Monday, January 7, 2008

Dart Adams presents Read A Book: The Pirate’s Dilemma by Matt Mason

I’ve been a member of this messageboard/community based in the UK called Dissensus since early 2005. I first ventured there to find out more about this relatively new style of music that emerged from the UK Garage scene around 2002. Since it was normally only played by pirate radio stations in the UK the only way I could hear the newest songs from this particular genre was through downloading songs from LimeWire, the peer to peer network of choice for most Mac users at the time.

The songs were all uploaded by the very listeners that usually digitized songs off of the radio transferred from audio tape. The brand new music form was usually called Eski but some people called it Grime. By mid 2004, it was being referred to as Grime universally and I began getting even more into it since people were actually putting out albums of it. Wiley, Kano, Dizzee Rascal, The Streets and the Run The Road compilations all made some noise on the underground in the States.

By 2005, Grime mania had hit most American music publications and everyone was writing about the “next big thing” to hit the music scene. Confused about different information given in these different articles, I went right to the horse’s mouth on the subject. The most outspoken and well respected authorities on the subject of the Grime scene/urban music climate in the UK were Logan Sama, Chantelle Fiddy and Matt Mason. They all posted on Dissensus so I joined and began asking them questions about the scene.

I found out that while in America we were hailing Grime as “the thing that will inject new life into Hip Hop” the scene was actually dying down in the UK for several reasons. I realized immediately how much of a disconnect there was between the media and the people at that very moment because I received more information directly from people in the know across the water then I did from a publication that specializes in reporting on music. I was better off frequenting an online community like Dissensus and Chantelle and Logan’s blogs than I was from reading Rolling Stone and Spin.

Earlier this year Matt (who has previously written for VICE and was the founding editor-in-chief of UK urban music magazine RWD) sent me a message and said that he was writing a book about how corporations have trouble adapting to the changing times and needs of people in the Information Age. Just recently he started his blog The Pirate’s Dilemma that explains this fascinating phenomenon further daily. I couldn’t wait for the book to drop so I asked him to shoot me was already forthcoming and it appeared in the mail the very next day via his publicist. Let me break it down for y’all:

As we all know, youth culture has helped to change and reshape the world over and over again throughout history. Ever since World War 2 ended and the world at large became aware that teenagers even existed, the world hasn’t been the same since. The old saying is that necessity is the mother of invention, whenever there has been an overlooked or under represented segment in society they have made their presence felt by creating their own culture. This culture usually comes with it’s own brand of music, dancing or a style of dress. Once this culture hits the public consciousness then corporations develop the need/want to turn this audience into consumers of their product and convey a message to them that they “get” you and support your lifestyle.

The thing is that since the advent of cool hunting and mass advertising has oversaturated the marketplace people have become far more cynical and they can just tune out all those adverts. Furthermore, with so many advances in technology today the knowledgeable consumer can pretty much create their own products modified to their own specifications and cut out the big corporations.

Since these same corporations are trying to jump on that new niche culture to gain a cache of cool, these new niche markets/cultures have adapted to the climate and become harder and harder to nail down by ad agencies. The same 40 songs being played over and over again on the radio that all sound exactly the same have driven many listeners away and resulted in low music sales across the board and increase in downloads as opposed to buying physical CD's. They in turn begin treating the actual consumers like thieves rather than fixing their own flawed and outdated system.

The same old stories about Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and whoever’s been kicked off the reality show du jour getting reported on your daily news rather than real journalism has driven people away from the news media. Where do these unhappy people/consumers go? What do they do? Well, since we have the technology at our disposal we begin to bridge those gaps ourselves by pooling our collective resources and sharing information with other users that we have common causes with. These users build a community and in turn end up creating that which they can’t find in existence currently.

This in turn pisses of these big businesses and corporations. They are usually slow to adapt to change and they want to stay in power. This struggle for leverage and ownership goes on between big businesses and the consumer. The consumer wants more leeway, looser boundaries, more input and better service from the provider and big business tries to tighten the reins and throw lawsuits at these pirates threatening the status quo. The way they see it, these pirates are causing them to lose money. The way the consumer sees it, we weren’t going to spend the money because the product doesn’t fit our needs anymore.

In this quickly changing world where computer technology improves the speed of the transmission of data every three to six months they’ll become a time where information can be passed almost in an instant. If you put up the wrong information on a messageboard, several messages will correct it within seconds. Any mistakes on Wikipedia, an open source user based site can be fixed almost immediately as opposed to a closed source website that would have the erroneous information posted there for only God knows how long. We are in the Information Age and technology has given us the tools to modify, create, and innovate the world around us. Corporations and big businesses don’t know how to handle this new age where all of the power is in the hands of the consumer. No longer do they dictate to us what we want, need or what is we do it to THEM.

The music industry and film/television industry realize are in flux as music and films are being streamed and downloaded either before or the same time as the premiere dates. The news media is being outdone by bloggers and independent journalists that want serious and unbiased news coverage. In this book, Matt Mason brilliantly tells the history of the phenomenon of youth culture and how it has reinvented capitalism and the world as a whole. The whole D.I.Y. ethic that existed in Punk, Disco and Hip Hop has slowly branched out over the years into fields that you normally think weren’t even related. They in turn snowballed and have all in effect given birth to The Pirate’s Dilemma.

This book is completely fascinating and it grabs your attention from the beginning to the end. I read it straight through in one sitting and I read it over again the day after I got it. You will be so engrossed that you really won’t want to put it down. Matt Mason seamlessly tied together how the youth culture of the 60’s, the advent of Punk Capitalism, the birth of Disco and subsequently Hip Hop lead into the creation of the personal computer.

He then takes us from the early years of the Computer Age to the present day and touches on several subjects all at once without once making you feel like your being beat over the heads with useless information. Who knew that a nun from Dorchester, MA was indirectly responsible for the creation of Disco, House and Garage? Who would’ve thunk that a bunch of college dropouts who dropped LSD were responsible for the Mac, iPod and iPhone (I did)? I even got my first mention in ever print to make it that much better.

If you’re looking for a new book to get get some wrinkles in your brain then this one comes highly recommended from me. Cop this joint mos def (it’s official street date is January 8th, 2008). It’s available for cheap through several retailers such as Amazon and is also available as an eBook. This book has also inspired me to write the story of how I singlehandedly went up against EA Sports and caused them a Pirate’s Dilemma of my own a while back. Read all about it tomorrow...but first buy this book.



Unknown said...

You're too kind Dart. thanks for the great review. This would an awesome first review on Amazon :)

Anonymous said...

"Buy" it? Surely you mean bittorrent a cracked ebook version...

Dart Adams said...

@ Anonymous:

If you were to do that then be sure to "share" it with as many people as possible.


Anonymous said...

Nice post,

I just discovered your blog on page 198.