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Over on BoingBoing Cory Doctrow has posted about a talk he gave at the O'Rielly Emerging Tech confernece called "All Complex Ecosystems Have Parasites".

I agree with what he is saying - the more open the ecosystem, the more things that will come to live in it, but I think that he's wrong in characterizing those entities that add value and increase possibility within the CD Ecosystem as parasites. Certainly there are some that are parasitic - a filesharing network that freely distributes Label music while showing ads is parasitic - it lives of it's host (the Label) while providing nothing in return (aside from maybe word of mouth through free distribution to those who might not hear the music otheriwise...that's for another day).

But many of the examples that Cory gives are not parasitic - they are symbiotes. They live with and become part of the organism they attach to, and provide value back to the host in exchange for what they take.

He gives examples of tools that create MP3s, Ringtones, karaoke filters, digital music players etc. These aren't parasites. They are symbiotes that, true, feed off of CDs and could not "live" without them, but they are also increasing the utility of the CD itself. I won't buy a CD that I cannot rip to mp3, for example, so for me the CD/MP3 ripper symbiote is more viable then the copy-protected CD.

It's the one that will survive in my CD ecosystem.

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This page contains a single entry by edgore published on March 16, 2005 12:00 PM.

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