A great many people (e.g. here, here, here) have commented about Tim O’Reilly’s dramatic question in response to a White House weekend blog entry about legislative efforts to stop online piracy. The blog entry/press release includes the assumption — as stated by the copyright industry — that legislation is needed to give them the power to control “their” intellectual property, because it’s harmed theirs and the nation’s economy. O’Reilly, however, isn’t so sure.
“In the entire discussion, I’ve seen no discussion of credible evidence of this economic harm. There’s no question in my mind that piracy exists, that people around the world are enjoying creative content without paying for it, and even that some criminals are profiting by redistributing it. But is there actual economic harm?”
I wish to point out that this question is an outstanding illustration of the philosophical concept of deconstruction, a key process involved in postmodernism (to which this blog is dedicated). Deconstruction is the great threat to our hierarchically-driven culture, because it proves that much of it is based on unproven and self-serving assumptions, like the one to which O’Reilly is referencing. In the one-to-many media world, it was easy to get away with this, because the channels available to dispatch sweeping narratives was extremely limited. Today, that’s not true, and it’s only just begun. The essential function of a hyperlink is to practice deconstruction, and a culture armed with this ability will not sit still for anything resembling bullshit.
Respected observer and friend Jackie Danicki, Director of Social Comms for Weber Shandwick in New York, posted another assumption on Facebook yesterday. An article in her hometown paper began with this sentence:
“With the first drug-related warrant of 2012 under its belt, the Chillicothe Police Department continues to investigate drug crimes and work on making the city safer.”
This prompted Jackie to state, “How blindly these people accept and repeat the disproven idea that the war on drugs is making ANY community ‘safer’. Disgraceful.”
This is another postmodern example of deconstruction, and we’re going to see it more and more as The Great Horizontal advances. Can the public actually know more and better than it’s elected representatives? As the Wicked Witch once said, “Oh, what a world!” It’s what I call “The Evolving User Paradigm,” and it’s going to bite every institution in the rear end sooner or later. 21st Century businesses will be driven by the quality of their products and services to an increasingly hip public. You won’t be able to buy your way to the top by lobbing spit-shined horse droppings at “consumers.”