Monday, August 23, 2004

The Hounds of Love

"When I was a child:
Running in the night,
Afraid of what might be
Hiding in the dark,
Hiding in the street...
The Hounds of Love are hunting" [1]

Mammals are relentlessly innovative. That's a good survival trait. Given the capacity for the environment to go wonkers when some hidden force like a volcano erupts, a disease silently begins to whack the babies or a kid hits puberty, relentless innovation claims the prize for doing before done unto. Some mammals are herd mammals and others aren't. This is also a survival trait but it isn't ubiquitous among the furry warm bloods. Some float with the crowd that has the best looking Others as members, and some just float until other mammals invite them to a party. Then there are the loners. Some of them go on to become top corporate executives and others, psychopaths on the six o'clock news. Why one becomes or chooses one or the other is a tough call, but because mammals are relentlessly innovative, theories abound.

"Take my shoes off and throw them in the lake
And I'll be two steps on the water." [1]

Then came the Internet: a product born of the extraordinarily relentness innovation of North American mammals and their Cold War paranoia by which it was empirically demonstrated that successful executives and psychopaths could be the same people at the same party. The brilliance of it was that it was like water: reusable, simple, fundamental and recyclable. Once the PsychoMammalElite were done worrying about their Cold War, they offered the 'Net up for FREE at the Thrift Shop of Unclaimed Military Baggage. The genius of its design eeemmmmmeerrged.

The same features that made it theoretically possible to point a command and control droid to another droid after the first one was turned into unaddressable storage (say write only memory) that glowed regardless of whether the grid was up or down made it possible to get really good photos of mammalian pulchritudinousness without the postage or the brown paper bag. One click; some waiting, and there it was: nude mammals with all the parts. For FREE.

So begat the downloading that begat the desktop that begat the ISP that begat the two line home that begat the world wide wait that begat the DSP and the cableMowDem that begat the monthly bill that begat the taxless product that begat the urge to tax that begat the urge to mark that begat XML by which all things could be marked

"It's coming for me through the trees." [1]

That's a geek joke but I digress.

First, it was pictures and those were easy to find and get. Then came the music files, and those were easy to find and get too but the musicians who lived off royalties objected. Then came the movies but only to the mammals with broadband, a way of saying I can afford a big phone bill but won't take my kids to the cinema. All of this was justified by a fanciful notion called 'the frictionless economy'.

Among mammalian lifeforms, self-lubricating systems aren't all that innovative, but given one that takes, another one is making out, up, or do, or otherwise, negotiating.

This is called product for value. It isn't a terribly complicated idea: I make the original and a copy. You can get the copy if I tell you where it is. Now with a certain amount of excitement, some systems will self-lubricate, that is, if you can excite them enough, they are ready to receive or take. In others, if you want access, you grease the port. The problem comes of wanting without having the grease when using a system that isn't self-lubricating or excited.

"I found a fox caught by dogs.
He let me take him in my hands." [1]

Free has a way of conflicting with unavailableByDesign. While the Internet, really just a big set of data plumbing pipes, can enable exchanges of all kinds, those that want everything for free are not compatible with those that want to grease the 'natch. It is easy to dress up the 'should be free' with lofty words but these tend to obscure the negotiation. On the other hand, there are those who insist that the only proper exchange is one that is monitored and taxed to support the infrastructure. If mammals bred like that, fish would rule the world.

"Do you know what I really need?
Do you know what I really need?" [1]

The Internet, whose rise to public prominence was driven by that mammalian urge for pubic places is now caught smack in the middle of the herds of nerds that love it, the loners that build it, and the successful executives and psychopaths who want to control it. A rising tide floats all boats except the ones tied to the dock. If we ignore the need to grease the web, that sucking sound you hear could be your local commodity tax base collapsing only to be buttressed by your rising property taxes. If we don't stop the psychoExecs from using their authority to inspect and tax every item on it, that sound you hear and picture you see will start to look just like that reality series on cable that you just can't watch but TVLand is still running Andy and Barney and you already know the end of every sitcom on the Hitler Channel.

