Saturday 7 April 2012

Giraffes and Illegal Downloading

Why do we live in a world where so many bad things happen?

That’s the sort of thing kids ask, and for which there never seems to be  a good answer. But there is.

If bad things didn’t happen, if earthquakes and hurricanes and tsunamis didn’t exist on this planet, neither would life. Well, maybe some blobs in the oceans, but that’s about it.

For living things to evolve and adapt, they need to be threatened with annihilation. Catastrophe and disaster and extinction level events are what got us to where we are today. Allow me to explain.

Let’s say you have some giraffe-type creatures, but with all different neck-lengths. Some shorter, some longer. If there’s plenty of food and no immediate threat, then things will stay more or less the same. 

Even if an occasional longer-necked giraffe is born, it’s unusual physiology will just be a variation and won’t have much of an impact on the general population.

But, if the high temperatures and dry grass cause huge bush fires, wiping out all the grass and  scorching all the lower branches of trees, meaning the only vegetation is on the higher branches, now only the longer-necked giraffes can feed. They will stay stronger, able to fight or run from predators. 

Which means they are more likely to reproduce and be able to protect their offspring.  Offspring with similar genetic makeup as them (long necks), who will go on to have sex with other survivors (with long necks) creating a bias in the population.

Of course, this isn’t good news for everyone. Namely the short-necked giraffes. You can imagine these giraffes won’t consider the process very fair. They were doing fine living off the low hanging fruit, and now they’re extinct.

What has any of this to do with downloading, you may be wondering.

Well, as the arts and entertainment fields go through their own extinction level event, with everything turning digital and therefore easy to replicate and steal, there’s a big hue and cry from those that were making a very comfortable living from the old system.

I don’t know what new forms of entertainment will emerge, but I do now that whatever happens, music and movies and books won’t disappear. What will disappear are the short-necked giraffes, and I’m sure they’ll make a big fuss about it.

Already people are adapting to the new. Comedians have started producing their own one-hour specials and putting them directly onto the internet for sale with no middleman. 

They are uniquely suited to be at the forefront of these changes because they are a one-man operation. By making the product easy to obtain, in various digital formats, and charging a low amount, they are making it pointless to pirate it. This is only possible because they are keeping overheads down, i.e. they’re bypassing the short-necked giraffes. In this case the SNG would be PR companies, management, production companies, TV channels, DVD distributors and advertisers.

If your job is to get the product from the guy who makes it to the guy who wants to buy it, and they work out how to do that without you, you just made it onto the endangered species list. And chances are you’re not very happy about it.

It’s unfortunate that not everyone can survive the process, but that’s how we get to the next level, in anything. What that next level will be I can’t tell you. But the fact that the changes we're experiencing are so radical and far reaching is a  good thing. That’s how evolution works: painfully but for the better. And that should be treated as an exciting thing. Unless you’re a short-necked giraffe.
If you found this post interesting please leave a comment or give it a retweet. Or both. Cheers.


Susan Oloier said...

This is awesome! You're right, it is the nature of life and of technology, as well. I like the analogy, and I've worked hard to turn myself from a short-necked giraffe to a long-necked one. Is that possible?

Heather Murphy said...

This is an interesting way of looking at things. I hadn't thought about it this way before.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

The Internet is changing things and faster than most are ready for!

PT Dilloway said...

I wish I had a robot giraffe. That would be cool.

I don't mind some changes but I hate websites (say Blogger or Facebook) who make these big cosmetic changes to their interface and just make things harder to find, dadgumit.

Unknown said...

Very interesting perception to it all!

Stopping by via the A - Z Challenge

Sarah Tokeley said...

Heh I like this. I've always had a soft spot for long-necked giraffes, and one day I'll get to be one :-)

Elizabeth Twist said...

Great insights into the current "extinction level event" - that is a perfect description.

In some ways I think the world of writing and publishing has never been in better shape. People are reading lots and lots. Maybe monetization is a problem for writers, but it has always been a problem. It'll just be a different problem.

