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The Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism Hardcover – January 8, 2008
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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.
"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"
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Building on others' ideas is a part of the contemporary creative process. It could be said that there are no new ideas, but there are infinite new ways to do old things. Our culture is built on a combination of all our ideas, mixed and remixed, recut and served through mass media. Using other people's ideas is accepted, but is it right?
This is the Pirate's dilemma, a book on how youth culture is reinventing capitalism by Matt Mason. Piracy is less a word about a thieving enemy to guard against, but is now how business gets done, by individuals getting access to music and entrepreneurs remixing ideas to better serve customers.
The Pirate's Dilemma is a great read to examine how we got here, where here is and what is on the horizon of a remix culture. Entrepreneurial pirates create solutions to problems unanswered by existing businesses. Mainstream gives up market share with stubborn decisions to sell the status quo. Pirates are serving the consumers what they want, even when the intellectual property is not theirs. The book helps us understand the costs and benefits of this evolving culture shift to our society.
This is what this book is about. The author uses/describes the music scene mostly, for that is what he knows about, and also of course the PC scene, since the personal computer is the Music Liberation Front's first choice of Kalashnikov. For me the book is not a keeper, but it is definitely a must-read.
You should also read The Long Tail How Endless Choice Is Creating Unlimited Demand if you haven't already. You can download the original article for free if you go to Wired's homepage.
"Here's one chord, here's two more, now form your own band."
In a 2.0 world, doing-it-yourself does not seem that radical anymore. Anyone can be published author on the web. You can jump onto Blogger and in a few minutes have a powerful web publishing platform up and running in a few minutes.
Mason looks to some early punk bands who played for themselves and your buddies. Then maybe a few friends come along. If other people come then great, but it does not matter that much because you are doing for yourself and few people close to you.
Mason focuses mostly on music, but in the background I was thinking more about blogging. It does not make much sense to put together and a print a book that only a few hundred people will read. That is a big deployment of capital with an improbable return on investment. With web 2.0 the capital for distribution and publishing is minimal. A blog with only a few hundred readers is successful.
Mason labels the new business as "punk capitalism." The businesses often are not in it for the money. They would like to cover their costs and have few dollars of profit. But they are not in it for the money.
Seth Godin in Unleashing the Ideavirus: "It took 40 years for radio to have 10 million users. . . 15 years for TV to have 10 million users, and it took Hotmail and Napster less than year. . . The time it takes for an idea to circulate is approaching zero."
Web 2.0 movement is allowing a bigger audience of creators, a more rapid efficient distribution of information at less cost. It seems a little strange to be reading these concepts in a book.