To be honest, I think the primary driver of piracy isn't price but availability. There is no reason that everyone in the world shouldn't be able to access every movie, tv show, documentary, song, book, play, news report and anything else that can exist as digital content, quickly and conveniently and at high quality. And, in fact, they basically can: via piracy, the only system currently taking full advantage of our technological capability. It has some failings on all fronts, but far fewer than any legal source.
Netflix's low price tag certainly helped its meteoric rise, but it still would have caught on at three times the price or really any price lower than a premium cable package, because it brought a level of comprehensive availability that was basically unprecedented (but for piracy). Still, what are its biggest problems? All related to availability. International users use VPNs to get the richer American content well, causing strife between Netflix and stupidly georestrictive rightsholders; people are constantly encountering things that, to their great disappointment, are not available — and worse, shows and movies keep disappearing as various contracts end. As more content moves to on-demand streaming — such as HBO's forthcoming standalone service — content fragmentation will increase and people will be expected to buy multiple subscriptions just to get all the shows they like, driving a bunch of people back to piracy.
If it were possible to make a service that said "here's literally everything, anywhere, with no restrictions, for $x/month" then it almost wouldn't matter what x was.
Though a lot of coding doesn't involve any advanced math, I don't think that's the reason people suggest it. It's about the ordered, structured thinking and the step-by-step approach to problem solving.
The main thing that comes to mind, and that I distinctly remember being a math skill that helped me learn programming as a kid, is taking word problems and translating them into algebra -- like the "Billy is twice as old as Sally was when she was half as old as..." problems, or others that require reasonably basic algebra to solve, but only after you've broken a seemingly complex problem down into simple steps.
The breaking down process -- determining what info you have, assigning it to variables and stating it as equations, figuring out how to arrange those variables and transform those equations to get the info you want -- is very similar to the process of writing code to complete a task, even if many of the specific operations you are doing aren't quite the same. When those problems reach the level where they can't be solved without experimentation (like "let X be 10 and see if it works...") or can be solved more rapidly that way, they also begin to train the kind of thinking that you need to write conditional code and consider how it will function with a variety of inputs. There are also skills like working backwards from a result to determine an input/cause, testing a solution with different inputs to make sure it holds true, etc. -- all of which are relevant to coding and all of which come up in the course of solving algebra problems.
Why, though? Why do dependants/spouses/kids need or deserve that?
If a person has made and saved money from their copyright, they can of course leave that money to people when they die, just as with everything else. Same goes for any property they own when they die.
But a copyright isn't property or money or anything even remotely like that. Why should it extend beyond death? More to the point, why should its duration be in any way linked to a creator's lifespan? Under the current copyright regime, something you create when you are 20 is "worth more" than something you create when you are 70 -- it's got a half-century of additional exploitable time just by virtue of being made when you were younger. Similarly, a work created by someone who dies young is, in terms of its total copyright lifespan, "worth less" than one created by someone who lives a long time. In fact, the value of a copyright is now tied to a person's health, constitution and luck, rather than being a fixed and evenly limited thing offered to all creators. How does that make any sense?
So it turns out all it took was a data breach, a suspected connection with an infamous dictator state, threats of violent terrorism, and an admonition directly from the President to make a movie studio do what they all should have been doing for five years at this point.
It depends whether you think people are fundamentally unable to be responsible, measured, self-educating and self-organizing, and must always be "ruled" in some way or another, or you think that a more direct democracy could and would encourage a cultural shift towards emphasis on those qualities, and thus have benefits ranging far beyond political mechanics and into society as a whole.
I'm not claiming to be able to make an airtight case for either of those things, but I don't think utter cynicism is warranted. Social progress is most often fuelled by democratized access to information, education and communication -- and we have more of that than ever.
it's not so much that it will be in any way better than cables, but there are two main factors: 1) it could conceivably become easier and cheaper than laying cables and 2) it could be less susceptible to government interference, censorship, etc.