A-Z @ Elizabeth Twist

mooderino said...

@susan-just need to stretch a bit.

@Heather-i'm just glad it made some kind of sense.

@Alex-a good thing too. I imagine there are those who would try to stop it if they could.

@PT-I also hate supermarkets who suddenly decide to move where they shelve stuff.

@Debbie-thanks, will be visiting you shortly.

@Sarah-and very nice you'll look I'm sure.

Unknown said...

Cheers to evolution!

Look forward to your challenge run…
--Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

Twitter: @AprilA2Z

mooderino said...

@Elizabeth-I like how the corporations set to lose money try to make out their only interest is to preserve art for the world.

mooderino said...

@Damyanti-thanks, look forward to yours.

jabblog said...

Short-necked giraffe sounds so much better than Luddite. I enjoyed this writing very much.

mooderino said...

@jabblog-thanks very much.

sulekkha said...

Interesting take on evolution,enjoyed reading your insightful post.

mooderino said...


Nate Wilson said...

Excellent insight, Moody.

And in my defense, I've only illegally downloaded three giraffes so far. (Two long-necked and one short, if you're wondering.)

mooderino said...

@nate-as long as they were for your own personal use I think that's fine.

cleemckenzie said...

Here's to survival. It's quite an undertaking in this techi world that allows connections to happen in seconds, yet promotes isolation. Very confusing at times, but then I'm still working on whether or not I'll need a long neck.

Beautiful giraffe BTW. I loved its blue gaze.

Thanks for stopping in at the Write Game to leave a comment. Enjoy the A to Z Challenge.

Rachna Chhabria said...

I like this post on evolution, its great. Different from your usual posts.

Rachna Chhabria said...

Btw..i like giraffes a lot. To me they symbolize elegance and gentleness. I can never imagine a giraffe attacking another creature or person.

Kelly Stilwell said...

Fabulous site. You've given me quite a bit to think about. Love it.

Kelly Stilwell

mooderino said...

@c.lee - you're welcome. thanks for visiting back.

@Rachna - like to mix it up every now and again.

@kelly - Cheers.

Charmaine Clancy said...

Good points with a laugh. I always think of the people who made wheels for horse carriages - they probably weren't happy when the automobile became popular either. There's still a few specialty businesses making carriage wheels but mostly the experts in this field either moved on to something else or went bust.
Wagging Tales

mooderino said...

@Charmaine-change has a tendency to be painful.

Patricia JL said...

Of course a smart middle man would figure out how to adapt or evolve if possible so he/she wouldn't become extinct. ;)

mooderino said...

@Patricia - true, but a typical middleman would just complain and try to ruin it for everyone else.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Fantastic points, cute giraffe! Thank you.

Nick Wilford said...

Interesting analogy. It can only be good news for writers though that there are now more opportunities than ever.

mooderino said...

@annalisa-thank you!

@Nick-I think you are right.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to come off as a bastard here (hence the anonymity) but I say this in the sincere hope that it helps both blog and blogger down the road.

Your message is that 'short-necks' playing it safe to avoid illegal downloads are willfully wearing blinders about bigger developments, and thus are missing the boat on those developments.

You're making this point in a post with copyrighted and uncredited images, in a blog that uses LOTS of copyrighted and uncredited images. Fair Use doesn't cover your usage--you're not using the robotic giraffe to comment on the actual robotic giraffe story, for instance.

This undermines your message. Instead of "Your fear is making you miss the potential of the digital age!", your message looks like, "LOL we're just going to steal it anyway, right?"

More importantly, this opens you up to legal trouble: any artist who does a simple Google search for their image and finds this blog can send notice to Blogspot and have you shut down. It's easy to assume that they won't find/mind one little blog, but that's assuming they're not looking, and they ARE. Many are proactive about protecting their work, and the standard arguments about free publicity (or 'the potential of the digital age') mean nothing to them when they don't even get a linkback from the usage.

Please, credit your sources. Artists work just as hard as authors, and they deserve the same basic respect you'd ask of anyone quoting your work.

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