Thursday, August 17, 2000 by Dave Winer.
And welcome back to the music-meets-technology business.
This morning Dionne Warwick is singing about The Look of Love. It's so much more than words could ever say, it takes my breath away. I can hardly wait. How long I have waited. Now that I have. Found you. Ohhh.
It's Dionne as a young woman, as heard by Dave who was even younger, so young I didn't know what all the breathing was about. Now of course I do. ;->
Just when I thought I had explored it all, I happened to stumble across a reference to this song on a website, of course I had to hear it right now. She's still cooing.
"Don't. Ever. Go." she sighs, firmly.
I just melt.
This Saturday I'm going to moderate a panel at the Bandwidth conference in SF, entitled "Hi Speed Fan" which is a funny name, in a way, because fans do often have speed switches, with low, medium and high settings. I've always thought of myself as a medium speed fan, but we're going to talk about the high-speed kind on Saturday.
So what are fans about? And why are human beings such fans? Where did the word come from? What do fans do? And what do fans do now that we are on the Internet?
Perhaps we're just beginning to get an idea of what's possible. Until music exploded on the Internet all we could do is dream about it. Now it's clear that all kinds of collaboration are possible. We can share our favorites and discoveries, our collections, playlists, and when aggregated, we can feed back information to the music industry in ways Hollywood execs can only dream about.
Clay Shirky wrote an op-ed piece in the NY Times on July 15. It was a milestone piece for me; he put in words the experience I was having, at a time when most of the press reports were about piracy. Shirky went to the heart of the matter, our hearts, our collective experience and the joy of discovery and sharing discoveries. That's part of being a fan, for sure.
Talking with Shirky earlier this week, we both felt that the shift would fully happen when a popular artist emerged who embraced the Internet, used it as his or her stage, to do a kind of music that couldn't be done in the old medium. At that point the music companies will break rank, and will want to be part of the medium, instead of fighting it.
At some point, I'd like to have a conference where visionaries like Shirky, and technology developers like myself get together to simply share our beliefs. Even though many of us are in full agreement on how it's going to evolve, I learn a lot from just talking about it and listening to others.
There's also been discussion among technology vendors of a weekly dinner in the Valley to discuss the new medium. Back in the late 1980s when the multimedia industry was getting started in San Francisco, they had a series of dinners called Chinatown, sponsored by MacroMind (which later became Macromedia) where people met to talk about standards. The resulting industry can be seen today on Townsend Street and Third Street, and even the Financial District of San Francisco. Very often if you get the right people together, physically, progress can happen very quickly.
The timing is good because a lot of the technology people have made investments that are now obsolete. The big issues, as far as I'm concerned are canonical identifiers for artists, albums and songs; and payment systems that acknowledge the new method of distribution. To be clear, I just want to develop software; I'm not interested in anyone else's money, and I think people should pay for what they use. However, being a software designer, I know that ease of use comes first.
Finally, I'd like to express some regrets.
Last week, as the Wall Street Journal picked up the story on AOL's MP3 search engine, AOL shut it down.
In the excitement of my story appearing in a national publication, I overlooked the loss it represents.
I want to say something to the Nullsoft people who did the MP3 search engine that was shut down.
I'm sorry. I want more tools for exploring music on the Internet and I want to keep the ones we have.