Tim O’Reilly on OpenSource Publishing Models – Bricklin’s Software Garden

Dan Bricklin’s Software Garden series of podcasts on the legal aspects of open source and intellectual property are great, dense affairs with very smart people opining at length on the legal, moral, and practical issues surrounding IP, copyright, creative commons, and the other hot property issues of the day. Last night I listened to Dan talk with Tim O’Reilly, founder of O’Reilly Press, publisher of the greatest library of technical titles ever.

O’Reilly made some very interesting insights, randomly, the one’s that stuck with me are:

  • The web itself is the greatest open source platform ever
  • The innovators don’t get rich — Tim Berners-Lee, Bricklin
  • Open source components don’t make tons of money, but data sets do, e.g. Navtech provides the street maps behind Google Maps and Mapquest. Amazon the best database of information about books. Google is built on opensource components, so is Amazon, but both make their business on the data, not the tools per se
  •  Piracy: yes, even books get pirated and O’Reilly’s titles especially. Tim doesn’t feel there’s a need to flip out over it though. He says a lot of the piracy happens in markets where the consumers couldn’t afford to buy the books anyway.
  • Audience police — O’Reilly gets tipped off to pirate activity by its users
  • The open economy pushes business growth.

I strongly recommend a listen to this one. Some good insights that explain a lot of the economic potential behind Open economics, the power of the niche, and how to be a for-profit in an open economy.

Plug for two podcasts

Finding myself with a 90-mile commute (each way) this week, I loaded up the iPod mini with some good stuff, popped new triple-As into the Belkin wireless thingy, and rolled down the fabled asphalt of Route 128 (aka Satan’s Highway) happy as could be.

Here’s what I listened to in the past 24 hours.

The Gillmor Gang: The August 18th edition, aka the "Silicon Valley Gang", guests were former-PC Week colleague Sam Whitmore, father of the Closet Deadhead podcast and editor of the Sam Whitmore Media Survey, along with Ron Bloom, the man (along with Adam Curry) behind Podshow, the startup best known for getting $8 million from Kleiner and Sequoia. Pretty good discussion on podcast revenue models, audience aggregation, the obligatory long-tail references, and snarkiness over MSM, incumbent publishers, and usual kvetching. Whitmore is most trenchant.

John Markoff: ITConversations presents a two-part show from the SDForum featuring John Markoff, NYT tech editor and author of "What the Dormouse Said", his excellent book about the origins of the PC industry and the confluence of pyschedelics, the counterculture, and geeks. Part one is John being John (funny, dry) and part two is a panel of the gods he profiles. Great cameo appearance in the audience by Doug Englebart. Read the book.

[random user insights: long commutes call for long podcasts. The three shows described above neatly fit the 90-mile drive time — including the usual cell phone interruptions. I prefer stuff that fills the car for an hour or more. Two-minute podcasts suck. 15 minutes is fine. Diddling an iPod at 80 mph with bad eyesight is a recipe for an airbag in the face.]

[[second random user insight: someone needs to acquire The Learning Company, the guys who tape university professors and publish the results on CD and cassette, and move them to a podcast model. I would definitely pay for the right to listen to smart people. My radio is becoming more useless by the week. BBC World Update at 5 am may give me all I need to know about Darfur and Gaza, but every day? Please. Teach me something!]]

And further proof of the power of the medium colliding with the fetish of the niche — another great podcast I listened to recently was on the topic of "radonneuring" and "brevets" — the act of riding bicycles insanely long distances against the clock. Paul Guttenberg will tell you what you need to know about riding a cycle 1,200 kilometers (about 750 miles) in one go. This is my personal goal for 2006 – to complete the Boston-Montreal-Boston ride in order to qualify for the next Paris-Brest-Paris ride, the granddaddy of cycling events.


Fake Registration Push Draws Shrugs, Watchfulness

Fake Registration Push Draws Shrugs, Watchfulness


Understatement of the day department: "She says consumers seem to be upset both with the intrusiveness of registration questions and with the time it takes to register."


BuzzMachine » Who wants to own content?

BuzzMachine » Blog Archive » Who wants to own content?

Great Jeff Jarvis posting ….

