November 22, 2004

Screw RIAA. Let's pay each other for music.

This Wired article discusses a new music sharing technology called "Weed", which proposes a striking new business model to distribute music. Instead of suing people for using P2P to disseminate music across the globe.. they'll pay you.

Essentially, a "weed" file is a song with a DRM, that lets you play it for free up to three times on your computer. After that you'll have to buy it, for about a dollar per song, to keep playing it. You'll then be able to play it on up to three computers, burn it to as many CD's as you like, etc.

Is this reverse-compilable? Could a person evade the payment and play the song for free? I can think of a good dozen ways off the top of my head, but bear with me here.

What makes Weed different is that you can share the Weed file with your friends.. through P2P.. on your website.. via email.. whatever. When they get the file they can play it three times for free too. Furthermore, when you purchase a file it gets stamped with an encrypted form of your user id. When you then share the file you've purchased, you get a cut when your friends buy it. and when their friends buy it.. down to three levels deep.

You do have to buy the song in the first place (so you can't easily promote music you didn't also like) but since you could pass it to ten friends who also buy it, you can easily make back more money than you spent. If you're lucky you could make tons more.. But you never know who will buy so you probably shouldn't buy a song unless it's worth it ;)

So, let's recap here:

  • You get to preview the song leisurely and pan any/all duds.. unlike the RIAA method of promoting singles and forcing you to pay for the rest of the schlock on the album.

  • You get paid for passing the songs onto appreciative friends, or for marketing the song to strangers in your own unique idiom.

But that's not all. You would think that was enough, but no. This setup also discourages hacking in a way that no gestapo lawsuits ever could. Just think about it.. it pulls you into the distribution system. Suddenly you're not just "sticking it to the man" anymore. "The man" isn't even involved. Instead, uh, you are the man. If you hack a file you can't "resell" it anymore.

Also, instead of bringing down the RIAA through looting, you get to be their competitor. Instead of just keeping their mits away from your wallet, you're also safeguarding the wallets of your religious, law abiding friends. Not only does your sting bite them harder, but you can thumb your nose at their lawyers at the same time.

All in all it's good. Players and dj's who have more mix tapes than benjamins will find them to be equally good currency on these streets. Getting your groove on no longer has to drain off your cash, it can pay for itself. Maybe only partially, maybe with extra to spare. In fact, you'll actually be paid to know what your friends like to hear and deliver it.

Most won't be profit-makers. Similar to an MLM this system by definition cannot make profit for everyone — you're money comes from somewhere. But, unlike an MLM, making profit isn't the point unless you want it to be.

Some people will make their own electronic shops specificly to "resell" their favorite tunes. I put this term in quotes because all of the money handling is managed by the Weed guys.. the part you help out in is targeting, of course, and the transferal of millions of bytes per file.. and they pay you for it.. and these people stand a great chance of making profit since they will work hard to actually market the material and will be properly paid for their work.

The "fuzzy-consumers" who simply want to listen will get some kickbacks from sharing, but mainly only when they've opened their friends' eyes to a new sound they haven't heard before. If your friends are hipper than you then they probably already have the song you want to share. So, unless you find a windfall and introduce a fresh new artist to some parched landscape, your kickbacks as a fuzzy-consumer will be discounts instead of profits. Yet they are still meaningful. They help to foster social musical understanding. They involve people in a process that gets artists fairly paid. They break down the walls between distributer and consumer, you get to sit anywhere on that continuum you want. Everyone wins.

Posted by jesse at 10:46 PM | Comments (1)

November 14, 2004

There's no crying in memeing!

Well, Tom Hanks would be confused, but I liked that scene in A League of Their Own. It's in the previews (I have yet to watch the movie :). It contains Bitty Shram.

So anyhey, the title refers to Rick chastizing DeAnn in reference to the blog post to which this .. blog .. post .. refers.

Yeah :)

So Rick did another list and then DeAnn did it and then I did it so here 'tis. (And they, um, call it a Meme when you get an idea from someone and pass it along. I read that in Daniel Dennet and Douglas Hofstadter's "The Mind's I")

Ten movies I'd watch over and over (I can't watch movies over and over any more but I did in High School so these are the ones I watched :)
1. Disney's Robin Hood (1970's cartoon, starring the cast from The Jungle Book)
2. Disney's Alice in Wonderland
3. " Sleeping Beauty
4. Hot to Trot (Bob(cat) Goldthwait before the long hair, and John Candy as the voice of a horse)
5. Wizard of Oz
6. It's a Wonderful Life (ok ok that was college)
7. Tron (it kept coming on TV)
8. The Explorers (ditto)
9. Flight of the Navigator (dittoditto)
10. Back to the Future II & III (I didn't have a copy of I *cry*)

