"Or, you can "filter"---that is, you leave "stupid" unanswered, unopposed, unresisted, free to work its mischief and gain larger and larger parts of the public. And, in doing that, if you imagine that you leave a special elite subsent of society free to pursue and promote finer tastes and discernment untouched by the general decline of these in all other areas, you are very very much mistaken. The so-called "elite" standards of taste and discernment, too, can fall into a correspondingly deplorable state--its analogous version of 'Whatever, dude.'"
You see, I think that even a modicum of historical knowledge proves you wrong here. People have always been stupid. Romans amused themselves by watching slaves kill each other, and yet they were the apex of civilization at the time: Juvenal and Tacitus and Marcus Aurelius all continued writing and researching and thinking. And the Great Cat Massacre took place even as Voltaire was writing his History of Charles XII.
You'll have to admit things are a bit better these days.
But if you don't see improvement in the human condition, if you really think that the problems of humanity are getting worse, not better, the way to deal with isn't to deplore what you hate. That's all that Bill Bennett did, and look what it got him.
The way to deal with a decline in standards is to establish your own standards, and give voice to people who embody them or live up to them. You might not be able to purify the internet, but you will at least provide a safe haven for those who seek what you seek.
But seriously, I think that the glories of Western Civilization are strong enough to survive the internet. They survived the dark ages; they survived the printing press and the Reformation; they survived the Sack of Rome. They will still be around when all of us are dust.
Because you seem to have quoted a couple of sentences of mine before arguing against someone else completely.
In any case:
"Miss the point much?"
Well one might point out that the point was rather vague to begin with.
"and then, rather than finding that in this supposed garden of blissful diversity even a 4% response in favor of the critic opposing the status quo (as you yourself announce you do) we hear instead in so many words almost a unanimous chorus of "Oh! It isn't "crap" if I like it!" or "So what if there's a lot of crap anyway? We just filter," then, that is an open, avowed defense of "these habits of passive consumption." It's a regurgitatio of "Yeah, whaatever, I like what I like, and so, hey, chill out, dude," i.e. 'So what?'"
Who are you arguing with?
What are you arguing with?
Are you saying that there is no cultural diversity on the web? Are you saying that no one cares about this diversity? Are you saying that people shouldn't be allowed to make up their own minds about what they like without guidance? Are you saying internet access should be a privilege and not a right?
I'd love to argue with you, but I need a coherent position to argue with, and I can't find one here.
"and that's a valid concern. Take, for example, a different but quite related kind of lament: in this sample case, it's that the vast, vast majority of the U.S. public, (and, yes, many other nations' people, too) are woefully ignorant of the most essential elements of macro-economics. In other and cruder words, they don't know shit about economics and as a direct consequence of their ignorance the nation is suffering gross and needless harm."
How exactly does the supposed ignorance of almost everyone concerning the very inexact 'science' of macro-economics cause the nation financial harm?
Are you saying that in the great economic boom years of the past (e.g. the nineties, the great postwar economic boom, etc.) when our economy was thriving, people were less ignorant about these matters? Do you have proof of this? If so, could I see some of it?
"Suppose I said the 'nice thing about democracy is that citizens of one may choose to shirk their civic responsibilities and thereby undermine the very foundations of their own liberties' prospects for vitality?'"
Suppose you did? A government has power over everyone, whether they want it to or not. The internet is in no way analogous to this.
"At the risk of finding myself targeted with the slur of elitist or Luddite--both of which I prefer to joining the prevailing rank stupidity and knee-jerk defense of mediocrity---"
I hate stupidity and mediocrity. That is why I hate major label music, and have done so since 'Come on Feel the Noise' was in heavy rotation in the mid-eighties. And I agree, the internet certainly hasn't reformed mass culture in any meaningful way.
But what it has done is allow people who don't like mass culture to find the often obscure music that they actually like, and to form international communities with other people with similar interests.
The internet has allowed the music of bizarre geniuses like Conlon Nancarrow to find a substantial international audience for the first time. The fact that most people don't know who he is doesn't change the fact that he is regarded by an educated minority as the greatest American composer since Charles Ives. And while interest in his music might be a mere blip in the vast ocean of the internet, that doesn't keep anyone with internet access from finding his music in about 10 seconds.
This is the thing that everyone seems to miss about the net: if you look at mass culture, the internet seems to make things worse than ever. But it also allows people to bypass mass culture. The main function of the net in my life is bypassing this mass culture.
