The Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism
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The Pirate's Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism

3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  434 ratings  ·  73 reviews
It started with punk. Hip-hop, rave, graffiti, and gaming took it to another level, and now modern technology has made the ideas and innovations of youth culture increasingly intimate and increasingly global at the same time.

In The Pirate's Dilemma, VICE magazine's Matt Mason -- poised to become the Malcolm Gladwell of the iPod Generation -- brings the exuberance of a pa...more
ebook, 288 pages
Published January 8th 2008 by Free Press (first published January 8th 2007)
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Erik
A good book detailing the rise and fall of youth culture, hip-hop, graffiti, medicine patents, and many other things. Also includes a great analysis of the open-source community and the economic and political motives behind all of it. It's a very music-centric book, linking what we see in the physical world of art with what we are doing online.

This book is available online as a free PDF.
Ryan
This truly helped establish my feelings on the many benefits of art and the internet, and my feelings on greedy SOB's manipulating the law to stifle future creativity in this world so they can benefit financially.
Ian
Solid book laying out the argument for why pirates and youth subcultures from punk & hip hop to open source software developers are all 'Punk Capitalists' reinventing business models and creating new markets and revenue opportunities. Author, Matt Mason makes a compelling argument for openness, collaboration and the value of altruism (vs. self interest) in business and why the best strategy for responding to pirates is to compete with them, not try to shut them down.

Mason is also well verse...more
Rachel
Corporations have a choice to make--become pirates or suffer at the hands of pirates. Mason is a music journalist, so he backs up his arguments with anecdotes from the music industry. I didn't expect to end up with a clearer understanding of hip-hop, disco, grime, and underground radio, but unexpectedly I did. I know Mason's thesis does apply and will apply to every industry, it certainly works beautifully with the music industry--I just wish I could more cleanly apply it to publishing.

What thi...more
Rosie
Interesting read, great for people involved in starting business and in corporate marketing. Kinda outlines the way capitalism and consumerism is moving and has been moving the last couple decades. A good read for those who are in the music industry as well.
Jeremy
Very informative and relevant to anyone who works in industries that depend on the internet. Great history and summarization of trends and how companies have reacted, succesfully and not-so-successfully.
Justine
The Pirate's Dilemma tells the story of how youth culture drives innovation and is changing the way the world works.

RWD magazine founding editor-in-chief Matt Mason suggests that at the heart of innovation lies an intersection of piracy, youth and business, and concludes piracy to be just another business model. Given this, the dilemma should not be about how we compete against pirates and how we treat them but becomes more about how we can become better by recognising and capitalising on pirat...more
Nura Yusof
Brilliant. Insightful. A great account of modern-day piracy. A clarion call for all to embrace the pirate within us. Mason makes the term 'pirate' cool.

The part I found most profound was how marketers nowadays are quickly latching on to the latest fad/'in-thing' as a way to connect with their consumers which I think is a terrible thing to do (and this coming from an ad person). That latest fad or craze could've have become part of modern culture but instead it becomes commercialized. Instead of...more
Bruce
Aug 11, 2008 Bruce rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who likes reading Malcolm Gladwell
According to Matt Mason in The Pirate’s Dilemma, “Copyright laws are encroaching on the public domain, but if the history of pirates is anything to go by, such laws are not often observed, become impossible to enforce, and eventually change.” (p. 99)

Okay, folks, get ready for a rather lengthy review of The Pirate’s Dilemma, or rather, a brief review of Matt Mason’s book, followed by a more extended discussion of some of the ideas contained therein as they relate to two recent DC Bar-sponsored p...more
Ant
I began reading this book because it was a free download on this site. I’m loving my free eBooks for the reasons of both environmental conservation & market freedom, true market freedom, not the kind sprouted by laissez faire economists to benefit the wealthy. I really didn’t expect much from this ‘free’ book.
The first few chapters while interesting seemed to rub me up the wrong way initially, portraying the punk scene as a new free economic force paving the way for the do it yourself freedo...more
Misti
Yet another non-fic that connects to Gladwell's The Tipping Point. However this was a nice little variation on Gladwell's definitions of viral connections, and I thoroughly enjoyed the anecdotes contained within. This book takes the reader on a merry jaunt through the roots of piracy and the adaptation of various media to give the public what they want and to fill empty niches. My biggest complaint about this book is that the author's connections to the music industry mean that the VAST majorit...more
Phil
This was a fun read with some interesting points, but taken as a whole Mason's argument is a little facile.

Most of the book consists of examples of (generally youth-oriented) subcultures that developed into major commercial or cultural successes. Mason's examples include punk (focusing on its D.I.Y. ethos as an example of the pirate spirit), hip-hop, early disco, etc. All of these subcultures were created and expanded outside of the mainstream before being absorbed or incorporated (some would sa...more
Sandi
Occasionally Mason is a good storyteller, but his argument has many flaws. He lumps all "pirate" activity together, and lauds it as disrupting evil, greedy capitalistic forces, but he doesn't recognize that it is quite possible to be a greedy, self-interested pirate...and actually many of the situations that he describes ARE self-interested.

The opening situation in the book is of a guy silencing all radios within a 30 foot radius of his car, using a modified iTrip. It silences an annoying boomb...more
Nicholas
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nick
The first 3/4 of the book is about examples of how artists used music and cultural to subvert societal norms and question the status quo, mainly about the hip hop, punk, disco, rave, and grime, pirate radio, pop art, video game moding, and graffiti culture movements of the last 50 years or so. The last quarter explains the actual dilemma itself which is pretty simple: companies should use work of pirates to their advantage and stop spending resources to fight them.

