Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Hey, me newpapers's not on sale no more

Gobbledigeek had lunch with one of our old hack friends yesterday. He has been a journo for many years and still hankers after his pieces appearing on paper, newspapers and books. It's only 'real' then he reckons. Got us thinking how it used to be the case that 'proper' authors got published on paper and only then after a sage-type editor had decided that they came up to the mark.

If you ask a webby how you publish something, it's dead easy. A post is an article, a blog a publication. There's no one sagely giving bloggers approval to publish.

Unlike record companies, book sales seem to be not only holding up but getting bigger with the advent of the web. We all know the irony about Amazon being successful online selling what is 'old media' stuff. Answer me this, why are books as popular as ever?

Newspapers in the UK are suffering from dropping sales year on year, here's the link to the wiki on the history of British newpapers. Over the next five years, newpaper publishers are going to have to completely change their business model (oh, stop it).

Newspapers' weakness is no 'long tail'. Gobbledigeek! @:) A huge range of products that each sell in small numbers, but when you add up all the little sales, you make big money. Record companies don't suffer from that - old songs are still fab. And book publishers too have a great long tail from their back catalogue as long as it contains gorgeous stuff - Winnie the Pooh, Sense and Sensibility, Hamlet, The L Shaped Room, Uncle Tom's Cabin, you get the picture.

The people running papers are so used to controlling the content and distribution that there's lots of evidence to say that they're not really getting it. This week, the editor of one of the UK national newpapers was complaining in some speech that everyone seems to be talking down the newspaper industry. Well, er, right. We say those talkers realise that the old business model is breaking up. Get in with the zeitgeist!

Here's a clue chaps: don't think controlling content, think sharing content; don't think whole newspapers, think individual articles; don't think paper and deadlines, think mobiles/web/anyotherwayofreachingyourpunters; don't think journo primadonnas, think ordinary people with something to say.

(Reminds us of a topic for a future post - the breakdown of traditional 'authority' - or why the bank manager, the council, the policeman, the teacher, the parent, the MP etc are all seen as irrelevant by anyone under 30.)


Sunday, 18 March 2007

Gobbledigeek's Geekspeak Dictionary - Part 1 of A Very Big Number

There an interesting definition-cum-comment on the phrase geekspeak here. Someone's a little sensitive.

One of the links on that page above is a list of phrases geeks use in chat rooms, get to that directly by clicking here. It's then your decision whether you use those acronyms or gobbledigeek others and get them techies speaking proper-like.

Lastly, if you want to track all this new word stuff, click here to get a daily email with a 'word of the day'. Every good hunter knows their prey.


Saturday, 17 March 2007

When techy trends move on - Southend

How can we justify a picture of Southend in a blog about technology? Well' we at gobbledigook like all things associated with technology too and as you see from the last couple of posts, we like to think about how technology affects people and how they start to behave differently when new technology comes along.

This pic of Southend shows how the public who were once crowding into amusement arcades like this, moved off to gaming in their homes as soon as they could. We were wondering whether take up of new technology is motivated by laziness or trendiness? Both probably.

So, Record Companies and DRM then

I hope you shouted "gobbledigeek" when you just saw DRM in the title as that is geekspeak, i.e. something you can't say to your mother and convey anything. DRM is digital rights management, that's the thing that stops you copying your iTunes song on to a MP3 player as it's not an iPod - although to be fair all the other people who created all the different type of music files do it too, Apple are just the biggest.

The record industry is going through turmoil right now trying to find a way to carry on making money when we all just want to get great music. The big music companies say that DRM or 'protecting the creative rights of the artist to get money for their songs' as they say, is essential to allow the record companies to make money and use some of that to pay artists. The key word there is 'some'. Not all of the money goes to the artists of course, the A&R men (talent spotters), marketeers, senior management etc in the record companies all need to be paid. Hang on, or do they? All that way of organising record companies was designed over the last forty years when it was easy to control their income as the only way you could get music was on vinyl records and CDs. We all made copies for our mates, but those were poor copies and a copy of a copy was unlistenable. To slip into geekdom for a sec - they were analogue copies which deteriorate each time you copy, with new digital stuff you can go on copying until the cows come home - moo! Woah, Daisy!

So, if you were setting up a record company today you wouldn't invent lots of layers of management because you couldn't afford it with an online 'business model' (gobbledigeek! the way the money is earned and shared among the different companies involved with making something so they all make a bit of profit).

