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notes from Maxim Oustiougov

Above is a link to my "predictions" about future of home entertainment. From that post: two main trends that I am seeing in media consumption:

a) Entertainment more and more resembles conversation. We are moving away from monologue (watching a movie, reading) to a more interactive consumption (TV-channel flipping, internet - link-clicking) to something that resembles a conversation - you watch, then ask a question (voice recognition), get a reply, watch/listen, ask a question (or make a comment?), watch/listen etc. This experience is not here yet, but I sense there is a growing demand for it;

b) Attention span gets shorter. Remember movies from 30s-40s (Gone with the Wind, for example)? How long were they?.. How long are movies now? :-) Somewhat back to Joi's point about specializing - people want to get information they need and desire, and there is less and less tolerance for getting off-topic. Is instant gratification in human nature? You bet :-) It's just that in the past instant gratification was 'if they put it there, then I need to watch it, it'll sometime turn out good', now it is 'it is taking too long and I don't feel I need it'. You need to constantly keep audience in suspense (and that applies to all forms of media), and for that you need to specialize and be brief. Look at the link, there is more.

Maxim Oustiougov.

notes from Kevin all the games I’d ever bought and more are available online, if you know where to look. The catch? they’re all cracked copies. The original copy-protected versions couldn’t be digitized, or even if they could, the cracked versions were much easier to digitize, and they work with the Apple //e emulators, and they work with the software that can copy them back onto real 5.25 inch floppy disks (the kind that actually flop, and did you know that Verbatim still sells them?)—so the pirated versions with their ugly crack screens and their pointless ego-enhancing animation, those are the ones that survive. Last year, my son was in third grade, and one of his assignments required him to conduct research on the flora, fauna, and climate of the alpine tundra. His teacher didn’t send him to look it up in books – indeed, the school library didn’t have a lot of information to offer on the alpine tundra. My son’s teacher sent him to look it up on the Web. She gave him a list of URLs for some websites that were likely to lead him to the information he needed, and sat him down in front of a computer to do his research. At the end of the school year, this teacher said goodbye to the class and presented all of the students with a souvenir: A home-burned CD full of Room A-9’s favorite songs. Where did the songs come from? My son’s elementary school teacher had downloaded them from the Internet herself so the class could enjoy them. Room A-9 apparently especially liked the Sugar Beats’ rendition of “Put A Little Love in Your Heart.”

When an elementary school teacher helps her class to download information about the animals that inhabit the tundra, we all agree that that’s admirable. When she teaches the class to download “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” at least some of us would argue that that’s reprehensible. Collecting information on the Internet is “learning.” Posting information on the net is “sharing.” Try exactly the same thing with recorded music and it’s “stealing.” When my son’s teacher downloads information from the Internet and shares it with her students, that’s the sort of thing the law is supposed to encourage; when she downloads music from the Internet and shares it with her students, that’s the sort of thing the law is supposed to prevent. The law treats the two acts differently because facts are in the public domain, while music is someone’s property. Information cannot be owned, we’re told, because, unlike music, facts aren’t original. [87] From my son’s teacher’s point of view, though, what she’s doing is the same: she’s sharing. [88] From her point of view, there’s no reason to think that it would make intuitive sense that downloading information to share with her students would be good, while downloading music to share with her students would be bad. Those of us who teach copyright know that the distinction between unprotected fact and protected expression is as elusive and counterintuitive as anything in the copyright course. There’s a wealth of literature challenging the rule that information is unlike music in any way that’s important to whether we should give it intellectual property protection. [89] Any originality-based distinction between facts and notes is untenable, we’re told, since unearthing and assembling facts takes at least as much creativity and often lots more money than writing a song. [90] Scholar after scholar has deconstructed the supposed rationales for giving factual information different treatment from fiction, and concluded that the asserted differences can’t be defended. The inescapable conclusion, they’ve told us, is that we need to give comparable intellectual property protection to information. [91] There’s a perennial bill pending in the U.S. Congress that threatens to do just that; [92] it’s even passed the House of Representatives once or twice.

Copyright scholars never seem to reverse the syllogism. You never run into an argument that says: if facts and music are equivalent in the respects that matter, and we have an ample, readily accessible and diverse supply of facts when the law gives them no protection, shouldn’t we at least investigate what sort of musical smorgasbord we might develop if we treated music comparably?

notes from rojisan it's still early in this new music business, but most of the "solutions" so far involve some level of "active" participation in the music-filtering-and-selection process - and generally a lot more than most people are willing to invest. i recently went into a bit of a [private] rant on one of the components of the eclipse project. in that rant, i decried the relevance of writing "magnet content" that would actually attract (as in "magnet") working musicians to the project. on top of that, i have some rather strong opinions on the quality of writing in the field. i'm going to reprise (in a non-musical sense) some of that for you today.