If very few people are interested in bypassing mass culture crap, you can't blame it on the internet, because these habits of passive consumption are a product of twentieth century lowest-common-denominator publishing practices.
The creation and enforcement of current IP law just doesn't strike me as being nearly as scary as real live book burnings and witch hunts. Stupid? Yes. Harmful? Certainly. Nonetheless, I am pretty sure that Mary Easty would have been quite happy to trade places with Jammie Thomas.
That saying of Adams is cute, but false. I suppose it might be true of middle-class Englishmen, but they are hardly representative of humanity as a whole.
How people feel about technology has very little to do with age. These feelings are, in fact, more or less directly related to what technology does for them or to them. The printing press didn't improve the life of Trithemius at all. It improved the lives of his contemporaries, but it also ended his own way of life.
Why would any rational person in his position feel any differently?
"Lady Gaga is, like it or not, pretty musically talented. When you want to discuss the future of music, it's important to at least try to be objective - otherwise you slip into "they listen to the rap music, which gives them the brain damage" territory pretty quickly."
The future of what music?
It always amazes me that so many people who try to be forward-looking have so much trouble freeing their minds from the past.
Everyone that I have heard talk about 'the future of music' talks exclusively about pop music. And yet pop music is, in it's entirety, a creation of the music industry. And I think that most forward-looking people would agree that this industry is in decline.
I agree that people who talk about music should try to be objective about it. But being serious about this attempt involves exposing yourself to the vast worlds of music that have nothing to do with celebrity driven pop music. And if you do that, it becomes clear pretty quickly that Lady Gaga, as a musical talent, is really pretty unremarkable.
"His motivations, goals, and agenda are clear enough to me. If you disagree, that's OK."
This is childish, Joe.
It is impossible to have a reasonable conversation with someone if they consistently engage in ad hominem attacks and argue with their interlocutor's supposed motivations as opposed to their stated arguments.
I mean, if one were to respond to your statement, quoted above, on the same level, we would get something like:
YOUR motivations, goals, and agenda are clear enough to me as well: you want to make a fortune off of sleazy entrepreneurial litigation schemes, and you hate Mike because his efforts raise awareness about just how sleazy these schemes really are. If you disagree, that's OK.
This isn't conversation. It's little more than name-calling.
The word 'remix' is getting abused to the point of being almost meaningless.
Remixing something is a very specific process. It involves, not only ideas, but recordings of actual realizations of those ideas. It is quite distinct from emulation or artistic influence, whether conscious or unintentional, neither of which involve actual recordings as raw material.
This isn't said to denigrate remixes at the expense of traditional musical practices. It is simply a definition. I have nothing against remixing as a technique. I have heard DJ Shadow do things that are more musically interesting, and genuinely original, than the output of the vast majority of current singer-songwriters. But by referring to all of these different artistic relationships as 'remixing', important distinctions are lost.
For the record: I don't claim to know you, and I don't want to to know you.
I comment on things that you write because you are more articulate than most of your pro-IP brethren, and I think that the Pirates VS Creators model of the internet that so many of you seem to push is short sighted and harmful.
And I think that it's ridiculous to assume that everyone who disagrees with you is a criminal or supports criminals. There are many cultural reasons to support an open internet that have nothing to do with pirating content or glorifying an anarchistic remix culture that appropriates copyright material. I myself do neither. And, parenthetically, I can't stand 99% of the remixes that I have been subjected to. But I accept them as part of the price of freedom.
"Good grief with the FUD, Mike. It's pretty unreal. Why don't you ever get worked up about rights holders who are having their rights trampled on by pirates? Oh, never mind... We know. You're not pro-piracy. Your goals just happen to be coextensive with the pirates. Whatever..."
I myself don't get 'worked up about rights holders who are having their rights trampled on by pirates', for the same reason that Republicans don't get worked up about cops raiding medical marijuana dispensaries: lack of sympathy. You don't have to support people's enemies just because you are apathetic about their plight.
I hope, though, for your own intellectual integrity, that you realize that many creative people actually disagree with the things that you support. I know you like to play 'McLaughlin Group' and throw in these little asides about Mike supporting piracy (just like others will call you a shill), but it's quite possible to be a rights holder and yet disagree with things done in the name of rights holders.
I couldn't live without the money that I've earned with various forms of audio-related IP. And I know for a fact that stuff I've worked on has been pirated many times over, especially in China. But as a citizen, I think that IP law as it exists today tends to favor lawyers more than anyone else.
