Monday, November 28, 2011

People Power

People Power, the last section of the documentary Download: The True Story of the Internet, discusses how YouTube, Napster, Digg, Facebook and other innovations have created the 2 way participatory democratic media we have today. In the video John Heileman calls it "Our Media" meaning the power of big media to decide when and where we communicate and for how much has been given to the people. The TV industry is accesible to everyone because of Youtube and people can broadcast themselves. The mission is to change the world through web enabled people power.

For example, Digg showed that a blog can be on the same plane as the New York Times and it is up to the people to decide. Facebook maps out relationships people have because we care about what are friends are doing.

The movie touched on how people take for granted the huge changes the web has made in our daily lives. I know I especially take for granted how easy the web has made it to access music at any time. I really liked the example that the documentary used. It explained that in the past people would listen to a song on the radio, go look for a record store and dig through the shelves to find the song they liked. You would have to purchase the entire CD then listen to the one song you liked on your CD player and soon find out the rest of the CD was crap. Many people like myself didn't question this. Thats just the way we expected it to be. However, as we all know now this is no longer necessary.

Tunes were later put together with the PC and web. This was the beginning of the music revolution. Mp3 compressed data and people began distributing and accessing mP3 online. After this came the idea of CD burners. IBM thought people wouldn't use this but they were very wrong. I remember almost all of my friends burning CDs all through high school and many still today.

Napster enabled peer to peer using and sharing of music. Napster was the fastest spreading software everywhere. It turned users to active and not passive audiences while creating genuine web communities. I can remember this idea of sharing music being very controversial but I really didn't understand why.

The Recording Industry told Sean Fanning, the creator of Napster, that the trading of these copyrighted songs was illegal. It was like stealing thousands of CDs from the shelves. Napster was taken down however, it broke the distribtion monopoly of the recording industry.

I found it interesting that artists such as Dr. Dre and Metallica were so upset by this music sharing. I had no idea the Metallica drummer confronted Napster and made it such a huge deal with presss everywhere. Metallica brought a documented list of all their fans sharing their music and demanded that they be banned from using Napster. I never realized that this bothered artists so much. I knew that they weren't a fan of it and would rather have their fans buy their CDs however, I thought that with all the money they make, this wasn't a big issue for them.

Although Napster had to be shut down, this did not stop music sharing. It encouraged start ups like iTunes and YouTube. Today, YouTube is my main source for listening to music and I would be lost without it. However, I am not too scared that YouTube will have to be shut down like Napster since Google bought it. For YouTube, the posting and sharing of copyright material is not a big threat to big media. It is now the idea that people can entertain themselves and rather watch themselves on video.

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