Sunday, 31 January 2010

Put off computers?

But put on again by the iPad.

What puts you off a computers as we know them today?

- Viruses
- Drivers
- Defragging drives
- DLLs
- RAM vs HDD
- GHz
- KB
- Monitor
- File systems, hierarchical chaos, searching. Cloud vs local. The whole file mess, and the drive mess "C:" etc

These are just some of the issues the UK Government's Myguide web site tries to tackle, and its quite pointless and far too nerdy. When all you want to do is check your bank account, read the news and check your emails?

Many people are kept away from computers just for these reasons. So why not change the computer, not train the people. Computers, even Macs with OS X, are too complex.

That is what the new Apple iPad is doing. Through its simplicity and interface. Look at the example of the iPhone/iPod touch. Children play with them, intuitively because of the revolutionary interface.

The iPad is a complex computer simplified. For just $500. Ideal for young and old, a broad spectrum of people who are not served by today's computers.

iPad is the computer for the rest of us.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Tomorrow - the iPad newspaper

First let me say I am a strong supporter of a product like the iPad, in fact I love the idea of the iPad. Both from the point of view of a book-like computer, but also because of Apple's superb implementation of touch interface technology.

But what has to be sorted out is the structure of the newspaper industry in offering news on such a product.

1.On the one hand some seem to want the entire newspaper so they can browse and pick what to read. Just an electronic version of the printed one.

2.Others may want to have profiled news (i.e. what they like) only to be sent on a personalised basis. With the possibility of feedback/comments.

3.Others may like the current model where some background editor choses what to put on the web versions and what to leave off (e.g. as one person put it, where are the comments).

Whatever model is adopted I think we have to understand that the internet disaggregates the business, what I receive is the writing of specific journalists, directly. And what I want to do is to pay them directly, not as a blanket monthly sub. It is this micro-payment system that needs looking into. Together with a sensible way for me to personalise my news, and yet sample a wider scope freely.

The advertising model has also to be defined. If what I receive is personalised, probably I should agree also to my profile being used to direct advertising at me?

So yes the iPad can revolutionise the newspaper. But there are other weightier matters to resolve first, by itself it is after all just a browser.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

iPad, oh my!



Two classes? GTDs and the rest of us?

The iPad is rather super: but it is interesting to think about the demography it will suit. Most of the adverse comments that have been voiced are from the nerds and GTD classes, looking for an upgraded iPhone with all the bells and whistles to improve productivity. But there is another audience, which is the browsing classes, the reading, "I have time for this" classes. Who is that? Students, educators, retired people, coffee shop housewives, relaxed professionals, researchers, library freaks... Those with a need to read and have of necessity time available, in no rush to GTD (Get Things Done, in case you are wondering). It is also for newbies for whom computers are a nightmare and impossible to understand, because the iPad is simple. No nerds here, no need to understand things like GHz, CPU, HDD, USB, Drivers, Viruses, etc. It may marginally improve the life of the GTDs (Reports, Spreadsheets, Presentations, lots of new touch-apps) but they will still have to carry around a mobile.

3G issue

The iPad has two versions WiFi or WiFi+3G radio. The issue of 3G or not to 3G will divide us. The fact that Apple has decided to unlock the 3G access and let any SIM or provider in, will mean a lot to those that travel in Europe where every country has its own SIM and it costs a fortune to get data access outside your SIMs national boundaries. So unlocked means we can have SIMs, which will be PAYG, for each country. But do I need 3G, always on? Maybe not, not for students, not for educators, not for retired people who can go to the nearest cafe hotspot.

Or my solution, I use a MiFi hot spot (MiFi 2532 model, very good) with unlocked SIMs and this provides a mobile battery powered WiFi network in my pocket, the advantage is that both my wife and I can be connected at the same time, for the cost of one subscription.

Newbies paradise

But if I was a non-computer user that wanted to catch up with the internet and all that jazz is all about, the iPad is for me.


Screen shot 2010-01-31 at 15.02.13.png


Probably will be updated before sales in 2-3 months time.

- 9.7inch touch screen and very good resolution (1024x768) for books, magazines, video and games (Have you seen the wonderful presentation from Bonnier proposing a touch interface for magazines? Here it is on Vimeo, Bonnier.

- 10 hours battery life (1 month on standby!), non exchangeable battery like the iPod/iPhone

- Speaker & microphone (good for Skype calls, but no video...)

