The Cluster Revolution
The expansion of the internet generated new vectors of communication and new social
behaviors. Peer To Peer extended the logic of sharing and created communities based on the
apportionment of virtual content.
Every day, tons of Internet users are opening hundreds of texts, images and videos trough
different browsers, but they also have access to an incredible amount of cultural content in a
blink of an eye thanks to Peer To Peer programs. This technology permitted the
democratization of culture and nowadays every internet user on Earth can share and receive
We will expose in this case study how the users reproduced their natural social and instinctive
behaviors consisting on sharing with others. A part of the report will present how this
progress was from the beginning considered as a threat by the entertainment and “culture”
industry. Lastly the report will explain how Peer To Peer became an unstoppable technology
that will continue shaping society for the next decades.
As Paul Virilio said “The peculiarity of the Human Being is to resist”. Peer To Peer was
designed to share contents and the users used it to stop the monopoly of the Media
conglomerates on the culture. By fighting against the progress, those conglomerates pushed
the P2P technology developers to split even more the information and multiply the security
layers. Peer To Peer is evolving and will assure its place as an artifact of contemporary culture.
238 Words (Democracy and New Media)
Nowadays, with the democratization of computer usage and the arrival of the Web, major
changes occurred and modified our social and economic life. But what is the most surprising
and interesting is that we only center on how internet users, share media contents without the
rights to do it. That is the so called internet piracy. Indeed, this is an exploding phenomenon
that took place in a short time. Still, if we take a look to the present world, everything is going
fast. The usage of internet is not limited to the piracy, new kind of industries and Medias are
starting to appear all over the world.
This is the Cluster Revolution. Everything is going faster because the vectors are actually
faster. The entire planet is now moving through fiber optic connections. The society is
evolving; the piracy is nothing more than an extension of our culture of sharing with the
others, we just put it in another level.
The media industry which is trying to eradicate this phenomenon, forgets that it’s dealing with
a new environment that makes very difficult for law enforcement to solve the problem. More
important than the technical issues and legal considerations, they should not forget to take into
concern the culture of networks. It must be remembered that the Internet was originally
intended to allow the creation of virtual communities to facilitate the exchange and sharing
knowledge and expertise in the field of education, science and technology.
In fact, the creation of virtual communities like Bittorent, Gnutella and Emule is nothing more
than an heritage of this aim, which applies to all the same philosophy of sharing. For cons, the
problem only arises when it comes to musical, film or software illegal sharing, which is
I would like to explain on this essay, how the Peer To Peer that is considered as a threat by the
“Culture” Industry is nothing more than a part of our spiritual culture that can’t be stopped by
The stubborn attitude of the culture industry to take the P2P down is turning to a real war. The
users already started to answer to this threat by a guerilla strategy; they developed new
networks, more secured, even using cryptic codes that protect them from being tracked.
I’ll clarify here why this war is inevitable and why the effort of the politics and the Majors
will fail to sustain the same model. P2P will shift to new forms and affect the future of all
I) The Copyleft Era:
During thousands of years the notion of Copyright never showed up. Still, the culture didn’t
disappear because of the lack of a legal status of culture ownership. In fact, when we
permitted to culture to spread fast over the world, discovers and inventions occurred more
Then, the Majors decided to introduce the Copyright system with the help of the politics that
wanted to promote the idea of using culture as a tool of domination and a barrier that prevents
the other countries to achieve their own development.
The definition of culture content copyright is quite simple: It’s the exclusive right of an author
to reproduce its own work or to permit to the others to do so. It also gives him the right to
promote his work and share it over the media or give the rights to another part to do it. This
includes also objects like records or services.
When we read such a definition, we could say that it’s quite normal for a person to own rights
over his work. But the problem today, is that those rights go mainly to Major companies and
not to the authors. Even more strange, culture is described as an object. The spiritual is limited
to the basic material dimension; the beauty of knowledge disappears and even poetry becomes
a fade writing that should be highly bankable to be published.
