The Era Of The Digital – a lineage

On: October 18, 2010
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About Fenneke Mink
Master student New Media & Digital Culture: thesis subject Google Art Project. Finished BA of applied science in Information and Documentation Management (IDM) at the Hogeschool van Amsterdam (HvA). After this I worked as Information manager at ING. Recent working for CBS as Statistic Analist in new media sources. My interest of new media is triggered by initiatives of digitalization projects. In 2009/2010 I have been working at ANP Foundation's project to preserve Dutch cultural heritage of 50.000 news photos form 1963 to 1967. You can have a look at this project via: . I also have been involved with


The Daily We

‘The principal threat to the Richmond Daily News, and indeed to all newspapers small and large, was not competition from other newspapers but radical changes in the overall ecosystem of information.’ As Clay Shirky explains the upcoming competition of USA Today and the threat this brought to regional sources. ‘The idea that someone might build four-colour presses that ran around the clock was easy to grasp. The idea that the transmission of news via paper might become a bad idea, that all off those huge noisy printing presses might be like steam engines in the age of internal combustion, was almost impossible to grasp. Howard could imagine someone doing what he did, but better. He couldn’t  imagine someone making what he did obsolete.’ The internet did not only make way to whole new business models, it also gave room for innovative new models to give way to needs and usage that never was possible before in the established system. Since the widespread of the internet the media establishment used the internet as a communication channel in an attempt to mirror the mass media model to another medium. Unfortunately for them this did not really work out for the internet is more than simple another m medium. As Shirky follows, ‘ Many people in the newspaper business, the same people who worried about the effects of competition like USA Today, missed the significance of the internet. For people with a professional outlook, it is hard to understand how something that is not professionally produced could affect them- not only is the internet not a newspaper, it is not a business, or even an institution.’ [Clay Shirky 2008, p. 56]. The unfortunately cries of the establishment can be seen by the differentiation of Bowman and Williams. They differentiate the personal kind of media from the early internet days; The Daily Me,  and the more collaborative forms of media that emphasizes on the social aspects of internet forms; The Daily We. [Blanken & Deuze 2009, p. 109-110]. An example of The Daily Me can be an internet user read the newspaper of his preference online, and an example of The Daily We can be newspaper readers discuss articles in blogs and share other information in relation to the read news. The notion of a second internet paradigm, the Web 2.0.,  is herewith related, as an  improved next version, or at least second version of the internet where the establishment makes way for the customer. To Sunstein the ‘Daily Me’ notion of internet -the media usage centered to the self- leads to a form of digital divide with the effect of a continuous loop of preserving own interests. ‘ The kind of digital divide that I will emphasize may or may not be a nightmare. But if I am right, there is all the reason in the world to reject the view that free markets, as embodied in the notion of the “consumer sovereignty,”  exhaust the concerns of those who seek the evaluate any system of communications. The imagined world of innumerable, diverse editions of the Daily Me is not an utopian dream, and it would create serious problems from the democratic point of view.’ [Sunstein 2007, p.18.]. The emphasis her lays not on access and availability of technologies but on the choice for the users to frame their own interests in usage of the given communication technologies.

The dog days are over

‘One complain that the music industry is often made is that they are so terribly slow to develop and offer internet music services. According to some, the fact that the music industry does not offer a “legal” alternative can see as explanation why consumers use P2P software. Speed of action is of foremost important to maintain business on the internet. There is a distinction between ordinary time and “Internet time”. Internet time is the time compared to ordinary time within which you must act on the internet. There are several comparisons made, but it is not unusual compared to a year of the life of a dog. An internet year must be multiplied by seven normal years to make a good comparison. It is nice to with this thought of “Internet time” make a time bar of developments of online music.

  • Date      Event
  • 1992     MP3 was invented
  • 1994     First digitized Music is uploaded to the internet
  • 1995     Paul Goldstein describes the internet as a “celestial jukebox”
  • 1997 was launched
  • 1998     First  MP3 player was available on the market
  • 1999     Naspter was founded
  • 2000     KaZaA was founded
  • 2001     Music industry launched MusicNet and Pressplay
  • 2003     Apple founded iTunes‘. [Christiaan Alberdingh Thijm 2004, p.89-91.].

