Napster as an online community


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An overview on Napster, its community model, its motivation and barriers to contributing to that community and the life cycle of its members.

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Napster as an online community

  1. 1. Online communities: Napster<br />Elena Ibáñez<br />26 July 2009<br />
  2. 2. Introduction (I): what is a Virtual Community - A virtual community is a population of individuals with shared or complementary interests who interact across a host platform. - Not all social media, user-generated content or Web 2.0 initiatives are virtual communities - The key defining feature of a virtual community is the presence of collective feedback in which both contribution and use are open<br />
  3. 3. Introduction (II): which types of Virtual Communities can we find?1) Socializing –Facebook, Second Life 2) Gaming–Everquest, Full Tilt Poker 3) Knowledge Sharing –Wikipedia, Slashdot, SMC… 4) Activism–MoveOn, ImmigrationVoice5) Development–Linux, InnovationJam6) Exchange–eBay, Craigslist7) Content Sharing – NAPSTER!!<br />
  4. 4. Description: what is Napster (I)?Napster was an online music file sharing service created by Shawn Fanning while he was attending Northeastern University in Boston and operating between June 1999 and July 2001. Its technology allowed people to easily share their MP3 files among each other, bypassing the established market for such songs and thus leading to the music industry&apos;s accusations of massive copyright violations. Aggregating more than 10 million users in the first six month period and attaining a growth rate of 200,000 new subscribers in a single day, the online music file sharing service became the noisy centre of a new social reality that struck terror into even the most sturdy of music entertainment executives.<br />
  5. 5. What is Napster (II)?Although the original service was shut down by court order, it paved the way for decentralized peer-to-peer file-distribution programs, which have been much harder to control. The service was named Napster after Fanning&apos;s hairstyle-based nickname.Napster&apos;s brand and logo were purchased after the company closed its doors and continue to be used by a pay service.<br />
  6. 6. Motivation to contributing to Napster (I):- IDEOLOGICAL: for many the creative and cultural possibilities had previously been corrupted by the corporate entertainment industry. As a contrast, Napster would have presented an escape from the masses and a return to individuality.- TECHNOLOGICAL EASINESS: Napster had a type of software combining the convergence of mp3 music files with an Internet relay chat feature and an informational website. Coordinated by a couple of central server computers, they enabled not only community, but also free access to and download of up to 100 million copyrighted songs archived on the private hard drives of up to 100 million subscribers worldwide.<br />
  7. 7. Motivation to contributing to Napster (II):- COMMUNITY BELONGING: To oppose market place logics that usually drive acquisition of music as a commodity, Napster was constructed around the circulation of music as a gift. Gift giving becomes a distinctive mode of communication and helped to build Napster as an alternative space of choice.<br />
  8. 8. Barriers to contributing to Napster:- ETHICS: Holbrook’s (1999) typology of consumer value posits that ethics (including justice, virtue and morality) is one of eight values that may be obtained in the consumption experience. It appeared to be a legal activity but it infringed the copyright.- UNCONVINIENCE: software download necessary and some minimal technological steps.- SECURITY: method based on the free access of the personal computers within the community and could identify the IP. - FINANCIAL: not agreeing with an evolved paying model.<br />
  9. 9. Typical life cycle of a community member* 1. Peripheral (Lurker) – An outside, unstructured participation 2. Inbound (Novice) – Newcomer is invested in the community and heading towards full participation 3. Insider (Regular) – Full committed community participant 4. Boundary (Leader) – A leader, sustains membership participation and brokers interactions 5. Outbound (Elder) – Process of leaving the community due to new relationships, new positions, new outlooks. In this case also due to new paying model.<br />* Wikipedia<br />
  10. 10. How the virtual circle worked for that community reaching the tipping point?Following Napster founder Shawn Fanning the motivation to start Napster’s system of gift circulation and multiplication was rooted in frustration not only with, Lycos, or, but also to create a music community. There was really nothing like it at the timeNapster consumers circulated the gift and, in doing so, they seek to consume music in ideological opposition to the well established principles of a functionally differentiated system of modern music production and consumption in the triangle of commodification, copyright and corporations and against the ongoing de-sacrilization of music into the profane sphere of capitalist markets throughout the past 130 years. Napster, by contrast, understood itself as a locus of communally enacted social change and the fostering the regaining of social freedom.<br />
  11. 11. Epilogue:&quot;What record companies don&apos;t really understand is that Napster is just one illustration of the growing frustration over how much the record companies control what music people get to hear, over how the air waves, record labels and record stores, which are now all part of this &apos;system&apos; that recording companies have pretty much succeeded in establishing, are becoming increasingly dominated by musical &quot;products&quot; to the detriment of real music. Why should the record company have such control over how he, the music lover, wants to experience the music? From the point of view of the real music lover, what&apos;s currently going on can only be viewed as an exciting new development in the history of music. And, fortunately for him, there does not seem to be anything the old record companies can do about preventing this evolution from happening&quot;The Artist Formally Known As Prince 2000 <br />