Thursday, March 31, 2005

 

Money and Perspective

I started reading Kevin Booth's book Bill Hicks: Agent of Evolution (although Kevin lives in Austin, the book is now only available in the UK). Lots of good stories so far from Bill's closest friend...
Sitting at the front table at one show was an oil-rich patron and his entire entourage:

They were there with a girl. Her birthday. They were acting like they owned the place, talking loudly but tipping huge. Twenty bucks a drink, stripping the bills off a huge wad.

The house was packed. Great crowd...

...but the front table will not shut up. Bill makes a few attempts to quiet them but nothing works...

Finally, Bill stopped his set and says to them: "Look, I've heard this material. These other people can't hear. So why don't you shut up?"

"It's her birthday, man. Fuck you and do your act."

"I don't give a fuck if it's her birthday."

So the guy guy peels off another $20 bill, throws it at Bill and says,

"Do your fucking act."

This sets Bill off. And now he has to make the point. "I don't want your fucking money. You're fucking up the show. I don't need your fucking money."

So Bill took the $20, wiped his ass with it, then threw it back in the guy's face. The crowd starts giving Bill an ovation.

"No one can hear," said Bill.

"They can hear."

Then a woman sitting next to them joined in on the side of Bill and the rest of the crowd: "No, we cannot hear."

"Shut up, cunt."

So, this lady's Texas Linebacker-sized boyfriend immediately gets up....

...He sees tables and chairs flying. "The last thing I saw," said Bill, "was the waitress jumping up on stage saying, "Well, that's our show. Thanks for coming out."

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

 

MGM v. Grokster: Mindshare

Anonymous nails it right on the head:

But the current large commercial music interests are not likely to be served by a change to an industry they have optimized for their profit.


Although the issue being discussed in the courts is copyright, what's not being said is that peer-to-peer technologies offer alternative media that is not owned by the oligopoly of content owners. Obviously, owners want to protect their bottom line and whats at stake has more to do with their dominance of the distribution network and their fear of competition than copyright protection.

What makes Bram Cohen's BitTorrent such a genius technology is not that it can be used to infringe copyright but that it has so successfully allowed producers of independent content to reach a large audience. That is a major understated engineering breakthrough and is curiously never mentioned by big media. They are scared to death of competition, not copyright infringement.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

 

MGM v. Grokster: Cutting through the Noise

Today, the Supreme Court is hearing the arguments between the content industries and the peer-to-peer technology companies.

The message from the mass media is uniformly loud and clear: This is a question of whether record companies and movie studios can use their big pocketbooks to keep these emerging technology companies from illegally making copies of their copyrighted works.

Lin Yutang proposes that sometimes we have to reframe the question for enlightenment.

Big media is framing the question. They are, in essence, controlling the language the debate is framed in. Our first clue should be which artists are on the side of the big content players:

Don Henley, Sheryl Crow and the Dixie Chicks

Have we been enlightened yet? These "artists" are defending the old system of control because their pocket books have been propped up by that system. Their music does not merit the popularity they have attained. Those of us without hearing loss wouldn't make free copies of their music much less pay for it. Their weighing in on copyright infringement is like someone with a bloated ego hiring a bodyguard.

Word of mouth (which is accelerated with peer-to-peer) was reduced to noise in the 20th century by big media advertising through one-to-many technologies like radio. Let us reframe the question and get at the real question here that the big content companies are trying to hide from us. The real question is "Are talented musicians going to be allowed an audience or will mass advertising continue to drown them out?"

Monday, March 28, 2005

 

Bug Number 66 is checked in

I get an email from Auz this morning about a feature request. I'm outdoors sipping my coffee and making the edits and all the sudden, my computer says "I'm sleepy. I'm going to shut off."
I walk over and get some more coffee before I wake it from its nap. Ten minutes later. Thud! A large branch from the tree overhead drops about 30 feet to the ground five feet away from my cueball noggin and other people at the next table. Auz says to put that under "Risks" in the business plan.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

 

Chocolate Fountain

Veruca?

I think the last time i saw a chocolate fountain was seeing Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory when i was a kid. I just noticed it is being remade with Johnny Depp.

Here's a bigger photo on flickr.



Friday, March 25, 2005

 

SXSW Interactive 2005 Web Awards



The sweet shirt is something Ashley brought me from India. This was my first year to attend SXSW Interactive. Besides the Web Awards, the highlight for me was Bruce Sterling's keynote and the party he threw on the last night at the American Legion Hall of Honor which is a historical house next to Mopac and where joggers often start their run around Town Lake. It had been a long time since I had been to a kegger and certainly never one with so many creative-type people from all around the world.

Auz asked me to go up to accept the award. We thought we had a 1% chance, but even so, I think he didn't want to do the J├Ągermeister shot which was obligatory for each acceptance. I told a joke and then got off the stage as quickly as possible.

Thanks to fellow Austin bootstrapper Roy for the picture.

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