- WiFi as standard, 3G as future option (unlocked- at last!!!! PAYG, but Mini-SIM)

- Bluetooth for audio output or Keyboard input. (There is a large on-screen keyboard and other input windows like a number pad for spreadsheets).

- 16-64GB flash storage, but how does the file system work? Can I access it? (Will they please put in a document library - not a Finder, but a document management library. It has Spotlight searching, but I need a classified document library, please, please).

- Syncs iTunes and charges via 30pin/USB to your Mac. (No standalone USB charger input which has been standardised for all mobiles and promised by Apple... why not?)

- It is 0.5" thick (or thin as you like it) and weighs 0.7Kg.


Known about so far are

- Safari web browser

- Mail email programs

- Photos display program, with camera import

- Video Quicktime?

- YouTube direct access

- iPod music player

- iTunes store, music, Movies/TV

- Apps Store

- Maps (Google)

- Calendar

- Contacts

- Notes

- Spotlight search

The BIG additional deal is iBooks with a book store. These are in epub format (no mention of the DRM issues), or it can also read PDF. Most publishers of books will get on-board for the colour display. Excellent for the education market with textbooks and on-line learning. Teachers must get to it and put their stuff on their local school nets (web pages, videos and epub/PDF). Newspapers will love it as the new medium for text and video pages.

iLife issue

Wonderful demo, Pages, Keynote, Numbers. Productivity programs redesigned for the touch interface. I think that Apple decided to push the envelope to prove that even work-like programs can be ported to a touch only interface. And it sounds as if they have made a very good job of it. It also serves as a demo to developers of how to implement the new touch, non-mouse, non-menu, paradigms. Expect announcements.


So my thoughts so far are:

1. Printing, have to have WiFi printing to network printer (e.g. connected to an Airport Express). It is no good just to upload a file to my MacBook then have to open and print it.

2. Need wireless syncing (WiFi or Bluetooth).

Personally I think Apple should implement the agreed USB socket as all other mobiles will do for charging only. The 30pin will still be needed for interfacing cameras, projector, audio etc.

What is needed is a separate Sync program, not through iTunes. One sync program for all, mobiles, ipods, iPads, then imagine sync like Time Machine, wireless and regularly as a back-ground process.

3. Mobile Me, iWeb would be good for blogging, hope MarsEdit ports to iPad... Apple need this in their iLife portfolio.

4. Really need a camera, front (640x480) for video calls. By the way what about iChat, is it still alive?

5. Strange choice to use Micro-SIM. Means I have to find a supplier... could mean a "lock-in"?

6. Sync from Aperture as well as iPhoto - probably will without some features. But definitely need a photo search capability, based on file names/titles/caption metadata.

7. Newspaper micro-payments system based on article/journalist basis.

8. Change the awful iBooks bookshelf first page, its terrible and old fashioned.

9. Integrate newspapers into iBooks, reshape it a general purpose paper replacement. Rename the app... iPub? One place to get all electronic publishing. Strongly encourage a common style of interface. Mix articles from various publishers into a tailored format and content just for me, pay journalists directly by micro-payments.

Integrate music, movies, TV, Apps, Books, News, Magazines into ONE new iStore. iTunes only for media playing.

10. The iPad introduces a replacement for the file system as we know it. Each app keeps its own files and displays them. Each app's files can be mounted on a networked Mac and on MobileMe's iDisk.

This is part way to my age-old proposals to have a document library within the system managing the files names and location.

What the iPad needs is a way to classify the documents...

11. Will the iPad be able to share its 3G internet connection by creating, for example, a local WiFi network? A thing the MacBook and others can do easily.

12. WiFi audio output to Airport Express connected loudspeakers.

13. Need a blogging app, the iPad is ideal for this while out and about. I would chose MarsEdit... should be part of iLife.

14. Another wish. Screen sharing, I mean I would like to see the screen of a headless Mac Mini on the iPad. That would be great for the music/media centre crowd.

So to summarise:

- Printing over WiFi
- Sync over WiFi, take sync out of iTunes
- Front camera
- Standard SIM?
- Sync of photos from Aperture + text search
- Newspaper micro-payments
- Integrate News, Magazines, Books, one reader & store
- Classified library for documents
- 3G tethering by WiFi or USB
- Audio over WiFi
- Blogging program


iPad has the most wonderful user interface, outshining all others and far ahead of any notebook. We, Joe public, are just getting our act together to appreciate what Apple has done for us in inventing touch controlled devices, from the iPhone onwards.


Well will you buy one?

Well will I buy one?

