Digital licence woes and problems ripped large

itunes hits 5 billion

Digital licensing and ownership has been discussed in the past a lot, back then it was therotical. But its interesting to revisit the discussion in more modern times with the new ecosystems which have become common place.

Ok fair enough it’s from Torrentfreak but still interesting a read.

The digital world has made it much easier to buy and consume entertainment.

Whether it’s a movie, music track, or book, a shiny “buy now” button is usually just a few keystrokes away.

Millions of people have now replaced their physical media collections for digital ones, often stored in the cloud. While that can be rather convenient, it comes with restrictions that are unheard of offline.

This is best illustrated by an analogy I read a few years ago in a research paper by Aaron Perzanowski and Chris Jay Hoofnagle, titled: “What We Buy When We Buy Now.”

Nobody owns podcasting like nobody owns the net

RSS + MP3 V.2

Ok before people come down hard on my title, its not an absloute statement rather a general idea. Something which came across loud and clear in Doc Searls blog

Nobody is going to own podcasting.

By that I mean nobody is going to trap it in a silo. Apple tried, first with its podcasting feature in iTunes, and again with its Podcasts app. Others have tried as well. None of them have succeeded, or will ever succeed, for the same reason nobody has ever owned the human voice, or ever will. (Other, of course, than their own.)

Because podcasting is about the human voice. It’s humans talking to humans: voices to ears and voices to voices—because listeners can talk too. They can speak back. And forward. Lots of ways.

Podcasting is one way for markets to have conversations; but the podcast market itself can’t be bought or controlled, because it’s not a market. Or an “industry.” Instead, like the Web, email and other graces of open protocols on the open Internet, podcasting is all-the-way deep.

He’s right, when Apple weighted in with iTunes I did think here we go, but even after a long time hearing those words…

Subscribe to us on iTunes, give us a rating on iTunes, etc. I’m glad the ecosystem of podcasting stayed diverse and theres some innovation and creativity in the field even after 15+ years. Of course I can easily imagine much more creativity as described before.

Of course its a great thing no one owns Podcasting as some question if podcasting can save the world. Ok super cheesy but Doc Searls did say this which I thought was quite inspiring and fascinating too..

Maybe podcasting is the best way we have to start working out our problems with race, gender, politics and bad habits of culture that make us unhappy and thwart progress of all kinds. I say that because 1) the best podcasting I know deals with these things directly and far more constructively than anything I have witnessed in other media, and 2) no bigfoot controls it.

There is something (in)credible about the human voice. Maybe in the world where we strive for more human connection; real podcasting’s open discussions are a welcomed relief from all the other crap we get fed?

BBC RD ethics of data videos on youtube

The ethics of data videos we created a year ago are now finally on youtube for everybody to watch on the BBC R&D channel.

You might remember it was a project which I talked about last year.  I have personally refereed these videos many times and would still like to see the hours of footage we shot, be used in the future. I mean we had some great guests and a lot of what they said was gold dust.

These videos are also the first public videos to run through a new experimental R&D tool for automatically putting transcriptions into a existing video for subtitling.

If you haven’t seen the videos, this is the time to go check them out, very relevant even now, and enjoy the automated positioned subtitles.

How can we ever trust the 5 stacks?

There is a lot to be said about Aral Balkan‘s talk from The Next Web conference (I gather his RSA talk had less technical problems). However I heard and saw it live at Thinking Digital 2014 a few days ago. Like when I heard him talk at Thinking Digital 2013, there was so much I wanted to say in return.

I agree on some level that its about the user experience, I disagree open source and free software is a lie, waste of time and not really free (Aral cleared up the fact he was talking about cost not freedom) Picking the low hanging fruit is certainly entertaining but is unfair, for example Mozilla’s dependence on Google is eye watering but there was no mention of Ubuntu, with their own phone, tablet, TV and computer operating system. I mean Ubuntu totally redesigned their operating environments to work consistently across all of them.

