Category Archives: Information and Communication Technology

Loving Music in a World of Shifting Business Models

I love music.

I probably listen to music 4-6 hours a day, much of it while I am working.

And I am not an expert on music, digital business models, digital technology, or the music business.  I am simply a humble, passionate user.

I am worried that the “market” for music is going to evolve away from what I want.  Is downloaded music over?  Is streaming dead? Or doomed to being a loss-leader for larger behemoths like cell phone carriers or Amazon?

Ever since digital music and downloading emerged, I have been happy to pay for music.  Most of my iTunes library was built from ripping my CDs.  And as the RIAA and its business allies screamed and shouted and whinged about illegal downloads in the era of Napster, I seethed that all those freeloaders were making life difficult for me by provoking various forms of DRM (digital rights management).  For example, I couldn’t copy music from a first generation iPod from the iPod to a second computer.  I paid for the music, and now this wall of property rights was inserted in MY TECHNOLOGY.

Models evolved.  Pandora came along and at first I loved it.  But then, I realized, I wanted to be able to play the song I wanted when I wanted.  Too many hours were spent trying to “trick” Pandora into the perfect mix of alternative, folk, americana, jazz, and bluegrass.

I tied to get off iTunes with a Songbird experiment.  But something happened and it mixed up meta data and then I had songs with the wrong titles.  I am still looking for an iTunes alternative, preferably one that folds lyrics in.

RDIO came along, and I happily signed up.  $10 a month for unlimited PC streaming of anything I wanted?  Yes, please.

I learned about emusic.  Which has been around for awhile, in turns out.  I can often get songs for $0.49 or $0.79!  The model also constrains my spending to $15 a month on new music.  I listen to music on RDIO.  When I hear something I like, I pop over to emusic.com and buy it.  If I want to make a mix cd for a friend, I go into iTunes.  It all works just fine.

But emusic changed its catalog to focus only on “indie artists and labels.”  Fine.  But, really, no Indigo Girls?  So, am I back to buying from Amazon or iTunes?  Are the artists even seeing anything fair in these purchases?  Spotify et al have big revenue streams, but most of that goes to the labels, not the creators of the music.

Rdio won’t make the details of its revenue public, but Spotify took in more than half a billion dollars last year. Nevertheless, its losses grew from from $60 million to $78 million. Spotify executives say 70 percent of its revenue went to paying licensing fees. (From NPR).

eMusic, through its editorial, magazine-like portal, Wondering Sound, is trying to make music discovery and curating a service you want.  That is fine, as far as it goes, but the link from listening to buying then becomes too convoluted.  I hear a song I like on Rdio, or through its pretty good social media features, and then I have to hunt for it on eMusic.com, and if not there, maybe Amazon?  Maybe iTunes?  But pay more?  And also feel like I am no longer supporting emusic’s love-of-music ethos?  It is like buying music from Wal-Mart instead of a record store.  I _LIKE_ hanging out in the record store.

One jazz music writer covers some of the emusic changes and what it means for his tastes.

Meanwhile, vinyl is making its little comeback, even in our house, led by my music-phile son, Elijah.  Music I love, like The National, or San Fermin, or Sharon Von Etten, I’d be willing to buy and own as vinyl for the audio quality.

Why are labels so powerful still?  Because they control the back catalogs?

Why can’t there be a stream-and-purchase model?  Emusic.com has a stream part, but you are capped at like ten hours a month.  Why wouldn’t musicians seek out a label-free distribution platform so they can record music and have it available to stream, download or hard copy purchase without going through a label?  A platform that also catalyzes concert-going and other revenue streams for them?

UPDATE:  Pandora seems to have some ideas along these lines, as here Fortune describes Customer Relationship Management for artists…

1 Comment

Filed under Creativity, digital culture, Future of Technology, Information and Communication Technology, innovation, management, Media, music, Network Society, Social Networks, Uncategorized

Bibliographic Software- what do you use?

I did this quick review for my Academic Ladder group.
I USED to use Endnote.  Got too cumbersome and tricky.  I stopped more than five years ago, so I can’t even recall details.

