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Profile of ribanner
Reading some of the posts here (especially the very long one on James Biss's book) leads me to reflect on the above topic. I would be interested in peoples comments (I am using hyperbole to make some points so please don’t be offended)

The introduction of the internet has changed many fields of our life in ways that are at least fundamental or probably fatal.

For anyone interested in this there is a excellent series of documentaries written by Douglass Admas for Radio 4 called “The Hitch Hikers guide to the future”, which I believe you can still download from the BBC web site.( Please note for the avoidance of many posts I do not mean his wonderful radio and TV plays, but a later documentary series he did for the BBC Radio that had a similar title)

Anyway onto my main point

I think the internet has changed the world of PUBLISHING for ever

In this area for example power was in the hands of the publishers - any writer had to find a publisher for his book. Now power is the hands of authors much much more, although at the moment internet writing seems to be a learning ground for writers to 'graduate' onto 'published writing'.

I think the internet has changed the world of MUSIC for ever, Gone are the days of the record producer and record label hiring and firing bands. Now when a bad has a loyal following, the band can get directly to the fan base and sell their records directly (like George Michael for example).

Bands that appeal to rebellious ‘drop out’ culture in young people for example now have a horrible dilemma. One the one hand they empathize and promote illegal lifestyle choices (drugs, sex etc), on the other hand they have to get their fans to buy the music, not download it illegally, So in this area, most really large youth culture stars say they will make money out of extremely large live events, rather than records sales

So there are a few examples to illustrate my thinking in other areas of life. Now on to MAGIC

I think the internet has changed the world of MAGIC for ever. Here’s 8 just to get started

1. There are no more secrets. With a few clicks of a search engine I can find out how nearly everything in magic is done. If I want I can usually find out where I can buy it from as well. With a Credit Card I can buy a Tele*** Env******* directly from T** L***** within 5 minutes of finding out what its is. People will collect tricks as puzzles, like they used to collect baseball cards “Yeah .. got that….. Yeah, got that ….. No I’ve not got that – is it new?”

2. The ‘ethos’ of magic, in the area of sources for ideas will be lost. With so much information available, new ideas will be merged, but original sources will be lost. The ethos of credit where it is due will degrade over time. This is inevitable

3. Specialist book sellers will be lost forever. Already there is an internet business guru promoting the following “new rule of the 21st Century” “Instead of several markets for Millions of customers there will be millions of markets for several customers”. What does this mean? That Amazon will sell all specialist magical books (in fact they will sell all specialist books for all specialist groups) from one big where house somewhere in Alaska

4. “Magic Studios” will close down, because no one ever visits them. Why visit when the newest item can be with you by FedEx the next day?

5. It will be very easy to rip off ideas and gimmicks. Get a new gimmick and if it sells well, sites all over the world will be selling copies in weeks. So there will be no reason for people to release magical items, Get a new idea and it will be in someone else’s e-book by the weekend

6. We will be one ‘global village’. When I want a good book on a subject I will get the best in the world not just the best in England, so when someone posts what is the best peek wallet, someone in Hawaii can answer with the fact that a small German cottage industry in wallet making is the best, so in specialist areas, quality not location will be sustainable. So in the past every village had a wallet maker, then every town, now every country has one great wallet makers, soon every content will only have one great wallet maker, finally there will be only one great wallet maker, and we will all order from him(her?) over the internet.

7. With more people able to join the lower level of the magical world, there will become more and more elite sections/websites. These may already exist, but how would I know?

8. The hierarchy of magic will be squashed down – I am a nobody, but at no effort I can start email conversations with Richard Osterlind, or Banacheck, or Larry Becker, whether they want me to or not.

Is it all doom and gloom?
Slim King
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Profile of bobser
You make some interesting points, albeit social & philosophical argument would easily find very positive reasons showing a totally polarised view as to the positives of these small cottage industries which would allow all of us to sell our wares evenly with the top corporate companies. Something that a couple guys called Adorno & Horkenheimer (look 'em up on the internet) would have just loved.

However, I do understand your argument. But maybe, based on your premise, we should be asking 'will the internet kill everything?'

Bob Burns is the creator of The Swan.
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Profile of ribanner
Bobster, thanks for your thoughts - I even understood what you meant (took me two reads though!).

