It would be interesting to talk to some people who were music industry execs in they heyday of Napster to see if they have any regrets about breaking it. Some of us at the time said that they should legitimize it, clean it up, upgrade it, and charge for access to high resolution versions of the music while letting out low-rez scans for free. It would have been a blow to their egos, to be dragged into a new market by users. But I argued that for the first time in a very long time, people were truly excited about music. People were talking about Napster in supermarkets, on airplanes, at dinner parties. Why? Because for the first time they could program their own music. This turns out to have been a very powerful thing. We were just getting our first taste of it back in 2000.
There are a lot of parallels between the excitement of Napster in 2000, and the excitement today around OccupyWallStreet. For the first time in a long time we're talking about politics without complete resignation. We have some sense that we may be able to get something done. And of course the politicians, as were the music execs, are offended. Why? Because this wasn't their idea? Because the people are leading? Because they don't know where it will lead? Most likely: Because it breaks all the patterns in politics they've become accustomed to.
In 2000, all the music and all the users were in a single tent. It would have been easy to build the music distribution system of the future. A handful of programmers in Silicon Valley had done just that. Users were happy to live with the limits of Napster as long as they could program their own music.
If the parallels are real, then the city management of Denver just blew it. Do they think for a minute that by shutting down OccupyDenver, in a way that's so humiliating to the people who were brave enough to break the rules, that they're going to stop the movement? It's pretty doubtful. They just forced it out of sight. Instead, imagine if they had worked with them, to help them build their political movement, not knowing where it was going, but taking a chance that it might break us out of the mediocrity that we've become mired in. Instead of standing in the way, not only get out of the way, but try to help out. See if there isn't a way for everyone to get what they want.