Consumer vs. Commerce

03Oct11

Joseph Schumpeter’s view on creative destruction is a theory of capitalism, innovation, and progress. It focuses on efficiency and suggests that the destruction is merely the results of business ventures. As such, the internet is coming to enable amateurs and “changes…the way users produce, distribute, access and re-use information, knowledge and entertainment” (Deuze, 2011).

Ben Sisario’s article Online Tools Help Bands Do Business is a perfect example of Schumpeter’s theory. Sisario discusses how bands are using technology companies to “transform the way musicians do business by letting them market directly to their audiences.” In addition, the rise of such companies now “have the tools [to] become sophisticated enough to run all aspects of a band’s online business.”

This also relates to Chapter 7 of “Managing Media Work” and the discussion of “all-in-one” packages where “more content must be produced from fewer resources, and more and more multi skilling and multitasking are required.” The services offered by such technology companies like Topspin, in addition to marketing, include selling tracks, tickets and merchandise, running fan clubs and calculating royalty payments. These actions have been attributed to programs like Pro Tools and iTunes which have contributed to the decline of the recording industry. While these companies and programs are highlighting consumer choice, is it really the consumers that they have at heart or is it commerce?

Another example is from Julie Bosman’s article New Service for Authors Seeking to Self-Publish E-Books. To keep things simple, a publishing company, Perseus Books Group, “created a distribution and marketing service that will allow authors to self-publish their own e-books” (Bosman). Similar to the previous example, services like this have contributed to the decentralization of journalism.

What is interesting about this is the lack of the “gatekeepers” concept. The idea of consumers having such control raises several thoughts. First, we are bombarded with so much information that it is impossible to sort through. Second, it diminishes talent. Third, it reduces, if not smothers, a sense of satisfaction or accomplishment.

My mother and I had a lengthy conversation today that reminded me of some of these issues. She teaches English as a Second Language and tutored one of her foreign students for 30 hours over the summer. Her CSE chair commented on the tremendous improvement that the student made and told my mother to “keep doing whatever she was doing.” When I asked her what she did, she said, “I stuck to the old way of repetition.”

The conversation then transitioned into something I heard on NPR yesterday. It was something along the lines of Indiana not requiring two methods of handwriting anymore (print and cursive) and instead, requiring one form of handwriting in addition to keyboarding skills. The story also had someone commenting on the importance and need for repetition and physical action, also sticking to the old ways.”

My point is, while innovation is important and even necessary, are some things just better the “old way” or should we keep pushing forward on all fronts? Is it a good idea to let all consumers in? Or perhaps there should still be limits?

Deuze, Mark. “Chapter 5: New Media Policies.” Managing Media Work. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2011. 59-63. Print.

Deuze, Mark. “Chapter 7: The New International Division of Cultural Labor.” Managing Media Work. Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications, 2011. 92-94. Print.

Bosman, Julie. “New Service for Authors Seeking to Self-Publish E-Books.” New York Times. 2 Oct. 2011. Web. 2 Oct. 2011. .

Sisario, Ben. “Online Tools Help Bands Do Business.” New York Times. 2 Oct. 2011. Web. 2 Oct. 2011. .

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