Reading Response 1: THE LONG TAIL

"This is the world of scarcity. Now, with online distribution and retail, we are entering a world of abundance. And the differences are profound."

The idea of "a world of abundance" stroke me as highly interesting. Back in the early years of my life, I always remember not being able to listen to certain kinds of musics due to a couple limitations. 1, My parents were very strict on the whole Parental Advisory sticker. 2, Even if I wanted to buy a CD, I did not have the money to do so. And 3, I lived in the less populated area of where I live, hence the closest CD store would be a good 20 minutes away via car. Hence, it was extremely hard for me to get what I wanted. This isn't quite the idea of scarcity, but I did not have the resources required to obtain what I wanted.

Anyhow, moving back to the present, it is quite easy to see this world of abundance. First we'd have to explain some limitations though. Of course there's this whole issue with money, but let us assume that it doesn't exist, and lets also assume that everyone owns a computer with internet access. This digital era has created something that the older generation has never been able to see before, the sharing of technology, of information. This new era has made it possible for people to create something out of...well nothing. For example, lets use the ridiculously expensive Adobe CS3 series as an example. Adobe Photoshop CS3 itself costs several hundred dollars. I don't even understand the reason behind the price. I guess this is also an example of "poor supply-and-demand-matching". Photoshop has a competetor (or used to, I'm not so sure about it now) called Paint Shop Pro. It is 1000x cheaper, and has most of the functions that Adobe has. Anyhow, back to the main point, creating something out of nothing. Due to the ability to store and share information through the internet, it is possible to get Photoshop for absolutely no cost at all, again assuming that everyone has a computer with internet access. All you have to do is go to certain sites which help distribute this "information" and download. There are programs that help speed this process up by receiving information from multiple clients. This digital world seems to have no limitations. The space aspect is pretty much removed from the entire situation. Advertising is basically limitless through sites like google and youtube.

I just think the ability to download material really messed things up. As said in the article, the world of scarcity really was turned upside down. This is highly problematic in some ways, especially in the entertainment industry. People lose incentive to explore their creativity due to the decrease in consumers, and an increase in "thieves". I'll admit, I did download a few things for my own reasons. But I think this proves the idea of supply and demand. People do not like high prices of a certain good or service hence look for an alternate way of getting them. Hurtful to the overall market, yes. But through this I think the market will develop new ways to supply goods and services and further develop ways people can be consumers.

People lose incentive to explore their creativity...

I wonder -- do they really? Should the primary incentive for artists to create new work be financial? Yes, of course an artist should have the ability to earn a living from her work, if the market will support it, but I'm not convinced that creating artificial market supports via regulation of intellectual property is the best way of going about it. Our pre-internet assumptions about intellectual property are relatively recent in origin; for many centuries, artists survived not on the exchange value of what they produced but instead on the support of wealthy patrons. Now the ease of electronic reproduction of cultural artifacts is standing our ideas of intellectual property and commercial exchange on their heads again. If you're interested in pursuing this, you might look at the work of Siva Vaidhyanathan, especially his book The Anarchist in the Library...