MPAA Lets Loose the Dogs of War

snifferdog-701085Just when I thought we might go a whole week without the MPAA making a greedy fool of itself again comes word that the MPAA is training an army of dogs to sniff out all those pirated DVDs.

Of course so far it is an army of two: Lucky (not to be confused with Lucky Dog, our dog who cares not a whit about DVDs) and Flo.

And of course, Lucky and Flo’s noses, as good as they are, can’t distinguish a pirated DVD from a legal one. So I suppose if you carry a DVD through the airport, you may get the drug dealer treatment unless you can prove to the MPAA that you bought the DVD.

What’s next, a flock of movie sniffing pigeons who will join the MPAA in crapping all over its customers?

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Web 2.0 Wars: Quarter-Finals Round Three

The Web 2.0 Wars season has come to an end. The list of winners and playoff brackets were posted the other day.

Here’s how the playoffs will work. After taking a look at my prior commentary about each application, I’ll revisit each application and see what, if anything, is new. I’ll add an update for each contestant and pick the winner.

We are now in the quarter-finals and have already had Round 1 and Round 2. It’s time for the third round in the quarter-finals.

Here are the contestants for the third quarter-final round:

Wikipedia
Flickr
Myspace
Blogger
Pandora

Wikipedia is a collaborative online encyclopedia that has become the best resource on the net, and it’s free. I use it every day and link to it all the time at Newsome.Org.

Flickr is simply the best photo storage, organization and sharing site in the world, period. I use it to store and share photos, to order prints and to make books and posters of my photos. It is an indispensible part of my internet experience.

Myspace is, well, Myspace. I don’t get it, but millions of people do. It has more mindshare at the moment than any other part of the internet. Even non-geeks know what Myspace is.

Blogger is a free blog creation and hosting service. I use it to publish this blog, though my files are hosted on my own server. In fact, I’m typing this post via Blogger.

Pandora maps songs by melody, harmony, rhythm, instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, etc. to create and play groups of similar songs. It works incredibly well and along with Last.fm and Vault Radio, it forms the basis of my internet music listening experience

And the Winner of the third quarter-final round is:

This is a tough one, since I use every one of these applications and services almost every day, except the one that is the most popular site on the internet. I love Pandora and Blogger, but there are other services that do similar things almost as well. Flickr is probably my favorite site on the internet and one of only a few that I actually pay to use. But Wikipedia and Myspace are titans of the internet.

Wikipedia ought to win, but if you give any weight to financial prospects, you simply cannot not pick Myspace.

Myspace moves to the Final Four.

C|Net and the Return of the Bad Old Days

How deep is the online-ad well?

That’s the question and title of an article by Elinor Mills at C|Net today.

The article begins by recalling Bubble 1.0, during which a lot of people, including me, launched web sites and services that were to be supported by online ad sales. Next, of course, it reminds us that for many of those people, it didn’t work out.

A few “industry experts” are claiming that since Ford and P&G are mad buyers of online ads and because more companies buy into the online ad medium, things are just as rosy as rosy can be. Certainly there are more buyers now, which is why all of Web 2.0, Yahoo, Google, AOL, Stowe Boyd, a baby and even Microsoft are making plays to get the advertising dollar while the getting is good.

And I absolutely agree that the decline of some traditional advertising allotments (because no one watches them and they don’t work) has resulted in a renewed, and somewhat desperate, focus on online advertising.

But here’s the thing. We have a confluence of several industries with a vested interest in placing and receiving ad dollars. That’s why everyone is singing the happy song about the long term prospects for online advertising. The reality, however, is that while this song and dance will prolong Bubble 2.0, it will not prevent an implosion once the entire internet hops onto the shoulders of the advertising dollar. Sure, a few people will get rich in the meantime, as more and more of the overall ad dollars chase the mythical internet ad clicker.

But the basic game is the same as last time. And the result will be substantially the same.

In the meantime, we can watch things play out and battle to protect our privacy as more and more targeting (read tracking) technology is tossed out as reason number one why ad buyers should look online.

