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<nettime> receiving is giving (?) digest [elloi, eugenie <via barbie>]
nettime's_wireless_transceiver on Sat, 12 Oct 2002 06:41:26 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> receiving is giving (?) digest [elloi, eugenie <via barbie>]

     Morlock Elloi <morlockelloi {AT} yahoo.com>
     eugenie <eugenies {AT} onetel.net.uk> (by way of richard barbrook)

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Date: Thu, 10 Oct 2002 11:28:23 -0700 (PDT)
From: Morlock Elloi <morlockelloi {AT} yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> GIVING IS RECEIVING

> knowing how to use these programs are almost immediate. Welcome to the free
> world - a world where everything is for free! The media corporations are
> incapable of reversing this decommodification of information. Encryption
> systems are broken. Surveillance of every Net user is impossible. Copyright
> laws are unenforceable. Even on-line advertising has been a disappointment.
> This time around, community has trumped commerce.

I'll deal just with this part of this nonsense ...

First, bandwidth is not free. To get a fast line where you can actually talk
back (upload) at the same speed that you can listen (download) you need to pay
2-3 times more than for consumer-grade assymetic DSL. Oferring high bandwidth
content for free works only if someone else pays for your outgoing bandwidth.
The net result is that "free" gnutella/napsterclone/kazoo/morpheus downloads
have low rate of completion and take forever. Granted, I know people that will
download few mp3s via modem for straight ten hours because they got a flat
local calls rate from telco - but that will go away as their line utilisation
goes from average 5-6% to 50%.

Second, oferring original content for free is becoming less popular. Those who
did did it for self reputation-building. But now when every moron on the street
has a web site such activity has a very low return. Many excellent
original-content web sites all but disappeared in the last year or two or
degenerated into links and rants by bored webmasters. There are more and more
pointers to others, many of which end up pointing to the commercial-provided
content. Creators are being replaced by small time thieves, hoping to gain some
credit by providing content others created. Or even worse, blogs by that 98% of
population that really has nothing to say. Democracy finally conquered the

(of original message)

Y-a*h*o-o (yes, they scan for this) spam follows:

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Faith Hill - Exclusive Performances, Videos & More

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From: eugenie <eugenies {AT} onetel.net.uk> (by way of richard barbrook)
Subject: Re: Giving is Receiving
Date: Fri, 11 Oct 2002 12:44:11 +0100

hi richard,

i'm going to stick the elbow of devil's advocacy in the ribs of your lovely
argument, just for fun....

> Over
> the past few centuries, the dynamic development of capitalism has - slowly
> but surely - ended the scarcity of information. Printing and broadcasting
> technologies enabled the mass production of knowledge and culture.
> Information has become ever cheaper. The Net is now completing this
> process. It costs almost nothing to make perfect copies of digital data.
> Information really is free. The owners of copyrights are desperately trying
> to slowdown this process of decommodification. They have lobbied and
> browbeaten politicians to introduce repressive laws to protect the source
> of their wealth and power. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The EU
> Copyright Directive. Anyone who distributes unauthorised copies of
> copyright material over the Net must be punished. Anyone who invents
> software potentially useful for on-line piracy should be criminalised. But
> state power is a limited tool against the logic of social evolution.
> Individuals may suffer, but progress can't be stopped altogether. Sooner or
> later, even the most technologically illiterate politician will realise
> that it is impossible to enforce information scarcity in an age of
> information plenty.

maybe so, but they can sure as hell limit the usefulness of that
information. look at the recent demise of napster and audiogalaxy. the
latter, especially, was a thriving online music community. you could get
amazing stuff there - rare, obscure, out of print, along with copyrighted
material that you had to pay for. yet the RIA shut it down, claiming that it
was 'hurting musicians.' we all know what a load of rubbish that is.

sure, there are other places to go for 'free' music, but it's pretty
mainstream shit. closing down audiogalaxy and similar communities benefits
big name artists and record companies. for everybody else, it's kind of like
banning independent radio. in the end it's about spreading paranoia, and
making artists believe that letting go of anything without somebody dropping
a coin into your hand is a mistake.

> Although only a
> minority are now engaged in scientific research, hacking or political
> activism, the overwhelming majority of Net users participate within the
> hi-tech gift economy.

yes. and it's this majority that i'm worried about. i cannot speak with any
authority on anything other than the music trading community, and even then,
i'm no expert. but it seems to me that the 'free information' that's
available is becoming more and more like those shitty free compilation cd's
that come with magazines or the sunday papers. sure, it's a gift, but a
pretty lame one, the sort of thing you give to somebody to make them feel
like they're not going home with nothing - and that is the extent of its

bottom line? if big bizness no longer has a stranglehold on the trafficking
in information, then they're going to turn their hand to controlling
content. i think we need to re-examine exactly what we mean by 'information'
.... truckloads of semi-useful infobites don't really rate, in my little

> For you ain't seen nothing yet. The Net is in the early stages of its
> development. The hardware is too expensive and the software is too clunky.
> Most users still lack the skills and technologies to take full advantage of
> its potential. This is why the sharing of MP3s is only a taster of what is
> to come. The music corporations can close down Napster and try to flood its
> successors with spam files. But what they can't do is make people forget
> that they are able to share and modify information with each other. All the
> copyright owners can do is slow down history. As bandwidth increases and
> interfaces improve, the prevention of media piracy will become ever more
> difficult. No copyright law or encryption system is going to stop the
> swapping of information between consenting adults in the long-run. The
> media corporations will even find themselves increasingly isolated from
> their fellow capitalists. For anyone selling material goods and services,
> the spread of peer-to-peer computing is an opportunity not a menace.
> Flexible working. Knowledge dissemination. Flattened hierarchies. Consumer
> participation in production. Why should most capitalists care about
> copyright infringement if  they are making money on the Net in other ways?
> Copyright laws become an anachronism when the 'cutting-edge' of hardware
> capitalism is software communism.

i really hope you are right about this, nothing would make me happier...

pessimistically yours


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