"Do you know what I mean? Do you know what I really mean?" [1]

They say the Internet routes around censorship. It's a good theory but like the theory that it could route around a nuclear fireball, it's never been tested so it remains yet another theory.

"The Hounds of Love are hunting, and I don't know what's good for me." [1]

Doc Searls says he does. Do give this a read.

To Barlow, I say, "J.P., I've been to a few of Uncle John's Band's
gigs. The tickets weren't FREE, the t-shirts weren't FREE, and even if I had a tape recorder, I couldn't get close enough to Captain Trips to get a worthy sound. But it was WELL worth the price of admission and still will be even without Jerry (Miss the Man? Yes I do.). Just be factual about the cost of the Marin Lifestyle, Dude. It ain't virtual."

To Doc, I say, "I don't want to restrict your choices or mine and we do need to fight those who do, but the truth is, it IS just another medium even if it has a Google number of channels and the TV talks back. Different parties have different party rules and those who don't want to stick to them will be visited by Master Jack and His Hammers who will pound their profits into plowshares to sell at the next county auction. I'm all for diversity, but I'm against the pedofile who wants to pick up a kid and the kid who wants to redistribute someone else's property like Robin Hood. I gave away recordings for free only to watch the dot.bomb that was to send me an occasional shekel keep changing the points and then selling them to the Frogs. So if someone is going to give it up for free, it will be me...excited by the prospect of a lady with five kids in Australia and a big farm to run driving her rig across her fields listening to my music. Let the lubing begin."

I suspect freedom of choice means we choose among options offered freely. So we better get busy figuring out what's good for us before those options are gone. The Hounds of Love are hunting. I can't tell if they're sniffing for a treat or a bite, but I'm still waiting for a new Kate Bush album, likely will until retirement, and as much as I love her music, I know it won't be free, but it will be worth the lube... with no problems.

"And I'm ashamed of running away
From nothing real.
I just can't deal with this,
But I'm still afraid to be there,
Among your Hounds of Love." [1]

[1] "The Hounds of Love" Kate Bush
Copyright 1985 - EMI America

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Internet, in http://lamammals.blogspot.com/,
Len wrote

... the truth is, it IS just another medium
...

There is a vast cost difference between now and
the past.

500 years ago, it cost more to hire someone to
copy a manuscript than to purchase a book from a
publisher who used that newfangled invention,
the printing press.

But at that time you could not purchase anything
to hear music except a ticket to a live concert.
You could purchase a copy of a musical score but
not a `record'. Gramophones were not invented
until the latter 19th century.

While the initial cost of these new devices was
high: the printing press and learning to read,
the record stamping plant and record player, the
radio transmitter and receiver, it cost little
to create another copy of the result, whether
that extra copy be a book, a record, or another
space for a person to listen to the radio.

The Internet reduces the cost of copying still
further.

Over most of the past half millennium, only a
few owned the means of producing copies of
books; these people were called `publishers'.
But now everyone in a rich country owns or has
access to a device that enables them to make
copies inexpensively.

The drop in the cost is one of degree; but the
drop is so vast, that the effect is a change of
type.

--
Robert J. Chassell
http://www.rattlesnake.com

len said...

The cost of production has declined enormously where all things are equal. Taking the production of music as an example of an ecosystem, all things are not equal.

1. Raw production costs such as acquisition of gear have come down. Talent to use the gear (knowledge of sound physics) is not equally distributed. So quality is uneven. Access to information improves this.

2. More people can access instruments. Talent to play in different styles at high fidelity of reproduction is still uneven. Access to information improves this but some skills are idiot-savant skills. Access to the most effective talent still remains a high cost item (you try to get Eric Clapton to play on your next album vs you playing on your demo). The cost of demoing has come waaaay down; the cost of producing a world class album has not as fast or as far.

