NPR Science Friday Podcast guests recently discussed the future of the Internet. While this is a meme frequently trotted out by science and technology reporters and pundits, this one discussed the resurgence of amateur created content caused by the internet, such as the rise of blogs and now podcasts, which rival the efforts of media giants (ironically, like NPR). They also discussed the stirrings of amateur music and movies via distribution over the internet, such as Jonathan Coulton’s song Code Monkey, and Elephant’s Dream.
The New Scientist Podcast (the last 11 minutes) discussed a music search engine, Music IP Mixer. This software focuses on patterns in digital music to easilly and automatically find music that fits their tastes from over 10 million or more songs. This could potentially be the Google of music and end the monopoly the music recording industry has over discovering and determining which talent gets recognized because of previously high production and distribution costs. It could also end pigeon-holing based on genre and puts the decision into the hands of individual users and their tastes. It analyzes characteristics of music you already like and finds music with similar characteristics. It also refines its algorithm by evaluating results from users worldwide. Another podcast recently mentioned software that analyzes imagery for characteristics deemed to be pleasing to humans.
An Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Ockham’s Razor Podcast, Professor Richard Waterhouse bemoaned the slow death of Australian rural and folk culture as mass produced and distributed music and movies began to homogenize culture worldwide. Could the internet and the advent of new technologies enable the survival and perhaps resurgence of lost folk culture, or at least the rise of amateur talent? Are podcasts and and self-web-distributed music a fad, or will people follow their tastes? Will this lead to a "Balkanizing" effect on culture and end common experience?
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