There was a time, in the year 2000, when everyone was talking music. Everywhere you went. You'd be checking out the cucumbers and lettuce at the supermarket and the person next to you would ask if you were using Napster, and before you could answer they'd be off telling you what they found and how amazing the experience was.
That was already twelve years ago, but I'll never forget it. All of sudden something wonderful and unexpected had happened. Outside the normal. It wasn't planned by some marketing guy. The world had changed and it was great, and we didn't know what the limits were. Or how it would end.
I remember thinking -- I wish Jerry had been here to see this. The other day at the Knicks game I said to one of my friends that this was the first huge thing Steve Jobs missed. (Later I realized that he more or less missed Occupy too, which was just as big as either Napster or Linsanity).
So this led me to a tweet this morning, where I compared the the opportunity the Knicks and basketball have to the opportunity presented by Napster, and realized they're going to blow it. When we were at the game the other day, they had the usual things to keep fans entertained during timeouts. But we didn't need them! Here we were soaking up something as great as Beatlemania or Napster, and they're shooting cheap t-shirts -- advertising for crying out loud -- into the audience as if we needed anything to occupy us.
On the way out of the Garden you could see the signage hadn't changed yet. They had huge pictures of stars, who were still technically playing for the Knicks, but they weren't the story. Don't they have any actual fans working for the team? Yeah they were selling Lin jerseys, the street-level marketers knew how to adjust, but the corporate ones? Imagine what their meetings must be like. Imagine all the sleazy promotions they must be planning.
But they didn't create Jeremy Lin. They didn't even see him. Are they going to define them? Are we going to hate them? (Of course, the only question is what exactly will they do to make us hate them.) This is still America, and we're still run by lawyers and accountants. We just had a breakout of soul, a lot like the joy people had with Napster. Bloomberg shut down Occupy. This too will end. But for right now -- it sure is wonderful!
BTW, a few days ago I wrote about the Beatles, and what happened with them, how Beatlemania ended. One of the four really wanted to be a Beatle. That wasn't enough to drive them forward.