I will have to see. I have an ageing Macbook that needs replacing, the iPad cannot do everything I need the Macbook for. And I have an iPod touch for mobile use, which fits easily in my pocket... do I need the thing Apple says goes in between?

The iPad will be probably be an impulse buy, and I will may curse it for not doing the things that I need and have listed above.

I just can't make my mind up. But if I had a ton of cash I would buy one for everyone in the family. And that would be great if we could use it as a way of staying in close touch. A kind of family looking glass, everything in sync and video chats (3-5 at least).

End Note

A computer to day is not the hardware, and all tinkering that comes from the huge variety of this. It is software. A standard platform like the iPad will provide just what we need, a stable hardware implementation with an underlying safe and sceure operating system on which developers can build lots of new uses. And the user will benefit from this stability and flexibility.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Governing ourselves - eSociety

There have been a couple things I have found recently about how we could change the way we are governed by encouraging individuals, groups and communities to input opinions to policymakers directly, and track policy making activities and legislation.

One was a report that the conservatives would set up a kind of "opinion gathering" web site, the other was an EU scheme for about the same thing. The EU scheme is:

EU 2020 Framework 7 ICT Theme
ICT-2009.7.3 objective

1. Cooperation platforms to allow groups and communities to input to government. Provide transparency and tracking of policy making.

2. Opinion visualisation, opinion mining, filtering & aggregation. Consideration of options based on behaviour & wishes of individuals, group & communities and outcomes of government proposals, decisions and legislation.

3. Use collective data to undersatnd impact of decisions across multi-lingual Europe. Establish a cloud.


* Empowerment and engagement of individuals in policy making. Increased trust though transparency
* Efficient collection of data to improve governance. Optimised use of public sector knowledge.

Budget €15M


The government has a program to get everybody up to speed with the internet, web, browsing, email etc. What they say is "15M adults are not using the computers and the internet", well lease them a computer. "70% of people living in social housing aren't online". Well simple install broadband in all social housing as part of the rent. Problem solved.

Instead the government bleats about "social exclusion" and sets up UK online centres all over the place (6000 of them, imagine the cost). There actions consist of two parts, local computer training centres and a web site called .

The Myguide web site cost £2.5M to set up and has a annual running cost of £500,000. This is ridiculous.

They have 250,000 users, but they each only send an email every 10 days. 250,000 only (!) after 5 years running, 6000 centres, and with 15,000,000 potential customers. This is ridiculous.

Yet they have recently committed yet an other £30m to these matters.

What a waste of money! Why?

1. People who don't use or understand the web are simply not connected, because they don't know how, don't have a computer or don't have broadband access.

I am sure they are interested who wouldn't be these days. It is part of life. So get them connected. Make broadband a public service like water , sewage, electricity.

2. The myguide web site is pathetic on many fronts.

- It treats people like children with automated (read a bit, get tested on it, move on), not investigatory, learning paradigms.

- It sets up an email account for you at when most people in the world would chose a goolemail, yahoo or hotmail account as the easy way on.

- It only works with IE browsers, or Firefox. The government itself has already declared IE to be dangerous and not be used. (the civil service and the NHS still use IE6 which is full of bugs and holes...). It does not respect web standards but uses proprietary web pages and lots of Flash.

3. I have quoted above what it cost, and it has automatic lock-in, as as soon as anyone sets up their email there the site must keep going to support them. What a great way to do business!!! I wonder who is the sub-contractor?

4. I registered but forgot my password, so I have emailed them to see if they can tell me. When I was connected I was completely frustrated by the site, its complexity just trying to be childishly simple is ridiculous. It is nothing like the real web out there, very poor page layouts, unclear links etc etc. Update: I re-registered as they could not help me. [By the way when you register they give you a user name of firstnamesurname, so if you want to get something like my syganymede then put first name "sy" and surname "ganymede"...]

I have made, in just 4 hours, a web site to tell people about the internet and set up hotmail. And it is free. Here it is: Computer ABCD

Try it and see if it helps you. And if you are new to computers and the internet, then save up and buy an Apple iPad, simplicity itself and you don't have to understand any of that computer goobldy-gook to use it.

Election time

It coming up to election time. These are just some of my personal thoughts about what I want from a new government and the ("=") benefits:

1 - Transform the UK business platform, especially green business. Plough min £50B/yr into environmental investment, focus on solar/wind & home insulation.

= employment, cost saving, future energy security & independence. Better environment.