Thinking Digital 2014

During Thinking Digital most of the people I spoke to after Aral’s talk were unaware of most of the problems. I was frankly a little shocked and annoyed this was news to many smart people. But thinking about it some more, Aral’s calls to action afterwards were missing, so most people just felt like it was hopeless. (Maybe a little scaremongering?) Just what you want to ponder over at lunch time…?

I don’t blame Aral (although it always sounds like I have beef with him always), he highlighted the problem but if he included a few thoughtful practical actions (Although as Aral points out, his main takeaway/action was to create Indie Tech alternatives), it could be less gloomy and less fearful…

  1. Read the EULA (End User License Agreement) even skimming it will help you understand whats going on. (although I totally understand how verbose and how hard they are to understand.
  2. Take some responsibility for your own actions
  3. Take an interest and set your limits for issues like net neutrality, copyright, security, privacy, etc.
  4. Support the Open Rights Group (and others fighting for your online rights)
  5. Evaluate the services you use on cost in time, cost in privacy and cost in ownership. Everyone has a figure/percentage, if you don’t… get one!

The Big Picture - Open Rights Group

As mentioned in my post from the quantified self 2014, everyday its becoming even more difficult to trust any of the stack/cloud providers. Not only is the EULA changing more times that is reasonable but there’s some seriously messed up (law breaking) things happening.

Google, Facebook and Amazon have shown us again this week why the combination of a quasi-monopoly, vested interests and an inscrutable algorithm can be a dangerous thing for internet users, since it allows them to influence what we see, know and buy.

Don’t even get me started on Facebooks new messenger app which listens and Apple’s EULA which Norway agrees is over convoluted. The 5 stacks just can’t help themselves but comb through our data and when that runs out they want even more. Its certainly the main business model of the early 21st centenary but it doesn’t have to be that way. Very interesting when put in the context of Mariana Mazzucato’s fast paced talk from Thinking Digital 2014.

public vs private sectors

Even quasi-monopolies can be toppled or made to operate within the realms of public good and moral acceptable. We just need to be smart and work together. This is partly why I’m going to make my way down to Brighton for Indie Tech summit.

Although I’m writing about Aral’s talk again, he’s wasn’t the best of the conference. Sure I’ll go into plenty of detail in the next post.

Update – Jo from Indiephone has wrote a follow up piece about this post clearing up some of my points.

Your own domain, your home, your thoughts

Lotte with Ima

The ever resourceful Imran pulls out a blog post which sums up my thinking and worry about not owning your own domain

I was asked by an aspiring writer whether at this point it’s still worth it as a writer to own one’s own domain, i.e., in the age of everyone being on Facebook, setting up one’s online shingle elsewhere is like opening a business on a dusty street a mile away from Main Street.

My thought on this: Hey, remember when everyone was on America Online? And then everyone was on Friendster? And then everyone was on MySpace? And now everyone’s on Facebook? Yeah, you’ll notice a pattern here, perhaps.

Yes, but Facebook is huge, you say, with unspeakably large numbers of users worldwide and a valuation of $70 billion.

Wow, I say, just like America Online was huge, with an unspeakably large number of users online and a valuation of over $100 billion.

Yes, but everyone knows that AOL was wildly over-valuated, you say.

Really, I say. And then I let that just hang there as long as it needs to until you get my point.

There’s a huge benefit to having everything in the cloud (per-say) but I feel ownership and licencing is so important and will become a huge issue in the near future. As the author wrote, there has been many services promising a space which you can as such own but none of them have lasted the test of time. Why? Maybe because the companys content strategy doesn’t match our long term goals of ownership.

Some will say, but your just an old fart and holding on to a world where ownership is important. Of course I would say nahh… its more than that, ownership is fundamental to the human condition. If you feel you have no ownership, you feel like a kid and more likely to vandalize someone elses stuff. I mean what difference does it make to you?