Anyone remember Napster?

I worked at a printing supplies company in my late teens, an established company, local. They sold printing blankets and inks and other supplies and most of the newspapers you read would have used their products. My job was to create order codes for the warehouse and do customer service, make sure people got printing blankets of the right size. We were a team of five and a few months into the job, sales of film and printing blankets stopped dead in its tracks. By the time I left we would sit around all day waiting for orders that never came. The company were not prepared for the digital revolution and disappeared. Around that time I was downloading music I liked through Napster which was a revelation, Napster were continually fighting lawsuits and I moved to another platform..and another…and another… Napster was never the threat, it was an omen, a portent of what was to come.

The digital revolution came late to political media, and when they moved to twitter in 2009/10 ish, I don’t think they understand the implications. The vicious tribal left right echochamber that formed around the fringes of political media publications, exposing their culture. A culture firmly rooted in one or two universities and by people who have never had to engage with the outside world beyond patronage, demonisation or pity. Is fair to say that that first foray into a digital world has exposed how media democracy was underpinned by a class of people who dont know how to behave with accountability and have never been in an environment where reflection was necessary or criticism welcome.

While they imposed their hierarchies, and fought for dominance within this bubble I dont think they understood it was a bubble bobbing about on a digital ocean.

Twitter is political media’s Napster. An omen, a portent, a sign that things have changed. Twitter is not the digital revolution, its just the first platform this culture used to expose themselves and their inability to compete. The platform where they demonstrated the inequality reflex that creates inequality faultlines mapped out with safeguarding responsibilities, is the same abusive reflex that drives their culture.

I don’t think those within it can reflect on what is happening but I think future generations may look at it with interest. The discussion of inequality does not happen on a left right axis, and the left right axis and the culture maintaining it via political media online and off, has been shown to be incompatible with discussion of how and why our political economy is failing. A dying industry can be spotted a mile off, but those in the centre of it rarely understand till it’s dead.


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