Through the MCDM

February 24, 2009

Media Monoploy: You Landed on the Television Industry, Rent is…. Your Soul

Filed under: Reflection — captainchunk @ 9:38 am

Mr. Bagdikian isn’t a very happy individual, at least he doesn’t seen very happy in his article The Media Monopoly (1997). Saying that he is critical of the media (specifically the television) industry, is like saying cars go “vroom vroom.” He attacks the government as being inefficient and ineffective by not taking a stronger hand in how the television industry operates. He cites other countries around the world as successfully supporting commercial-free television and how the government should adopt a similar stance in America. I don’t agree with the author that America could just be like the United Kingdom and the BBC. The qualities of American society that make us different than our international allies, also make our American broadcast system different. Commercial television is here to stay. I do think that there is more opportunity for commercial-free programming on the internet. With the extremely low cost of distribution, advertising revenue is not needed to make commercial-free programming.

A portion of the article is devoted to the American family and the television. His pessimistic attitude shines once again, as he supports the decaying family unit with evidence such as, “a limes Mirror poll in 1993 showed that 53 percent of Americans want less violence and 80 percent agreed that TV violence is harmful to society.” I question the validity of the data that births those numbers. People want to think of themselves as generally good people. It is one thing to say that violence on TV is bad and quite another to be entertained by it and watch it. The author says that people could have turned off their televisions, but they didn’t. Why not? Perhaps people liked the programming, or maybe they preferred the ease of staying at home and being entertained instead of dressing up and going downtown. Whatever the reason, they obviously liked it and pushed television to become the dominate form of entertainment in the household to this day.

I agree that watching 18 hours of television a day is a bad thing for Americans. Has the typical American family dynamic changed because of the television? Yes. He would have said the exact same thing about the internet and how it turns everybody into an anti-social internet user. I don’t agree that our media industry is in the state of shambles that Mr. Bagdikiam probably thinks it is in. To be honest, I don’t care if commercial interests are backing my televised programming or even news programs. The beauty is that I get to choose what I watch. Even if people don’t turn off their televisions like the author wants them to, they still can. The day that I can’t choose my programming, what channel I watch or if I want to turn off my television, is the day that America will be in a crisis.

February 3, 2009

Patents and Patents

Filed under: Reflection — captainchunk @ 10:27 am

Looking at the history of the telephone, it is obvious that understanding how to work the United States patent system is critical in the process of being recognized for an innovation. Should you invent the perpetual motion machine, but have no desire to gain credit for that innovation, then you are all set because you won’t have to do anything. But more often people want credit and the ability to make money from their invention which is where the USPTO comes in. Just based on the story of the telephone, it seems as though if you don’t have the right lawyers and a solid strategy for the patent office, you are going to have an upward hill to climb. In the case of the telephone, Bell used the patent office to better effect than Gray.

I am curious about how inventions are now worked on in our current technological world. Back in the 1800s and earlier, you could have inventors doing their work in relative isolation due to the limited communication available at the time. So you have competing technologies being developed at the same time with, I would guess, not as much crosstalk amongst the inventors about their inventions. I wonder if this isolation is good for the initial innovation? Do innovators try to work isolation today? The initial innovation would probably be a very different process from post-invention in wanting to use the ideas and work of other innovators.

Reading Winston’s account of the telephone development, the entire innovation process is extremely convoluted as opposed the more “common” ideas of how something is invented. I am not sure where the concept of a person working on an idea and then they just invent something came from, but it doesn’t look like it happens that way. The telephone development process of starting with an idea that doesn’t really work very well, or is in the wrong direction, or is complicated, or is really an entirely different innovation altogether is probably how innovation happens in almost every case. How innovators must work around existing patents in order to get their invention cleared with the patent office. The patent system really has two opposing goals. One is to protect the inventor and their invention so they can make money from their work and the other is to foster innovation. Maybe they are not entirely opposing, but they don’t seem to be in perfect harmony either. It is unlikely that the US patent system will be changing anytime soon which makes it all the more important for innovators like Bell and Gray to fully understand the system in order to get the credit they want.

February 2, 2009

Leading the Discussion

Filed under: Reflection — captainchunk @ 12:05 pm

On the topic:

The story of the telegraph was surprisingly interesting to me. Part of that came from the unexpected similarities between what happened with the telegraph and what is currently happening with the internet. I am a big fan of Old West history and I think the telegraph had more of an impact on changing the development of the West than it had on the already more developed Eastern United States. It is difficult to think about what it must have been like to have instant communication with people thousands of miles away, which is maybe why it is fun for me to think about something that I have never experienced… not having instant communication.

On the PowerPoint:

I really loved how my PowerPoint turned out. I felt that it captured the story and the importance of the telegraph in just a few slides. I am not totally sure why I chose to do the entire PowerPoint in black and white, but it just felt like the right way to present the story. While the slides are simple in design, it took me quite a while to find the right images I wanted to use. I started with 3×5 index cards to organize my slides, I already knew the quotes I wanted to use to bookend the presentation, but I sat there with three empty cards. I didn’t want to use numbers because I wasn’t sure I could make them emotional, so I went with photos. I think the difficult thing to do with PowerPoints is to take the freedom of creativity into a more structured environment of a business.

