Wednesday, November 30, 2011

People Power

People Power is one of those videos that makes you stop and think about things that you already thought you knew about, but now it's time to think again. Confusing, yes. Interesting, definitely.

The video surrounded different web services: Napster, facebook, MySpace, and some of our other created-in-a-dorm-room Silicon Valley friends, and how they gave the power to the people.

When we think of the Internet, we don't (or at least I don't...) think about how it's "run by no one, but shaped by everyone." I just see it as a portal to communicate with others, I always have.

I received my first computer at age six. It was slow, I it ran Windows 95, and we had TISD dial-up Internet. I thought it was the bee's knees. I used it for forums, online games, and mIRC where I would talk to people about movies and TV shows. I've since added IM, e-mail, MySpace, facebook, and now research to my Internet repertoire. Unfortunately, I wasn't a part of the Napster revolution.

The video focused a lot on Napster, Shawn Fanning's thought-to-be ingenious creation. John Heilemann, in between his head bobs, awkward body language, and unnecessary cloans of himself, dives into the story behind the man who created one of the biggest controversies in modern media. If there's one thing I've learned after taking history at Texas State, it's that you can't blame people in the past--they didn't know any better. How was Fanning supposed to know that this amazing file sharing program was extremely illegal? He just wanted what every other kid in college wanted (and still wants, by the way) cheap and/or free access to great music. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to find the tunes you loved on the radio-- and the station never seems to tag the song and artist after the good music. Do I understand why Napster was illegal... yes. Would I use it now if it weren't... um, yes. Luckily, more innovative programs like Spotify, and LastFM have come along to fill the void in a more legal fashion.

After Napster, Heilemann split his focus between MySpace and Facebook--two similar websites with two very different missions. Both gave the power to the people, meaning it was up to you to mold your site to your liking.

We take all of these phenomana for granted. How did we get information before the Internet; how did we communicate quickly and over distances before social media and text messaging; what will the next pioneers create for use to use? I have no idea. Probably won't know until I see it.

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