Thursday, July 14, 2011
The Internet Changes Everything
Have you considered how completely different our lives are since the Internet? It's been brought home to me lately.
Most recently, my guy's new "album" is out. Well, it isn't really an album. It's an mp3 download. The music industry is quickly phasing out the last physical evidence of music recordings - the CD. Two years of hard work is now available (with some soulful backup work by yours truly) on the Internet for your downloading pleasure.
The entire music industry has been gutted by digital audio files because the big players didn't see it coming. Then Napster started giving music away for free. And the industry's been scrambling to figure out what to do ever since.
Anyone can be a rock star, at least in their minds. All you need is Garage Band or some other basic editing program and - ooooh - your music is out in the world. That's generally not a good thing, as some folks should keep their music in the garage where it belongs. But it's also opened opportunities for some truly talented people to be heard by a global audience.
My area of study these days is the publishing industry. That's changed a bit lately, hasn't it? Writers, for a decade or more, have found it easier to submit their work to agents and publishers. Agents and publishers have become more and more selective as their inboxes fill and crash. And then came the ebook.
My NPR affiliate has a no-ebooks policy. They won't talk about them. They don't think they're real books. It reminds me of the music industry's attitudes toward downloads. They'll be changing their minds soon because they'll have to.
I have an ebook. And it'll soon be a paperback. We're doing it backwards because nowadays we can.
At work? We all have computers and now we edit documents in a program that lets us all see each other's edits. We're phasing out paper, eliminating the need for thousands of square feet of storage space. And where are those documents stored? The cloud. The vast, nebulous, virtual digital warehouse. In other words, they don't really still exist. But they do.
It's a change in concept, in thinking. Just because you can't see it, touch it, taste it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. It's a transition to a virtual world. And when I think about where it could be going, I think it's time to write a scifi novel.
What do you think the world will be like in ten years?