Regurgitation Deluxe: The future of writing is creating less of more

I have had a serious bone to pick with Wired Magazine ever since some writer coined the phrase “law hardening” to describe efforts by Pirate Bay-types to evade prosecution. (And that worked out so well. See “Special Report: The Pirate Kings of Sweden“)

But I find it ironic that two great pillars of the law-hardening community, Chris Anderson and Professor Lessig (aka The Great Regurgitator) are coming out with books of questionable provenance at roughly the same time. Anderson’s Free, which celebrates an economy that may have existed–may–between crashes, and Lessig’s Remix that celebrates regurgitative “art”.

If you want to understand Lessig’s book, find the clip of him explaining it on the Steven Colbert show. Priceless. (It used to be on Hulu.)

But it turns out that maybe the two titles were switched at birth. Maybe Anderson’s book should have been called “Remix” and The Great Regurgitator’s book could have been called “Free”. (Of course, TGR had already used “free” in a title, so maybe not. God knows we can’t have redundancy in our regurgitation.)

No, Anderson, you see, was doing what passes for authorship in TGR’s coterie–he was doing what the New York Times mistakenly referred to as “plagiarism”.

No such thing anymore, dude. Very passe. Luddite, even. Plagiarism implies unauthorized copying, and in the world of the 5 minute copyright (promoted by the “law hardening” Wired Magazine) there really is no such thing. It’s all about “remix culture” don’t you know. Regurgitative art, DJ culture, smells like a mix between Bruno’s Speedos and a 2 am mens room stall at Chateau Marmont.

Valleywag tells us in “The Case Against Chris Anderson“: “[Anderson writes b]ooks counter to the recessionary zeitgeist: Granted, the most useful books often demolish conventional wisdom. And successful authors often face swift backlash from New York’s finicky media elite. But it’s worth noting that Anderson’s book Free is coming out at precisely the time many businesses are finding new ways to charge charge customers, rather than new ways to give things away.

Likewise, the sort of niche Web content one might have invested in after reading Anderson’s last book, the Long Tail, is faltering amid the advertising downturn.” (That’s the book we call “The Wrong Tail”, by the way.)

Hero to goat in the click of a mouse. Ah, don’t be too hard on old Chris Anderson. He’s just trying to find a parade to ride out in front of and pretend he’s been there all along.

I do agree with Professor Lessig, though, publishers really do need to do a better job of fact checking.

One thought on “Regurgitation Deluxe: The future of writing is creating less of more

  1. Anderson is "discovering" something that Korean MMO publishers learned quite a while ago: Bandwidth, like everything else in the computer-technology industry, got REALLY cheap over the past ten years.The thing that popped the bubble back in 1999 was that providers hadn't quite grasped the difference between industrial bit-streams and Grandma Bess yakking on her rotary-dial POTS. They charged everyone the same rates as Grandma Bess, and those rates were based on the assumption that you only ever used your phone three times per week. Once the providers realized that they'd killed a golden goose, they rejiggered their pricing plans to more reflect twenty-four-seven activity.So. What that means is that a very small percentage of paying users can support a large base of activity–and that ad-supported business is a potential reality, rather than a pipe dream. There's no magic business activity in flickr et al that allows them to succeed where everyone else failed; they're succeeding for the same reason that those gPotatoes guys are still in business. It's just really, really cheap to operate these days.I actually would be interested to see whether or not Anderson discusses MMOs at all, because there are a lot of them which would dovetail neatly into his narrative. Unfortunately, he'll have to explain why they've been in existence for twice as long as flickr…

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