Disruption Talk

Discussion between co-founder of Napster Sean Parker and Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho.

We tell stories, we write stories, we have the book.

We can tell stories in a book, through short stories, through a few paragraphs on a blog, or in the minimalist form of 140 characters in a tweet.

Haiku masters were able to tell a story in the minimalist form of haiku poetry.

Paulo Coelho is wrong when he says we will not have books in the future. Unless there is a complete collapse of civilisation there will always be books. Nothing beats curling up with a good book.

Paulo Coelho has sold upwards of 130 million books.

Platforms are not neutral. Facebook is not neutral. Google is not neutral.

Facebook is a social networking company, right? Google is a search company, right?

Wrong on both counts!

Both companies are information and surveillance companies. They acquire information on you and they sell it. Google even trawls through the content of your e-mails to obtain information on you.

Try posting this to your facebook account

Let the hacking begin: If facebook needs money, instead of going to the banks, why doesn’t Facebook let its users invest in Facebook in a social way? Why not transform Facebook into a ‘social business’ the way Nobel Price winner Muhammad Yunus described it? http://bit.ly/fs6rT3 What do you think? #hackercup2011

you will find it is blocked.

So much for platform neutrality.

But: Assume 500 million users, each pays $1 each to turn it into a social business and become the owners of a not-for-profit business. This would raise $500 million, more than sufficient. There would then be no need to sell users personal details to third parties. Indeed it would be a condition of ownership. Facebook would be run as a social networking site for the benefit of its members. Sadly what many mistakenly believe it to be now.

Many smart phones use Android as the operating system. Android is from google. Can we trust them not to do what they normally do which is to access our information? The truth is we do not know, it is not Open Source Software and so it is not open to public scrutiny. What we do know is that google can install and delete applications without our knowledge or consent.

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Google and facebook are not charities. They are global corporations out to make money by using information on you. And never forget, the boss of facebook called his users ‘dumb fucks’ for so obligingly handing over personal data.

To change people’s minds you have to say something. In media jargon, you have to create content.

Production of content, editing of content, distribution of content, were and probably are, the three centres of power of the mainstream media.

This is no longer true, at least not true if we assume net neutrality.

I can control all three. My blog is just as likely to be read as any mainstream media, and I can get the content out quicker and usually with greater accuracy.

The mainstream media edits what we see. And for that read global corporations edit what we see. And they do so in a way to maintain their world view.

As the invention of the printing press shared information, and so the world view, so does the new media that we make use of today. Look at what Wikileaks has done.

There is also a paradigm shift between what the mainstream media does and I do. The mainstream is essentially broadcast, ie one to many. I am network and interactive. What I write others can comment upon, a dialogue takes place. Those who like what I write in turn pass it on to others, by posting on their facebook walls, by tweeting and re-tweeting on twitter.

What I write, although original creative thought (unless reposting what others have written that I think is worth passing on), is often based upon interaction with others, the germ of an idea is expanded upon.

Paulo Coelho makes extensive use of twitter and social networking. There is not only interaction between himself and his readers and followers, thus not one way, there is also interactions between his followers and readers, especially on his blog.

Summer 2009, twitter and social networking almost brought down the evil regime in Iran. Earlier this month it forced Ben Ali the president of Tunisia to flee the country like a rat up a drainpipe. Evil regimes across the Middle East are likely to fall like dominoes as we saw across Eastern Europe with the fall of the Berlin Wall. [Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia]

Social networking had come of age. It was no longer a medium for mindless celebrities to post drivel and trivia about their meaningless lives. It was being used to make a difference in the world.

Paulo Coelho spreads ideas, be it through his blog or his books. He encourages people to break out of their straitjackets, to follow their dreams. No surprise then that earlier this month the regime in Iran decided to ban all his books (or at least ban his publisher). The only surprise was that they were not banned sooner or that publication was permitted at all. Iran is now being flooded with books in Farsi that can be freely downloaded off the net.

Iran bans Paulo Coelho
Iran denies banning Paulo Coelho’s books

People can get hung up on technology. What is important is not the technology, it is what you do with it. Who would have thought of social networks as tools of the revolution? A car can take you from A to B. It can also be used as a lethal weapon.