The ad agencies who look past the low hanging fruit of the internet and develop the next big thing in advertising (whatever that may be) are the ones who should and will get rich. Advertising is at a pivotal point in its evolution. I can’t tell where it’s going yet. I suspect Steve Rubel has a pretty good feel for it. But I know where it’s not going- online. The smart agencies are the ones who see the internet as a rest stop on the way to a more stable destination.

In sum, I don’t agree with everything that’s in the C|Net article, but I am glad to see someone else asking the dreaded question.

Steve Gillmor and the Art of Unnecessary Navel Gazing

Steve Gillmor craps all over Nick Carr about something having to do with Google after apparently having Nick as a guest on his latest podcast, which I used to greatly admire before Steve came out with this non-linking nonsense. Now I think that listening to Steve’s podcast will somehow dilute my brand or my reputation or my credibility or whatever it is that Steve says we should protect by creating a cocoon around ourselves.

Steve, trust me, Nick thinks he’s smarter than you. Although you may be closing in on him in the arrogance department with gems like this (from the same post):

Links produce economic ripples that keep incumbents in charge; removing links puts users in charge. Clicking on a link does not pay the author….

Actually, I don’t think Steve is arrogant at all. I just think he is trying to stuff the blogosphere into a magazine’s hole. They are different animals, Steve, and try as you might, you can’t turn a blog into a magazine. What you can do is turn it into a non-conversational personal web page, circa 1996. You can do that alright. But why would you want to?

Steve seems to have fallen into the Sisyphus trap of basing a blog’s success on the amount of money it makes. That’s like basing the success of a dinner table debate on who pays the check. Both are important, but there is generally no causal relationship.

And while I’m at it, is there any normal person in the world who can decipher this:

[T]he data only starts to speak when you get into the 6 citation and lower range. Above that, the numbers speak to clouds, silos, and their relative opaqueness. Not that that’s bad data; it’s negative gesturing at its root level. GMail, doubleclick, Rojo, Bloglines, etc. It tells us what we already know: Users have agreed to the terms of service in return for what they see as privacy, tools, and ease of use….

Steve, are you trying to be enigmatical? Do you think this sort of top down writing is why blogs are eating magazines’ lunch?

And then, the crown jewel:

Some of my best friends are linkers. Don’t forget to tip your linkers. Don’t want to link? What, and give up show business?

How, exactly, do you think people find your posts Steve? Are lesser beings born with an innate knowledge of where to find your writing? Or anyone else’s? Of course not. They find it via links. Just like I found this post via a link from Dave Winer.

There is more mumbo jumbo in Steve’s post, but when I got to this:

Remember that the greatest yield in time management is the culling of the less interesting. Looked at from a gesture perspective, each affinity link represents a dynamic ecosytem composed of a collaborative group with gestures rippling out and intersecting with other like or unlike-minded affinity systems. Where those emanations are more pronounced and back-referencing, powerful waves are generated. The Beatles are probably the most profound example of such a foldback affinity wave in our lifetimes.

I fell into a deep sleep and dreamed a of place where people just shared ideas and talked about topics of interest, without all the unnecessary navel gazing.

When I woke up, somehow I felt that Steve’s post was, to quote a phrase, “less interesting.”

More Advertising Madness

I read somewhere that a good blog should have a consistent set of themes.

So I guess one of mine has become the idea that advertising dollars simply cannot support the entire internet and all of Web 2.0. I feel pretty certain about this, yet every day I read about some great new venture that some famous blogger (which is sort of an oxymoron) who refuses to link to me thinks will one day be bigger than all four Elvises (Presley, Costello, Grbac and Dutton) and whose only meaningful revenue source is from advertising.

toomanyads

First we have all of Web 2.0.

