Napster, BitTorrent & Snowden

It's not just news that's been disrupted by the Internet, we've also seen dramatic changes in the way entertainment and now security information flows.

On one side, you have an institution that was formed in the 20th century, and developed huge power and wealth based on controlling a flow of information.

On the other side, the mass of people who were, in the past, given very limited information, but now have access to much more, and are in the process of evolving new flows around this ability.


On one side you have the RIAA, MPAA and now the NSA. And on the other is Napster, BitTorrent, and Manning/Snowden (and the web, Twitter, Facebook, RSS).

People on either side view the situation very differently.

On the left side, they're trying to put the genie back in the bottle. And on the right side, the genie no longer fits. True, Napster was killed, and BitTorrent plays a game of whack-a-mole. Bradley Manning is in jail, and Snowden in exile. But the effects are with us permanently, even if the individual distruptors have been stopped by the old institutions.

It's amazing to see this play out over and over, there's obviously some kind of fundamental law of nature at work here.

BTW, there's a third dynamic -- the 20th-century institution also adopts the new technology, learns from the practices of the open development community and its users, and grows stronger as a result. The NSA is doing this, and to a lesser extent the MPAA and RIAA (with their counter-measures against piracy).

However they are still largely unable to deal with the new flow of information to the users. They're still getting all the music they want, and new episodes of Game of Thrones, and specifics on how the government is capturing our online activities.

Posted: Sun, 18 Aug 2013 13:47:09 GMT