An excellent new essay by Cory Doctorow (of Boing Boing of course) is up at Internet Evolution: Media-Morphosis: How the Internet Will Devour, Transform, or Destroy Your Favorite Medium.
From the introduction:
Let me start by saying that I like newspapers. And let me say further that, no matter how much I like them, they just might not have a future.
The Internet chews up media and spits them out again. Sometimes they get more robust. Sometimes they get more profitable. Sometimes they die.
It's a scary thought, especially if you're personally attached to an old medium like movies, books, records, or newspapers.
But just because an industry is socially worthy, it doesn't follow that it is commercially viable. Today, besides newspapers, three other media are thrashing over their futures in a networked world, and as with newspapers, the rhetoric is mostly of the nonproductive "But I like it!" and "It's good for society!" variety, with not enough thought given to whether these media are commercially viable in the Internet age.
The essay discusses newspapers, big-budget movies, music, and books. His comments on music are pithy, but I should note that the effects of the internet on live music-making are only tangentially mentioned, given the business focus of the piece. While Doctorow correctly observes that the internet can help significantly as an economic driver (the more people download your music freely, the more likely they are to want to pay to hear you play live), that's just the tip of the iceberg.
Artists are only beginning to explore the internet as a creative medium, especially the most unprecedented aspect: that it is so suffused and intertwined with real life. With interactivity, communication, sharing, migration of ideas from one space to the other, etc., I think it really is a whole new dimension for creative work and engagement with one another, and we're in the relative stone age.*
More on this idea later, I need to let it percolate a little. But the essay is a good, quick, thought-provoking read, go check it out.
*- (well, maybe early neolithic if I consider the analogy a little more...)