The Magnetism of Human Congregation

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New media don’t replace old media, they just help to reinvent them. At the end of the nineteenth century, painting was considered finished. What use was art in the age of photography? As we now know, of course, photography turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to painting: the catalyst for more than a century of innovation and experimentation that continues today. Similarly, recorded sound was for a long time seen as the death knell for live music. Why go out when you could stay home? Now, however, live performances are hailed as the saviour of the music industry, both creatively and commercially. As recorded music becomes ever more available, the real thing has risen in value.

Other media, too, are changing, responding to the challenge of digital theft (we should probably stop using the term “piracy” for nicking pixels, partly because it makes it seem glamorous and partly because it doesn’t actually kill people: see graph). Hollywood is investing heavily in 3D, which it hopes will bring audiences away from their iPhones and back to the cinema, while authors like Chuck Palahniuk and Malcolm Gladwell fill theatres with their fans. Here’s a pleasingly optimistic piece by Simon Jenkins, outlining why he thinks live is kicking.

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