Saturday, April 24, 2010

Kill Copyright!!!!! and Open Source Everything

To warn you beforehand, this is not going to be an objective discussion on Patents and Copyright, but an emotional an polemic pleading on how Copyright and Patents are preventing Innovation and destroying new evolutionary business ideas. That Post was provoked by music DRM, Laws (eg. the new law in the UK), Lawyers, incredibly stupid ideas of the music, film and print industry that were directed to "take the step to the Internet era", incredibly stupid government officials, who have not the slightest idea of technology and are bribed by all industries (sorry for that wild blame, there are black sheep everywhere...) that claim that they are losing $1000000000 per second because of Intenet piracy, Patent Infringement discussion crap (sorry for cursing) and many other things.

The fundamental statement is: give a way the product for free and charge for services. That IS working, many SW Companies now Open Source their Code and charge for training, installation, maintenance, customisation. When something is free by default, you can reach far more people than with Software for which you need to pay a license fee. Just think of how innovation accelerating Open Source is! You develop a nice piece of Software and upload it to Sourceforge or Google Code. Now others explore your project and start using it as a central part of their project and Open Source it again. And so it goes on. But if you charge for your Software, it is pretty unlikely that this dynamic process will kick-off.

And don't think you get nothing out of your Open Source project, you'll at least get some credit, which is worth more than some money. You believe Open Source is only possible for Software right? - WRONG! Just take a look at the Arduino project or at the Make Magazine, these are prime examples of Open Source Hardware - you might also enjoy Chris Andersons article in Wired on the new industrial revolution. Ok, you might need to pay something for the wires, but thats more or less an insignificant amount.

I have a nice example: Think of, that you are a hobby engineer and that you are building stuff in your garage. As you think you are going to be a millionaire with one of your inventions you are not Open Sourcing anything. The problem, when you are not really innovative and fast, you are pretty likely to stay a frustrated hobby engineer in your garage, you may own a lot of Patents, but don't get any money out of it. Worst of all, as you want to be a millionaire and threat other hobby engineers to sue them over Patent Infringement, which we all know as one of the worlds worst crimes, you are preventing innovation.

The other side of the medal: You are a hobby engineer and building stuff in your garage. As you like Open Source stuff you document your work and put videos on YouTube, and Blog about it and you Open Source all your detail-plans and stuff on your Homepage. Now that draws a lot of attention of course, leading to that you have countless offers of Top Tech Companies. You eventually decide to accept one of those offers. Now you are a professional engineer in a company, you have a team and budget and top tools to create all your stuff. Thats exactly what Johnny Chung Lee did, you may watch his YouTube channel, he has done pretty cool stuff with the Nintendo Wii and is now working for Microsoft.

So now we know Open Source Software and Hardware is awesome. But also other forms of art can be Open Sourced. Just take music for example. You may won't get a Rock Star with your music, but as you put it under a creative commons license, other people are creating remixes and mash-ups, and through their work, your music may start to get really hip.

You may also Open Source a book. Just put it online in Blogs and let people discuss your work. I am sure you'd get inspiring comments and a lot of interaction is taking place. Writing a book completeley on your own is so 20th century, you need the discussion with your audience to create an even better book. You may give the e-Book Version away for free and let others discover your work for free. Those others may be really inspired, and thus, you are creating the same movement as with Open Source Software.

To be not completely polemic, I also want to state a bad example of Open Source, which is the GPL license, also known as the "Gnu Public Virus". If you write Software and put it under GPL, all further developments that are using parts of your Software in any way are also forced to be under GPL. I hate this, don't force people to do that, I think GPL is as bad as music DRM. I'd only create Software under a license, so that others may create another Open Source project out of it, or if they really want to they may create a commercial project out of it. That way you reach more people and if your Software is part of a Enterprise Business Suite, hey, good credit for your Software then!

In that sense, Kill Copyright!!!! and Open Source Everything!!!!!

Friday, April 16, 2010

The iPad and the Media Industry

No, this is not another enthusiastic I-love-the-iPad Review. Neither is it an enthusiastic I-hate-the-iPad Review. It is about the iPad and the Newspaper and Magazine Industry and about tablet computers and the Media Industry generally. Also I will be as visionary as ever to describe an idea of how Newspapers and Magazines will be consumed in the future.

