Joho the BlogNovember 2009 - Page 3 of 5 - Joho the Blog

November 15, 2009

Google Books Settlement 2.0?

Google has announced a revised settlement [redlined pdf faq pdf] that it hopes will address the concerns raised by the Department of Justice and many other groups.

Here’s a summary of the summary Google provides [pdf], although IANAL and I encourage you to read the summary, which is written in non-legal language and is only 2 pages long:

1. The agreement now has been narrowed to books registered for copyright in the US, or published in the UK, Australia or Canada.

2. There have been changes to the terms of how “orphaned works” (books under copyright whose rightsholders can’t be found) are handled. The revenue generated by selling orphaned works no longer will get divvied up among the authors, publishers and Google, none of whom actually have any right to that money. Instead it will go to fund active searching for the rightsholders. (At the press call covered by Danny Sullivan [see below], the Authors Guild rep said that with money, about 90% of missing rightsholders can be found.) After holding those revenues in escrow (maybe I’m using the wrong legal term) for ten years (up from five in the first settlement), the Book Rights Registry established by the settlement can ask the court to disburse the funds to “nonprofits benefiting rightsholders and the reading public”; I believe in the original, the Registry decided who got the money. So, in ten years there may be a windfall for public libraries, literacy programs, and maybe even competing digital libraries. (The Registry may also (determined by what?) give the money to states under abandoned property laws. (No, I don’t understand that either.))

The new settlement creates a new entity: A “Court-approved fiduciary” who represents the rightsholders who can’t be found. (James Grimmelmann [below] speculates interestingly on what that might mean.)

3. The settlement now explicitly states that any book retailer can sell online access to the out-of-print books Google has scanned, including orphaned works. The revenue split will be the same (63% to the rightsholder, “the majority of” 37% to the retailer).

4. The settlement clarifies that the Registry can decide to let public libraries have more than a pitiful single terminal for public access to the scanned books. The new agreement also explicitly acknowledges that rightsholders can maintain their Creative Commons licenses for books in the collection, so you could buy digital access and be given the right to re-use much or all of the book. Rightsholders also get more control over how much Google can display of their books without requiring a license.

5. The initial version said Google would establish “market prices” for out of print book, which seemed vague because what counts as the market for out-of-print books? The new agreement clarifies the algorithm, aiming to price them as if in a competitive market. And, quite importantly, the new agreement removes the egregious “most favored nation” clause that prevented more competitive deals to be made with other potential book digitizers.

From my non-legal point of view, this addresses many of the issues. But not all of them.

I’m particularly happy about the elements that increase competition and access. It’s big that Amazon and others will be able to sell access to the out-of-print books Google has scanned, and sell access on the same terms as Google. As I understand it, there won’t be price competition, because prices will be set by the Registry. Further, I’m not sure if retailers will be allowed to cut their margins and compete on price: If the Registry prices an out-of-print book at $10, which means that $6.30 goes to the escrow account, will Amazon be allowed to sell it to customers for, say $8, reducing its profit margin? If so, then how long before some public-spirited entity decides to sell these books to the public at their cost, eschewing entirely the $3.70 (or the majority of that split, which is what they’re entitled to)? I don’t know.

I also like the inclusion of Creative Commons licensing. That’s a big deal since it will let authors both sell their books and loosen up the rights of reuse.

As far as getting rid of the most favored nation clause: Once the Dept. of Justice spoke up, it’s hard to imagine it could have survived more than a single meeting at Google HQ.

Reactions from the critics has not been all that positive.

James Grimmelmann is studying it carefully, but quickly put up a substantial and detailed evaluation of the revisions. He is deep into the details.

The Open Book Alliance (basically an everyone-but-Google consortium) is not even a little amused, because the new agreement doesn’t do enough to keep Google from establishing a de facto monopoly over digital books. The Electronic Frontier Foundation is not satisfied because no reader privacy protections were added. Says the ACLU: “No Settlement should be approved that allows reading records to be disclosed without a properly-issued warrant from law enforcement and court orders from third parties. ”

Danny Sullivan live-blogged the press call where Google and the other parties to the settlement discussed the changes. It includes a response to Open Book Alliance’s charges.

