Monday, February 20, 2006

On Demand

I like to think that, unlike many people of my generation, I was excited when I got my first Mac at work. I couldn’t believe what that thing could do.

To give you an example of how a lot of people of that generation reacted, and still react, a coworker looked at the keyboard and said, “What does “escape” mean? It’s about time they updated the safety program around here.”

I took to it and things that followed like the proverbial duck to proverbial water.

I’ve completed 4 CDs and am working on a fifth. I know the first four have to be redone because I’ve learned so much about my mixing software. I know I can improve the songs. However, I get the feeling the popularity of CDs is rapidly dropping. It seems that everything is “on demand”, a terrible precedent that’s been set for future generations.

With nothing “on demand”, the kids stopped the Vietnam War. The kids had a vested interest in it. If you were 30 years old or older from 1965 to 1972, you thought that we kids were dirty, never cut or washed our hair, or any other part of our bodies, and were always high.

OK, so most of that was true, but we had passion and, as Mohammed Ali said so gracefully, had “nothin’ against them Viet Congs.”

We didn’t end the war by getting to millions of people “on demand”. We did it by just being there.

Ah, being there. What a concept.

Now everything is “on demand”. You don’t have to be anywhere because it’s going to come to you, anyplace and any time you want it. Almost anyone can afford to purchase “on demand” because the people in the shops which make the products that give us “on demand” can’t come close to being able to afford them.

iPods, tivos and other mechanisms, bring stuff to us “on demand”.

The up side is that, with an iPod, one could, by default and by accident, but serendipitously, nonetheless reach more people than one can with a blog or a web site.

It was fairly easy to figure out where to start when I got my first Mac. I have a PC now. PC stands for Personal Computer. A person either has a Mac or a PC. I’ve often wondered if that makes a Mac an Impersonal Computer.

I was born after the advent of the typewriter, believe it or not, and I learned how to plug things in and turn them on during my first thirty years or so. So learning how to use a Mac was fairly easy. I knew where to start.

Then my blog came to me. Good ole spam. It was “on demand”, I guess, although I don’t remember demanding it. I thought, “What a cool idea. I can have this for nothing. Just think of how many people I can reach.” They gave me the template and said, “Start typing dude” and I did.

I’m now almost positive that I was the 3,617,122,087th person to create a blog.

It wouldn’t have been easy for me to figure out where to start to get a web site, so I took a course in HTML. I knew how to make a web site, but I still didn’t know how to get one.

Spam to the rescue again. It came to me on demand and in my email.

Fewer people pay for web sites, but I’m sure the number above can be halved and I am that particular person who created a web site.

The reason I do any of this is to reach people. We’re in a world of hurt, but the kids of today, no, not just the kids, most people today aren’t going to stop any wars, any dictatorships or even any nuclear annihilation. They’re too busy listening to and watching stuff “on demand”.

We didn’t have the world “on demand” in the sixties and we didn’t like what was happening to it. Furthermore, one had to pursue it in order to get it. We certainly didn’t like our chances of living long enough to pursue our world. So we fought for our world to put an end to our having to fight and die for their world. They gave in.

The iPod is good for people who don’t want to read, or don’t know how to read, and, for that reason, it could be good for those of us who want to spread the message, “You are owned! You don’t have a life because you’ve decided to give it away and you don’t even know it!”

I don’t want to be popular or famous. I want to share my music with people because some people like music. Same goes for my poetry. I’d give it all away. All I’d need in return is to somehow know that people looked forward to hearing/reading it.

I’m 55 and I’ve finally reached a point in my life where the people that I most want to reach aren’t the same people who tell me I have no talent and my music and poetry sucks. Yes, some people say that, but, hey, I can accept criticism. What I received wasn’t criticism. It was a death knell for even the smallest inkling that I might at least have some hidden talent.

I do want to reach as many people as possible because, like Dubya, I want to spread democracy, real democracy, with a touch of socialism. By “socialism”, I mean government supported programs that help people who are in need. I’m not so delusional as to think that true communism could ever “take hold” on a national level as a form of self governance. The reason? People. In fact, I don’t think that we can even have communes anymore like we did back in the day (see dates above).

I’m disappointed in how opposition to this cabal and its murderous ways is non existent today. Talk and, especially writing about opposition to the Iraq fiasco has maybe tripled what it was in opposition to Vietnam. We’ve communicated with like minded people more in the three years that the murders in Iraq have been taking place than in all of the 8-10 years of Vietnam. But we eventually stopped Vietnam. One would think that, if we had the technology to show more people what was happening in Vietnam - Calley wasn’t the only Lieutenant who took his frustrations out on Vietnamese civilians - Vietnam would have been stopped in half the time.

However, I’m beginning to think that, if we had this technology during Vietnam, this country would now be holding the mortgages to Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and all of Southeast Asia. We’d be writing about how awful it is that 355,000 American soldiers have needlessly died in this “war of choice”.

I’m not opposed to any technological advances that help inject sanity into the world’s population. I’m certainly not opposed to any technological advances that would enhance the chances of people enjoying my music or even poetry. Of course, we’d have to be lucky enough to have peace break out and last for more than five years.

One thing that I thought of that’s different between today and the time during the Vietnam “conflict” is the mainstream press. During the Vietnam era, the press reported the news. It didn’t take one position or another from what I remember. At least it reported all of the fact as they received them. They reported what was going poorly in Vietnam and reported what was going well in Vietnam. There wasn’t much in the latter category. There wasn’t any state run media like Fox News.

Walter Cronkite removed his glasses during one of his nightly news broadcasts, looked into the camera and gave his opinion about the war shortly after the Tet Offensive. That’s as close as it came to partisan news reporting. However, I think the general public was beginning to agree with his perspective, even before he expressed it. I think that we he did that evening had a profound affect upon the government and helped the kids in bringing the war to an end.

Life travels in only one direction. If podcasting means that more people will hear about what’s happening to them, then I’m all for it and I’ll do it. We really need to do more than just write and podcasting might be a good next step.

Why is it so impossible to get peace “on demand”?

To friendship,

"In sharing, in loving all and everything, one people naturally found a due portion of the thing they sought, while in fearing, the other found need of conquest." - Chief Luther Standing Bear - Oglala Sioux

1 comment:

marathonman said...

michael, I enjoy your writing and agree with almost everything you write.but I’ve read this one over and over again and I’m not sure what your point won’t get an argument from me that everyone wants things on demand as you say.

when you write these letters don’t you want people to see them as quickly as they can?aren’t your writings on demand?

you said it yourself. but the kids of today, no, not just the kids

no, not just the and me want things on demand.

you won’t get an argument from me and I bet you wouldn’t get an argument from anybody whether they’re conservative or liberal.

you sort of sound like on of those people who say whey I was a kid I walked to school in the snow uphill both ways.

I mostly agree with what you say.I might even agree with this but I don’t really know what the point is that you’re making.

maybe you should keep on writing about things we can do something about.