Letters of Mass Construction

Generation Free

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I am about to ruin some people’s lives. I wish I could say I was sorry but I would just be lying and I don’t like to lie. If you are one of the people whose life I send into a fiery pit of self doubt, hatred, and loathing then fear not there is a cure. It’s called reality. Are you ready? Alright, I warned you.

Not everything on the internet is free. It feels free sometimes. It acts free but someone is paying for it even if isn’t you right now. For example, Twitter continues to grow faster than marijuana in the forests of Humboldt County (okay I admit this is an exaggeration, nothing grows faster than that). Twitter is free to us as users but it isn’t free.

Twitter wants to make money. They haven’t completely figured out how to do it but that is their ultimate goal. It is why people have invested in them. It costs money to run Twitter and I guarantee you they are not doing it out of the kindness of their heart. This didn’t stop people from throwing a mini fit when they announced they were going to start using advertisements on a limited basis. It cracked me up because my first thought about this angered hoard was, “You must not like Twitter that much because if they don’t stop bleeding money soon they aren’t going to be around for too much longer.”

The internet changes fast and when you hit on something which captures people’s attention you need to find a way to capitalize on it quick or it will be too late. Personally, I think it might be too late for Twitter. They waited too long. Whatever they do will garner some sort of ridiculous “it should be free outrage”. Then someone else will figure out a better way to do it and make some money in the process.

I have watched my students feel more and more entitled to take whatever they want off the internet. This has truly becoming generation free. It doesn’t matter if it music, movies, comics, books. It doesn’t matter if it is Facebook or Twitter or the now totally irrelevant MySpace. They want things free but they also want it a particular way. Don’t bother me with ads. Don’t send anything to my email. Don’t make me watch commercials. Don’t make me pay a fee for your service. It isn’t wrong to download that movie.

I personally want people to get paid. Content and quality cost money. Look at what is happening to the Scott Pilgrim movie right now (according to some sites one of the most heavily pirated movies on the net). It was easily one of the best movies of the summer and has completely tanked. No studio is going to want to roll the dice on the next outside the box comic book movie if people don’t pay to see it.

I hope sometime soon people start waking up to the fact that our favorite artist, and musician, and internet sites, and a thousand other things we like will go away if we don’t support them. A world where a movie like Scott Pilgrim can’t get made or Kim Boekbinder’s music or China Mieville’s books – that is a world which has lost out on some great gifts. It is a strange time right now. The ability to connect with people, consume information, experience art has never been easier. Let’s hope generation free doesn’t kill it dead.

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