Nine [groups of] people I enjoy the company of (touchy subject, like thanking people at an acceptance speech ;)
1. Mah Family!
2. Mah Church Grüp
3. The Crü
4. The Webformix Crü (+ Chris + Gene when we don't brawl ;)
5. The Coblogging folkz
5. My friends' parents have a habbit of being uncommonly cool (the Graybers, Ozrelics, Gardeners, Merydiths)
7. People who used to be in the above groups but are no longer: Phil, Arriene, Vince, Jerry, Mike.
8. Muh Cat (see? he likes to play with the string! purrpurr :)
9. Everyone who doesn't come to mind right now for whatever reason (cop out! heh ;)

Eight things I'm wearing (oh my. how scintillating. *barf*)
1. Tee-shirt (golf balls can be launched from it)
2. jeenz
3. socks
4. shoes
5. um.. hanes?
6. wedding ring
7. engagement ring
8. glasses

Seven things on my mind:
1. . o O ( Who cares what I'm wearing? )
2. . o O ( Wiki Breakfast Cereal! )
3. . o O ( I wonder if I have pings on this thing fixed? Am I hafta go beat up orblogs again? at least they have my favicon in there now :)
4. . o O ( House clean, back to church in morning. Note to self, avoid wearing shirts with cat pee stains on them. Last week was a nightmare. )
5. . o O ( Eternal Sunshine was not a bad film. Most of their treatment of how memory works was accurate. It was kind of like if Memento and Punch Drunk Love had an illegitimate love-child-film. )
6. . o O ( Nine things.. eight things.. seven things.. hey, this is a big countdown, hunh? :)
7. . o O ( I think albinoblacksheep is cool. Maybe I should make a cartoon and schlep it in thar. )

Six objects I touch every day (excluding the most incidental things I can; 'touch' as in 'try to use' for some clear goal or another :)
1. computer keyboards & mice
2. car keys (and I throw them :)
3. food / utensils / cups
4. money / cards (often to buy food.. I can't cook ;)
5. books / magazines
6. TV remote (I'll bet I use it every day.. but I am ashamed :{ )

Five things I do every day:
1. eat
2. sleep
3. read
4. compute
5. pontificate

Four bands or musicians that you couldn't live without: (if you're still not offended then I'll throw in John Tesh; but I don't listen to him very much ;)
1. Strong Bad
3. Enya
4. Eminem

Three of your favorite songs at this moment:
1. "You're a girl.. or maybe a wagon, filled up with pancakes" - Strong Bad
2. "She will be loved" - Maroon 5
3. "The Promise" - When In Rome

Two people who have influenced your life the most:
1. MacGuyver
2. My Gramma

One person who you love more than anyone in the world:
1. My Darla, hands down :) (after that is my son, Christian)


Posted by jesse at 12:48 AM | Comments (4)

November 13, 2004

Nintendo Dual Screen

Nintendo has come out with a new portable game device to put the Gameboy Advance SP to bed.

It's called Nintendo DS, and DS stands for Dual Screen. It is actually a clamshell with dual 3-inch lcd screens. Both are capable of antialiased 3d rendering of up to 120,000 polygons per second; putting it between the rendering capabilities of the N64 and the Gamecube.

The lower screen is also touch ensitive, and can be operated with a stylus or a finger.

Here is an animation showcasing one stylus-ready title called Nintendogs. Compare the 3D rendering quality with what you've seen in commercials of the Nokia N-gage, which looks like a tiny-resolution PS1. The DS will also allow wireless multiplayer gaming with up to 16 players.

Here is the Wikipedia article about the DS.

Posted by jesse at 03:10 PM | Comments (0)

November 12, 2004

Google v. MSN beta search

This press release trumpets MSN's new Google killing search feature, and this MSN search makes it clear who Microsoft feels is more evil than satan. You'll notice that they themselves rank only 3rd and 4th :) (belated thanks to Barney and Jake for this info! ;)

The only thing M$N provides that looks new is the "near me" button. I tried it. I typed "kennels" and it led me immediately to Coinet and Cutting Edge Webs.

Later that day, I found out that Google has something similar to the "near me" button, but much — oh much — better.

It's called Google Local. You can type what you want to search for, and then where you want to search for it. No faulty geotargeting and you could search for business near a remote destination. That and of course it is accurate. Bleedingly accurate. It will give you business names, phone numbers, addresses, even if they have no website. It will plot them effortlessly onto a map. Here is what Google has to say about the service:

Sometimes the information you're looking for is related to a particular place — like the all-night doughnut shop that's nearest to your house. Google Local locates neighborhood stores and services by searching billions of pages across the Web, then cross-checking those results with Yellow Pages data to pinpoint the local resources you want to find. This innovative approach gives you access to the most — and most relevant — results for your search.

But there's more!

It would take a geek like me to try this, but where they say "where" and you can type your city and state, or as the above text insinuates, your zip code... or you can totally type your whole address! When you do this, it puts a little house icon right on the map!!! Booya, driving directions a la carte.

