Paul Mason really is a knob, isn’t he?

It would take 1,500 plays a month of a track on iTunes to make the minimum wage, but 1.1m on Spotify. So, the economics of digital music are only moving in one direction.

Pretty sure he means sales on iTunes as against plays on Spotify.

For me, the beer revolution began early. It was the late 1990s – at a beachside eaterie in Santa Cruz, a gaggle of hacks specialising in the Unix operating system were being plied with sushi and chardonnay. But my friend grabbed my elbow and steered me away from all these distractions towards the deserted bar. There, cool and glinting, was a tap marked Sierra Nevada.

In a way, this is the beer world catching up with the computer operating-system world, whose tectonic plates were having a good old shudder, even as I downed my first half-litre of Sierra Nevada.

since when have the Californians been serving beer in half litres? As opposed to 16 American fluid ounce pints (473 ml)?

And more to the point about his basic economics:

The economist Paul Romer, whose work in the 1990s shaped our understanding of infocapitalism, defined information as “instructions for making things”. Because these instructions are reproducible using minute amounts of labour, energy and mass, and not used up in the process of production, Romer concluded they would end up either very cheap or free.

All that could stop the value of information declining close to zero was the construction of anti-competition mechanisms: monopolies, aggressive patent and copyright laws, walled gardens of technology designed to make using free information difficult, networks designed to be used only if you forfeit control of your information to a megacorporation. We’ve seen it all in the past 20 years – but it won’t last.

So, the edges of the corporate world are increasingly populated by entrepreneurs who – sometimes unwittingly – take a postcapitalist view of information.

This isn’t post-capitalism. It’s pre-capitalism. This basic point about the replicability of invention and innovation is made by Adam Smith. It’s exactly the same analysis of public goods that leads to (again, from Adam Smith) government subsidy of at least primary schools.

It’s also an entirely utilitarian calculation and doesn’t in fact depend upon capitalism (private ownership of the means of production) or socialism (collective ownership of such). It’s a basic economic problem in any structure of ownership. Invention and innovation are public goods in that they are non-excludable and non-rivalrous. Once the work has been done anyone can use that knowledge without diminishing the amount that another can use. Thus they’re very difficult to make money out of: and thus we invent intellectual property so as to allow people to make money out of that work. Not because it’s just, righteous or capitalist, but because we think that increases the amount of invention and innovation that happens.

We don’t by the way, think that this means that we have this system right at present. But that is the basic problem we are trying to address. And it’s entirely independent of capitalism, socialism or any other -ism.

Mason’s a knob, that is all. He’s just desperately trying to fit whatever he sees into his logical structure. People are sharing beer recipes! Postcapitalism! As if Newton publishing his equations were postcapitalism. Just knobbishness.

8 thoughts on “Paul Mason really is a knob, isn’t he?”

  1. This is just another name for the annals of “people who would actually be more interesting if they took a basic degree in the subject that intend to make their living spouting about.”

    He might well have sort of insight to deliver, but he has no way to spot which of his observations – and the purported connections between them, which is the way he strings his experiences and factoids into some kind of thesis – is just reinvention of circular locomotion apparatus, which are novel, and which are plain nonsense.

  2. I liked the “aggressive”: such a convenient word – it can mean pretty much whatever you like.

  3. I haven’t read the whole thing, but doesn’t he stop for just a moment to consider the marvels of a system which has enabled a bunch of people to travel thousands of miles at 38,000ft for a couple of hundred quid to sit by a beach and be told about software and fed and watered with the best that Japan and France (via its viticulture at least) can offer?

    But then I suppose in the kind of world he envisages, he’d still travel to these places, but plebs wouldn’t.

  4. The other point to make is that before Spotify there was no chance for many musicians to make even the minimum wage from their music.

  5. He really has no fucking idea about why Brew Dog publishing recipes is just a bit of wanky PR and what the actual models of open source are. God he fucking irritates me.

    “Today, you can download the Linux version of Unix for free, confident in the knowledge that thousands of dedicated professionals are working day and night to improve it, again for free.”

    Wrong. 13% of contributions to Linux are by “unknown”. The rest is corporations like Red Hat, Intel, SUSE, IBM, Samsung and Google. It’s a bunch of bastard capitalists doing most of the work with capitalist reasons for doing it. This fucking assclown thinks he’s this sage, like he’s worked this stuff out, despite the fact that Eric Raymond

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