Tech Is Too Cheap to Meter: It's Time to Manage for Abundance, Not Scarcity
Perhaps the best example of a glorious embrace of waste is YouTube. I often hear people complain that YouTube is no threat to television because it's "full of crap"--which is, I suppose, true. The problem is that no one agrees on what the crap is. You may be looking for funny cat videos and think my favorite soldering tutorials are of no interest. I want to see funny videogame stunts and couldn't care less about your cooking tutorials. And clips of our own charming family members are of course delightful to us and totally boring to everyone else. Crap is in the eye of the beholder.
Even the most popular YouTube clips may totally fail in the standard Hollywood definition of production quality, in that the video is low-resolution and badly lit, the sound quality awful, and the plots nonexistent. But none of that matters, because the most important thing is relevance. We'll always choose a "low-quality" video of something we actually want over a "high-quality" video of something we don't.
A few months ago it was time for my kids to choose how to spend the two hours of "screen time" they're allowed on weekends. I suggested Star Wars and gave them a choice: They could watch any of the six movies in hi-def on a huge projection screen with surround sound audio and popcorn. Or they could go on YouTube and watch stop-motion Lego animations of Star Wars scenes created by 9-year-olds. It was no contest--they raced for the computer.
It turns out that my kids, and many like them, aren't really that interested in Star Wars as created by George Lucas. They're more interested in Star Wars as created by their peers, never mind the shaky cameras and fingers in the frame. When I was growing up, there were many clever products designed to extend the Star Wars franchise to kids, from toys to lunch boxes, but as far as I know nobody thought of stop-motion Lego animation created by children.
(Image: Rodrigo Corral)
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.