My U switched to refworks.  This was very nice at first.  It is an online database.  So, you have an account.  With most search databases and our catalog, it was one click importing.  It supports “descriptors” you edit, like tags.  Like, all known biblio outputs for every style.  Your database lives in the cloud, so you can be at ANY COMPUTER with internet and get to your library.  You can have folders, lists and stuff.  It ALSO has a plug-in for word that allows you to add citations as you write.  So you write, you think “oh, smith 1987 here.”  You then search in word your library, find smith,and stick it in.  It adds some code to your paper. At the end you push a button and all code becomes correct citation and a bibliography is made.

Issues.  1) My library has gotten so big, it is a bit sluggish at times.  2) It does not capture web-based metadata as nicely as Zotero.  3) The word plug in was buggy for awhile, like 2 years, which irked me.

I am romantically a sucker for open-source stuff.  I started using Zotero ALSO.  Very similar to refworks except it is free, designed by academics for academics.  Your library lives in a cloud.  You can sync it to a local program, zotero standalone, for when you are NOT on the web (I think refworks can too).

Pluses for zotero: it is VERY GOOD at getting metadata.  So, say I need a book that is not in my refworks library.  Rather than got to catalog, search, export, etc, I go to amazon, or catalog, and in firefox, there is an add-on such that with one click Zotero grabs the citation.  Also, it can make citations of webpages, blogposts and so on.  Plus in firefox, you can open a window and edit the citation or ADD NOTES easily.
2) It seems to support networks or communities of schoalrs more readily to share libraries.  I have not done this a lot, but could imagine so.

Me today: hybrid refworks and zotero user.  If I were starting over, I’d be all Zotero.  I haven’t switched all the way as it looks like a lot of work and so far my patchwork approach works.

Leave a comment

Filed under Information and Communication Technology, life, writing

Ideas for Questions and Themes for Arianna Huffington

Today, as part of the tech/no Forum series at Bucknell, we are hosting Arianna Huffington.  I had imagine I would do some deep research on her background, her role as founder of HuffingtonPost, her role as CEO of the merged AOL-Huffington company  her ideas on the relationship between media, democracy, and profit, the death (?) of the newspaper, and so on.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Instead, I’ll have to generate some from what I have in my head (as opposed to research-based).

If you are coming to the afternoon session, feel free to read these, use these, modify these, and so on.

Business and Technology

* Is the content-for-eyeballs formula of the Internet dying?  Are advertisers not willing to pay?

* Are we at the end of an innovation burst as the Internet and mobile platforms are merging?  Is the heady period of “social media” and its rapid expansion done?

* Who are HP’s or AOL’s competitors?

Media and Profit

* Is it the responsibility of the media company to provide what “customers” want or what they need?  Does a media/news company create its own demand and then project that onto the audience.  “See, they want _____________ (tits, blood, murders, horse-race politics)?” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Business, economics, Future of Technology, higher education, Information and Communication Technology, innovation, Media, Network Society, Politics, Power, Activism, Social Networks, sociology, technology, Technology history

Social Bookmarking Evolution

Years ago, maybe five, I realized that trying to keep up with folders of bookmarks in Firefox (or nay browser) was just annoying and a time suck.  I would bookmark unimportant things and not what I actually needed.  As ridiculously simple a so many tasks are with computers, it just seemed too “hard” sometimes due to number of click-throughs.  I found delicious.com, a great social bookmarking service.  I loved how it was in the cloud so I could access it from any machine.  That was useful for teaching.  I loved the tags and the overall approach of folksonomies.  Such bubbling up from the ground taxonomic systems just suited my brain better.  I tried recommending it to a few folks, but my techno-evangelism did not go very far, so I did not use it very much on its “social” side.  Still, I plugged away with my storing and tagging and happily accumulated 1772 bookmarked pages with tags ranging from “academia” to “zotero.”

Delicious was acquired by yahoo.  Then dumped.    I paid little mind as it kept working for me, and, when possible, I stick to if it ain’t broke approach.  But now delicious is not supported firefox 4.0.  Crap.

I tried exporting from delicious and then importing to Firefox.  But I did not get my notes or tags.  Ouch!  Fortunately, I found this experimental add-on, Slurp.  Thanks Web Wanderings blog!  It worked.  So, now the bookmarks are in Firefox bookmarks.  Will that be a good replacement?  I don’t know.  We shall see.