3. While the Internet changed the distribution medium, it has not dramatically improved the cost of marketing. Awareness of art is a key ingredient. On the other hand, sustainability of the artist can be improved. Technology has made many more things possible as far as having direct control of the product, but access to other media has actually declined. Try to get your songs played on a digital satellite system as compared to AM radio. The high cost of access remains.

The truth remains that unless monies flow back to the artists, free distribution actually hurts them unless they are quite clever about how they distribute their work. Supply is up but demand isn't increasing as fast. The ability of the artist to differentiate themselves in saturated markets such as commercial blues, pop and rock is critical to sustainable careers. It is still a lube/no-lube, excite or die marketplace.

Anonymous said...

I do not understand which policy choice you are
proposing. Len wrote,

> While the Internet changed the distribution
> medium, it has not dramatically improved the
> cost of marketing. ....
> The ability of the artist to differentiate
> themselves in saturated markets such as
> commercial blues, pop and rock is critical to
> sustainable careers.

Yes, it is true that `the Internet changed the
distribution medium'. Indeed, it has so
radically reduced distribution and copying costs
that the change in degree has become a change in
quality.

We can see this in the language: `copying
costs' are what we once called the costs of
`manufacturing another instance'; but we do not
use the word `manufacturing' any more for
non-rivalrous goods that can be digitally
duplicated.

It is also true that the Internet has not
reduced the cost of gaining attention.

What are you are proposing? Are you suggesting
that the current system, which was developed for
vinyl records and radios, is the best way our
society has for encouraging better music that
you and I will note and appreciate?

Many do make this argument. They support the
costs of enforcement, which include the costs of
teaching children that they should not share
certain non-rivalrous products. They say that
those costs are less than the anticipated costs
to society of a decrease in the future quality
of recently composed and played music that one
can listen to on AM radio in the United States.

My sense is different; that with a qualitative
change in the costs of reproduction, we also
need a qualitative change in the laws and
customs for artists.

We also need a change for others who work in
industries with current restrictions on
knowledge reproduction. This category does not
include lawyers, who work with law. Lawyers
sell their services, not the law; the law itself
is freely reproduceable. Paying lawyers,
architects, doctors, and teachers for their
services is, I think, a good mechanism for a
society.

Following my proposals, it may be that artists
who work with music will have to continue to
sell their services at live concerts, bars, and
the like. This will discourage many potential
entrants; they may desire to become lawyers or
teachers instead.

(I am speaking of musicians I know, who I
suspect are in the majority. I am not speaking
of those musicians whose work and marketing is
funded by companies who then present their wares
on AM and FM radio and the like. As far as I
know, the latter are a minority of musicians.)

My practical suggestions are that the laws and
what goes with them should be changed to make it
easier and cheaper for new entrants to gain the
attention of others, that the technology of
reproduction be permitted to advance rather than
be artificially restricted, as in some DVD
players, and that people be encouraged to learn
from others around them rather than be
prevented.

--
Robert J. Chassell
http://www.rattlesnake.com

len said...

The Internet enables direct distribution of copies. Copyright law remains in effect: the right of the originator/copyright holder to license copies. If this is the artist, they can use new technologies to manage such licensing. That is called 'digital rights management'. It is as with other technologies being developed, a different means to the same objective.

The Internet has changed little about the quality of music. It has enabled better access to diversity where the artist takes advantage of that access. So smaller niches can more quickly find their audience, and that being a bottom-up effect, or emergent, is a good thing. Otherwise, it will take some time for the current generation of users to understand and take advantage of the freedom. Just as Google adSense enables me to pick up click-through revenue, new means of collecting revenue will improve the production.

As a medium, the web isn't so much a change in type as a change in the equipment. It acts as amplifier, microphone and applause. The improvements to production are not internet technologies in the main. They are such things as midi, cheap digital gear, software processors for effects, and so on. The Internet is a medium that improves some aspects but also adds dangers and exposes the artist to fraud and rip-off on an unheralded scale. In truth, the major change is one of scale because all of those affective forces were already in place. They are now larger, faster, and come from more sources.