Posted by jesse at 12:29 AM | Comments (1)

November 01, 2004

Re: Interesting thoughts on wiki's

Thanks to Barney for This Link, which I aim to pick apart. Unlike the other trackbacks and comments to this article so far, I neither personally know Rebecca MacKinnon nor have I followed her career. I know a thing or three about wikis, but I've only dabbled in small town journalism on and off since about '93.. So I'm nobody.. but it does not take an expert to perceive some of the flawed observations in this article.

First of all, Rebecca spends way too much time comparing torrents of wiki users to individual journalists. From her piece we learn that "'A journalist' is paid to cover a story, and paid to work past their own personal biases and lack of interest. On the other hand 'A wiki news reporter' has no motivation other than hubris or political slant to go in depth into anything. Ergo 'A journalist' is superior to 'a wiki reporter'. "

While that may be accurate I feel it entirely misses the point. Yes, 'a journalist' is marginally superior to 'a wiki reporter' in the grand scheme. But is not also 'a bear' ridiculously superior to 'a bee'? Yet a colony of africanized honey bees will drop a grizzly out of sheer boredom. The collective biases of several hundred or thousand wiki reporters are more likely to cancel one another out than the biases of a news staff will be affected by the perceptiveness of their audience. Also, since many hands make light work you would be amazed at how small being paid remains a factor to collective motivation.

She does bring out that Wikipedia (and most wiki projects) have a vaguely young, male, developed-country bias. She's annoyed that it has more to say about middle earth than it does about Africa. I on the other hand say that is a spectacularly good thing. Contemporary newspapers and news organizations pay money to send credentialed reporters into places like Africa. They can then brag that they are worldly based on the number of words they've written.. but in a wiki nobody will speak authoratively about Africa unless they are writing from there. There are fewer Africans than Tolkien nerds on the wikipedia, but pretty much zero parachute journalism. Whatever has been said about Africa has been to the point, instead of being leavened by a misguided sense of affirmative action.

Finally she worries about the timing of wiki news. I'm personally wondering what news organization she supports on the other side of the matter. Are there online news sources she would compare with wiki news for timeliness? Most newspapers with affiliated web presences starve their sites to feed their dead-tree investments for as long as they can. She can't be talking about newspapers or network news, since you can't be timelier than your news cycle. If she's at all worried about bias she can't be talking about most 24/7 news channels either. Nobody I know of will prefer Fox News to Wiki News. If there's one fairly respected 24/7 news channel it's CNN, but CNN can only break so many stories at a time no matter how many sibling channels it spawns. Wiki news on the other hand can fight on as many different fronts as it has contributors. CNN can only give you the news that they want to give you. To learn about Mother Teresa's death on CNN you had to wait for breaks in coverage on Lady Di's death. Non-contributors to Wiki News can follow whatever links they would like to view whatever details, sides, or facets of whatever breaking story they would like without being bothered by news that others may see as more important.

All I can report on the matter of wiki timeliness is that I contribute on a tiny wiki which documents and cross references the doings of an internet cartoon called Late one night, The Brothers Chaps put a secret cartoon on a secret page that absolutely no other things anywhere on the internet pointed to. They did this at 2am, EST. They told NOONE. Nonetheless, it only took 750 seconds for to post a complete synopsis, references list, and screenshots. is regularly maintained by about 8 of us goofballs.. so how many wikinews contributors should it take to break a story? Recall the incident where Richard Reid allegedly snuck a shoe bomb onto a passenger airplane. What a swarm of unpaid passengers interested in preserving their lives can do, a swarm of unpaid journalists interested in preserving the truth about events in their local area can also do.

For another example, ask yourselves where the footage from the impact of the first airplane on 9/11 came from. Televised news has shown us this entirely unforeseen event from multiple angles. Without researching the matter, I can feel safe stating that none of that footage was from news cameras. At that fateful moment, (as at most similar moments) there were zero news cameras and at least a dozen recreational cameras trained at that point in the sky. When an event occurs, you cannot expect the eyes of a reporter to be there to witness it.. but you can expect somebody’s eyes to be there.. perhaps many somebodys'.. and as net-saviness expands, some of those people — who are not and cannot be paid to do so — will contribute their experience to a wiki.

Wiki for any purpose is the electronic upgrade to word of mouth. When you ask somebody about something, and they say they haven't heard of it, you fill them in on what you know. The advantage of a wiki over gossip is of course the superiority of the medium. Instead of half-heard, half-forgotten stories; everything is shared in black and white, ne'er to fade. Instead of variant stories that waft beyond the control of those that know better, the story is right there and can be reigned in by anyone with superior factual knowledge. Previous versions are there waiting for vindication in case the last contributor's "knowledge" wasn't quite so factual.

Thus, wikis for reference in general and for news in particular possess the speed of gossip, the veracity of indefinite fact checking, the availability of the internet (fast surplanting the worldwide penetration ratios of the telephone), and the maximum insight, professionalism, and credentials of the best endowed contributors to any given work. I refuse to challenge anyone to point me towards a news organization who can claim even remotely similar properties as it would be an unfairly rhetorical exercise.

Posted by jesse at 02:02 AM | Comments (3)