I was hoping for more historica...more
Ivan Manchev
This book is really a great deep study in the nature of innovation born out of youth culture. Beside telling the curious and less known stories behind some of the most influential innovations in culture like the remix, grafitti and punk rock among many others, the author examines how they change society and how capitalism is forced to reshape good working old models in order to keep in pace with the constantly evolving mindset of youth. I recommend it to readers that loved books such as Malcolm...more
lyloster
I found the book to be a fun read and occasionally engaging but definitely nothing serious or a source for basing your arguments on. It was interesting to learn the author's viewpoint on youth subcultures but, at the time reading those opinions, I thought how idealistic they were. When I read the book, I felt like the author was trying to find a good argument why subcultures were a good thing and to bring the debate on subcultures on a more sophisticated level - definitely an ambitious thing to...more
Dan Solomon
So far, pretty disappointing -- it's mostly Mason offering shallow analysis of things that most people who'd care to pick up his book are already well-versed in. (You mean blogs are popular now?) He also fairly gushes over anyone who figures out a way to make money off of something with anti-establishment credentials (he uses the term "punk capitalists" over and over) and is basically a giant turn-off. I'm nearly to the end of chapter three, and I'll give him another 20-30 pages before I give up...more
Drew Lackovic
This is a really interesting book. I stumbled across it while researching for books to teach in my comp class, and it reminds me of Abbie Hoffman's stuff, except without the LSD. Mason delivers a very powerful argument; piracy of intellectual property is driving change in today's capitalist scene, and that change is ultimately a good shift.

From flash mobs, to underground music, pirate radio, and punk capitalism, Mason shows how youth culture is turning the tables on traditional concepts of adve...more
Lukas
I really got into this book at first, and it was a speedy trip through the history of pirating and re-appropriating pop culture to serve the underground artists and youth culture. Then the author went a little off-topic for about 100 pages where (as far as I'm concerned) he went too deep into British hip-hop and pirate radio. However, this book is inspiring and reminds me of the things I love most about pirating and remixing what's around us.

Reading this book made me want to grab the can of spra...more
Poivree
Interesting history of recent and current popular culture. I had noticed that youth protest initiatives quickly become the content of commercials. Enormously creative young people have their ideas pirated by corporations but that is not the thesis of this book. The music companies in the 90's had their profits hit by file sharing which they called pirating. They began attacking music fans with lawsuits rather than setting up user pay competition. Those days are over but it is interesting history...more
Bobo
Mason's core argument on piracy is persuasive, and his observations are good - particularly on the digital music revolution. His closing chapter distills the 'dilemma' very nicely. But he has approached the topic very broadly, and uses it as an excuse to go off on lengthy tangents about related stuff that he knows and likes - largely the history of popular music. His evidence is also a bit suspect at times - some of the stats and facts he drops in raise more questions than they resolve. Still, t...more
Mike Rosenthal
great concepts, but really not a great writer. the core idea here is that in order to thrive as a business in a world of infinitely replicable goods, we take the prisoner's dilemma (where game theory states its always in our best interest to work solely in our personal best interest) and factor in the good of society in our decision making. if we can benefit society with our business model, AND monetize the new value that the pirates have discovered, then theres hope for a new type of business t...more
Sandip Roy
this book gives us a great perspective of how punk revolution and hip hop brought about newer possibilities of creating new music, new ideas thus impacting social change in a definitive way..... pirates dillema provides greater inisght about how crowdsourcing of content through music remixes, gaming, open software developments, music and movie remixes has stretched the boundaries of innovation questioning the dimensions of ethics and morality in the digital age for the greater good of humanity.....more
michelle
ugh. i read this for a book group that i didn't even attend, but i kind of wish i'd been able to, just for a better opportunity to complain about it. there's nothing seriously flawed in his argument here, i just found the whole thing really tiresome. lots of examples of "pirates" changing culture, and lots of SAYING "look man, we need to embrace this" but... i don't know, maybe i'm coming into the conversation to well-informed already, but this book didn't tell me anything that made me stop and...more
Jessica Buike
I really got a lot out of this book - I would recommend it to anyone who owns or is interested in owning a small business! It had some interesting information and tips on creating a different type of work culture based on youth countercultures (both present day and previous). There was a little too much repetition in many spots, and a couple of editing errors. There were also several interruptions in the flow of thoughts, but still a lot of good ideas on the changing business environment.
Blake
Pretty awesome book for the music history alone. Tons of stories about the evolution of genres, artists, and scenes, how they developed, changed and evolved and branched into different types of music. Very interesting look at the evolution of cultural movements, youth movements in particular, and how technology, piracy, open-source and common-good ways of thinking and working are changing things. A great read if you're into music, politics, economics, or social and cultural studies.
Monica
Discussion on the ethical and cultural issues regarding the drive of capitalism in a world that has open source sharing and DRM. The link between popular cultural and social networking is obvious to most yet Mason uses it to argue for a new model of marketing and consumerism that addresses the lack of a generation gap and the rise of branding. Appreciated the Prisoner's Dilemma as to whoever confesses first has a higher chance of getting away or serving less time.
Samuel Rieux
Mason ofrece un analisis casi antropoligico de los origenes y filosofia de la cultura de la pirateria. Lo ofrece en un formato facil de digerir y con multiple uso de fuentes en la industria. Solo un aspecto del argumento de Mason se queda atras, lo cual es inherente al tema que trata, y son los argumentos del futuro de la pirateria. Desde la fecha de publicacio. A hoy, muchas de las cosas que propone como futuro se han materializado en un par de años.
Paul
Mason begins with some interesting stories. However, he paints the world with extremely broad strokes, and the titular "Pirate's Dilemma" doesn't even really make sense. Mason is also obsessed with the idea of 3-D printers and the thought that soon, everything will be downloadable. That may happen one day, but it's centuries off.

By the end, I was tired of the book and Mason's generalizations, I'm afraid. I can't recommend this book.
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