Should the laws change? Copyright law works to the extent that the copyright holder has the power to enforce it. Digital rights management is likely to improve that power. It is the patent wars that concern me most because they are a real impediment to innovation. I've blogged my response to my friend, Tim Bray, elsewhere on this page concerning this subject, but briefly, we need to use the Semantic Web as a means to improve the global research into prior art and registration of patented works. This is a situation that must improve globally. Given that the Internet is a global medium, as has been done with other forms of expression, it is likely global solutions are required. Google adSense tracking is an example of how this could be done.

Should costs come down? Sure. They already have. iTunes and its competitors are already bringing them down to the amount that 45rpm was when I was a teen ager not accounting for inflation.

Access is key. Note again, try to get your songs played on satellite radio. Once again, independents are doing the work for the independents in the form of sites such as GargageBands.com.

What the web does well is aggregate like concerns. You have all the power you need to do that in these blogs.

Anonymous said...

Len said...

> The Internet enables direct distribution of
> copies.

Yes, we agree. Equally important, it is
possible to manufacture, market, and sell
objects with 650 megabytes on each of them --
the megabytes maybe source code, books, images,
or music -- for US$1.50 - US$2.50 each and make
a profit. I know this for sure because I have
seen markets offering CDs with this many
megabytes at this price throughout the world.

> Copyright law remains in effect ....

Yes, we agree. The questions are two fold: is
the current law the best way to manage a society
in which that law is enforced? And in any
event, is the current law going to be enforced
throughout much of the world economy?

The second is the practical issue of whether
anti-corruption drives will succeed, as they did
in Singapore, or will they fail?

The first question is also practical, but in a
different way: in a country in which the current
law is more or less enforced, such as the United
States, has the existing law meant that music
played on AM radio improved over the past 30
years? Because of the law, are backlists better
and books first printed in US President Herbert
Hoover's administration more available now than
they were a generation ago?

len said...

> If this is the artist, they can use new
> technologies to manage such licensing.

You know different artists than I. None of the
artists I know want to act as lawyers and none
can afford to hire them. Most people I know who
are lawyers or can hire them are in large
corporations. The lawyers are on staff.

From the point of view of artists I know, the
main effect of restrictions is that they become
afraid to compose a song `in the style of', even
if that is `fair use'. They depend on
charitable organizations to fund the discovery
that `My land is your land' is now in the public
domain. This discovery is contrary to the
claims made by company that threatened, legally,
to restrict people with force if they made use
of the song.

Incidentally, DRM stands for legal and
technological actions to restrict the rights of
customers.

In effect, it means that I have the right to
punch you in the nose, legally. It is like I
got two husky guys to hold you and I beat you
up. You have no legal right to defend yourself.
Your right to defend yourself is restricted.
Since most people think of their right to defend
themselves is more important to them than
others' rights to attack them, a good expansion
for DRM is `Digital Restrictions Management'.

len said...

> As a medium, the web isn't so much a change in
> type as a change in the equipment.

Remember, we are talking about rights to copy:
copyright. The particular topic is the
consequences of a dramatic drop in the cost of
making additional copies.

When the information is already digital and in a
form that I can handle, such as your quote
above, it costs much less than it used to for me
to make an additional copy. In the past, I
would have had to hand write it. (I still do
that for passages from printed books that I wish
to copy.)

> Should costs come down? Sure. They already
> have. iTunes and its competitors are already
> bringing them down ...

Are you confusing costs and prices? The cost of
copying a megabyte of electronic mail, of source
code, of text such as the US Declaration of
Independence, of music, is all the same.

Moreover, the incremental cost to me of copying
a megabyte over the Internet is far less than
one US dollar, far less than a half US dollar,
which are two prices I have heard for music
tunes whose copying is legally restricted.

> Access is key.

