Thursday, December 09, 2010


Wikileaks and Writers

By now we all know the story of the music industry, and how it was forever changed by Napster. Never mind that Napster has gone the way of Netscape--downloadable music forever altered the music industry model. I, for example, can no longer go to Tower Records after a memorable evening at the Met to look for a recording to take home. Now I have to go onto iTunes (where I can at least get immediate gratification), or perhaps order a CD from Amazon.

The publishing industry, too, is changing. I've ranted before about my desperate wish for people to embrace the changes and to think constructively as to how writing and reading can move seamlessly into this new age. Much is always lost with change; but only a luddite would believe that good music--and good books--are gone.

But now, it seems, our government is going to have to learn what artists and musicians learned over a decade ago. Yes someone can, with the touch of a button, publish just about anything. Once upon a time, the impulse to share information would have depended on, say, a newspaper. Or a magazine. Or a book. And readers would have to go and buy that newspaper, magazine or book. The process is made much easier by the internet. But the desire to share, to blow the whistle, to turn turncoat (all depending on your point of view), is nothing new. It's just all much easier now. And yes, that means a few people can't control anything any more. Welcome to the world most of us have been living in for a while.

I certainly don't think that the appropriate way to respond to these changes is to prevent the sharing of information (hi Beijing!)--this would be antithetical to the freedoms we all say matter to us. But you can already see this kind of lumbering coming from the likes of Senator Lieberman who, let's face it, isn't exactly known for his intuitive understanding of modern technology. It is difficult for me to think of Wikileaks as a thing to be for or against--it just is. It was also inevitable. My guess is that diplomacy will have to change. I haven't any idea how--that isn't my job--but it is telling to me that only after music, movies and publishing have had to adjust to life with the internet, the government is now going to have its turn.

I often think about matters of diplomacy. Since I have been traveling overseas for so many years (and meeting diplomats on those flights, who always impress me) and listening to people from so many different countries, and listening to how they misunderstand each other, I--something of a worry wart--become very nervous at any sign of a culture clash. Here is an example. I got my hair cut today at a very nice Japanese salon and I took my almost one year old son.

"He's so good!" the stylists all said to me--in Japanese. They don't speak Japanese to most guests, but make an exception for me. "Is he just like this, or do you give him drugs?"


"Yes. Most of our American clients drug their babies so they won't cry. That's why so many Americans grow up to become drug addicts as teenagers. They were drugged when they were babies and so they grow up to be anxious and never bond with their parents, who they then complain about all the time, so they have to go into therapy."

I suppose that Tom Cruise would agree with this assessment. And it did give me pause for thought. It also told me what is going on in the minds of these stylists each time a tony client shows up with her kid. An exception was made for me. But only because I speak their language--no stereotype could therefore be enforced.

I do long for a day where we all get to see each other just as people, and where we take in information as we get it and as it is doled out.

This article is old but you might fight some tips for off line record shopping for classical music in NY-
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