January, 2008 Vol. 7 No. 6
IN THIS ISSUE:
iTOON on 21st Century Santa
iTOON on the Gallows
THE WHETHER REPORT
SkiHenge by ©Ski 2007
If you are looking for information, if you look long enough, you can find just about anything you want for free. Free content is the unwritten rule for dedicated web surfers. Like their real world beach bums, nobody owns the waves, man!
Further comparisons to the surf is appropriate. The Earth's oceans are the planet's largest geophysical structure. The oceans cover most of the planet. It is the least explored aspect of human discovery. It is a dangerous and mystical boundary that has been the source for poets, adventurers, painters and pirates. No one person or organization can claim control over the high seas.
The infrastructure called the world wide web is the largest communication distribution system in the world. At any point in time, a person from India, a person from Germany, a person from Australia can open this home page; they can open a chat room link and text directly in near real time. Just like the sovereigns can control the beaches and three miles from shore, once a net surfer puts his or her boat packet of bytes into the broadband waves, he is traveling freely on the digital seas. He charts his own course. He is free to voyage to places that interest him alone. No tolls or permits required. It is like the internet is turning into this century's Stonehenge, where pagan travelers come to gawk at the creation of a structure.
When one has total freedom of choice when navigating on uncharted waters, there is a risk and reward. Free information v. subscription content. Free is not always credible. Subscription news sites should filter and cross check facts before publication. Free images v. Copyrighted images. Even images with a © symbol appear to be fair game to be cut or pasted into some other page or report. The concept of being free can hinder artist's from publishing their work on the net for fear that it will be unfairly used without compensation. Then everyone loses the opportunity to experience new content.
The ease of manipulating free content is having a negative effect in schools. The experience of reading and researching a school paper is also being lost. A student can quickly search a book title or author on wiki, and cut and paste a review into his word processor without reading a page of the actual text. Educators will say that reading is the most fundamental concept in the development of the mind. It is the tool that connects the brain receptors and trains a person to apply knowledge to new circumstances. The temptation to cheat on a paper is present, but in the end the student is probably cheating himself.
There is a discussion that the plight of the newspaper industry was self imposed; the theory is that the newspaper publishers have been giving away their news basically for free (subscriptions being nominal per day) in order to get advertising dollars tied to circulation. When the advertisers moved to the Internet and other means of marketing, the newspapers could not off-set that loss of income with the other revenue source (the traditional low cost readership subscription fees). In addition, readers can now surf the net and get the news for free without buying a hard copy of the paper.
The next generation is getting a habitual diet of free content. It is becoming dependent on the expectation that what they want they should get for free. A capitalistic society does not operate in that manner. Your work is to be rewarded and compensated. This is not to say that people may not get creative in how they capitalize on their work. In 2007, the band Radiohead released their new album on the net with no strings attached; if fans liked it, they could pay whatever they wanted for it. Approximately 40 percent of the downloaders paid for their copy of the album, and the band collected about $3 million. Now, if the LP had been released in the conventional record label manner, the band would have had to sell more than 3 million copies to generate $3 million in band revenue, less expenses. But since Radiohead owned the master recording, it did not need a label or anyone's permission to distribute it. As the copyright holder, it could determine whatever price it wanted to charge, if any, for its music. In the long run, the band probably made more money in distributing their product in this hybrid manner than through a record label. But on the flip side, a majority of listeners did not pay a dime for their music. Sixty percent is a staggering number of people who believed they should not morally pay something for owning a copy of a musician's work. If this attitude continues to grow, this generation may get offended when others don't value their contributions to society, their work product, in the same light as their Napster-like entertainment choices. Even Freebies come with a cost.
cyberSAFARI ARCHEOLOGICAL DIG
Another installment of the archeological dig through the not-so-distant Internet past. Let's Examine the Net Way of Life in the year 2000. Specifically, the WIRED February, 2000 edition.
The Cover photograph has a scientist implanting a computer chip into his arm. The future of microcomputing is under the skin. The concept of tracking chips has been implemented into pets, a digital dog collar of sorts. Some advocates now propose that school children should be implanted with GPS chips so that kidnapped kids can be traced like theft detectors in automobiles.
There was another cover story on the New York Times digital IPO. Initial Public Offerings were the crack cocaine of the securities world in the go-go 1990s. Any concept on a paper napkin could print millions in real dollars in the stock market. The Times, self branded as being the depository of all things News, sought to unlock the value that the digital division could bring in the open market. Today, most newspapers are suffering from circulation and revenue declines as the Internet has gobbled up bread and butter classified advertising revenue through craiglist-style sites and eBay self sales promotion and marketing. Newspapers are pushing their print content and writers online, to self managed blogs, in an attempt to return some lost revenue to the inked stained balance sheet.
The Smart search engine was profiled in the issue. The concept of a search engine understanding content instead of hyperlinked key words or phrases would be the next step in making the massive amount of research and information quickly accessible. The search engine business has molded itself into a stonewall advertisement push model. Google seeks out people to purchase placement in its search results like telephone ad directories seek out display ads. Search engines are not geared to give you the best information, but what information that it profits from first. If you have a question about a business form, you will have to navigate several pages of sites selling forms until you reach an informational page that will answer your inquiry. There are a few companies who try to use natural language inquiries to sort through their databases (such as Lexis Nexis) but the costs of running such an operation keep it a highly subscription oriented service.
Among the early issue ads, live365.com heralded the dirty little secret of Internet radio. Touted as unregulated and unformatted broadcasting, the web was supposed to free listeners from the old airwaves of commercial radio.
The unregulated use of other people's copyrighted content would lead to the gallows for Internet radio sites. The US copyright board handled down a license ruling that effectively eliminated any small web site from using any published music. The cost of the songs outstripped the costs of bandwidth or the cost to appeal the decision.
However, the idea of an alternative radio format was going to go forward. The concept of satellite radio, which was also touted as an unregulated and commercial free forum of infinite program channels was launched with great fanfare, great IPO dollars, and the pulling of celebrity talent who could avoid the wrath of FCC fines for indecent broadcasting crude behavior. However, the free sat-radio model quickly dissolved into a pay-and-commercial radio venture because the enormous cost of the talent and marketing costs to try to get people to pay for something they have habitually got for free on their AM-FM radios.
The real alternative model has been the personal music device. Whether it is an iPod, a walkman, or high end cellphone, people have hand held devices containing their own music choices. People have empowered themselves to program their own personal radio station in the palm of their own hand. They take their tunes to them to the gym, to work, to their cars, and in the homes. The radio revolution had nothing to do with broadcasting music; it had everything to do with people making their own musical waves.
THE WHETHER REPORT STATUS
Question: Whether television will die because of Internet distribution system as being a new entertainment hub?
* Educated Guess
* Vapor Dream
Question: Whether cellphones like the iPhone will replace lap top computers?
* Educated Guess
* Vapor Dream
Question: Whether Web 2.0 will create another tech bubble?
* Educated Guess
* Vapor Dream
EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE
Well, it's time to give some props to all the persons who are trying to keep the Internet open and free to the public. In a rush to regulate and tax access, governments are hoping to find an unlimited revenue source from the net stream. But just as the founders in Chicago decreed the lake front to be an open space and public park free from development, those who keep the Internet free from government regulation and taxation should be thanked for their efforts.
EXAMINE THE NET WAY OF LIFE