On narrowness.

How do you imagine your
book aging? Do you think of it as a snapshot of a specific time period, or will
it be applicable and relevant even as technology and culture evolves?

I have an unusual mindset about this. Rogert Ebert once wrote
about a movie called A Separation, which won the foreign language Oscar
a few years back. It’s an Iranian movie. His point was that it was a really
detailed examination of Iranian social and political life. It’s
not a broad allegory of anything, but because of that, the more specific in
detail it becomes, the more universal it can eventually be.

If my book is just a snapshot of a particular moment in time,
which I hope it is, then people actually will refer back to it precisely for
that reason. They will want to understand what the time was about and what it
was like. If [the book] became too broad, it would portray biases that were inherent
in my culture at the time. It wouldn’t actually mean anything. I tried to
make it pretty narrowly focused on this one period in time while thinking, This,
or something like this, will only happen once. So if you want to know what this
interesting time of experimentation with media distribution and technology
looked like, make it as specific as you can to that time because then it has
potential to be a more definitive document of that time.

I should say I don’t think I’ve done that. I don’t
think I’ve
completely succeeded. But the idea was to make it very specific and detailed
about a particular period of time, because that’s much more interesting to me than
these hifalutin concepts of “what does it all mean in the end?” There’s
not very much of that in the book, actually. When it comes to the moral aspect
of pirating, I want readers to ask if it actually is wrong. I don’t
want to tell them.
—“The Man Who Found the Man Who Broke the Music Business

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