What’s The Big Deal?
With those definitions out of the way, what’s the big deal with all of this? First, let me say, what prompted this whole post was an article I read here (itwire.com) hinting that the new, much-rumored Apple tablet device would be premiered with a new subscription model for media content (of the New variety). I combined this with Youtube now offering video rentals and the constantly increasing market share of Kindle and other e-reading devices, and I wondered, are we stuck in the past with our revenue-generating schemes for these New Media distribution methods?
I am not one to belittle wanting to be paid for one’s work. Yes, I realize that I am a currently serving volunteer, so that seems contrary to my own current position, but don’t forget, I get a living stipend to pay for food (and fun times), and my house is paid for by the Government of Kenya. My needs are taken care of so that I can, “volunteer,” my time. I am just not looking to make a profit is all.
With all of this talk about subscription models, paying-per-item and digital rights management embedded in electronic files, it seems to me that content producers still want us paying for their content (duh). Yet, I am also a product of the rebellious late nineties and early “naughty oughts,” where my content was free, and if I didn’t get it for free, at times I wouldn’t get it at all (except for books, I always paid for books because the reading experience on a computer screen is terrible). This does not seem a coincidence, especially considering this pirate-culture was pioneered by hacker youth and university students, who as the stereotype goes, can barely afford to eat. We wanted things for free because we had no money otherwise, and no one else was understanding what we were doing. It’s not like it was 50-year-old, career-working parents pirating Nirvana tracks on Napster or Kazaa. However, those who were pirating are now growing up, and are now bringing with them into adulthood tenets they hold dear: if content creation and distribution is so cheap these days, and content creators are very obviously still living ridiculously lavish lifestyles, why should I be paying anybody for this? You can argue for or against this as long as you want, but you cannot argue that this is how some people perceive the world. And it’s upon peoples’ perceptions that successful business decisions are made, not upon reality (or is perception actually reality…).
The big deal is therefore two-fold: on one half we have content generators/distributors wanting to be paid for their work and on the other hand we have a half-generation of people entering into their, “real lives,” who don’t want to deal with rich people wanting to become richer and they are possibly influencing even more people to think this way (i.e. their offspring). This is not new news to anybody at this point, I hope. However, it seems that the Old Media guys are still trying to get us to pay for infrastructure and distribution methods that they no longer use!