Category Archives: cluetrain

The Big Zune Debacle

The device isn’t out yet but it’s generating a lot of negative reaction.

Partly based on this:

Zune Insider Blog: Answers to (some) of Your Zune Questions

“I made a song. I own it. How come, when I wirelessly send it to a girl I want to impress, the song has 3 days/3 plays?” Good question. There currently isn’t a way to sniff out what you are sending, so we wrap it all up in DRM. We can’t tell if you are sending a song from a known band or your own home recording so we default to the safety of encoding. And besides, she’ll come see you three days later.

Not to blame Cesar Menendez (Robert Scoble might have done the same thing), but the answer itself really shows that there is something missing in Microsoft’s understanding of music.

This post provoked a number of comments on the same blog and elsewhere:

Medialoper » Zune’s Big Innovation: Viral DRM

Boing Boing: Microsoft Zune will violate Creative Commons licenses

 Buzz Out Loud 314 Shownotes

As a more recent post answers several questions without even paying lip-service to the issue of Digital Rights Management, Microsoft gives the impression that it’s suddenly stonewalling:

Zune Insider Blog: Introducing, and Some More Q’s Answered
Having suffered from the over-restrictive DRM of Sony’s MiniDisc recorders, I think that DRM is one of the main reasons a device might succeed or fail in the consumer marketplace. The MiniDisc had the potential to be the ideal device for those who involve themselves in music (musicians, musickers, music lovers, music researchers…). But even music you recorded yourself was tagged as restricted and required a very expensive “professional” device to transfer digitally to another device, such a computer. Sony changed this only very recently and only for recordings made with current recorders.

In the Zune case, the wireless capabilities have been dreamed of years ago. As a musician, a researcher, and a lecturer, I would be delighted to be able to distribute my own content wirelessly. Just imagine: you record your own lecture, then you transfer it wirelessly to your students. Elegant, selective, seamless, intelligent, efficient. Lecturecasts at their finest. But if that content is to be crippled with an incredibly awkward DRM system, I would much rather use the much less efficient method of posting the audio file to a central server (possibly controlled), give instructions on how to retrieve the file, and wait until the next lecture to hear the complaints.

Of course, even if the Zune did not apply over-zealous DRM on my own content, I would still have to post the file. And one (who probably never taught) might think that the three days or three times restriction is perfectly reasonable for this use. But in terms of putting a product on the marketplace, one must get more insight than this.

It just shows that people at Microsoft sees their users as mere consumers of “content” and big media companies as “owners of content.” Yet the trend now is for “user-generated content,” “social networking,” “viral marketing,” and personal interactions through electronic devices.

Despite all of its flaws, the DRM on the iTunes Store (formerly iTunes Music Store) has imposed itself as a decent enough solution for a lot of people.


Sizing Up the Geek Crowd

Rocketboom interview with Steve Rubel

Like Delagrave and Bergeron, Rubel got it. And it goes much beyond marketing, brands, or even economy. Geeks are at the forefront of something. They have an impact. Not a direct impact on sales of a specific product. But geeks are trailblazers and, sometimes, trendsetters in the social changes which are already happening. They’re not causing the change. But they’re riding the waves of social change. Some waves will die quickly, others will carry many people to an interesting place. As in STF, creating windmills, not shelters.

This is also connected to a recent discussion I had, at a nice brewpub, with a member of Siebel Institute’s faculty. We were talking about beer geeks and their impact on craft beer sales. Not only are beer geeks like computer geeks but it turns out that there might be a clear historical relation between the Pacific Coast computer industry, the rise of latte drinking, and the craft beer revolution. As beer and coffee are among my passions, I find this link fascinating.

At any rate, this faculty member’s point was that large breweries shouldn’t care much about beer geeks as they (we) don’t drive sales of specific products. One of the main arguments here is that geeks aren’t faithful to a brand. Geeks want diversity. Beer geeks want as many different beers as possible.

It’s pretty much the same thing throughout the geek crowd. Talk about empowered “consumers”


Music, Food, Industries, Piracy

000ady6y (PNG Image, 200×125 pixels)

Noticed it in Steal This Film. A very appropriate message. Process over product. Music is not a commodity. Food does not grow on profits.

Blogged with Flock


Is There Such a Thing as Online Privacy?

AOL apologizes for release of user search data | CNET News.com

They could get consent from users before handing out the information to third parties.

And academics are the ones who need to go through difficult procedures to record data willingly given by actual conscious human beings?

Still, this one should become the standard apology for most mess-ups:

This was a screw-up, and we’re angry and upset about it. It was an innocent enough attempt to reach out to the academic community with new research tools, but it was obviously not appropriately vetted, and if it had been, it would have been stopped in an instant […] Although there was no personally identifiable data linked to these accounts, we’re absolutely not defending this. It was a mistake, and we apologize. We’ve launched an internal investigation into what happened, and we are taking steps to ensure that this type of thing never happens again.

Nice! Some people have read the Cluetrain Manifesto!


RIAA and EFF

Whiney EFF and RIAA knocked by digital license go ahead | The Register :

Under a blanket (or ‘compulsory’ license) for consumer downloads, record labels fear they would lose control of their hard-fought grip on physical distribution channels, and lose control over pricing. In fact, they’d simply have to work harder to gain a bigger share of the pie, and innovate to find new outlets for their copyrighted material.

A bit old by now but this one speaks for itself. Michael Geist always has interesting things to say about these.