Strategies for a discontinuous future.

Consulting & advisory, research notes, in the press, about bubblegen,
next wednesdays.

Friday, April 22, 2005

3 for 1

Wow. 3 yrs in jail for distributing a single copy of a pre-release movie on the internet.

I'm not sure why, but this reminds me of the marijuana upheaval of the 60's and on. Back in the really crazy days, they gave some poor fellow 10 years for possessing 2 joints (although I believe he was released well before this).

In a lot of ways, the battle against internet piracy seems similar to the war against drugs or the war against terror for that matter. Just by defining it as a war against something that is not a quantifiable entity, you've already lost. In other words, there will always be drugs, terror, and from the looks of it, internet piracy. Instead of throwing everybody in jail, maybe more effort and resources should be forwarded towards changing the law (i.e. intellectual property and copyright law).

What I want to know is, are they going to go after the dealers or the users? God damned the dealer man...

-- dhd // 4:14 PM //

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Interesting take on blogging.

I'm not really sure how to comment on this one....he makes some good (although pessimistic)points.

-- dhd // 4:37 PM //

Monday, April 18, 2005


Duncan Watts' new experiment is online, a website where you listen to some music. If you ask me, a lot of the band names look faked and the point of the experiment is to discover social influences on listening.

Who names a band 'moral hazard'? Not even I would do that!

-- umair // 4:22 PM //



"...Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon of Surrey University decided to test whether there was any overlap between the personalities of business managers, psychiatric patients and hospitalised criminals (psychopathic and psychiatrically ill). Their results, published last month, make startling reading.

Board and Fritzon found that three of 11 personality disorders (PDs) were actually commoner in managers than in disturbed criminals."

Like you expected otherwise.

-- umair // 1:07 PM //


Is Content King?

The metaphor I use in thinking about Media 2.0/Micromedia/Peer Production often is underground art. The canonical example, for me at least, is the dynamics of electronic music over the last 30 years, from Kraftwerk, to house music, to clubs, labels, the rise of the DJ, and the new forms of commercialization these dynamics have created.

Another nice example is graffiti. The point is that 'content' alone isn't king - it's that the content/conduit distinction becomes meaningless as old ecosystems get disrupted.

What do I mean by this? Well, let's go back to music. The rise of the DJ didn't just make content king - it's gone on to disrupt the structure of the music industry, culminating in a scenario where iPods and connectivity are massively shifting the value drivers of both content and distribution.

Put another way, DJs unbundled content from distribution, and reconstructed it in ways that offered discontinuously more value to listeners. The iPod/iTunes value prop is an extension of the same economics. Now, in either case, new distribution mechanisms are required for this kind of value creation: for DJs, it was clubs, pitchshifting turntables, and decent soundsystems; for iPods, it's iTunes, connectivity, and eventually, 'social' or connected consumption (which squares the circle back to clubs and DJ's, only this time, connected to listeners).

So, I think a more thoughtful approach to the somewhat false notion of content vs distribution is understand that both are coevolving and interdependent. The real question isn't simply which one is king, but what the dynamics of the evolution will be.

For example, eroded barriers to production (viz laptop audio) mean micromedia atomizes traditional value chains, exploding the content network at the edges, and massively creating new value - and this fragmentation makes distribution (aggregation, reconstruction, or whatever we call the last stage of value chain) the place to capture value.

-- umair // 12:39 PM //



Zopa, the p2p lending exchange, is having some teething problems, detailed here. Related to some of the issues I discussed last monthish, and some interesting new ones.

Comments, thoughts welcome - what do you think are the problems in Zopa's model?

-- umair // 12:38 PM //


Murdoch Luvs Bloggers

Argh. Fox News Blogs, coming soon? It turns that Jarvis has been behind it, and he thinks citizen journalism is reaching a tipping point.

I'd say peer production in general is reaching a tipping point. But I'd also say that of all possible peer (content) production domains, news is going to be one of the trickiest. The intution behind this is simply to think of the inevitable pile of paranoid everything-phobic crap that Fox News Blogs (or even Fox Citizens' News) would be.

On an aside, why is it that liberals just don't get cool technologies and business models like evil old conservative dudes? They're great at using technologies nonprofitably (viz Creative Commons, Net Archive, etc), but...

