Piracy & Participation

Two remarkable things get said in the recent Boing-Boing post Disney exec: Piracy is just a business model

First, Disney’s co-exec chair admits they’ve had an enlightened paradigm shift on piracy:

We understand now that piracy is a business model,” said Sweeney, twice voted Hollywood’s most powerful woman by the Hollywood Reporter. “It exists to serve a need in the market for consumers who want TV content on demand. Pirates compete the same way we do – through quality, price and availability. We we don’t like the model but we realise it’s competitive enough to make it a major competitor going forward

Pretty amazing that. The fact that they realize this isn’t so much criminal activity as it is the collective effort of its customers emerging as a competitive entity that routes around the impediments of traditional media delivery.

But evidently she also said Disney’s strategy is primarily about content because “content drives everything else.” And Cory Doctorow (who posted this at BB) makes a stellar point:

Content isn’t king. If I sent you to a desert island and gave you the choice of taking your friends or your movies, you’d choose your friends — if you chose the movies, we’d call you a sociopath. Conversation is king. Content is just something to talk about.

I love that… he nails it.

For example, American Idol’s content isn’t what makes it a sensation — it’s the fact that it inspires conversations among people. It’s set up as a participatory exercise — regular people competing, and regular people voting. The same with sports, serial drama television and even video games. Content can be engineered to be more or less conducive to conversation — and I guess in that way it ‘drives everything else’ — but that has as much to do with the nuances of delivery (the ‘architecture’ of the content, if you will) as it does with the content itself.

And in that sense, you could see piracy as not only a business model, but another form of discourse. Piracy is a sort of conversation — people share things because they’re seeking social capital, influence, validation, or even just shared communal experience.

Author: Andrew Hinton

I use information to architect better places for humans. More at andrewhinton.com.