Friday, 30 September 2005
I spoke about a key technological driver, which is storage. Classic broadcast TV had everyone watching at the same time, because there is no storage at all. The next iteration is a central archive, but these are fragile - witness the BBC's loss of large numbers of programs from the 80s due to videotape erosion. Tivo, iPod and BitTorrent are manifestations of storage moving to the edge, streams becoming files, and giving us more choice. Streaming is a throwback to the 2nd model - Rick Prelinger says 'streaming is for sissies'. Multiple copies spread to the edges are more resilient, and more remixable, and so create a larger cultural footprint.
Old school search looks at the content, and tries to derive metadata from it. With text we can find keywords, but with audio and video this is difficult. The classic attempt is to scrape closed captions, try shot detection, try phonetic transcription, but all of these don't help much.
Traditional media production goes through a broadcast funnel that strips out all the structure that was there while it was being made - shots, scenes, production notes, alternative takes. DVD production is finally preserving some of this, but it is often explicit recreation.
Then there is the afterlife of media, which is its cultural impact and the discussion, recommendations, remixing and inspiration that goes on afterwards, and which provides the richer context and description.
What is happening is that the edge culture, the long tail, is spreading a bigger footprint, while the locked-up media from the centre is shrinking it context. My cousin Robert does video restoration for the BBC, and often relies on discovered amateur recordings to reconstruct destroyed recordings.
So how do we help this? Tagging, citing and annotating are already working for text and pictures, lets do this for audio and video too.
A good step would be to converge on a way to add media metadata that is easy to create and share. We've started a microformat process by collecting media metadata examples.
Another thing I heard from multiple people is a desire for a way to pay for the media created by remix culture. My mediAgora idea comes to mind.
Thursday, 29 September 2005
Remember the iPod? Why do you think it was so prone to scratching and going all gunky after a year in your pocket? Why would Apple build a handheld technology out of materials that turned to shit if you looked at them cross-eyed? It's because the iPod was only meant to last a year! [...]
He handed her a white brick, the size of a deck of cards. It took her a moment to recognize it as an iPod. "Christ, it's huge," she said.
"Yeah, isn't it just. Remember how small and shiny this thing was when it shipped? 'A thousand songs in your pocket!'"
Tuesday, 27 September 2005
Friday, 23 September 2005
We skipped this in August due to Barcamp, but we're back.
Tuesday, 20 September 2005
Tuesday, 13 September 2005
the Long Tail model, which was born in March 2004.
[...]I met with a guy named Robbie Vann-Adibé who at the time was running a digital jukebox company called Ecast. During the course of our conversation, Robbie asked me what percentage of his top 10,000 tracks I thought sold at least once per month?
[...]The answer was 98%—that is, 98% of Ecast's top 10,000 tracks sell at least once per month. When I get something this badly wrong—when I have a data point that's just way off the line—I have to ask whether one of two things is true. Either you've got an outlier—meaning (in this case) that there's just something funky about the digital jukebox business—or there's something going on that warrants further investment.
This timeline seems a bit odd to me. Personally, I think I first articulated this in r, K or RIAA?:
[in biology] you'll see a clear distinction between r and K reproductive strategies. I'll summarize briefly - K strategies work in a stable, restricted environment that is near to carrying capacity (eg the Billboard chart and radio playlist, or record shop stock). In this case, the successful strategy is to have few offspring, and invest lots of effort on nurturing them and helping them to survive.
r strategies work in an unpredictable environment where you are not near the carrying capacity of the environment (the Internet). Here the successful strategy is to have huge numbers of offspring with a low investment of effort, let them loose and expect that enough will do well and survive to keep your species going.
If you're a K strategist that finds yourself in an less predictable and less closed environment than you thought, you need to move closer to the r model, and spread your seed more widely. It seems the Record Industry is doing the opposite.
I can understand Chris not reading obscure websites I wrote 3 years ago, but how about Gary Wolf's Wired article in October 2003 which said:
All of Amazon's important innovations - starting from the concept of a Web bookstore - have suggested a profound change in the bookselling business, a change that makes it possible to earn a profit by selling a much wider variety of books than any previous retailer, including many titles from the so-called long tail of the popularity curve. 'If I have 100,000 books that sell one copy every other year,' says Steve Kessel, an Amazon VP, 'then in 10 years I've sold more of these, together, than I have of the latest Harry Potter.'
I think Chris Anderson was editor of Wired at the time.
Monday, 12 September 2005
I have seen several discussions of Digital Rights Management again recently. Having blogged on this folly at enormous length in the past, I thought instead I'd apply my targetted frame technique. Here are some anti-DRM arguments framed for 5 different groups:
Computer Users: DRM turns your computer against you
I know sometimes it seems like your computer has its own agenda, when it refuses to print or copy or find your documents. DRM does this on purpose. It is designed to stop you copying and pasting, printing and sharing things. I don't think you want this.
Computer Scientists: DRM will fail through emulation
One of the basic precepts of Computer Science is the Church-Turing thesis, which shows that any computer can emulate any other one. This is not theory, but something we all use every day, whether it is Java virtual machines, or CPU's emulating older ones for software compatibility.
The corollary of this is that code can never really know where it is running. For a rock solid example, look at MAME, the Multi-Arcade Machine Emulator, that runs almost any video game from the last 30 years. The games think you have paid a quarter when you press the '5' key.
Corporations: DRM has to be undone to be used
Microsoft has been touting DRM features in the next version of Office that will only allow approved people to copy or forward or print documents that they can read. But if they can read them, they can describe, paraphrase, retype or photograph them. If you can't trust your employees, but think you can trust your computers more, you have deeper problems than document leakage.
Lawyers: DRM makes machines judge, jury and executioner
Law is complex and subtle, with elaborate and oft-satirised processes and procedures for making, enforcing, fighting and settling contentious issues. Due process is there for good reasons which I don't need to rehearse to you.
DRM undoes all this with the simplistic, hard-edged certainty of a machine. It will refuse to let you copy video you have shot yourself, or prevent citation by copying and pasting. It will make presumptions of guilt rather than innocence. Some tasks we can delegate to machines; law and jurisprudence should not be one.
Media Companies: DRM destroys value
By adding DRM to your products, you make them less attractive to your potential customers. This will reduce the amount they are willing to pay for them, significantly.
Companies that bet on DRM die off. Apple's iTunes store (often cited as a DRM success) will burn Audio CDs, so it preserves the customer value.
Wednesday, 7 September 2005
John reflects on it all:
Overall, writing the "Being Poor" piece and seeing the response has been one of the moving writing experiences that I've had in a very long time, and much of that I owe to the commentors who stepped forward to add notes from their own lives and experiences.
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