” – to a fair degree, anyway – so that we can keep aspiring to new heights.

We work to establish things, to eliminate problems, to build tools, to provide security – all so that our children and their children can, hopefully, take those things for granted and not have to struggle for them. To mock today’s children for being ignorant of technological details is akin to mocking ourselves for being ignorant of world wars: our ancestors fought in those wars exactly because they hoped we would not have to fear the same thing. We built these amazing new technologies exactly because we hope the next generation will not want for the things we wanted for.

David Muir (profile) says:


Okay. Let’s say the kids I know understand the differences perfectly. AND THEY DON’T CARE.

It doesn’t mean they are illiterate. It means that they have come to expect and trust that the technologies are woven together and integral to all aspects of their own lives.

Yes there is a certain over-concentration and reliance on some proprietary stuff… leaving them open to abused by central authorities. But there’s also a ton of decentralization, redundancy, and “routing around failure” that goes on too.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:


I agree that it was a great post and any number of issues and stories could have dominated the week. And I agree that the “We, the Web Kids” is one of the most insightful and profound pieces I read in a long time. As I’ve posted it’s not just age specific but what people are doing with the Web and the greater Internet that the author writes on so clearly and passionately. Largely kids, yeah, but also people well into their 80s and older as well.

It covers why the rest of what we read and comment on here is often so important and vital from a cultural and societal perspective. And the profound change the Web has made and is still making.

Leigh Beadon (profile) says:


It would help, yes. I wouldn’t be so fucking busy helping morons who can’t get their windshield wipers to work.

No, it would not help. Instead of a bunch of people who don’t know how to get their wipers to work, and a few who do helping them out, you would have a world full of people wasting their time learning about windshield wipers instead of learning something new or pursuing something they care about.

Maybe that’s another part of the manifesto you need to understand: the internet means we don’t all need or want to know everything about everything – because someone who can and will fix our wipers is always only a few clicks away.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:


Of course the reality is that before copyright people created quality content and they will continue to do so if and when the concept and laws around copyright cease to exist.

High prices are more a factor for likes of publishers and recording and motion picture studios than they are for the creation of content itself. Yes, I know that the technologies needed to produce books, sound recordings and motion pictures (including television shows) were and, to a degree still are very expensive. But that’s a technical issue not an issue of creation itself.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:


It might help if everyone knew how everything worked in a modern car or light duty truck. But good luck to that. This isn’t the 50s or 60s where you did your repairs and tune ups in the back yard then dumped the used oil into the sewer.

Modern vehicles are chock a block with sensors and computers and a master computer “that rules them all” and the manufacturers guard the diagnostic software like it’s the Holy Grail. (None of which means it hasn’t been hacked/cracked and otherwise broken into so people can load them onto laptops as do the work in their own independent garage.)

Given your attitude here I’m shocked you’d help those “morons” to get their wipers to work or explain the mysteries of cruise control to them and all the good deeds you seem to do. Glad to hear it.

A significant number of the kids written about in the manifesto know how the internet works, how DNS, works and how to get things like Apache off the ground so you can actually have yourself a web site. But none of that is contrary to what is being said there.

They use the Internet the same way people have used libraries, coffee shops, and many things my bunch are used to to learn, debate, establish and end relationships including close, intimate ones, to trade photos (before the copyright purists got their knickers in a knot it was called scrapbooking and no one cared), swap tales, recommend e-books, print books, movies and to shake their heads at the total ignorance and stupidity of their elders at just what they do there which, as the manifesto says, they live there.

Much as we boomers lived in sports fields, bars, basements blasting out the latest LP and doing just about everything these people are doing. And they do a lot of it instead of the hour long phone calls our parents railed at us about. Instead it’s the Web. That and I’ll bet the Web Kids do, actually, find time to meet face to face too as that’s a critical part of human society that the Internet can’t replace — yet.

The Web kids aren’t computer illiterate, far from it. Thier literacy is expressed in ways far different from those of us who had to rip the innards out of our Apple II, Trash-80s and IBM PCs to make them work sometimes.

For them, their computers be they smart phones, laptops, desktops, iPads or whatever are an extention of themselves much in the way the land line telephone was and is for the pre-Web kids. That thing they pick up to communicate with their peers when their friends aren’t around for everything from meeting up to planning protests around things like ACTA.

I find it amusing when the “what are those kids coming to these days” question is fired off by people who don’t even know them or who have only experienced them on the surface or news reports.

