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

The Pirate's Dilemma by Matt Mason
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's review
Jul 19, 2012

did not like it
Read in July, 2012

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 boombox as well as people listening to news on their way to work--do we really want to encourage people to take AWAY access from others? (Mason's argument is yes--that guy is an 'innovator' who 'rocks the boat' with his 'punk capitalism').

Mason's closing argument uses the logic of the prisoner’s dilemma to say that companies, from drug companies to entertainment, should use more pirate-type behaviors to further promote open competition, and innovation. But while big companies, pirates, and prisoners might win by cheating to get ahead, the public does not. Do I want a big company who acts like the guy with the iTrip? Companies who are not held back by copyright and concepts of personal property? (Oh sorry, your house was just "remixed" into an art installment, or Oh sorry, your fan fiction is now my TV show, or Oh sorry, I punk'd your drug company).

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