Friday, June 7, 2013

Limited edition

When does it make sense to publish something on the internet, let's say a recording, as though it were a limited edition? A de facto limitation in the number of downloads is not impossible to achieve if the item is made to drown in the information deluge and then taken off-line as soon as it has been downloaded some specified number of times. Then of course one cannot guarantee that it will never be uploaded again, although that can be made a bit awkward by having very large files.

Does this strategy really work if the internet never forgets? (The Wayback Machine takes care of that, although they do not necessarily save all audio that floats around out there. Can we hope that some unnamed data centre in Utah or elsewhere stores it for us? Maybe, if you send it as an email attachment.) Usually people do their best to boost the number of views and fight hard for their page ranks. Doing the opposite clearly has its merits if the analog of a limited edition is the goal. Obviously, the idea of limited edition is tied to physical media, to something people can hold in their hands, so a digital file will not easily do as a replacement. The point of limited editions is exactly to make it clear that the resource is scarce, the object you are holding in your hands is a collectors item.


Thinking along these lines, I have published the two hour apocryphal piece Teem Work, which I intend to replace with something else before it has become too widespread. Although it can be downloaded, the following reasons speak against it.

  • The composition is merely a sketch. 
  • It will occupy more space on your hard disk than strictly necessary. 
  • It will steal two hours of your precious time. You'll never get them back.

It should be added that Teem Work features synthesis by cross-coupled feedback FM as described in a previous post.

Update (December 2015):

A remixed edition is now available as a digital album. Still it will steal two hours of your time, precious or not.

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