Why TheSystem and bloggers have a problem

Glyn Moody pointed me to this article:

‘Bloggers’ vs ‘Audience’ is over? or, Will the word ‘blogger’ disappear?

and it lead me to jot down why I think the term writer, author, reader in such discussions really miss the point.

TheSystem, which means the copyright system of publishers, news agencies etc. have a vested interest in keeping us in two worlds. Either you are a producer or a consumer. This makes the media world go round and has been their source of revenue. It all works because in the past it was costly to distribute your product. You had to print books, newspapers, transport them to book stores, little kiosks etc. And so it was natural that the consumer had to pay for it.

Fast forward to the Web Age. With distribution costs close to zero, this old value chain is struggling. And as if that isn’t enough, the consumer does stuff he is not allowed to do – he distributes his own content by using this new system of zero-cost distribution.

So we nowadays have not only a simple top-down market, from producer to consumer, we now have a system with three levels.

We still have producers, stuck in their old value chain, and we still have consumers – willing to pay for the work of the producers, but we now also have ProSumers, people that consume AND produce.

Bloggers are ProSumers. They live in networks of other ProSumers, and they also consume from producers. And this is where the problem starts for the old-.school producers.

As ProSumers remix content they gather, deem interesting, create themselves and distribute that under the same principles – knowing that other ProSumers will remix, the old value chain of Consumer-pays-Producer is under attack.

The old system defends itself with DRM (Digital Restriction Management), putting ProSumers in the same group as pirates and add to that that only real producers (journalists etc.) should be allowed to deliver content to consumers.

And slowly but surely the ProSumers distance themselves from this dying system. With Creative Commons, with Open Source and simply by ignoring the old value chain, they create a parallel system of content creation and distribution.

And this is the real problem. It is as simple as that. It is the value chain

Producer –> Consumer

versus

Producer <--> Prosumer <--> Consumer.

And as long as you try to defend the old chain while combining it with the new system you will fail. Funny thing is that quite some bloggers still see themselves more a producers where they effectively are prosumers.

And the so-called producers of the past have always been prosumers themselves. So as soon as TheSystem accepts the new flow, we will see more creativity and less restriction. If TheSystem fails to adapt, it will die.

[Sarcasm] Microsofts 10-K – some comments

Interesting stuff.

http://sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/789019/000119312509158735/d10k.htm#tx73014_3

“Open source commonly refers to software whose source code is subject to
a license allowing it to be modified, combined with other software and
redistributed, subject to restrictions set forth in the license. A
number of commercial firms compete with us using an open source business
model by modifying and then distributing open source software to end
users at nominal cost and earning revenue on complementary services and
products. These firms do not bear the full costs of research and
development for the software. Some of these firms may build upon
Microsoft ideas that we provide to them free or at low royalties in
connection with our interoperability initiatives.”

[Oh no. This interop thingy and the EU. They force M$ to open up stuff
that then gets implemented in Open Source. Interop steals their revenue!
How dare they!]

“We are devoting significant resources toward developing our own
competing software plus services strategies including the Windows Azure
Platform, our hosted computing platform designed to facilitate the
rapid, flexible and scalable development of cloud-based services. It is
uncertain whether these strategies will be successful. “

[Translated: We invest in the hype but we dunno if it will ever work.]

“Similarly, the absence of harmonized patent laws makes it more
difficult to ensure consistent respect for patent rights. Throughout the
world, we actively educate consumers about the benefits of licensing
genuine products and obtaining indemnification benefits for intellectual
property risks, and we educate lawmakers about the advantages of a
business climate where intellectual property rights are protected.”

[Translated: We lobby heavily for more patents and against open standards.]

“The [European] Commission’s impact on product design may limit our
ability to innovate in Windows or other products in the future, diminish
the developer appeal of the Windows platform, and increase our product
development costs. The availability of licenses related to protocols and
file formats may enable competitors to develop software products that
better mimic the functionality of our own products which could result in
decreased sales of our products.”

[Wow. So forcing M$ to respect the valid laws of competition is painted
as “impact on product design” and interoperability is painted as
competitors are now able to destroy M$ revenue? Remember – M$ was found
guilty of breaking laws.]

Friday Rant: Viruses, Malware – what happened to due diligence?

Every friday I will try to post a rant on a specific topic. Today I’m venting on journalism on the Failboat.

Dear journalists.

Let’s take the current Conficker Mania. Now I know that Microsoft Windows has a huge marketshare on desktops. However – not everyone is using Windows. Still, you journalists ignore this fact over and over again.

Dear journalist, could you start warning the *right* people by adding “Windows-PCs” to your articles? All of these viruses, malware, trojans are aiming at Windows machines. People using Linux are usually safe.

Same goes for all these “warnings” on keyloggers etc. I am NOT saying that Linux is secure, I am NOT saying that Microsoft is bad (although I have a personal opinion on that) – I am ONLY asking to state the correct facts. And the fact is that 99% of your warnings and horror stories affect Windows-PCs ONLY.

I know the world has accepted the fact that Windows can only be used with virus scanners etc that eat up your CPU ressources, slow down your browsing and file opening.

But PLEASE stop shouting that everyone is at risk when in fact it is a Windows only thing. I don’t ask you to start bashing on Microsoft. I only ask you to write your articles in a way that make them factually correct.

Hrmpf.

Sunday Wrapup

I will try every sunday to wrap up the topics that kept me busy over the last week. Sort of like a braindump to make sure I capture those loose ends that otherwise get lost.

  • IBM buys SUN: Now this caught me by surprise. Watching SUN over the last few months was quite interesting. It was all about Open Source etc. However, I still believe that SUN has for more to offer in the hardware area. Yes, SPARC is effectively dying, following PA-RISC. The x86 architecture looks like the Big Winner, however I do have my problems with it. But back on topic – what does this possible takeover mean? Well, IMHO it is dinosaurs uniting. Both SUN and IBM have been fighting over the same accounts for almost twenty years. IBM wants to stoöp this and make the Big Deals a bit cozier. However, seeing how IBM has a lot of inside competition (Power v zSeries v xSeries) I am not convinced. OTOH SUN has decent offerings in the storage area. They are working on some very interesting stuff. Maybe that is the real driver? Time will tell.
  • TomTom v MSFT: The underdog strikes back. Remember how TomTom informed the rest of the world that they spend more money on Patent Stuff as on actual R&D? Maybe it helps them now.  However, MSFT has again proven to be not that friendly towards Open Source.

That’s enough for a starter. Expect more to come as I slowly adapt to being a blogger 🙂