Latest read: The Wealth of Networks

I have been looking at The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom as a learning tool for social networks impacting society and found this a very deep read….like a college econ/sociology textbook.  Caught myself thinking I was actually back in school. This goes much deeper than Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies.

Harvard law professor Yochai Benkler has written a very comprehensive book to describe conflicts between analog and digital data creators in society and how internet based technologies are changing society and commerce.

It’s a good read but hard to grasp due to a focus on economics. Don’t be fooled the by title if your looking at computer networks….he has written it into the binding that ties his arguments together.  It is truly worth the read.

Benkler shares how technology has merged the professional and the consumer into a ‘prosumer’ due to low cost and high performing computers and robust networks have made distribution of information cheap enough that community is now empowered to drive change.

Take a look at how the internet has evolved.  The Akami to YouTube migration showed how multimedia has found a free, reliable distribution center.  When you also migrate 1st generation complex, large scale websites to new blogs and content management systems under the open source business model Benkler states that data is now a “non-rival” product that has democratized the digital workflow of data from brick and mortar to community, peer-developed content solutions.

Benkler suggests modern computing drives new, strong and deep collaboration that can have a large impact on the global economy and society.  Benkler also suggests that as more consumers embrace technology collaboration, change to our culture is possible due to engines of free exchange (wikipedia, creative commons, open source and the blogosphere) could be more efficient (when shared) than current models that are restricted by copyright and patents because the ability to duplicate (or reproduce digital content) makes little or no impact on business.

Tags: The Wealth of Networks, Social Technologies, economy, society, Yochai Benkler, education, change, reading, trends

Latest read: Remix

Regrettably the Vancouver Olympics interrupted my reading pattern and its been a slow recovery.  I blogged about this book as soon as I learned it was in production back in August.  Yikes!

Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid EconomyI have been following Larry Lessig‘s work on copyright and our digital culture for some time, reading his positions online, previous books and keynote addresses at TED, Wired and last week to Italy’s Parliament among others.  His work on Creative Commons is a direct action from the creative limitations of copyright.

His latest book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy is a very easy read for anyone who has also known his work.  He tells an important story about how new technology is clashing with old money.

Lessig illustrates how copyright’s old money (the big media empires) are clashing with today’s society and technology.  Old money is winning financial amounts here and there, but ultimately they are cutting their own throat as they can no longer control content.  Their motto: since we cannot have it our way anymore (due to the easy distribution of digital content) we are going to sue as many people as we can and take outrageous amounts of money along the way.

Lessig simply points out the two different camps: Read-only versus Read-Write.  Look at popular consumer phones and computers.  Today anyone can create a short video and post it to YouTube.  And by today’s “standard” in social networking — your somewhat expected to post multimedia content on Facebook and YouTube for example.

But post a 29 second video of a baby dancing to Prince’s Lets Go Crazy and Universal Music (they own Prince and his music) files a lawsuit claiming copyright violations.  Its old money trying to control society and Lessig points out it clearly no longer works.

Continue reading “Latest read: Remix”

Latest read: Outliers: The Story of Success

I’m not sure why it took so long to read Malcolm Gladwell‘s latest book Outliers: The Story of Success but I’m sure glad its just as enjoyable as his books The Tipping Point and Blink. As defined scientifically Outliers is an observation that is numerically distant from the rest of the data.  Gladwell not only shares compelling stories regarding outliers, but shines in conveying the impact of globalization for math students, airline pilots and more importantly control tower operators in NYC.

Gladwell shares that “The Story of Success” is really interesting when you dig deep into statistics. Gladwell addresses this with hockey players.  Yes, hockey players.  There is something amazing about playing a game on ice. Hockey requires speed and grace.  The fact that its not played on grass, sand or wood makes you wonder if there is “one talent” shared by the best hockey players in the world.

Researchers found that great players actually all fall within birth dates ranging from January to April for hockey and even for most soccer teams.  And as Gladwell points out the best hockey players like Gordie Howe, Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretsky, Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemiux and Dominik Hasek all have birth dates that allowed them to play against kids a year younger than them — and to no surprise they were handpicked (at some early stage) to further develop their skills.

Gladwell has taken an interesting angle regarding “success” in what some might even call perfection.  Gladwell tells the story of Bill Joy who not only happened to be at the University of Michigan at the right time (to study computing) but more importantly, took the time to spend countless hours learning and programming when he received access to the mainframe at school.  Actually Gladwell adds up those hours in his chapter called “The 10,000 hour rule” and points out that ‘talent’ can be achieved in 5 years when you practice 5.5 hours everyday.  Once you cross that measurement you have positioned yourself for success. Joy invented BSD Unix and Java.

The same 10,000 hour rule even applied to The Beatles who “had to play for 8 hours” in a strip club in Germany before crossing the Atlantic and ultimately rock n roll fame.  Can you imaging some chap telling his wife he saw them play for hours and hours…funny, but true.  Wonder what the impact would have been in America if word had gotten out about how they perfected their music?

Continue reading “Latest read: Outliers: The Story of Success”

On my reading list

Looking forward to Larry Lessig‘s new book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy.

Larry has documented how the music and movie industries are turning students into criminals because they use cheap software, the internet and their creativity.  His presentation at TED hilights the core principals of his upcoming book.

The power and impact of the digital economy has placed copyright and the old guard clearly on the defensive.  Those aging companies still want the market to be “published” (in analog format) are unwilling to change to the new information economy.
Well okay what I’m really trying to say is they don’t want to give up their revenue streams.

Okay maybe they do understand how the game has changed, yet I’m not sure the impact of how young people are wired has fundamentally changed their business model.

Actually I’m hoping Remix may also hilight how the RIAA should be chasing down the millions of pirates in China rather than students in America.  Larry is proving what everyone under 30 already has accepted as a fact of life…They have never been forced to purchase a majority of their entertainment in analog format.  Should be a great read!

Whats new is now old

Microsoft’s Photosynth was a hit at TED last year and looked to be really promising regardless of running only on XP SP2 and Vista (shame on you Microsoft) but the same team along with the University of Washington has moved forward with new photo, video and VR technologies:

This should be a very interesting mashup of multiple media formats.  Great work and a wonderful tool for education.

Tags: Photosynth, photo, virtual reality, panaoramic, globalization, trends