On the democratisation of images

April 16, 2007

by Pedro Meyer (Zonezero.com), in reply to Bill Thompson’s previous post

I value and appreciate the comments made by Bill, but somehow I think we are looking at the same issues from very differente perspectives.

I would first like to dispell the notion that is implicit when he writes: “…Despite Pedro Meyers’s powerful description of the impact the network has had on the dissemination of his work”.

If my work is part of that of a thousand other photographers that we have hosted, then I think the implication is correct. If however the idea would be that only my personal work is the one that has gotten such visibility through ZoneZero, then I would have to dissent.

Then Bill goes on to make another very interseting remark:

We should remember that the Cambrian was a period of great experimentation in structure and function, but that there is good evidence that many promising models simply died out.

Again, this is a statement that is quite accurate in and of itself, but it somehow leaves you with the lingering impression that this ought not to be like that. That this is a flaw in the system or something we should consider as inappropriate.

I would venture to say that we can only welcome, both the experimentation, and the process of competition between all sorts of alternative solutions and ideas. What we have today is, even though imperfect, a system that makes the playing field for competing options a bit more just.

In the past a publishing venture that would have started in Mexico City to compete for the attention of a world wide audience in competition with the traditional power centers of photography would not have stood a chance in hell to even get to first base.

For all the criticism that has been leveled against “citizen journalism”, I find it quite interesting that the likes of Corbis (Bill Gates’ famous uber photo agency that has taken over a large chunk of photo industry of distribution) -which by the way has never earned any money- is now threatened by the competition of a new breed of agencies that are small, and sell the work of citizen journalists, and amateurs, for a fraction of the price of what Corbis asks.

I believe this is an example of the benefits of competition, and how today no one can sit back and relax and believe that they have it made for very long, or that they can corner the market on anything to do with the digital world. You could corner the market with silver, gold, grains, etc. but certainly not in anything related to the digital world. Just observe the constant erosion of the market share of Windows, not only from other options of OS, but in the way the world of computers is being constantly transformed by ever new ideas.

I like this debate with a very esteemed and highly critical mind, such as Bill Thompson. The competition of ideas is what this is all about. This is not about someone winning but about everyone coming out with new thoughts.

The notion that we can enter into such a discussion while being continents apart, in real time, as it were, makes for a way of looking at issues that over time will obviously leave us with a more enriched environment.

I think that this is powerful stuff and I am enjoying every minute of it.

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One comment

  1. […] Meyer from the leading photography website zonezero.com (and who previously posted on this blog) was interviewed for our weekly openDemocracy poDcast. You can listen to it […]

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