Doc Searls On What Apple’s Really Up To

The New Economy Hack: Turning Consumers into Producers

It’s easy to say that what Apple’s doing here is about marketing. But it’s not, even though clever marketing is involved. See, marketing is about influencing markets. It’s about spin. In the mass-market millieu where Apple lives, it’s about maintaining the fully saturated Matrix-like habitat we call Consumer Culture. That culture was built by those who own and control the means of production. So, what we call “consumer electronics” is really producer electronics. It isn’t about what you and I invent and contribute to the marketplace. It’s about what Sony and Panasonic and Nikon and Canon produce and distribute through retailers for us, the mass market, to consume constantly. It’s producerism, really. As a label, “consumerism” is a red herring. Talking about “consumerism” takes the conversation off into victimville, where the poor consumer needs to get better stuff and less abuse from the big bad producer.

Apple is giving consumers tools that make them producers. This practice radically transform both the marketplace and the economy that thrives on it.

Ignore for a minute that Apple’s stuff is closed-source, that it has any kind of technical or market-category agenda. Instead, look at what it does to supply and demand, production and consumption. It turns consumers into producers. It changes the marketplace by flooding it with new producers, new products and demand for new means of distribution.

[…] What Apple’s doing with “i” apps like GarageBand isn’t about the computer industry; it’s about the entertainment industry. That industry lately has become vigilant about threats from its customers, which it still thinks of as consumers. Instead it should be watching how Apple transforms those consumers into producers. Because the next challenge will be finding ways to turn those producers into partners. The old gig is up. They’ll never be just “consumers” again.

Shades of Charlie Nesson at the 2002 ILaw!

Special Message from the CES

Rock Stars: Don’t Rip Us Off, Man

Rock stars, soul singers and famous faces from the movies came to Las Vegas on Thursday to help one of the world’s largest computer companies make a pitch against digital piracy.

Rocker Sheryl Crow, U2 guitarist The Edge and actor Ben Affleck spoke out against piracy after a keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show by Hewlett-Packard chief executive Carly Fiorina, who pledged her company would protect artists’ rights in all its devices.

Singer Alicia Keys, who performed two songs on stage, told the audience she regularly spoke with children about music piracy.

[…] Fiorina said the company would commit to either buying or developing the best software possible for content security, in a fervent speech in which she dedicated the company to battling piracy.

See also: Fiorina calls for defense of digital rightsErnest Miller succintly points out just why this is such a disappointing position for HP to take. And there’s this HP writeup as well: Hewlett Joins With Apple in Music Deal

It Makes You Think

This article from Wired News raises some unexpected questions in my mind: Kazaa Delivers More Than Tunes

Forty-five percent of the executable files downloaded through Kazaa, the most popular file-sharing program, contain malicious code like viruses and Trojan horses, according to a new study.

Out of 4,778 files downloaded in one month, Bruce Hughes, director of malicious code research at security firm TruSecure, found that nearly half of them contained various types of nefarious code.

[…] Some 3 million users are logged onto Kazaa at any one time. Hughes said this has made the file-sharing network increasingly attractive as a channel for distributing malware.

[…] He said a lot of the malicious code he found was embedded in program files that are designed to bypass or break copyright protections placed on software files like Microsoft Office to allow users to share pirated copies of the software.

So far, however, music, picture and movie files have not been infected with malicious code, because they aren’t executables, Hughes said. You can’t run them simply by clicking on them. You need to open them through another program, such as a multi-media program like Real Player.

So, if we were talking about AIDS or some other public health problem, there would be a host of actions to act to limit the extent and spread of infection. But, the Wires News article teaser says "About half of all the software people download from the popular file-sharing network — which is almost always pirated — has some kind of evil-doing program attached, a security firm says. Poetic justice, perhaps."

Really, now….