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How Technology is Destroying the Arts

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Editors Note: For the purposes of this article, we will ignore the fact that the bulk of the profits for art have always been delivered mostly to the parasitic entities which surround the artists such as record companies, studios, promoters and distributors. We will assume the artists fraction is relatively constant, and ignore the fact that direct artist to consumer music publishing is now possible because of technology. Conversely, we will also ignore the fact that technology has allowed a proliferation of amateur artists to publish their art for free.

There is one unchanging feature about technology.  In a continuous process, the technology becomes ever smaller, faster, and cheaper.

150 years ago, if you wanted to hear a song, you had to hire live musicians. In buildings still standing, we see examples of old mansions, castles and the like where a studio was provided for musicians to perform, and the sound was vented throughout the estate. 150 years ago, if you wanted music you had to be an elite member of society who was able to afford to hire musicians to perform. All music heard was performed live by artists. Without technological progress it would be this way today.

Fast Forward-

The first video cassette recorders became available in the 1970’s. For the first time, this allowed consumers to watch movies at home. The same technology also allowed illegal copies of movies to be made and distributed.

The first computers came onto the scene in the early 1980’s. If you bought the super deluxe IBM model, it came with a hard disk about the size of a shoe box, which had enough storage capacity to store one or two modern mp3 songs.

Fast Forward-

Now only 30 years later you can store a lifetime collection of songs on something the size of your finger which you can keep on a keychain. You can even have it all stored right on your telephone. Countless people have digitized everything they own and listen to it anywhere they want.

The current state of the art allows you can store thousands of full length movies on a computer hard drive. You may not be able to carry them all around on a keychain yet, but that day will come soon enough.

It is no coincidence that as we have gone from 8 track tapes or cassettes and vinyl albums to ipods, that there has been a continuous decline in record sales.  In the old “analog” days, it was quite a time consuming feat to make a copy of a song. Furthermore, there was a degradation in the sound quality from every generation dub. If you wanted to listen to music, you had to either listen to it on the radio, buy the vinyl album, or buy the cassette tape. Because of the arduous task of copying, if you wanted to listen to your favorite artist at home and in your car, you had to purchase two copies. When you stepped on your album and cracked it, or when it wore out…when your 8 track player barfed up your tape after 20 plays….you had to go and pay the same amount all over again for a new copy. The cost of a given song then relative to income compared today was many times higher.

The key point to understand is that as we entered the digital realm of CD’s, mp3’s, computers file sharing, and now real time network streaming…and as technology has become faster, better, smaller, it has also become possible to duplicate 5 or 10 thousand songs in a few seconds. On a modern high speed network you can transfer the lifetimes work of any artist in a flash. You can browse and watch as many movies as you like on netflix as fast as you can press a button.

An entire lifetime of work….in 5 seconds. Think about that. An artist’s entire lifetime of production, or maybe a novel that took someone 10 years to write, moving from point a to point b in the blink of an eye. Think about a writer spending 5 or 10 years in front of a keyboard or typewriter, only to have the masterpiece transmitted to 100,000 people for free in an instant.

30 years ago with vinyl albums and tapes, this kind of duplication effort would have been a monumental task. It would have required an endless supply of expensive tapes, and when completed all the work would be inferior second generation copies. Copying a book was basically impossible.

So while copying personal music, movies or books for personal use may or may not be illegal, copying it for distribution clearly is illegal. That said, there will always be people around willing to use the technology for illegal purposes. This is also a constant. In spite of any law or protection mechanism that can be devised, there will always be an element willing to get around it. Because of this fact, the relentless march of technology will continue to drive down the value of art. There is no stopping it.

So at this point in time, the current state of the art in technology has already caused a proliferation of music. Does anyone remember riding their bicycle to a friends house to spend an hour listening to a Beatles record? When a middle school kid today can go over to his friends house and download 10,000 songs off of his keychain in 5 minutes, music proliferates. When file sharing services distribute the lifetimes work of an artist in a few seconds, the music becomes ubiquitous. Some of the younger generation today for example refuse to pay for music. With Pandora and on line streaming, there is so much choice this is now a valid option.

Does anyone remember the ubiquitous movie rental stores from two decades ago? The cost to rent a movie, not including gas and other incidentals was 2 or 3 dollars.

