Media Identities: why pirate music?


Interesting read in the Guardian about the history of music downloading, with an extract from a new book (How Music Got Free). This article is interesting from the perspective of both impact of new media and media identities because the question comes up – all of this piracy stuff is very involved, complex, awkward, even expensive. Why do it, when downloading from iTunes is easier? Snip:

Oink’s heavily trafficked user forums revealed a community that resembled Ellis himself: technically literate middle-class twentysomethings, mostly male, enrolled in university or employed in entry-level jobs. A significant number of members weren’t even that lucky, but were instead what the British government called “Neets”: Not in Education, Employment, or Training. Concerts were a popular topic of discussion; so were drugs. One of the busiest threads on the site simply asked “Why Do You Pirate Music?” Thousands of different answers came in. Oinkers talked of cost, contempt for major labels, the birth of a new kind of community, courageous political activism, and sometimes simply greed. The biggest draw of all was the mere existence of such forums. They were a place to learn about emerging technology, about new bands, about underground shows. iTunes was just a store, basically a mall – Oink was a community.

Mick Jagger on downloading


Mick Jagger has a quite sanguine take on downloading. He points out that artists only really had about 25 years (in the 100-year history of recorded music) when they made any money. The rest of the time, they’ve been ripped off.

Are you quite relaxed about it [downloading]?

I am quite relaxed about it. But, you know, it is a massive change and it does alter the fact that people don’t make as much money out of records.

But I have a take on that – people only made money out of records for a very, very small time. When The Rolling Stones started out, we didn’t make any money out of records because record companies wouldn’t pay you! They didn’t pay anyone!

Then, there was a small period from 1970 to 1997, where people did get paid, and they got paid very handsomely and everyone made money. But now that period has gone.

So if you look at the history of recorded music from 1900 to now, there was a 25 year period where artists did very well, but the rest of the time they didn’t.

via BBC News – Sir Mick Jagger goes back to Exile.

Facebook Privacy: A Bewildering Tangle of Options – Graphic –


More essential reading on privacy and Facebook.

It’s easy to shrug your shoulders and say that you can always change your privacy options – bu just how hard a job is that? There are, according to this article, 50 settings, with 170 options. And some options, like photo albums, require you to adjust the privacy settings every single time you create a new one.

Facebook Privacy: A Bewildering Tangle of Options – Graphic –

Cultivated Play: Farmville | MediaCommons


I urge you to read this fascinating article about Farmville, because it talks about what motivates so many people to play what “barely qualifies” as a game which is run by a company with alleged links to advertising scams.

Would make for an interesting “impact of new media” case study.

We are obligated to examine what we are doing, whether we are updating our Facebook status or playing Call of Duty, because the results of those actions will ultimately be our burden, for better or for worse. We must learn above all to distinguish between the better and the worse. Citizens must educate themselves in the use of sociable applications, such as Wikipedia, Skype, and Facebook, and learn how they can better use them to forward their best interests. And we must learn to differentiate sociable applications from sociopathic applications: applications that use people’s sociability to control those people, and to satisfy their owners’ needs.

Digital Economy Act: This means war | Cory Doctorow |


I’m not such a techno-triumphalist that I believe that the free and open internet will solve all our socio-economic problems. But I am enough of a techno-pessimist to believe that baking surveillance, control and censorship into the very fabric of our networks, devices and laws is the absolute road to dictatorial hell.

Chekhov wrote that a gun on the mantelpiece in act one is sure to go off by act three. The entertainment industry's blinkered pursuit of its own narrow goals has the potential to redesign our technology to be the perfect tools and excuses for oppression.

via Digital Economy Act: This means war | Cory Doctorow |
Technology |

the future of children’s books?


Somebody needs to shoot the director, but this (abridged) version of Alice in Wonderland for the iPad (£5.49, or free for the Lite try-out version) looks pretty incredible.

More importantly, it only exists because Alice is in the Public Domain, which means nobody is bleating about copyright. This is a great example of how it’s the Public Domain and not copyright law that encourages creativity to flourish.