Hopefully, the dictatorship of the majors is challenged today by the rise of the P2P guerilla
and the possibility for authors to publish their creations by themselves over internet without
relying on the Majors.
That’s how the Copyleft movement appeared. It promoted the idea of ownership rights that
would permit to anyone to modify and use culture content for free, the only limitation would
be that the one that uses it should mention that he did.
Of course, an artist or an author should also get some benefit from his work. But today, some
few artists are getting enormous profit from their work, when most other artists can’t have the
possibility to get any good money. Actually, the Media and Culture Industry are keeping
promoting the same kinds of artists and making huge profit even with the so called piracy
crisis. Films like “Avatar” or “Invictus” made more than 1 billion dollar profits.
If we compare those profits with the GDP of some developing or poor countries, we could
easily see that the cultural industry is not the weak industry that it should be protected over all
and everything. In fact, it’s unfair to ask people from developing countries for example to pay
for 20 dollars for a CD when you know that it could represent days of hard work. Even in rich
countries, people with limited resources could not afford to buy culture content that often.
Why should culture be an object that only the riches could own? Where is the fairness? Where
is the beauty of sharing? Where is the will to promote knowledge and free art?
I always thought that an artist would be happier to make its work reaches a high number of
people over anything else. Some musicians like Nine Inch Nails understood that and started to
sale their album on the internet and everyone could pay what he wanted to get their work. Of
course, not everyone could do it and could live just by that, since it’s hard to make people pay
when they don’t have any obligation of doing that. That’s why the idea of a culture tax should
be promoted and sponsorship from the state and big companies should be provided to the
large number to let them the possibility to express their creativity.
To have access to culture has to be a right for everyone. It’s the only way to promote a real
global culture, and stop using it as a tool of domination and imperialism.
II) The Guerilla and The Industry:
The radio has taken 35 years to reach a penetration rate of 50% of consumers in the United
States, television 25 years, while the Web has taken only 5 years. More important, the world
population is also getting into internet, even in poor countries, and all that happens in the
same time as the establishment of a globalized civilization. More than any time before, the
intercultural relations are becoming the norm; the exchange of information and goods is going
a little faster each day.
As Paul Virilio stated speed embedded in vectors is by itself a source of clash and crisis:
"The speed of transportations and telecommunications makes the world instantaneous. The
distances are tweaked which resulted in a finite world by a global collapse”.
This chaos is taking place right now in the internet. Everything is going so fast that the clash
between the industry and the users is unavoidable. People don’t take enough time to think
about solutions, the first ones want to keep the same systems when the seconds want a
revolution and an application of their freedom or act without any limitation.
When it comes to progress, there are always some people that try to stop the evolution. But it
can’t be stopped. Still, there is no need to be pessimistic here; it’s a chance over all for our
society to face the “Integral accident” as Virilio says. The world has to face the challenge of
this race and find solutions to adapt the economy and society to this new reality.
Nowadays, art, knowledge and thoughts are getting materialized into some kind of abstraction.
In the Hacker Manifesto Mackenzie reminds us that “politics is about absolute control over
intellectual property by means of warlike strategies of communication, control and command”
and “Patents and copyrights all end up in the hands, not of their creators but of a Vectoralist
class that owns the means of realizing the value of these abstractions.”
This Vectoralist Class is the Media and Culture Industry that has a tight control on politics
and has powerful lobbies that try to sell the obviousness of a copyrighted and limited world.
Actually, today’s growing emphasis on information and knowledge, combined with
opportunities for networks, shifts the value placed on material goods to less tangible assets.
This transition gives rise to the questioning of people on what value should we give to
intangible and culture goods. Note that any property which it is possible to separate the
content from its media can be, today, distributed computer networks. This reality makes it
difficult to process information, knowledge and intangible material as assets. It is thereby
often difficult to determine a value for these assets. Moreover, the ease with which these data
are reproducible and distributable in a context of global computer network such as the Internet
brings new problems in how the society is interpreting intellectual property and copyrights.
