I fired through my google reader and e-mail late yesterday afternoon and I had picked up an e-mail from a friend about songs she thought I would like and should learn. Quickly, I trotted to iTunes, found the various artists and tunes she mentioned, and started researching through the songwriters.
Ten years ago it wasn’t this easy.
I sort my music by the date it was added to my library. The first songs I downloaded, way back in 1998, they are all still there. We’re coming up on a pretty remarkable anniversary in the next few months. 10 years ago, MP3s went from being back-traded on geek channels like mIRC and ICQ to mainstream forms of music.
Say what you want about web content growing, the anyone’s-a-developer blog revolution, and the transition away from print media. We are nowhere near Web 2.0 (or what point-oh we are at these days) without the growth of music distribution through the internet.
Think about it this way. What did MP3s do? Within the gray-lines of the DMCA, we took massive files of music that were seemingly tethered down, and made them digestible quantities of only a couple of megs (true geek moment here: at the average 128 kbps, the 3 minutes song clocks in pretty close to the 4 mb range. In wav or cd formats, that’s about 45 megs), and started figuring out we could pass them back and forth.
When Peer-2-Peer sharing went to the masses, it changed the internet. Napster did that. It broke down the geek barrier of entry. The normal internet consumer realized they could become each others content providers. That was the tipping point.
The first ever social media was music. It went from record store conversations to consumable bits that anyone could pass around their own channels.
Blogs are just technology. But until we realized that we could provide each other with valid content, the vehicle wouldn’t be necessary.
Napster gave us the first sign, in 1999, that the users could reach each other across the Internet, without a middle man. Without the understanding that we could share, we wouldn’t. That to me is what makes Web 2.0.