Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt

from the politics-and-pricing dept

This week, we were very happy to have a guest post from Jennifer Hoelzer explaining the impact that Techdirt can have in Washington. Not only was it a popular post, Jennifer took both first and second place for insightful this week with her followup comments. Firstly, there was a very thorough response to someone who claimed her story demonstrated the need for lobbyists to “educate” congressional staffers:

With all due respect, sir, I worked on Capitol Hill for 10 years, the White House for 2 and I have a masters degree in public policy from Harvard. I’ve been subjected to so much spin in my life that I can spot it at 100 paces blindfolded. I wouldn’t be a very good communications strategist if I only read/considered issues from one perspective. Unlike some who’s strategy for winning debates is to silence their opposition, I actually work to understand the opposition’s side, so I can understand their thinking, address their concerns and counter their arguments (and maybe change their minds.)

Maybe it’s not the textbook definition, but I define “public advocate” as someone who advocates for interests beyond their own. I’m not saying those people won’t benefit from their advocacy (most public interest advocates got involved because of a personal experience) but that they’re thinking of others, the future, etc. not just how to protect/grow themselves financially at the expense of the interests of others.. Techdirt continued its SOPA/PIPA advocacy even when it hurt them financially. And — as I said — that’s the problem with public advocacy. While a special interest lobbyists could be making high six figures to devote themselves to making sure members of Congress understand their client’s interests, most people who advocate for the public interest do it on their own time, for free. I don’t know about you, but I think if we want to fix society/congress, etc. we need to find a way to make doing good just as profitable as screwing people. (Or at least a little profitable.)

Also – for the record – as I tried to explain in my post, Members of Congress and their staff are more likely to take a stand on an issue when they are confident in their knowledge of an issue. I might know that a lobbyist is spinning me, but I’m probably not going to pick a fight with them publicly unless I know enough about the issue to debate them. And – as I tried to explain — there is so much going on that, you, as a staffer, might say to yourself. “When I get some time, I’m going to research that issue,” but then you get so busy that 6 months later, you’re like “shoot, I really wanted to learn about that, but now the debates over.” I loved Techdirt because it gave me the user perspective on tech issues, that wasn’t being represented in Washington, in an easily digestible and understood way. Understanding the issue made it possible for me to jump on communication opportunities in real time vs. backburnering them until I could learn more.

Again, that’s why I’m giving to Techdirt and I hope others will too.

Next, Jennifer had a short and poignant take on why defeatism gets you nowhere:

Two days before the Jan. 2012 Internet protest, I had a reporter ask me why our office was fighting SOPA/PIPA so hard because “Won’t it be embarrassing when you guys lose.”

As Ron Wyden once told me, “the right thing to do may not have much of a chance, but it has zero chance if no one fights for it.”

For editor’s choice on the insightful side, we start with a response to Amazon’s analysis of price elasticity for ebooks. While Amazon’s data reinforced an important point, That One Guy pulled some additional numbers to show how Amazon may not have gone far enough:

Some extra numbers regarding lower price points

While Amazon notes that the increase in sales between 14.99 and 9.99 is significant, and actually earns the author more when priced lower, a year or so ago Smashwords, another ebook seller, did their own study, and found that the real sweet spot is in the 3-3.99 range, which, according to their data, sells at a rate of 4.3 times more than a book priced at $10(funnily enough the 2-2.99 range only sells at 4.1x comparatively).

Assuming that figure holds up in both indie, and ‘professional’ ebook markets, if the authors really wanted to rake in the cash, and increase their audience size, they’d be pushing the publishers to slash their (currently insane) prices even lower.


Next, we’ve got Mason Wheeler with an attempt to hammer home the message that content isn’t everything:

The industry’s idea is “content is king.” They’ve thought that forever, and they’ve been wrong about it forever. Content is fungible to the point of irrelevancy; get rid of one piece of content and another will show up to take its place. The true king is connectivity.

Create a platform that allows people to interact with each other, and content will arrive to fill it. This has been true since the days of the Pony Express. Create content, and nothing interesting to do with it, and nobody will care.