It reminds me so much of what was said in the 1950s, 60s and 70s about Boomers.

And we Boomers are left being in the uncomfortable position of being the power elite we used to protest against. This time it’s us.

And, to judge from silliness like ACTA, SOPA, PIPA and many other attempts to regulate the Web for the advantage of a wealthy, privileged few at the expense of the many we deserve it. We’re just upset cause we see ourselves as the ones angry with those same entrenched groups and get our knickers in a knot when a mirror is held up to us proving that we became what we loudly said we opposed.

We’ve become a part of the machine. And we can’t even see it.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:


I would like to extend a HUGE thank you to David Muir and TtfnJohn for helping to clarify some of the things I was trying to say in this post.

WE DON’T CARE about the specifics behind the tech is clearly the message. Just like all the other tech we use everyday and don’t care about, lights, cable TV, dishwashers, cars, elevators, etc. All this stuff is integrated into our lives and we use it and expect it to work.

Just like there was a time when A LOT of people would fix their own cars, there was a time when A LOT of people lived in DOS, but the tech keeps on advancing past the point where it makes sense to learn every detail about how to maintain it and the bulk of the users move on to exploring the uses of the tech rather than how to use AND maintain it.

This critical, if subtle, shift in thought on a massive scale is the piece of the puzzle that the content industry is missing. While it may have the strongest effect on the “younger generation” it certainly isn’t limited to that generation, and that is the reason that TechDirt is considered to be “ground zero” for the SOPA/PIPA protest. It’s because of how the web interconnects us all.

I’ve said it before, Big Content needs to take some lessons from the Telco Industry. Fight with the players in your own space at the legislative level, not your customers, because they will remember.

Telco didn’t like losing the long distance cash cow. They saw it coming, they whined about it, they put up a small fight and held on for as long as they could, and then they let it go for the most part. They didn’t like losing profits to VoIP, they whined about and put up a small fight and held on as long as they could and then they let go for the most part. They now face a similar battle on the SMS front which they will lose, and then they will move on to the next battle, but they won’t battle to criminalize their customers, because that is the source of their revenue.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:


Personally, I don’t like the “perfect storm” scenario. A. Your computer crashes, B. Your backup file locker gets taken down for piracy, then C. All the downloads you can get from torrents are poor quality rips.

Yay!! The stupid plastic disc saves the day.


A. There was an accidental fire in your home that ruins your CDs B. Your computer crashes the next day. C. You have no copies in a file locker or on flash drives or in external hard drives, because you relied only on stupid plastic discs that melted.


A. Lightning strikes you. B. Funeral follows. C. Storage choices become irrelevant.

We can play this game all day.

Anonymous Coward says:

“This one article encapsulates almost everything that is discussed in this forum”

Yup, and more than anything, it proved that the ideas, when collected together in one place, sound about on par with the hippies of the 60s. Peace and love and sharing man! Pass the pipe. Oddly, it seems that the height of these things both also coincide with a high public consumption of weed and other substances.

I think that the article pretty much is the start of the end of the game. All that is missing at this point is an Altamont moment, and the repeat of history will be complete. I thought the OWS people might actually bring it, but they turned out to be wusses.

Dementia (profile) says:


You know, I almost take offense to those comments. I have taken it upon myself to learn almost all there is to know about cars. As an IT kind of guy, I am also have a fairly knowledgeable about how the phone system works. Now, I will admit I don’t own a generator, but I am looking at wind turbines, and I routinely hunt, fish, trap, and have raised food to eat. I’m not preparing for the end of society, I just happen to WANT to know all of this. Taking things for granted isn’t a good thing. Certainly I want my kids to have it “easier” than I and the previous generations did, but that’s no excuse for letting them live in ignorance.

Torg (profile) says:


What a well-thought-out rebuttal. “They’re saying similar things to this other group that failed, so clearly this is just a passing thing. Also, marijuana.”

What you fail to take into account is that this isn’t just some reactionary cultural movement. The views expressed in that article were born solely from the capabilities of modern technology. Never being unable to find what you’re looking for, be it a person, a fact, or a piece of art, is not a trivial change. For the Web Kids to go back to the way things were before would require nothing short of the complete destruction of the Internet.

