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Selling Out

I went log-diving today through some of my old writing here on the blog. I just wanted to point back to an article that I wrote a couple of years ago on the Internet and its power.

Everything in that article is still true today, but I think it's time to revisit some of what I said in light of the last three and a half years of "progress." I mention the recording industry and its greed. One might think that they have mended their ways, what with the success of iTunes and their apparent embracing of digital content delivery. Perhaps. But what has really happened when you peel back the layers is they have created laws and used technology to maintain the status quo and destroy the freedom that the Internet and related technologies originally promised us as consumers and artists. DRM. DMCA. I don't need to say much more than that, I think.

Keep in mind I'm not really against DRM per se. I think artists should have a right to defend their intellectual property against theft. I mean, a store owner has the right to lock up their store, so an artist should have a right to get paid for their services and good as well. No problem.

What is disturbing is a greater trend, that goes beyond the music and movies portion of the Internet, where the entire medium is being centralized. What was so wonderful in its birth and initial concept is being corrupted every single day that goes by. Search engines are the most visible and disturbing part of this trend. When Google was a tiny startup with a great idea, I could search for just about anything and come up with some pretty good valid results on the first couple of pages. They had a great idea, and now the vultures have swarmed in and taken advantage of their success. I can't search for anything on Google anymore. It's disgusting. I mean, the results are so inundated with shopping ads and nonsense I can't even find anything relevant without taking a lot more time and effort.

The good information is still there. Indepedent voices are still talking. But it's increasingly hard to hear them, because the corporate powers of greed are doing their best to make sure that their message, not the one you're looking for, is the one that you receive. They are trying to make it a push Internet, and that goes against the very fabric of the network itself.

Which brings me back to music. Once again, the industry has lorded its power over the medium, and it's becoming harder and harder to find good artists on the net because every music delivery service and every search engine gets inundated with the corporate label's sell-out artists. And we all lose in the end. The only winner is the rich fat guy that owns the record label and pulls the strings of your government.

They are talking about a tiered Internet. The day that happens will be like the day the Berlin Wall went up, or the day the Iron Curtain fell across Europe in terms of freedom. Only this time, it ain't commies that are killing your freedom, it's so-called capitalists. These guys aren't real capitalists. They're aristocrats. They want to control what you hear, what you see, and how you think. Please, please, stop this madness. Stop buying in to the corporate labels, make it known that you won't stand for the junk they peddle.

The end of these articles is always so hard to write. Because I wish I could say "do this, and you'll help freedom succeed." But there's no one thing you can do. It's a really slow, sometimes painful process. It's making that decision not to support a company that supports these ideas, maybe by spending more on something from another company that isn't as evil... or just not buying that thing and sucking it up. People have so few rights today, and every day that goes by we lose more. I only have to point to your bank statement as an example... I mean how fair is it that you make a mistake and they'll automatically charge you $35 for it, but when they screw up, they don't give you a thing? If you think this "just the way it is," you're wrong. You and I have allowed this to happen by our complacency. We could have laws that make it so that if a bank charges you for something, they must also pay you for a similar mistake on their part. But we don't. Because we've chosen to let these people take advantage of us. So no, there's no one thing you can do. But everything you do affects this. I no longer bank with a commercial bank, for example. I bank with a credit union, and their policies are far less draconian. Not perfect, but it's a small move, and I'm certainly happier with them than I ever was with a heartless bank.

In any case, just keep thinking about this stuff, if nothing else... talk about it. Complain like hell when you're treated unfairly by a corporation, or anybody, to anybody that'll listen. If we yell loud enough, I guarantee that there are more of us than the corporations could ever drown out, hard as they try.