Dematerialization of the compact disc
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For the last five years the web has been boosting my shop's income. Before we started selling on the web I wondered if it would put us out of business.
Back when Internet Explorer was still 1.x (During Mosaic's brief reign I was using the internet but pooh-poohing the web that had my friends so excited.) I read Wired. As with Playboy mostly for the interviews. All sort of blue sky projects, electronic paper, kiosks where you'd roll your own CD were going to sweep the world in minutes.
Dimly I recall an art history book a friend had, it was called something like The Dematerialization of the Art Object. Here I was reading about the dematerialization of the consumer object, at least the ones on which my livelihood depends.
Years have passed and we're still selling books and CDs. But coders and technicians are still at work. Equally, maybe more importantly, music and books have become more tightly concentrated in the hands of small group of intellectual property magnates. With friends in both political parties, copyrights are extended, nasty legislation like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act becomes a weapon against kids and information scientists (information doesn't want to be free, it wants to be a monopoly?). The blue-sky scientists work to bring their work to earth. Big money and technology are slowly becoming aligned.
Money is what really empowers technology. Two of America's great Satans of retailing, Wal-Mart and Best Buy, are ready to offer MP3 downloads. That will have to eventually effect the distribution and sales of standard CDs.
Some folks won't be going along for the ride. At least not at first. For all I know First National Bank of Atlanta doesn't exist anymore. Back in the 70s when I lived in Atlanta and teller machines were introduced they named theirs "Tillie the All-Time Teller." A stupid smiling face was painted on it. People, particularly older people didn't trust the machines. Did a silly name a little bit of paint help? Beats me. Nowadays everybody uses banking machines.