Decentralized culture

Dave Winer and Kevin Werbach talk about decentralization (as facilitated by the internet) and how it flattens cultural divides.

Note: Kevin makes a really interesting point – the following is not an attack on his views, just an extension through discussion.

Kevin rolls out the old claim that the net “levels the playing field” for ” local and independent content creators” and BigCos. I would propose a correction to that statement: the net has the potential to level the playing field.

Apple’s recently launched Music Store is a prime example. This will be the place many MacOS users will go to purchase music – why? because it’s baked into iTunes. Where are the independent and local content producers here?

Contrast this with ChaosMusic – an online music store that encourages local content producers to place product with them. And it works (my band’s independently produced CD is available online) to an extent. We still don’t sell thousands of CDs though. Why? The cynic could argue that our music isn’t popular enough, and that may be true. But my experience of the music landscape (having lived with a record co sales rep for a number of years, and chatting to his work colleagues, as well has being involved in the local independent music scene for a number of years) is that without radio support, and big co advertising budgets, the general population does not get exposed to the local content.

The internet is not the only media space that we live within, and it certainly isn’t the most powerful for shaping people’s behaviours, views, and buying habits.

Kevin also mentions that “the greater leveler of all: ubiquitous unlicensed wireless communications” is “just around the corner”. It is indeed an exciting time, but…

Regulators and corporates alike recognise the importance of spectrum, even spectrum for local area wireless. It may not be unlicensed forever. And who pays for the bandwidth used? Companies will not be willing (necessarily) to pay for every punters use of their wireless capabilities. That’s one of the reasons we are seeing a lot of activity in developing security mechanisms for wireless.