Right. Is access improved when people are
scared to access information in countries in
which laws are more or less enforced?

For example, are the engineers of my electric
company more likely to work at home in their
`off' time when they fear that the `licence
compliance manager' says that she will discover
that they have taken forbidden tools home that
enable them to work?

> ...patent[s] .. that concern me most because
> they are a real impediment to innovation.

Right. I agree, patents are more dangerous than
copyrights. Do you have the money (US$3 million
for three years, minimum, is what lawyers have
told me) to pay the costs of taking a few of the
current US patent holders to court? If you have
that money, are you willing to spend it that
way? Because if so, I can direct you to a
lawyer who will set up such a organization.

If not, do you think that your words are better
used to encourage the legislatures of the US and
other countries to make what to them are minor
changes to the patent laws? Or do you think
that your words are better used to argue that
the whole patent system should be revised?

As a use of resources available to you, which do
you think is more likely to have a good effect
in two generations?

--
Robert J. Chassell
http://www.rattlesnake.com

len said...

http://www.schmucku.com/definition.html

A man goes to a lawyer and asks:

"How much do you charge for legal advice?"

"A thousand dollars for three questions."

"Wow! Isn't that kind of expensive?"

"Yes, it is. What's your third question?"

Chutzpah.

Len said...

>> The Internet enables direct distribution of
>> copies.

>Yes, we agree. Equally important, it is
>possible to manufacture, market, and sell
>objects with 650 megabytes on each of them --
>the megabytes maybe source code, books, images,
>or music -- for US$1.50 - US$2.50 each and make
>a profit. I know this for sure because I have
>seen markets offering CDs with this many
>megabytes at this price throughout the world.

Doesn't pan out in the US. For an artist to produce
a marketable CD with say, ten songs, with a four
fold insert (in case you want the lyrics), and
a professional label because the press ons aren't
reliable across thin line CD players standard in
most automobiles, the break even cost for runs
of around 500 is about $4.00 per unit, or about
$3.50 per thousand if you don't ask for priority.

If you mail that, add another $.90 or if overseas,
about $2.00. So to sell that in Australia
direct to someone who sends you the order via
email, you are already at $6.00. Note that I
haven't paid any of the musicians, no rental
on studio space, no engineers, no equipment
rentals, no points of any kind to the songwriters
or a producer, no marketing costs, no label
design costs in fact, all I have done is taken
the recorded product plus my homebrew graphics
and gotten it on a CD and mailed it.

The average reasonable cost for a CD of music
made on the cheap with acceptable quality is
about $10 per unit. If you want to talk the
real investment, it is that I need to distribute
a lot of that before any of the monies come
back, and given the pilferage, I might get
80% back. So now my $10 unit is back to $8
and I have about three dollars to shred for
a work that takes me around two years to make
if I am very productive and don't do too many
cuts.

I know you think we can do all of this at home.
For a demo album, we can. For a marketable
commodity, nyet. I've made four albums, fella;
I know how this works and precisely what it
costs even with a home studio and only my own
labor involved. One can make a cheaper album
but cheap is the operative description at every
phase and in every part, and guess what, if I
try to sell it below $10, the customer thinks
it is shoddy goods and won't buy it. Strange
but true.

The CD is a loss leader done this way and I
have to make it up either in volume or by
touring. Ever tour, guy? Now we can really
talk costs and wear. I love to perform but
this side of superstar status and a multi
platinum release, I'd be lucky to average
25 to 35k a year, and that won't pay the
bills for a family of four even in the
South.

>> Copyright law remains in effect ....

>Yes, we agree. The questions are two fold: is
>the current law the best way to manage a society
>in which that law is enforced? And in any
>event, is the current law going to be enforced
>throughout much of the world economy?

In order: I'm not managing a society. I am
transacting business. And no. As a matter of
fact, rip off in the music business via cleans
is legendary. Rip off via the Internet made
it a cultural imperative.

>The second is the practical issue of whether
>anti-corruption drives will succeed, as they did
>in Singapore, or will they fail?