2 - Clamp down on banks, banks serve us, not we serve banks. Stop all this tom-foolery about "financial products". Stop "growth" focus, develop "profit" and "service" focus. Make them pay back every penny (Obama style) - and show everyone they have done it by public monthly accounts.

= value for savers, pensions. Stability of money, reduction in speculation (especially in house prices, after all we live in them, we should not speculate about them)

3 - Emphasise christian values and morality, be tolerant of others but be sure of our own values, e.g. marriage, worship, honesty, caring, politeness...

= sense of belonging and purpose to society. Much reduced state interferrence, social management, of people's lives. Reduced costs.

4 - Stop being "global", we are a small nation that needs to focus on making our own lives better, richer and fulfilling. Get strong at home and then be recognised as someone to follow abroad. Some how transform UK from a "would be" global influence - UN top table, peacemaker, warmonger... to a small but superbly successful small independent nation. Reward and bring much more innovation and consequent manufacturing to UK. Transform our economy and make it forward looking and creativity based.

= Strong motivation and nation-building, bringing out the best in people. Find and appoint leaders for our country and our economy, our money, our nation.

= Less threats from terrorism, withdraw from wars, seek peace through diplomacy

5 - Get into and close up to the EU. Bring EU legislation and its preparation into the Westminster main stream, mandatory Westminster house floor debates on all EU proposals to clarify our position, feed into government policy/position, before issues get to the EU parliament. Widespread integration of EU MPs with Westminster, a kind of pairing or twinning, increase 600->900 and share, common seats and elections.

= No surprises about EU directives. Stronger ability to debate and influence EU proposals. Proper use of MPs time. Insider, well thought-out, influence in EU. Everyone informed and no surprises about EU directives.

6 - As a practical matter have a "Law maker" web site that tracks proposals and commitments (£s), probably run by independent journalists, and showing long term political strategies for what they are, both UK and EU.

= Practical way forward for newspapers, and a super ones-stop-shop for everyone to follow up proposed and proposed/enacted laws and government promises/expenditure. Eventually leading to opinion gathering feedback and then on-line issue based voting. Covering both EU and UK law making. Enable public comment, contribution and debate. (Cameron has propose d something like this, good for him).

7 - Scrap many of the current IT projects. Especially those that have overrun or that are over budget, have not met targets or are possibly illegal (see Rowntree analysis). Guiding principle for new projects is people ownership and personal guardianship of their data, not central data bases (the equivalent of police state/spying).

= More self reliant society, more opportunity for private services, huge money saving. Better government image: don't be complacent, emphasise successes, kill failures. Personalised services.


So the BBC has asked Ofcom to allow DRM on HD material. Why? Because they do not have enough HD material or planned resources to fill the broadcast time at the start of their new HD TV broadcasting.... and have to buy interesting stuff from studios, who in turn insist on DRM to protect their "rights" (or restrict mine).

And Ofcom is thinking to allow them to do it! Right against their charter of being an open public broadcaster.

So, the BBC is no longer a "public broadcaster"?

So, we may think to not have to pay our licence fee? This all starts to sound like Sky TV/Cable business model start-up.

So, DRM and new HD content is to be only available on different hardware devices that I have to buy, as they introduce yet again another technology which is not compatible with the one that everyone has got already.

So, a few manufacturers will now be "licenced" to make the decoders, and we will have to replace all our Freeview boxes and Freesat boxes with another generation of boxes. Sounds like collusion to me Studios + BBC + Box makers + LCD TVs all scratching each others back.

The introduction of DRM is an ongoing theme in media distribution, first in music: the CD has no DRM, but as soon as higher quality music is demanded (HD Audio on disk and download) the labels insist on DRM (the SACD and the DVD-Audio disk and any HD Audio downloads) - at least for music it is not working and DRMed material is not being purchased by consumers. But the same is happening for video, first the Blu-ray disk and now HD TV with DRM. This is an assault on our rights. I have the right to view and resell media I have purchased, DRM stops me doing that. I have the right to play the media on any device I have purchased, DRM stops me doing that (copyright might also, but the DRM is used just to more finely grade the copyright).

So, why doesn't the BBC stand up to the studios and say no to their DRM. Several others are doing just this. Studios and Labels cannot continue to live in the old industrial-age and control the channels of distribution, they have to move to the internet age where information travels freely. I am not supporting file sharing, or breaking copyright, but artists have to be paid in a different way, not via vast media moguls. I believe that the studios and the BBC have to create a new business model that acknowledges the dis-aggregation of the internet. The issue is similar to what is happening in the music and publishing industries, and now its hitting TV.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

What do you think of China?

