Monday, December 12, 2011

RANDOMNESS: “feed the great machine” Internet good or bad?

While reading "I Mix What I Like!" by Jared Ball, I came across this paraphrase quote by Jaron Lanier. Lanier a seminal figure in computer and internet history also one of its largest critics

"…the web, [is] far from being some playing field leveler, is the perfect example of the “post-human society” where people must “feed the great machine” but only those who own or run that machine – not the people who create or who are themselves content – are to be paid. The rest of us are simply aggregated into “mobs” to be easily surveyed and marketed to by the same major corporations who determine our news and popular culture."
- Jaron Lanier

Then I found WillAM 580 (illinois Public Media) and their review of "You Are Not a Gadget" and interview with Jaron Lanier. [Listen Here]. Here he talks about the history pre & post internet and the history of MIDI. Lanier points out the youth of today has no idea as to the vast possibilities the internet could offer. Instead of remaining in this locked tinny "self enslaved" preconceived notion of what the web "is". However with this said its not to late for the youth to learn about the history of the web and how it works, their is still time change the tides.

Later Lanier talk about Ted Nelson the first person to conceive the idea of "linking", what makes Ted Nelson so important is his foresight into what the internet could become in 1960. Nelson was able to understand that if you made the internet into a huge copy machine (file sharing) then in turn it would just make everyone poor degrading the quality of life for all. If society only promotes the cultural, artistic and expression based parts of the web then you will have to work doubly hard in the physical world to make ends meat. In many ways the internet as we know it stifles the ability to live off your hart & your brain because of this ability to share thoughts without promoting or giving back to the creator. Nelson created & fought for a 3rd option: One account, per user & no copying. Here a user could buy and sell their content, products and ideas. However his critics were upset that he was projecting the use currency / commerce on the internet & my own thoughts that its a little big brother-ish. BA HA

Music is an interesting topic of conversation as Lanier is a musician himself. He points foul at musicians that claim that they are making a living off of giving away their music for free, noting that most of them are trust fund babies. He goes on to claim that the reason that music has not been able to progress is because musicians can no longer make a living as a musician solely.

This notion resonates with me as I'm ingesting to both the top 10 pop tunes (in America) & Drum & Bass tunes (from the UK). Both genres are over populated with blatantly sampled, checker bordered midi sequences and over quantized beats. Which only makes me dig deeper into the Jungle/Drum & Bass vinyl past. 10-20 years ago, producers were taking more chances, creating original content and developing rhythm tracks with dare I say it "soul". Why? Because at that time the UK Jungle/Drum & Bass scene had a set of testing gauntlets a track had to pass through. First you had to make a tunes you wanted invest in getting cut into a dub plate. Then it had to catch the attention of a DJ, who thought it would work in their set. Then it had to pass the dance floor test. If a tune passed threw all these tests then you either independently invested in it or you tried to get a label sign you. All of these limiting factors made the music published at that time a higher quality.

In contrast, today a DJ has to search though a flood of crap on the internet. Half baked ideas published to the web without that gauntlet of testing all in the hope of someone taking interest in your work.

Now the question: Has the internet actually helped the world we live in? Think about it for a bit before you comment.

No comments: