It's excellent to see a Techdirt piece on how safe harbor protections apply to more than just art. Well done, Andrew.
I once heard Issac Asimov speak in the early 80s. At the time, the Japanese had just starting introducing robots into the auto assembly line and reporters were calling up Asimov for a comment since he had created the term, "robotics". This article above hints at the future Asimov wrote about in all his books and Asimov even alluded to it in his lecture—when robots can replace humans, humans can finally move on to do more important things... but wait, robots are replacing humans! It's the paradox of efficiency: the more work you have taken away, the less work you have to do.
What makes this article so interesting to me is that it shows why secondary liability protection is so important when the "worker" wades closer into tort law. A telephone switchboard can't hurt anyone and it put many many people of a job. But a robot worker whose laser can slice you in half? Yeah, problem.
Do those automated Predator drones have secondary liability protections?
"Coming from someone who apparently makes a portion of his living on a website called "Infinite Distribution" you've got a lot of balls telling people who actually make content what they should do."
I'm not telling anyone what they should do, just pointing out that those who don't wake up and recognize the sea change will be swept away like those in once-dominant professions. Are you going to be the guy who cracks the code on how to make money from printing books, or that dyspeptic monk loathing how a new-fangled technology called the printing press is threatening "professionals whose careers are dedicated to the craft". Just like the monks when the printing press was introduced, we too are on the cusp of dramatic change—ye hath been warned.
My site, "Infinite Distribution", is fiercely dedicated to assisting artists of any sort on how to make money in an age where all digital content can be and will be copied. New rules = new rulebook. But, hey, If what you're doing works so well for you, please feel free to ignore me and my little ol' web site. In the meantime, I'll be designing a business model to shred incumbent businesses like yours. After all, Blockbuster was obliterated by a business renting only 400 DVDs at first. Go ahead, keep standing proud—I'm sure you have nothing to fear from us.
And I guess I do have a lot of balls because I put my actual name on the byline. Hypocrisy much?
I heard a similar study, but the test was to get subjects to report factual observations. Two lines drawn on a blackboard were obviously different lengths, but the subjects' reliability in reporting the truth dropped as more shills were asked to answer falsely before the subject answered. With as few as five shills answering before them with false claims — "the lines are the same length" — the subjects' answer was truthful only 25% of the time. However, If one shill was asked to tell the truth, the subjects' truthful responses jumped back up to 80-90%.
Explains why dictators always start by excising any dissenting intellectuals.
I know this post is about music, but it's the same issue with movies.
If I already own a favorite movie on VHS, I'd gladly pay $1 or $2 to upgrade that movie to a higher quality DVD, and the same amount again to upgrade it to a Blu-Ray or MPEG. The quality of a Blu-Ray is superior, but the VHS or DVD version may be good enough for my tastes. The allure of a cheap upgrade into a better quality format is one way to make consumers feel like they aren't getting gouged by buying new formats. Seriously, who's go out seeking unauthorized content when they can get it for just another $1 or $2?
The reason why this service isn't offered yet in a viable format is because there isn't a centralized "bank" of content from which content licenses are sold and managed. iTunes comes close as a platform for buying music MP3s & TV/movie MPEGs, and Amazon is close behind them... but there's no single one-stop shop solution for all music, all movies, all software, on a license-based platform like Steam or the Apple's App Store. Offer that, make it run as seamless as Steam does, and I guarantee you that wallets will open.
Even though Netflix's streaming solution is changing the very idea of owning content into on-demand pay-for-access, I still feel many people will gladly pay to have constant, reliable access to content (i.e., offline & high quality, be it on Blu-Ray or as an MPEG), and will pay to upgrade that quality if they liked the content they originally purchased.
I'd venture a guess that Facebook's ads, though less intrusive, have higher conversion rates. I've clicked on many more Facebook ads because they were more relevant to me, and more clever. I don't think I ever clicked once on Myspace's banner or sidebar ads. Not once.
The point wasn't a question of who came first, but who won in the long run and MS Money -- as the larger company -- still couldn't outrun Quicken.
@Mike: Good points. The nuances of White Space are probably described in much greater detail in Hartung's book on the subject, but I'd have to agree that White Space likely wasn't a totally conscious strategy. In retrospect, though, we can see it was a fruitful one and something which can *now* be a conscious strategy. I think that's the real take-home here...
...the list contains no original research or predictions: all listed advances are marked with their sources. When time ranges are given in the original sources, the most pessimistic (ie. latest) predictions are used.
And then some genius came along and sampled the bullet points and put them into a cool 7 minute video. It's a must watch, IMO.
What shocks me is not the nature of the developments (machine sentience is an inevitability given enough time), but that many predictions are supposed to occur within our own lifetimes, i.e., the pace of change is increasing at a breakneck speed.
I'm not quite eager to accept that robots will be sentient in my lifetime, but I won't outright discount it, either. My father, who was born in 1926, grew up in a house without electricity... something once seen as expensive for poor families is now commonplace, and startling new technological discoveries seem to come at least once a year now. In a decade, that time frame may collapse to once a month, and so on. Thus, many of the predictions made on that site may happen much later than expected (in 2050 instead of 2020), but when they happen, they might happen at a much more alarming rate.
If you use Moore's Law to extrapolate how much smarter computers will get over time, it's quite possible, even likely, that computers' speed and insight will drive many of the greatest scientific discoveries of this century, and of all time.
Mike, you are a constant beam of light in the darkness. Thanks for all that you do (the prolificacy of your posts never ceases to astonish me), and I look forward to the next year of Techdirt, and beyond.
It feels... well, petty to criticize Murdoch for all his failures because the road to success is often derived from constant experimentation and failure. Someone once asked a scientist how they handled the 400+ failures they'd had before they created a vaccine that finally worked. Their response? "I don't see them as 400+ failures—I see it all as one success with 400+ steps."
This is the right lens to look at failure—a lesson from which we can make a critical course correction. Obviously, new business ventures must always mitigate failure, but if it happens, a thorough post mortem is often more informative than an outrageous success story. The difference between Murdoch and the people behind Yipit is a low cost investment to determine if the idea will be a success or a failure. Murdoch lays a lot on the line before the venture is adequately judged in the marketplace. Yipit knew in three days if their business was viable with users. Murdoch has had the luxury to spend millions of dollars before he can determine failure, but few people have such a luxury.
Having said that, there does seem to be a significant pattern to the kind of failures of Murdoch's endeavors, and Mike has pinpointed it. This is no longer a Read-Only world as Murdoch would like it to be, but a Read-Write world. Why did the powerhouse Myspace social network suddenly wither while newcomer Facebook explode?
Let's look more closely at Myspace vs. Facebook. Myspace had ads galore. Myspace had horrendous programming glitches. Myspace was slow. Myspace let users add so much junk (big images, sound files, horrible page and text coloring) to their personal pages that it often became a illegible mish-mash.
Facebook, though it has repeatedly invoked the wrath of its users for revamping its overall design too quickly, the end result is a cleaner and more stable platform. Ads are fewer and less egregious, but also more customized to the user—I have many times clicked on Facebook's ads because they offer something of interest to me; I never clicked once on any ostentatious Myspace ads.
My decision to jump from Myspace to Facebook was not taken lightly: I had invested time in acquiring over 300 "friends" so I had no desire to see all that time as a sunk cost. But the Myspace platform had been offering less value to me as a user... and the Facebook platform has only been offering more value to me as a user. Myspace was trending downward, Facebook upward.
So there is indeed a pattern to Murdoch's failure, as Mike suggests. Murdoch, a fine representative of the broadcast-only Old Guard, should swallow the pill and hand the reins over to his daughter who seems to have a more adaptive understanding of how social networks have introduced an irreversible interactive element to all media. Murdoch has had success from his previous ventures, but if he continues to ignore what the users now value (i.e., interactivity, quality web coding, targeted ads, sharabiility), we will continue to see his business ventures be outfoxed by faster and more insightful competitors like Mark Zuckerberg.
Network TV is so obsessed with creating the next big blockbuster hit that they'll cancel potentially great TV if it doesn't find its audience in only half a season, e.g., Firefly. In network TV's current climate, the original Star Trek would have lasted an entire season, much less three.