Good Links, Weekly – July 24
Alistair for Hugh: Techcrunch recently covered a three-hour, candid discussion with Conan O’Brien in which he said of Big Media producers, ‘Those men behind the curtain — the great and powerful Oz — are scared shitless right now,’ adding that the chaos is so high that anyone in the audience could just as likely be running a major network in a few years. This is pretty simple economics: one-to-millions media was based on economies of scale, but an audience of one is based on economies of skill. While the Techcrunch piece is must-read for anyone interested in new media, that’s not what I want you to watch. Rather, you need to see this 7-part, 70-minute review of The Phantom Menace, by a serial killer. It’s brilliant, and it proves O’Brien’s point more than any celebutante or startup could ever do. So grab a beer or three and some friends, and watch this.”
Alistair for Mitch: “The Great Zucchini works 2 days a week, makes $100K a year. He’s scruffy and his trademark is putting a diaper on his head. This entertaining piece from The Washington Post looks inside the wacky economics of children’s entertainers. Beyond being a terrifying reminder to save all of my pennies, and the perils of living day to day, it’s actually an object lesson in marketing, supply, demand, branding, and the value of transparent innocence and customer empathy.”
Hugh for Alistair: In the start-up world we tend to think of Web technology living somehow on the edge of regulation – outside of the interference from the pesky officials who don’t get the Web. But we have some big debates ahead of us: about net neutrality, privacy, censorship and much more. Australia seems to have jumped off the deep end in efforts to bring censorship and government snooping to the Web. And, ironists that they are, the Australian government censored 90% of the policy document – drafted with industry consultation, but no citizen input – that will form the basis of their policy-making. Their rationale for expunging most of the document, according to Attorney-General’s Department legal officer, Claudia Hernandez, was to prevent ‘premature unnecessary debate and could potentially prejudice and impede government decision making.’ Which, if I understand the way democracy is supposed to function, is precisely the reason you allow debate.”
Hugh for Mitch: Editors and ‘old’-media people get a bad rap in these Interetish times. Paul Ford comes to the defense of the editor, arguing that in fact they have all the skills needed to rule our messy Web universe: seeing patterns, meeting deadlines, shipping product, separating wheat from chaff, evaluating what people like and don’t like. I’d never thought of it before, but editors as described by Ford are much like start-up product managers. Now, if only we can deal with that pervasive distrust of technology.”
Mitch for Alistair: First off, a huge congrats to Alistair on the birth of his first child. I know you’re an O’Reilly published author, but when I saw the title of this book, I just knew it had your name written all over it. You’re a Geek, you love to cook and now you’ll be home a whole lot more. I could not think of a more appropriate piece of content that you should be devouring right at this exact moment (pun intended). So, welcome to being a Dad (and with that, you should also be checking out Digital Dads and the Dad-O-Matic Blogs). Now, get cooking and help your wife out a little, will ya?
Mitch for Hugh: It was a big/historical week for the Publishing Industry. Amazon announced that digital books are now outselling hardcover books. This moment in time reminds me of when MP3 sales started to eclipse those of physical CDs. The digitization of any industry is never easy, and this transition for the publishing industry is going to be equally confusing and scary. Issues like rights management and what ‘distribution’ means is going to challenge the status quo. Just this week, I was told by my publisher that the rights to distribute my book, Six Pixels of Separation, on the Kindle format in Canada have not been secured (along with all books published by Hachette Book Group). Imagine that, you can’t get Malcolm Gladwell, the Twilight series or even Tony Hsieh‘s new book, Delivering Happiness, and thousands of other books in Canada via Kindle. What does that do for sales?”