Will file sharing on the internet and MP3’s ruin music? The fear is whether having all the music be on MP3’s instead of CD’s will cause the “album” as we know it to gradually go away. Of course, we’ll still have the old ones, but the trend may encourage today’s musicians to dribble out singles onto their MySpace page instead of working over a period of time to actually build something. Sort of like what email has done with correspondence, but now it’s music? I’m not saying a hit song is bad. I’m just saying that complete albums are good. And I personally don’t want to see less of them. I want to see more of them. More. Not less. And furthermore, how often is it the case where your favorite songs end up being anything but the ones that made you buy the album in the first place? Exactly. But you wouldn’t know now would you? Since you only downloaded those first couple of songs.


The loss of retail stores (Tower Records, etc) is also of concern. The removal of impulse or spontaneous buying—is of concern. You walk around the store. You see something that catches your eye. You didn’t even know it existed! This is discovery. This is walking around in a library or book shop. It’s been a while since I myself have been in either. The argument is not that internet shopping isn’t convenient as hell. Or that I’m not lazy and fat. The question is whether the internet will lead to too much choice.


On an entirely different note, another concern is that too much dilution of artistic production will lead to less collective focus—and this will diminish the occurrence of mass spectacle. Like if the Catholics only had bunch of small churches—and were never willing to put all the money into one big one like St. Peter’s in Rome. Can you imagine! What would Tolstoy say of all this user generated content? He would rejoice and proclaim the art of the future is here, but I hesitate.


The Internet is also dangerous because you can totally get drunk and email your ex-girlfriend that you love her, when in fact, not only do you not love her, you don’t even really like her—at all. Maybe you just think she’s hot. Or maybe you just think you think she’s hot. Hell maybe she is. Either way, you were lonely. And drunk. And you forgot to turn off your computer before starting. And it wasn’t even a weekend? Dammit. You can also use the internet to buy a stock. Maybe three stocks, all of which are as determined to go bankrupt as I apparently am.


The one glaring exception to all of this is politics. I can’t help but think the ability of video sites like YouTube to catch politicians saying what they actually think can only be a good thing. As someone who might vote (once you can do it from home), why would I not want this?



April 2007