Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Shouldn't Music Videos Be Free to Watch?

I just tried to watch a music video on YouTube, and I got this error message:

It makes sense legally, but I've never understood why a company (or artist) would choose to remove a music video from a free distribution medium. After all, isn't the point of a music video to get more exposure for an artist, thus increasing his/her album sales? If this was a movie clip, it's a lot easier to justify because people explicitly pay to watch or buy movies... but not music videos.

Now, I know the super-techie-nerd will say that an individual could download the YouTube clip, and in turn get his/her own free copy of the song. But seriously... when I watch a music video on YouTube, I'm more likely to talk about the artist and send the clip out to my friends, which will create much more business value than stupid error messages.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Ishmael on Education

It's never seemed relevant to study people whose only accomplishment was to live on a planet for three million years without devouring it. But as [you] approach a point of no return in your plunge toward extinction, this study will soon seem very relevant indeed.

As a follow-up to my post on Ishamael by Daniel Quinn, I want to share a thought from the sequel to that novel, My Ismael. As opposed to just explaining what is wrong with the world, My Ishmael is slightly more solution-oriented than its predecessor. But solutions are not the purpose of this post. What I want to share with you are Quinn's thoughts on our - the modern world's - education system.

What is the purpose of schools? Do we ever ask ourselves that question?  Are 15+ years of schooling actually necessary to teach a child how to survive in society? According to Quinn, even with the "most advanced education system in the world", our 18-year old high school graduates have a very low survival value. To articulate this thought, Quinn uses this example: "If the rest of the community were to vanish overnight, and they were left entirely to their own resources, they'd be very lucky to survive at all."

It's very contraversial to say that our education system is useless though. But, like always, Quinn reaches back in time to bolster his arguments. "150 years ago, there was no reason to keep people off the job market past the age of 10." Interesting, but still not a very strong argument. After all, we have made so many technological advancements through the age of industrialization, it must be necessary for higher levels of education... right? Well, it's not like we teach kids how to succeed in the job market during their high school years. In fact, society's biggest deception, Quinn says, is that "schools are there to prepare children for a successful life." So this leads us to Quinn's primary argument.

Schools are there to regulate the flow of young competitors into the job market.

Think about it. College became the norm in our society only decades ago. Now, an undergrad degree is like a high school diploma. And how about Masters and PHDs... they all get tacked on as "ordinary" educational components as our society progresses. So when do we draw the line? Who knows, but the above statement just makes so much sense. Our population is growing faster than the number of jobs we're creating, so we have to create larger buffers to control the flow of jobless kids.

The quote at the beginning of this post epitomizes the premise of the Ishmael series. The fact that we should really learn from "prehistoric" human civilizations; how they approach(ed) food supply, population growth, and education. This is explained in great detail in My Ishmael, but like I said, this post isn't about a solution... just an intriguing thought. If you want to learn more, read the book.