Connectivity is king. Content is just riding its coattails. Always has been, always will be.

Over on the funny side, we start out with Verizon’s attempt to spin its bandwidth throttling as a wonderful new feature. Bt Garner took first place for funny with a simple but illustrative response:

I am still waiting for the comments to load.

Sent from my Verizon iPhone

For second place, we head to the seemingly-too-ludicrous-to-be-true story of the language school that fired a blogger for discussing “homophones”. Lots of people unsurprisingly had jokes to make, but Chronno S. Trigger racked up enough votes to land in second place for funny (plus a lot of insightful votes, too):

It’s a language school. Aren’t they suppose to teach the difference between “Homophones” and “Homophobes”?

For editor’s choice on the funny side, we’ve got two responses to two different bits of news from across the Atlantic. First, in a discussion about the European Commission’s revelatory consultation about copyright and reform, MadAsASnake suggested a means of determining whether the length of current copyright terms are justifiable:

A better test would be to demand that someone who died 70 years ago explains how it benefits him. I’m prepared to accept it if he/she can come up with a really good reason.

And finally, after a UK government report suggested doing away with anonymity online, silverscarcat took a guess at just why it makes them so nervous:

Well, it’s the UK…

The last time they let anonymous speech run rampant, they lost 13 colonies.

That’s all for this week, folks!

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Comments on “Funniest/Most Insightful Comments Of The Week At Techdirt”

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Richard (profile) says:

Content vs connectivity

The industry’s idea is “content is king.” They’ve thought that forever, and they’ve been wrong about it forever. Content is fungible to the point of irrelevancy; get rid of one piece of content and another will show up to take its place. The true king is connectivity.

You have to understand connectivity quite broadly. Even the old physical media provided it. However, once you realise that, you can see that when connectivity says “jump” content says “how high”. Witness the standardisation of song length to fit as closely as possible within the confines of the old 78rpm discs .

Whenever connectivity provides a vessel content flows in to fill it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Content vs connectivity

I whole heartedly agree first they sang and put on plays in town square then they built theaters , next up was phonograph ,television, now our theaters , dvd cd’s and lastly the internet.. what do all of these have in common , social interactions to remove that experience or tailor it to only one venue or avenue removes the social experience. the watering hole will be tainted and new content that doesn’t adhere to the old way of thinking emerges.

Glendon Gross (profile) says:

Re: Content vs connectivity

I like your example of the standardization of song length to fit the capacity of 78’s. Another example would be the determination of CD format to fit the capacity of an old U-Matic tape. That’s why I love those old jam session recordings where the players just blow and blow to fill up the side of a 33 rpm “long-playing” vinyl record, because they could! wonder why that didn’t happen with CD’s? Clearly there is some kind of interesting and perhaps symbiotic relationship between media capacity and content.

Michael (profile) says:

Re: Content vs connectivity

Witness the standardisation of song length to fit as closely as possible within the confines of the old 78rpm discs

Is that really the reason, or were the 78rpm disks sized to what someone thought would be the best for a single song? I would be interested if anyone has credible information on the history here, because it seems to make more sense to me that they would have sized the media to some specific content originally rather than picking some arbitrary size and then seeing all content conform to it.

In fact, as I think about it, I would expect that the size of a 78 was based on the length of a player roll or something and who the heck knows what drove the length of those.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Content vs connectivity

The playing time of phonograph records determined the standard song length, not the other way around. Wikipedia has a decent overview of the situation:

However, it is unclear if songs became about 3 minutes long because of the 78 or because of the 45 (they both have about the same maximum play time.) 45s were much, much more popular and arguably exerted a greater influence.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Content vs connectivity

From your linked article:

“The 45 rpm discs typically emulated the playing time of the former 78 rpm discs,”

So the 78 set the initial standard and the 45 matched it – remember there was a time in the early 1950s when both formats coexisted and many songs (eg much of Elvis’s early work) were released simultaneously in both formats.

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