Good day! It’s 7am, and my name is not Fred Savvage. I went on a first date the other day. My first in a while, but that’s not important today. My date had suggested a walking tour of the Art Gallery here in Ontario. I decided not to spend too much time thinking into the deeper meanings of such a date, and said yes.
As much as there is a full wonderful story of the way the first date went, today’s writing is actually about something unrelated, but inspired by my visit.
The AGO has to be open free one day a week for the everyman. It’s a Government funded gallery, and as such, it needs to be accessible to everyone, so one day a week, it’s free. In this case, Wednesdays. They don’t have huge banners and posters declaring Wednesday as FREE DAY. You have to want to go looking, much like the way REAL MEDIA makes it so difficult to find their FREE PLAYER amongst pages and pages of hype for the pay version. To be fair, I hear they’ve gotten better, but I stopped using Real Player years ago, and so I use them for my analogy based on old information.
In any case, the museum style art gallery is free because of an ideal. Culture is a right, or at least something that should be available to all, regardless of social status or wealth. The idea got me thinking, and I quickly discovered a whole slew of examples where Government makes an effort to mix classes and throw the poor into the neighborhoods and social activities of the not-so-poor.
While I’ve always been fascinated by how society as a whole caters to different wealth levels, and how I can find almost everything for my home in a dollar store if I know to go looking, but yet people seem very satisfied to pay upwards of $10 and $20 for the same items in the brand name stores… myself included.
The story takes an unusual term, when I take these ideals, and apply them to what the Internet started as, and has become. Although nobody owns the Internet, and there is no head office running it – like most things on earth, we all know it’s the Americans who make the choices; The Government of governments, although we don’t usually admit that in public.
So it occurred to me, that piracy of software and music – may be officially sanctioned… kind of.
I bet you didn’t see that one coming. A written discussion about Art Gallery quality culture for the masses takes a sharp right turn, and all of a sudden I’m justifying ripping off Britney Spears new songs without paying her.
But free access is nothing new. If I was less the lazy author, I’d GOOGLE up the history of the Library and site some examples of how long it’s been important to have free access to culture via the library. Likened to the dollar store analogy, there is a strange percentage of the population that has no issue with paying $10 for a novel, and reading it once, when the exact same book is available free for the minor effort of signing up for a card. In this case, a shocking percentage, as I personally don’t know anyone who frequents a library anymore.
Using yet another example where Government regulates free culture via TV and Radio, where people have been taping songs and videotaping Survivor for years.
So today, our kids are “wired”. They’re hip and new and online… and a library doesn’t translate well to a medium where the electronic equivalent to photocopies are 100% identical to the original. Video taped copies are not as bad as the songs from Top 40 that always had the DJ announcing something over the end, just so copies wouldn’t replace purchases altogether. The system tried to maintain a fair and honest balance. People who could afford to pay, helped the economy survive, but those who couldn’t afford it didn’t have to do without.
With music, very few can afford it, and that’s a loop of circular logic fit for the executives. The percentages of fairness have changed. Even for those kids that can afford to buy music, the world is filled with so much marketing of choice, that it’s not a high priority. There are just to many other things to spend that money on, and since the copies are identical, kids almost feel like idiots if they’re the only ones paying for something.
The idea of online music is intentional. It was an idea to allow access to music, like a library did, but the problem was it was a wild puma let out of the bag, not just a cat. Peer pressure makes it so that it actually doesn’t make sense to pay for music, unless you’re really rich, or stupid.
Like so many things, knowing the problem doesn’t help. I don’t offer a solution. Stars need to be paid. Money needs to be generated.
Well… that ended up being a totally different essay than expected. I love writing free flow without editing. My mind just wanders.
Err… I mean the mind of, who did I say I was today…