I could be wrong, but you’ll need to provide more concrete ideas than just “it’s definitely going to fail” to be taken seriously. Explain why, in a world of smartphones, the Internet would become less entwined with people’s normal lives. Explain why, when we can find communities of people who share our interests, we’d start to focus more on people who just happen to be physically near to us. Explain why, while the likes of Google, Wikipedia and Wolfram Alpha exist, being smart should ever be defined as knowing the dates of events. Explain why anything in that manifesto should ever stop being true, beyond that it shares some words and concepts with a movement that came before.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:


In a way you’re right. Though many of the “older generation” have also become part of the digital machine without knowing or appreciating it. Also while mightily resisting it.

Torn between the analog and the digital the “older generation” becomes responsible for outrages such as SOPA and PIPA and ACTA without really understanding the effects on either or both.

Analog scrap-booking always involved wholesale copyright infringement because it largely involved cutting up such things as high gloss magazines and pasting them into scrapbooks which they would then show around proudly to friends and associates crammed full of pictures from LIFE, National Geographic, maybe People, whatever took their fancy. Well done scrapbooks are works of art all in themselves but this was in the days before, well before, the rise of copyright extremists.

Do it on the Web and the copyright extremists go nuts. For now do it cutting and pasting into a scrapbook passes them by. Until, I guess, one of them that is truly a work of art is sold at a church fundraiser.

Damned religious pirates!

Piracy exists, no doubt about it. We’ve discussed the reasons why till we’re collectively blue in the face so we know why. Except for those in terminal denial.

Thing is, you can’t legislate against it in the digital world and NOT affect things in the analog world.

I am one of the “older generation” who worked in and saw the change in the telecom industry from analog telephone companies to the digital behemoths they’ve become today. I knew by the early 1980s that it was either jump into digital or lose my ability to do my job well and efficiently or at all. Hence my jump into first a TRS-80 CoCo to the small collection of machines I have now, one way or another.

Thing is though that we, The NotWeb Kids, if you like are part of the both the analog and digital aspects of The Machine whether or not we want to be. As the movie Modern Times showed we didn’t understand the analog machine particularly well even as we became part of it so that we wouldn’t understand the digital one as it surrounds us and takes us in doesn’t surprise me.

And no, the digital revolution wasn’t televised, wasn’t covered in newspapers or magazines, radio ignored it and very few of us talked about it in bars or coffee shops other than that newfangled email thing and perhaps chats programs.

Unlike the WebKids we became part of the digital machine reluctantly or we didn’t know we were. We were and are strangers is a very strange land, most of us. Even big content.

Big Content didn’t televise the digital revolution not simply out of spite but because reporters and journalists are educated as arts students and know next to nothing about science or technology. They missed it completely. And by the time they noticed it, as this thing they call “piracy”, the jig was up, the revolution had happened and nothing they can do will roll it back.

The Big Content of its day reacted against the printing press too and the changes it brought. Back then it was with war and blood. I pray that as a species we’ve grown up some since then.

Anonymous Coward says:


I think the thing is that the ability of technology alone isn’t enough to sway things completely. The ability to do something doesn’t make it morally right, or acceptable on social or economic levels.

The 60’s were not just a reactionary cultural movement, it was also one driven by improved communications technology. The Vietnam war was one of the first “TV wars”, where coverage was presented every day, on network TV news, and people were way more aware of what was going on over there. Further, this was also the time frame of the advent of FM radio, long play music that got away from 3 minute hit song style songs, and moved on with a much more complex musical background. Combined with the widespread availability of hallucinogenic drugs, and the communication of the drug culture as a whole, lead to a culture revolution that was driven in good parts by the technology itself and the more widespread communications it offered.

You can also add in advances like photocopiers, which made it possible for almost anyone to bang out leaflets for street distribution. You can add in things like reliable long distance (overseas) phone calls, flying becoming a more common concept, and so on. Plenty of technology around.

You can be sure that the human rights movement in the US also was driven in part by improved communications, network news, and the exposure of the “deep south” for what it was at the time.

Yet for all of that, there really is no revolution, just evolution, sometimes at a very fast pace. It took until 1980 before CNN was possible, which was possibly much closer to a revolution than many of the other things that happened. But that isn’t something that came on the bleeding edge of technology, rather something that came over many years of evolution, as we went down many paths to get to a better solution. TV news in the late 60s may have helped fuel what appeared to be a revolution, but it was only a decade later that someone got it right and took it to it’s logical conclusion.