Let me come to your apartment tonight and take
your stuff. Will you dial 911?

>The first question is also practical, but in a
>different way: in a country in which the current
>law is more or less enforced, such as the United
>States, has the existing law meant that music
>played on AM radio improved over the past 30
>years?

That's a question of taste but let's talk about
the true open source of music: midi. Midi has
been a boon in two ways:

1. Production costs come down. A LOT of what
you hear on the radio is MIDI because as Gary
Trudeau's character Jimmy Thudpucker was told
in the strip, "Musicians, man, too many ways
to shred the 'natch". Is the midi music better?
Your shot to call. I'd rather hear real musicians
but if I can't afford the London Symphony Orchestra
or even the local string quartet, a synth sound
that will 'give you diabetes' is ok.

2. This is the benefit to quality. We can pull
a midi into a notation editor and read the parts
in music notation or tablature. This is the real
meaning of open source. We can learn by example,
and that has done more to improve musical chops
that 400 years of university education in total
for more people. It's a four year degree with
two more for a master's versus a forty dollar
piece of software with all the free midis that
musicians laboriously create and then sell or
copy on the Internet. If you want the thing that
improved the quality, that's it.

3. We steal from these. Not like the rap
artists sample, but like Procol Harum and
the Doors stole from Bach. We lift licks,
learn them, modify them, reorchestrate them,
put them into our own compositions,
and build new works. This has always been at
the backbone of composition, but now it is
fast and it mutates the music. That is where
the fusion of styles accelerated. This is
the gift of the open hand among musicians.
This is why your average garage band can
now play Stairway to Heaven note for note,
then tear up Bouree in E minor or even
Classical Gas complete with the orchestration.
Yeah, we know open source. We invented the
concept.

>You know different artists than I. None of the
>artists I know want to act as lawyers and none
>can afford to hire them. Most people I know who
>are lawyers or can hire them are in large
>corporations. The lawyers are on staff.

Could be, but you misunderstand Digital
Rights Management. It is a means for the
owner to manage it without the lawyer. Clue:
if you don't like lawyers, program the law.
It takes out the middleman. I happen to sit
on a Board of Directors for a software language
consortium and a reason that commercial artists
tell us over and over again that they won't use
so called View Source languages is that they
want to hold on to the value of their work long
enough to make a profit before it is lifted.
One of the sad bits about the web is how much
View Source, which like midi is a learning
technique, has become Abuse Source where they
just copy it and claim it is free when the
copyright is there for anyone to see.

>From the point of view of artists I know, the
>main effect of restrictions is that they become
>afraid to compose a song `in the style of', even
>if that is `fair use'. They depend on
>charitable organizations to fund the discovery
>that `My land is your land' is now in the public
>domain. This discovery is contrary to the
>claims made by company that threatened, legally,
>to restrict people with force if they made use
>of the song.

They didn't write in the style. They parodied
the song. That is Fair Use. The legal dogs
knew that. They are goombahs. Get used to
it because the same guys who muscled them are
the same guys who make restaurant owners pay
licensing fees to songwriters without which
no songwriter would make a dime. That was
dumb but goombahs are goombahs precisely
because they think someone will cave into
use of force. It works often enough that
it is worth trying. On the other hand, if
you think a nightclub owner or even the
local coffee shop will pay ASCAP or BMI
without that threat, you're dreaming because
in most cases, the owners of the venues
are just skinnier goombahs.

>Incidentally, DRM stands for legal and
>technological actions to restrict the rights of
>customers.

