Access not just to content, but technology.
“They learn a bit of Web stuff, and the next thing you know they think they understand programming.” I’ve heard variations of that lament for the past two decades. I’ve heard it less lately, because so many recent computing professionals built their technical careers from that bit of Web stuff.
The Web succeeded in large part because it was the easiest way for people to create electronic content and share it. Indexes and search engines made it easier to find that content. While administering files on a server and learning HTML weren’t trivial, they were much more approachable tasks than creating and distributing traditional (now largely considered desktop or native) applications.
For the most part, they still are easier.
A conference report on the IP transition.
Although readers of this blog know quite well the role that the Internet can play in our lives, we may forget that its most promising contributions — telemedicine, the smart electrical grid, distance education, etc. — depend on a rock-solid and speedy telecommunications network, and therefore that relatively few people can actually take advantage of the shining future the Internet offers.
Worries over sputtering advances in bandwidth in the US, as well as an actual drop in reliability, spurred the FCC to create the Technology Transitions Policy Task Force, and to drive discussion of what they like to call the “IP transition”.
Last week, I attended a conference on the IP transition in Boston, one of a series being held around the country. While we tussled with the problems of reliability and competition, one urgent question loomed over the conference: who will actually make advances happen?
Ilya Grigorik's GitHub project shows what happens when questions, data, and tools converge.
1. Ask the question, “I wonder what happens if I do this?” and then follow it all the way through.
2. Start a project on a whim and open it up so anyone can participate.
By day, Grigorik is a developer advocate on Google’s Make the Web Fast team (he’s a perfect candidate for a future Velocity interview). On the side, he likes to track open source projects on GitHub. As he explained during our chat, this can be a time-intensive hobby:
“I follow about 3,000 open source projects, and I try to keep up with what’s going on, what are people contributing to, what are the new interesting sub-branches of work being done … The problem I ran into about six months ago was that, frankly, it was just too much to keep up with. The GitHub timeline was actually overflowing. In order to keep up, I would have to go in every four hours and scan through everything, and then repeat it. That doesn’t give you much time for sleep.” [Discussed 15 seconds into the interview.]
Grigorik built a system — including a newsletter— that lets him stay in the loop efficiently. He worked with GitHub to archive public GitHub activity, and he then made that data available in raw form and through Google BigQuery (the data is updated hourly).
This is a fun project, no doubt, but it’s also a big deal. Here’s why: When you shorten the distance between questions and answers, you empower people to ask more questions. It’s the liberation of curiosity, and that’s exactly what happened here. Read more…
Old ebooks and clever thinking can create new opportunities for publishers.
This post originally appeared on Joe Wikert’s Publishing 2020 Blog (“The Used Ebook Opportunity“). This version has been lightly edited.
I’ve got quite a few ebooks in two different accounts that I’ve read and will never read again. I’ll bet you do, too. In the print world, we’d pass those along to friends, resell them or donate them to the local library. Good luck doing any of those things with an ebook.
Once you buy an ebook, you’re pretty much stuck with it. That’s yet another reason why consumers want low ebook prices. Ebooks are lacking some of the basic features of a print book, so of course they should be lower-priced. I realize that’s not the only reason consumers want low ebook prices, but it’s definitely a contributing factor. I’d be willing to pay more for an ebook if I knew I could pass it along to someone else when I’m finished with it.
The opportunity in the used ebook market isn’t about higher prices, though. It’s about expanding the ebook ecosystem.
The used print book market helps with discovery and affordability. The publisher and author already got their share on the initial sale of that book. Although they may feel they’re losing the next sale, I’d argue that the content is reaching an audience that probably wouldn’t have paid for the original work anyway, even if the used book market didn’t exist.
Rather than looking at the used book world as an annoyance, it’s time for publishers to think about the opportunities it could present for ebooks. Read more…
Lost sales from illegal downloads are lost because of convenience, not price.
The inconvenience of current downloads and streams are not a technology problem, they're a business problem. And rights holders perpetuate the piracy "problem" by not giving consumers the convenience that piracy does.
The third in a series looking at the major themes of this year's TOC conference.
Several overriding themes permeated this year's Tools of Change for Publishing conference. The third in a series looking at five major themes, here we look at monetization in publishing, including subscription/access models, freemium, and ad-based models.
The ease of access and the desire to own appear to be on a collision course.
Business, media, publishing, data, education — these are all areas where access vs. ownership has organically popped up in Radar’s coverage. But which model will win out in the long term?
A software company and an Australian bookstore are experimenting with books in the cloud.
Australian indie bookstore Readings is in full experiment mode with a cloud-based pay-for-access model. Software and ebook files don't play a role — everything is done through the browser.
Why governments need to start with mobile sites, not native apps.
Are .gov apps "empowering the empowered"? The consensus of a recent Gov 2.0 conference was clear: governments should start by building mobile sites and HTML5 apps to ensure access for the greatest number of citizens.
Imagining India: The Idea of a Renewed Nation promises to occupy a central position in discussions about India as well as the world economy this year. Author Nandan Nilekani can speak with quite a bit of authority on computers, having founded and led Infosys, an early success story in modern Indian commerce and a major player in the historic rise of outsourcing. Particularly relevant to this blog are the book’s observations on computers’ role in the economy and society.