What do you think of China? Because I don't know.

I admire their work ethic, how could they have come so far so quickly, they have, with our help/connivence, caught up with western technology - just look at the Chinese rip-offs of eReader Kindle and many other electronic devices.

Of course a lot of the ideas they have are stolen from western companies, they rampantly steal copyright material (music, software), they steal Intellectual Property (designs, patents). But who is to say our own copyright/IP protection system is not too tight and inhibits creativity? Look at the squabble just starting between Apple and Nokia, who both want to have the other's products banned from import into America because of patent claims.

Every T shirt on the high street and much of everything else we wear, comes from China. We lose style, but gain price. Have we found our own price point?

They have the death penalty. And I am absolutely against that. In fact the Chinese state murders more people in a year than anyone else. That is truly shameful. We have the European Declaration of Human Rights and stick to it, although the Conservatives want to change this...

They have persistently undervalued their currency and violently distorted the financial markets, hoarding huge amounts of dollars and euro, but not floating the Yuan. They have used these dollars and euro to buy up western and african assets for future exploitation. But we could have seen this coming, our bankers just stuck their heads in the sand and continued to rip people off and make huge profits.

They censor every media, especially the internet - Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and thousands of other free expression web sites are block by the "Great Firewall" of China. But we are ourselves fighting backwards thinkers who want to restrict the internet's ability to freely transfer information.

They engage in computer hacking and cyber attacks - read what Google has to say about that last week. But then who knows what GCHQ get up to.

But they are a people. part of our world, we could make a similar case out of almost any nation. And they do contribute to world culture.

What do you think of the Chinese?

Saturday, 16 January 2010

And it could cost you £250,000 this Digital Bill

So you have a WiFi network which is open, as many people do - out of choice or because you don't understand the technology.

And someone next door joins your WiFi, and your router gives him an IP for his computer on the internet, which is what it does (it re-routes information sent to your IP by address translation to the one it gives him).

Under the new Digital Bill you are now classed as an ISP since you provided an IP.

Since you are now an ISP you have obligations under the proposed bill: if the person next door downloads copyright material and the owner complains, then you have to send him a warning letter. Failure to do so could mean a fine of up to £250,000! If he persists and you do not send him the required 3 letters and do not also inform the copyright owners about him, you can definitely be prosecuted.

Of course the same goes for free WiFi provided by Pizza Express, Costa coffee, McDonalds,etc. They could do it, but they will have to maintain a log of every one who connects, it's expensive, and be able to trace them, it's impossible they just wandered in for a coffee...

Same goes for your local, or the British Library.

So says Lilian Edwards is professor of internet law at Sheffield University

Excuse me! This is ridiculous.

Here we go again - Bah to the Digital Bill

The Government has come under a lot of pressure about clause 17 in the Digital Economy Bill which as proposed permitted them to change future copyright law without any debate in parliament. Now they have proposed this new clause:

"The Secretary of State may by order amend Part 1 or this Part for the purpose of preventing or reducing any infringement of copyright by means of the internet if satisfied that (a) the infringement is having a serious adverse effect on businesses or consumers, and (b) making the amendment is a proportionate way to address that effect."

Read that carefully and you will see that copyright law can be changed now if needed by "businesses or consumers". Well what about artists? They are the one copyright protects not the big business labels! But that is exactly the issue that has been perverted.

We are still getting no where in the label's fight against progress in the music industry, where big labels today ask artists to sign away their (song and recording) copyrights in return for promotion, and to enable labels to hand onto the distribution channels (CD, MP3, iTunes etc) and make huge profits.

What has to happen is the industry must move on and promote what artists and consumers want: promotion and sales direct on the internet. Cutting out the labels, the collection agencies and all those people who take 90% of CD costs and put it in their own pockets and give artists just 10%. In no other industry does the core business get rewarded so little.

Again I encourage you to support artists and complain to your politician. Tell him the government doesn't get it, and must not pass this bill which just goes to support a dying business model and does not support artists. What is needed is a bill that supports artists and the development of new, legal, easy ways to download quality music. One we will all willingly support.


