UCIT Article: File Sharing Gives a New Business Model

Last week I was interviewed for the Umeå Center for Interactive Technology (UCIT) news page (in Swedish) on my involvemnt in a P2P file sharing network as a means of developing an independant recording label I am involved in.

The technologies as embodied in file sharing protocols, in combination with broadband internet connections, and even the new large capacity email accounts, provide novel ways to distribute the products of one’s own musical experiments. Although money may not be the direct result of such an arrangement, there are many longer term benefits to be had from letting the world listen and like your own music.

New currencies of exchange is something I’ve written about before here and recently took great interest in listening to Jonny Holmström speak of in HUMlab, and I once again took it up in this interview.

A rough English translation is available on my own blog.

The Invisible Currencies of Cyberspace

In Jonny Holmström’s recent seminar in HUMlab some of the issues surrounding the area of value creation in Peer to Peer (P2P) networks were given as an effective function of these networks.

I find the nature and functions of currency on the internet very interesting, especially since my own digital value underwent a recent dramatic downgrade with a hard drive loss, but that’s another story.

Recently an interview was screened on national morning television here in Sweden with the author of a book on digital p*rnography. When asked why people make p*rn available for free he responded that it was in the hope of making money in the future. I actually thought it was an example of the invisible currencies of the net, where credibility, trust or the gathering of information through network contacts has similar value to legal tender.

The prestige to be had by having extensive and specialized file content in a P2P share network also brings with it much credibility. Not only does it allow for actions that would otherwise be considered taking liberties or even breaking the rules of the network, it can spill over into the non-digital domain with friendship, business and co operation.

The recent off-line media account of the jilted girlfriend erasing the in-world avatar of her ex, along with all his hard won credits etc. begs the question; “Is this crime against property or just reputation?”

In China, the murder of Zhu Caoyuan by Qiu Chengwei after Zhu stole Qiu’s Dragon Saber weapon and sold it. The sword was used in the MMORPG Legend of Mir III. This sword came to have monetary value but even after Zhu offered to pay back the money for the sword Qiu was unsatisfied, wanting the sword ‘itself’ returned it seems: “Qiu went to the police to report the “theft” but was told the weapon was not counted as real property protected by law.” (China Daily)

Many theorists delineate these digital spaces as inscripted representations, but with increased levels of non-digital participation and vice versa, it seems the threshold between the two is widening to the point of encirclement.

School bans iPods

No More Magic Flute? – the psychological effects of music – Brief Article

Effects of Popular and Classical Background Music on the Math Test Scores of Undergraduate Students

Music in the Classroom
Instructor’s handy guide for bringing music into your classroom

I have placed the links above in order to counter argue a ban on ipods in Sydney. The International Grammar School has banned iPods during school sessions. The principal of the school believe that these devices leads to social isolation in schools. My first thought is this is just another case of banning technology rather than finding creative ways to embrace it. If using iPods during lunch breaks, for example, leads to social isolation than why is there such a fuss about peer to peer networks? These isolates would not need/want to build communities in order to share anything. There would not be communities of people creating and sharing pirate radio type files (podcasting) specifically named after this device (although not limited to it). And what about other forms of social isolation…silent reading, homework, pen and paper… which is all ridiculous, I know (that being the point).

And what about different learning styles? I can fully understand not wanting students to listen to music during instruction, but what about those students who learn more effectively with background music? And more importantly, what about those who need silence? Personal iPods cater to both. Those who need the distraction to concentrate (actually not a contradiction in terms) have their earphones and music, those who need silence are not forced to listen. Win win?

As with any technology, especially one in which usage has reached a critical mass, there needs to be a shared understanding of the medium and creative strategies employed. Total banning is not an acceptable option.