Andy Warhol’s prophecy of fifteen minutes of fame for everybody was correct, but only for so long. He saw radio and TV and the press coming, but what he didn’t glom onto was the Internet. Especially not the “2.0” version of the web. Now we have kids who can record themselves doing a silly dance to a song and become world famous. We have podcasters interviewing their cat when they run out of material. Our log-in names become our new nom de plumes, and it actually makes sense to introduce yourself: “Hi, I’m Tom. You might remember me as Beanie318, the rapacious commenter on Reddit, but my day job is remixing Anime on YouTube.”
How many people following blogs these days have turned on the TV news in the past month? Compared to an RSS feed that can spew 1000 headlines at you in five seconds flat, a person speaking on television who takes fifteen minutes to tell you the latest dirt on Anna Nichole Smith just fades away. If you stay plugged into the Internet enough, you find yourself saying “I already know that.” a lot in conversations with your non-Internet friends. Or, even more so, “They just broke that story today? That happened last week! I read it on Groklaw.”
If “Web 2.0” is like this, what on Earth will the web be like five or ten years from now? It could reach an information singularity. Communication will be so instantaneous, you won’t sneeze without having people in five different countries responding “Bless you.” Cybernetic Google implants in your head? Why not? That’s still my theory behind Ken Jennings, by the way. The end of formal education? Maybe, since you can download whatever you need to know and refresh on it in two minutes. Who needs to remember anything? That’s what bookmarks are for.
One thing for sure, it is killing the media business. The market for music and movies formed at the beginning of the information age, when mass media was still scarce. But currently, everything which has ever been filmed, recorded, or written is becoming instantly available from any point in the world. The protests of the RIAA and MPAA in America will roar on, but there’s no stopping the Internet from taking a bigger bite out of the traditional media market every year.
The future could eventually see the complete domination of Creative Commons artists, replacing the music and movie market. So far, the MPAA and RIAA have been milking the last nickel out of the last aging pop stars and baby moguls of Hollywood, who are still used to doing it the old way. But the first Picasso, Beethoven, Shakespeare, or Kubrick who comes along and favors independent release directly over the Internet will do them in.
I’ll watch your movie if you watch mine!
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