Archive for intellectual property

Viral Licenses

Matt reminded me of this and I wanted to mention it.

I mentioned I think we will be entering an area where the data that a company has collected about me rivals the actual functional characteristics of their software in a consumers investment in the product.

From a market perspective the best situation would be if the data were open and accessible to whichever competitor wanted to make the strongest product using it. What though is a company’s impetus to give up the competitive advantage of keeping data secret? Calling on companies to be noble enough to support the market is naive and expecting customers to invest in a company simply because it doesn’t lock them is unlikely given my understanding of the current users view of the market. People want stuff to work now and don’t think about the future all that much.

What if you did something like the GPL‘s viral licensing? I have some data and you can use it but only if you agree to give me any changes to that data and any additional data that you collect about this person.

What the structure would look like to support that exchange I’m uncertain. Some APIs and lots of XML I assume, but it’s a potential solution that could work well for the market overall.

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Thin Servers

Real quick because I ought to be doing my psychology homework…

I’ve been considering social feedback in increasing user loyalty and community involvement in online systems.

I was a Pandora listener for a while. I liked Pandora because it gave me interesting songs, but I like a really broad range of types of music and Pandora seemed to narrow for my tastes.

Jango is what I went to next because the interface was better for adding artists to my profile. It seems to stick to a genre for a while and then switch over and do another. I generally like it and I’ve gotten a couple of new songs from it. It gives some community feedback by having stations associated with individuals. You only stay within one person’s recommendations though. Maybe there’s community stations I just haven’t found yet.

Grooveshark seems to be really close, but I’m waiting to actually be approved to use it. I think that they’re dealing with the P2P issues and attempting to avoid the RIAA by being selective in their listenership.

I suspect though that they’re addressing a question that I’ve already had. I have a bunch of songs on my computer at home that I legitimately own. I have playlists there that I would like to have access to (and I would like to be able to create playlists while at work that I could listen to at home). Why, since I own this music, can’t I listen to it?

There’s a Y-Combinator startup that allows streaming of songs. Streaming is legal even to other people so long as only one person is streaming at a time and the group is small.

The idea of thin servers solves four problems:

  1. I own a bunch of songs and I should be allowed to use interfaces that allow queuing and seeking those songs in whatever method I want.
  2. I have an awesome song from a great local band that isn’t in any of the recommender systems.
  3. My band has a great new song that we want other people to potentially have recommended to them.
  4. My huge server is completely swamped by 10,000 people all attempting to listen to music simultaneously.

Recommendation interfaces based around confederations of thin servers increase their potential network issues exponentially, but the state of broadband may well be such that this is a surmountable challenge. Music is nowhere near the bandwidth hog that video is. In exchange for those issues you allow anyone who wants to begin serving music, and you allow individuals access to the greatest source of songs that they are likely to like: their personal collection.

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In my ongoing attempt to get companies to stop filling my mailbox with random crap, prescription I sent Bank of America a message asking them to kindly bugger off. They sent me to a nice little privacy page where I learned the huge amount of my information that they apparently share with the world. If you happen to have dealings with BoA, you might give it a visit.

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