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Questions: I Dream In Essays And Need Your Help

(UPDATED)

image from dreamstudies.org It astonishes me that I haven't done something like this yet. In the almost two years that I have been  writing for Hypebot, I've always treated it, for the most part, like a traditional writer would. I isolate myself, come up with a big idea, and don't emerge until I've finished my essay, drawn my conclusions, and then I publish it to the blog.

Today, I hope to change up that dynamic a little bit. At the moment, I'm working an essay that's titled Chaos We Can Stand: Attitudes Toward Technology. I've got interviews out—in relation to this essay—with some of the smartest and well-read people that I know. I'm excited about that and hope to show you their thoughts soon. But, in my mind, what's missing from this project is your opinion. There's approximately ten thousand of you and I am sure that a good bunch of you, whom are sharper than I, would have some amazing perspectives to share.

Help Me Write An Essay. See Below.

So, what's the essay about and how does this involve you? Well, since reading Clay Shirky's latest book Cognitive Surplus, I have been fascinated with a section of it where he urges companies and consumers to stop clinging to old models and embrace what he characterizes as "As Much Chaos as We Can Stand" in adopting new Web technologies; they should let "any would be revolutionary try anything they like with new technology, without regard for existing cultural or social norms or potential damage to current social institutions." To him, this is one of the best ways to manage a revolution, since "the radicals won't be able to create any more change than the members of society can imagine." After reading about this concept, I imagined it would make a very interesting lens to study the music and record industries through. The thought of comparing and contrasting attitudes toward technology and trying to understand the benifits of embracing the chaos of our times rather than fighting it, much in the way that the record industry has been portrayed as doing as far back as the player piano and the phonograph.

To be sure, I have had the chance to talk to a couple really bright and amazing people within the major label system and they don't come across as the not so forward thinking and technologically inept executives that you read about in Moral Panics and The Copyright Wars, Ripped, or Appetite For Self-Destruction. Yet, I am still curious about trying to understand if between the traditional record industry and the next music business there is a certain degree of dichotomy in their attitudes toward new Web technology and their willingness to integrate it into their industries. From your perspective, how would you characterize this dichotomy between the traditional record industry and that of the next music business and their perspectives on new Web technologies?

In an attempt to preserve existing cultural and social norms or potential damage to the current social institution, the traditional record industry has gone to war with many new technologies, claiming that they would kill music. All of these, in the end, have only seemed to re-engender enthusiasm for music. How might the traditional industry be better off if they let any would be revolutionary try anything they like with new technology, without any regard for existing cultural or social norms or potential damage caused to existing social institutions?  How might this actually make the the industry worse off?

So too, beyond the argument that revolutionaries wouldn't be able to create more change than society can imagine, Shirky also argues that they will be "unable to correctly predict the impact of the eventual ramifications because they have an incentive the overstate the new system's imaged value and because they will lack the capacity to imagine the other uses to which the tools will be put."  Putting forth the notion of embracing chaos, through and through, do you believe that so-called "music revolutionaries" wouldn't be able to create more change than we can imagine? What new technologies on the horizon might induce more chaos the traditional record industry can withstand?

These questions, among others, I have already sent out to some very intelligent people and I would love to hear your take on them. The next part in my essay I thought it was necessarily to compare and contrast how varying artists, across generations and backgrounds, have different perceptions of technology and how they integrate it into their careers. In effect, I want gain insight into those who are getting it right and letting new Web technologies reshape the interactions they have with their fans and redefine their roles as cultural creators in society, as opposed to clinging to 20th century notions of what it means to be a recording artist. How do you think that artists tend to differ in their attitudes towards technology, new and older acts, and why is there such reluctance to allow them to redefine reshape the interactions they have with their fans and redefine their roles as cultural creators in society? Also, do you think, that by embracing "As Much Chaos As They Can Stand," without regard for existing cultural or social norms or potential damage to major labels, that artists will carve a brighter future for themselves in the digital age?

"For every institution that failed, for every business model that outlived its usefulness, new and better ones rushed in the fill the void," Richard Florida writes in The Great Reset. "Past periods of crisis eventually gave rise to new epochs of great ingenuity and inventiveness." He argues that, that crises—perhaps ones much like the record industries'—"are the times when new technologies and new business models were forged, and they were also the eras that ushered in new economic and social models and new ways of living and working." How will new ways of working and living, both in terms of artists rethinking traditional assumptions; going directly to fans; empowering evangelists; creating unique, less-album centric business models; and building diverse teams, and new ways of organizing the record and music industries, help drive post-crash prosperity, and provide a foundation for growth and recovery?

Florida argues that Great Resets are "broad and fundamental transformations of the economic and social order and involve much more than strictly economic and financial events. A true Reset transforms not simply the way we innovate and produce but also ushers in a whole new economic landscape." Also, he writes, another key feature is that "they bring about shifts in consumption that fuel rising industries." Notably, the type of Great Reset that Florida argues for, is within a different context than the record industry, but might the record and music industries be going through a "Great Reset" of their own?

These are just a few of the questions that I have rolling around in my head at the moment and I was wondering if you would consider taking a moment to help me shape my thoughts on these matters. All quotes may have a chance of being used in the final essay, highlighted on the blog, and possibly recycled into other works. I think this topic is rather important and I would love to hear what you think. No doubt, these aren't easy questions, which is why I have sought out the help of many influential people in the tech and music industries and why I have asked you—the reader—to take a moment and add to what should be a fantastic and deep essay on technology attitudes. Anwsers to: kyle.bylin(at)gmail.com.

Answer One, A Few, Or All Of Them. Anything Helps.


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