That logical conclusion, it should be pointed out, didn’t kill network news, it just made it slightly less relevant, or took away it’s “center of the discussion” status.

In the end, it isn’t a question of if the manifesto is true or not. Like much of what comes up on Techdirt, it’s perhaps relatively true when you take the individual pieces on their face, but perhaps less true when they are combined. The fact that some can do X or Y doesn’t mean that society as a whole is ready or willing for it to happen. We have today some of the safest and best designed cars in the world, but we actually drive slower today than we did in the 50s. It doesn’t matter what the technology can do, we as a people are not ready for 100MPH highways, nor are we truly skilled enough to handle all that they would entail.

Movements like this generally are the far reach of a concept. I don’t think of it as much different from those in the 60s who felt that LSD was the way to go. Their extreme view of drug culture and it’s implications for the future spouted many interesting manifestos, which taken in their parts may have been true. But when combined for a conclusion, they were too far beyond what was acceptable, and as a result we as a society generally don’t go down that road. Trust me, everyone from the street corner guy to the FBI and CIA were testing out LSD and such. They know enough not to bother, no matter how good the manifestos are.

What is missing in any of these discussions is a clear image of what the world looks like AFTER the proposed revolution. Where will content come from? Don’t tell me “from everyone”… that is a pure cop out. Where will your TV shows come from, where will your news come from, where will your music come from? It’s not just enough to say “technology allows this”, as technology has to exist in harmony with real life, has to function in the world economy, and so on.

Remember too: Poland is a post-communist party that suffers from massive unemployment, especially among younger people. They have good state run schools, plenty of education, but few good jobs. They have plenty of time to dream up revolution, and plenty of time to spend working out the most efficient way to get content for nothing. Seems like more of a social and economic issue, rather than one of technological revolution.

Josef Anvil (profile) says:


“What is missing in any of these discussions is a clear image of what the world looks like AFTER the proposed revolution.”

Wow, is the first response to come to mind. In essence you want to know what the future will look like. We saw MySpace and still no one could see Facebook, we had Altavista and no one saw Google, what about Kickstarter and Spotify, will they survive or will something altogether new come along and replace all of the above?

Let’s put that aside for a moment. You ended your post with a social commentary on Poland which completely ignored the content of the manifesto. It makes me wonder if you even read the manifesto of if your brain shut off as soon as you saw webkids.

The point of the manifesto was to show you that the digital revolution already occurred. You seem to be missing the fact that THOUGHT and BEHAVIOR have already been changed by the web already. As much as the IP Industry would like it to be about content, it isn’t.

So let me put it in terms that are easy for the analog generation to understand. It’s really simple.

GOOGLE is now a verb.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:


So rather than denigrate Apple for it why not congratulate them for turning various computing devices into exactly what the industry has been shooting for since the first micro-computers came on the market in the 70s. And that’s appliances.

There is no NEED to know how the device works unless you’re geek or is one of those folks who call up to say “my such-and-such doesn’t work” and forget to add even the smallest of details. When I was at work it was those folks I served, those sort of trouble calls I was sent out on often only to find that the such-and-such was either unplugged or the battery had drained. Incidentally, that kind of call and result never, ever came from The Web Kids. Just boomers afraid of that box in front of them.

No one should have to care HOW it works, all the vast majority of people need to know is what it does, how to use it to do what you want to do. (or accomplish goals, if we want to keep using consultant speak!)

Apple caters to the group that wants appliances, does it extremely well (for a price) and is almost always immune to the dreaded Blue Screen of Death Microsoft is so (in)famous for. I’ll also add externally well designed, attractive and internally extremely well designed. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Try as you might, you can’t ignore the reality that the tech and Web industry as a whole have been working their butts off to make it a “who care’s” decision about whether your data is stored locally or remotely. Essentially it ought not to matter. The data is as safe as possible locally or remotely,

Though. for a while yet, we’re still stuck with a situation where the vast majority of windows boxes out there where grabbing the data on local drives is remarkably easy. I agree that any poorly configured machine connected to the Net has that problem but it still amazes me how many people who get a device with the latest in Windows software still don’t spend the 5 or 10 minutes it takes to do the basics of locking it down. Therefore, regarding safety from prying eyes to my our your data, I suspect that, for now it’s a saw off.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:


“What is missing in any of these discussions is a clear image of what the world looks like AFTER the proposed revolution. Where will content come from? Don’t tell me “from everyone”… that is a pure cop out. Where will your TV shows come from, where will your news come from, where will your music come from? “

It’s in the nature of social revolutions brought about by technological progress or not that you don’t KNOW what the world will look like AFTER the revolution is completed.