not only is music a subjective personal experience (and all the more so for those who make the music), but the books and articles are crap. i mean that in a nice way. they are well-intentioned and sometimes include valuable information. but, when it comes right down to it.. there are too many variables - you have to focus too narrowly to make the written content relevant (this applies only to acoustic guitar players who use nylon as opposed to steel strings) - so it's very, very difficult to make it broad enough to sustain a publishing market. performance / patrons / recordings consider, for a moment, that guitar manufacturers give away a few guitars to the "top end of the power curve" as promotions to get their gear seen (and heard, presumably - more on that in a second!), then sell on the order of 1.5 million guitars to the low end every year. to a large extent, this is selling a dream, and it's based squarely on a bountiful market model. bb king fan? lucille is a gibson - and you can have one too. can't afford lucille? you can stay in the gibson family all the way down to several hundred dollars. perhaps the guitar of porn stars is more your style... honestly, i don't know if jenna jameson plays a guitar, but we have photographic evidence that she can hold one. in any case, the guitar makers count on the dreams of the masses (this is one of the social functions tim mentions). every teenaged guitar-wiz wannabe, from blues to porn has to buy an axe. the dreams of musicians make a perpetual goldrush. there's always a new set of '49ers ready to pack up their ford econoline wagons, load an amp and an axe, and hit the road looking for gold (or fame, or women, or a drummer). many are going to find fools' gold (in the form of a record deal advance with many zeroes on it).

an important lesson in any goldrush is that it's very difficult to make money finding gold, but it's relatively easy to make money selling shovels - and shovels are good at both ends of the power curve. some guitars even look like shovels. performers are monopolies. this is true of every performer, in every market. for the "rolling stones market" there is only one source: the rolling stones. music is not fungible. cds are not fungible. tickets are not fungible. just try to swap celine dion tickets (or cds) for stones tickets (or cds) sometime.

this monopoly nature is part of the beast, and it's one of the reasons "giving some of it away" isn't a problem - in fact, it is absolutely critical. music is about taste. to find your audience, you have to let them sample your goods. that can be at a performance, or on the radio, or on a website, or on a p2p network, or some other new, exciting way. it doesn't really matter how you do it, but you have to find your audience, and that means they have to hear your music. once you find your audience, they can be yours forever. dollars are a fluid, expanding market, but attention is a fixed, limited market. this means that capturing your attention is more challenging than capturing your music-buying dollar. if i have your attention, the dollars will come. ... the top-line figure is 3360 hours of media consumption per person per year (this varies from 3324 to 3398, i'm just picking a nice round figure), and it remains fairly steady. is it worth hacking? for the artist, you risk committing to aluminum-foil cylinders. your worst case scenario is that weedshare folds, leaves their technology locked up in a vault somewhere and protected by barbed wire, software patents and well-intentioned acts of congress, and microsoft releases a new version of media player that breaks the system. sure, it's technically possible to play a cylinder, even today, but it's usually not worth the trouble. if your entire body of work is locked into a format that becomes obsolete while it's still so obscure that nobody hacks it, then your body of work vanishes. the real damage, on both a social and musical level, is that the traditional filters we used to find [good] new talent aren't sustainable anymore. the brilliant musigeek at the local indie cd store - the one who knew every act on the 40-foot-long jazz shelf - he's wasting that knowledge asking you if you'd like to supersize those fries or buy a refrigerator. the buyers at the retail level and the a&r people at the labels live under one-screwup-and-you're out conditions. oh, and just to mention it - the djs at the local radio station are under the thumb of a centralized program director with a not-entirely-hidden agenda. as with food, music is a matter of taste. value is created where the sound hits your ears, or where the food hits your tongue, but it's more than just sound or taste. it's the environment. it's the company (as in people you're with). it's the whole experience.

it's all about the experience. ( a big three-part dissection of the "software model of music production" ) sure, a musigeek might appreciate carrying 10,000 or 20,000 (or 75,000 for that matter) songs on their hip, but most people don't know that many songs, and certainly don't want to waste the time to load that many tracks, set up playlists, organize and categorize that much noise. most people have a couple dozen songs they really love, and maybe a couple hundred that they'll listen to "for now." beyond that, it's just too annoying. it takes too much attention. ( annoying customers ) this is actually interesting. it seems that management at friendster has come to the awful awakening that the users aren't using the tools in precisely the manner that they (management) envisioned. even more interesting, because it's a highly-networked tool, attempts to "enforce" the original intent are being met with [distributed] resistance. It is here that Dean's campaign manager, Joe Trippi, had his insight. After a short stint at Progeny Linux Systems, Trippi recognized, he told me, "you will absolutely suffocate anything that you're trying to do on the Internet by trying to command and control it." Of Attention Landscapes and Personal Media

some danah notes

Cost of production may be decreasing, but there's a new cost factor: time. Be careful not to imply that everyone will become a producer because this is a mistake i've been watching a lot of people make. Even amongst "interactive" technologies, it's those with time who are the most rabidly involved (i.e. youth). Also, to become a producer means to put oneself forward for critique. This goes back to the privilege issue, but it's also important to localized power structures. For example, think about the "dork" problem wrt production. The "dork" is often on the outside because of hir failure to consume. What happens when s/he tries to produce? Is it going to be 10x worse because no matter what s/he produces, it will be received poorly and used to further mock hir.

