Big Media hates file-sharing, the practice of consumers uploading and sharing media files via the internet. They claim it's killing their business (though the real numbers disprove this). I think they're killing themselves. If they want to win this war, they need to embrace file-sharing technology. It's here to stay.
I resisted file-sharing for a long time. I thought it was evil, immoral. Then one day I wanted an mp3 of a song I had only on the B-side of an old 45rpm record. There was no way to get this song except through file sharing (or an elaborate vinyl-ripping process). So I downloaded Napster. And I've never looked back.
Have I downloaded illegal files? Absolutely. I don't deny it. And I'll download illegal files in the future. That's not my point, though. My point is that file-sharing has broadened my musical horizons, has increased my musical expenditures. (This is especially true since the advent of the iTunes Music Store).
Before file sharing, I only bought new CDs from artists I already knew and loved: Indigo Girls, Sarah McLachlan, Loverboy. Since file sharing, I've been introduced to The Decemberists, Emiliana Torrini, Neutral Milk Hotel, Ben Folds, and many many more. I download songs from these artists, and then I buy their CDs. True, I download many songs for which I never purchase legal copies, but I don't think that's evil; if I wouldn't purchase the song after download, I certainly wouldn't purchase it if I hadn't downloaded it.
(As a point-of-reference, I have about 16,000 songs in my iTunes library. Over 12,000 of these came from legal sources I own. Another 3,000 came from CDs I borrowed from friends. Only about 1,000 of these songs are illegal, and most of these are "discards", meaning they're songs I'll never listen to again because I didn't like them after hearing them once. Of the illegal songs I do like, I'll probably purchase half through legal channels.)
All this is a prelude to the following:
Over the past several months, Kris and I have — via Netflix — watched all three seasons of Alias. Sure the show is hoaky at times, gets repetitive with all its silly twists and turns, and the third season is weaker than the first two. (During the latter half of the third season, Jennifer Garner looks positively stoned in every episode.) But we love the show's spirit, the adventure and the intrigue.
When I heard that J.J. Abrams, the creator of Alias, was developing a new show, I was excited. I was even more excited when I learned the show's premise: an airliner crashes on a Pacific island and the survivors have to confront each other and the island's many mysteries.
The show is combination of Jurassic Park, Gilligan's Island (in premise only — this show is deadly earnest, no sign of a laugh track), Earth 2, and Alias. (Two recurring actors from Alias actually appear here, one of whom also had a recurring role in Earth 2.)
So, I'd looked forward to this new show, called Lost, for a couple of months. As its debut approached, I blocked out Wednesday night at 9 p.m. so that I could watch. I convinced Kris to watch with me. Last Wednesday at 8:58 I sat down with a bowl of ice cream and turned on the television to watch the show, only to discover the end credits!
I had the wrong time! Lost aired at 8 p.m.!
I was disappointed. I hoped ABC would re-broadcast the show, but their schedule showed it was not so. "Ah well," I thought. "It's just a TV show. No big loss."
Time passed, and it began to gnaw at me that I'd missed this show. I really wanted to see it.
Eventually I realized it might be possible to download a copy of the first episode from the internet. I searched my normal file-sharing networks to no avail. Then I decided to try BitTorrent, a new file-sharing protocol that I've managed to avoid for the past year. Sure enough: the first episode of Lost was available.
I downloaded it, of course, and on Tuesday night, Kris and I watched the show. We like it. On Wednesday, we tuned in — at the correct time — to watch the second episode.
Thanks to file-sharing technology, ABC has me as a viewer. I've not been a regular viewer of a network program in over three years. And I wouldn't be one now, except I was able to find a copy of the Lost pilot via file sharing.
How much more convenient would it have been to have just downloaded the episode from ABC's web site?
Come on, Big Media: wise up.
p.s. ABC does have a Lost re-broadcast on its schedule now. The two-part pilot will be aired this Saturday at 8 p.m. It's worth watching if you have free time.
On this day at foldedspace.org
2005 — New Old Office It makes me laugh that I spent an hour this morning re-arranging my office.
2003 — An Old Freak In which I'm not answering e-mail. In which I don't know modern music. In which my pencam arrives. In which I love book jacket covers. In which I watch Trading Spaces. In which I am old. And a freak.
2002 — Games People Play Stupendous weekend: much fun had with many friends. Thank you, all. I'm not glum any more.