I recall people saying that the VHS format and illegal copying of movies would kill the Movie Industry but it didn't.

Although many people are worried that the film indstry will go the same way as the music industry as soon as the technology will allow reasonable film copying (nearly there!)

I can see crafts and quality evolving into the new world, but an industry based on secrets? I worry that we might be the equivalent of the mythical King ordering the waves back.... can we stand against the inevitable?
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Profile of jimtron

You might want to try a Café search for "exposure" to see how people have weighed in on this in the past; there's been a lot of discussion about these issues. I've made the argument that in the Information Age mentalists may need to change their paradigm, which could be a good thing. On the other hand, Internet exposure may not have any effect on the state of mentalism.

Also, you might want to look at this:
and this:
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Profile of ribanner

These links are excellent - thanks!


Would you agree that in the past exposure was kept low by the discipline of the 'steakholders', now non stakeholders can attempt to become stakeholders by exposure?

I think in the area of exposure is is very gloomy?
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Profile of jimtron
The first book exposing magic secrets was written in the 1600's. Magic stores have existed for many decades. Many magic secrets have been accessible for a very long time. What's different is that it's much easier to find stuff (a Google search will yield a motherlode). But fifty years ago *anyone* could walk into a magic store and buy whatever book or effect that they wanted (or by mail order from Tannen's or Abbot's or Magic Inc.). Some people kept secrets to themselves, but I think a great many secrets have been available to anyone since long before the proliferation of the Internet.

What do you mean by "stakeholders?" People who know secrets?

Personally I don't find it gloomy at all. I haven't seen evidence of exposure hurting original, compelling performers. Exposure could lead to people to come up with their own creations more, which could only be a good thing.
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Profile of bobser
The ideal situation for most human conditions is supposed to be that of order. However some like disorder.
The interesting thing is that with dis-order everything becomes totally and absolutely re-orderd once more. I other words a new form of norm or order.
In other words:
a) We're doomed
b) It's not really that important. Some of us (including me) just 'think' it is.

(very deep & very clever)
Bob Burns is the creator of The Swan.
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Profile of kookyjane1
This, like most trends in magic will come and go.
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Great post.

I personally don’t think the Internet is the downfall of magic and mentalism. Not for now anyway. Here’s why:

1. It’s sometimes hard for us to see this because we’re in the thick of it, but most people really don’t care about how things are done. Sure, they might badger you to know right after it happens and they may talk about it on the way home, but for the most part, people are too busy to bother to look up secrets. Despite the convenience of the Internet, it does take some effort to find this stuff. Which brings me to my next point:

2. The Internet isn’t nearly as easy to navigate as we lead ourselves to believe. Think about it. How many times have you wanted to visit a website but you didn’t know the exact address. So you type some key words into your search engine and come up with ten gazillion pages of suggestions. You scroll down the first page... and you don’t find it. So you go to the next page... still no luck. So you type in other key words... etc. This can go on for ten minutes or up to an hour or more. And it gets tiring! It actually does take time and effort to research stuff on the net and it can be a real pain in the neck. Do you think the average lay person is going to spend hours scouring the net just to find out how some magician made his signed card appear in his pocket? And if said lay person does, then hey, he’s probably a budding magician anyway!

And even if a lay person is fairly persistent, most “magic” searches on the Internet will bring forth magic stores. And once they find out how much most magic costs, they’ll probably drop it: beer and porn are a much better value.

Just my two cents.
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Profile of weepinwil
In my area, there are no "just magic" stores. Every magic dealer has to have some other trade as well to support the magic shop because of the expense of overhead and stocking. Internet allows magic dealers to offer magic at a reasonable fee because the overhead is less than having a store. I see the internet as being more beneficial to the magi than not.

In reality, only the person interested in magic is willing to pay the price for most secrets or props. I would love to have some stage magic but do not have thousands to spend because I would not perform it. Most non-magi that I know don't even want to spend the time to look it up on the net. Perhaps exposure is not as prevelant as we think. No everyone care to spend the time looking.
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Profile of Bambaladam
Internet? no.

People? looks like it.

