Final Project Class Presentation: Digital Music Consumption

In this presentation I look specifically at digital music consumption from 1982 onward. I assert that both Winston’s supervening social necessity and Christensen’s new-market disruption played a role with the evolution of music listening today.

Excerpt from my final paper:

On May 10, 2011, software company and search giant Google announced a new service that allowed consumers to upload their entire music collection to a Google server so they could access that music collection from the cloud using a PC, MAC or Android device. The service is called Google Music and while it’s still only in private beta and not accessible to Apple devices like the iPhone and iPad, it would become yet another disruptive technology in the music industry. Before we look closer at how we got here and what disruptive technology means, I think it’s important to take a look back in time when music distribution was more controlled and one-dimensional.
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Reading reflection #4 for extra credit: Can IM ever replace email?

Can instant messaging (IM) ever replace email? Absolutely not. Email is still far too pervasive in the workplace. I believe it will always be the number one form of non-verbal communication for working professionals, at least for a long time. But, things appear to be different for college students in Hong Kong. As one study found out, the number one form of communication they prefer is IM. Not email.

Olivine Wai-Yu Lo and Louis Leung (2009) surveyed 236 college students and asked them which communication tool they preferred more: IM or email? Some 78% of the respondents answered that they prefer IM. The study showed that the students loved the reciprocal and back and forth nature of instant messaging. In short, IM was more gratifying than email and seemed to improve their social relationships with one another.

I completely agree with the study’s finding that IM is more gratifying and alluring to college students for communicating when compared to email. However, I do not believe this study supports any idea that IM will someday replace email altogether. As undergraduate students quickly find out upon graduation, the world still revolves around email.

Email is less intrusive. You can receive it and you are not expected to reply back immediately (sometimes you are) like an instant message. It’s also easier to manage and store the conversations and data for retrieving later. IM programs today do have “archiving” options to store your previous conversations, but not like email. There is no pretty little inbox. No robust UI. Not with IM. These are things that the business world will always need.


Effects of gratification-opportunities and gratifications-obtained on preferences of instant messaging and e-mail among college students. Telematics and Informatics, May 2009. doi:10.1016/j.tele.2008.06.001

Reading Reflection #3 – The Media Monopoly

Ben Bagdikian’s Afterword from his book The Media Monopoly really struck a nerve with me. Bagdikian writes like a true conspiracy theorist with his idea that the leading corporations decide what sorts of news and entertainment programs are made available to us here in the U.S. It’s the same sort of diatribe you hear as an undergraduate from your history-major dorm mate who tries to tell you that the Freemasons own the world and the Illuminati are even higher than the Freemasons with their uber secret meetings and handshakes. Blah.

Now, I’m not going to disagree with Bagdikian entirely as I have watched television shows get progressively more provocative over the years. Moreover, I’m a new parent so I should be concerned with the type of garbage that’s on TV now – because it will probably only get worse. But! Bagdikian doesn’t seem to want us to take any responsibility for what we watch. As we we’ve seen with television shows that come and go, the ones that stand the test of time are those that are enjoyed by a lot of viewers!

Bagdikian writes that “there is a growing gap between what a majority of citizens have said they want and what television gives them.” He doesn’t cite or point the reader to any studies that can support this though. Honestly, I myself fall into this category of wishing for something to be on TV – but not getting it. But this is a capitalist market that we’re in,
and someone other than me is watching Snookie on MTV, someone who’s making MTV’s advertisers VERY happy. It’s just the way it is. I don’t have to watch it – and I don’t.

Citing other examples problems in our society like the lack of  funding in education, lack of universal healthcare, pollution, unemployment and more, Bagdikian is just regurgitating others have said in the past. It’s nothing new really.

I do wish to focus on one thing that I absolute agree with him on. He argues that a “national habit” of staying indoor to take in free news and entertainment was set after the introduction of the TV. I agree. Though, now that’s shifted from TV to the Internet. The bottom line is, the family unit is different than it was in the mid-1950s, we don’t all do things collectively as a family after dinner like playing games or socializing with
our neighbors. We just don’t – buit we should.

