Saturday Feb 28, 2009

The Three Forces of the Long Tail and the Classic Market

Chris Anderson's study of The Long Tail identifies three economic forces that the modern computing technologies, the Internet and the Web have helped unleash: (1) Improvements in tools of production of content and goods. (2) Improvements in tools of distribution. (3) Reductions in search costs through improvements in search technologies. (When we speak of "search technologies," we should understand them to mean any method of search, including the physical search, which is the "classic" search technology.)

These three forces join and orchestrate a move, in the consumption curve, from "hits" to "niches".

The argument is that this increases overall economic value. It does, indeed, for some firms and large numbers of consumers that engage in related "modern" search-and-consume activities on the Net. However, the classic market economy does not improve and will suffer, without a fast enough replacement in all niches and certainly in "hits" which provide the batteries for the classic market. Unless we reformulate the classic consumption game in new innovative ways, through innovations in general logistics of moving people and goods, I remain skpetical whether the replacement rate will be sufficient to outpace the overal reduction in consumption due to the diminishing physical search habits.

Thursday Jan 29, 2009

Wikipedia on Sun | MySQL Servers

Wikimedia Foundation is expanding Wikipedia to multimedia with Sun Open Storage Solution and MySQL Database:

Wikipedia receives between 25,000 and 60,000 page requests per second, depending on the time of day. Wikimedia needed to update its infrastructure to handle this huge volume of traffic and ensure that its systems were reliable, highly available, and easily scalable. It also wanted to expand its upload file limit from 20 MB to 100 MB to accommodate rich media (audio and video) content, but before it could do that it needed to expand its storage capacity.

It is great to see that how the most important non-profit content provider on the web grows and it is great to be part of that growth.

Wikipedia should be the subject of extensive studies in various fields of sociology, economics and information systems: social knowledge, open-source, open-content, markets, information economics and open-scoeity.

Wednesday Oct 29, 2008

An HBR case on Wikipedia

Karim Lakhani has put together a business case study on Wikipedia. It is worth noting that Wikipedia uses MySQL as its database engine. 

Friday Jul 13, 2007

Internet Radio Gets a Bruise

Recording industry's SoundExchange duked it out against SaveNetRadio Coalition in courts, and now, fees will start to hamper radio on the Internet, the greatest copy and distribution machine ever made.

Tuesday Apr 17, 2007

The Kingdom of Content

Thomas Hazlett, professor of law and economics at George Mason university, writes about how "content" has become "king": 

In 1983, US cable operators paid an average of just $2 annually per subscriber in license fees – and over $238 in 2005. In aggregate, total payments to cable programmers from cable operators went from just $60m in 1983 to $16bn in 2005.

The advent of cable brought forth many legal questions: 

Where it all comes out is difficult to tell. In the early days of cable television, US law was a puzzle. Should cable systems be allowed to abscond with over-the-air signals of broadcast TV stations, re-transmitting them to subscribers? Or should cable operators – then called “Community Antenna Television” (CATV) systems – give broadcast TV stations a slice of the subscription fee pie?

This question went to the US Supreme Court in 1968 and again in 1974, an era when cable TV delivered only broadcast TV signals (ESPN, CNN, Discovery, A&E and the rest were to come years later). Both times the court held that cable operators retransmitting local signals owed nothing. In extending broadcast signals they improved reception for households, like a large antenna.

Now, we have a battle between the super copy-and-distribute machine and the "copyright-protected" content. As many have argued, in the case of the Internet, the increasingly more strict protections granted through copyrights can put stringent constraints on  cultural creativity.

Monday Mar 26, 2007

Open Source and Property Rights

Open Source development—whether it is OpenOffice, Apache, Open Solaris, Linux (Debian), Sun Studio, Open JDK, Apache Derby (Java DB), PostgreSQL, Glassfish or Netbeans—engages communities in production of value governed by a revolutionary model for property rights, emphasizing open distribution of software rather than the traditional "exclusive-rights" notion of property.

The new property model finds its grounding in the use of the Internet as the backbone for parallel development of relatively complex systems of value generated by (non-idyllic) communities of developers—large quantities of value being generated for little, direct financial compensation. 

In the exclusive-rights model of property ownership, the state uses force (or the threat of force) to prevent "unlawful" use, in order to "secure" those rights and encourage their development. 

