Stockpiled-Tabs Stromateis

• Cheers to the Lib Dems, for standing up to Labour and the Tories over the blighted Digital Economy Bill (that’s so unpopular the corporate-beholden front-benchers won’t permit open debate by the people’s elected representatives); perhaps the Lib Dems can prick the conscience of the Parliament (but I’m not holding my breath).
• On a related note, Stephanie Booth blogs about the relation of performance (writing, acting, music-making) and digital publication (hat tip, Suw). Listen: I have wanted to be in a rock band since the early sixties, and at no point was I motivated by money. I have wanted to play baseball for the Baltimore Orioles, with no concern for the salary. I have written and edited a number of books, and the return on the number of the hours of my life that went into those efforts is probably well below minimum wage. We do these things for other reasons — most of us, anyway.
    So if John Darnielle were to call me up and ask me to tour Europe with him as a back-up vocalist, I wouldn’t ask how much I’d be paid. If the Orioles called me and said they needed a no-field, no-hit, slow-running outfielder, I’d be telling them my uniform size. And others who are better musicians and outfielders than I am would be even more likely to take the stage, or field, or whatever.
    Even if no one paid performers anything at all — absolute zero payment — music, sport, and writing wouldn’t stop. So when people start talking in apocalyptic terms about the disappearance of all your favourite performers in whatever field of endeavour, you can reasonably just stop listening to them. They’re scaremongering, not reasoning.
    What has happened in the past, what is happening around us right now, what will happen again and again in the future, is that the ways people reward and encourage various human endeavours change. The responsible way forward at this moment involves taking change seriously, and seeing how to work with it. If you are unwilling to float along with the flow of the current, at least seek out a backwater in which to stagnate; don’t try to dam up the river (especially now that the waters are flooding at an ever-increasing rate).
• And from cartel-ised digital culture to cartel-ised educational culture, Michael Feldstein has a fine column on Anya Kamenetz and the Open Education Movement. Change is coming for education, too, and it involves using digital technologies in ways that may look like “piracy.” But MIT and Yale can afford to offer courses on the internet, because they function not solely as dispensers of teaching, but also as accreditors of learning — and since their attestation is very highly valued, they can give away the teaching and still charge for the degree. Once this model takes root and more clearly constitutes an integral part of the role of academies, it will engender knock-on effects that will change the academies themselves in dramatic ways. But the academies aren’t going away any time soon — no, sirree.

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