Economics are usually not on my hot topics list to write about or even think about, however recently I came across too many too good articles on the discrepancy between “free” and “open” content (find an incomplete list in the references at the bottom of this post) that make me want to join the conversation.
There was a time, ages ago, when everything was offline and if you want to read an article you buy a newspaper and if you want to listen to music you buy a cassette (or a CD if you are that cool). People were actually much poorer then than we are today and yet they were crazy enough to spend money on things like art or culture.
Not paying for art and information is a big problem in a world where everyone can post information and there is no one to curate it. Curation is something we need more than ever today and yet noone is ready to pay for it. Nevertheless, I fear this is just one symptom of our big big problem.
“Who can still believe the opacity of bodies, since our sharpened and multiplied sensitivity has already penetrated the obscure manifestations of the medium?”¹
Nowadays it is common to talk about the revolution that technology caused in our lives and its profound influence in every field. Of course we mean mostly the digital technology and the revolution that happened in the last decade – the unique circumstances and consequences that surround it. However this is by far not the only technological revolution that our civilisation has seen and neither are its consequences unique.
When in the beginning of the 20th century railway and motor cars entered our lives for good, the entire perception of space, time and mainly speed changed. Science explained it, but it was artists who first expressed the altering sensitivity and worldview that was soon to infect us all.
As digital manufacturing enters the practise of artists, architects and creatives an appealing idea propagates – now you can just press a button and your crazy design gracefully enters the real world. Countless videos show in an almost magical way how fantastic shapes, without any fault or imperfection are effortlessly woven by a regular 3D printer or a more advanced robot arm. A milling machine creates a masterpiece all on its own and a 3D scanner gets all the perfect dimensions and all materials correctly – all of that at the click of a single button. Right.
Now there is nothing surprising about companies wanting to promote their products by demonstrating their flawless operations, but the perversion itself comes when even creatives support that utopian vision. There is this sense of pride when your design has been manufactured in a mystical technological way and it all goes as planned. No humans needed. Right?