In the open-source model of property ownership, the width of distribution and availability represents the only "security" that needs to be provided.

The state's role must be vastly different, and it must be focused on rights of distribution and use, and of mixing. Being a vastly different model of ownership, open source has often confronted a state which wants to apply its traditional understanding of property and its "security." We have witnessed this with property "rights" over content because general content in the digital-distribution world possesses many characteristics similar to software.

Thursday Feb 01, 2007

Print vs. Digital Media

Even as papers have gone far in changing their business models to accommodate to digital media, the paper editions remain superior to their digital versions targeted to desktop readers not only because of the technological qualities of paper but also because of the design of the paper editions.

Everything from font face and size of the headings to the arrangement of columns and stories on the print pages guide the reader to the intended destination. Take a paper edition of Financial Times, and you'll know what I mean. (Note that Financial Times has not yet broken the folding symmetry, which The Wall Street Journal did break on Jan. 1, 2007, by reducing its columns from an even to an odd number.)

Of course, I cannot help write about the paper edition without mentionting that while the designer of Financial Times does a good job, its opinion columns and editorials remain what they are as is expected in all papers with editors.

For example, one of the Financial Times opinion columnists, the slate.com editor Jacob Weisberg, seems to be on a solid contract to write a regular but a rather poor column on Iran in every so many issues.  While the intent of Weisberg's column reminds me quite a bit of Michael Ledeen's "work" on the opinion pages of The Wall Street Journal back in 2002 - 2003 era (before he got caught with the serial lies he kept stringing together almost at will), Wiesberg may yet prove to be a better poetic writer, has a better sense of drama (as in plays) and has taken upon himself to offer somewhat more fanciful strategum.

In all this, what surprises me most is that these writers actually get paid to feed propaganda to their hapless readers and write with confidence and an air of authority about subjects they know so very little about.

We can think of this nauseating activity in two apparently distinct ways: Propaganda for Pay or Pay for Propaganda. Take your pick -- but you need to pick one as if it matters. Any way, why does the first seem a bit more shameless?

In the same vain, I truly wonder and am quite curious to know whether Weisberg's dreamy columns on Iran actually see the light of the day in the European print editions of Financial Times or whether only we, the naive American readers of the print edition, have the fortune of being regularly subjected to the drama in his columns.

The topics captured in the above paragraphs remind me again that in the world I live, form, farce and fiction continue to matter way more than substance, seriousness and certainty.

Saturday Jan 06, 2007

Classifying Content

Lawrence Lessig classifies content on the web according to their participation and sharing characteristics.

Wednesday Dec 20, 2006

Torrents to Distribute Video Content

 

Legal writers on the Internet have viewed it as a giant copying and distribution machine.

They are not far off the mark, and from this position, they have argued that the Internet should be let loose as such a machine with only minimal limitations, and that the legislature need to reconsider and rewrite copyright laws to bring them back to their original intent.

Let the machine do what it does best and figure out how to use it to benefit society at large, they have argued.

Roberto Chinnici and Michael Calore write about a major use of BitTorrent protocol for (copying and) distribution of video content from a major news media outlet, the BBC. 

This is a grand idea and a great use of the machine.

The only potential downside I could see is that BitTorrent works best when a piece is popular. For it to work for programming that does not always suit the popular taste of the masses, a major news outlet must also use enough torrent seeds to ensure these programs remain available for distribution. This way the less popular programming can still have the minimal torrent seeding necessary for efficient distribution while the more popular programming gets the benefit of additional distribution through the collaborative distribution BitTorrent makes possible as a piece becomes increasingly popular. In other words, popularity should (and can, thanks to BitTorrent) pay for itself.

One day, the designer of BitTorrent will be considered a great visionary who changed the face of the Internet. He made a great leap to make the copying and distribution machine more efficient and more fair.

 

Thursday Dec 14, 2006

Disruptive with TV

Roberto Chinnici puts some probing questions to non-mainstream English language TV channels. His solution to their problems to break into the U.S. market: Use the web to your advantage to be disruptive with conventional TV programming.

To address the complaint regarding economic cost of bandwidth, finding a way to include decent advertising may prove sufficient. Furthermore, there can be a web-based subscription model that collects small subscription fees (or micropayments) for access to programming. This will work because bandwidth will still be able to serve all users particularly if programming does not emphasize real, real-time news and breaks content into pieces available separately.

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