Today’s Ignorance Courtesy of Bjørn Rogstad

April 21, 2009

Yesterday EMI Music representative Bjørn Rogstad responded to a recent study that found “illegal” music downloaders buy 10x more music than those who do not download music illegally:

There is one thing we are not going away [from], and it is the consumption of music increases, while revenue declines. It can not be explained in any way other than that the illegal downloading is over the legal sale of music

Translation: According to Bjørn, illegal downloads are responsible for declining revenues in the music industry.

Simply put, Bjørn Rogstad is an idiot.

The music industry is losing money because its distribution platform has fundamentally changed over the past 15 years.  This is not an opinion but a fact.  A fact that is even understood by the record labels.

The biggest difference is evidenced by services like Pandora, Playlist, and MySpace Music; namely that people can legally listen to whatever music they choose for free. There is no longer less of a need to buy music albums or tracks because they can be streamed live, on demand, over the internet.

It is unfortunate that this blatant falsehood of so-called illegal music downloads is still given weight in public discourse, but I guess that’s what happens when a marketer/promoter is charged with talking business strategy.

An Incredible Moment in Technology

March 11, 2009

You’re in a store looking at DVDs.  You photograph the barcode of a movie with your phone.  By the time you get home the movie is downloaded on your computer (free).

Necessary tools:

  1. Google Android Phone.  (Right now T-Mobile’s G1 is the only option but more models from other carriers are coming soon)
  2. BitTorrent (download here)
  3. (or any other BitTorrent tracker)
  4. Torrent Droid
  5. Watch and learn

(or you could just pay $9/month and stream any movie you want from Netflix)

You Know You’ve Committed Perjury If…

February 26, 2009

… your testimony is laughable… literally. From the Pirate Bay trial in Stockholm, Sweden (aka record companies v “illegal” music downloaders):

Pirate Bay Defense Attorney: Would people have purchased every music track they got free from file sharing?

John Kennedy IFPI CEO: Yes

Courtroom: Hahahahahahahahahahahahahah

I’m speechless. Obviously the college kid who gets $50/week allowance from his parents but has a hard drive with 1 million downloaded songs could not have purchased every track he acquired “illegally.” This kind of closed-minded arrogance expressed by Mr. Kennedy’s testimony (that he knows full well to be false) is exactly why the archaic record companies are and should be struggling.

The Coolest Moment in the History of Apple Computers

December 19, 2008

The Face of the Recession in Silicon Valley

December 17, 2008

(A take-off of Bob Dylan’s Subterranean Homesick Blues music video)

It’s Official: New Media Journalism is Legit

December 8, 2008

In the last couple of weeks two seemingly unrelated events occurred.  Nov 26 – Nov 29: terrorists carried out ten coordinated attacks, killing nearly 200 civilians in India.  Nov 30: the UK’s Times erroneously reported a Microsoft/Yahoo deal in which Microsoft would acquire Yahoo’s search business for $20b.

What’s important is how the two events were covered by traditional versus new media.  In short, new media triumphed.

Regarding terrorism in India –

It took established news organizations 2-3 hours on average before they were able to provide any kind of substantial information on the attacks.  Meanwhile, there were hundreds of online outlets with real time updates from private citizens giving first hand accounts of the incidents.

A great summary of the events as well as a list of some of the best new media news sources can be found here at Matthew Ingram’s blog; but the point is throughout the attacks more and better information was available on Flickr, Youtube and Twitter than on CNN, ABC or the BBC.

Yes the information online may not have been as accessible to the average, non-tech savvy user but that’s irrelevant.  The model and legitimacy of new media journalism was proven.

The issue with the Times’ false story is more of the same.  The Times, a well established news media source, published a story that was patently false (and over a week later the article is still up on their site).  However, tech blogs like Techcrunch reported on this false story within minutes – first questioning the validity of the story and hours later discounting it entirely.

The point isn’t to bash traditional media.  However, so many from that community have been unjustifiably dismissive of new media news coverage that it’s fun to see them wiping a little egg off their sour visages.

How Not to Pitch Your Company

November 3, 2008

An email I received today from a prospective business partner:

Your name: Tory

Your Country: USA

OleOle Username:

Your Comment:


I know that probably gets as many dubious “business proposals” as which I represent. I can only hope that you smart enough to tell a good proposal from a bad one. I have a good one for you if you’re interested in listening to it. Are you?

I removed the name of the company b/c I’m not going to plug their “service” but was in the original email. Wow.

The Importance of Crediting the Competition

October 30, 2008

I’ve previously written about the importance of properly identifying the competition.  However, that post didn’t go far enough.  It’s not enough to simply know who the competition is, you must know why the competition is.  You must become their biggest proponent, take a walk on the dark side and sympathize with rival supporters.

In other words “to beat one, you must become one”…

Take business.

Sunkist Naturals is a Silicon Valley start-up that astonishingly sells juice rather than technology.  A large part of their success can be directly attributed to their obsession over the competition – from production to marketing.  For example, the size of the company was determined by being small enough to create a quality product – e.g. use premium ingredients and a state-of-the-art packaging facility with 0 oxygen – but large enough to get their product on the shelves of 5,000 stores nationwide.

Sunkist Naturals understands the pros and cons of being a large manufacturer/distributor in their vertical and effectively positioned themselves to enjoy the best of both worlds (sizable distribution while maintaining quality standards).

Thanks to Robert Scoble for the tip on these guys

Take politics.

Imagine how effective a candidate’s speech would be if it took the following form:

Today I’m going to talk about X.  My opponent’s policy is a,b,c.  People support that policy because d,e,f.  People criticize that policy because h,i,j.

My policy is z,y,x.  People support my policy because w,v,u.  People criticize my policy because t,s,r.