Content matters. Writers want to be read, artists to be heard. We hear a lot of hype about net piracy, go back a couple of decades and it was about sale of cassette tapes. Each sale of a cassette tape was wrongly associated with the loss of an album sale. Those who are bleating are the global record companies and the manufactured pop bands who between them have destroyed music. Look at the top perfomers of today who have been around for what seems like ever. They performed because they liked performing. It is the manufactured rubbish on programmes like X Factor who seek instant fame.

Paulo Coelho has over a million followers on twitter, over four million on facebook. Interviews, book launches are boring, the same dumb questions, what is this book about? Why not try reading it?

O Aleph was published in Brazil last year with with no promotion, no book tours, no publicity. It shot to Number One in Brazil. Worldwide publication this year is eagerly awaited.

The writings of Paulo Coelho, the new media, are disruptive, they force change, force paradigm shifts.

A paradigm shift would be for business to shift to creating shared value not share value.

Paulo Coelho at World Economic Forum in Davos
Moglen: Why Facebook is Evil
Corporate Social Networking
Their business and ours
Google’s surveillance is taking us further down the road to hell
Facebook founder called trusting users dumb f*cks
“Let The Hacking Begin” Declares Person Who Hacked Zuckerberg’s Facebook Fan Page
Social networking under fresh attack as tide of cyber-scepticism sweeps US
The sad shrinking of Myspace into the digital void
Zuckerberg says it’s time for Facebook to become a “Social Business”
“Dating” site imports 250,000 Facebook profiles, without permission
The wrong kind of sharing: Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook page hacked
Egypt, The Age Of Disruption And The ‘Me’ In Media

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15 Responses to “Disruption Talk”

  1. Arto Hutto Says:

    For the reasons you so wisely have written in yor article I have been fighting against the flood of having an facebook account. I just started my career on facebook in nov-2010 as I did not see the point of it. I saw it as a time consuming, commercial website. I have been on the internet since 1994 so Iḿ not that backwards.

    As you wrote:
    “Social networking had come of age. It was no longer a medium for mindless celebrities to post drivel and trivia about their meaningless lives. It was being used to make a difference in the world.”

    Today I have found my use for it.

    Find new friendships!
    Find lost friendships!
    Keep excisting friendships alive!
    Exchange ideas!

    Best regards,

    Arto Hutto

    • keithpp Says:

      Like you I too resisted their use. I got angry when campaigning groups made use of facebook, forcing me too to join. To me it was a place where brain-dead celebrities posted mindless drivel about their meaningless lives.

      I was eventually forced to join both facebook and MySpace as the only way to contact people who I needed to contact. MySpace I never use as it is such a pig’s ear and I hear it is fast heading towards bankruptcy.

      The sad shrinking of Myspace into the digital void

      Like you it is a way to reconnect with old friends, make new friends.

      It is a net within a net. Once there, it is difficult to escape.

      I find it is a powerful campaigning tool, a means to make people think.

      Articles I write, not just on this blog but also Indymedia UK, I used to have to then e-mail to people. I still do but less often. Now I simply post on facebook and twitter.

      But you should be aware these are information and surveillance sites. I am amazed how much personal information people post. More than sufficient for ID theft and fraud. Also NEVER play games, do quizzes, send gifts. ALL these facebook application want access to your personal information.

  2. artohutto Says:

    yes, I agree. I hate censorship but I’m a litte naive so I live in hope of mankind. I never play any games as I do not have time. I almost never watch TV as it makes me fall asleep=;O) So using my brain to exchange ideas and spread light into the world is my main interest.


    Arto Hutto

    PS. I do not have any myspace account and I do not see the need for it

    • keithpp Says:

      If systems are open and transparent, we have better democracy and accountability. That is why Wikileaks is so important. Those in power are there to do our bidding, not use it as an excuse to get their snouts in the trough and line their pockets.

      TV is the opiate of the masses. I do not have a TV!

  3. artohutto Says:

    I have a TV so I can get so bored so I can fall asleep. I like the idea of everyone getting a share of Facebook but if they do not like that for some reason I get suspicious..

