On the transformation of everyday culture in an era of liquid modernity

Posts Tagged ‘Technocultural analysis’

“Efter The Pirate Bay”

In file-sharing, media ecology, media history, net neutrality, p2p, post-piratical, Sweden on October 18, 2010 at 9:08 am

In September 2010, me and Pelle Snickars (Head of Research at Sweden’s Royal Library) released an anthology called Efter The Pirate Bay, a reader aimed at the Swedish general reading public, featuring a range of interesting authors on the subject of file-sharing, digitization, copyright reform and the “pirate” movement in Sweden.

See this link for more info. Unfortunately, Efter The Pirate Bay is only available in Swedish, and no English translation is planned. However, the national public interest in Sweden has been considerable, and I believe that many of the insights that I draw on in my currently finalized Ph.D. thesis and in the book are of interest to the English-language reading public as well.

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A new, yet formalised way forward

In copyright, cultural industries, economy, file-sharing, media ecology, music, p2p, politics on March 19, 2010 at 10:47 am

Bennett Lincoff, former Director of Legal Affairs for New Media at ASCAP, was in Sweden recently. Although he is not an outright opponent of the current copyright system, he has a radical proposal of how copyright law should work online. The recording industry still bases their entire business model on selling copies; a retrograde strategy, he argues. Instead, he proposes a digital transmission right for the Internet. He argues that the Net is fundamentally incompatible with the old business model of selling individual copies of popular culture.

This is a new type of license, a digital transmission license to replace all other rights on the Internet. In his proposal, anyone who wants to transfer copyrighted material digitally would have to buy such a transmission license: websites that broadcast music, namely Internet radio or other types of streaming media, but also individual file sharers who know that they share large amounts of copyrighted music. Read the rest of this entry »

Much better, the Economist!

In cultural industries, marketing, media ecology on December 6, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Last week’s Economist featured one of the best articles on the new media landscape in a good while. Backed by solid statistics, for once, this article observed a tendency that I and many others have suspected for a long while now: Digitization benefits niche content and blockbusters, rather than the middle category of “near-hits” or “mid-list” titles. What is booming in an Internet-driven marketplace are the two extreme ends of “the long tail”, not the middle bit.
There has been an established term for this floating around on the Net for a while, actually. “The Death Valley problem” refers to how big actors are flourishing and small actors are flourishing while the ones in-between struggle:

Big companies have marketing muscle. They survive by bending the world to their will. Small companies are nimble. They survive by adapting to the world’s dynamism. In between we see a “Death Valley” filled with mid-size companies too small to bend the world, too big to adapt to it.

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Orchestral manoeuvres in the dark

In art, cultural industries, everyday life, marketing, media ecology, music on October 28, 2009 at 4:53 pm

If you are a fantastic cultural producer, what good is it if no-one hears, sees or gets to know about your work? The problem of structural support to the cultural industries is as much to do with supporting new forms of distribution and recommendation systems as it is to do with direct economic support to producers, or leveraging employment rules and state subsidies in useful ways, or due appreciation also to distinctly amateur forms of production.

That last note, about the importance of appreciating amateur forms of production, is essentially there as an inital reservation: Of course I’m in favour of an amateur-led wave of cultural production, better enabled by digital technology. Who isn’t? And of course it is great that tools and knowledge are more horizontally distributed now, favouring bazaar-like modes of organization over cathedral-like ones.

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Pitchfork’s social history of the mp3

In history, media ecology, mp3, music on September 3, 2009 at 9:39 am

Glad to see that in the midst of the current journalistic torrent of end-of-decade lists, Pitchfork is publishing two great, rather long analyses. One on the decade in pop, and the other one – of interest for my own research project – a social history of the mp3.

Were the past 10 years in fact the first decade of pop music to be remembered for its musical technology rather than the actual music itself? asks Eric Harvey, in his balanced and very well-considered article. He touches on many of the interesting tendencies that we can spot in today’s technocultural landscape: The historical parallels between for example 7″ records and mp3s (not only did they renew the focus on individual songs, they radically challenged the major labels’ cosy position in the marketplace); Evan Eisenberg and the reification of music; the exponential proliferation of tastemakers flooding the Internet in the form of mp3 blogs; the transparency of the whole music-making, hype-spinning machinery where everyone is supposed to be her own publicist and stylist; and not least Henry Jenkins’s “convergence” thesis, where there is a dire need for fans to play a new role and for the value of music to be re-appropriated.
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1999 > 1968 ?