On the discussion:

People really seemed to get the importance of the telegraph as well as the uncertainty of the time and technology. The audience was engaged and asked interesting questions and added some insightful commentary. I was really pleased with how the discussion went and I tried to throw in some interesting anecdotes to reinforce the concept of uncertainty with technology. I hope my next presentation will be just as exciting to me and my audience.

January 20, 2009

Yes, Stafford couple and Schkade, Internet Use is Influenced by Social Factors.

Filed under: Reflection — Tags: , , — captainchunk @ 1:01 am

While reading Determining Uses and Gratifications for the Internet, it was obvious that the authors understood how important motivation is to online retailers. By better understanding the reason why people are on the internet, businesses can tailor their offerings towards the consumers they wish to target. The researchers looked at the motivation of internet users via uses and gratifications research that has been used on other forms of media like TV and radio. I personally don’t think that their research produced anything shocking from a 2009 perspective and perhaps only mildly interesting from a 2004 vantage point.

It was refreshing to see that the researchers acknowledged the potential internet usage motivated by social factors. One common problem I encounter when recalling the technology situation from more than a few years ago, is placing too much of an advanced framework on my recollection. I tend to be a very early adopter, so while I might have seen the social nature of the internet in 2004, the vast majority of people probably did not. This article is important in that regard as it is concerned with average internet users and their motivations. The authors broke motivation factors down into two other groups- content and process. Process being the act of searching or surfing the internet and content being the actual media that draws the user to that particular website. I have a problem with breaking these two categories apart and I think it has to do with the survey the researchers conducted to gather data. Using words that people associate with the internet and then asking people to rank those words gives data that says people highly associate “search” with the internet and leads to the hypothesis that people are motivated by the internet process of searching. You almost have to search to get the content you are looking for on the internet, especially in 2009, much less 2004 due to the ever expanding amount of information available. I am concerned that people are confusing the process of searching with what they are really looking for, which is content. While some people may just randomly click on links or type random words into search boxes whereby engaging in the process of the internet, I don’t believe that the average internet user is motivated by the process. Instead, I think they want the content.

Knowing why somebody is using a particular medium is important. If the social component was not a motivating factor, then websites like Amazon would not have user reviews for every product or user profiles. Businesses that attempt to sell products or services online would do well to make an effort to understand the major reasons why somebody is clicking on their front door. Motivation is seems like something that would be difficult to nail down due the changing nature of the internet. I believe the social factor is much more important in 2009 than 2004 and will continue to grow and eventually overshadow process or content.

August 19, 2008

Filed under: Reflection — captainchunk @ 11:25 pm

I found the article discussion by Peter and Paolo very interesting. The date of the article does make a difference, but I was more interested in the question of intranet vs. internet. It was mentioned that companies back then rarely let their employees on the internet and most restricted access to the intranet. Since I work in the professional networking space, I see an issue that is very similar to this currently. Right now, cloud computing is a big buzz word and businesses are faced with the question of how to do business networking. Do you keep it internal or do you go out and join one of the public networks? Part of that choice is based on security and data control… which is, I am guessing, similar to the issues back in the day of intranet vs. internet. Sort of interesting to see a very similar argument playing out again.

I talked with Terry about the future of the internet over the next 5,000 days. I really don’t think that the internet will be accessed by people on their computers. Instead, it will happen via televisions and mobile phones. Online shopping will not significantly change in the next 13 years. Web based OSes will become standard and be led by Google and Facebook. Peer production will play an increasing roll, but it will still be difficult to make money from it. We also agreed with Anderson in that filtering needs to play a big roll in shaping the internet. The amount of content will be just too great and crush productivity unless effective filters can be discovered.

The next 5,000 days on the internet are going to be even more exciting that the previous 5,000 days.

August 6, 2008

Wealth Wrap-up class

Filed under: Reflection — captainchunk @ 8:59 pm

Fun class session and Howard had some interesting things to say.

I want to start by saying how cool technology can be. It isn’t like video conferencing is new, nor is it without its technical problems as witnessed on Monday, but it is still very cool. Which really just shows how early on we are in this stage of technology and new media. Howard talked a little bit about education and technology and about how technology education should at least start at the high school level and should also come from parents. At this point in time, I believe that to be too conservative. I do think that parents should do most of the eduction about the internet… its good points and its failings. But… schools should start the education process towards the end of elementary school. These kids need to start the learning process early.

Using Skype to talk to somebody in California, is really pretty simple, but how often does something like that happen at elementary schools or junior highs, or high schools? I am guessing not every often. Howard’s example of martinlutherking.org really illustrated the kind of thing kids might run across.

The small group discussion about peer production at the end was useful in figuring out that I don’t know that much about peer production. It is a lot harder to try and think about practical applications of peer production that to just think about it in theory. I still think that senior citizens could be a fantastic resource of peer production. The obvious hurtle is the usability of technology, but I think that can be overcome.

