Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Music composer (Lanier) and and scientist, writes that the Internet is destroying the middle class. Problem: too much is free



Jaron Lanier (computer scientist and music composer)  has a long epistle “Fixing the Digital Economy” in the New York Times, Sunday Review, June 9, 2013.  This essay follows on to his book “You Are not a Gadget” which I reviewed (Books blog) Feb. 22, 2010).  The main reference is here and it has also appeared in Salon, article “The Internet Destroyed the Middle Class”,  link
  
Lanier proposes “every bit of data we provide should earn us money. That way, we can sustain a middle class.”   That seems in diametric opposition to the practice of many of us, offering “free content” hoping for recognition – or, better put--- expecting that our own personalize message will add something valid to “the debate” that is missing when it comes from the established press, or even is filtered by well-funded organizations, specific in advocacy and not making pretensions of objectivity.  This seems to be a repudiation of amateurism, which arguably is gnawing away at many traditional family-supporting careers.
   
Should someone be paid when his photo appears online?  Would that even be possible or enforceable?

The “free entry” paradigm and open publication did give me a second life – yet I had built up enough assets from my “real” job before that I didn’t need to be paid for it.  So people wonder why I won’t get out now and sell and hucksterize?  (I get phone-calls, let along spam, begging me to "wake up" to the need to get out and "sell" all the time.  I don’t have to.  Or I;m an introvert.  Or I am "schizoid."  But that’s not a very sustainable answer.   Actually, I do want my output to make money – but it has to be packaged in a certain way (later postings).  But I can’t be paid just to transmit “somebody else’s” message.   Ego driven?  Maybe.  But shouldn’t someone want his public work to be his? 
   
Of course, we can ask the question, why it is has become important to sit in the limelight. It’s a sign of not being able to set up “real world” relationships on a “real” basis first.
     

The New York Times also as another important story in the Sunday Business Day, “Data-driven tech industry is shaken by online privacy fears”, by David Streitfeld and Quentin Hardy, link here.   

By the way, most of Jaron Lainer's music is sold only on MP3 files on Amazon.  I'll look into it soon.  No, it's not free!



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