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November 14, 2009

How to connect your Droid to a Mac

It took only a little googling, but it isn’t dead obvious — until you know how to do it — so here’s how you connect your Droid to your Mac.

Connect the two via USB.

Pull down the Notifications sheet on the Droid. You do that by pulling with your finger on the very topmost menu bar in the system. You should see a USB symbol in that bar.

Click on the obvious entry in the notifications, which says something like “Mount USB” or some such.

Check the Finder on your Mac. It should show a “NO NAME” mounted under devices. Welcome to your Droid.

(And then be prepared to trash your SD card by accident.)

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Rest In Laughter, David Lloyd

David Lloyd, who not only wrote some of the greatest single episodes in TV sitcom history [Chuckles the Clown youtube], but consistently wrote hilariously, has died at 75. I especially loved a lot of his work on Frasier. With the death of Larry Gelbart (best known for M*A*S*H, but also a writer for the original Sid Caesar show, and of the movie Tootsie), a generation is passing.

It’ll be time soon for someone to do a retrospective on The Funniest Generation that assesses the effect of its sitcoms on our culture. And you can remind us all you want of how awful most sitcoms were and are, but there has almost always been at least one really funny sitcom running throughout American TV’s history. Usually on a Thursday night on NBC, by the way.

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November 13, 2009

My talk at the Canadian Marketing Association: Markets are networks

I gave a keynote at theCanadian Marketing Association‘s Marketing Week conference in Toronto a couple of days ago. It was a new talk, and I tried to structure it carefully. I’ve gone through my slides, and here’s an extended summary of what I said (or meant) in this 35-minute (?) talk.

Title: After Conversation: Markets as Networks.

Part I: Networked Markets

As Doc Searls said, markets are conversations. But, Doc said something else that I think is just as brilliant: “There’s no market for messages.” That’s harder for marketers to hear, since it points to the essential fact of traditional marketing: The people marketers are talking to generally don’t want to hear from them. And I want to add one more thought to this mix: Markets are also networks.

Traditional markets consist of demographic slices, i.e., “social groups” of people who have never met one another. We choose particular demographics because we think they are susceptible to the same message. Thus, traditional markets are not real things to which we send messages. Rather, messages make markets.

Now, markets are networks…networks of people who converse and interact, spread out across the Internet. For example, at any one moment there are some number of parents with sick children who are on the Net talking and posting, on blogs, discussion boards, social networking sites, Twitter, etc. etc. etc. But that networked market is substantially different in 12 hours because their kids are getting better. And of course 12 hours is an extremely long periodicity for these networked markets. They change constantly. Think of how ideas ripple through Twitter. Furthermore, not everyone in the market of parents with sick kids are in it the same way. The illnesses vary, the seriousness of the illnesses vary, the relationships vary. Think about the gay network in this regard: I’m sometimes in this network because I blog about gay marriage. But if you, as marketer, fail to recognize the complexity of the interests in this group, then you’ll be sending gay dating solicitations to people who don’t want them, including some who are in this network because they’re posting homophobic comments. Networked markets are rippling, ever-changing, hugely complex, inherently unstable, and thus thoroughly unlike traditional markets.

In short: You can’t step into the same market twice.

In fact, these webs of connected people are characterized by their differences as well as by their agreements, by their individuality as well as their connection. (Q: What is the opposite of message discipline? A: The Internet.) This is very different from traditional markets which are defined by demographic similarities. Networked markets are equally defined by their differences.

Part II: The network properties of networked markets

Networked markets take on some of the properties of networks. Let’s look at a few of those properties.

1. Markets at every scale. The Internet works at every scale, unlike any other medium. [I should have said: …perhaps except for paper.] E.g., Twitter works for Ashton Kutcher with 3M followers and for a tween with her 10 friends. But it is a different thing at each scale. The same is true for networked markets. It’s crucial to understand the social differences at each scale; thinking of Twitter as a single phenomenon is a mistake (for example).

2. Markets are held together by the same “glue” as networks. What holds the network together (not at the level of bits ‘n’ routers, of course) are the interests people express through their links. Likewise for networked markets. Shared interests, not messages, make networked markets.

