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Culture in the age of the Internet

Hello Tedsters!
I wold like to start a new debate. I was quite surprised to see that no one has been discussing this subject so far at TED Conversations. We speak about technology, science and changes in the society, but it seems as we have forgotten about the culture, and how the new technologies change it.
I wold like to focus your attention to the changes in the culture that are caused by the Internet. This wonderful global network, that allows instant transfer of any intellectual content to almost any place on Earth. Seems brilliant, doesn't it? But have you noticed that the whole world is now watching the same movies, listening to the same music and reading the same books? I wonder if that is a good thing that slowly we are loosing our diversity? Maybe we should somehow protect local differences? Or maybe we should act in opposite direction? Doesn't it annoy you that living outside a specific region you can't access legally some content? I understand the legal and commercial reason why i.e. Hulu or Pandora are available only to U.S residents, but should it be so? Maybe the whole word should have equal access to all the cultural and intellectual wealth?
But if we would like to provide easy access for everyone to the "cultural products", witch I strongly believe should happen, how to protect the author's right to profit from it? Is the DRM the right answer? I don't think so, but honestly I can't come up with a better one.
I hope someone will find these topics as interesting as I do. The world is changing whether we want it or not. I think we need to find answers for these questions, because otherwise we will end up regretting that we missed the opportunity to steer this process that we still have now.

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  • Feb 16 2011: Well, the answer's not simple. I recently read an excellent report on mainstream culture written by Frédéric Martel: "mainstream". To sum up, he states that, even though we seem to share, in occident, a common americanized culture (as you say, reading the same books and watching the same movies), there actually exists many different 'samebooksamemovie' groups. His 5-year-research led him to study the indian diaspora through bollywood which is 1 billion spectators more than hollywood (no less!!), the asian cultural market, south america and african countries.
    The conclusion is that the whole world is not watching the same movies and reading the same books. Our accidental world seems to, I agree.
    I strongly encourage you to read this book.

    On another topic, I am opposed to DRMs the way they are proposed nowadays because it, most od the time, bounds a content to a specific player, hence tying: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tying_(commerce)
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      Feb 16 2011: I agree that there are many different "same-groups". But don't you think that also these groups will eventually merge? Somehow everyone in Europe or US knows what manga is. You can observe an influence of something I think of as a "samurai myth" in modern US movies. I think that it is only a question of time when these groups will start merging. Especially now, when new Indian and Chinese economics are quickly rising and will be able to support the marketing of their "cultural products".
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        Feb 27 2011: Well actually they don't - in fact this is what I touched upon in my direct reply to the topic as well. While people might know what manga is, that doesn't mean they are likely to be more interested in it. In my own case - I listen to a certain type of music (metal).
        While my friends know what it is, this in no way means we are merging. In fact, as I interact more with others that share my tastes, receive suggestions, explore other things related to what I already like - the more we diverge. It is the same with others as well, people in the "same interest" groups merge with each other, but diverge from others.... simple because there are underlying ways of thinking and tastes that result in the formation of groups in the first place

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