It’s Just A Ride

by Bill Hicks

The world is like a ride at an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it, you think it’s real, because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round and it has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly colored and it’s very loud. And it’s fun, for a while.

Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: ‘Is this real? Or is this just a ride?’ And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and they say ‘Hey! Don’t worry, don’t be afraid — ever — because… this is just a ride.’ And we kill those people.

‘Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride! Shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry; look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.’ It’s just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that — ever notice that? — and we let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter, because… it’s just a ride, and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort. No worry. No job. No savings and money. Just a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy bigger guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.

Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, into a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defense each year and, instead, spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would do many times over — not one human being excluded — and we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever. In peace.

If A Koran Burns Behind a Paywall…

At least the controversy gave the 24-hour cable news networks something to run between commercials. And that really was the point of it all at the end of the day. This issue was perfect fodder for endless back and forth bullshitting between idiots for hours, day after day.

People burn books (religious and otherwise), CD’s, flags, images of the Pope or the president, and praise Nazis all the time in this country. And as far as those acts exercise and help to keep our national free speech muscle in shape, you really have to support them for doing it. Sadly, what we don’t do enough in this country is engage each other in deep conversation about what we believe in and why, fact-check, or even ask if cultural relativism makes sense in this connected world. And I think that is completely intentional.

Think about the fine line that these jokers walk, what they know and how they play the game. Simply reporting the fact that Korans might get burned by a church of about 40 people isn’t controversial. Neither is having an endless debate about it. Your objective is to make the advertisers happy, so you simultaneously achieve good ratings by riling people up but also maintain the neutrality of the host and the network so that you don’t risk a boycott. Net positive for the network, but clearly negative for society. More pent-up anger and some deep confusion over feeling part of a million discussions with no progress and always a sense that there are deeper issues that no one is willing to address.

Will this kind of media survive in a more competitive environment, where anyone can make content and distribute it to anyone at any time and any device easily? Would folks continue watching this crap? Would the cable company be willing to devote the necessary portion of the line to these channels when using it for network bandwidth might be in higher demand, and ultimately more efficient? Or how does the content change when we can easily direct support to the producers and advertisers lose control?

Case Study: Beer Wars

The documentary Beer Wars is all about the struggle of the small brewers against the mega-corporations that dominate the beer industry in the United States. It makes the case that three (now only two) large corporations maintain their dominance by controlling retail and distribution, and are able to do that largely by lobbying the federal government to maintain an outdated law that prevents greater competition. Libertarians have a point here that government involvement in the market causes the problem, but progressives win the argument because it is the campaign contributions (“free speech”) of large corporations that convinces legislators to support a bill that profits a few while preventing a more free market that would ultimately benefit the public.

But what I found most interesting is the other major argument made by the film:that advertising led to the dominance of the business by a very few corporations and that commercials allow them to continue market control with an inferior product.

I have been thinking about the rise of the small business recently, and how that might be related to the internet enhancing the voice of the individual over mass media. Before the internet, mass media was largely the only source of information outside of friends & family. With the net, we are now able to easily find nearly unlimited information before we purchase something. And with social media, we might also more easily stumble onto a recommendation from a friend. That all makes it easier to find and support small businesses, but I think (or hope) that commercial media also suffers a blow-back effect in the internet era when this greater knowledge is combined with that independent American rebel spirit. With more information about the real choices available and how large advertising budgets distort the market, we are beginning to resent the advertiser’s attempts to dominate our mental space. And it only gets worse when we see that the emotional message we are being sold is often not actually the story of the advertiser, but instead that of the many small business owners that the advertiser is doing everything possible to eliminate.

While I think commercial advertising is largely doomed anyway, supporters of small and independent businesses should recognize how this kind of mass media promotion is aligned against their interests and work toward its demise.

Google Gone Evil?

