In Paul Graham's provocative "Post-Medium Publishing," he argues that we've rarely paid for "content," but rather for "form" -- that's why a good hardcover costs the same as a bad one, and both are more expensive than paperbacks. As the newspaper and CD forms lose currency, their publishers argue that what we've been buying all along is the "content" and demand that we "continue" to pay for it online.
What about iTunes? Doesn't that show people will pay for content? Well, not really. iTunes is more of a tollbooth than a store. Apple controls the default path onto the iPod. They offer a convenient list of songs, and whenever you choose one they ding your credit card for a small amount, just below the threshold of attention. Basically, iTunes makes money by taxing people, not selling them stuff. You can only do that if you own the channel, and even then you don't make much from it, because a toll has to be ignorable to work. Once a toll becomes painful, people start to find ways around it, and that's pretty easy with digital content.
I think he goes off the rails in the next graf, where he talks about how writers can self-publish merely by uploading files; this commits the same error that he's upset about: confusing "publishing" and "printing."
I also wonder if St McLuhan might not object here, with something about the form being the content.
There’s only two weeks left until members of the World Wide Web Consortium vote on whether the web’s premier open standards organization will add DRM to the toolkit available to web developers, without effecting any protections for people who discover security vulnerabilities that affect billions of web users, let alone people who adapt web tools […]
One of the music industry’s dumbest, most pernicious talking-points is the “value gap” (AKA the “value recognition right”) which is code for, “Online platforms should employ an army of copyright lawyers to assess everything that users share for copyright compliance.”
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Maybe it’s entirely because of podcast ads, but drag-and-drop tools like Squarespace have gotten immensely popular in recent years. While it’s definitely a great tool for any non-coders who want to get a small website up and running quickly, managing content with a primarily visual interface can become a pain once you have more than […]
When you can’t wait for the world’s longest meeting to end, the mindless leg bouncing makes your boredom obvious and just annoys everybody else. Everyone knows the TPS reports need the damn cover sheet, but some sadistic colleague keeps forgetting, probably on purpose just to eat into your lunch hour. Enough is enough!While serving a […]