3. Markets are transparent like networks. Because the connective tissue of the network consists of links, and those links tend to be public, the network tends towards transparency. (Note: tends towards.) I want to mention three types of marketing transparency that I think are crucial.

a. Transparent sources: We need to be able to follow links to the sources (the facts and conversations) that lead you to what you say.

b. Transparent self: We need to know you are who you say you are (no astroturfing or phony reviews!), but we also need to know that you know that you’re a fallible human like the rest of us. The posturing and perfectionism of traditional marketing increasingly will decrease the company’s credibility.

c. Transparent interests. The customer’s interest in a product often are not aligned with the company’s interest in selling it to her. The customer’s interests are complex (buying a bike to save gas money and to get some exercise and to save the earth and to feel like a kid), while, at worst, the company has a single interest. Because of this potential mismatch of interests, we need transparency about the company’s interests.

Summary: Transparency of (a) sources to trust your facts, of (b) self to trust you, of (c) interests to trust what you’re up to on our Internet.

Part III. Four challenges (plus one)

1. How does a marketer deal with the non-alignment of interests? At the very same time, the market may range from wanting to sing kumbayah to being near-violently politically opposed. Tough problem. Part of the answer is to be willing to embrace a straightforward advocacy (with facts and reasons and full transparency) about positions much of the market may disagree with. In a network based on difference, honest disagreement is better than a phony agreeableness.

2. Cluetrain advocated authenticity. Over the years, I find myself agreeing more with Chris Locke‘s skepticism about the concept. What does it mean for an organization to be authentic? It’s hard even to make sense of the term. E.g., does it mean that everyone has to agree with the founder’s opinions? Does it mean that people who are working there simply because it’s a job have to pretend to be enthusiastic?

3. Companies are hierarchical because hierarchies scale up to the size of an army (= the number of Ashton Kutcher’s Twitter followers). But hierarchies don’t interact with networks very comfortably. E.g., who speaks for the company?

4. Respect the conversation. Although markets are conversations, conversations are not markets. The conversations are more important than your marketing. And if you participate, then truly participate; don’t participate with the secret aim of subverting the discussion.

5. The hardest thing for marketers: Resist opportunities.

The End.

(By the way, here’s Marketing Magazine‘s brief write-up of the talk.)

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November 12, 2009

Five days with a Droid

I got my Droid about five days ago, and immediately took it on the road with me, which meant I didn’t have the quality time I wanted to settle into a nook and read Persian love poetry to it. But, I did get a sense of how it looks to a a rushed n00b. Also, I come to it from a Blackberry 8830, not from an iPhone, so my expectationshave been set rather low in some ways. Here’s an initial report. (And here’s an initial report from Dave Winer, whose new Droidie.com site I’m enjoying. And here’s an initial report from Bijan Sabet.)

Positives:

It’s an open device. Yay!

It’s great for browsing. Fast. Clear screen.

The built-in gmail client is pretty good. In fact, if you’re livin’ the Google lifestyle (gMail, gCalendar, gReader, gMaps, gMacrame, gAutoclave,, etc.) it feels like a seamless environment.

The turn-by-turn navigation with Google Maps is far better than what I was paying Verizon $10/month for on my Blackberry. The Bberry version was too frequently disastrously off by a couple of blocks.

The on-screen keyboard’s autocomplete function works well. (I have little to compare it to, though.)

Five megapixel camera. I haven’t done much of anything with it, but the few snaps I took seemed pretty good. It has a little flash built in too.

The physical keyboard is ok. The 4-way browsy button is a little small for my thumb but is sometimes useful to have.

The arrangement of the desktop seems good.

16gb!

You can run multiple apps and have multiple browser windows open.

There’s a unified notification screen you can always pull down from the very topmost menu bar.

Finding and installing apps is dead simple, at least through the Apps Market. Buying them is easy too.

Speaking your desired location into your phone and having it plot your destination is still pretty cool. And speaking queries to Google not only it works, it often generates amusing guesses , especially lower down on the list. (“How to install Droid themes” became, in guess #5, “How to install troy reed queens”) (When the future arrives, it usually looks like a gimmick.)