It is and was often said, that with the iPad, Steve Jobs wants to save the Media Industry and that Newspapers and Magazines get a nice stage on the iPad to distribute their content in a modern way. But, I think, the Newspaper and Magazine Industry cannot be saved sustainably, in the form they now have. The Print Industry won't cease completely, of course, but will definitely transform particulary.

There are several reasons for this. First, the classic Print Industry has not yet found a satisfying Business Model outside of Print. Ads sell on their Websites as well (but to much lower prices) and people are attracted by the Websites of the NY Times or The Economist but they failed yet to establish a Pay-For-Content-Model that is working and satisfying for both sides, the Publisher and the Consumer.

Now suddenly, with the iPad, Magazines are creating Apps and want to charge again for the content. But I think one of the main reasons why this current Pay-For-Content-Model on the iPad won't work is, that the publishers are suddenly charging for stuff, that already has been for free. This Model might work for a few month, but as Chris Anderson wrote in his book "Free", in the Internet, free as in beer, is inevitable. There'll be a hard price competition between several Newspapers and Magazines, where at the end, we will be exactly at the point, from where we initially started: free. I don't see why I suddenly should pay for any news whereas only last week I still had it for free via RSS (Many Newspapers are already planning to stop RSS Feeds and want to charge you for reading articles on their Websites as well).

Second, Newspapers and Magazines are mistakenably perceived as Content Creators, which is absolutely wrong. Newspapers and Magazines are, exactly as Record Labels for example, Content Distributors, but not Creators. Content Creators are the Journalists and Authors.

I have an example: When you buy a CD, you buy it because of the Band, not because of the Record Label. Similiarily you buy a book because of the author, not because it was printed by Random House. When we come to Magazines its getting a little mixed up, because you buy The Economoist or Wired, because its The Economist or Wired, but, when you are not sure if you should buy it, you may be convinced to do so when you see that Steven Levy or Chris Anderson wrote the Lead-Article of the Issue (in case of Wired). And finally when you buy a Newspaper, you buy it, because its the NY Times and because the NY Times stands for quality journalism.

This clearly shows how the perception of who the Content Creator is, changes with the medium. For books there is no discussion who the originator is, but when it comes to Newspapers, the perception of who created the content is suddenly the other way round. You may not know if the Journalist who writes Foreign Affairs articles in the Washington Post may not also write for any Gossip Magazine, yet you consider the Washington Post as a quality Newspaper and may consider any Gossip Mag as crap, although perhaps the same people were producing (some of) the content.

I believe the future of how we consume Magazines and Newspapers will be in a very personalised way (like RSS Feeds), but we won't consume it on our Notebooks but on mobile devices as the Kindle or the iPad. I am also not 100% satisfied with one of the existing RSS Reader, so my vision looks like this:

I have an (Personal Newspaper and Magazine-) Application on my iPad with a uniform layout, so that I don't recognise the source of the article in my Application (I don't care whether its from TechCrunch or the Time Magazine, but I don't want that all my articles have different Fonts, different Font-sizes and different layouts). Next thing is, I am able to subscribe for certain topics, subscribe all articles by certain journalists, subscribe the top news or events from my current location and subscribe all articles where certain keywords occur.

That way, I get domestic politics of my local newspaper, international politics of the Daily Telegraph and Economics from the WSJ (subscription by topic). I also get all articles written by Tim O'Reilly, published in any Newspaper, Blog or Magazine (subscription by author). Further, if I happen to be in Zurich or in Tokyo, I get a list of exhibitions and concerts (subscription by location). And finally, I get all articles, published today, from all Blogs, Newspapers and Magazines that are about Artificial Intelligence research and Gödel-numbering and its real life applications.

To get all this stuff, packed into one application with uniform layout and delievered to me on a daily basis, I would pay a monthly fee. Why should I subscribe for a daily newspaper or a monthly magazine when I don't read all the content, although I pay for all of it? I think sooner or later, such a central platform will be developed (maybe even by me), that also introduces a convenient charging model for both - the Consumer and the Publisher .

