Your house is full of Amazon Alexas streaming Spotify; in the car, you pull up YouTube on your phone to play “Everything Is Awesome” (again!) for the kids. SoundCloud rocks. When was the last time you bought music on any physical medium?
But back in the old days, music barely existed online. “Downloading music required people to search for websites where songs were posted. Most were unreliable. Links broke,” we wrote more than a decade ago. “Traffic spikes slowed download times.” We had to, like, buy CDs and stuff.
Join us in San Francisco, October 12–15. More information at www.Wired.com/25.
Then a couple of college kids figured out a way to index music files and the Napster file-trading service was born in the summer of 1999. The Recording Industry Association of America had a conniption and launched a legal action; eventually the company shut down. But founders Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker had already done their part to show people how the web could (and would) change the world. (In that 2002 Napster story, we said that the recording industry case pitted individual freedom against corporate interests, a notion that feels especially relevant today.)
These days, Parker wants to change the world in a very different way. He launched the Parker Foundation with a $600 million grant and has since created the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy which (among other things) focuses on using CRISPR to fight cancer. He’s what we at WIRED would call an icon, and he is one of the many icons we plan to honor at an anniversary celebration we’re throwing for ourselves in October in San Francisco. Parker and other icons and speakers will be giving us a glimpse of the next 25 years as we recall how they have shaped the world since WIRED was founded in 1993.
As our editor in chief, Nicholas Thompson, puts it, WIRED has been covering the most important story on the planet since our first issue. “This event is a great way to look back at everything that has changed, and to look ahead at what will change next too.”
Parker exemplifies that notion, and so do the rest of our speakers: Jony Ive, after all, designed the iPod (and the iPhone and almost all the other iThings), which also transformed our relationship to music and how we consume it. Other icons include YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, AI researcher Fei-Fei Li, Instagram cofounder Kevin Systrom, 23andMe cofounder Anne Wojcicki, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and more. (It’s not all business people talking. We are also going to be hosting a weekend of cultural events and a day of tours of various tech industry offices.)
We’ll announce more speakers and events soon. Everyone there will have either shaped the world we live in now—or be in the process of shaping the world to come. For tickets and more information about the October 12–15 event, visit www.Wired.com/25.