It sure looks like it, and I hate saying that after I’ve annoyed the hell out of my friends with my constant rantings about Android kicking the IPhone’s ass. But while I haven’t found a great article explaining it all yet, it looks like Google & Verizon want the FCC to support a parallel corporate internet. This new network would encompass all wireless access and allow for the prioritizing of content for cash, exactly what network neutrality is out to prevent. The old internet would still exist and now have a clear mandate for network neutrality rules to be applied there. But the new network would likely become the home of video media, in some ways being a new type of cable television. Shitty, and a completely ridiculous idea. From Dan Gillmor

The right way forward is to have sufficient bandwidth that we can do pretty much anything we choose using public networks — a true broadband infrastructure where packet-switched services (moving data around, at super-fast speeds, in little packages that are reassembled at the user’s device) are the basis for all communications.

As the pathetic creatures that we are, it might take losing the internet to truly understand its potential. How fucking sad.

another conversation

(10:45:24 AM) joe hahn:
(6:29:57 PM) William Maggos: you wanna be on the board?
(6:30:30 PM) joe hahn: totallee
(6:31:11 PM) William Maggos: i think it should start with just mp3, music and audio podcasts
(6:31:33 PM) William Maggos: i know audioscrobbler works with ipod, but that might be it
(6:31:57 PM) joe hahn: have you considered contacting lastfm already?
(6:32:12 PM) joe hahn: seems they already have the technology you could piggyback on
(6:32:27 PM) William Maggos: no, cause audioscrobbler is open source
(6:34:17 PM) joe hahn: aah.. i was a scrobbler before they gave birth to lastfm. the switchover was sort of confusing/disconcerting
(6:34:33 PM) joe hahn: or more like lastfm adopted audioscrobbler
(6:34:43 PM) William Maggos: ugh, looks like iphone doesnt work
(6:34:59 PM) William Maggos:
(6:36:41 PM) William Maggos:
(6:37:40 PM) joe hahn: purportedly the iphone’s sdk is being released soon
(6:38:01 PM) William Maggos: right, hopefully that will help
(6:41:20 PM) joe hahn: currently im working on my DJ music filebase. about 2/3 of the tracks i am editing and preparing i pirated AND were only available to me through pirate channels. stuff from the 70s and 80s only released on vinyl, and nearly impossible to acquire otherwise
(6:43:11 PM) joe hahn: less i want to pay $200 for someone’s original.. which i would simply record to wav and put into storage
(6:43:39 PM) joe hahn: the artist wouldnt see any of that $$
(6:43:52 PM) joe hahn: but theyre probably dead now anyway
(6:44:38 PM) William Maggos: with pp, all theyd have to do is put it on a website and register with pp and they could get paid
(6:45:50 PM) William Maggos: oh, so i also decided that in order to be reimbursed youd have to offer it free on a site that you could verify an email to that domain
(6:45:53 PM) William Maggos: i think
(6:48:16 PM) joe hahn: meaning the artist is demanded to make their music freely available otherwise they are ineligible?
(6:49:16 PM) William Maggos: it could be at;lskjfl;akjsfl;jaslkdfjl/song.mp3 but yeah
(6:51:19 PM) William Maggos: in order to verify it is their stuff, theyd have to give the site an email address that they could reply to an email from
(6:51:35 PM) joe hahn: hmm… i guess that would be good for making certain people involved understand newer technology to a degree, but what about people who made music years and years ago thats floating around?
(6:51:45 PM) joe hahn: they snooze they lose?
(6:52:40 PM) William Maggos: i dont think its too much to ask that they set up a website and put the music there, right?
(6:53:28 PM) William Maggos: im just concerned about making it a little more difficult to have folks get paid for other people’s stuff
(6:53:39 PM) William Maggos: at least this way, it can be tracked a bit
(6:53:48 PM) joe hahn: right. thats smart.
(6:54:52 PM) joe hahn: possibly your service could make $$ assisting non-tech-inclined people in getting their sound online. lastfm does that.. they do it for free though. hhmmm.. maybe they charge if you have to mail in a record or cd though. ive only used their site to upload and ftp
(6:59:46 PM) William Maggos: maybe, but only through instructions or directing them to others who would help
(6:59:51 PM) William Maggos: wanna keep it simple
(7:02:51 PM) William Maggos: if people do a recurring monthly donation, minimum $5, pp essentially has their $5 in the bank the whole time
(7:07:30 PM) William Maggos: which means pp earns (@ 3% interest) [ 5x12x.03 ] at least $1.80 per $5 user per year without cutting in on the artist
(7:07:38 PM) William Maggos: not sure thats enough to operate
(7:09:17 PM) William Maggos: but at a million users who only give $5 a month, it is $1.8 million
(7:12:27 PM) William Maggos: more realistically, $180,000 on 10,000 $5/month users
(7:22:11 PM) joe hahn: smart
(7:22:39 PM) joe hahn: i just made some food. bbl. this is really interesting