Today, a streaming netflix subscription costs 10 dollars a month with six allowed devices. If six people each watch one movie per day this is 180 movies a month or an average cost of 18 cents a movie.  What we can see from this is that the value of the art is declining due to technology.  When inflation is factored in, the real decline in price from 2 or 3 dollars to 18 cents is even more dramatic. This trend will continue unabated. The big media owners will attempt to stop it, or thwart it, but to no avail. So far, the new business model of suing their customers has not alleviated the problem.

Now we get back to supply and demand. If the music becomes ubiquitous, the price of the music or the value of the art goes down, however you want to look at it. As the value of the art goes down, there is less available profit for the artists to support themselves.

Today if you do a calculation that takes into account the amount of “free” (mostly illegal) music, the cost to legitimately download a song from itunes or equivalent, plus the giant proliferation of quasi legal offshore distribution sites, you come up with the average value of a hit song at about $.35 cents a copy (some fraction have paid $1.00, some have paid less, some have paid nothing).

Now lets take that .35 cents and talk about a “gold record”. Every artist strives to reach this pinnacle of success. According to the definition, a gold record is 500,000 copies. A platinum single is 2 million copies sold.

So lets go with that. Lets say as an artist you have struggled your entire career, and finally have a platinum single. Looked at another way, you have produced art that 2 million people want. At .35 cents a copy, that’s $700,000 dollars. Out of this $700,000, the cost of production, mixing and mastering, advertising and promotion, as well as distribution and channel sales, then finally wholesale and retail markup all have to be deducted. So this amount of money today isn’t going to buy a lot of rolls royces and learjets. Unless a profitable tour can be undertaken, this platinum recording probably becomes a loss.

It is no coincidence that the stables of the large record companies continue to decline and now support only a few broad appeal mega pop artists who have to be palatable to a mass audience. Otherwise, they are not a viable economic undertaking. Unfortunately for the patron of the arts, there is very little artistic value in this whole mass appeal contrived persona endeavor.

So in the case of illegal copying and downloading, the value of a lifetime of work for a one in a million talent is already reduced to zero. The cost of good quality high fidelity classical music from legitimate sources is already zero. It is no coincidence that symphonic orchestras are shuttering their doors around the world.

The point is that when there is less profit, there is less economic incentive to produce art. As there becomes ever less profit, there becomes ever less incentive. The art becomes economically not viable.

So without getting caught up in the details of the numbers, the important point is that as the technology becomes more advanced, for all these reasons the value of the art declines. As the value of the art declines, the number of artists which can be supported by quantity [x] of art declines.

As technology continues to advance,  how long will it be before you can have 10,000 movies on your keychain? At the present rate, maybe another decade.

What happens when we get to the point where technology would allow a copy of every movie ever made or every song ever written to be on your keychain?

What if you could go to a flea market and buy a keychain storage device with a copy of every movie ever made for $50? or $10. This would put the value of a movie at a few cents, and in many cases this would render the movie making process economically non viable.

If an underground character can buy a storage device for 5 dollars, and load a billion dollars of content he got for free to that, then resell it for ten dollars, he made 100 percent rate of return on capital. So it is the ability of the technology to do that, which drives the whole process.

Technology WILL make this happen. There is no law or treatise which will stop it. The technology will facilitate it, and there will always be an element willing to skirt the law or hack whatever protection can be devised. Because of this fact, the value of art in real terms, for any art which can be digitized and copied,  is destined to move ever lower. Maybe all aspiring artists should turn to sculpture?

The paradox-

Technology provided a “golden age”, where we went from having floor space in your living room for a quartet, to being able to electronically record a performance and duplicate it for the masses. This period has now passed. The profitability of all art is now declining.

So summarizing, what we can see now is that the price of a unit of art will continue to decline as technology progresses. This will be true for music, movies, artwork, photographs, fiction and non fiction books, or anything which can be digitized.  As the art and content becomes less and less commercially and economically viable, it can support fewer artists. As this happens, talented artists will enter other pursuits and endeavors because everyone has to eat. Collectively, this will reduce the quality of the art available, because some people who would have gone on to produce great art will instead choose a vocation that allows them to be fed.

The arts are dying. Technology is killing them.

For further reading about how technology is affecting our lives, please see Rise of the Machines.

 

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Categories: music, philosophy, technology

Food and You

May 24, 2011 8 comments

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Editors comment:  The worlds food supply is becoming toxic. Caveat Emptor

One of the most basic things we all have in common as human beings is the requirement for food. We all have to eat.

With that said….

A gross distortion has been laid upon us all by big government, big corporations and big food who are driven by a primary motive to maximize their profits.

