June 02, 2000

The Prosumer

prosumer eh? that must be what i am. i have all this extra income and i purchase geekware tangential to my profession. it's interesting that i used to be a dj and then had stacks of tdk blanks, duracells and miles of speaker wire. btw, where have all the audiophiles gone? gone to linux every one? there used to be a time when the closest thing to what we have become in the software industry was michael sembello - a one hit midi wonder complete with beachhouse and a dozen keyboards trying to come up with one more tune as compelling as flashdance's 'maniac'. invariably recording artists had the slamminest stereos... and in some cases they crossed the line and built signature amps and instruments.

can anyone recall the romance we once had with things like gas thalias, carver cubes, and stacked advents? whatever happened to the cottage industry of high-end audio? i used to sell the stuff, and if there is anything remotely resembling the partisan brimstone heaped against microsoft in the name of hand-crafty goodness and high quality it is the stentorian rants of audio purists shouting down the hoi polloi panasonics of the world. in the end, the complexity of separate components proved too daunting (not to mention our commissions). circuit city took over and america decided that it didn't need quality. plus, the average stuff got good enough so that the really good stuff couldn't compete price/performance-wise. maybe the demise of high end audio is instructive.

just as was the art of zen and motorcycle mechanics. once upon a time, not long ago, motorcycle purists (again, myself included) disemboweled their rice burners and replenished them with aftermarket valves, cranks, pistons, bearings, carbs, exhausts, tires and shocks. the symbiosis between motorcyclist and mechanic was uncanny (and yet psychotically co-dependent). why, because no factory could come up with a street bike suitable for the canyon carving we craved. their engines were too wimpy, their shocks too mushy, their tires too slippery.

then somehow, japan got the message. suddenly the superbike appeared on the scene and there was nothing left for us hackers to tweak. they finally got it right. the quality went through the roof and now our riding abilities were challenged by the perfection of the new breed of factory ride.

so which way might the open source movement go?

Posted by mbowen at 11:08 AM | TrackBack