Page 2 of 3
I spent my Memorial Day tracking down the jerk who took my hardcopy book — Picture Yourself Learning Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard — and scanned it into a .PDF file for easy downloading on his website. There are few people who believe this sort of behavior is content theft — but let me assure you what was done to my book is a violation of International Copyright Law, it is pirating — and in giving away something for free that my publisher paid me to write and paid to have distributed as a hardcopy book — only ruins the book publishing economy in its core. That means fewer books will be published and fewer authors will want to write books that can so easily be stolen. Here’s a screenshot of the page for my book from the pirate site. The .PDF file size description was the dead giveaway that this site was not selling my hardcopy book.
Yesterday’s rather boring Macworld Expo did have one good glimmer of freedom: iTunes will no longer protect its music with the awful DRM that I hate. Digital Rights Management was a golden goose egg that arrived too late and under-cooked. I was pleased with the announcement that iTunes music would finally belong to those that bought it because that’s the way it was always supposed to be: Only the container changed. When I jumped into the iTunes store to upgrade my 4,000 song strong iTunes-purchased library, I was met with this offer to upgrade: $270.84USD for 1,304 total songs. I clicked that “BUY” button and the download parade began. Almost.
As the world of publishing changes, so too, does the way we create containers for content. It used to be enough to have paper and ink. Now we have a virtual world where mere replication is the business recipe of the day, but the real, inherent, power of original content is that it cannot really be contained because it is always transmogrifying into multiple, redistributable forms depending upon end user need and desire. Content isn’t king. How the end user changes the content container is king.
In my article — Blogging the Bodily Fluids Stream — I argued action streams like Twitter had no place on a blog because content, not diary mapping, should be the business and purpose of the human condition. I mentioned a few Six Apart employees — the makers of Movable Type — as examples of the decay of blogging for content. Anil Dash, one of those I mentioned, wrote a fine response on his blog to my article — Actions are the Body Language — where he argues what you do on the web is important and should rightly be published for public consumption.
Wordle is a fascinating online service that takes a bunch of text, or an RSS feed, and then mashes it all together to create a word cloud of ideas. Here’s the Wordle mash for the Urban Semiotic Atom feed. It’s wild to see the words that pop out at you and, reading it semiotically to form sentences out of the cloud, I see “Twitter new know stream.” and “American religion good people.” What semoitic sentences does your mind form in the following pareidoliac clouds?
How much would you pay a year for access to content found exclusively online?
Would you ever pay an annual subscription fee to read a blog? A newspaper? A magazine? Does the publisher matter or is content the only important king?
Here’s what I pay for online access to a few of my favorite daily reads. I do not receive a hardcopy version of these publications even if they exist.
New York Times Select
I pay around $40 a year for “exclusive access” to some online New York Times content and it is not worth the extra money. The “TimesSelect” content is ordinary and uninteresting. I would pay $1,000.00 a year to read Frank Rich every day but he only publishes once a week on Sundays.