Music Industry Crap Wants to Be Free

The Atlantic's Megan McArdle has a point:

When the printing press was invented, many monks mourned the decline of vellum and the loss of the illuminator’s art. They were right, of course—but they were even more wrong. Maybe something better is coming, even as the transition racks the nerves of writers and artists. As the old joke goes, we may be losing something on every unit—but perhaps we’ll make it up in volume.

Except that's her last paragraph, not her lead. What precedes it is an annoying rant about 20-something "freeloaders" destroying what she calls the music industry. Apparently no one told her the music industry gave us Britney Spears and snorted the rest of the profits up its nose.

Disquiet has a sensible response to McArdle: "Vinyl LP or MP3, McArdle sees music as something sold as a fixed cultural object. Little context is given in the article for music licensing as a revenue stream. No consideration is given to sales of music gear, including instruments and software, nor to the growing realm of music-related experience in which the role between audience and performer is blurred through interactivity. Despite which absence from the article, that is all part of the music industry."

In fairness to McArdle, she does raise the possibility that music could be something other than the overpriced CDs the suits ripped us off for for 20 years. In a tossed off comment in the very last paragraph of her article. The radical transition of the masses from advertising-blitzed consumers to famous-for-fifteen-people-but-that's-cool producers is apparently happening beneath McArdle's radar, while she complains about the demise of the past's evil model.

Flash underground

Cross posted to Nasty Nets, where joel posted some slightly-out-of-phase, marquee-scrolling shockwave files and a graphic designer asked him in the comments to upgrade to html5 so they could be viewed on an iPad:

I assume the last comment is a joke. Have always hated Flash but am suddenly envisioning an underground Net of people refusing to update to whatever spec Steve Jobs is currently co-opting. You could say and do pretty much anything and be invisible to the conformist “leading edge.” (Anyway, nice job with a couple of layers of obsolescentish tech, Joel.)

For those not following it, html 5 is the next generation browser spec. The big computer makers couldn't agree on the video standard part of it, so Apple took its toys and went home, forcing anyone who wants to make content for the fine family of Apple (TM) products to use a standard called H.264. (This is why Apple is known as "the new Microsoft.") This is supposed to "break Adobe," because Adobe's Flash multimedia spec will be obsolete when everyone switches over to html5 to enjoy their sleek Apple gear. Google is also aligned against Adobe and is switching YouTube from Flash to H.264.

The reason we're told we "need" a new standard is that Flash is too resource-hungry for small mobile devices such as smart phones, which we are assured are "the future of computing." Of course, the iPad isn't a phone, it's a neutered laptop, with a big screen and fast processors, which was made because people wanted to read books and watch movies and do other things that couldn't be done on computing's future. Point is it could handle Flash or any other less efficient standard but what's the fun of making a monopoly if you don't get to exclude people?

Update: The silly rhetoric about Apple leaving the past behind comes from Jobs himself. More on how Apple is leaving the past behind by turning eBooks into regular old uncopyable books.