Back in the ancient days of, say, 1996 – back when we were erecting large stone monoliths in honor of the various tree gods in exchange for their mercy during the winter months – there was this strange superstition that one should pay authors and musicians and filmmakers for individual copies of their work. You got to “own” these copies and you were able to listen or read or watch anytime you wanted. Some people even got rich from this business of selling copies of artistic work.
Bizarre, isn’t it?
Now we have a host of digital music services that offer unlimited music for fractions of a penny per listen. But even stranger, we now even have things like Grooveshark which work like the original, gangster, Wild West, lawless version of filesharing circa 2000 – only prettier and easier to use. I’m listening to it now. It is positively baffling how well it works and how free it is.
We have entered into an age like no other, in which a human being born today will essentially have unlimited entertainment from the artistic output of a number of centuries available anywhere he/she goes, and for free.
Future generations will be able to spend a year watching situation comedies from the year 1985 – in real time – commercials and all – available for free in some far off Burbank computer server. Next year, do you want to do nothing but listen to Dixieland jazz and Glenn Miller-era swing? No reason not to. When you have finished, you can read every book published in Scotland in 1820 while listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival. Don’t forget to tune in for our free streaming marathon of Greek and Albanian soap operas! Followed by 2000 straight hours of the Manga Channel, a specially curated webzone for people who love extreme tentacle-centered Japanimation.
And not a dollar will change hands.
Let the implications of that development sink in. It means a lot for how future generations will act.