July 28, 2008

Good Ol’ Media Economics

Filed under: Reflection — captainchunk @ 9:37 pm

Media Economics is much more economic theory based than say The Long Tail, but I did find chapter 7 to relate directly to The Long Tail. The distinction between the market structures was new to me because I had never heard of it in those terms before. I was really only familiar with Monopoly by name and Oligopoly, Monopolistic Competition, and Perfect Competition through experience.

Media that once was clearly monopolistic is now being challenged by content out of the Long Tail. On page 148 of Media Economics, it states, “creative industries such as film, television, book, magazine, newspapers, and audio recording thrive on differentiation.” What is the Long Tail if not differentiation? Infinite choices sounds like differentiation to me.

Newspapers were once very much monopolistic… but now having fight it out with many other forms of media with nearly the same product. With more and more media falling from monopolistic status… it seems to me that the monopolies that are left stand very tall and obvious. Cable television is an obvious one and it doesn’t seem as though that will change anytime soon unless our government changes things. The Long Tail is changing the market structure of traditional media towards Perfect Competition and Monopolistic Competition due to the almost non-existent barrier of entry.

July 23, 2008

Looking back to Monday…

Filed under: Reflection — captainchunk @ 8:55 pm

Oh how time has flown since Monday night.

I enjoyed the talk on Mechanical Turk since I had never really looked at it before. It is an interesting concept that seems to work on a small scale, but I see a number of potential issues crop up if it were to be a higher profile service. I can easily see there being concerns about the level of pay for people who choose to do the HITs for income in developing countries opposed to the people who do it for fun. It really is just distributed computing with humans. Each taking a very small amount of work and contributing to the overall project.

The class discussion was lively and interesting since it seemed like a good portion of it centered around the little word “should”. I do think the fact that the saying, “information should be free” needs to be considered in relation to the time it was said. Does “information” change over time? One of the topics I am struggling to wrap my head around is what is really meant by “free?” Is it referring to money? Maybe, but I don’t think that is the main focus. Maybe “free” is really referring to the ability to share information among people?

I thought the copyright video was fantastic. Very clever and it made its point well. Copyright law, as it is now, is restrictive to innovation and unfortunately I don’t see it changing anytime soon. Benkler seems to have quite a bit to say about copyright law and hopefully as I finish more of the book it will be elaborated upon. What is a decent length of time before a work goes into the public domain?  I don’t know. 14? 150? Probably somewhere in between that.

July 17, 2008

I wish I had a name that started with T.A.

Filed under: Reflection — captainchunk @ 3:20 am

Monday’s class was great and made me mad that I had to miss the previous class.

I thought T.A. was a really good guest speaker. He spoke with purpose, had an opinion, and has the experience to back it up.

I agreed with this assessment that The Long Tail is definitely on to something, but that it is amplified more in the book than what the reality is. If you are making a point like Chris Anderson is doing, you are going to skew it towards your cause. It is completely understandable, but I think it is important to acknowledge that fact.

His graph of personal to peer to and indirect to direct was interesting way to look at that concept. I really hadn’t considered The Long Tail against those metrics.

I was impressed by his Minebox company as well. I can see where people may be skeptical as to why people would pay for a service in which you could, if you wanted to, get all of the data with some Google searching, but the revenue generation comes from time. Which is one of the reasons that T.A. said he was interested in the project… one of the things he is selling is time. Time is incredibly valuable, especially to top level business people. Assuming the marketing is correct… I can see Minebox gaining a devout group of followers.

Christy started a great discussion of DRM and its implications. DRM is something I feel strongly about which is why I spoke up in class. I know it was talked about in the discussions, but I am not totally sure it was emphasized as much as it should have been, but the average person doesn’t even know what DRM is. DRM is a battle between earlier adopters and companies. The fact of the matter is that DRM favors corporations and not consumers.

July 9, 2008

The Long Tail – Week 1

Filed under: Reflection — captainchunk @ 4:23 am

As I was unable to attend class this week, my comments on the class discussion would be lacking… so I just figured I would comment a little bit on the Free! article by Anderson.

Anderson is absolutely correct in his assessment that the web is trending towards zero. The cost of the hardware to run internet services is currently super cheap and is only going to get cheaper and the only cost companies will incur is the development costs.

Anderson broke the free economy of the web into six categories. One of his categories is “Freemium”. This is used by so many web 2.0 companies, including my company Konnects, that I was really interested in what he had to say about it. While this model seems to make sense now because the small number of people who subscribe to the premium service subsidize the cost of the free loaders, I am not totally sure if it will be a viable model for web 3.0 whenever that hits. It is a good way to do things now because people will pay for a service that is relatively new, but as soon as a company gives the milk away for free… the cat is out of the bag.

Reading the article lead me to another thought. While the costs keep driving to zero for internet services… companies can still charge a lot for the best. The best gets more expensive as everything else gets free. So while the trend is towards free… the best services will get more expensive. This is really just the freemium idea on the larger scale and not in a single company. Out of similar web services, the best will be able to charge and make money while all the others will be free.

Free is the future… but I don’t think it will be quite so simple as seeing free stickers tacked to every index page on the web.

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