- Google Creates New Inflation Measure (The Guardian) — The Google Price Index will be based on the cost of goods sold online and could use real-time search data to forecast official figures. Clever use of unique data, but can the GPI findings be reproduced by another agency? I do like the idea of moving national statistical measures into real-time.
- How To Break The Trust of Your Customers In Just One Day — some horrifying revelations about how freemium worked for Chargify and their customers: Over the past year, we discovered that the customer that never paid had the highest support load. […] Everyone’s always talking about freemium, but very few people actually use it, and we discovered this in looking at our customers for the past year. The reality was that less than 0.4% of customers had any sizeable number of free customers on their accounts. (via Hacker News)
- Annotated Backbone.js — very readable literate programming. (via Simon Willison)
- Carrot2 — open source results clustering engine.
"Pirate's Dilemma" author Matt Mason on BitTorrent.
Pirating your own book may seem like an odd promotion strategy, but that's just what Megan Lisa Jones did with her new novel. Matt Mason, author of "The Pirate's Dilemma," says P2P platforms like BitTorrent are a great way to reach audiences and distribute content.
Practical solutions for thriving in a mostly free, all-digital era.
As publishers wonder how to make money when everything digital seems to be heading for a zero-price point, Kevin Kelly offers some practical advice.
Formation Media CEO Sam Jones on how fading publishing brands can be reborn on the digital side.
Formation Media CEO Sam Jones discusses his recipe for online content success: It has to be free, it has to be widely available, and publishers must operate at a web-appropriate scale.
Google Price Index, The High Cost of Freemium, Literate Programming, Results Clustering
- What Happens at Y Combinator — a fascinating infomercial for Y Combinator, but it’s interesting despite the soft focus. Usually we advise startups to launch when they’ve built something with a quantum of utility—when they’ve built something sufficiently better than existing options that at least some users would say “I’m glad this appeared, because now I can finally do x.” If what you’ve built is a subset of existing technology at the same price, then users have no reason to try it, which means you don’t get to start the conversation with them. You need a quantum of utility to get a toehold.
- Going Freemium, One Year Later (MailChimp) — Throughout history, and across all the businesses he researched, the ratio of free-to-paid-subscribers ultimately ended up at the dismal ratio of 10:1. There were a lot of awesome presentations at that Freemium Summit. But this was the presentation (just this one slide, really) that stuck in my brain. (via Hacker News)
- Mifos — open source software for microfinance. (via msbehaviour on Twitter)
Chumby One, Gorgeous IE Debugger, Freer Than Free, and Phone-a-Friend for Government IT
- Chumby One (Bunnie Huang) — new Chumby product released. In addition to being about half the price of the original chumby, the new device added some features: it has an FM radio, and it has support for a rechargeable lithium ion battery (although it’s not included with the device, you have to buy one and install it yourself). There’s also a knob so you can easily/quickly adjust the volume. But I don’t think those are really the significant new features. What really gets me excited about this one is that it’s much more hackable.
- Deep Tracing of Internet Explorer (John Resig) — very sexy deep inspection of Internet Explorer. Finally, something IE does better than Firefox (other than exploits). dynaTrace Ajax works by sticking low-level instrumentation into Internet Explorer when it launches, capturing any activity that occurs – and I mean virtually any activity that you can imagine. (via Simon Willison)
- Less Than Free — begins by talking about Google giving away turn-by-turn directions on Android, and then analyses Google’s “less than free” business model: Additionally, because Google has created an open source version of Android, carriers believe they have an “out” if they part ways with Google in the future. I then asked my friend, “so why would they ever use the Google (non open source) license version.” Here was the big punch line – because Google will give you ad splits on search if you use that version! That’s right; Google will pay you to use their mobile OS. I like to call this the “less than free” business model. This is a remarkable card to play. Because of its dominance in search, Google has ad rates that blow away the competition. To compete at an equally “less than free” price point, Symbian or windows mobile would need to subsidize. Double ouch!!
- Expert Labs — a new independent initiative to help policy makers in our government take advantage of the expertise of their fellow citizens. How does it work? Simple: 1. We ask policy makers what questions they need answered to make better decisions. 2. We help the technology community create the tools that will get those answers. 3. We prompt the scientific & research communities to provide the answers that will make our country run better. New non-profit from Anil Dash.
Over on Spiegel Online, Chris Anderson does a great job responding to nearly all of the standard old-media responses to new media. Unsurprisingly (I’m sure Wired would have done the same) they pulled one line from a lengthy response to create the provocative title “Maybe Media Will Be a Hobby Rather than a Job.” The full passage is much more useful and nuanced:
What you're selling as an artist (or an author, or a publisher for that matter) is not content. What you sell is providing something that the customer/reader/fan wants. That may be entertainment, it may be information, it may be a souvenir of an event or of who they were at a particular moment in their life (Kelly describes something similar as his eight "qualities that can't be copied": Immediacy, Personalization, Interpretation, Authenticity, Accessibility, Embodiment, Patronage, and Findability). Note that that list doesn't include "content." The thing that most publishers (and authors) spend most of their time fretting about (making it, selling it, distributing it, "protecting" it) isn't the thing that their customers are actually buying. Whether they realize it or not, media companies are in the service business, not the content business.
A great free book, dead newspaper dig, movie Torrent wakeup, and money from free:
- Digital Foundations with Adobe Illustrator — CC-licensed book that gets you started using Adobe Illustrator. I’m loving it, and I have the artistic ability of a particularly philistine rock. See also their advice to authors on how to negotiate a Creative Commons license. (via bjepson’s delicious stream)
- How to Become a Death Of Newspapers Blogger — tongue-in-cheek dig at the recent imminent deaths of newspapers being predicted. Point taken about how unproductive these are: The point’s not to fix anything. It’s to describe the problem more dramatically than the next guy. If Steve Outing says newspapers have a “death spiral” and Clay Shirky predicts “a bloodbath,” the point goes to Shirky. Basically, imagine a group of people watching a building burn down and bickering amongst themselves about whether it’s a conflagration or an inferno. It’s like that, but with consulting fees. (via migurski’s delicious stream)
- BarTor, Android BitTorrent with a Twist — take a picture of a DVD’s barcode, it looks up the movie, and sends the torrent file to your desktop to be automatically downloaded. NetFlix should have a legit form of this. If iTunes Movie Store had it, you could have racks of “DVDs” in stores that you could browse and snap to “buy” (giving a cut to the store). This feels monumental.
- Survey of Free Business Models Online — an interesting breakdown of ways to make money from “free” on the web. (via glynn moody)