Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The RIAA and the digital divide

There's a maelstrom of activity on the Internet, with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) at the center. Relax, this isn't a rant against the RIAA. A simple Google search will give you plenty of those, written with more insight and eloquence than I could muster.

Instead, I'd like to offer up the RIAA as a litmus test for which side of the digital divide someone's on. Gizmodo has launched an initiative to boycott the RIAA, urging everyone to not buy anything from the major labels. Others have taken up the call -- Podcasting News is spotlighting indie music podcasts throughout the month of March. There's a grassroots initiative to "bum rush the charts" -- on March 22nd everyone is to purchase a certain song on iTunes, causing a spike in sales and hopefully making a point. Online, the reaction against the RIAA seems to be everywhere -- online.

Those on the other side of the digital divide remain unaware of any of this. So here's the test. Ask someone if they've heard of the RIAA. Their response will be most illuminating. I've tried it with some of our friends who spend a great deal of time online forwarding e-mail jokes and recipes. Although they're on the Internet, they're not really on the Internet. They have no idea what I'm talking about.

As I've pointed out before, there's a digital divide not just between the on-liners and off-liners, but within the on-line community as well. Asking "What have you heard about the RIAA?" can be a way to illuminate that digital subdivision.

- Ralph

No comments:

Post a Comment