"In our media 2.0, web 2.0, post-media, post-scarcity, small-is-the-new-big, open-source, gift-economy world of the empowered and connected individual, the value is no longer in maintaining an exclusive hold on things. The value is no longer in owning content or distribution."


Hostway Survey of Online Annoyances: Top-Line Results

Hostway Blog Survey: Top-Line Results

 Constantine von Hoffman, blogger at Collateral Damage  points to this survey of what pisses off web users. Interestingly, it ain’t color and fonts, but registration, retarded navigation, pop-ups (really? shocking!), and the general annoyances which any rocket scientist with a copy of FrontPage figured out five years ago.

Pay for Play Is Already Here: Corante > Moore’s Lore >

Pay for Play Is Already Here: Corante > Moore’s Lore >

Dana Blankenhorn takes exception to IDG CEO Pat Kenealy’s view of micropayments and paid content. 

Internet Advertiser Wakeup Day Petition

Internet Advertiser Wakeup Day Petition

This ought to be fun — The Bugmenotters are calling for bogus registration at the top ten registered news sites:

"We … wish to demonstrate the pointless nature of forced web site registration schemes and the dubious demographic data they collect.

"On November 13th we will each register an account using fake details at one or more of these top 10 offending sites:  "

Via Boing Boing 

[note, Constantine von Hoffman points out the petition is "signed" by Tim Berners-Lee

Teen-Aged Laptop Forensics, Adware, and Me

Yesterday was the annual back-to-school IT day in my household. All laptops were called to the kitchen table for tuning and reconditioning before being sent off to college and prep school where they will decline and corrode into uselessness and entropy in the hands of their indifferent owners.

The infestation of my daughter’s Dell Latitude was breathtaking to behold. As I labored in regedit trying to hunt down some particularly pernicious trojan horse, I kept asking her: "What do you click on to get this stuff? Don’t you read anything? What are you downloading?"

An afternoon of Lavasoft and Norton Anti-Virus, turning off system restore, and booting into safe mode did nothing to improve my mood. Un-installing casinos, and such wonders as the ABI Direct Revenue network, Claria, and other "consumer advertising services" called into question the judgment, intelligence, and credulity of my teenagers.

The case of ABI — aka "A Better Internet", aka "Direct Revenue LLC" — is fascinating. Trying to uninstall this program from XP’s control panel popped open a … pop-up which directed me to a website (myPCtuneup.com)  where I could download the "uninstaller." There, with all expectations of having my pants pulled down, my bank account drained, and one of my kidney’s harvested, I was finally asked to comment on my reasons for ripping the thing out by the roots. My reply, unprintable of course, essentially wished on the company’s executive management team an infestation of colon cancer. Given their alleged penchant for filing cease-and-desist orders on anyone who characterizes them as malware, I should expect nothing less.

The saddest thing to read is a thread on a teen-ager site where ABI is discussed, and they too wonder if they are just going to descend into a further world of hurt by downloading the "uninstall" tool at myPCtuneup.com.

I checked out the biographies of the management team at Direct Revenue, wondering what type of people would run such a business. The resumes are a who’s who of dot.bomb all-stars. Razorfish, Dash, Agency.com, etc.. The company’s hiring of a privacy consultant and recently a Chief Privacy Officer belies some pressure on them to brush up their image. Perhaps the Gator->Claria renaming strategy is called for.

Well, at least I got some satisfaction out of the knowledge that other were so ticked off at Direct Revenue’s Aurora infestation that class action suits were being filed.

The bigger question is this: what marketer in their right mind would buy space on an adware network? Is there any calculation for the ill-will that accrues when someone like myself, in an afternoon of playing "whack-a-mole" sees a brand pop-up over and over? This mindless pursuit of impressions at all cost, even under the tenuous connection of "behavioral marketing" — the latest Orwellian spin by Claria et al over these types of networks — is the rotten core of advertising in general, the mindlessness that made Madison Avenue a synonym for venal deceit in the 60s, and is undermining the online publishing world at a rapid rate.

This targets the clueless, the trusting, and the helpless, gives rise to the phenomenon of people throwing away infested PCs rather than invest a day in restoring them back to purity.


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