Saturday, October 09, 2004

Will the little guys rule the world?

This is a question that popped into my mind recently.

Before coming to US, I was truly enamoured by this idea of a nation built on one simple word, 'freedom'. I think of all things, that is the key to the success of the Unites States. Freedom to think, freedom to innovate, freedom to succeed. However normal this seems to Americans, these things are not necessarily taken for granted in many places around the world. In most countries, 'culture' is a big hurdle to overcome in both personal and professional lives. It is conveniently forgotten that culture is not static, but a living, breathing entity.

Things changed a bit after coming here. I realised that what started the nation and what continued till about middle to late of the last century, has somehow been ransacked. Big corporations and big companies hold a lot of freedoms to ransom. And what is ironical is that those companies actually came into being because of the freedoms that US gave them! But now that they are the big chaps, they try and throttle innovation and control creativity. Microsoft is of course a prime example. But there are others. The music and movie industry (and their arm the RIAA) also comes to mind. As does the big telecom giants. As does the legal system.

But of late, I notice something strange. Fuelled by technology & connectivity, a number of things seem to happening parallely, and I see a kind of pattern.

1. Linux is easily the first choice. The 'other' Operating System. Which has taken over people's minds and also PCs in developing nations. And most of it built by people volunteering!

2. Music and movies, both their production and distribution, have been taken over by everyone! A surge in indie movies, a surge in music, original and remixed, and the increasing amount of file sharing is changing the scene forever. Add to that the homebrew FM stations!

3. 'Hackers' and innovators are appearing everywhere. They build and transform on the things that are being produced by these mega corporations. And in the process improving on things as they stand. Witness Greg Hughes add a 5 GB microdrive hacked from an mp3 player into his digital camera! (via Engadget). Or people building their own PCs!

4. VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) companies like Packet8 and Vonage are giving the Bells a run for their money and winning.

5. Lawrence Lessig and the Creative Commons is turning the definition of copyright on it's head to benefit the ideas of people, regular people, not corporations.


Today, I read an article, posted by Om Malik, about rural broadband. The article quoted Carlini's observation about how broadband in non-major cities is essential. Om says "... in this new connected economy, the jobs flow to the lowest cost destination, just as money used to flow where ever it could seek highest return." Couldn't agree with that more.

And to that I'd like to add this - As people have freedom to think, to share, to learn, they will create value. In other words,

"Ideas will flow where there is the most freedom"

3 Comments:

Blogger John said...

I really belive that the whole world is on a media revoluon and that we have not seen anything in it yet! I was all so wondering if these small fm tranmiters could be used to hook up to the 'net and become an on line readio station posably reahing every person that has a computer?

5:46 AM  
Blogger abhijit said...

That would be interesting, John! Although I think since the music being broadcasted over those fm transmitters are digital anyway (ie. via a computer), it might be easier to just set up an online radio station through Shoutcast or JetCast.

Also, there seems to be a lot happening on the 'podcasting' side of things, which I'll write a blog about soon.

10:17 PM  
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10:21 PM  

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