Is My Generation Ruining it for Content Producers?

I recently came across these comments from two different content producers:

"Basically, kids believe that everything should be available on the web, open source, and therefore copyright and the idea of writers being paid for their work is becoming antiquated."
"Now it is the hardware that is valuable (eg. Kindle) and content is worthless."
The thing is, I get them. There's certainly some truth there and with all the talk about piracy on the Web, it's probably hard for those already invested in book publishers or record labels to like my generation very much. But, to suggest that my GenYers are chiefly responsible for the direction of media is giving us a lot of credit we don't fully deserve. To write off what’s happening as merely youthful, misplaced values makes it easy to miss the scale at which these changes are happening and the effects they will have on the future. My generation was placed into a content-sharing system, created largely by the generation before ours, that is unlike any other in history (the Internet was designed to share content between the Military, afterall). And then we were told to behave within an outdated set of rules.

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So, yes: We do believe that everything should be available on the Web. Everything that is video or audio should be transcribed to text and everything that is text should be searchable, translated into common languages and audible; it is unfathomable both how empowering that will be and how possible it is today. Accessible information and ideas is the Web. We do believe in open-source software, but not because it is a fad. Rather, because it is the most tried and true software available. The majority of web services today are powered by open-source projects like Linux, Apache (web server software) and mySQL (database software). Google will be releasing an operating system in 2010; the open source code is available now. We do believe that copyright is antiquated, but that isn’t our fault (or copyright’s fault)! Copyright was designed for a system of scarcity, where copies themselves have value because they are a limited commodity. This just isn’t the case anymore. Digital copies can be distributed by individuals to millions at near negligible costs. But: This does not mean that we believe writers should no longer be paid for their work, nor that Kindles are worth more than the content in them. It means that Kindles are still scarce commodities while digital media is not. This is not the fault of the consumer but of the economic system that can’t support the digital exchanges that happen between people (in other words, a system based on supply and demand doesn’t function well when supply is near infinite).

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If the worry for the future is that this “devaluing“ of content will result in less content, no fear. There is more content than ever and much of it is produced and distributed by individuals. Just take a peak at NaNoWriMo. If the worry is that this content is at a reduced quality, no fear.  Incredible content is everywhere! A few examples:
Writing: Mr. Penumbra’s Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan Music: Ronald Jenkees’ Stay Crunchy and a Jenkees cover by Alicsibu on Guitar Video: Venice’s People by Philip Bloom or BLU’s MUTO for animation
And if the worry is whether or not content producers can make money on the web, no fear. These guys and gals are doing it:
So far, this usually includes all or some of the following: free content, premium content (ebooks, downloadable courses, etc), advertising, speaking, consulting and coaching.

So, yeah, content producers will be very different in 10 years than they were 10 years ago, but there will be content producers and they will be producing high-quality content and they will be getting paid.

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Like the printing press, digital media unlocks a new level of content distribution that is orders of magnitudes greater than it’s predecessor. We are a social species that communicates and shares by nature, so these changes have enormous consequences. Mostly good ones if you choose to look at them that way. I’m really excited for what’s to come.


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