That's rhetorical bullshit. It depends on the
artist. Sure, the big guys will try to stop
you from making copies. Why? Because you have
a habit of posting them on the Internet for
millions of people to copy. On the other hand,
if you'd stop doing that, deal directly with the
artist, good DRM systems can be created that
allow you to negotiate that. The artists would
like to not have to work a day job they hate so
they can work at night at what they love and
still live as well as you do. You don't want
that. You live in a mythical world of the
artist that does it for love. They do but they
also have to put kids through college. You
want quality? It takes constant practice. The
dilemma of the weekend warrior is that without
doing it five nights a week, he or she can't compete
because the chops are physical and without
constant work, he atrophies just enough to
lose the edge. Or you get the dreck music
that came out of Seattle in the 90s. Cobain?
Give me a break. Clapton? That's quality.

>In effect, it means that I have the right to
>punch you in the nose, legally. It is like I
>got two husky guys to hold you and I beat you
>up. You have no legal right to defend yourself.

No, it is that you claim the right to burgle
my stereo and tell me I'm a bad guy if I protest.

>Your right to defend yourself is restricted.

As I said, that seems to be your position.

>> As a medium, the web isn't so much a change in
>> type as a change in the equipment.

>Are you confusing costs and prices? The cost of
>copying a megabyte of electronic mail, of source
>code, of text such as the US Declaration of
>Independence, of music, is all the same.

Again, you skipped over packaging, production,
distribution, and so on. All megabytes aren't equal.

>Moreover, the incremental cost to me of copying
>a megabyte over the Internet is far less than
>one US dollar, far less than a half US dollar,
>which are two prices I have heard for music
>tunes whose copying is legally restricted.

If all I have to do is copy the song to a
web site someone else gives me for free,
sure. If you want fries with that, it's
extra. Even Blogspot is shredding the 'natch
for those adSense ads at the bottom of this
page. That's a good system even if I don't
make much off of it. At least they are
not evil. Hats off to the the GoogleParty.

>Is access improved when people are
>scared to access information in countries in
>which laws are more or less enforced?

Called 911 lately?

>For example, are the engineers of my electric
>company more likely to work at home in their
>`off' time when they fear that the `licence
>compliance manager' says that she will discover
>that they have taken forbidden tools home that
>enable them to work?

Since services like that are managed, I hope
they are afraid to do exactly that. The guy
across the hall from me writes utilities outage
service software. You have picked a very bad
analogy.

As to music software, producers used to
discourage home demos not because of control
but because it turns songwriters into producers
and studio operators and in a game where volume
of production counts (two songs a day in Nashville).
This worked against the needs of the artists who
record those songs and the publishers that pitch
them. With the new generation of digital systems,
that changed. Now they want you to show up with
master quality cuts and a lot of studios have
gone out of business as a result. On the other
hand, Amy at the Bluebird still insists that
you show up with just a voice, a guitar, lyrics
and a tune that doesn't excite the Chord Police.

How do we do it? Well, some of us have done
it a long time and we are quite good at home
production. Most musicians are tribe members
and we work on each other's demos for cheap
or free because we can. Others sell dope.
Some sell Jesus.

Tough business, my friend, given there are
4000 or more songs submitted for every ten
that get on a commercial album, and of those,
there are maybe 200 releases a year that
make money, and of those, less than
20 go platinum. Artists that can make it
work are breaking free of that system, but
not all can. Would you rather spend your
life on a bus or raise your children well?

"Money for something but the clicks are free..."
to paraphrase the Man.

>> ...patent[s] .. that concern me most because
>> they are a real impediment to innovation.

>If not, do you think that your words are better
>used to encourage the legislatures of the US and
>other countries to make what to them are minor
>changes to the patent laws? Or do you think
>that your words are better used to argue that
>the whole patent system should be revised?

I'm all for better global patent laws. I've
argued for nothing less. A big problem with
the web pundits is they seem to think this
is a uniquely American problem. It's global. It
needs a global solution.

>As a use of resources available to you, which do
>you think is more likely to have a good effect
>in two generations?

The one that makes shredding the 'natch a
fair dinkum deal. The more the artist can
deal with the consumer directly via means
to manage the 'natch, the more likely you
will get the music you want at a cost you
think is fair, and the better chance my
son and daughter have of getting through
college. You are right that as long as
we have to shred the 'natch to too many
middle guys, we both get screwed.