Here are six possibilities.

I have seen Diigo and it has some nice features.

I have also done more with pearltrees.  I personally love the visualization and ability to zoom in a and out.  It is also a nice example of a two-mode network if you want to get your nethead geek on.  In other words, you can see people linked by common bookmarks (pearls in their jargon).

However, I am not sure I want to import 1772 bookmarks into its hub and spoke geometry.  Could get very, very bushy.  Some people also object to using Flash on principle.  I am not sure what the downside of flash is. Guess I am not enough of a gearhead. It’s collaboration tools are good. You can join teams. It informs you when one of your “unique” pearls is copied by someone else. I like the visualization and the ability to see who else is “close” by tag or keyword similarity. However, I am not sure what it would be like with all 1700 comments. I’ve been thinking of it more as “showcase” bookmarks while the tagging of delicious or firefox now allows for more brute force storage and searching.

Any comments on social book marking, apps, or pearltrees welcome!

7 Comments

Filed under participatory technology, social bookmarking, technology

Primordial Ooze of Civil Society?

I always liked the phrase “primordial ooze.”  It is fun to say and the ten year old in me sees a bubbling, steaming goo that seems to defy order and good manners.  I also like it because it captures the idea of how the new emerges from the old, how complexity emerges from sets of interactions that are not supposed to add up to the emergent.

Two items from today made me wonder if we are looking at the primordial ooze of civil society.  Let me say here that by civil society I am not entering into some long-standing debate about what is or isn’t civil society.  I am looking for a term that covers the idea of collective or coordinated action of varying degrees of formality that is centered on common ground of like-minded actors.  Also, this common ground must unite people around some sense of a common good or higher purpose.  In short, human organizing motivated by “ruled” by practices that are not of formal state power nor purely economic rationality.  I am not sure if that holds up, but I’ll leave it there for now.

So, item #1.  Egypt, of course.  Like countless others, I am fascinated, hopeful, fearful, and awe struck by the events unfolding first in Tunisia and now more spectacularly in Egypt.  Through the media I have followed (Democracy Now, KCRW’s To The Point, NY time, Huffingtonpost, BBC, Guardian), there are several elements at work.  In no particular order.

* Youthful, technology-enabled activists.

* The Muslim Brotherhood

* Dissident elites (like El Baradei)

* Neighborhood watch patrols

Some of these groups seem loosely organized or rapidly scaling up and out as they absorb the tens or hundreds of thousands of newly mobilized citizens.  I imagine new organizing, new durable networks of trust and cooperation, and new alliances among the other two are a major part of the fluidity and flux.  This (to me) palpable sense of what could be captures the imagery of the primordial ooze of civil society.

Item #2: The Really Free School.  A random facebook message put me on to this (originating in theory.org.uk, home of theory trading cards).  I have not been able to explore it much, but what struck me is the basic ethos: let’s use a common space, the (Shirky-ean) low cost of coordinating, the ability of people to self-organize, and the cultural scripts of sharing knowledge and delighting in serious play.  Though not as fluid or important as Egypt, it also seems to me to get at the origins,at the primordial ooze,  of civil society in its simplicity and open-endedness.

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, Creativity, Hacker ethic, Information and Communication Technology, Networks, participatory technology, Protest, social innovation, sociology, technology

Social Entrepreneurs, Networks, and Technology

I am revising a draft of a paper about social entrepreneurs to give at EGOS.

Here is the core idea:

Broadly, I am trying to connect what is known about the research into new forms of organizing with internet with innovation and networks studies

Some baseline assumptions:

1) Innovators and entrepreneurs of any flavor are in a brokerage position and they engage in brokering behavior.   (Research by Burt, Obstfeld, Gargiulo, Hargadon comes to mind… I need to find others).

2) New ICT changes make #1 different.  Easier in some ways, harder in others.

3) Social entrepreneurs face special circumstances due to value orientation they use.  Social entrepreneurs solve social problems or market failures.  They move towards a new equilibrium.  The “social” of what they do emerges from social change processes unfolding in networks organizations, and institutions of contested agendas (or, formerly contested and now newly legitimate.  These include poverty reduction, public health, green design, education access, rural development, climate change, and so on.  Looks like usual suspects of civil society concerns.  But of course, it should.)