Given those two factors, I can definitely think of lots of situations where something like this would be an attractive option, and a prominent component of a broadband infrastructure.
"before advertising"? When was that, exactly? From Wikipedia:
Egyptians used papyrus to make sales messages and wall posters. Commercial messages and political campaign displays have been found in the ruins of Pompeii and ancient Arabia. Lost and found advertising on papyrus was common in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome. ... In ancient China, the earliest advertising known was oral, as recorded in the Classic of Poetry (11th to 7th centuries BC) of bamboo flutes played to sell candy. Advertisement usually takes in the form of calligraphic signboards and inked papers. A copper printing plate dated back to the Song dynasty used to print posters in the form of a square sheet of paper with a rabbit logo with "Jinan Liu’s Fine Needle Shop" and "We buy high quality steel rods and make fine quality needles, to be ready for use at home in no time" written above and below is considered the world's earliest identified printed advertising medium.
If I live in a small to medium town, and I've just finished training as a landscaper or a roofer and now want to go into business, can I put some flyers up around town? Can I ask the friends and family who are my first few clients to put a sign on their lawn for a week, with my name and number? Or would you rather see laws banning that activity?
Does banning roadway billboards apply to the farmers on country roads who put up big signs during harvest season advertising their fresh vegetables and pies for sale?
Here at Techdirt, is it wrong of us to put a thanks & a link to Namecheap in the header in exchange for them sponsoring our SSL switch? Should that be somehow banned -- even though it would likely mean we'd have taken longer, or had to sacrifice more in other places, in order to be able to properly secure our website for our readers?
It's not that I'm trying to say the majority of advertising is like this -- I concede that it's mostly very loud and annoying, and I'm not always thrilled with its pervasiveness either. But ultimately, it is a form of speech, so you can't treat it as flippantly as you are -- how is it possible to ban it without hugely impinging on free speech? Advertising happens on private property -- so are you calling for laws that dictate what kinds of signs/structures/etc. people can put up on their private property?
Maybe there's a way to do that -- by somehow delineating a public nuisance, such that advertising falls afoul of regulations in the same way excessive noise or obscenity might -- but that still seems like a touchy issue that, at least, must be handled with extreme care, and not the BOMBASTIC certainty of CAPS-laced RANTS that you offer...
What exactly do you propose? Ads are free speech too, and companies are going to advertise to you - so banning or eliminating them is both impossible and unpalatable. So what's the solution?
Nobody's saying that there will be an instant, easy or complete switch to better quality advertising -- but it's an evolution in a positive direction. Simply raging against it isn't helping anybody. If the very concept of advertising makes you so angry, I ask again, what do you propose?
We've talked about doing some sort of campaign like Penny Arcade did, where we crowdfund the money to get rid of banner advertising for [x] amount of time, but ultimately, while we think such things are great experiments, we really want to focus on doing something more sustainable.
We do believe that there is good advertising that does have a place on Techdirt -- the example mentioned in the podcast is one of our most popular posts of all time, which was a sponsored post that we got paid for. Despite being very clearly a sponsorship piece, it was quality content that not only did extremely well on the site, but also hit the #1 spot on reddit (a community you'd expect to be extra-sensitive to paid content) and drove huge amounts of traffic. There are also things like the Namecheap sponsorship of our switch to HTTPS, where we think our users will appreciate knowing that the company supports us, and thus consider them next time they need a domain or hosting or whatnot, without the need for a lot of intrusive advertising (just a bit of prominent branding & thanks).
So while we do kind of like the idea of raising money directly for the removal of advertising, we'd rather take the slow but steady approach -- keep building our base of quality advertising and sponsorship and pushing as much as possible in that direction, plus other revenue streams like the insider shop and our insider subscriptions, to the point that we can phase out banner ads and other lower-quality advertising entirely.
CEA is also sponsoring some of our regular coverage of patent troll issues, and that will be starting this week as well. We think this is a good campaign that our readers will be interested in so we're highlighting it -- but the majority of the sponsorship covers normal Techdirt content, so stay tuned