I tend to find my Self enraptured by the elements of life and society that I deem interesting. When I was a child, I was a collector of X-men comic books. I just had to read every major storyline in the series, and went to great lengths to secure these comics considering I didn’t have a job. It has been said that I love hard. In the same vein, when the motion picture Inception was released, my imagination was thoroughly captured for months afterwards; revisiting the theater and various other means needed to satiate my craving for the film’s intriguing storyline. I read blog post after blog post, consuming the thinking of others with regard to the movie’s ending and details. With these particular two examples there was one great safety net: they were works of fiction that entertained aspects of my philosophical cravings. My enjoyment of these works was purely mental stimulation for the most part. Not so much when I watched Social Network.
I can’t quite put my finger on what was the draw. The story of affluent Harvard outcasts attempting to fit into “clubs” and gain the attention of coeds via web application developments and their subsequent success in doing so compelled me. Whatever it was that pulled me in, I sunk deeply. I watched the movie with my finger ready to rewind until I could sit through it and say my favorite lines without having to stop and replay. I went to YouTube and watched interviews of the real life personalities that were portrayed in the feature. Whenever they named someone I was unfamiliar with, I would type the name into the YouTube search bar and begin to watch interview and speech after interview and speech. For what might seem like a futile obsession, if not complete stalking, I learned quite a lot. And I was blessed to stumble on the Charisma of Facebook: Sean Parker.
Sean Parker credits him Self with the co-founding of Napster – one of the original mp3 file sharing platforms that would garner legal attention from the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) before collapsing – with Shawn Fanning at 19. He would go on to indirectly consult Mark Zuckerberg with his application, Facebook, and eventually becomes president of the company. Parker would be ousted from his position, according to most sources, due to an arrest of alleged cocaine possession. He then moved onto the position of angel investor and has since funded the application that is being considered the fruition of Napster, Spotify.
Spotify is a Swedish file sharing application that boast of over one million songs stemming from the record labels of Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group, and Universal. As an obvious major investor in the company, Sean Parker has made statements in two of the interviews I’ve watched. In both, he states that this application’s marketing scheme-stated in a very Goldie the Mackish manner- is to get the users to build and swap playlists, become enamored with a song (as he puts it, “Have the song in their head”) and then the client application user will want to pay for the ability to use the application in a more portable manner.
Asylum is and will always be a platform for expression. Although the vision of Asylum is to escape the confines of a digital realm, at the moment, this is where we reside and where, at this stage of development, I deem we are most able to inform and edutain(educate + entertain for those that missed KRS-One book “Edutainment”). Without the open source community, the band of programming geniuses that developed languages like PHP that allow packages such as WordPress(the blogging platform with which Our Asylum currently operates), there couldn’t be an Asylum. Asylum is a supporter and promoter of file sharing. We are proud advocates of an open, and more importantly, free internet.
As a writer, designer, and developer that has to foot his own bills without the security of a firm or a damn advance from publishers of my works even after inking the damn contract and doing months of research (alright, got a little personal there), and having to take odd jobs here and there to help finance my work, I understand the need to pay artists. I do. But we live in a different era than the one in which the business model that corporations used to pimp artist grew from. If we are to be completely clear here, what Spotify does isn’t much of a help to the artist actually. Nowhere has Parker stated that funds would go directly to the artists, in fact, the statements reflect a corporation to corporation (pimp to pimp) model. As I have done with my Joe Budden collection, I will pay the artist directly if I feel the music is worthy of a purchase. But I don’t support these movements towards infringing on the users freedom, nor do I condone manipulating naïve and uninformed interweb surfers that aren’t aware of the culture and history of those that moved the interwebs to the level that they now exist.
The age of the interweb as we know it is heading towards a close. As seen by Google’s successful ability to stretch its tentacles into a popular email application(Gmail), social networking platform (Google+), innovative collaboration application (Google Docs), digital book archive (Google Books), and numerous other web based utensils- the future of the computer is becoming more and more centralized in the hands of a few corporations. This paradigm is what is being bandied about in the tech world as ‘cloud computing’; an internet experience whereby the desktop application is no longer localized and under your control, but connected to the servers and data mining programs of companies that have historically sought to discredit and vilify those that are most able to assist the common web illiterate user.
The illiterate web user may not be aware of the ease by which file sharing forums make music available. They might not be aware of software programs such as winRAR that compresses complete albums into one file for transfer. They might not be aware of torrent files. If they are reading this, they should also have Google handy. It is the job of those that are web literate, and more than just web savvy user that may happen to know the URLs of a few interesting sites, to educate and inform them. I ask that all of my allies, all of the allies of Asylum, that are aware to begin a course of writing, video casting, podcasting, and whatever means possible of raising the consciousness of this media. As a Black media analyst, it would be less than civilized if I didn’t prompt you to this condition that we find our Selves in. The uneducated web users amongst us must be informed if we are to continue to utilize this technology in a fashion that will allow us to persist in connecting and building.
We have already seen applications such as blogtalkradio begin to enforce charges on an application that is readily available in free format simply because of the communities that their clients brought with them. It is like having to pay to perform poetry and the only reason anyone is showing up is because of you. Napster was not a first, it only had popularity. Facebook wasn’t a first, it just had popularity. Social media has always been around. Yet, the minute the corporations begin to see a format with which they can stick their profit procuring penises in, these media become marketed as singular and exclusive versions of models that already existed.
The vision of today’s interweb company is for you not to have a reason for your computer other than logging onto the web. What applications such as Spotify do is set a precedent by which you’ll be accustomed to paying for the use web site applications. And don’t for a second think that Spotify is anything more than neatly package website that is housed in its own browser. As Khalid Muhammad once stated, the imbroglio with debate is the knowledge and understanding of the audience. If you don’t understand the basics, you’ll not be able to understand the abstract connections between modes of expression. If you have to connect to the web to use it, it might as well be a web site. But this is just an introductory piece to a mission that I have here for Asylum. Please be thoughtful with this new media. It is alluring, consuming, and those that are better at manipulating it have been fighting for control of it so that they can reap the benefits of your hard day’s labor.
I don’t want to have to log into photoshop.com in order to use a scaled down version due to not being able to afford the premium price. I don’t want to have to log into ms-office.com in order to use a scaled down version of Word due to not being able to afford the premium price. And I enjoy the usage of these applications—under my authority. And as such, so should you.