The Bottle Was Dusty; But, the Liquor Was Clean.

November 30, 2005

With this new Web/Dead debacle, I’m remembering this time I heard John Perry Barlow speak.

We were both on this conference at Harvard, on digital media, about a year ago. I didn’t meet the guy, but I would’ve liked to. He once said, brilliantly, “The Web sees censorship as damage, and routes around it.”
At the end of his talk, he spoke about how people in the Dead camp were having misgivings about trying to sell recordings of shows on their website, when people could download them for free. It was startling to hear him speak so honestly about his mixed feelings.
Of course, this week, the Dead camp asked to stop letting people download their shows. (see this NYTimes piece, “Deadheads Outraged Over Web Crackdown”, for more)
The host of The Grateful Dead Hour is quoted as saying, “…the idea that they could stop people from trading these files is absurd. It’s no longer under anyone’s control. People have gigabytes of this stuff.”
Which is so true. I used to resent file-sharing, but then the resurrection of Skittish by Napster turned me around. (though what got onto Napster was experimental mixes with other instruments, which still kind of cheeses me) Maybe, though, I can afford to be cavalier; I’m still recording, while John Perry Barlow is not.