Amateur Revolution (20 Sep 2004)
The 20th century was marked by the rise of professionals in medicine, science, education, and politics. In one field after another, amateurs and their ramshackle organizations were driven out by people who knew what they were doing and had certificates to prove it. Now that historic shift seems to be reversing. Even as large corporations extend their reach, we're witnessing the flowering of Pro-Am, bottom-up self-organization.
Rap, for one, started as do-it-yourself music among lower-income black men from distressed urban neighborhoods, recorded by artists on inexpensive equipment and distributed on handmade tapes by local labels. Yet within two decades, rap has become the dominant popular music across the world. In league with Pro-Am music distribution made possible by Napster and Kazaa, it has turned the entire record industry on its head.
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