And by the way guess who has publicly supported this bill: here are the names

Brendan Barber TUC, Kim Bayley Entertainment Retailers Association, Tony Burke Unite, Lavinia Carey BVA, Phil Clapp Cinema Exhibitors' Association, David Collier England and Wales Cricket Board, Simon Juden Publishers Association, Chris Marcich MPA, John McVay Pact, Gerry Morrissey Bectu, Fran Nevrkla PPL, Christine Payne Equity, Kieron Sharp Fact, Michelle Stanistreet NUJ, Richard Scudamore Premier League, John Smith Musicians Union, Geoff Taylor BPI

That is all industry, but not a single artist.


and don't let's forget that for each CD sold the Government gets £2.50/album VAT. If CDs die and music is sold at a realistic price on the internet, this cold be reduced to £0.5/album or so...

Friday, 15 January 2010

The Solar Solution - the only solution

Solar power is our only salvation. Look at the numbers:

Total world energy consumption = 678quadrillion Btu/year = 7.15 exajoules by 2030 (44% increase over 2008). Converted to kWh = 199721 TWh/year

Solar energy arriving = 0.16kW/m2 (at 20% eff)
Sun shines for 70% of days (World wide), = 250days @ 8hrs/day = 2000hrs per year of sunlight
So a m2 solar panel = 0.16*2000 kWh /year = 320kWh

So we need 199000000000000/320 m2 of panels to power the world = 497,000 km2 = Area of Spain.


170,000 km2 of forest is destroyed every year, so if we made solar panels at the same rate we would need 3 years to power the world.

The Sahara desert (at 9,000,000 km2) is 18 times the area needed to power the world.

If everyone covered their motorways with panels, at the speed they build the motorways, it would need about 35 years to power the world.

If we cover all the worlds golf of courses this would provide 10% of the world energy needs.


Of course we need a lot of ultra-capacitors/batteries to provide the energy when the sun in not shining.


In comparison

Wave power can provide < 1% of the world's energy needs. By damming all available rivers hyrdo-electricity can provide < 2% of the world's energy needs.

Wind power can provide the needs but we need 11,000,000 turbines and we would need 5,900,000km2 to put them on. For the UK's energy needs we would need 100,000km2 of wind turbines on the west coast of Ireland (186,000 turbines)


Solar panels are going to have to do most of the work (we need at least 10x10m each in UK), but a diversified solution is best as it is doubtful we can make enough solar panels in the time we have available as energy needs grow and oil (20years) and uranium (80 years) run out.

START WORRYING NOW or their will be unthinkable consequences. more info at Land Generator Org

Spring is here

Not in line with my usual gloomy posts, I came across this lovely photo of blossom and could not help myself adding the words "Spring is here" to the picture.

After all that snow in UK and, here in Greece lots of rain and unusually cold weather, it is great to look forward to spring and summer.

Screen shot 2009-12-11 at 09.48.35.png

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

You have changed. Tell your MP.

Copyright Business

An entire generation is disregarding copyright law. it is not seen as useful anymore. "Information", they say, "wants to be free". Music file sharing is "normal".

Copyright law is intended to make sure artists get paid.

But copyright today is actually a big business for large corporations - Warner, Universal, Sony, EMI - to earn £M's. We have had the dot-com bubble, the housing bubble, next is the copyright bubble, ready to burst.

Copyright has been corrupted by the big labels who make all the money - for every £10 CD you buy, the artist get only £1, the government gets £2.50 in VAT!

Labels do this by insisting that artists sign away their copyright for songs and recordings, so they can control the sales and make even more money from back-catalogues. The payback, they say, is in the promotion and distribution of the work.

Enter the internet

The internet has created a way to do two things, share our views and deliver our needs.

The internet has changed everything, it has destroyed the Labels business model: artists no longer need the Labels to promote their work, nor to deliver it.

Labels can no longer keep artists captive with "Copyright = Promotion" contracts, nor the music delivery chain, CD manufacturing - distribution - retailing, under their control.

Bribery and corruption

Big business is bribing our government to attack us through the new Digital Economy Bill having ISPs monitor our internet traffic, which will cost £500M/year and we will have to pay. When you are suspected of file sharing they will send you threatening letters and the labels will sue for damages.

But this won't change people's attitudes. The battle is lost. Thank goodness. All we have to do is stop our elected government doing what the labels want, and have them do what we want. That is to force a change in the Label's business model.


So if the purpose of copyright law has been corrupted, has it any further use in today's society?

Yes it has, but not in the hands of big business.

No one disagrees that artists should be paid, and this does not happen when you download a file, but don't pay for it. So file sharing is wrong.