And of course people are setting up record companies all the time, it's called the indy sector for some reason, presumably a name invented by the non-indy big boys.

Indy's can make and distribute music files for a fraction of the cost of the big boys, that's because a) there's no layers of management to pay; and b) they know something the big boys don't - that being in the music business is about getting your product out there for free, getting the excitement up. Then, and only then, you make the money from live concerts. That may sound mercenary but these guys have got to make money at some point, they need to eat and have new clothes and shoes like any of us.

Two interesting things there. Before records existed, musicians only made money from live concerts, that's the business they're in. Second, the big record companies themselves invented the single record in the 1940s as a promotional thing, not an end in it's own right. Singles were invented to sell albums. That's why they were cheap at first. That had been forgotten a couple of decades later by a new generation of record company bosses and they started hiking the cost of singles to make extra dosh. By the time we got to the 1990s, single were seen as 'the core business' by some, hence pap content like a new cereal being invented (choco-minty-friskies anyone?).

So, we come bang up to date and the sad state of the record industry today, they feel embattled by some terrible bunch of people who just want to listen to music and not pay, who are these terrors?! Er, right, oh...their customers. By now, we can all see they need a new business model so that's what they busying themselves with. One way out of all this is of course the disappearance of big record companies (or their business model (am I being sponsored to say that phrase?)) and music being sold either by the bands themselves via their own websites, or some sort of music community site will win through that allows you to get any music downloads and play them on any player, but the artist gets a payment from that. The definitive music portal. Someone like the lovely people at Wikipedia ought to invent that sharpish. If they do, have the idea for free on one condition, you give gobbledigeek free promotion for ever on the home page.

Go live!


Thursday, 15 March 2007

Another thing we do - muse about how technology has changed our lives

I was thinking that you can communicate with another person either by face to face contact or distant contact. I don't want to go in to the elements of face to face contact here, another time...

Distant communications only came in when people started writing, here's the wiki on writing Egyptians were writing on walls but also portable stone tablets and sending them to each other, hence the idea of portable communications was born.

Letters are much the same as stone tablets except being lighter, it encouraged more people to write letters than had written on tablets (!). Stay with me here, then in the late 19th century, the telegraph, then telegram allowed people to create a message and get it to the recipient on the same day.

The telephone changed all that and introduced the ability to communicate instantly, reducing the time in takes to communicate over a distance to zero. Telephones reintroduced the need for face to face type etiquette too, as face to face conversations are riddled with etiquette rules of acceptability. I don't mean ever so posh people saying, "Good day to you, sir!" but etiquette is just a set of rules of behaviours that are deemed ok by a certain group in society. So, when you go back to the family for the holidays, the etiquette is to not be bored, be kind to aged aunts, and interested in your dad's photos from two weeks in Scotland. That's etiquette.

Anyway, back to distant communications.

Modern technologies like text, instant messenger and email have reintroduced written distant communications for the vast majority since the late 1990s (letter writing had died out in the mid 20th century as the telephone replaced letters as the most popular form of communicating).

[Aside: Remind me to do a post about how technologies replace each other, the great example is TV replacing singing round the piano.]

What is critically new about text, IM and email is that the awkwardness of dealing face to face or on the phone have gone, so people feel much more able to say things in text etc that they would not say face to face or on the phone. That's a great thing because honesty always pays off in the end and if these technologies allow you to be open and honest then that will be setting the standard for what and how we communicate on a daily basis. It's a ruddy social phenomenon, I tell you!

That's enough nerdy geekdom, go live.


Tuesday, 13 March 2007

One of our services - translation from geekspeak

Alot of this geekspeak refers to things that have been around for a while but are now onlie version of the same thing.

like these:

blog = online diary
myspace page = online scrapbook
itunes = online record collection
ebay = online classifieds
google = online index

Try it the other way round to get great website ideas: what's the online version of: eating, washing, cutting the lawn, thinking, making notes to yourself, remembering stuff, birthday card (yeah, I know text message).


Monday, 12 March 2007

What's this all about?

You know what it's like, some geek starts talking garbage. Well this is the blog for you, if someone starts pulling the technical wool over your eyes, stop then and shout, "gobbledigeek". It'll stop them dead in their tracks.

This blog is about explaining technology in simple terms, easy to understand.