And that is why I have a day job. So
I can give it away. But I choose.

It's about options and who chooses.
It is that simple. Given it's my
art, I choose.

Joshua Allen said...

You imply that ARPANET begat the desktop. Everyone knows that the Internet would remain a useless toy of intellectuals if Bill Gates hadn't achieved "a PC on every desktop". The desktop begat the Internet!

len said...

Bill plus cheap memory, intel standard CPUs, TCP/IP and
so on.

But all kidding aside, not enough cred goes to Bill for taking the work that Apple took from Xerox that Xerox took from Doug Engelbart and Ivan Sutherland and making it a commodity for all to enjoy and be tormented by.

"Benson. Tell me about.... computers." Time Bandits

Anonymous said...

[My apologies for the delay and for the
shortness of my response. I am traveling and
mostly out of touch. My circumstances will be
even worse over the next week.]

The lawyer joke that Len quoted reminds me of
Gregory Bateson's comments on the Treaty of
Versailles in 1918 in his 1972 book `Steps to an
Ecology of Mind'.

The treaty repudiated the terms that President
Wilson offered for ending the First World War.
He offered a proposal regarding war and peace,
but then treated it as if it were merely about
war.

Likewise, the joke starts out with a question
that suggests that the topic is whether to hire
the lawyer, but the lawyer then speaks as
someone who as already taken on the client.

As Bateson says, mammals (he uses the term
`mammals') "are concerned with patterns of
relationship, with where they stand in love,
hate, respect, dependency, trust, and similar
abstractions ....'

In war, we do not expect an enemy to be
trustworthy; but in a peace negotiation we do
expect him to make proposals with which he will
stick. As Bateson puts it, the treaty was "one
of the great sellouts in the history of our
civilization. [It] ... led fairly directly and
inevitably into World War II."

In designing forms of governance for the modern
world, we should not dismiss issues of cost as
trivial, as the joke does. As Len showed in his
example, the cost of producing duplicates of
music, marketing, and selling them, is much less
than was the cost of producing, marketing and
selling a vinyl record 50 years ago. Len says
that his costs of production, marketing, and
sales would not enable him to produce products
that sell in places I have been. No doubt he is
right.

I do know, because I have purchased them, that
it costs little to buy CDs with software on them
in the United States, unless the price of the
software is kept high by a legal mechanism. (I
am not much into music and do not either produce
or purchase music CDs.)

Len points out something I had not realized:

> ... I'm not managing a society. I am
> transacting business.

I have been talking about what the laws should
be.

I wrote

>> The second is the practical issue of whether
>> anti-corruption drives will succeed, as they
>> in Singapore, or will they fail?

to which Len responded

> Let me come to your apartment tonight and take
> your stuff. Will you dial 911?

Let me give you the URL of the place where much
of my non-rivalrous stuff comes from. You can
get it from there:

http://www.debian.org

Please do this. It is easier for you and for
me.

Of course, I will try to prevent you from taking
my rivalrous stuff.

The cost of reproducing non-rivalrous goods has
dropped dramatically in the last half century.
Moreover, the cost of producing some kinds of
rivalrous stuff with non-rivalrous goods on them
has also dropped. (In parts of the US, the
price of other rivalrous stuff, like land, has
gone up.)

With these practical matters in mind, how should
our society -- which is becoming more and more
global -- organize itself?

--
Robert J. Chassell
http://www.rattlesnake.com

len said...

Thanks Robert. I enjoy our conversation.

How shall we be organized? I believe, by the consent of the governed who must choose the means of governance and respect the means. But the means are only means and are not fundamental. To discover what is fundamental, we must explore our values and find among them those independent objectives to which all our means lead. We must understand the limits of context or situation and apply our means with patience to an evolving global context. I think of this as discovering the Value of Our Values and have blogged this topic elsewhere on this page. If we are wise, we evolve into symbiotes by choice.

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