Saturday, 24 March 2012

Treat the Threat as an Opportunity

Instead of discouraging open source media, we should all be embracing this social outreach of experimentation and expression. Companies are treating open source media as a threat to their products, revenue, and ultimate success. Matt Mason agrees that we should support open source media, in chapter five of his book The Pirates Dilemma. Mason argues that “society finds new ways to share ideas that advance the common good, private interests move in to stop this from happening, to maintain the old systems that benefit only the elite”. (Mason, 142) The problem with society thinking this way is that the elites are becoming the minority, and in a democratic society we are slowly showing ourselves as the majority. Pirates are part of this majority and they are fighting to create a world of open source media. This notion entails that anyone has access to the workings within a program, or software, and recreation of something existing such as music, or a better example is Wikipedia. Access to Wikipedia is easy, and allows anyone to change content, to some this is an absurd new innovation, but to others it is exceptional and mandatory. As Mason says: “nineteenth-century intellectual property laws suited that past, but they are not quite right for the future, and stifle creativity rather than encourage it.” (Mason, 142)

People are certainly grasping the idea of open source media, the major influence that strikes their appeal is the no-cost factor, but there are many other advantages to this increasing outlet of media.

This media can benefit everyone from the original producer, to the manipulator and the audience, in more ways than cost efficiency.  One aspect that is over looked is the lifespan of these sources; they can live eternally through the expansion and changes made to the original idea. Even if the original creator no longer supports the system, odds are likely that someone will be able to maintain it for you (if not yourself) and expand upon it. In the media industry competition in high and if a company does not use open source media then they are the only ones who can maintain your product and sell you upgrades. Someone like Bill Grates who created the software program BASIC decided that he would not use open source media because he felt his innovation was worth money, and not just for free public distribution. What he failed to realize, but Linus Torvalds did was: “‘in many cases businesses are losing out on opportunities because of their information-hoarding mind-set. They don’t realize that their customers know more than they do’”. (Mason, 150 and Linus Torvalds)

Gates didn’t realize this, and although he made a large profit from his software, because he was the only one with access to the interior no one could tell if there were flaws to perfect or unwanted code within it. Today this is unappealing to the majority because people are extremely interested in recreating their software to their own standards, as well as assisting other with similar views and desires.

When Windows 7 came out with their campaign “I’m a PC and windows 7 was my idea” they are not false advertising, however they did make it difficult for their customers to be satisfied. If they had used an open source media they could have evolved more quickly, and the clients could have become the assistant-creators. Often when a company uses open source media the original producer can see when they change it and upgrade it to their desire, the more people who flock to the new idea, the more likely the company is to change their overall product with societies hands-on help.

Change is a good thing, cliché as this statement is, it holds true to the media industry. Open minds and open source media are part of the growing desires in our supply and demand society. In order to succeed isolation from clients is not the conscientious direction.

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