Archive for May, 2008|Monthly archive page

I Like the Word Asynchronous

okay.  i wanna talk a little bit about where this whole web+games thing is going.  and, when i say games, i really mean synchronous activities in virtual worlds.  after all, aren’t games about people playing together?  isn’t playing together generally a synchronous activity?

so, i guess where i’m going is that there’s this convergence happening.  it’s the crossroads of synchronous (games, virtual worlds, chat) and asynchronous (web, blogs, email) communication.  right now, the biggest poster boy for this convergence is twitter.

lemme explain.

if you ask anyone who doesn’t tweet (wow — that’s an unfortunate term) what twitter is, you get some variation of “it’s for people who like to post status updates about them doing everything from going to the bathroom to what they’re having for dinner.”  those folks don’t understand what twitter really is.

twitter, for the uninitiated, is a giant, a/sync, partially scattered, on-going conversation.  it’s like globally distributed chat where anyone can join the conversation.  i did the “a/sync” thing because, in practice, twitter is asynchronous since you’re basically posting to the web, however, in terms of usage, it’s synchronous.

for example, raise your hand if you’ve heard the stories of twitter beating the usgs to the earthquake news in china.

it’s a giant pool of global — and i really mean global — real-time chat.

now, before all of you twitter pros nod off, here’s where i’m going with this: there’s going to be a twitter-like convergence between virtual worlds (aka mmos) and the web.  and not the kind you’re thinking of.

this is not — i repeatnot necessarily going to mean playing wow in a browser.  as cool as that would be, it’s really just a shoe-horn fit, i think.  it’s fantastic (beyond awesome, actually) for accessibility, convenience and acquiring new players, but i’m of the opinion that once people are hooked on the service, they’d like both a dedicated, sexy client to play in (say, from home) as well as a thin, portable web-based client to play in.  (*looks over shoulder* shhhhh… from work, for example.)

“that’s neat and all, but… duh!  ever heard of habbo hotel, noob?” you say.

stay with me for a minute here.  trust me.

one of the things that third party applications and services are doing for twitter is posthumously rebuilding conversations for others to follow, catch up on, or in any other way use that data.  they take data that was being generated in real-time (ala synchronously) and assemble it for asynchronous consumption.  so that, for every 5 people who were able to participate in the conversation in real-time, there could be 500 people who can play catch up and get engaged in the conversation later on.

follow what i’m saying?  there’s basically a long tail for synchronous communication.  you know what another name for that is? storytelling.

yes.  the convergence between virtual worlds and the web is going to be about storytelling.  and not just any old storytelling.  automated, threaded, and collaborated storytelling.

in other words, real-time twitter conversations are to gameplay as next-day twitter conversations are to storytelling.  it’s an asynchronous reassembly of originally synchronous content.

now, more on how this ties in to the term “social media” later….


Music is a Service. Not a Product.

okay.  been a while since i ranted….  here comes.

tami mentioned to me the other day about how prince was getting paid $4+ million to play at coachella the other weekend.

i said, “amen!”

now, some people may think that’s a little excessive to pay a musician that much.  i say, dammit, it just puts artist demand in perspective.  i’ve bickered with people before about how an artist’s recorded music is a promotional device and not a product to be sold.  i firmly believe that.

it’s only been in the last 60 years where the “music industry” has duped musicians into thinking that they’re all “rock stars!” and to start believing that they don’t have to play music to get paid.  and recording music is totally different than playing music, i might add.

for thousands of years, musicians actually had to do this horrendous thing called “performing” to get paid.  now, just because some powerful lobbyists have tricked everyone into thinking that just because someone spends a week in a studio once every few years, they deserve money — we need to pay them to listen to their music.

shit in one hand.  demand in the other.  see what you have at the end of the day.

there’s a reason that since the dawn of man, musicians have been performing music.  (doh!  there, i go again.  using the p-word!)  that’s because it’s a viable business model.  recording something, duping it infinitely for damn near free and then charging $18 for it?  i’m surprised there hasn’t been an riaa executive lynching yet!

does anyone out there know how much it costs to stamp out discs from a glass master?  pennies!  yes, pennies per disc!  even with packaging and sleeves and the whole nine yards, production for cds are < $1 per disc at scale.

so, the artist, gets pennies.  the discs cost pennies to make.  where does all that money go?

duh!  marketing and distribution!  you know, the stuff that is super-duper cheap on the internet. 

note to upcoming musicians:  there is such a hunger for new music, that if you’re good, you will succeed.  if you suck?  well.  just stick to doing it for fun because you’re not going — and don’t deserve — to make a living at it.

arg!  so.  now that i’ve gotten my take on the current state of the music industry out of my system, let’s talk about performance.

you know, my wife and i usually get season tickets every year to the philharmonic.  here it is, 100 some-odd people playing music for an audience and getting paid for it.  not whining about bittorrent.  not spending a few days in a studio and then resting on their laurels for the next year.

they’re working.  they’re playing music.  they’re getting paid.  not as much as prince, mind you.  or most of them even enough to live on. 

therein lies the trick.

just because you get paid to play music doesn’t mean you deserve to make a living doing it.

hell, i love painting.  i’ve even sold paintings to galleries before.  i’ve done work for hire before.  in short, i’ve gotten paid to paint.  do i do it for a living?  nope.  i’m not good enough.  do i whine when other people use images of my paintings somewhere else?  nope.  (dude!  free publicity for me!)  do i care?  nope.

i don’t think i deserve to be making a living painting.

not with how much i do it.  now, if i was scheduling several murals a week and taking payment for them, sure.  that’s called working for a living.  call me a sellout, but: you do work.  you get paid.  it’s called a service industry.

do i paint a wall and then demand money from everyone who looks at it?  no.  that’s the stupidest thing i’ve ever heard!

should someone record a song and then demand money from everyone who hears it?  no.  that’s the stupidest thing i’ve ever heard.

making a living through music is work for hire.  period.

  • if you’re a musician, you get paid to play.
  • if you’re a technician, you get paid by a musician to mix his music.
  • if you’re a promoter, you get paid by a musician to promote his music.

this whole “downloading music is theft!” crap has to end.  it’s stupid and flies in the face of thousands of years of human history.  not to mention, it’s not even theft!  plenty of people make plenty of money making music.  just ask prince.  or trent reznor.  or the guy who played on stage last weekend.  or the guy who was dj’ing at the club last night.

welcome to work by the hour, musicians.  you know, like it’s been throughout the entire length of recorded history.