Negatives and questions:

I’m getting less than a day of use out of the battery, using it almost entirely for email and surfing, and almost not at all for phoning. I have the wifi and bluetooth turned off. The Droid reports that about 40% of my battery’s power is going to the display; I am using the default times for putting the thing to sleep. (At the moment, it tells me 80% has gone to the display, but it also tells me that it’s been 17mins since I plugged it in, when in fact it’s been 10 hours.)

This is a Stupid User issue, but when setting it up, I gave it one of my gmail addresses, which it took as the default address. I added my other one, but then wanted to switch the new one to be the default. That cannot be done without doing a complete wipe down of the machine. On the other hand, the wipe-down and re-activation were easy.

The slidey-dots pin code entry screen is easier than typing in the numbers. But there is no way (according to Motorola’s support line) to put in a “Please call this number if you find this phone” notice that can be seen without entering the PIN. So, if you lose your phone, the person who finds it won’t know how to contact you. I sure hope someone comes up with an alternative PIN screen.

It supports a handful of gestures (so to speak), but not enough.

The text system needs an autotype utility. I haven’t found one yet. Opening up the existing autocomplete vocabulary would help, but even that only works when you’re using the onscreen keyboard, not the hardware keyboard.

When using the soft keyboard, there’s no way to move the text cursor except by stabbing the entry screen with where you want it to be. Since your index finger is probably at least 4opts wide and you may be using what looks to be about 4pt type, the accuracy is pretty random. (When using the hard keyboard, the 4-way rocker moves the cursor within text.)

It’s not a world phone. I’m going to have to take my Blackberry to Europe, and ask Verizon to temporarily activate it.

I haven’t found a way of foldering apps yet. The pullout screen that shows you what you have installed is arranged alphabetically, but at some point I’m going to want it to be arranged hierarchically. [NEXT DAY: See the second comment, from Mark, for how to create folders on the home screen.]

The default background is a hideous, depressing, semi-corroded, dark gray slab of metal. What were they thinking?
I want more apps! (I could use a good, free or cheap, solo Texas holdem game.)

But…

…Notice how many of the negatives could be — and very likely will be — fixed by some clever developer.

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Lego blocks unmiscellanized

Giles Turnbull at the Morning News reports on his research interrogating (gently) children from different families about what they call various Lego pieces. Quite interesting in its own taxonomic way, and a topic that’s amusing even just to contemplate.

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Jay Rosen’s 10 Press Commandments/Tweets

Derek Barry blogs Jay Rosen‘s keynote at the Media140 in Sydney. Jay gave his ten commandments (in the form of tweets) for press in the age of the Internet.

(Jay apparently noted my post on transparency and objectivity, which Derek looked at and thought was “ironically anonymous.” I never considered that this blog looks anonymous, since I flog my books, have a disclosure button at the top, and list my twitter handle, but I can see how it would seem that way. I think I’m too shy/neurotic to fix it, though.)

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November 11, 2009

ethanz blogs, well, me

I’ve been honored with one of Ethan Zuckerman’s incredible liveblog postings. I gave a 45 min talk at the Berkman Center yesterday. I spoke quickly, waved my hands a lot, and spewed. [Rough draft here.] Even so, Ethan was able to commit an amazing act of streaming journalism, with very few places where I would even quibble with his summary and analysis.

He posted it immediately after I spoke, which I can attest to because if you read it you would never think that it was an unedited draft. It’s too thoughtful and well-written for that. This is Ethan writing on the fly, not merely typing or transcribing. Amazing.

independent of all that, I am very fortunate to be able to call Ethan a close friend.

[Later that day: Here’s the video of the webcast.]

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Dr. Mo on building broadband with healthcare in mind

Dr. Mohit Kaushal, director of healthcare for the FCC’s Broadband Strategy Initiative talks about the effect of healthcare considerations have on the thinking of those planning our broadband strategy. The

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November 10, 2009

Seattle’s new mayor wants muni fiber

Mike McGinn’s campaign platform is high on the city providing an optical fiber infrastructure to the city of Seattle.

Mike McGinn’s campaign is grass-rootsy.

Mike McGinn won.

Is Seattle going to go muni-fiber?

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