Managing Infinity: P2P's Hypeless Marketing
Cory Doctorow, Canada-US Fulbright Chair, Annenberg Center on Public Diplomacy, University of Southern California
The Internet makes it possible to publish and distribute work for free, but the resulting noissome media ecology is one in which audience-acquisition is nearly infinitely expensive. infinite cash reserves can be successfully marketed. The media ecology is denuded, vulnerable homogeniety replaces robust diversity.
Technological problems beget technological solutions: peer-to-peer file-sharing combined with reputation managment makes networks where media is "relevance-switched," migrating towards the users most likely to appreciate it. Peer-to-peer replaces billion-dollar hype with nearly free, nearly instantaneous word-of-mouth memes, automated and seamless.
The consequences are disruptive and breathtaking: where freedom of the press once belonged to the man with the press, and then to the man with the distribution mechanism, now it belongs to the man with an audience. Levelling the audience-acquisition playing field is the single most interesting thing to happen to publishing since Gutenberg.
This fundamentally changes the relationship between audiences, publishers and artists. It increases the importance of artist-development by publishers, but diminishes marketing and PR roles; it tightens the feedback loop between audience and artist; it loosens the hold that publishers have on their stable of creator.