In history, politics, post-piratical on April 29, 2009 at 12:14 pm

The politics of the net contain the remedy to its own inherent populism. These politics are arguably more about an “us-against-us” than an “us-against-them”.

The net is boiling and the sentence against The Pirate Bay has raised the temperature. Online civic mobilisation is bubbling throughout Europe, regarding the possible amendments to the EU Telecoms Reform Package which can guarantee better rights for everyday users, in the face of increasing commercialisation, segmentation and regulation. As the political mobilisation regarding all this has swelled very rapidly over the last months, in Sweden it has recently been suggested that this online civil movement is beginning to reach some predictable states, where self-appointed spokesmen and pre-written party manifestos appear. This is a translation of my response to those suspicions, recently published on the Swedish debate site Newsmill.se.

Something is in the air. Spring is blooming, online as well as offline. However, the roots of today’s online political mobilisation are arguably found in the digital revolution of 1999 rather than in the political turning point that was 1968.

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The supposed link between unrestricted file-sharing and declining CD sales

In content analysis, file-sharing, history, media ecology, mp3, music, p2p on April 24, 2009 at 6:57 am

Some excerpts/cut-outs from my thesis. This one is an overview of that worn old question: Is there a link between falling CD sales and file-sharing, and in that casewhat does it look like?

Regarding the link between file-sharing and falling CD sales, there are various studies having different conclusions. A general conclusion is that CD sales started dropping simultaneously as unregulated file-sharing began to rise (initially with Napster in 2000).

However, a direct causal link is hard to establish, since there are so many other factors that could serve as an explanation to this drop: Changing consumption patterns (with the ascendance of video games, DVD:s, hardware etc. as new expenditures); shrinking profitability from CDs; a decline in the number of new titles; a cyclical slump after the boom of the 1990s; decreased diversity of radio playlists; and so on. Read the rest of this entry »

To speak for one’s own network

In file-sharing, media ecology, philosophy, politics, post-piratical, Sweden on March 4, 2009 at 5:10 pm

The first Pirate Bay trial is over (the verdict is due to be announced on April the 17th, and I write “first” as it will probably be followed by appeals upon appeals).
A new decade is upon us. This comes to mark what I, and many people with me, would argue is the “post-piratical” era
.

The files have already been uploaded. A jurisdictional bulwark (IPRED; ACTA; FRA; data retention) has been raised throughout Europe, to allegedly deal with the nastier sides of unrestricted file-sharing – while the everday, small-scale sharing of perfectly normal individuals continues and seems to do so for the unforeseeable future, and while even bigger, more institutionalised actors like The Pirate Bay seem slippery to blame and to admonish. This, since the entire phenomenon appears to be distinguished by an agency that is so fractured and distributed, that no one actor can be said to bear the only responsibility.
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Differing attitudes towards Spotify

In file-sharing, GUIs, marketing, media ecology, music, p2p on February 19, 2009 at 10:04 am

The discourses around the newly-launched music streaming service Spotify show how Internet users are split into two rather different groupings in their stance towards commercial services like this one.
Just like the American sociologist Danah Boyd has observed a quite distinct split between Facebook and MySpace users respectively, one can observe a similar difference between those embracing and lauding Spotify and those who do not.spotify

The one observation that has said most about these circulating discourses is the following article from Wired magazine. Here, the comments actually says everything about the two rather disparate attitudes we see among Internet users towards Spotify.

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The carrot and the schtick?

In censorship, copyright, file-sharing, p2p, politics, surveillance, Sweden on October 31, 2008 at 6:05 pm

Peer-to-peer-based file-sharing in Sweden: Clashing proposals from the interventionist state on what to do with a wildly file-sharing population. Pacify them with broadband-tax subsidised, “free” file-sharing or instil a general fear of uploading by penalising those who do?

In the current, once again harshening legal climate surrounding p2p-based file-sharing in Sweden, where the infamous EU-wide IPRED directive is now making inroads and might be implemented early next year (effectively granting powers to private bodies to monitor and police what they consider illegal copyright infringements), it is noteable that there are two strands of the debate which both assume state intervention, but in different ways. These two forms of intervention – in effect, corporatist solutions where existing industries are subsidised by the state – are, however, seemingly incompatible with one another!

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