Friday, March 21, 2008

New things under the Sun

Right clicking enabled me to “copy” and “paste” the item unto my hard drive. 730mb of moving picture, 1hour 30 minutes of movie time. It was a brilliant movie that out on cinema. Story line: Two men in the hospital ward (One poor, black and principled man, the other white, rich and crazy) received information that they would die within 6 to 12 months. The film was took their life before the day it happened. I got the soundtrack off the internet afterward (that was the bomb).

But later it hit me; I just consumed material that could have taken ten years to develop. And I did it all for free? Is it that easy?If it continues this way, quality of movies will drop (as Hollywood ceases to become a viable investment). This could affect musicians, writers, software developers and those who activities can be threaten by what goes on online. The Wiki-world Order would emerge. Content provided by bloggers and products of the Web 2.0 generation. As much as I hate paying for content online, the Wiki-world does not exactly do it for me. Don’t get me wrong, I use firefox and wikipedia. I also enjoy reading other blog. But that can only fulfil part of your desires. There are limits to how the Wiki idea can sustain movie production and musical entertainment. The Wiki ideology will be able to enable content comes only from those who have passion for it. But quality content goes beyond passion. Time has to be dedicated for experiments and research. But that is only possible if those investing their time had nothing else to think about. That’s our challenge; how to manage the new things produced under the sun.

This is how I think of it all
The basic challenge of every civilization has always being produce goods that its citizens can consume. And these items must appeal to certain needs and desires at that point in time. Industrial revolution created the opportunity for processes to result where goods are produced faster than present consumption rate. As present consumption expanded beyond threshold points, surviving in industries required new sets of skills; skills that where transferable across board and skills for communicate (and enable the process of communication). This new demand gave rise to computers (instruments that converted electronic pulses into symbols that we understand). Computers created the internet. The internet created a situation where everything is convertible into ones & zeros, bytes and megabytes.

We live in a knowledge based society. From the present horizon, I would be right in saying that as humans we have reached our peak in terms of development of manual skills. The next frontier involves the application of these skills towards handling the challenges we face daily. If we all decide to explore who we are, what we will figure out is that we are products of yesterday’s solution, implying that the today we live in, is a product of frameworks and ideals designed by yesterday’s thinkers towards managing the challenges they faced then. It is a simple fact. Think of your daily experiences and spend sometime researching into their source. You would find out that something as simple as the key on which I type this blog has a history. The pioneers might have been lunatics, but the result of their ideas kicking into contemporary ways, resulted in acceptance, which created an entirely new type of demand that resulted in job opportunities where the regular Joe could contribute his/her own quota (and make the world the way it is today).

But now there is the internet, and all that comes with it. The internet is here to stay and so is piracy. The continuous boom of this sector remains a threat to the survival of other industries that thrive off its existence- a result of misalignment of our collective senses. But there are limits to how much more a lot of industries will develop if its content providers have to focus on other things to do. There is only so much passion can go. Afterwards, the basic needs will start crying for attention.

Take me for example. I enjoy very much my profession but I have recently developed this flair for blogging. The mental reward of constructing an article that is tight in the areas to include use of word, general layout, presentation, and the idea is mentally fulfilling Reading this piece in the future would be euphoric. But it is not sustainable; I don’t get paid.
This may be my niche.
But I cannot invest more time into it, as the rewards cannot be quantified and expressly compared with what I presently enjoy from my present job.
I wonder daily how Jeremy (
http://www.naijablog.blogspot.com/) or the Good Naija Girl (who manages a total of four blogs) gets to do this frequently for no financial reward (or maybe there is some form of benefit that is not glaring; I need to figure that out).

This is my idea
Before I develop further, have these facts at the back of your mind.

  1. There is always a fee to access the internet. The fact that the cost keeps getting cheaper indicates to me that it is a big market. Primary desire of the internet is to either communication or access to content. Content providers don’t get nada.
  2. Softwares exists that are copy protect; implying people cannot copy/past items on them. There should be capacity to prevent unauthorized printing.
  3. Speculation in the stock market creates the atmosphere for new economic activities.

Communicating this idea is complicated without some form of diagram or PowerPoint presentation. My efforts at that will be to talk you through the processes involved as the idea leaves the content provider, satisfy the internet user and comes back as money. This thought is very idealistic (as it might require some changes to current operating platforms). But just read on. It might be real one day.

Imagine an environment exist where people can buy and sell idea, music, and intangible assets. People develop ideas, put it up for sale. Others buy the ideas off them. Everyone wants to make money right? So the question is who would pay the bills? The final consumers via internet access provider.
My model requires five economic agents to function:

  • The content provider
  • Content exchange
  • Content buyers
  • Internet access provider (those who actually charge on a wholesale level)
  • The internet user

The content provider will be someone/an organization that focuses on developing content. Content here (a noun) refers to intellectual properties like music, movies and articles like blogs. For simplicity sake, the modality of him becoming one could be that he registers on the Net as one. He registers with the content exchange for a small fee. Possibly at the start of an internet session, the content provider will log on to his account. Any idea he creates will be stored on his account and ready for trade. The price on his content will be based going market price, demand for his content and information.

But why would anyone want to buy the content's Right? Just read on.

The content exchange will be an environment where content's rights are exchanges. Buyers and sellers meet and trade content. Beyond the role as a market, the content exchange will serve a dual purpose to ensure access to content is accounted for. Accounted for meaning, viewing, printing, copying and downloading of content created by the content provider. Information that will also be cumulated will also include, source of request for information and internet service provider. The fees they will charge will finance the collection of all these information (and research into developing more up to date methods of doing their trade).