a conversation

(8:09:30 PM) William Maggos: you have too many IM accounts
(8:09:44 PM) joe hahn: hah. yea.. i logged into all my old ones to see what happenes
(8:10:11 PM) William Maggos:
(8:10:16 PM) William Maggos: does that make sense?
(8:18:51 PM) joe hahn: +
(8:19:05 PM) William Maggos: what do you think?
(8:19:09 PM) joe hahn: check out an app called freemind. ive been using it for brainstorming
(8:20:00 PM) joe hahn: i like it. how small could transactions be/
(8:20:00 PM) joe hahn: ?
(8:20:36 PM) joe hahn: the first thing i thoguht of was somethign that integrates with paypal, running on the taskbar that can communicate with a standardized website widget or something
(8:21:05 PM) William Maggos: well, i think id limit fans to at least $5 a month
(8:21:49 PM) joe hahn: one would have to spend at least $5 a month or else the remainder is donated to charity or something ?
(8:22:06 PM) William Maggos: i didnt think of how low the distribution to artists would be
(8:22:29 PM) William Maggos: maybe it only gets distributed once it gets to be over $5…
(8:23:26 PM) William Maggos: when the fan sets up the monthly donation, you could use paypal or a cc…
(8:23:48 PM) joe hahn: aah.. google ads owes me about eighty dollars.. they pay out at 100. its taken about two years to get there 😛
(8:24:14 PM) joe hahn: i was thinking the fan should be encouraged to spend
(8:24:16 PM) William Maggos: audioscrobbler (what uses) is open source
(8:24:33 PM) William Maggos: shouldnt be hard to make it track time and work for video
(8:24:59 PM) William Maggos: ive been thinkin about how to encourage the fan to donate more per month
(8:25:21 PM) joe hahn: what if 30min of content takes 30sec to download and the fan disconnects while listening to the 29:30 remaining?
(8:25:24 PM) William Maggos: the site would tell you your DPM (donation per minute)
(8:26:58 PM) William Maggos: you wouldnt always have to be connected, just like knows what i listened to on my ipod
(8:29:24 PM) William Maggos: it would be based on what you actually listened to, as directly as possible
(8:29:32 PM) joe hahn: +
(8:30:19 PM) joe hahn: id be interested in getting in on this if you are seeking to form a team or anything
(8:30:34 PM) joe hahn: im also about to go with digital distro for PROTMAN and other releases of mine
(8:31:02 PM) William Maggos: thanks, im trying to figure out the pieces
(8:32:20 PM) William Maggos: im gonna try to use the website to lay it all out
(8:33:34 PM) joe hahn: ive got a fatty new server, too
(8:36:02 PM) joe hahn: so you arent trying to repair or replace the itunes model.. you just want to have something a little more pinko for people who want to give people more choice in deciding the value of media so the consumers can spend what they want, and the producers can avoid a greedy middleman?
(8:36:29 PM) joe hahn: btw.. scott mcloud is speaking at columbia soon
(8:37:54 PM) joe hahn: def check this out
(8:38:01 PM) joe hahn: though it is dated like it says
(8:41:01 PM) joe hahn has left the conversation.
(9:19:10 PM) William Maggos: The service would not store or distribute content, but it would facilitate the free distribution of content that the internet was built for.
(9:19:25 PM) William Maggos: not sure if that was clear, and i added it to the post.
(9:19:26 PM) joe hahn: riiight
(9:20:03 PM) William Maggos: i asked clint what he thought of it too, and i think he was confused.
(9:20:04 PM) joe hahn: its strange for me to wrap my head around a little since im so used to being able to be so DIY about hosting my own content
(9:20:31 PM) William Maggos: but you give away your stuff, right?
(9:20:54 PM) William Maggos: this just makes it as easy as possible for fans to support you
(9:21:54 PM) William Maggos: im actually trying to replace just about everything, for those with a broadband connection
