Saturday, October 30, 2004

Hughtrain hitting in the forehead

I was wandering around the net after I saw the unbelievable act of picking a Kryptonite lock with a mere pen. The markets are conversations... and the markets did just that. Now Kryptonite is exchanging their defected products to new and better designed ones. Another good example of Cluetrain manifesto. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. Keep the bike in your bedroom and spread the word.

While I was looking for more information I suddenly stumbled upon the Gapingvoid site. I was almost leaving but as an artist by heart, the drawings got my attention. Each post has a creative sketch attached to it. This guy draws pictures on back of business cards. I wonder what Japanese would say about "ruining" their business cards like this.

I dug deeper and spotted the cleverness of the Hughtrain. It seems to be affected by the background in the advertisement industry by the writer but it was like reading my own notes, as one commenter puts it. I found many things I have subconsciously noticed in my job, now being just well-written. I think many other creative persons will feel the same who have been looking after something meaningful to do instead of some brainless jobs-for-money.

Products are conversations and it's not all about products but the process of using them. One have to love using the product not the product itself.
When creating a product, there must be something interesting, insightful and new in it. When you yourself have visions and belief in it, then it's time to explain it to others. Re-inventing existing markets is stupid and often more difficult than creating completely new markets.

I have noticed this lately when I have been going around talking about my vision of the Dicole Network. I'm turning things upside down, making old things interesting by introducing new ways of thinking. When people share my vision and see it in their own way, suddenly the product also becomes meaningful and something fun to play with. So it's not about the product characteristics, it's about what is it like to use it, is it a new and interesting way and how it's going to change the culture one is living in.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Unlock car via SMS, download MP3s, kick some ass

Now this is a cool car. Especially for geeks and alike. These guys are creative, they built a car which allows you to download MP3s from specially enabled petrol pumps, unlock it via SMS text message and transform it's windows into PC screens (although I wouldn't trust my car to run Windows on Windows, imagine what a blue screen would do in the middle of a traffic...).

Well, "one gallon of hardcore techno, please".

The article also features a Ninja TV-Fight suit, which reminds me of Kick Ass Kung-Fu, a system developed in the UIAH Medialab. It allows you to kick some serious ass if you want to and stay in shape at the same time. Check out the presentation video.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Bush tells us about the state of the union

This video is just way too hilarious. Best edit of a G. W. Bush speech I have seen so far.
I guess you have to edit footage of Bush to get the truth out of him.

Monday, October 18, 2004

My notes of the presentation by Joichi Ito at Aula

I was last Thursday listening at Joichi Ito at Aula (Finland) who gave a great presentation about the future of music business. I always appreciate people who are able to give a brilliant and interesting presentation without using any slides. Very skilled.

I recorded some notes of the presentation in my notebook. There were several good points I think I should share with you. My notes in cursive:
  • Joi was in Italy:

    • CreativeCommons copylefters accused as pirates

    • Tone changed once understanding grew.

  • It costs $300, 000 to produce one hit – iTunes sells one for 99c

  • If price is low enough, maybe there will be no piracy:

    • When people are doing file sharing, they are working.

    • If the price is low enough (e.g. 20 cents), people would actually pay instead of working (waiting for download to complete, search for quality sources etc).

  • Music is all about social interaction:

    • Friends recommend, people go file sharing.

    • File sharing increases people's interest in music.

    • This probably results in more record sales as interest in music increases.

  • Social navigation like Amazon's collaborative filtering allows you to discover music and books you have never heard of.

  • 95% of physical CD's are pirated:

    • Most artists lose money on CD's.

    • They make CD's anyway.

    • Cheapest way to market.

    • Let people steal your music to become famous.

  • Music brings people together. Fills the gap between people.

  • Mass media made folk music ”not cool”.

  • Head market is shrinking. We have to focus on tail.

  • Joi's example: LastFM:

    • Creates a profile of your musical taste.

    • Similar to Amazon recommendation of books.

    • Stream music from your personal playlist to others.

    • Chat included.

    • You can add music from playlists of others to your own.

    • Creates playlists similar to your taste.

    • lastfm/user/joi

    • Allows people to share their own music even for money.

    • Allows customers to vote for price of music.