The buyer will be companies that have access to the internet service providers. They will review stats on contents and decide if a content is worth their while. "Worth their while" will be determined by how much internet users are accessing the content. This will determine income stream from it. At the end of a given period, they liaise with internet service provider to collect fees that result from users accessing content they have rights to (this information would have been collected by the exchange).

At the time of writing, internet access was not free (I presume it will remain so for a long time). I envisage the price dropping with time; notwithstanding there will be room for content fees. To the user content fee will be a minute fraction of the total cost of internet access (lets say 2 to 5%). The reason why it will be so small is to encourage people agree to use the service. As I do not know the legal implications, I will assume that internet users are empowered to decide what they pay for. Content providers are also empowered in the sense that they decide if on not to allow users download, copy or print their contents. The cost will be determined by assuming the user is downloading, at maximum internet speed capacity, information (at megabytes per seconds) throughout period he/she pays the bill for. The exchange now uses this to calculate the unit cost of a byte and allocates bytes downloaded to the content rights. Example: Lets say a user pay $10 as content charge per month for 30 days internet access with internet speed at 1mb per second. 30 days is 2,592,000 seconds. 1 Megabyte is 100,000 bytes. Cost of a byte could be as low as
3.85 × 10-9 Cent (if you divide $10 by 100,000 bytes and 2,592,000). 1 mega byte of download from that user could earn 3.85 × 10-6 cent to the right owner. Remember this is the globe we are dealing with; so with volume, the returns changes.

Thus buyer will be looking to purchase contents that have high returns, content providers will work on developing contents that will appeal to the audience. The result is, the internet user does not feel the cost, the buyers and sellers have a bubbling market, while the content provider earns enough to sustain their trade.

I don’t think this idea is top notch yet (this article is 44kb on words; I don’t even want to try calculating my earning as I think of the low turnout to my site). But I think it is a good step.

Or what do you think?

8 comments:

goodnaijagirl said...

Well when it comes to movies, I think that Hollywood may try to find cheaper ways to make movies but there are always going to be some people who prefer the experience of going to the movies and some movies have to be seen on the big screen (not the romantic movies I favour but the epic dramas or action movies) to be appreciated.

Musicians are already being affected by applications like Limewire (from the point of view of the profit they make from the sale of an album), so you're very right about that. The prices in cds have dropped significantly and even so, people aren't buying as many cds. It's all about mp3s nowadays. Similarly, music stores are not selling as many cds as before.

- - -
I think people who blog and who sustain it for years do it because they there are benefits that aren't as tangible as a paycheque from it:

*a forum to express yourself
*a record of the person you were at a certain time of your growth
*creating a legacy
*being able to receive feedback from people around the world
*the opportunity to meet people who can challenge you to think or look at things in a different way

I can't deny that it's a time consuming hobby and it's almost impossible to commit the time you should be giving to your job because otherwise you won't have the money to access the computer or internet connection needed. But if you really enjoy an activity, you will make time for it, prioritize it over other things you enjoy doing, and that is how some people to manage to blog so regularly/often.

- - -
Now my comments on your idea. It sort of reminds of how the makers of the ipod have partnered with some musicians to sell mp3s exclusively through itunes and discourage free access to it. Of course many ipod owners only get their music from itunes, but many still get it from from free services or from friends who have already obtained the files, through piracy or not.

I think it would be hard to keep the entire system honest, but that is like any system: there will always be people who will try to hack it.

It would also be hard to encourage people to pay for something that was once free but a change in paradigm is certainly possible. It's a cool idea.

(Currently, bloggers who provide information that is sought after (either for entertainment or education) and who are actually making money from their blogs are doing so through selling the content (such as an e-book that consolidates some of the content available on the blog) or through ads that are posted on their websites and are sponsored by organizations or companies or even individuals. Some oyinbo bloggers who are doing this so successfully that their income comes entirely from their blog are Darren Rowse - http://problogger.net and Heather Armstrong - http://dooce.com)

Mr C said...

I completely agree that those making movies are not hit as those into music production. But the truth is everyone is hit. With everyone finding cheaper ways of doing things, there could be some quality trade-off and some of the experiences we gaged for might be lost.

Yes, people blog for some personal fulfillment, but it does add value. Statements made in blogs could assist in altering certain perception that hindered progress in real areas of human development. And this is done as a hobby. What I am saying is, their output would improve in both qualitative and quantitative terms when bloggers have nothing else to focus on but blogs (and not depend on some Viagra retailer for earnings).

The concept of itunes was actually the source of my idea. I believe one major hindrance to a landslide success is that people are aware they pay (even if it gets as low as 33p).

Mr C said...

Viagra retailer (from what I have seen on the internet) are the once most likely going to use blog sites for adverts.

SOLOMONSYDELLE said...

Nice blog you've got here.


NIGERIAN CURIOSITY
IT WAS SO MUCH EASIER WHEN I ONLY HAD ONE...

Mr C said...

Thanks solomonsdelle.

goodnaijagirl said...

You made me laugh with your "not depend on some Viagra retailer for money" bit.

Hmm, with respect to the quality of the work of bloggers improving if they were paid, I guess that might be true, though I'm not completely convinced of that. In my case as in lots of other people's, we write our best quality right now, gratis. The quantity of quality posts might increase if we're able to blog for a living rather than when we can find a free moment, so on that I agree.

Remi, United Kingdom said...

Hey first time visting. Nice blog, very funny and interesting..
Yes why would I want to buy the contents rights! lol...
Nice one.

Mr C said...

Thanks Remi.
Well, u might want to use the idea for something. I think I deserve some form of earnings for my hard work.

Abi I lie?