(9:22:20 PM) William Maggos: but thats longterm, it plays on the independent artists in audio and video at first
(9:23:14 PM) William Maggos: no need for cable tv or labels or netflix if it takes off
(9:23:19 PM) joe hahn: what if I want to decided the price?
(9:23:26 PM) joe hahn: but keep it reasonable
(9:23:56 PM) William Maggos: well, how you get your stuff to the fan is up to you
(9:24:13 PM) William Maggos: but the way of the internet, kinda hard to stop
(9:24:30 PM) joe hahn: ex: i intend to give away mp3s, but if people/DJs want flac or wav, i decide.. i suppose in that instance the casual listeners can tip me for mp3s
(9:24:43 PM) joe hahn: true true true
(9:24:45 PM) William Maggos: and this system would encourage you to put it out free, if the DPM becomes high enough
(9:25:03 PM) joe hahn: so it would give even pirates a convenient chance to tip
(9:25:16 PM) William Maggos: people stumble upon it and they are using PP, you get paid
(9:26:29 PM) William Maggos: its all about the DPM of the people who listen to your stuff, and its automatic
(9:27:04 PM) joe hahn: lately ive been paying for software more often.. and donating where they allow you to donate whatever you wish via paypal
(9:27:11 PM) William Maggos: and the fan doesnt really see any additional cost, just whatever they are willing to donate per month
(9:27:16 PM) joe hahn: but its only for applications where i can donate or pay less than $20
(9:27:50 PM) William Maggos: and the neat thing is their donation is actually gonna go directly to the creators of the stuff they listen or watch, no middlemen
(9:28:19 PM) William Maggos: that means if they want more of it, they have direct incentive to donate more per month
(9:29:30 PM) William Maggos: for the fan, its like a cable or netflix subscription
(9:31:05 PM) joe hahn: hmmm
(9:31:16 PM) William Maggos: and if you only listen to one album all month, they get all your money
(9:31:29 PM) joe hahn: what about this instance………….
(9:31:37 PM) joe hahn: when i am seeking music to DJ
(9:32:01 PM) joe hahn: i enqueue the download of hundreds of mp3s and wait a day or so
(9:32:18 PM) joe hahn: the next day i take the hundred or so that have completed, and put them into a folder on my computer
(9:33:09 PM) joe hahn: i then listen to about fifteen seconds of each. the beginning, skip to the middle for five seconds, then somewhere in the last third
(9:33:36 PM) joe hahn: deciding if i want to listen further or DJ it later.. i put it into a new folder or tag it, rate it with more stars etc
(9:34:34 PM) joe hahn: i then might put them on a cd for use in a CDJ as cd audio or mp3s. or i might use a different computer for DJing, or even an SD card for listening in my car stereo
(9:35:38 PM) William Maggos: its up to you and your media player, but you never pay more than you want to per month
(9:36:28 PM) William Maggos: whatever you play it in, if you can install the plugin there, it would track the time you actually listen and what you listen to
(9:38:29 PM) William Maggos: instead of this crappy itunes or other system, you can do whatever you want with the files
(9:40:05 PM) William Maggos: those 15 secs of each song are registered if you listen in a media player with the PP plugin installed, but you dont pay anymore per month
(9:40:05 PM) joe hahn: I am currently idle.
(9:42:09 PM) William Maggos: your monthly donation is always whatever you choose to pay, and the creators of those tracks just get some money that month and the creators of other files that you listen or watch get a little less
(9:57:37 PM) joe hahn: very interesting
(9:58:57 PM) joe hahn: i was just talking to rita about this. i sort of broke it down as trying to find a way to maximize profit to the artist while accepting the inevitability and ubiquity of “piracy”
(9:59:31 PM) William Maggos: yep, thats about it