  4. artohutto Says:

    Btw. Wikileaks is hosted in my home country=;O)

  5. Pandora Says:

    I got a Sony reader for Christmas, seriously crap … and when I tried to take it back, was told unless it was faulty and reported within seven days I was not entitled to a refund (Waterstones)… I couldn’t even register it due to technical glitches and Waterstones have just rung me today to say blah….

    Books will never be replaced if this is all they’ve got to offer, simplicity is paramount and technology is far too complicated, but bookstores… that is another matter (in my opinion)

    Regards Google and Facebook, yes I think they have had their day, lots of my friends complain that it is too commercial and lots its way, and its a very mediocre site now. But what is the alternative, as soon as someone can suggest something let me know … or maybe Paulo can start his own trusted site, where no-one is hacked, or marketed just sensible socialable networking without any political agenda …. would be good!?

    • keithpp Says:

      Kindle is better, but I tend to agree, overpriced crap. They are aimed at those who like to show they have the latest gadget.

      I find it unbelievable the cost to download a book. I would expect it to be around a dollar or a pound or a euro, not almost the same as buying a book.

      The same applies to download music.

      There are no production costs, not distribution costs.

      Nothing beats curling up with a good book. The exception I would make is listening to a reading or dramatisation of a good book.

      For example, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins on BBC Radio 4


      Classic novels can be downloaded for free. But I would far rather curl up with a book, then try to read on my laptop.

      About the only benefit I can see is that someone like me always goes away with a suitcase full of books, which is heavy. But then I do tend to give them away so I do not have to bring them back.

    • keithpp Says:

      Waterstones should give you your money back. Goods purchased have to be fit for purpose, which the crap you bought clearly was not. Please raise with your local Trading Standards. But also raise with store manager.

      You do not have to take back within seven days. That is Waterstones making an arbitrary rule.

      It is important you kick up a stink. These cowboys take their customers for granted.

  6. marie-christine Says:

    Thanks for your comment.There is a risk anywhere these days with anything.You hand over your credit card down at the supermarket and they can have a profile on you. Fear is wherever you want to find it.
    I was also going to ask you why did you join Facebook then?
    I do not have a Kindle , they look good, I did have a look at them, the price was pretty stiff, I do like the idea that Paulo mentioned that it does not take much room, you can have 5 books in a Kindle. Not bad. I do not know how much it cost to download one of the book either. You say it is costly. I guess if you add the price of the Kindle + the book. for a start yes you do have a point. What is the time frame for a Kindle to be renewed? I don’t know, if it is for life it might be a good investment perhaps. I cannot have one at the moment, they appeal to me I have to admit.
    I also like the idea of reading a book, the smell of the paper, turning the pages and trying to see what is in the next pages further down 🙂

    • keithpp Says:

      There is a risk crossing the road, but that does not mean you do not cross the road, you just take care when you do so.

      You are missing the point re facebook. It is not a charity, it is not a social network company, it is not a neutral platform, it is a surveillance and information company. It exists to sell your personal information which you foolishly hand over. Would you hand this information to a stranger in the street, I doubt it, why therefore hand it over to facebook?

    • keithpp Says:

      Take a look at what Pandora has to say on the Sony Reader: Expensive crap and the shop where she bought it is refusing to refund her money.

  7. keithpp Says:

    Kindle and Sony Reader are gadgets for people who like gadgets. They cannot begin to compete with a book.

    Where they have an advantage, is that they can be loaded with dozens of books, you have instant access to a large number of books. Though many more books you do not have access to, probably most of my books, and would not even begin to compare. But at the end of the day, these are not real books.

    The costs I was considering were the download costs, which when you take into account no production costs, no distribution costs, are ridiculously overpriced.

    I was not taking account of the electronic junk needed to actually read the downloaded books.

    But as they say, a fool and his money are very easily parted.

  8. keithpp Says:

    I do not like to say I told you so. I have repeatedly warned people about putting personal information on facebook. If you do not care about ID theft, then that is fine.

    Face to Facebook
    “Dating” site imports 250,000 Facebook profiles, without permission

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