4) The process is usually gradual (uniform)- incremental innovations and experiments accumulate into profound change.  The initial recognition can then lead to rapid scaling and diffusion.

5)  To fully conceptualize the problem, we need to draw on four research streams: 1) entrepreneurship, 2) networks and innovation, 3) social movements, and 4) technology and socity.

6) A research agenda based on the assumptions and findings includes three questions:

  • 1) Do new technologies, by lowering search and coordination costs for actors, spawn more emerging or possible social entrepreneurs (as in, that is their intention)?
  • 2) Do technologies, through their ability to foster relations and community, create new value propositions?  Transparency, memory, search, and interactivity mean that thick webs of relations, which people value, can create new opportunities for social innovation or entrepreneurship.
  • 3) The same properties that create more potential social entrepreneurs and opportunities will also pose new start-up challenges because soc entrepreneurswill be more tied to the necessary networks and institutions that create legitimacy for the social of social entrepreneurs.

Leave a comment

Filed under activism, innovation, organization studies, organization theory, participatory technology, social innovation, Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship [SiSe], technology

Great Fashion+Hacker Blog

A student of mine for her final project creatded a blog about recycled fashion.

Ditch or Stitch!

Great name!

Happy reading.

Leave a comment

Filed under Creativity, digital culture, Hacker ethic, higher education, Information and Communication Technology

Resources on Internet and Politics

Participating in orgtheory.net thread I whipped up these resources which I thought ought to be useful here also.

Question:

How has the Internet changed political organizations? Is it just one tool in the service of traditional politics? Or is there a new politics associated with online life?

I agree that this is going to be a really important area of study in the future. In talking about how protests get organized with activists, it’s pretty clear that Facebook has turned into the medium of choice given its flexibility and relational scope. If nothing else Facebook helps cut down the coordination costs of collective action, but I suspect there’s an identity element to the story as well.

So why don’t we have very many studies about the impact of the internet on other sorts of organizational decision-making and/or organizing? Most of the studies that look at organizational life and the internet that I’ve seen tend to look at the counterproductive aspects of the internet (e.g., lost hours of productivity due to blog reading). What about the efficiency-enhancing aspects of online coordination? Anyone?

I feel like there is a lot that is at least descriptive or celebratory of lowering the coordination costs for civil society or political organizations.  You mean more rigorous, empirical research?  And do you mean campaign organizations (as oppose to governing or politically engaged?)

A few things I pulled off my shelf-
Mousepads, Shoe Leather, and Hope: Lessons for Dean Campaign for the Future of Internet Politics Techout, Zephyr and Streeter,Thomas. Has stories from campaign and some framing/theory chapters.

Society Online Edited by Howard, Philip and Jones, Steve. Has a chapter on voting and Internet in politics 1996-2000 (wow! Pre-history!).

Globalization from Below: Transnational Activists and Protest Networks della POrta, Donatella et al. Has a Chapter on Networks and Organizing.

Causewired By Watson, Tom. Whole book is rah-rah on wired activism. HAs chapter on politics (6, I think).

The Media in the Network Society: Browsing, NEws, Filters, and Citizenship Several chapters on politics, political systems, case studies of other countries (East Timor, Portugal e.g)

Is any of this on the mark?

Leave a comment

Filed under Books, Information and Communication Technology, Networks, organization theory, Politics, Power, Activism, Protest, Research, sociology

Webware Voting- I could waste a lot of time here

Webware 100 2009 – CNET

I don’t use a lot, but as a catalogue of goodies and tools, wow.  I could waste a lot of time here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Information and Communication Technology

BlogHUD : Get a Second Life Blog

BlogHUD : Get a Second Life Blog – Second Life blogging community network and tools
what is a blogHUD?
The ‘blogHUD’ is a tool to let you blog from Second Life and crosspost your text posts or image postcards to your own blog or photo-sharing account.

This looks like it oculd be a useful tool for undergrads doing on-line ethnography.

Has anyone used it?

Leave a comment

Filed under blogging, Information and Communication Technology, Research, virtual worlds