The problem is that the Label's current business model is wrong in the internet age. We need a new model where artists can offer their products and get paid. This is growing and consists of two parts:

- Get known through social networks/relationships and viral marketing (promotion)

- Have a path to market through direct artist-to-consumer downloads (delivery)

You have only got to look at the phenomenal viral spread of Susan Doyle's songs through YouTube to see what I mean.

This is a challenge for a new entrepreneur, is this you?

Write to them

On a philosophical front, think about it, our Government is pushing for all its services to be provided over the internet. But takes exactly the opposite action to support music distribution on the internet by proposing the Digital Economy Bill (now in its first committee stage) that supports the outmoded Copyright-based business model.

Go to the web site They Work For Us and find your MP. Then write to them and stop the Digital Economy Bill file sharing provisions (the bill has a number of other aspects which are OK).

You might also want to read this The Copyright Bubble

Saturday, 9 January 2010

In reply to the Minister responsible for the Digital Bill.

So I wrote to my MP, as did a lot of other constituents, and the minster replied with the usual bullshit from the Government. My reply to him is:

The minister doesn't get it.

1 What is going on in the music business is called "disaggregation" that is the split of supply and customer from previous lines: we don't buy albums and CDs anymore, we buy tracks, we don't buy physical media CDs anymore we download from iTunes.
The same is happening in the newspaper industry, we don't buy newspapers anymore, we read articles on the internet sites. The same is happening in the book publishing market with e-readers... and will this year spread to glossy magazines as full colour tablet PCs arrive on the market.

2 What the music industry does not seem to comprehend, much to their loss is that, of the download business, Apple's iTunes has 70% market share, Amazon has just 8% and the others trail that. Music streamers are just nothing and make no money.
By selling CDs they are just trying to milk a dying cow.

3 Apple may have 70% market download share and more music is available streamed, not on CDs. But the music fidelity of the product goes down and down as you move from CD to Apple iTunes to Amazon MP3 to streaming. In the end all is lost, and the artists who spend lots of time creating high quality music have no channel to deliver this to the consumer. This is why the CD hangs on to sales, not because they are 'creative albums". The music industry does not get it, they need a higher quality download chain to replace the CD.

4 File sharing is one way for people to get hold of CD quality tracks fidelity without buying a complete album on a CD. That is a strong and unfulfilled motivator. So they do it, and will continue to do it until their needs are met.

5 As a not insignificant point: the music labels claim they lose £1.7B in sales as a result of downloading. The ISPs claim it will cost them £500M to monitor the internet. Who pays?
If the music labels want to protect their business, they should pay. Not the customers who use the services of the ISPs.

If they don't want to pay, they should either change their business model or suffer the consequences of a market operating as markets should. Without Government interference.

6 Look at some of the numbers. A CD costs £12.99. Of this the artists gets £1.03! The Government gets more than this as VAT - £2.69 from the sale of the CD and cost of the CD from the label to the distributor.

These charts show the money flow for sales of CDs, look at who earns what!

Music biz.001.png

Music biz.002.png

Now tell me that this supports artists, it does not, they get less than 10% of the CD sales price!

But it does tie them by binding contracts, in which they sign away their copyrights to the label business, which profits entirely from the old fashioned CD sales chain. Many artists today are seeking to break away from this and go independent, and many are successfully promoting themselves through social media (Facebook etc) and selling downloads directly to the public. This trend will only increase unless the labels change their business model. Which they won't if it is supported by the Government through the misguided Digital Bill.

7 It seems to me only time that a new service like Apple's iTunes will start which will take artists music and make it available in high fidelity directly, by-passing the labels... the consequence of a market operating as markets should.


The Government should not interfere with the market, it should let it operate, the labels have the means to combat file sharing if the chose to. They have not yet woken up to the new realities. Artists need a creative outlet not a moribund business model which captures them in its claws.

Death of CDs, Newspapers, etc

What we’re seeing is the disaggregation of a media form. We don’t buy albums; we buy singles. We don’t buy newspapers or magazines; we aggregate, curate, and link to the best stories we like, bypassing editors’ packaging. We don’t go to bookstores to get the books the system decides to put on the shelves; we buy what we want from iTunes & Amazon. We listen to radio less and listen to our own playlists more (a trend that will only accelerate as we listen to new forms of radio on our phones). Now we will end up picking and choosing TV channels and even shows, diminishing the power network and station programmers’ and cable's hold over us.
At the highest level, what we’re seeing is the death of the mass audience — and the value of distribution — and the advertising model that supported it.

