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Notes From The Flip Side: 06.25.2000

I've just finished up a few days at a UNIX conference. It's been an interesting time, capped off with a speech by Thomas Dolby Robertson, better known as Thomas Dolby, best known for polluting the airwaves with an exceedingly annoying pop song in the 1980s.

After people stopped listening to his music, Dolby stopped making it in any significant way and, like almost everyone else, talked to some venture capitalists to get funding to start a company. And what does his start-up do? It makes a plug-in that enables major labels - or, in fairness, anyone with the resources and skills to utilize it - to put "interactive" music on Web sites.

In short, it allows labels to put up protected copies of their artists' singles in a format that allows people to remix them, perhaps so that fans that have no meaningful way to connect to the pop stars they idolize can feel as though they are actively participating in a musician's art. One of the examples Dolby used was Britney Spears. And this is what the Web is coming to.

I think Bruce Sterling may have said it best in a short story he wrote several years ago: "How free is it when only rich nations can afford to talk? The Net's expensive, Turner. To you it's a way of life, but for us it's just a giant megaphone for Coca-Cola."

Here's how it breaks down: Companies form to develop useless applications for clueless marketers who in turn use those programs to slow down the Web and simultaneously categorize us into narrow demographic categories while trying to track every virtual move. And frankly, I'm pissed.

Fuck plug-ins. I've deleted them all from my system. Fuck "content-rich" sites. I don't want streaming anything. I want information, not eye candy. I want raw data that I can think about, not shit that keeps talentless hacks employed as Web designers.

I'll be writing more about this in coming weeks. It may be the case that the next issue of STM focuses more on technology and how to take it back from the corporations that seem hellbent on wrecking it and stripping it of its revolutionary potential. Remember: the revolution will not be televised. It will be downloaded.

Now Playing:

Dillinger Four "Versus God," One Last Wish "1986," Avail "One Wrench," The Explosion "Flash Flash Flash," Four Letter Word "Zero Visibility (Experiments with Truth)"

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Last modified on Wednesday, March 26, 2008