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.
In 2014, Quentin Tarantino sued Gawker for publishing a link to a leaked pre-release screener of his movie "The Hateful Eight." The ensuing court-case revealed that the screeners Tarantino's company had released had some forensic "traitor tracing" features to enable them to track down the identities of people who leaked copies.
For years, we've covered the efforts of rogue archivist Carl Malamud (previously) to make the law free for all to read, from liberating paywalled court records from PACER to risking fines and even prison to make standards that have been incorporated into regulation available, to his longrunning fight with the State of Georgia to make […]
I'm one of the guests of honor at this weekend's Comicpalooza festival in Houston, Texas: in addition to my keynote and signing, you can catch me at panels on copyright, robots and AI, cyberpunk, copyright (again!).
Kudos to those of us who have chosen a less wasteful third option to “paper or plastic” at the supermarket or club stores. Tote bags are reusable, but they can be a pain to tote around. Here’s an upgrade to that planet-saving measure. The Club Cart Lotus Trolley Bag is that rare tote you’ll want […]
Looking for a career in IT, gaming or software development? In the ever-changing world of the internet, versatility is your biggest asset. In other words, mastering Java might not cut it in an interview if you don’t know C#. However, there’s a bundle that covers the essentials in most any language. The Legendary Learn to […]
Getting a set of cookware that will outlast you is one of those signs you’ve truly grown up. It used to be easy to find durable materials that also cook well, but these days it can be hard to tell what’s quality and what brands are coasting by on a recognizable name. Well, there’s at […]