November 25, 2003
Ether Legacies (starts with e and ends in irl)

Caveat that it's late, I'm on Sonata, and I'm typing more than I'm writing. So it would me more helpful to build on top of this than to take it apart.

Rushkoff points out that iPodjacking (is there a dumber word?) is "a legacy of online file sharing -- essentially the same thing, except offline."

A lot of people have come to independent conclusions that open source didn't start with software, nor does it end with it. That open source was essentially a set of phenomena that was searching for a coherent and cohesive expression, which Linux provided. Roughly (quickly), the boundaries between selfless and selfish, and how their interplay benefits everyone, if the rules of exchange are made clear and enforceable.

But Rushkoff's as-usual smart-as-hell take on iPodjacking makes me start to understand that there are other phenomena that had no language or paradigm to describe them, until computers accelerated, popularized, and standardized the experience of them. "Filesharing," after all, existed as far back as dbrown was running a 300 baud BBS, and a whiles before that as well. But that wasn't filesharing, yet, until we had Napster to provide enough density to the experience (individually and demographically) to give it a name.

So now we can understand the iPodjacking experience in the context of filesharing, and we may might probably promote or receive it in that same context. So essentially, filesharing is now brought into meatspace. There's nothing about iPodjacking that couldn't have happened with the advent of the Walkman in 1984(?) except that we had no way to consider that kind of exchange. We shared music by playing records for our friends, not offering it up to strangers. But that experience of sharing with strangers is so raw, so essential, that it seems silly that it would stop in the ether.

Similarly, meetups can be considered as the meatspace analogue to chatrooms, unless someone tells me otherwise. It's built around many of the same principles: maybe that, for defined periods of time, strangers with common interests provide the benefits of community without the burdens of same. It's what makes chat rooms brilliant when they work, as well as meetups.

So I think the thing to try to track is: what are the other real-life behaviors that start in ether and end IRL? They need not require technology in that extension (there's no genuine reason that iPodjacking can't happen with regular CD walkmans) -- but as phenomena, what became coherent when ether was able to express it, and then spidered out from the wires?

Posted by kevin slavin at November 25, 2003 12:28 AM

here's one, for example, though it's not a good one.

What would we call it -- and how would we think about it differently -- if the protest signs that are getting hung on highways were called something than "freewayblogging"?

Is it helpful to start to understand the individual voice within the greater noise of the wide world as genuine (as with blogs) as opposed to throwaway and unconsidered (as with the popular conception of graffiti?) Has blogging changed how we push messages out into the real world, or the spirit in which we do it, or the spirit in which those messages are received? Is freewayblogging the best example of this?

Posted by: Kevin Slavin on November 25, 2003 12:54 AM
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