I don’t think advertising is dead. I think it’s dying for mass companies with high cost structures. Advertising will migrate to new media and new forms. News Corp. knows that; every media & CD label company finally does.

So I think we’re seeing News Corp. and Labels milk the dying cash cow. Newspapers aren’t going to grow and will shrivel and sometimes die. The value of local stations is only going to shrink. CD sales are on the way down. So these industries are begging for cash wherever they can get it, including the UK Government.

But that is sheer interference in a perfectly valid market place. We should not approve the UK Digital Bill, we must write and tell our MPs so.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Who pays?

Soon parliament will debate a new Digital Bill, with the proposals to have ISPs monitor everyones downloading, and report back to the music industry if these are excessive - which could possibly be "file sharing". This could cost us all increased broadband costs, but:

1 Piracy, the music industry claims it loses them £1.7B/year

2. The new proposed legislation will cost ISPs £500M/year

3. Should customers pay their ISPs for this?

4. No, if the music industry wants to protect its business then its going to cost them £500M/year out of the £1.7B they say they will earn...

Let's stand up for our rights today and stop this snivelling government pouring yet more money into a broken industry. The music business has done nothing to implement easy fast and useful internet downloading of music, but it is stil ripping off artists like crazy - they get £1 from every £10 CD sale. The music industry is broken. We should not pay to continue their stupidity, and line their pockets.

It's the Internet, stupid

Many of the traditional media delivery chains are coming under tremendous pressure, from the open internet delivery, to change or disappear. This will have a huge impact on the business models of large corporations (as already iTunes has had on the music business)

Cable, TV, CD, printed news are all locked-up delivery chains. With strong control by and allegiance to vested interests - Virgin, BBC, EMI/Warner, News Corp, etc

The destruction of the standard models for media delivery is happening because the internet is not a locked-up pipe. The future will be the destruction of the traditional supply chains through the introduction of new technology

- YouTube et al

- BBC iPlayer/Canvas

- MP3 downloads

- Tablet news viewers, e-books

Our BIGGEST problem to participate in this revolution is the broken state of broadband delivery in the UK - through multiple carriers none of whom is strong enough to provide a fast, blanket service. If we are to have internet delivery of all our media, then broadband has to be delivered like a public service (water, electricity, sewage, rubbish collection...). No amount of competition or merging will achieve this, we have to deal with the internet like the railways, common network, individual operators, and make it a public service for all.

Same world, poor world

Want our world to stay the same? Then its time to change the way we live.

For 10,000 years the world has been in a stable state which has enabled the growth of humanity.

But now we are breaking this by our activities - one of the most talked about is global warming or climate change, for which we are responsible.

Our actions have now become the main driver of global environmental change.

Environmental changes which previously occurred naturally and stayed within the earth's ability to regulate the effects, are being exceeded. In the past temperatures, freshwater availability and bio-geo-chemical flows stayed in a narrow range. Now, due to over consumption of fossil fuels, population explosion and industrial agriculture we are about to damage the planet.

We are consuming nature's resources and creating emissions 44% faster than nature can regenerate and reabsorb the waste. It takes the earth 18 months to produce the ecological services that we need in ONE year. We cannot continue to have "growth" based on our current life style.

The result will be irreversible! With abrupt environmental change, leading to a cessation of human development. This is science not politics.


What are our "Planetary Boundaries" or safe operating spaces? Most are defined by critical variables, like the concentration of CO2 int he atmosphere.


Green is the safe operating space

Red is our current position


Here are the numbers, pre-industrial and current (& proposed limit)

CO2 280 -> 387 ppm (350)

Forcing 0 -> 1.5 Wm2 (1)

Biodiv 1 -> >100 species extinct/10M/yr (10)

Ncyc 0 -> 121 Mt/yr N removed from air for our use (35)

Pcyc -1 -> 9 Mt/yr flowing into seas (11)

Ozone 290 -> 283 depletion (276, goes down)

Acid sea 3.4 -> 2.9 (2.5, goes down)

Water use415 -> 2600 km3/yr (4000)

Land use Low -> 11.7 (15) % cropland

Aerosols tbd

Polution tbd

As you can see the boundaries for 3 systems - biodiversity loss, climate change and human interference with the nitrogen cycle - have already been exceeded. Why?

1. Climate change by over use of fossil fuels as our primary energy source

2. Biodiversity loss by increasing world population and resource exploitation, driving other species to extinction.

3. Nitrogen cycle due to over intensive, fertiliser use in farming.

Full article at Nature September 2009