Friday, June 7, 2013

"Never Go Full Retard"

Content has no value, but it's the only thing that matters. It matters because it's content that attracts the attention of an audience. It's the content that unites people, globally, from every conceivable socioeconomic background by giving them a commonality to discuss in mutual enjoyment. And then, when all of these people have come together and are talking about, and enjoying the content, they can choose to engage in a gentleman's agreement with the content creator, and say "We love what you do, and we love it so much that we will work together to try free you from your mundane daily obligations so that you can create even more content for us to enjoy."

And that's fucking great.

That is so, amazingly, blindingly great that I just want to shout it from the rooftops.

But there's a problem. And the problem has been around for a very long time. We're ultimately physical creatures, that live in a physical world, and we're only able to be in one physical location at one time. So if you're a content creator, and you make something in this physical world, it, like you, is confined to a single location as well. This is why the printing press was so revolutionary, and the camera, and the television, and of course, the internet.

With each advancement the ability to make copies has become cheaper and cheaper, because the physical goods required to make the copy have become less and less. With electricity and inter connected computers it costs effectively nothing to make a million perfect copies of a song, or a book, or a picture. It is possible to be ubiquitous for effectively nothing.

And this is fucking great!

It's great for the consumer because they have immediate access to almost any content they want, and it's great for the content creator because they are able to reach the whole fucking world for nothing. Nothing.

The distributors of course, hate it. They hate all of it. It nullifies their traditional place. THEY were the facilitators. They were the ones that paved this road with their money, and enabled the creation of all the physical media for so long. So so long. And now... they're unnecessary. Or well, not unnecessary, but the traditional need and guaranteed returns are gone. They COULD transition, and flex, and pivot and become curators and taste makers and content "pushers". But there are shareholders. There are profit expectations. There is arcane thought about pricing. They would rather sell one copy of something for a million dollars, than a million copies of something for one dollar, because under the first system they *might* be able to sell two.

I hate it. It makes me rage.

The distributors are fighting to survive. Fighting to figure the whole thing out. And they're doubling down on copyright, and patents and DRM, and actively trying to thwart the consumer by creating god damned artificial scarcity, and Microsoft, with it's new XBone is siding completely with the distributors. The middlemen.

We are a generation that will be forgotten so quickly. We will fade like a firework, and be gone. The digital is inherently one of the most fragile things we've ever created when it comes to preservation because of its absolute reliance upon electricity. And as if that wasn't enough, file formats change a break neck speeds compared to the history of the world. And when DRM is involved the content fades and dies even faster. Its life is even more limited.

The great erasures are coming. I feel like a wild man in the desert, bearded and in burlap. But do we not all wish in our hearts to be like Achilles? To be remembered? To not fade? But our photos, our content, our records cannot live without cannot live without electricity. They can't be sifted through in an antique store in 100 years. They'll vanish when Facebook dies, not even having the decency to rot and fade. Just blip out of existence. Yes the Streisand effect is real, and what you put on the internet is "permanent" and can "hurt you" but when compared to the timelines of our life, and the timelines of our collective history, it's nothing.

Google will die. Facebook will die. Where are the pictures you hosted on Geocities? The World of Warcraft servers will be turned off, and what will be left? Not even ashes. The primary sources will be gone.

It's only by copies that ideas survive, and pass throughout the ages. TSR is gone, and TSR is dead, but I still have its books. I still have the physical things in a format that can be used because all it requires is the reflection of light to view. The digital is a ghost. A phantom. And if it stops working today, every baby born tomorrow won't even believe it existed when they grow up.

These restrictions that Microsoft is embracing condemn its content to oblivion, not ubiquity. And it just... doesn't have to be this way.


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