Computer scientist, musician, and philosopher, Jaron Lanier, has created a fascinating, intelligent, critique of digital collectivism in his new book, You Are Not A Gadget. This is not the cynical rant of a Luddite, but a serious examination of the dehumanizing potential of technology. Mr. Lanier compares the impact of Web 2.0 paradigms on humanism and individuality to the relationship between MIDI and music. He makes convincing arguments questioning the rhetoric of the digital gurus, and proposes several fascinating new approaches to the cultural and financial conundrums presented by the explosion of the Internet into our lives.
Change is the only constant in the world. The bigger the shift, the larger the opportunity. When people are coming from a place of scarcity and fear they hang on to what they know and miss the opportunity to embrace big change with creativity and intelligence.
The massive shifts in the record industry are creating fascinating opportunities for new business models and growth. The layoffs at EMI will hopefully result in a restructuring that brings the focus back to developing talent and creating new models for engaging consumers. In the early days of paid music downloads I was an advocate for very low per-track pricing (50 cents or less) as an approach to engaging consumers in this new way of accessing music. When industries create pricing structures based on old models they are looking backwards, not forward, and missing the opportunity to shift. See Seth Godin’s blog, ‘How much for digital?’ for a great read on this topic.