This gross distortion is that the food we consume simply consists of protein, fat, carbohydrates and a handful of vitamins and minerals all carefully laid out on the side of some government label…as if every item you consume can all be compared on these simple minded characteristics.

This is a gross distortion;  a dangerous oversimplification.

Governments and global mega food conglomerates would like you to draw little or no distinction between food and health. If you don’t have rickets, you’re ok. If you do, take a pill.

If you become ill, it has nothing to do with the food you have been consuming or not consuming. What you are supposed to buy into is the idea that If the essential vitamins are listed on the package, this is all you need to guide your eating habits. This is how their medical establishment is trained. It is a gross simplification or even a nullification of common sense. It is an attempt to dump inferior quality profit maximized food on the public while passing it off as “the same thing” or “as good as” wholesome natural food.

Recent studies confirm that our food consists of not just what you are eating, but rather a culmination of everything in the food chain that went into what you are eating. The food chain cannot be dissected and compartmentalized. Everything affects everything.

It is entirely possible and even likely that entire classes of compounds exist in our food which have yet to even be identified, and yet have an impact on human health.

Most of the commercial food we consume today has been heat treated, irradiated or pasteurized to prevent contamination and yield a longer shelf life. Pasteurized orange juice for example tastes entirely different than Fresh Orange Juice. Why? What has been killed or altered during the heat treatment process that changes the taste? What important components or compounds of the food might we be killing with heat or radiation that we don’t even know exist?

While big corporations, big government and their shill agencies driven by the profit motive would like you to believe that it all boils down to a handful of essential vitamins, we are finding that food consists of millions of chemical compounds, some in minute quantities, which are beneficial or essential for good health and warding off disease.

Some of these compounds have been found to  kill cancer cells or in general prevent diseased states or protect against disease states. When these important chemical constituents go missing from the food you eat, disease states will result. Many of the pharmaceuticals prescribed for disease are merely concentrations or man made versions of these natural compounds which should be present in the food we eat, but often aren’t.

The fish you eat is a product of what it ate, where it lived, and what was or was not contained in the millions of gallons of water it filtered through it’s gills and thus concentrated into it’s own body during it’s lifetime. Importantly, it is also a product of the health and genetic composition of it’s parents. For example, it has been found an animal raised on GMO feed passes the genetic changes associated with that food consumption on to it’s offspring. This is also true of you and the food you consume.

The milk you are drinking is a product of everything that went into the cow that made the milk and the health of the animal which produces it. Thus milk containing antibiotics and other drugs from a stall raised cow would in no way be expected to be nutritionally equivalent to milk produced from healthy grazing animals, although the labels on the two products would indicate they are the same thing.

The spinach you eat is a product of what nutrients were in the soil it was grown in, the water, the fertilizer, and every other nutrient or lack of nutrient present during it’s growth.

As human consumers we have several issues to deal with regarding the modern food supply

  • -beneficial compounds which should be present in our food for good health, but aren’t
  • -harmful and toxic compounds which should not be present in our food, but are
  • -diets which contain very little of the beneficial compounds and a lot of harmful compounds

Given our limited but ever expanding knowledge about food, it is probable that we do not even know today the complete list of beneficial and harmful compounds.

We may not have yet identified all of the beneficial compounds in the food we eat, but we do know that the current mainstream food supply consists of a worrisome cadre of adulterants.

  • -Genetic modifications
  • -pollution and man made chemical compounds creeping into the food chain which may or may not be toxic
  • -chemical adulterants and additives
  • -lack of important compounds which traditional farming methods produce
  • -additives which increase profits but which are void of important chemicals and compounds

One of the most frightening aspects of the modern food supply is genetic modification. When did the public give their consent to have their food engineered by chemical companies? It has already been found that the genetic modification of food not only affects what consumes it, but also it’s offspring. With 70 percent of the food on the shelves today being genetically modified, this food is changing our DNA. It will affect your children. In what ways, no one knows yet. For further reading, see Genetically Modified Food Will Cause a Global Humanitarian Disaster.

Another frightening aspect of the adulteration of our food supply is the known toxicity of certain man made chemicals at extremely low levels. Certain toxic waste such as dioxin is toxic at levels approaching one drop in an olympic sized swimming pool and yet the food chain is absorbing billions of pounds of these chemicals every year. It is already recommended that we limit our seafood consumption due to concerns about mercury poisoning. How many millions of  man made chemicals are present in our food at very low concentrations which may still accumulate in our bodies and harm us? No one is able to tell us.Our food is not tested for these millions of man made chemicals. We make the assumption that all of these chemicals somehow just disappear and never end up in the food we eat.