Oh, and to further one of your arguments.. You are seeing a shift in how community-driven culture emerges. It is no longer as constrained to geography. Thus, what is becoming important on a cultural level is not necessarily the remixing, but the personalizing of culture. Making culture community-wise relevant. Thus, there's a spectrum amongst culture. Even in mass-produced culture, people localize it to make it relevant to them.

some notes from Jacob Levy

Sony is in a difficult spot: it is both a "content" company and a "consumer electronics" company. Unfortunately the consumer electronic goods that Sony produces can be used to distribute, share, copy, and some would say steal, the bits produced by Sony itself (and other companies, of course). This must be causing many sleepless nights for Idei-san and others on the board.

One thing you can do is to help clean this up. If Sony were to take the stance expressed in Rojisan's many blog postings that content has to find its audience and that value is only created when the music reaches your ears, then we'll have a true revolution. Sony as a company is in better position to do this than most: it has a vast store of desirable contents, a vast array of cool gadgets to use the information on and deliver it to consumers, and a brand name that's currently very hot (at least in the US). Don't waste your advantages by infighting. Follow the market direction and give consumers what they want, the dollars will follow.

Another point: nowadays Sony makes hardware that puts in the hands of average Joes equipment that is powerful enough to produce works of art that rival the quality of what comes out of Sony's studios. Does this mean that content production by Sony itself is a losing proposition? I don't know. However I know that Sony is missing out a golden opportunity by not reaching out to people producing content on Sony's electronics and helping them polish and finish their works and distribute them. Sony could offer a completely innovative model for media business that would offer a significant alternative to the "music companies" a&r model with all its hidden costs and fat-cat taxes.

Final point: the Internet makes the cost of promotion nearly zero. If you embrace a model where sharing is encouraged, your consumers will do the promotion for you.

So right now we have a Sony that's at the two ends of the spectrum -- consumers and producers -- fighting with itself. Tomorrow we could see a Sony that's also at these two ends of the spectrum, helping and benefiting from each step in the media production, distribution, promotion and consumption process.

notes from James Seng

demographic changes

You don't need extensive studies (and there are some out there) tell you that kids spend less and less time on the TV. With less and less people will watch TV, it is likely to be a shakeup in the industry over the next decade.

1. Less content will be created but it will be of higher quality or those time-sensitive information (news, stocks, weather etc).

2. Broadcast business model that substain on advertisment revenue may not be substainable anymore.

While this sound like the other doomdays forecast in the past when new technology comes about, this is different because it is not about new technology. It is about changes in demographic behavior. We grow up watching TV..our kids grow up using the Internet.

This is a slow and steady decline and would be extremely messy.

consumer is the king

Peter Drucker once commented : Business exists to satisfy customer.

Most incumberant unfortunately forgot this basic rule of business. So when people (60M for music alone) infringing copyright to exchange musics and movies over the Internet, instead of fighting the trend, a better question to ask is how to deliver services to the consumers instead.

The change is not going to be easy because of the maturity of the industy. The contract between artists with their producers to the distributors etc are already well established but may all need to be revised. They cant sell music over the Internet like they sell music on CD. Similarly, you can't sell movies over the Internet, like you sell on DVD or in the cinema.

Changes will happen because ultimately, Consumer is the king. And they can vote with their wallet. Suing consumers isn't going to bring them back to a CD store. Work with your customer and deliver what they want is more important then trying to sell them what they don't want.

Of course, the basic problem is people dont want the middleman like RIAA and MPAA in the distribution chain. Producers can reach their audience directly now over the Internet. The question is what's the role RIAA and MPAA going to play in the future?

changes in consumer behavior

The success of PVR in Japan which is one of the hottest selling appliances in the electronic stores demonstrated a change in consumer behavior. The ability to time-shift, personalization (record specific shows) and the freedom from the fixed broadcasting time is also something consumer wants.

So supposing you doing "broadcast" over the Internet, do you still give your customer a video stream and expecting them to sit in front of the monitor to watch your videos? No, customers want personalization and freedom. they want the file, and the ability to watch it anytime, whenever they want.

What this also means is that DRM is going to be important, be it stream or file. (incidently, for those who argue stream is more secure then giving file need another education in DRM). iPod and iTunes prosper despite the DRM. The concern is how to balance DRM with consumer privacy.


Joi already noted the importance of blogging in the media consumption so I wont go into detail.

Okay, lets say you are a TV company who "get its" and now wish to deliver content to your consumers over the Internet. What technology will you need?

1. DRM. And this cannot be done by restricting who can access the network (as with the recently JP-SG link sponsored by MPHPT).

2. RSS. Provide "channels" where your viewers can subscribes to so they know they got new shows in their interest. This is also important because it allows consumer to aggregate contents from various sources, i.e. personalization.

3. How are you going to distribute your 200Mb file efficiently? P2P like BitTorrent. (See

4. Appliances that support these technologies. Make it simple for the consumers.

(just scraped notes. will clean up more later)