Are we just couch potatoes?
Earlier this month Clay Shirky gave a straightforward TED Talk on why SOPA and PIPA weren't such good ideas. And rather than talk about piracy and foreign web sites he touched on a fundamental question: Are people simply consumers of content produced and distributed by others, or do we really strive for something else, i.e. to be human?
The media industry is often portrayed as taking the former point of view; they create, then publish in hopes that we consume on their terms. To preserve that model they first tired to exert legal control over copying, then technically at the device level to prevent copying, and now at the root infrastructure level to restrict access. On the other hand, the Internet exposed the fact that once the costs of production and distribution could be negligible we found out that copying was easy.
But what many have forgotten is that we copy because we like to share. To have something interesting to talk about drives our interactions with one another.
It is this distinction, consume vs. share and business vs. human, that may be at the root of all the passionate debate about ownership and compensation.
Repeat after me: I am not a couch potato.
Oh, should I have shared this?