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September 18, 2014

Et tu, U2?

A few days ago, when Apple pushed the latest from U2 into everyone’s iTunes library, you could hear the Internet pause as it suddenly realized that Apple is its parents’ age.

Now in the ad-promotion succubus occupying the body of what used to be Time Magazine, you can see U2 desperate to do exactly the wrong thing: insisting that it wasn’t a gift at all. You can learn more about this in the hilariously titled cover article of Time: “The veteran rock band faces the future.” This a future in which tracks we don’t like are bundled with tracks we do (the return of the CD format) and people who share with their fans are ruining it for U2, boohoo.

Or, as Bono recently said, “We were paid” for the Apple downloads, adding, “I don’t believe in free music. Music is a sacrament.” And as everyone knows, sacraments need to be purchased at a fair market value, the results of which Bono, as a deeply spiritual artist, secures in sacred off-shore accounts.

In my head I hear Bono, enraged by the increasingly bad publicity, composing a message that he posts without first running it through his phalanx of PR folks:

Dear fans:

You have recently received a copy of our latest album, Songs of Innocence, in your iTunes library. U2 understands you may be confused or even upset by this. So, let me clarify once and for all the most important point about this — if I may humbly say so — eternal masterpiece. It was not our intention to cause you stress or to wonder if you have the musical sensitivity to full grasp (if I may, humbly say) the greatness of our work. But most important, it is essential above all that you understand that it was not our intention to give you a gift. No freaking way.

We understand your mistake. You are, after all, just fans, and you don’t play in the Jetstream world of global music. As I said to my dear friend Nelson Mandela (friend is too weak a word; I was his mentor) shortly before he passed, music is a sacrament, just like tickets to movies, especially ones with major stars working for scale, or like the bill at a restaurant where you and any two of the Clintons (Chelsea, you are a star! Give yourself that!) are plotting goodness.

To tell you the truth, I’m disappointed in you. No, worse. I’m hurt. Personally hurt. How dare you think this was a gift! After all these years, is that all U2 is worth to you? Nothing? Our music has all the value of a CrackerJacks trinket or a lower-end Rolex in an awards show gift bag? Do you not understand that Apple paid us for every copy they distributed? We were paid for it, sheeple! Massive numbers of dollars were transferred into our bank accounts! More dollars than you could count, you whiny little “Ooh look at me I’m sharing” wankers! We’re U2 dammit! We don’t need you! You need us! MONEY IS LOVE! EXTRA-ORDINARY LOVE!!!!!!

Have a beautiful day.

Meanwhile, as always, Amanda Palmer expresses the open-hearted truth about this issue. It almost makes me regret making fun of Bono. Almost.

>Bono makes it clear U2 was paid for the

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April 14, 2011

Our new instinct

MacWorld ran an article on how to set up Apples Pages to print out Avery labels. This is helpful information because Avery doesn’t have nearly as many ready-made templates for Pages as it does for Word. So the article walks the reader through the page and table settings. Excellent.

But MacWorld left out one crucial step: When you’re done, share it on the Web.

Avery doesn’t have a Pages template for its Beige Design Filing Label, Clear, 30 per sheet (#5029), so you made your own? Great! Why should we all have to re-do your work? Share it on the Web. Thanks!

By this time, “and then share it on the Web” should be a reflex on its way to becoming an instinct. The work of one can now remove a task from the checklist of millions. This is of evolutionary importance. Do it once and let the species move on.

Please. Thank you. And share it on the Web.


September 5, 2008

[AE] Yochai Benkler

Yochai says he wants to leave the question: Can free culture survive systematization? [Trying to keep up with Yochai. Failing. Posting without proofreading or spell checking. Caveat lector.]

In 1835, it cost $10K (modern dollars) to start a daily newspaper. Now it costs millions. The startup cost causes a bifurcation between passive audiences and professional, commercial producers. The industrial structure of mass media characterizes the modern age. But, consider that SET@Home dwarfs the computing power of the supercomputers created in industrial ways. This is a radical decentralization of inputs and processes: material, processing, storage, communication, creativity, wisdom. For the first time, the most important inputs are broadly distributed in the population.

This takes social action that’s always been there, and moves it from being important socially and peripheral to the economy, to being at the core.

In Wikipedia vs. Britannica, the core issue isn’t price. It’s authority. The most important part of the Nature comparative study of the two was the editorial that urged scientists to update Wikipedia, sharing traditional authority with the new medium.

Yochai shows a 2×2: centralize or decentraliced vs market-based and non-market. Now we have a four-way interaction among all the old players, from traditional to social-sharing non-profits.

This engages distributed sensing of opportunities for action, solutions, experimentatino, adaptation. You get new and exciting possibilities. The increasing complexity and speed of change has been pushing businesses to go beyond the old technique of hiring what they need. “We can learn faster by loosening the structure of who gets to be effectively active in the world.”

But Yochai wants to focus on participatory culture and democracy. “Critical to the success and power of social production … is the decentralization of practical capacity to act…but also locating authority to act where the capacity to act resides.” This is where commons-based resources are important: We can act on them without permission. This is also where peer production systems (people cooperating without firms) matter because it allows people to work together without permission. “Ownership no longer equals or entails authority.” We get a more diverse , more transparent, and maybe a more critical self-reflective culture (although here he leaves a question mark).

Yochai shows a kickass video of a guy in a suit figuring out how to play the drums, followed by another guy in a split screen plahing piano. By someone named Lasse something? If you have the url, could you post it in the comments? He tells the story of the Daily Prophet, a 14 yr old who poste Harry Potter stories, and seven years later has started a distributed projeto t scan in fantasy illustrations from old books. Also, the site Learning To Love You More’s project of collecting photos of bed underneaths. Also, Also, And And distributed reportage (“Bomb bomb bomb, Iran”). “Yes We Can.”

YouTube lets individuals create and post. Revver and Metacafe tries to find ways to get artists paid. But, “once they introduced money, they introduced distrust.” Kaltura enables editing and has worked on engendering trust via open sourcing. Everything will be kept free. It binds its organization to a set of institutions that are free and open.

Politics isn’t just about politicians. It’s also about meaning. What things mean and how they mean.

So, human creativity decentralized can create a more democratic system, but it threatens the industrial model. For the past decade there’s been a rough stalemate over IP. But the most important actions have been social/cultural: Sharing practices. Increasingly institutionalized, e.g., Free Software Foundation, Creative Commons.

We’re seeing new models of market-cultural society relations: Credible commitment mechanisms, self-binding licenses, transparency, participation, styles of leadership. Authenticity and conversation become central. New ways to build trust, fairness, reciprocity.

He ends by taking Jonathan Coulton as an example. [What about Brad Sucks? :) ] He shows the Code Monkey videos.

“This is invoking a fundamentally different normative framework than ‘This is mine and you can’t have it.'”

The basic question: Can we create new social cultural spaces in the overlap of market and social relations, sustainable and not based on control and authority but on social and cooperative models? [Tags: ]

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