As seen here, it took the establishment more than ten years to come up with a proper reaction, and it was not even the music business who founded the winning service.

The Long Tail effect

Insofar as the Internet or music services are offered, such as iTunes from Apple, these can only be a part of the whole world music repertoire. In using P2P systems there always will be more music available for the users than published by the music industry. The amount of music by users of P2P software is unlocked, it cannot be matched by the music industry. For instance old, special recordings of a bygone age that in store is no longer available, are available through P2P on the internet. The collective of consumers will always be a bigger music collection than the collective of the rightful owners. [Christiaan Alberdingh Thijm 2004, p.89-91.]. Over time the establishment came with a solution for this problem to adjust their services to the users demand of sharing and uploading for instance in musical social network sites as LastFM and Spotify.

Back to the future

How can legislation take account of all the technical changes? Zwaan of SOLV Advocates says “The anticipation on information rights is very difficult. With every new development, the legislature ties to categorize the technical changes within an already exciting law. If this is not possible, the law has to be adapted. The legislature has to prevent the law from obstructing the technological innovations. Rightful owners will be more and more able to protect their own products. They take their rights into their own hands and go beyond legislation. Therefore, a completely strange power proportion will arise.” [BOBCATSSS Proceedings 2006 – Mink & De Vries 2006, p. 461.].

Power to the people

For Lawrence Lessig “the internet has evolved as a communication infrastructure where both its physical layers and its layers of code are free. They are neutral, nonrivalrous resources available to all without needing to seek the permission of others. As a result, the ability to produce content for the internet can occur through processes that are almost infinitely decentralized.” .. “ We as society should favour the disrupters. They will produce movement toward a more efficient, prosperous economy. ..creativity and innovations are best served by information and culture that is widely available as possible “to guarantee that follow-on creators and innovators remain as free as possible [sic] from the control of the past”. ” [Flew, 2008. p.67.] The next development that can be spotted on the internet in the legislation discourse is to withdraw publication from technical platforms by publishing documents on the internet without extension.  The need for doing this is simply because there are so many different platforms. To make sure a document can be used on all of the different platforms it can be a good idea to publish the document platform neutral. By not putting an extension to a document like .docx or PDF the work can be used through all sorts of software and readers. The layer of digital communication systems as defined by Lessig, ‘constituted by the code or software which operates communications hardware devices, as well as the protocols through which devices interconnect’ will herewith disappear and become indefinite. [Flew, 2008. p. 66.]. The digit divide notion of Sunstein can herewith  be solved. For me this would be utopia, since most smart phone applications are published with a screen resolution my mobile phone, HTC Wildfire, cannot comprehend. I can only wait for the day more costumers will buy the same phone or for the phone companies will produce more devices with the same display resolution so the market for Android app will adapt. My cry for this moment is towards HTC not to wait a dog year to get into action.

On the internet nobody knows you are a dog

So with the latest developments of platform neutral publishing I have some critical questions to ask. Will the next establishment to fall be that of copyright, can Buma/Stemra imagine someone doing what they do but better, can they imagine someone making what they do obsolete? And when we shift our attention to the media, what, for instance will happen to the notion of McLuhan’s ‘the media is the message’? As form prescribed content, what will happen to content when form becomes transparent, is there remediation in to play when frames are expelled from the message, and, how exactly does a transparent form get into shape? Are we at the beginning of a form free era or are the developments  more philosophical,  by drifting towards a notion where, next to the author, also the format is claimed to be dead? For now the work of Lessig in is project for publications being as free as possible,  is paying off. Publications ‘not having a definite form, the content can seen as determined by being indefinite as well’. [Mink 2010, MOM Blog].

I suggest us to rethink media while listening to the sound of change..

Comments are closed.