And as an internet user, I don't want technology to be any more inhibited than it already is. Honest businessmen like myself can't really use BitTorrent to distribute our promotional materials because so many people will assume that our stuff is going to get them in trouble. As a result, my bandwidth costs are considerably higher than they could be. This is the kind of technological inhibition I am talking about. And before you tell me that we 'should hate the damn pirates for giving BitTorrent a taint of illegality, and not the stainless members of the legal profession for acting in the name of rights holders', allow me to point out that we who avoid using BitTorrent don't do so because we are afraid of losing potential customers for fear of pirates. Our potential customers aren't afraid of pirates. They're afraid of people like you.
Now, does this make me pro-pirate, too? Or will you concede the possibility that not everyone who disagrees with you supports criminal behavior?
"First off, consider the labels as investors. Their money, their choices where to invest."
"They take incredible risks."
Why? Seriously, Why? If they are 'incredible' risks then it isn't a good business decision to take them, is it?
"An artist flubs, it isn't just that the artist doesn't make much, for the most part the labels never recover the losses either."
The only losses are the ones that the labels incur through wasteful practices. It's dirt cheap to make recordings these days. The fact that they payed ridiculous amounts of money to have Timbaland sit in a 1500 dollar a day studio to rip off a home made recording made in Finland, and are now spending even more money on legal fees to protect this idiot from plagiarism and infringement charges is a perfect example of what I am talking about.
"They aren't shifting the risk, they are taking the biggest part of the risk, the initial outlay."
Then they should be more careful about the risks they take, no? This is business 101.
"The band members of a flub can throw up their hands and go work at McDonalds tomorrow and make a living. The label investors are out whatever they fronted, with no way to get it back."
Then perhaps the 'label investors' should find something else to invest in.
"Acting like the labels take no risk is ignorant."
I didn't say they took no risk, I said that they get the artist to consume the lion's share of the risk. And given that in most standard major label contracts the label makes back it's money long before the band recoups, I think that this is an accurate way of putting it.
But hell, I agree with you. It's almost impossible for the recording industries to make money in this environment. Music is a bad investment. Time to stop whining about it and find another way to make a living.
"One final thing. The way the big four work is that only one out of every 20 albums is profitable for them. 19 of those albums make them lose money. The one profitable artist pays for the deficits of the others. The majors are really more like risk aggregators."
But doesn't every company do that? How many of 3M's products have been as successful as Scotch tape or Post-its?
The problem is that the labels make the decision about who will be get a contract and who won't, and yet they try to get the artist to assume the lion's share of the risks.
It's like if 3M were to use Post-its as a bench mark for success and tell all of their other development teams with less successful products that none of them will receive their wages until they make something as successful as Post-its.
"Andrew, if you only share with your friends (like sneakernet always was) it takes a lifetime to get anything. Most people have very small circles of friends (typically less than 20) and that circle tends to overlap greatly. sneakernet isn't an issue because it is too slow, too patchy, and more than likely the exchanges don't happen. Certainly they don't happen at any speed that anyone worries about.
At the end of the day, torrent file trading works because it doesn't depend on social connections. When you slow things down to social connections only, real time, piracy drops to nearly nothing."
And yet that 'nearly nothing' was enough to create a moral panic back in the eighties, with the catch phrase: 'Home Taping is Killing Music'. Perhaps you've heard of it.
People who say that the industry and it's legal representatives will be satisfied if they 'only' have to deal with the sneakernet, which is exactly what 'Home Taping' was, are either ignorant of the relevant history, or they are lying.
"If Coppola wants me to file-share his movies, why doesn't he make them available for free?"
Because he doesn't own all of the rights to any of his movies? Very few directors do.
Are you really that easily amused?
"Fat chance of that."
So you are saying that this invalidates his point of view? Or are you saying that this isn't really his point of view, and he is just pretending to think these things because....?
"There seems to be two types of stories on techdirt, FUD and DUF. We all know what FUD is. DUF is just the opposite of FUD. This story is all DUF."
You've been watching the McLaughlin Group again, haven't you? I can tell because you attempt to draw attention away from inconvenient facts (like a famous director who disagrees with your point of view) by insulting your host yet again. This sort of technique only works on TV, where attention spans are short and people only have a few seconds to get their point across. On the web this technique is much less effective.
"The recording has become easier, and the arrival of things like autotune have made it possible for people with little or no actual talent to make "music"."
