The Dutch theorist Geert Lovink has a long history of activistic academia – often talking about tactical uses of the media. Here he discusses several issues that I’ve been thinking about lately.
“In these times of ongoing financial crisis we can no longer afford to celebrate ‘free’ and ‘open’ as the default on the Web and pretend that it is everyone’s private business how they are going to make a living. [..] We need to politicize this situation and not presume that ways of making an income is a private matter”. For me this is spot on. Artists think too much about themselves. Why is there so little politics in electronic music? Why is it normal to use corporate tools to make, distribute and archive music into eternity? Perhaps “The main enemy is our own naïve passion to forget the politics of the tools that we fall in love with, time and again (Technikvergessenheit)”. How many people died to build your computer?
“Free software and creative commons never created confrontational situations— and that should make us think. As alternatives they have created their own modest niches but never created antagonistic situations. After 20-30 years it is time for the cybersubculture to publicly discuss these strategies”. Creative Commons makes little sense to me. When Swedish radio used my CC-licensed music for jingles, the license made no difference. The point with CC is more to encourage others to remix. But eh, who needs that?
“The free and open rhetoric needs to be dismantled. Instead we should promote a discourse which states that it is cool to pay. Sharing for free is boring and in the end a nihilist act. What we need are those bloody ‘alternative revenue models’”. Lovink has a point. Even if it’s a boring one. If you want there to be money in music, you need to talk about revenue models. Personally, I don’t make a living from music anymore, so I don’t bother. But on a structural level the whole free/open/CC-discourse hasn’t really mattered so much, right?
“Stop with the free services as they will screw you”. Yes. And we like it.