Attribution Matters

Missionary DiplomacyThe imaginary band album cover game has come back up on Facebook, perhaps it never really went away. It’s a chance operation game where you,

  1. Find a bandname via the Wikipedia random article function. The article title is the bandname.
  2. Find an album title via The Quotations Page random quotations page. The last three to five words of the last quote on the page are the title.
  3. Find an album cover by using Flickr’s “explore the last seven days” link that selects recent content ranked by Flickr’s “interestingness” algorithm. Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
  4. Combine the elements in an image editing program and share it with your friends.

I like random operation games very much and I started playing but something wasn’t right at step three for me. The problem was that Flickr includes all uploaded images in its interesting tag and this includes copyrighted images. This is just a light-hearted game but it is taking an image creating a derivative work and sharing it. Doing this with copyrighted images is not legal. This started me thinking about copyright both from the creator’s and the user’s perspective. Continue reading Attribution Matters

Two Cultures Clash

Original image from bayerberg via Flickr (cc-sa2.0 license)
Original image from bayerberg via Flickr (cc-sa2.0 license)

Two recent events in the world of technology and the internet serve to bring into relief the divergence between two ways of viewing the development of technology in general, the refusal of GoogleVoice apps by the iPhone App Store and the grant of a patent to VoloMedia for “providing episodic media” which seems to mean podcasting.
The question boils down to, is the internet a new territory that will require new practices to flourish or is it an analogue of existing media that will accommodate existing models and practices?

I feel this is a fundamental division of perception of the medium. The internet and associated technologies are often seen through the frame of existing media like publishing, broadcast radio or television. That correlational viewpoint has some value but with a very limited scope. Web designers have been pulling their hair out for years trying to get web pages to behave like printed ones and the parlous state of internet radio is largely precipitated by an attempt to apply a broadcast radio mindset to the levying of royalty payments.

TechCrunch reports that Apple is pulling all GoogleVoice enabled apps from the App Store. As Jason Kincaid states in his article this is probably being done to preserve Apple’s relationship with AT&T, the iPhone’s official carrier in the USA. The official reason reported is that these applications, “duplicate features that come with the iPhone.” Though AT&T deny any involvement and put the blame firmly at Apple’s door.

The statement from Apple is weak. Yes, you can make and receive calls on the iPhone. You can even send SMS and use a voicemail service, but you can’t access the advantages GoogleVoice particularly free SMS and cheaper long distance call rates. Perhaps what rankles most is that this move seems to be about preserving a commercial partnership and customer service be damned. Continue reading Two Cultures Clash

Ideas are like piles, sooner or later every a**ehole gets them

man fixing steam pump

Ideas are just a starting point. The real trick is taking an idea and making it happen as well as possible. Derek Sivers defines ideas as a multiplier and I think that’s a useful way to look at it. He even gives some definition to the values with a so-so idea worth half as much as a good idea and that in turn being worth half a brilliant idea.

The real trick is the execution. That’s the tough part. You can’t phone in execution from your hammock in Bimini despite what Tim Ferriss might tell you, at least I’m not convinced. Execution is the perspiration generating part of the job and ultimately it is what makes things happen.

This is clear if we’re thinking about a business idea but I think this is a useful model to apply to any aspirations we may have. Writing a song is more than plucking an idea from the bosom of Euterpe.
To start with the idea needs to be captured somehow, written down on paper, sung into your cellphone or tended in your memory until it can be preserved somewhere. Then the execution can really begin. The idea needs to be developed unless you’re lucky enough to have dreamed up a complete work, melody, lyrics, chorus, bridge etc.

Sure a great idea can make a song better, but a rubbish arrangement will kill it stone dead for sure. Value good ideas but recognise them for what they are, a starting point and value the execution.