Then AOL tosses in the towel and decides that since nobody wants a closed internet anymore, it will bet on ad revenue to keep its teetering boat upright. The magical $81M in ad revenue notwithstanding, it won’t work long term. There are only four ways to get rich legally: by birth, by gift, by doing something few others can do and by selling a product. AOL was not born rich, will not be given money because it is already public (no greater fool money for you, Mr. AOL), is now entering a mature market dominated by Yahoo and others, and its product no longer sells.

Of course you can say the same thing about most of Web 2.0, and I have. Over and over.

Meanwhile, TIVO, which is still running around like a chicken with its head cut off, has one-upped itself in the bad idea derby by adding ads on demand to last years’ bad idea champion, searchable ads. It’s like the time Raina and I tried in vain to convince the kids that vegetables were actually a treat. It may sound good, but even a three year old knows it’s a head fake.

Last but not least, Jake takes a page from Stowe‘s book (and apparently a hat from his closet) and wants to become a toddling advertisement for $10,000 a month. If he sells a month of ads he will have made more profit than Stowe and all of Web 2.0 combined.

When the advertising house of cards collapses, there is going to be a lot of carnage.

Why Scoble is Wrong About Second Life’s Kid Policy

Scoble posts about the Second Life rule prohibiting anyone under 18 from using the regular version of Second Life. As Pathfinder Linden, Second Life’s internet ambassador, explained in a Comment to one of my prior posts about the sin-tricity of Second Life, there is a separate Second Life for 13-17 year olds, where no one less than 13 or older than 17 is allowed.

Scoble understands the reason for the rules, but he says he doesn’t like them:

The thing is, I don’t necessarily buy into the rules of society, or the rules of Linden Labs. If I don’t mind my son getting into a Poker game, or seeing a virtual sex act, isn’t that my right as a parent to let my son experience those things?

No. Our puritanical society has set up rules and regulations about such things. If you enter a Las Vegas casino you aren’t allowed to let your kids sit down and play backjack. At least not until they are 21.

I do think the rules suck, though. This is a virtual world. Why do we need to live with first-world rules?

The problem, of course, is that they can’t let Robert’s kids in without letting everyone else’s kids in. And while I have never thought of myself as a Puritan, I don’t want my kids running around in Second Life. Sure, I might one day decide that one or more of my kids are responsible enough to be exposed to this sort of thing, but the only manageable approach with kids’ access is all or none. To try to set up some sort of a parental approval process would be a nightmare. Kids would hang around looking for a willing grownup to sign them in much like we used to hang around outside a convenience store looking for an 18 year old to buy us a six-pack.

If Second Life didn’t have and enforce this rule, thousands and thousands of kids would find a way into Second Life without their parents’ knowledge or permission and you would have a completely unacceptable mix of adults (who unfortunately always seem to gravitate to the R rated stuff- or worse) and kids (who should not be allowed to see or participate in that sort of stuff).

Sure, the lawyers probably told Second Life they’d better put some protections in place, because sadly the internet is a dangerous place for kids. But the fact that Second Life has some controls that may actually work, as opposed to the smoke and mirrors used by MySpace, is a good thing, not a bad thing.

Scoble, here’s all you need to ask yourself to see it my way: if the internet had existed when we were kids, how much time would we have spent trying secretly to find the very stuff we now want to keep from our kids?

I have no doubt that Scoble’s son is a responsible kid who can handle Second Life. But I bet he has some friends who are not and could not. Open the Second Life gates and there would be a ton of other kids running around who are not and could not. Not to mention the kids who aren’t really kids.

Second Life actually needs to do more, not less, to keep our kids out of the adult Second Life and to keep interlopers out of the teen Second Life.

They aren’t creating the patterns of behavior, they are simply reacting to them.

More on the Non-Link Movement

In yesterday’s edition of the RanchoCast podcast, I talked at length about this new movement in the blogosphere begun by a few self-important bloggers who belive that they don’t need to link out to anyone else because linking somehow reduces their influence and credibility.

I think that is about the stupidest thing I have ever heard and if you’d like to hear why, but don’t want to sit through some great music, here’s an excerpt from that portion of the podcast.