Easing Our Guilt Over Illegal Music Downloading

| 1/2/2008 12:10:15 PM

As everyone knows, guilt and shame act as essential parts of our contemporary information diet. From foibles to felonies, we absorb the mistakes and missteps of our fellow humans with an alacrity that borders on outright glee. It was, therefore, with great excitement that we laid the first bricks of the information superhighway, which we supposed might provide an innovative resource for gawking and pointing. Boy howdy, were we right!

Take a gander at Dear Rockers for the latest success in public guilt-airing. The site is great, and its mission, like all great missions, is twofold. First, it posts letters to musicians written by illegal downloaders and nonpaying concert-goers. (Guilty parties actually photograph their snail-mail letters, so you get to see handwriting, stationery, and all.) Each guilt-stricken letter-writer also reimburses the musician to the tune of $5. Second, the site offers help finding contact information for musicians you’ve sinned against. It’s a forum and a public service.

In general, the tone of these letters is calm and apologetic, though occasionally it veers into pointed commentary or plain old spite. Just like the letters Mom used to send.

Michael Rowe


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