In short, I think Bagdikian would agree with a lot of the same ideals if we were to have a beer together and talk about this. It maddens me that these corporations have the power that they do and I too get sick and tired of all the smut that’s on the TV. However, its up to us to change it. Not the government as he has suggested.

Browsing for Political Knowledge: Turning to the Internet for Political Learning

We’ve defintely seen a paradigm shift happen with where we turn to for political news over
the last two decades. As access to te Internet has increased 100 fold for most, so has our willingness to look to it for national news. As the study done by Eric Riedel et al. suggests, we now rely almost exclusively on the Internet to stay up to date on national and international news, as compared to more local news that is happening around our city or state. I tend to agree.

My dad actually called me the other day from out of state and told me that the SR 99 Tunnel Project had been in question once again after a bid by a state contractor was secured and building was already underway. How had he heard? My father is an avid reader of Internet news online.

Getting back to the Riedel study, their proposition was simple: “news sources on the Internet are linked to learning about politics, as indicated by increased levels of political knowledge.” To put this to the test, they formed three hypothesis’s.

Hypothesis one states that the relationship between local and national news is not balanced. Basically, those who know local news tend to stick to and read more local news than they do national news. Those who read national news also tend to stick to just reading national news.

Hypothesis two and three tie together with each other more than with number one. Hypothesis two simply states that Internet news content tends to be more national in nature than local in nature. Hypothesis three states that reading the news online predicts that you will gain far more national political knowledge than you will local political knowledge.


Questions for Discussion

Do you read the newspaper?

Are you more informed nationally than you are locally?

Why are you more informed that way?


Riede, E. et al. (2003). The role of the Internet in national and local news media use. Journal of Online Behavior, 1(3).

Digital Music Consumption – Theoretical Framework

Project Question

How has digital music consumption changed over the last thirty years? What supervening social necessities lead to its evolution from Compact Disc to .MP3 to online streaming? It’s this evolution of music over this timeframe that I’ve focused my project on.


The framework for my project is centered on the course theory of Winston. I plan to argue that the supervening social necessity that brought us from CD players to peer-to-peer .mp3 file sharing was the personal computer, coupled with household Internet access. Personal computers and Internet access slowly began to change the way we consume music. I believe personal computers became the conduit to a whole host of innovations that the music industry could not foresee. In essence, personal computers played the role of technology and change that lead to a whole host of new ways to consume music: peer-to-peer sharing, home CD burning etc.

Christensen’s theory of new-market disruption also plays a huge role in my analysis of music consumption. The music industry initially viewed website (1999) to be a ‘trivial’ technology at first – but it turned out to be industry changing. High-speed Internet and personal computers, particularly those with the ability to transfer the contents of a CD to a hard drive, became the disruptive technology that lead to further music piracy and online distribution. This would ultimately help disrupt the music industry altogether. Continue reading

Reading Reflection #2

This week’s reading analysis comes from chapter six of Yochai Benkler’s How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. While much of the chapter in the beginning focused on the Internet, Benkler looks back in time to our experiences with the press and telecommunications to make his point – the big fish always win and the little fish always get fried.

According to Benkler, the starting costs of founding a newspaper increased dramatically in the mid-1850s. The Herald had been founded in 1835 for five hundred dollars and just some fifteen years later the same startup costs were $100,000 or more. Benkler credits much of this to the innovation of higher-cost equipment and the transformation of the press into a professional organization. In a short amount of time we see that it was now impossible for one individual to start a newspaper. Sound familiar? This isn’t anything new. Soon this happened to both radio and television as well.

On radio Benkler writes: “The first decade and a half of radio in the United States saw rapid innovation and competition, followed by a series of patent suits aimed to consolidate control over the technology.” We later learn that monopolies quickly ensue until government regulation steps in. The same thing happens with Binkler’s example of “The Sinclair Broadcast Group[,] one of the largest owners of television broadcast stations in the United States.” At the time of Binkler’s writing, they owned or provided programming for approximately one-third of all U.S. homes.  So what though? What does all this mean? What’s the key takeaway here? Continue reading