  • Marketing music is difficult:

    • Joi explains a case where Yahoo marketed wrongly and the market was found elsewhere.

    • You never know where your fans are.

    • Collaborative filtering as a solution.

    • You can now theoretically charge 20c per song and still make money – long tail.

  • You can't make Michael Jackson in the long tail:

    • Joi suggests there will be no Jacksons in the future because people are no more paying attention to mass media (Whoa, you should have seen the faces of some music bosses in the room).

  • Musicians are ready to pay to do music if they had no other option. Musicians are ready to make music for no-profit, as long as no one exploits them in a bad way.

  • Pro-Am revolution:

    • Amateurs sharing music, doing music and learning about music.

    • There are a lot of professional musicians, who are not as talented as some amateurs.

    • To become professional, you would have to go to school and buy and learn a lot of things before you can become mainstream.

  • Joi explains Karaoke success in Japan:

    • You want to participate in the creative process.

    • Real market is in the long tail – amateur music.

    • ”Digital tribes”. Digital tribes may now have their own music.

  • Identify your community and provide what they need.

  • Figure out what to sell them.

  • Band becomes a community platform. Allows two-way communication between fans and bands.

  • Flash community as a sharing amateur community – some make music, some make storyboards, some make animation, some make coding etc. They share and put things together.

  • Company is required to clear all copyrights in music business – lawyers create a part of the record expenses.

  • CreativeCommons is good because it decreases the parasitic cost. Allows content to be more fluently shared.

  • Delivery and discovery business. Delivery is free (P2P). It's all about how these communities develop.

  • Moving to world where everyone has their own voice. Internet is like a radio – they promise all kinds of crap.

  • In Google individual weblogs come up in searches.

  • Joi quotes someone I don't remember by name: Democracy is not about giving everyone a vote – real democracy is giving everyone a voice.

Then I wrote down my question to Joi, which he didn't quite answer but the answer was great anyway:

You talk about the fact that Internet enables part of the distribution and lawyer profits to decrease, leaving us collaborative filtering which is helping people to find stuff in the long tail. Sounds like local distribution is about to disappear. That actually the long tail becomes more profitable and the market size of the long tail is bigger than the head (mainstream stuff). When is this going to happen? When are these communities going to take off on a wide scale? 5 years? 10 years? What are the obstacles that could break this idealistic approach? How DRM (digital rights management) relates to it: is it harming or supporting the future you describe?

My point was that this is no way mainstream, yet. Generally speaking people are not yet discovering the long tail online but probably some day will. Sure there are examples already that lead the way but general public is not yet aware of what they are missing at the moment.

Also, I think the big media empires might react very aggressively in this change and try to lock-in people in the old world (with DRM etc.) until they figure out it's impossible and change their business plan. It will hit their forehead pretty soon.

This is where I closed my notebook and just listened other people asking questions. There were some interesting points about blogging and how record companies are suing their music loving customers. The add by Pepsi was displayed with a parody version of it. Does anybody know where to get these?

Great stuff.

Btw., I asked about how Technorati is going to make money in the future (I checked their website and saw no $$$ signs anywhere). Mr. Ito told me that they are revealing some value-added services for power users and advertisers. It seems they follow the < 5% rule of making money from communities. See Livejournal as an example of the 5% rule. LinkedIn is doing the same. Ebayization of everything.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Where is the music industry money made in the future?

Great article about the future of the music industry in the Wired magazine entitled The Long Tail. When you move your music business to the internet and take away packaging, distribution and retail sales, you have a business where the less popular misses of the music industry (the Long Tail) generate more money than all the hits together.

This requires that you are able to construct a business model which allows your readers to navigate from familiar entrant points (hits) to less familiar artists with help of social navigation or something else as easy to use. The reader will notice that his/her taste is actually much different from the mainstream if easy tools for finding more interesting artists are made available.

This is the story backed up with well constructed evidence in various illustrative charts. Way to go. Everyone interested in the music business and everyone who uses P2P networks to download music, should definitely check this out.

Now I just have to find a way to apply this logic to Open Source collaborative software. If the demand is actually in the niche groups, and if it's possible to support all the niche groups, the market of various niche groups is actually bigger than the general mainstream of almost any application. Isn't this what tailoring and customization is all about? Making customization and tailoring affordable so that the niche groups also get served. This is interesting, for example: build value-added services customized and targeted to certain niche groups in the educational world on top of open platforms and open standards.

