fm Bandit

laugh out cloud: disney dude agrees to maybe soon embrace meaningless buzzword

Disney jefe says the cloud will improve digital entertainment. It’s apparently newsworthy that the company is wiling to host content online.

I’m aware of a trend in popular computing, and it’s essentially that new language becomes a way of forcing shifts in widespread (but largely imaginary) thinking about the relationship between people and computers. The article gives a clear appositive defining the buzzword: “keeping movies, TV shows and songs on the Internet instead of local computers and devices.” Of course, this is specific to the article’s scope: the impact of cloud computing on future models of delivery for copyrighted mass media.

There’s a reason this kind of coverage rubs me the wrong way. There’s this implication that the consumer benefits from increasingly streamlined ways of delivering us content. This is of course untrue. Having already paid to acquire music and movies in ever-increasingly high-fidelity and durable media at regular intervals in human history, we are now racing to purchase compressed, ephemeral stakes in someone else’s hard drive space.

Having agreed to pay 99 cents for what Napster gave us for free–a watered-down, digital approximation of a favorite song–we’re now being told to trust that our music will be quickly served to us from their end. This is done under the guise of making our music immediately available to us whenever we want, when in fact the motivation is to oversee our every encounter with music as a transaction worthy of study and capitalist opportunity. We have already acquiesced to increasingly invasive and crippling forms of copyright protection, so much so that software piracy has seemed to elevate from a red-faced, starving-student misdemeanor to an amoral, practical act of purist anarchy; the audiophile makes an easy choice in sacrificing maladaptive ethics for archival quality.

Not to mention this seems to scrape against the very squirrel-like drive to collect music. Anyone nostalgic for the days of portrait-sized vinyl covers is forced to take up residence in a hipster ghetto in contemporary music culture. This is not an accident. Cloud computing seems to take things a little too far. Now we aren’t supposed to collect anything except permission to listen to a giant record collection we can neither examine nor possess?

Once, record companies, fearing the human animal’s social tendencies would subvert purchasing power, printed the following creepy plea on their wares: home taping is killing music. I won’t argue with this, it seems a matter of perspective. I will note that, against their fearful projections, the sky has not fallen on music revenue. Nor has, I will concede, the colossal-corporate model killed any chance of hearing great music.

Consider this though: when you remove a record from its sleeve and place it on the padded platter, the folks interested in selling you infinite variations of that same or similar waveform consider this a subversive act. If you, like me, prefer the mindful enjoyment of music to be a private celebration, you are fighting against the times. The technologies that try to endear you with their utility are in fact simply a way to catch the attention of outlets like the Wall Street Journal; their binary message is clear: bitching about the rain doesn’t stop them from having the next cutting edge umbrella to sell.

(NSFW, language, general swashbuckling hyphyness)

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