-- umair // 12:15 PM //


Media 2.0

Nice article about newspapers being disrupted by the Net, with some nice data points:

"...Craigslist makes its money by charging $25 to $75 to post help-wanted ads on sites focused on the San Francisco Bay area, New York and Los Angeles, but most of its ad postings remain free.

By comparison, a comparable classified ad in a major newspaper might cost as much as $700, according to a study commissioned last year by Classified Intelligence, a media consulting group. The same study estimated Craigslist deprived Bay Area newspapers of $50 million to $65 million in annual revenue."

Of course, the deeper point is that the economics of the Net are superior for hyperdifferentiated content like classified, and so newspapers have to evolve new content strategies, or make the shift to either end of the atomized value chain (as discussed below).

-- umair // 12:06 PM //


Media 2.0

iRadio's value prop is almost exactly the opposite of what I would look for in the Media 2.0 dominant design.

You could also think about sanitizers for some insight for what not to do.

-- umair // 11:52 AM //


Genome Economy

"...blood samples are shipped to a California lab run by MetaMorphix Inc., of Beltsville, where they are run through a genotyping machine that quickly analyzes the animals' DNA. If it shows the genetic traits to produce the tender, thickly marbled beef that fetches top prices, it will get an extra few weeks of fattening on an expensive, high-energy diet. Otherwise it's off to a life munching cheap grass and hay, and a strong possibility of being ground into a meat pie."

Thought-provoking article. Is this perfect information? How much is perfect information worth? What will the unintended consequences be? A nice application of genetics without the stigma of GM.

(My answers: no, max[efficiency savings, relative value], homogenization opens up new market niches for 'real' beef)

-- umair // 11:46 AM //


Contextual Ad Deathwatch

Click fraud article from the Post.

-- umair // 11:44 AM //


American Mullah

State Dept report finds terrorism on the rise, so, of course, Condi axes it. Wow, ignoring reality is so mullah.

-- umair // 11:34 AM //


Peer Production

Nine Inch Nails single released as GarageBand file. As peer production atomizes the traditional media value chain, players in creating and capturing value will be forced to either end. By definition, massive fragmentation in the number of peers means the value will be squeezed out of the middle of the chain.

This is an example of a shift from content/artist to platform. The inverse is the shift to aggregator or reconstructor (in this context, think superstar DJs).

This is a pretty important datapoint, don't miss it's significance - for this to happen, most players along the value chain had to be involved (Apple, labels, management, etc).

-- umair // 11:20 AM //


My Grandma

The reason I haven't been writing for the last week or so is that my Grandma got pretty ill, so I've been pretty worried about her.

Like most kids and their grandparents, I guess, I always thought she'd be around forever.

Anyways, she's getting (slowly) better now. I'm going back home to see her this week, so I'll try to post some stories from there for a bit of a change of pace.

-- umair // 11:00 AM //


Core Competences, Media 2.0, and Consolidation

Adobe to acquire Macromedia. This is a smart play, the first of many Media 2.0 consolidation plays to come (here's another - GameStop and EB). I think we'll see a lot more horizontal consolidation in the next few months, and vertical integration will accelerate shortly afterwards, as value chain segment owners try and extend their market power. This shouldn't be confused with horizontal integration in micromedia (viz Yahoo and Flickr, Ask and Bloglines, etc), which is about finding the dominant design in new markets.

In traditional markets, strengthening and leveraging competences into complements is a smart way to survive and grow in an environment that's converging on several levels (content, standards, distribution), largely by creating scope economies and end to end solutions to exert market power upstream and downstream, and feed the rents back into strengthened innovative capacity. (MeFi).

-- umair // 10:57 AM //


Peer Production

Star Wars fans make flick, whose FX, acting, and plot are apparently pretty good. I have yet to see it, but the bigger point is that the quality of peer production, at least in my model, is going to rise exponentially.

This is because the constraint on great content is no longer technology (capital), but ideas (labor). So the arbitrage potential for talented prosumers to vaporize pros is very big, because smart entrepreneurs will recognize that giving prosumers tools to coordinate and put their labor together is a nice way to earn rents on the arb. (Via IP).

-- umair // 10:47 AM //



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