Archive for March, 2008

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Quarantining the digital: What’s the right price for a copy?

If your business is now selling digital copies of something, you can’t use the economics of your prior state. Every business would like to maintain that kind of pricing power. However, if the marginal cost of making the digital copy is close to zero, and you’re selling into a mass market, how do you justify your pricing? Why isn’t free the right price?

When is free the wrong price? When you’re selling digital copies into a niche or small market and producing the master copy is expensive and requires highly specialized talent. This could be a picture of the software business, the music business or the movie business. The digital has changed the very DNA of these industries. You can’t accept the price cutting power of the digital on the production side, if you don’t accept the price cutting power on the distribution and sales side. The digital can’t be quarantined.

Against Perfection: Musicians no longer seem to know what music is

45 RPM Vinyl Record

For the record, music is not recorded music. A photograph of a painting is not a painting. A video of a play is not a play. Seeing a symphony in person is not the same as listening to a CD. In point of fact, the digital itself is a copy at it’s origin, it never inhabits time the same way as the performing arts. The digital replicates without effort, cost, talent or skill. Compare and contrast to performing music live, acting in a play, painting a new work.

Because a large industry has grown up around selling recordings, the recordings are often confused with the thing recorded. Of course there are recorded works that only exist as recordings and cannot actually be performed. Then there are records put out by musicians who can’t actually play their music live. But once these recordings exist in digital format, it’s nothing to make an extra copy or two. Or ten thousand or a million.

The great thing about music is that it’s different every time. That’s why we go to see plays and operas we’ve seen before, see bands we’ve seen before. It was the recording industry that taught consumers that there was only one version of a song, the one they were selling. And that was the moment where musicians were cut off from their music. Recordings create an artificial kind of perfection that stands outside of life. Life is imperfect, filled with mistakes, errors, moments of passion and virtuosity. Recordings can simulate the depth of life, but cannot capture the living.

As the cost of making and distributing recordings continues to approach zero, musicians need to understand what the digital means to them. It could mean you’ve got many versions of the same song: the unplugged version, the one you did in Austin, the desperate one you recorded in that little club in New York. The one where that great harmonica player sat in and changed the way you thought about the melody. It could mean multiple mixes, it could mean letting the fans create their own mixes. Or even computer-generated random mixes. Let a thousand flowers bloom and capture all the beautiful moments of imperfection in all their glory.

Online Identity: We are many, we are a swarm

The Swarm

As we think about identity in the online world, we come to realize that the “I” that the identity is meant to correspond with, is multiple. Not in the sense of schizophrenia, or multiple personalities, but in the sense that there are many facets that make up and individual. When we buy a bottle of single-malt scotch, we want to only show the facet that says “over 21.” But there is a sense in which we are many different people. We have one persona at work, another at home. One mask online, and another with our children. We have one identity with our parents, and another when we tell a joke.

We have a work email address and a personal email address. Sometimes we have more than one Open ID. We have one persona on Facebook, and a different one on LinkedIn. We are one way on Twitter, and a different way altogether on our blog.

The poet Pablo Neruda wrote:

Of the many men whom I am, whom we are,
I cannot settle on a single one.
They are lost to me under the cover of clothing
They have departed for another city.

We prefer that people be a single identity. We call people with more than one identity, two-faced. We think of grifters, tricksters and shape-shifters.

Another thread of the conversation from the Bible, Luke 8:30:

And he asked him, What is thy name?
And he answered, saying,
Our name is Legion: for we are many.

Legion is a man possessed by many demons. Demons that are cast out to leave the individual soul. Identity and soul are closely identified. Can we have many identities and a single soul? Is that the true center of a human being, the thing that is singular about a person? Should that individual thing be represented by a single online identity? The Dean of Grace Cathedral, Alan Jones, often comments on the fact that in our modern age, we see the idea of the soul extensively discussed in our secular literature. We live in an age where many can only believe in the soul, but nothing more.

We are many, and as we externalize our many selves into online identity, we’ll find things to be a lot less precise, and more crowded than we expected. While at some level we yearn for clarity, ambiguity is at the heart of our ability to maintain our privacy and anonymity. Will our many selves be built into the identity infrastructure that is peering over the event horizon? black jack onlinecasino no deposit bonus codeplay free black jackcasino baccarat,baccarat the internet casino game,baccarat casino gamevirtual online casinocasino free gambling game online,card casino free game online,free online casino gamedueces wild video pokerbet casino online uk,uk online casino,uk best casino onlineplay free online slots,play free online slots game,free online slotsvideo poker practiceonline casino gamble,casino gamble,best casino gamble internet onlinefree casino downloadonline casino slots,game casino online slots,slots onlineplay free casino slotsplay free casinofree slots and video pokerhow to play video pokerblack jack gamblinghow to win video pokercasino bonus sign up game online,gambling casino online bonus,online casino bonusvideo poker for winnersonline gambling casino,gambling casino online,online game gambling casinovideo poker tutorialfree casino game downloadvideo poker machineplay bingo onlinebackgammon downloadcasino roulette download,casino roulette,roulette casino gamebest gambling online roulette,online roulette gamblingvirtual casino gamblingmultiplay video pokerplay blackjack online,blackjack money online play,play blackjack online freeonline casino guidefree internet slots game,free slots game,play free slots gamefree online video pokerfree internet casinofree online blackjack gameonline casino gambling site10 best online casinoonline bingoplaying video pokerfree on line video pokerplay casino gamebest video pokerbackgammon free ware,free backgammon,free backgammon softwaredouble bonus video pokerinternet rouletteonline baccaratdeuces wild video pokerblack jack betting strategy

Pro & Amateur: 10,000 Hours of Blogging, 10,000 Hours of Tweets

In the book “This is your Brain on Music,” Daniel J. Levitin talks about the “ten thousand hours theory.” Levitin is writing about the brain, music and, among other topics, how long it takes to become an expert musician. In study after study the number 10,000 keeps coming up, talent matters, but time matters just as much. If you practice (effectively) for 10,000 hours it’s highly likely you will achieve a “level of mastery associated with a world-class expert.” You can think of 10,000 hours as three hours a day, or 20 hours a week for 10 years.

Levitin thinks the 10,000 hour rule applies to any pursuit, and that brings to mind the new media. How many bloggers have logged 10,000 hours of blogging? How many have 10,000 hours of Twitter? With new mediums like Twitter is it even possible to have 10,000 hours of experience?

When we talk about the professional and the amateur, we usually operate within the context of “mainstream media” vs. blogs; or traditional revenue model vs. adsense vs. free. Perhaps rather than talking about money, we should think about what makes quality?

The primary skill for both blogging and tweets is writing. A person with 10,000 hours of writing experience will have achieved a master level. 10,000 hours of experience in a particular subject matter (coding, politics, humor, short essays on life, the future, the direction of technology, enterprise technology, philosophy, human behavior, social networks) results in a high level of mastery.

When thinking about the idea of quality and depth, one might ask: how many things do you have 10,000 hours of experience in? How does each inform the other in relation to your writing, or photography, humor, film making, music or ability to make friends?

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