Ultimately, my opponent’s policy is good because k,l,m.  However, I believe my policy is better because I value p,o,n more than k,l,m.

(as an interesting aside notice how difficult it is to read examples in reverse alphabetical order – i.e. the second paragraph – as opposed to those in alphabetical order)

The best thing a politician could do to is give his/her opponent’s policies the strongest possible support and then explain why his or her own policies are still better.  What then could be the opponent’s response – you did a better job explaining my own position than I have…?

Identify, understand, and support the competition.  Then worry about beating them

The Future of Information: Fark

October 7, 2008

Information is more readily accessible today than ever before.  Google can answer most questions in under a tenth of a second.  Wikipedia has indexed over 10 million topics, exponentially more than a traditional encyclopedia or dictionary.  News stories break in real time.

With all of these advancements in the volume and availability of information, why has there been relatively little improvement in the knowledge level (for lack of a better term) of the general public over the same period of time?  It’s actually pretty simple – while useful, factual information is abundant so too is information that is irrelevant, incorrect, or of poor quality.

Consider the following analogy.  You and I are sitting in a room, I whisper something to you but you can’t hear me.  So I speak louder but as I speak I also turn up the volume of the radio sitting between us.  The result is you still can’t hear what I’m saying very well.  This is what has happened thus far in the so called “information age” – data is louder (more accessible) but just as difficult to hear (find).

What does this mean?  First, search is in its infancy.  Currently search engines pull from multiple data points to find the most relevant information of the highest quality.  Increasing the number of data points will naturally work to refine the search.  That’s what Facebook, Microsoft and Google are all working on now by building social applications on top of their search technology.  In the very near future you’ll be able to view search results that are not only relevant to your query but also to the group of contacts you have in your email, IM, social network, or any other online community.  For example, I could conduct a search for a work related topic and the search engine would return results co-workers (pulled from my Outlook account) or professional contacts (pulled from LinkedIn) had found useful for the same topic, ranked by amount of time spent on the sites and number of repeat visits.  Pretty cool, right?

But that’s only part of the solution.  We’re still talking in mathematical, formulaic terms.  What about a personal touch?  Regardless of the level of sophistication in search algorithims there will always (although I hesitate to speak in such absolute terms) be a demand/need for some kind of human oversight.

Call it an editor, call it an internet guru, but for everything I do online (blog, buy goods/services, look for news and information, conduct traditional keyword searches, etc) I want someone or some thing to recommend completely random things that I care about but few have found/are aware of.  This is the premise behind services like Reddit, Digg, and Stumbleupon but all fall short in that they rely on a voting system so something has to become popular before I learn about it.

Another site called Fark does things a bit differently by employing real humans to select a small number of user submitted links that they find interesting or funny.  As a result, Fark does a much better job at consistently posting links its readers enjoy because there’s human oversight and thus no way to game the system.  I want Fark for the entire internet – search, e-commerce, entertainment… everything.

Not possible/scalable?  No, today it is not but tomorrow it just may be 🙂

Update: We have a nice little discussion going in the comments section.  Mr. David O. brought up some good points and I was able to explain my position a bit more succinctly .

Greatest Moment in Bush’s Presidency – Bailout Bill Fails House Vote

September 29, 2008

No hyperbole.  If the Bailout Bill ultimately fails to pass, it will be looked back upon as the single greatest thing to happen to America during George W. Bush’s presidency.

It’d take a few hours to properly explain how utterly stupid the Bailout Plan is – we’d have to get into the common misconceptions of Keynesian Economics (aka “Priming the Pump”), the discrepancies between today’s bill and the Iaccoca lead bailout of Chrysler in the early 80’s, how the dot com boom spawned irresponsible lending practices under Clinton and were further worsened by Bush and the Federal Reserve after 9/11, the difference between the Federal Reserve and the Department of Treasury, how our national debt is funded, as well as what a proposal like this would look like in the business world and why this bill is laughable in comparison.

You don’t have a few hours?  Neither do I.  Ignoring the trivial fact that no one to date has been able to quantify the short or long term benefits of this bailout – the best argument for the plan is “it’s our only option” or “not doing so will result in an economic crisis” (if this is really the case why has no one been able to explain how this will happen in concrete terms?) – how about answering one very simple little question: where is the bailout money coming from?

The taxpayers, right?  But we have a national debt of 10 Trillion dollars, so that’s not really true.  Our taxes don’t even cover the current budget, let alone an additional $700 billion – $1.2 trillion.

The Federal Reserve sells Securities (US Government backed IOU’s) every three months to finance America’s spending.  So the short answer is the +700 billion will come from the sale of government issued notes, bills, and bonds.  Now keep in mind we have no money to back them, but hey the United States is a big country and our word is pretty well respected (at least for now), so people buy Securities believing we’ll pay them back.

Anyway, the next question is who buys US Securities.  Really anyone can buy them but roughly half are owned by foreign governments and half are owned by the US Government.  Something sound kind of weird there?  Yes, we own approximately half of our own debt.  Where do we get the money to effectively buy our own debt?  Ever heard of the Social Security Fund, maybe the Federal Employees Retirement Fund?  Those are the two largest domestic holders of US Securities.  Some nice colorful graphs explaining all of this can be found here.

To recap (1) the US government has no money to use for a bailout (2) so, it would have to borrow money from American citizen’s retirement funds and foreign governments, but have no assets to back the loans (3) the amount borrowed would be equal to 10% of the existing national debt (that’s a lot)

What do you think will happen if a foreign government calls in their debt (admittedly doubtful) or the baby boomer generation reaches retirement (absolutely certain)?

(hint: a heck of a lot worse economic crisis than what we’re facing today)

Update: Congress ultimately passed an ammended version of the Bill described here.  It’s better than the original plan but still not in the best interest of our county’s long term future.