Dennis Haarsager's rolling environmental scan for electronic media. "Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us." --Jerry Garcia "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." --Bob Seger
Jessica Clark has written a great overview of new public media initiatives with this title for Mark Glaser's MediaShift blog. Important tutorial for pubcasting execs; well worth your time. Link: PBS.org. --Dennis
The Center for Social Media at American University has a video and related report, Code of Best Practicies in Fair Use for Online Video. In spite of the "tv-ist" title, it all applies to audio also, of course. Also check out the video, Remix Culture: Fair Use Is Your Friend. --Dennis
Maybe some regular reader can set me straight, but I swear that recently I linked to Kevin Kelly's terrific piece with this in his blog, The Technium (Kelly was one of the founders of Wired) However, can't find it, so I either dreamed it or accidentally deleted it. Seriously, it is the best thing I've read this year as part of this blogging effort and was a core part of a brief presentation that I made to last month's Public Media 2008 conference in L.A. Now comes Chris Anderson with a lengthy article in Wired that's previewing a new book, FREE, that will be out next year.
Kelly begins by noting:
The internet is a copy machine. At its most foundational level, it copies
every action, every character, every thought we make while we ride upon it. In
order to send a message from one corner of the internet to another, the
protocols of communication demand that the whole message be copied along the way
several times. IT companies make a lot of money selling equipment that
facilitates this ceaseless copying. Every bit of data ever produced on any
computer is copied somewhere. The digital economy is thus run on a river of
copies. Unlike the mass-produced reproductions of the machine age, these copies
are not just cheap, they are free. ...
He goes on:
... From my study of the network economy I see roughly eight categories of
intangible value that we buy when we pay for something that could be free. ...
These eight "generatives," as he calls them ("A generative value is a quality or attribute that must be generated,
grown, cultivated, nurtured. A generative thing can not be copied, cloned,
faked, replicated, counterfeited, or reproduced.") are as follows:
Anderson looks at "free" a different way (though if you think advertising, for example, is truly free, think about how much of the cost of the products you buy goes into making you aware of and desire them). Here's his taxonomy:
"Freemium" (basic version free, premium version costs you)
Cross-subsidies (free product entices you to buy something else)
Doc Searls begins a post with this title by linking to Michelle Thorne's post, Public Broadcasters Opt for CC (as in Creative Commons) in iCommons.org, itself a worthy reading excursion. But he goes on to make this interesting observation:
... We’re one good UI away from the cell phone becoming a radio. (Thanks to the
iPhone, it already serves as a TV.) And we’re one smart cell company away from
radio- and TV-as-we-know-it from being replaced entirely — or from moving up the
next step of the evolutionary ladder. ¶ Public broadcasters know that. That’s one reason they now call themselves
“public media”, a move that separates the category from its transport methods.
It’s also why they’re thinking hard and long about the role their online
transmissions and archives play in a world without physical borders. ...
I'd add that it's not just cell phones, but other portable devices as well that blur the lines among computers, phones, PDAs, etc. I just got a Nokia N810, a Linux computer the size of a PDA with a spectacular screen and the first decent speakers I've seen in a portable device. Oh, and its browser supports Flash. Oh again, it comes with Skype, so it's a WiFi phone. My intent was for it to replace my HP PDA and a Sprint smartphone with pretty good media software but pathetic speakers. It lacks PIM software but the media portion is great. The development community should have a PIM up and running in no time. I'm using it mostly for radio, email and RSS. --Dennis
Is it just me or are Jon Stewart, Jay Leno and many of their colleagues funnier now than before the writers' strike? I've learned in recent weeks that many plants send out blossoms when they "think" they're going to die from under-watering. Some people even stab at their roots with a knife to create this distress. Maybe the same thing is going on. --Dennis
Democratic legislators have introduced a bill that will tie university financial
aid funding to universities imposing stiff penalties for file-sharing, and to
universities subsidizing student subscriptions to failed DRM-based systems like
Napster and Ruckus. This is about as ugly as pork-barrel politics can get:
politicians are so in debt to four of five ailing giants from the entertainment
industry that they're prepared to deny low-income children access to a college
education if universities don't punish kids for listening to music and piss away
money on a useless service that no one wants to use. ...
Proponents of a new royalty for music that is broadcast over-the-air contend that a government study bolsters their argument that the radio industry can afford to pay. ¶ The artist-industry alliance known as the MusicFirst coalition points to an FCC study that examined radio market concentration and said it shows that broadcasters have been jacking up their rates. ¶ Annual growth of radio advertising rates since 1996 was about 10%, while the CPI has averaged a 3% increase per year over that span, FCC senior economist George Williams found in his study that examined the market through March 2007. ...
