Notes on Doctorow’s Second Law

Maybe its because I’m used to reading dry science textbooks, but I was compelled by my time with the textbook Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free by Cory Doctorow. In particular, I thought the second part was especially thought-provoking, probably because its salient to me as someone who enjoys creative work (hence the name of my blog). I don’t count on making a living from it, but I did hope to make something by going through a publishing company, and formerly a friend and I tried (unsuccessfully) to start a small zine and at least break even on it. Now I am beginning to rethink that approach.

This made me reflect about the other side of that equation, which is how I find and consume creative works. For instance, I realized that in the olden days before most music was available for free on YouTube, I’d be unwilling to pay for music. I wouldn’t even have discovered most of the music I love, since I find music by browsing instead of recommendations from others. That would have been money lost to the industry for concerts I have attended, and a tragedy for me. Everyone is better off with the music being accessible for free, including YouTube itself. The same applies to joining Facebook, Twitter, and my beloved Pinterest— I began my interest (and borderline addiction for the last one) thanks to having the opportunity to join for free before I was sure the product was worthwhile. Perhaps information should be free not only in principle but in actuality, for the sake of profits for everyone besides telecommunications executives.

Furthermore, I considered how just as in the pre-digital era the cost of production and distribution posed a barrier for artists, today the cost of marketing poses a barrier that prevent other forms of creativity or services to aid creativity from being free online. Basically, the cost of just letting people know something exists and is worth checking out proves challenging in a world overwhelmed by a constant flow of information and access to media. The situation is exacerbated by the fact that there are only a few so-called gatekeepers who dominant aspects of the powerful telecommunications industry results in a situation where only those who can afford to buy favor will be able to leverage the massive audience potential of the Internet, meaning the Internet has only changed the barriers rather than democratizing art the way it ought to.

To me, the solution is a change in behavior on a mass scale. Just like I did last week, I want to outline some meaningful changes I can make:
-Explore channels to discover obscure art, writing, and other creative works such as deviantART or less popular musicians more often.
-Let other people know about good art that exists “outside the system” for lack of a better term. For example, one of my favorites is Hungry Lucy, a talented musician who I discovered through pure chance years ago with only a few thousand views. Here’s a cool song of hers:

-Seriously reconsider some form of self-publishing that does not use the big gatekeepers (or at least, not any one of them exclusively) and licensing it under a Creative Commons license that requires attribution and prevents modification, but allows reprinting, so people can print parts of or whole portions of my poetry anthology and any other books I may write and therefore access them for free to find out if they’re interested. In the process of writing this, I found out that apparently Hungry Lucy also licenses under Creative Commons, which is definitely an influence on me. I am also considering reviving the zine idea, especially Doctorow describes for the zine that eventually became famous after being revived as a blog, but ran into bandwidth issues, since I’m dedicated to doing a paper zine if anything.

Let me know if you come up with any more!

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