Thursday, December 14, 2000

The Internet and People

What makes the Internet so powerful? Is it the distributed computing power, the robustness of interlinked networks, the speed of information transfer? I think what makes it really worthy is the people. In fact, Robert Metcalfe, designer of the Ethernet protocol for networked computers, formulated Metcalfe's Law: the usefulness, or utility, of a network equals the square of the number of users.

I had an experience of this last night. First some background. Jean is slowly building a collection of the works of Jerry Lewis, as well as books about him. She grew up watching his movies, hearing his songs and is now revisiting those memories. Apparently, her father had an album of Jerry Lewis' comic songs, and this album included a song called "I'm a Little Busybody". As a child she and her brother Tom used to listen to it and loved it. Unfortunately they broke it one day, and she has felt sad about that to this day.

So recently she began hunting for a replacement. She found that it was rereleased on a CD: "The Capitol Collector's Series - Jerry Lewis". So she thought she'd just order it. But it was published in 1990, and was now out of print. I told her I'd try to find it.

I searched Napster, no luck. Since the music in their search engines is dependent on who is logged on, I tried several times, but still no luck. Then I started searching various music sites such as CDNow and Virgin Megastores. Each acknowledged the existence of the CD, each denied it's availability. Then I tried looking for used CD stores on the net. Again no luck.

Finally I tried using Google to search for the specific song. I found a number of references to people's private collections. I sent mail to one gentleman who said he'd be selling his collection, I haven't heard from him yet. I also sent email to another man asking him if he knew where I could get a copy, since he had not indicated he would sell his. Last night I was checking my email, when what should appear but a reply from this gentleman. He was sending me an attachment of the MP3 of "I'm a Little Busybody"!

Due to the vagaries of law, I won't name him. It is stupid, but the copyright holder can get nasty even if they won't rerelease the CD, and even if we'd be willing to buy it in a heartbeat (which we would be). So just let me express here, as I did in an email, that I am very grateful that there are folks on the Internet who work to make others happy. Thanks a bunch for making the Internet the powerful tool it is. The Internet is community, it is people.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, I found you as I, too was searching for Jerry Lewis' I'ma Little Busybody. I would be truly greatful to get a copy of that song, might you be able to help?