It is probable that there are hundreds of thousands of chemicals in actual real food grown in the ground or killed in action as it was for thousands upon millions of years which are all required for good human health, and were all present in the diets of our healthy ancestors. It is also probable that because most of the food we consume no longer contains these compounds, that it is making us sick or more vulnerable to various disease states. Our bodies are large chemical processing plants. Our health is entirely dependent on the fuel we use to run our bodies. Our bodies have a finite capacity to deal with toxins and conversely to synthesize important compounds which should be, but aren’t in our food.

I’m sorry I can’t tell you exactly which chemicals do which things and why you need them, that is beyond our current capability as homo sapien tards. I am writing this because I know it to be true,  even if I can’t necessarily prove it yet. Time and history will prove it for me.

The point is that the mcfood thing here in 2011 doesn’t have any of these things you need and does have everything you don’t want. It’s a bio engineered laboratory creation whose long term effect on your health is entirely unknown. It may taste good but it’s killing you.

The third generation of hamsters eating GMO food had hair growing out of their mouths. Does that help?

This is one of the primary reasons why human disease rates are set to skyrocket in the coming decades. The food doesn’t have the chemicals it should have in order for your continued health, and it has man made chemicals your body doesn’t know what to do with or how to handle; like radioactivity.

For the masses, food is becoming a toxic mcthing with a government label that indicates it has everything you need.

The dilemma for modern consumers is that the food on the shelves contain items which may range from good for you, to ok for you to mild or slightly toxic to carcinogenic to body altering or disease state producing all with identical labels. It is virtually impossible for even an informed consumer to know. Maybe those “organic” farm raised shrimp from asia were fed melamine and raised in a pond full of antibiotics to keep them alive. Do you want to eat that?

Given that most of us do not have the luxury of growing our own wholesome and nutritious food, the food you are shopping for is a shot in the dark. You’re supposed to look at two government labels and compare a twinkie to a handful of spinach grown in Fukishima or a New Zealand ranch. GMO corn is supposed to be the same thing as natural corn. A can of beans is supposed to be the same thing as beans you picked from your backyard garden. You’re supposed to equate a cloned engineered cow given enough antibiotics to keep it alive until they slaughter it to one who had a mother and grew up in the sun eating grass.

Think.

We are all on our own here.  It’s your own health we’re talking about.  The authors recommendation is to do some research on your own. Eat a wide variety of food which comes from sources as close to nature as possible. Avoid man made creations like diet sodas. Use your own common sense and endeavor to seek out healthy, wholesome food. Try growing some food yourself if you are able and if it is not prohibited by your government.

Categories: farming, food, greed, medicine

Colloidal Silver the Right Way

May 21, 2011 6 comments

Link to full size drawing

Medical uses of silver
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The medical uses of silver include its incorporation into wound dressings to treat external infections, and its use as an antiseptic and disinfectant in medical appliances. Silver is also promoted within alternative medicine in the form of colloidal silver, although its use is controversial.

The silver ion (Ag+) is bioactive and in sufficient concentration readily kills bacteria in vitro. Silver also kills bacteria in external wounds in living tissue, so physicians use wound dressings containing silver sulfadiazine (Ag-SD) or silver nanomaterials to treat external infections.[1][2][3][4][5] Wound dressings containing silver are increasing in importance due to the recent increase of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as MRSA.[6] The disinfectant properties of silver are used in medical applications, such as urinary catheters and endotracheal breathing tubes, where the silver content is effective in reducing incidences of catheter-related urinary tract infections and ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP), respectively.[7][8][9][10] Silver is also used in bone prostheses, reconstructive orthopaedic surgery and cardiac devices,[11] as well as on surfaces and fabrics to reduce the spread of infection.[12][13]

Since the 1990s, “colloidal silver”, a liquid suspension of microscopic silver particles, has been marketed as an alternative medicine, often claiming impressive “cure-all” qualities. The effectiveness of these products has never been scientifically proven, and in some jurisdictions, it is currently illegal to include such claims in product advertisements.[14] Medical authorities and publications advise against the ingestion of colloidal silver preparations, because of their lack of proven effectiveness and because of the risk of adverse side effects, such as argyria.[2][15][16][17] Historically, colloidal silver was also used as an internal medication to treat a variety of diseases. Their use was largely discontinued in the 1940s, due to the development of safe and effective modern antibiotics and concern about adverse side effects.[17][18]
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