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The Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism Hardcover – January 8, 2008


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1 edition (January 8, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416532188
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416532187
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,387,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Music journalist Mason, a former pirate radio and club DJ in London, explores how open source culture is changing the distribution and control of information and harnessing the old system of punk capitalism to new market conditions governing society. According to Mason, this movement's creators operate according to piratical tactics and are changing the very nature of our economy. He charts the rise of the ideas and social experiments behind these latter-day pirates, citing the work of academics, historians and innovators across a multitude of fields. He also explores contributions by visionaries like Andy Warhol, 50 Cent and Dr. Yuref Hamied, who was called a pirate and a thief after producing anti-HIV drugs for Third World countries that cost as little as $1 a day to produce. Pirates, Mason states, sail uncharted waters where traditional rules don't apply. As a result, they offer great ways to service the public's best interests. According to Mason, how people, corporations and governments react to these changes is one of the most important economic and cultural questions of the 21st century. Well-written, entertaining and highly original, Mason offers a fascinating view of the revolutionary forces shaping the world as we know it. (Jan. 8)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Reading "The Pirate's Dilemma" is like stepping into a parallel universe [that is] vast and deep...Mason nimbly guides us through decades of the underground youth scene [in a] tour [that] is diverting and written in a pleasing patter...Something more...than a business book [and] more satisfying -- more authentic, as he might put it -- than most books that rave about the Web 2.0." -James Pressley, "Newsday"

More About the Author

Matt Mason began his career as a pirate radio and club DJ in London, going on to become founding Editor-in-Chief of the seminal magazine RWD. In 2004, he was selected as one of the faces of Gordon Brown's Start Talking Ideas campaign, and was presented the Prince's Trust London Business of the Year Award by HRH Prince Charles.

He has written and produced TV series, comic strips, viral videos and records, and his journalism has appeared in The Observer Music Monthly, VICE, Complex and other publications in more than 12 countries around the world. He recently founded the non-profit media company Wedia with his wife Emily. He lives in New York City.

Customer Reviews

I found this book to be poorly researched, and clumsily written.
bobbybadboy
In this book, Matt Mason brilliantly tells the history of the phenomenon of youth culture and how it has reinvented capitalism and the world as a whole.
Steve Adams
If people can get something for nothing, they'll take the choice.
Donald Mitchell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Antonio Lopez on June 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book is slightly maddening. The intention is valid: to steer people towards thinking about piracy in a new light. The "pirate's dilemma" is whether to persecute and shut down piracy, or to recognize it as a kind of creative competition. If you can't beat them, join them. The thrust of Mason's argument can be summarized by the two models of music industry approaches to P2P file sharing: either go the route of Apple and create a cheap, viable option for consumers, or the RIAA route and sue its customers.

As a former DJ, Mason cuts and pastes his way through the book with anecdotes. At first I found the approach a little obnoxious-- a kind of overly cheerful airline-style of magazine writing. As a former punk, I found the whole chapter on punk capitalism a little superficial, which lacked a discussion of a really important DIY capitalist, Discord Records. The section of the "Tao of Pirates" was also missing an important discussion of pirate culture, i.e. the black beard types that are so discussed so interestingly in Wilson's Pirate Utopias. I think the word pirate is used too general. Basically, anyone under 50 is a pirate these days, and I don't thing that's true. Also, the remix section failed to credit Dada.

But as I read on, I warmed up to the book and found the discussion of guerrilla marketing and hip hop pretty good. There was some history and anecdotes that I wasn't aware of, so I was pleasantly surprised here and there. Still, if you want a more in-depth analysis of the economic situation of open source, read Benkler's
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19 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Steve Adams on January 8, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Earlier this year Matt (the author) sent me a message and said that he was writing a book about how corporations have trouble adapting to the changing times and needs of people in the Information Age. Just recently he started his blog The Pirate's Dilemma ([...]) that explains this phenomenon further every day. I couldn't wait for the book to drop so I asked him to shoot me one...one was already forthcoming and it appeared in the mail the very next day via his publicist. Let me break it down for y'all:

As we all know, youth culture has helped to change and reshape the world over and over again throughout history. Ever since World War 2 ended and the world at large became aware that teenagers even existed, the world hasn't been the same since. The old saying is that necessity is the mother of invention, whenever there has been an overlooked or under represented segment in society they have made their presence felt by creating their own culture. This culture usually comes with it's own brand of music, dancing or a style of dress. Once this culture hits the public consciousness then corporations develop the need/want to turn this audience into consumers of their product and convey a message to them that they "get" you and support your lifestyle. The thing is that since the advent of cool hunting and mass advertising has oversaturated the marketplace people can just tune out all those advertisments. Furthermore, with so many advances in technology today the knowledgeable consumer can pretty much create their own products and cut out the big corporations.

Since these same corporations are trying to jump on that new niche culture to gain a cache of cool, these new niche markets/cultures have adapted to the climate and become harder and harder to nail downby ad agencies.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By William Howard on July 15, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I think, if it had stuck to the brief it claimed to have on the front cover, I would have loved this book. But it didn't at all. This book has it's interesting moments, but it is effectively a chance for a former pirate DJ to try to convince you of three things. (I) Pirate radio is awesome. (II) DJ's are gods of the modern era. (III) Any and all significant cultural advances accomplished since the 60s are solely the result of music's influence.
Now, your mileage may vary on how useful any of those statements are, but I can't stand radio in any form, and DJ's typically make me want to punch someone, which means that the 3rd statement is the only one that could have any truck with me. Sadly, the book very much puts the cart before the horse. It is probable there's interchange, but for the author's purposes we're to consider EVERYTHING in terms of music. Then there's the way he uses Pirate in the book, it becomes a generalist term that applies to almost all innovators, which kind of misses the point of WHY piracy is an issue.
The books real gift is in teaching music trivia, and providing some form of introduction to Hip-hop as big business, but here he hardly does anything new, and he mostly hides behind pretentious words to make out that everything has meaning. Fashion is even glorified as emblematic of what our culture should be like. For someone who is on the surface offering a counter-culture account of the changes going on in the world and what the future will be, he doesn't actually attack much of the mainstream.
His only other really interesting assertion is that new youth-cultures can't form presently due to the instant spotlight effect that corporates give to anything with any promise in the constant quest for marketing.
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