(9:59:43 PM) William Maggos: i modified the post to say that more clearly
(10:00:00 PM) William Maggos: The internet is not only the perfect distribution system for text and images, but also for audio and video. The main problem left is how to fairly reimburse the creators of all this great content, while maintaining the open nature of the internet for those of us who just want to watch or listen. We dont need another service or method to store or distribute content, but we do need to better facilitate the free distribution of content that the internet was built for.
(10:01:02 PM) William Maggos: damnit, hold up, somehow i lost the important part
(10:03:25 PM) joe hahn: 😛
(10:03:53 PM) joe hahn: i have 40,000 myspace friends btw if you ever want some targeted publicity
(10:04:06 PM) joe hahn: for my protman music page
(10:04:47 PM) William Maggos: nice, not yet, but a big part of this going to be getting the creators to tell their fans about it
(10:05:07 PM) joe hahn: +
(10:05:23 PM) joe hahn: also.. i take a lot of consideration into the naming of the mp3s i make available
(10:05:48 PM) joe hahn: though i guess ive been pretty dumb about id3 tags
(10:10:05 PM) William Maggos: The internet is not only the perfect distribution system for text and images, but also for audio and video. The main problem left is how to fairly reimburse the creators of all this great content, while maintaining the open nature of the internet for those of us who just want to watch or listen. What we need to do is acceptthat the internet is the perfect system for the free distribution of content , and fans are gonna need to find a better way to support the creators of the stuff they love if only for the selfish reason that they want more of it. We don’t need another service or method to store or distribute content, but we do need a new way to support artists that is internet-friendly.
(10:40:09 PM) joe hahn: what do you think about the polarization of the people who opt-in vs the people who opt-out and are villified by the opt-inners?
(11:16:46 PM) William Maggos: id love to set up a caste system, but unfortunately, your fan account would be private
(11:16:56 PM) William Maggos: creator accounts would be very public
(11:17:29 PM) William Maggos: id love to somehow give a greater incentive to opt-in and have a high DPM
(11:17:41 PM) joe hahn: thats another thing i was gonna ask about the privacy of what you listen to. lastfm makes what you listen to public
(11:18:00 PM) William Maggos: right, on our system, it would be private i think
(11:19:53 PM) William Maggos: it would be great to be able to incentivize large buy-in by somehow letting artists give higher donators first access at tickets or something, mabye
(11:20:40 PM) joe hahn: do you think there are any ways artists could exploit the system
(11:20:42 PM) joe hahn: ?
(11:21:02 PM) joe hahn: such as releasing the same content under different names. i suppose there could be backlash from the listeners
(11:21:38 PM) joe hahn: though it guess it is time based, and not per-track like lastfm
(11:21:46 PM) joe hahn: gotta reboot. btb
(11:21:47 PM) joe hahn: brb

cultureburn dot org

Pretty simple. I am starting a new blog at cultureburn dot org. That will be my new home, aka the site where I bitch about the state of the world esp as it comes to media and culture and how the internet could really put things right if we understand its true potential as infrastructure and build off of it in the right way. I’m gonna move most of the old posts from here over there as well.

The plan for publicpatron dot org is to still be the home of one of those pieces that builds off of the internet as cultural infrastructure. Like I have written before, a non-profit tip jar. But my rants will be moved over to the new site while I try to turn this site into the place that provides the service. Bout it.