The way I see it, there are two classes of activity that people engage in: creating and consuming. These classes apply quite broadly, from creating wealth and consuming goods, to creating art and absorbing information (a form of consumption) by reading a book.

Left to their own devices, I believe most humans have a need to create. Whether it be knitting a scarf or developing a cancer fighting drug, creating is an intrinsic part of human existence.

Yet in our mass-marketed, consumer driven culture, individual creativity seems to have suffered greatly. Cultural gateways such as large publishers and mololithic music and entertainment companies arbitrate and edit our views, selecting what we see based more on economic potential than cultural value. Thousands of people are creating works that may be of value, but we rarely discover them. Individuals who might otherwise be creating their own works are watching television with their minds only partially engaged, or worse, expressing their creativity by assembling the latest and greatest over-branded, over-promoted consumer goods into a "personal statement" of cookie-cutter uniformity.

The Internet is an immensely positive disruptive force that provides hope of to reversing this destructive trend. Once musicians discover that they can both find an audience and earn a substantial living by dealing directly with fans, record companies will cease to add value. They will lose control and become "disintermediated" in short order. New intermediaries who provide value that is relevant to the Internet age will thrive (officialcommunity.net is a good example).

Large entertainment companies will be restricted to projects that require large capital investments, but even then the prevalence of easy copying will limit their potential returns, which will be reflected in smaller production budgets. The days of the quarter-billion dollar blockbuster are numbered.

Sites like lulu.com will revolutionize publishing. Blogging and photo upload sites give a stage to hundreds of thousands of people with something to say, or with images to share; They provide a platform for creativity.

Idealists refer to this as the "democratization" of culture, but they couldn’t be more wrong. Any widely distributed, truly democratic process is subject to displacement by larger commercial interests with profit as a motive. Ironically what’s required are large, strong, profit-oriented corporations who embrace "quasi-democratic access" as a paradigm, and who find a way to profit without interfering with the mechanics of that paradigm. This is why Google, Yahoo, eBay, and even Amazon have become culturally important institutions. These companies will serve as the seed for a new cultural renaissance.