This new environment also makes it very difficult for law enforcement especially when users
become developers and join communities that elaborate highly sophisticated programs of Peer
To Peer that avoid all the limitations and controls of the Majors and the states.
Given this new reality, Media and Culture industry face a huge threat that could conduct them
to their complete destruction if they don’t adapt to the situation. During a long time the
industry denied the threat and attacked every single net user that got caught downloading or
using a copyrighted video or sample of music. What Lawrence Lessig called a non sense,
since even Obama and Mc Cain were asked to remove some promotional videos because it
contained few second of copyrighted music, or the case where a young mother was asked to
remove the home video of her baby dancing that she put on Youtube because it had some
Prince music that we could even distinguish… Some had to pay thousands of dollars for few
Mp3. But in the same time, millions of people were downloading billions of files through the
P2P networks and direct downloads.
Instead of solving the problem, the Media Industry created a resistance and a real guerilla that
promoted the idea of fighting against this same industry. The fight even takes place in the
politic field; today we count an elected European Parliamentary from the Swedish Pirate Party.
Bittorent sites that are taken down are changing their name and hosting their servers into
offshore countries while they are developing new technologies that overrule the filters that the
states and the industry is putting to limit P2P.
Actually this war is making things go even faster, because everyone is developing new
weapons to deal with the opponent. But since the users are billion they can gather more ideas,
faster than the industry that has only the money and a lobby. The problem is that in this war,
the authors become the collateral damage, especially the small ones.
Some could also say that the abundance of culture through the web is conducting to some
trivialization of art. Larry Lessig and I would answer that millions of people can now have
access to free contents, develop their own imagination and build new types of culture that will
spread even faster, evolve faster, create a buzz, maybe die faster but for sure it’ll write the
next pages of the human history and culture.
III) The Cluster Age:
Larry Lessig described the new generation as a “Remix” culture driven society. What the
Majors are missing here, is mainly that they are fighting with their own customers. The
customer’s behavior changed and instead of looking for new ideas and product to sell them,
the Culture Industry is trying to force them to buy without respecting their will.
With this “Remix” culture, everyone becomes a producer and then create content, knowledge
but also business opportunities. Of course each producer (peer) will lead most of time to (to) a
small product (peer) but if you take all the customers as a whole, as a Cluster you’ll get a new
production force that is willing to develop new ways of making business and wants new
financial solutions to create a properly balanced and relevant economic growth.
If the customers don’t accept to pay 20 dollars for a CD, the industry should try to sell it
cheaper or sell other products. The innovation is the key, and producing Music is getting less
expensive with the technologies that we have. P2P could be a solution for distribution through
P2P streaming that could make it cheaper to reach a huge Market that was not covered before.
Internet is a great opportunity for business and to develop creativity. But as Larry Lessig said
in many of his talks, if the industry and states continue to tell our kids that they are criminals
because they download an MP3 they only criminalize their creativity. They are transforming
the cluster into “pirates” that will not have the same sense of what is really a crime.
They will fail socializing the society on their own way. Actually, most industries understood
that, and a fair amount of them answered to the new needs of the customers by innovative
products that were best sellers as Ipod, Iphone, Kindle, Broad Band connections etc
The Culture Industry has to adapt to the new world, it has to create a new business model to
survive to the evolution, because if they don’t do, the users will take care of the production of
culture goods in the future. With internet the need of a middle man is more limited and any
one can distribute his own production over the web quite easily and with low costs.
Times changes, we used horses to travel before, it took us ages. No one today would use a
horse to travel on long distances, we have flights for that. The same can applied to old models
that the Culture Industry is promoting. Peer To Peer is only the beginning of free culture and
individual but common based knowledge that will be shared through the planet at the speed of
« Impact du piratage »: Equancy Tera Consultants
« Free Culture » : Lawrence Lessig
«A Hackers Manifesto»: McKenzie Wark
« The speed Theory»: Paul Virilio