Cheap audio technology has also made it easier for artists who are legitimately talented in the traditional sense to make recordings at their leisure, and to their own specifications. This was quite simply impossible in the days before cheap audio technology and the internet. Or at least, it was impossible to all but a handful of trust fund kids and gear sluts.
One thing that naysayers like you seem to miss rather consistently is that the music industry has never really been interested in great art or even good art. What they are and always have been interested in is salable art. The idea that art has to be of lasting value to sell is quite obviously false. If it isn't obvious to you, I would be happy to assemble a list of execrable songs that have sold quite well.
Now I myself don't blame the recording industry for wanting to make a buck. What I can't stand, though, is the idea that they cared at all about making art of lasting value, which you imply when you write:
"The problem is more basic: If you bang it out in an hour, it probably isn't very good. It might be transient amusing, but for the most part, it just isn't going to be all that good.
You are making the mistake of looking only at the technical, and failing to understand that there is an underlying artistic issue. The time it really takes to create, develop, nurture, and finally record great music isn't something that happens in just a few minutes."
You really think that the industry has ever cared if something was 'banged out in an hour' if it sells? Given that something banged out in an hour costs very little to create, wouldn't that make it more cost effective? Why would the industry mind?
In fact, isn't that precisely why the air waves are filled with songs like 'My Humps' and 'Milkshake' and 'We R Who We R' and '6 Foot 7 Foot'? Isn't this because these are all examples of simple and completely artificial music that can be created by trained engineers with trendy software tools using marginally talented celebrities in short order?
Now for a contrast, listen to this song, made not in an hour, but over a period of weeks, in fact months, in a low budget DIY basement studio:
This recording, which has no trendy audio processing tricks at all, would never have existed without cheap audio technology. And without the net, and the cheap promotional possibilities it represents, this song would not only not have made any money, it would have been heard by only a handful of people.
And this isn't a unique thing. I have heard all kinds of interesting and compelling music on the internet, much of it made by professional musicians (like myself) who want to make art with integrity, without worrying about whether or not it will help someone meet their bottom line. Sometimes it might sell, sometimes it might not. But the point is that people who create art of lasting value don't care about sales when they are creating. This mindset is anathema to the industry, and pretending otherwise is bullshit of the highest (or lowest) order.
"The funny ones to watch are the ones slogging it out on the bar circuit, kidding themselves that the extra few dollars they make on show swag somehow makes up for their lack of a record deal. They celebrate their gains with a Heineken instead of a Keystone Light. They aren't worried about taxes, because when you earn under a certain point in the US, you don't pay taxes."
People playing for other people for the sheer joy of it are 'funny'?
Artists like Arcwelder and Happy Apple and Charlie Parr are 'funny'. Unlike Bon Jovi?
Do you really think Kurt Cobain would have been less happy if his band had never been signed to DGC?
Do you really think he would have written less music?
"At this point, I don't think the music industry sees a new business model that has anywhere near as much money involved. It is also incredibly stupid to think that a business should be shut down only because of rampant thievery. It really seems stupid to end up in this place, and to have the government tolerate it."
OK, let us grant, for the sake of argument, that copyright infringement and 'thievery' are synonymous.
Let us also grant that this thievery is indeed rampant.
Let us grant, further, that it is the government's job to stop this thievery.
The question, then, is: 'How?'
Look at The 1977 NYC blackout. Over 3,000 people were arrested in less than 24 hours, and yet over 1,500 stores were damaged by looting and over 1,000 major fires had to be put out.
The police on that day had an impossible job. So, too, would anyone who actually wanted to implement a 'zero tolerance' approach to file sharing. There simply isn't enough manpower to stop it, or even to cut it by 10%. Hell, they can barely slow the rate of growth, which could only be called a victory by someone in desperation.
Now, if this were real looting and thievery we were talking about, then, sure, send in the national guard. But we are talking about copying and sharing digital files. No one dies or gets physically injured by this newer form of looting. Innocent bystanders aren't affected the way they are with real looting. This simply isn't scary enough to merit the extreme measures that would be necessary to actually do something about it.
"The vast majority of the younger age just don't see music as something to buy. TD is on about it all the time, that the music industry is being propped up by older people who still buy music, not the younger generation."
You are making a statement about the beliefs of 'the vast majority of the younger age'?
There is absolutely no evidence to back this statement up. There couldn't be.
How can an adult (I assume you are an adult?) make such an obviously vacuous claim?