Mushroom radar as a social software

Let's start dumping some ideas..

In a couple of years I've become a regular mushroom hunter. I go to local forests to look for new findings; some interesting new fungi, preferably edible (this cultivation has nothing to do with magic mushrooms or our local favorites, Kärpässieni). It is said that several tons of quality food rot in the forests - and I mean quality: have you ever tasted Black Trumpets, for example? I found hundreds of them a month ago (although I got eaten by mosquito's while picking them up).

Most are unfamiliar or different specimen or know only a few edible ones. At worst, hunting mushrooms is seen as weird activity, conducted only by older generation of weird shamans. Those of you who do not know, the "mushroom" part as we know is only part of the fungi, that mostly lives under the surface, decomposing and rotting living things.

Of course, I always look at technological possibilities. I grew tired of carrying that heavy book of 5000 different specimen with me, merely utilizing it only partly, lacking the time and interest to search deeper into it in the forest. I thought about mobile capabilities.

Simplest would be the same in electronic format. But even better would be a social application of the above. Imagine a Mushroom Radar ( in finnish "Sienitutka"), which asks you a set of questions using intelligent heuristics and fuzzy logic to sort out what specimen the certain unknown mushroom is a part of: does it have a cap? How about gills? Small, medium or large in size? Dark or light in color? Etc.

The set of questions could aim to limit the possible alternatives to certain specimens. Once the set of questions have been asked and you could easily select from answers ranging from 1 to 4 selectable different alternatives (possibly including images), the system could poll a central database with the answers and return a list of possible alternatives with a calculated certainty.

If you have successfully identified the mushroom, you could take an image of it and attach some description of it (surroundings etc) and send it to the central database. Your phone will send the location information, weather and time of year for the system to conduct more analysis on its own.

So what I'm describing is a raw idea of a social software for mushroom hunters, which allows them to gather collaborative data and attach collaborative filtering of the results powered with simple, fast and accurate heuristics. This could in fact applied with anything else from flower lovers to bird watchers.

A system like this could leverage the participation in understanding a very complex topic like identifying a certain mushroom accurately (there are several thousand different specimen here in Finland alone, of which only a couple of packs are toxic). It might draw people who previously were not interested in mushroom hunting to actually try it. Hopefully not more magic mushroom hunters, looking for ways to get their heads filled with liberty caps they don't know much about anyway ;)

All in all I enjoy walking in the forest and now after I have introduced myself in the wonderful world of living things working their way under the surface I have viewed the forest as having more life than ever before. A real experience to look after. It really helps you to forget surrounding world and business while you are desperately trying to find that rare Cauliflower mushroom.

Monday, October 04, 2004

Let's get going...

Alright, I'm starting a blog. I've been talking about blogs and their strengths for quite some time. I even think weblogs should be something like email for members of any organization: it is provided as a service and you are teached how to use it. Part of the common software infrastructure.

I've been delaying my own blog until I have enabled Dicole to actually allow personalized blogs to be published to the general public. As some of you might know, Dicole already has the capabilities with feeds and all, but the publishing part still requires some work. I'm almost there, but not yet. Meanwhile I thought I'll try another service. This allows me to build a taste of where we should be heading.

So, why am I starting a blog in the first place? First, I'm emailing daily updates to people I work closely together. Those emails typically contain a link and my opinions about it (You got it, this is the basic idea of the term "weblog"). So now they (and anyone else interested in my spam) may read (and pull) that pile of Infedelic Ideas whenever they wish.

Second, I believe in communities and participation. Weblogs highly support the idea networking and building communities and by nature lower the participation aspect. I want to get feedback of my ideas, before I go ahead and do anything about them. I have to try this myself and see if it really works as I have explained ;)

Third, I believe in the personal voice, in spirit of the Cluetrain manifesto. I wish my colleagues and friends in the industry also start their own blogs... I was quite easy with Blogger, after all.

I also need a place where I can dump my random ideas and come back to them later. Inf is my nickname and Infedelic Ideas is a good topic for a weblog where I bring up my twisted psychedelic out-of-this-world ideas. This is Hello World.