2018-12-13 13:38:45
It’s not the technology, stupid In Focus/theory

I had an AHAAA moment last night reading Martha Woodmansee’s „ The Author, Art, and the Market”. She wrote „ As my sketch of writers’ struggles suggests, eighteenth-century Germany found itself in a transitional phase between the limited patronage of an aristocratic age and the democratic patronage of the marketplace. With the growth of a middle class, demand for reading material increased steadily, enticing writers to try to earn a livelihood from the sale of their writings to a buying public. But most were doomed to be disappointed, for the requisite legal, economic, and political arrangements and institutions were not yet in place to support the large number of writers who came forward. What they encountered were the remnants o fan earlier social order.” (p 41-42)

This made me think about the current imbalance between the p2p technologies, the existing intellectual property regimes, and economic frameworks of culture distribution inherited from the period Woodmansee describes. I have always thought of this imbalance as a relationship between law and technology, or economics and technology.

I was wrong.

It is an imbalance between a social practice and a legal-economic framework. Technology has not created that social practice, it simply revealed it, just like a pair of glasses is able to reveal the sharp lines and objects of the world to a short-sighted person. The world, crisp and clear is there, but without the relevant technology we were not able to see, not to mention recognize it.

We should not forget, that p2p file-sharing technology is one of the very few inventions that did not need the slightest effort to propagate it. There was no money and time spent on manufacturing a demand, there was no need to advertise, sell it, no smart campaigns, no exact targeting was needed. It fitted naturally and seamlessly to an existing need in all of us. If this is true, than the question is no longer whether we can bend the technology to the current legal-economic framework, or vice versa, or if there is a compromise between these two. Because one needs to change the underlying social need to curb piracy, the need to have instant access to _everything_, at the lowest price possible, from people who think the same.

Every effort that does not address this need is doomed to fail: if you take away the glasses from someone who had the few moments of clear vision will do everything he can to get out of the blurry shadows again.

Pingback » Torrentes de desejo — March 12, 2007 @ 12:11 am

[…] Num post do seu blog warsystems, Bodó Balázs considera que o que está em causa na partilha de ficheiros é, sobretudo, uma necessidade social que já existia previamente em nós e que é essa necessidade que explica o facto de que a tecnologia P2P ter sido uma das poucas invenções da história que não precisou de qualquer tipo de campanha promocional para obter a adesão do público. Daí que, segundo, Balázs, será impossível convencer as pessoas a não “piratearem”. […]

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