Post-Medium Publishing

Paul Graham (Noted Y-Combinator venture capitalist, programmer, etc.) argues that we have never paid for “content”, rather, we have always paid for “medium.”   Publishers, he says, are literally in the business of selling paper.

In fact consumers never really were paying for content, and publishers weren’t really selling it either. If the content was what they were selling, why has the price of books or music or movies always depended mostly on the format? Why didn’t better content cost more? [1]

A copy of Time costs $5 for 58 pages, or 8.6 cents a page.The Economist costs $7 for 86 pages, or 8.1 cents a page. Better journalism is actually slightly cheaper.

Link (via BoingBoing, via /.)

Books on Demand

Google Books + On demand printing and binding = a radical revision of how production and distribution of books works?

[kml_flashembed movie=”″ width=”425″ height=”344″ allowfullscreen=”true” fvars=”fs=1″ /]

New Yorker Analysis:

Google, with its mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” plans to turn itself into the biggest bookstore the world has ever known, and to make libraries pay for acting as its agents. It’s troubling that the libraries that already have the richest collections will also be the ones that can offer their users the full Google service. Harvard was one of Google’s original partners. But Robert Darnton, Harvard’s librarian and a fan and creator of digital projects, has ceased supplying books still in copyright to Google. As he has written, “To digitize collections and sell the product in ways that fail to guarantee wide access … would turn the Internet into an instrument for privatizing knowledge that belongs in the public sphere.” Other Google partner libraries, however, support the settlement and have criticized Darnton’s decision.

Music publishers: iTunes not paying fair share

From Cnet:

Whether downloading a song from the Web should be considered a performance is much contested. So far, the courts have sided with digital media companies.

In 2005, ASCAP entered into a rate-court proceeding to set licensing fees for the music services of Yahoo, AOL, and RealNetworks. A U.S. district judge for the Southern District of New York delivered a blow to composers and songwriters by ruling that downloading music from a Web store was not a music performance. On the other hand, the judge found that streaming music was subject to a performance fee.

“The songwriter gets a performance fee if the song is streamed without the video,” Carnes noted. “But if it is downloaded within an audio-visual work like a movie we don’t get a performance fee–same song, no money.”


Discussion: Digital Media, Rights Management and the Future of Free.

Reeder Street Fellows Fall 2009 Discussion Series:

Digital Media, Rights Management and the Future of Free.

Tuesday September 22, 2009

In a world where the reproduction, modification and distribution of digital information becomes easier almost daily, there are a host of unanswered questions.  How does copyright apply in the digital realm?  How should it be enforced?  Who should enjoy what rights, and who has responsibilities?  Who will pay for the creation of content if it is expected to be free?  What constitutes fair use? Are newspapers dying?  Should they be saved?  The list goes on.

The one thing that does seem to be for sure is that as digital tech continues becoming more pervasive, there will continue to be winners and losers — those who realize how to adapt their goals to an evolving information landscape, and those who don’t.  Who will win, who will lose, and what does that mean for the rest of us?

Some Reading Material:

Priced to Sell — Is the Future Free?

EFF – What is Fair Use?

Stanford Copyright and Fair Use Center

Harvard Law Professor Defends Student in RIAA case

RIAA in the Classroom

News You Can Lose

Content (A collection of essays by Cory Doctorow — if you for some crazy reason don’t have time to read all of them, I suggest The Microsoft DRM talk and Why is Hollywood making a sequel to the Napster wars?)

Can Kindle Improve on the Book?

What can the Kindle Do?

Copyright enforcement versus privacy

The things we can do.

Not only have we (rather, IBM) imaged a single pentacene molecule (see below), but now we (ok, ok, Kharkov Institute for Physics and Technology) have imaged electron orbitals…


Who would have thought that the illustrations from high school chem class would actually turn out to be more or less accurate (not to mention the theoretical implications)…

S and P orbitals

The theoretical version…

The IBM pentacene image…


… and the theoretical version.

The things we can do.

Lies, Misinformation or Disinformation?

Some interesting footage/interviews from the teabagger/9.12/Glenn Beck protest in DC.  I think it brings up the question of how we find ways to sort through mis- or disinformation and find some common factual ground with these folks. Until everyone can agree on the facts, it seems like other (meaningful) exchange may remain quite difficult.

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="344" allowfullscreen="true" fvars="fs=1" /]