The Classic Publishing Industry has its greatest enemy in the Internet (the Internet is, by far, the biggest Content-Distributor, as it is actually distributing, the Classic Content-Distributors Content XD). I don't mean that all Newspapers, Record Labels and Magazines will die, but they have to change their business model to stay profitable. The iPad won't be the saviour of the Classic Print Industry, the iPad and other upcoming multi-funtional-tablets are tools that are able to transform the Media Industry. And on the end of that transformation, I believe will be a platform on which you subscribe to have free-content and pay-for-content, delievered to a tablet device in a uniform layout as a personalised Newspaper.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Talking about Privacy

Google, Facebook, Twitter and many, many other Web 2.0 Applications are in constant focus of one big discussion: Privacy. In this post, I am going to discuss what collecting data means, who is collecting data and to what purpose. Further we generally discuss Online and Offline Privacy matters a little and finally draw astonishing, exciting and frightening conclusions.

First to make one thing clear: I am not stating in any way that Google, Facebook, etc are not collecting any User specific data - of course they are! I also don't want to relativate this data-collecting-spree or put lipstick on that pig, in fact, I believe we should have had a real privacy discussion as long as at least 20 years ago.

So to make once more clear: Everybody wants and collects your data. Why? Because its Business! And further? Because Business means making money. Therefore:

collecting your data = doing business = making money

which unmistakenably simplyfies to

your data = money

So that we now all agree that, when any company is collecting your data, they are only doing their business and want to make money from their business - naturally.

The reason why the "Privacy Issue" is exploding, and even people like me are discussing it, is simply put, technological advancement. First, we use more mobile Gadgets like Notebooks, Netbooks, Tablets, Smartphones, etc. with cheap Internet connection. Second, the Internet itself is nowadays not any more a place only for Geeks, Nerds, Dorks and other creatures living in dark cellars but has become an absolute necessity and lifestyle instrument. Third, with Facebook, Google Search and Wikipedia, even absolute technological-deniers are spending more and more time Online. And finally fourth, as 1GB storage today costs less than a pack of chewing gums, it is now no problem any more to store all data (even for smaller companies).

This means all our data are, for sure, already stored somewhere, but whats not yet mature and advanced enough are data-mining technologies and statistical algorithms to make effective use of this enormously huge amount of data and to find specific informations (at least not in an acceptable amount of time). But, the time is already approaching where this disability to efficiently use the stored data is ending. Just look at Google Insights. It is an absolutely fascinating and amazing development and let me made 1 important observation: Google is able to store ALL search-adherent data since 2004 which is quite a long time back. They already have the ability to store Geo Informations to any search term, and they will indeed be able to do much more "magic" with our data soon.

But I don't want to participate in the popular "Google & Facebook Privacy Bashing" for now. Because when you take a look at the Offline-world (some people claim this really exists ;-)), you will find some more eager data collectors. Just take a look at your Bank for example. In order to open a bank account - what is an absolute social need - you need to give them a lot of personal data, and do you really think they forget your data after approving your account? Next, take a look at your mobile phone carrier, they also want a lot of your personal data before they approve your nice phone and data flat rate. And don't say a mobile phone is NO social necessity nowadays.

The first difference between Facebook and your Bank is, that you MUST give the Bank (any Bank!!) your data to fulfil a basic social need (a bank account), but you are not forced to create a Facebook account, or search anything on Google. This is a volunarily action. And don't think your Bank isn't storing any piece of data it can grab from you, we've already seen that storage costs more or less nothing today. Whom would you trust more - Your Bank or Facebook? Honestly, I wouldn't trust neither of them.

Now another important part begins, what you might not have thought about yet (at least I hope so). Google and Facebook are often compared to a kraken when it comes to discussing Privacy and collecting Data, but how might Google call it? How is your Bank calling it? And how are countless other Companies calling it? The answer are the 3 magic letters CRM - Customer Relationship Managment. CRM is nothing else but collecting data about your customers to address their needs better than the competition. To address their personal needs better. Does that sound familiar to you?

The difference about Google and your mobile phone carrier is, that Google shows you, how good it knows you and your interests when it suggests advertisments to you or when it might suggest a restaurant, similiar to the one you looked for on the Internet (see my last post "Location based Everything"). Your mobile phone carrier doesn't show you all the Information they have gathered about you. But in fact, they are no different, in fact, no company that you are customer of, is.

So the frightening, exciting and astonishing conclusion is, that collecting data already has its meaning and name in CRM. I mentioned twice already that nowadays storage costs as good as nothing, therefore it is an easy thing to store all data you can get. So when we discuss Privacy matters any further we have to take our Banks and all other Companies into account. Discussing this topic is good and very, very important (see the speech, "Making Sense of Privacy and Publicity" by Danah Boyd at this years SXSW), but it should not only be about Facebook or Google.