Updated 12 November 2007: Also see Andrew Glass, Singers: Stations should pay (them) to play:
Lyle Lovett wants to get paid for music he made famous with his bluesy twang. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is giving him a stage to make it happen. Leahy is scheduled to hold a hearing Tuesday to review a nearly century-old law saying radio stations don’t have to give the four-time Grammy winner a dime when they play music he performed that was written by someone else. ...
"Free as in free beer" is such a powerful impulse among us that even when something is offered free for voluntary payment, most people opt for not paying. Gee, where have I learned that in my public broadcasting career? The band, Radiohead, is the latest business to discover this as Nate Anderson writes:
Radiohead's innovative digital distribution arrangement for their new album, In Rainbows,
lets people pay whatever they want for the music, including nothing at
all. Despite that, BitTorrent swapping of the album has been on the
level of other major releases. Are people really so cheap that they
won't even register with the band in order to snag a free download? The
answer appears to be yes. ...
... Once the album became available for download, though, it spilled immediately onto P2P networks, primarily BitTorrent. ...
Of course, as Radiohead is discovering, that's not to say that the collective economic impact of those who choose to pay isn't a sufficiently compelling business model. Umair Haque calls this open pricing and points to this post in Valleywag (Radiohead estimates doom record labels):
... What nobody knew was whether fans would pay for a
Radiohead album if
they didn't have to. Certainly, the record labels had to be hoping they
wouldn't. Too bad for the fat cats, because reports are that the average price paid for "In Rainbows" fell between $5 and
$8. A low estimate of Radiohead's take in two days is $6 million.
Sounds like bands with a following now have permission to skip labels.
No doubt about it, Apple's iPhone and iPod touch continue that company's record of high class
industrial design. But if Steve Jobs's taste and focus make for great-looking consumer products, his tightly-integrated hardware/DRM/software business model is more a throwback to the great (and sometimes unfairly labeled) "robber baron" industrialists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Ironically, this business style is about as far from the culture of the Web as any company active in this space today. I hope Apple's design sense goes on forever, but the days for its business model are numbered.
The touch takes the iPhone, removes the mediocre camera and mediocre 2G GSM radio, and substitutes a Wi-Fi radio, and the maximum memory is a small 16 GB (though that is double the iPhone's). My son, writing from Rotterdam, had the following reaction to the touch:
... This ipod, the full touchscreen ipod, I've been waiting for so long, it's incredible, exactly what we all wanted - except - 8gb/16gb? This is next to nothing! My ipod, the grandpa of ipods from a whole 4 years ago, is a 15gb. ...
Most importantly to folks in my business, it continues the crippled version of the Safari
browser. Like a TV cable box with parental controls, it
lets you access only media on the web that "Dad" Jobs wants you to
access -- in this case, the iTunes Store of course, YouTube and one of the newest media companies, Starbucks (see Gerd Leonhard's reaction to the Starbucks announcement). Only this isn't to keep you from naughty lyrics, it's to ensure you don't use any media that doesn't give Apple a cut.
The paucity of memory on the touch is puzzling, especially when Apple simultaneously released the iPod Classic with 160 GB of storage. Why limit what you can store on the only device they have that permits paid downloads from iTunes?
On the subject of the Classic's large storage, read Bob Lefsetz's progressive vision of what Apple should do with this storage:
... It’s like we’re living in the twilight zone. The labels are stuck in
the nineties and the public is in the twenty first century. Who even
HAS 4,000 albums? ¶
A lot of people. Oh, not as CDs. But as MP3s, stolen from the Net, their friends, their family. ¶ People WANT music. The labels just can’t figure out how to sell it to them. ¶ Took
them over three years to even deliver it easily online at a reasonable
price (2003’s iTunes Store). But, they still haven’t given people what
they want. How about a 160 gig iPod PRELOADED with the greatest hits of
the sixties? Or the history of dance music? Don’t bother to steal the
music, you can get it, for an extra fifty bucks. ...
Link: Lefsetz Letter. Right on. In the end, preloading will win out over even the iTunes Store -- because folks will realize that its superior pricing rationality and security will kill off virtually all piracy. If the 2007 iPod Classic holds 40,000 songs. With Moore's Law progression, we'll have a 1 TB iPod in five years. Will be a nice retirement gift. Hint, hint.
P.S.: The picture above (taken at about the same age as Steve Jobs is now) is of "robber baron" James J. Hill, "The Empire Builder," whose railroad's advertising in Scandinavia and then its tracks were largely responsible for getting my grandparents and thousands of others to Minnesota in the 1880s.