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Profile of RickDangerous
Copycats and people who are not creative kill mentalism...
"Reality is what you can get away with."
Robert A. Wilson

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Profile of ptbeast
I don't think that magic and/or mentalism face much true danger
from the internet. As others have said, exposure through the
internet is not as big a danger as one might think. It is still
work to find it (especially for non magicians, who won't know what
an effect is called). The "secrets" have always been available to
one who was willing to put in a little effort (the library for instance),
or money (the magic store).

A very small percentage of the public has ever even seen a quality
magic or mentalism show, and certainly would not have enough interest
to research how things were done.

That said, the internet is changing magic/mentalism as an industry.
The first issue is that the brick and mortar magic store is, indeed,
going by the wayside. It is difficult to compete with the internet
in that area.

To me, the biggest problem with the internet age is that it creates
clones. DVDs are slowly becoming more popular than books. People
are purchasing the same effects from the same retailers, no matter
where they are. As a result, all too many magicians and mentalists
are looking just like whoever had the latest and greatest television
special instead of finding their own path.

Of course, once the public sees the same act, done the same way, several
times the begin to believe that is all there is...

Perhaps the internet poses a threat after all, but only if we succumb to
the temptation to take the easy path.

Just my 1.5 cents worth.

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Profile of Markymark
Good point. Buying a secret from a website does not mean you can PERFORM it in a way people will want to watch. God Max is good!
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8. The hierarchy of magic will be squashed down – I am a nobody, but at no effort I can start email conversations with Richard Osterlind, or Banacheck, or Larry Becker, whether they want me to or not.

That's ridiculous. The hierarchy of magic will be squashed down? What does that mean? The fact that you can email those magicians is great. It doesn't diminish their worth at all. And if they felt it did, they have the option to stay away from the internet.

As for the internet giving away all the secrets, that's just not the case. If you want to pay the money and buy magic tricks off the net, I've got news for you- you're a magician! Non-magicians don't buy magic. And whle there is some degree of exposure on the internet (not much), non-magicians don't look for it. They don't care enough. I'm sorry to bring down any fantisies we might have about our craft, but people don't care. And the one or two people who do, well, I'd say they're magicians too.
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Profile of Waters
Quite true ptbeast.

The secrets are safely locked away in books (and in thoughts). DVD's explain methods, but rarely give insight (although not always true). Like no other time in history information is readily available (to anyone).

...However, equally momentus, is the lack of willingness to work (at a chosen art). No one's stumbling across some method's concerns me in the least. Those who will read and THINK, and agonize over their artistic endeavors, will always be safe. Only the unthinking need worry. People aren't impressed with store-bought cheese (no offfense to the better grocers out there).

...Art only comes through sacrifice, not by merely purchasing a book, DVD, or by googl(e)ing their way. AAHHHHH!!!

Magic/mentalism is as safe as ever.

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Profile of MagoStevo
Believe it or not,my lay-friend is downloading what I used to pay for $$$$$ for free....i was speechless to him.........i wish I could kill those people(they should be classified as evil) who upload them for free!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The Internet surely will not kill Mentalism,

It will improve it!

The time will come when those artists who create and market original effects and published works will cease to do so in order to keep their secrets from turning up on internet discussion boards, or exposed by trolls and of course piracy.

Secrets will still continue to be shared by working professionals as they are now within emails and thru real time private chat rooms that meet at a given time and place by invitation.

The secrets just won't be available for mass consumption as it is here on The Magic Café.

Thus the buy an effect perform the effect mentalists will have to create their own material to perform if they want to stay in this business.

This will force creativity and hopefully originality therefore elevating the art and returning it once again to a secret society which holds it’s members and it’s secrets close to it’s chest.

I imagine some will actually have to read The 13 Steps cover to cover.

In Hopes,
Sebastian Black
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In my view, the Internet will never kill mentalism, because mentalism is not a series of cogs, levers and switches – it is a PERFORMANCE.

Even if an individual know all our little secrets, a good performance will STILL take him in and leave him with a sense of wonder. I assure you. At every performance, I am almost certain to bump into somebody who knows about N*** W******. Even so, he is confused and uncertain, because of the eye-holding, raise your chin a little, pulse taking, pregnat-pause-staring mumbo jumbo I’ll go through. And anyway, what’s he gonna’ do... demand his money back?

Drew McAdam
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