No one had the slightest idea what would happen when the Industrial Revolution was over. It isn’t yet but we gave a fairly good idea both good and bad now. What we do know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, is that successful companies that didn’t adapt, old ways of doing business (see East India Company, Hudson’s Bay Company and mercantilism) failed and to a very large degree so did the dominant methods of agriculture fail in that they couldn’t feed the exploding cities and so that changed too.

The printing press destroyed the ways that documents were created and distributed that had been in place since the dawn of western civilization. And did that very quickly. It also quickened the pace of the Industrial Revolution by making the distribution of information on new methods of manufacturing, maintenance and business information far cheaper and faster than it had ever been before.

So now we have another way to communicate (note I left out telegraph, telephone, radio and television and did so on purpose) called the Internet and the part most of us interact with called The World Wide Web. Most importantly a new way to make and distribute “content” as well as to store it.

Who will create the content? Cop out or not, creative people will. We forget that in the age before television and radio (and to a lesser extent motion pictures) we weren’t drowning in what some call “content”. As if content comes only from Hollywood or Bollywood or large publishers. It never has and never will. Those business have made the creation of cheap content an art from all themselves. Cheap content is otherwise known as popular content. Nothing wrong with that BUT, as we’re finding out, popular content cannibalizes itself. Just look at the large number of “reality” shows out there. The number of copycats “Mythbusters” has created. And how strikingly similar to each other movies tend to be before fall and the time the “good” ones come out to vie for Academy Awards. There are late winter, spring movies depressingly similar to each other, summer movies aimed at two audiences teen aged boys and teen aged girls. Slasher and horror films with lots of skin are boys movies, Romances and relationship movies with less skin aimed at girls. After Labour Day come the “serious” flicks.

That and other “content” will continue to be made we just don’t know who will do it or exactly how. Ditto for music. I suspect the biggest fear of the so-called “content” industry is that we humans will return to the days of creating our own content in the Web version of the living rooms and concert houses that are already appearing. Will the “quality” be the same as what the “content industry” cranks out now? Not at first. But then again, one can hardly apply the word quality to “Cash Cab”, right?

The answer to the question of who will create the content, the same question asked with a lot more fear after the movable type press appeared, is a combination of “the same people”, new entrants more familiar and comfortable with what the Web offers that those they’ll succeed are, “everyone” which covers the deep cultural effect and affect of the Web and, quite frankly, “we don’t know”. Nor should we care.

If the technical and web revolution take out the MPAA and RIAA I’m not going to shed any tears for them. They’ve had a good and obscenely profitable run over the past century. Someone or something will, make no mistake about that.

Our species are story-tellers, music makers so that will continue. In order to learn we are also copiers and that will continue as well. If the latter means changes to copyright and patents that makes what will come out the other end unrecognizable from out perspective. We’re just starting down that path. But we have no business resisting it for the benefit of a few who have fed on the same way of doing things for more than a century now. If they go, they go. Creative destruction and all of that, you know. Nor do we have any business putting road blocks in the way the early experiments in “content creation” happening now or trying to force it down the same path as the “content industry” would like. I doubt that it will anyway but we have no business standing in the way of the evolution/revolution and making the replacement for current models and mega-companies harder than it already will be.

But one more time — content will be created. Right now we just don’t know by whom (likely not the same players or most of them) nor is it any of our business. But content will be created. A digital appropriate kind of copyright will eventually appear just because it has to. It might look like Creative Commons, the LGPL or the Document GPL or none of them. We’ll know that when we get there too.

I find that to be exciting and filled with promise. Some seem to find it horrifing and meet it with fear and arguments that try to fit the digital revolution into an Industrial Revoltion model. But it won’t and can’t be fit into that model.

For what it’s worth the best advice is to stand back and watch it happen, the same thing that happened with the Industrial Revoution. In the meantime fear alone isn’t helpful and got us ACTA, almost spawned PIPA and SOPA which won’t change a thing. For a while yet uncertainty and doubt are the order of the say as this revolution progresses.

What will it look like when it “matures”, as opposed to ending which it likely never will; I don’t know and I don’t care. Content will be created and be spread across the web. By whom and how, I don’t know and I don’t care. “Content” will still be there.

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