David Kirkpatrick

March 5, 2008

Synchronicity in action

Filed under: Arts, et.al., Media — Tags: , , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 4:13 pm

It’s always cool when little bits of reality mesh together in very unexpected ways.

For example I was reading Seth Godin’s marketing blog yesterday and came across this post:

No user servicable parts inside

That’s what it says on countless electronic and mechanical devices. “Don’t touch this,” it says, “you’re way too dumb to open it… you’ll get hurt”The problem, of course, is that pretty soon you start looking at the entire world that way. Whether it’s web design or Google analytics or backing up your hard drive or just talking to the guys in the plant about your new ideas, it’s really easy to see the world as a black box.Here’s a simple secret of success: ignore the sticker.Figure out how to use the tools that the most successful people in your field understand innately.

Then last night as part of an ongoing science fiction binge I started reading Vernor Vinge’s “Rainbow’s End” and got to chapter eight — titled “No User-Serviceable Parts Within.”

On page 90 of the edition I’m holding a major character, Robert Gu, complained about the building components used in his future world and said:

“… because I can’t see in them. Look.” He flipped a rotary motor across the table. “‘No user-serviceable parts within.’ It’s stamped right in the plastic. Everything is a black box. Everything is inscrutable magic.” 

Made me pause a bit late last night before I continued reading. Maybe Godin is reading some Vinge right now as well.

March 4, 2008

Seth Godin lectures the music industry

Filed under: Arts, Business, Technology — Tags: , , , , — David Kirkpatrick @ 1:48 am

Seth Godin did a presentation on the music industry for recording executives. Here’s a link to a transcript of that talk.

I’ve blogged about the recording industry, the RIAA and some solutions being bandied about, and I think Godin has some interesting things to add to the conversation.

From the transcript:

The next thing we talked about, this technology wasn’t as good as we hoped when we started. And it’s had a lot of side effects, the biggest one of course being it’s digital. And once you make it digital, all of a sudden the math changes. Because, it used to be if I gave you my record, I didn’t have my record anymore. And now, it’s if I give you my record, I still have my record. And that’s different. I’m not saying it’s better, I’m not saying it’s worse. I’m not saying it’s moral, or immoral, I’m just saying it’s different and we got to accept that. And, one of the side effects of that is that something has fundamentally shifted here. Now, I’m going to give you a little bit of a preview which is, I think the internet is the new radio. And I think we’re needing, in the record business, people in the record business are going to have to think about the fact that, that might be a really good thing, not a really bad thing. And, we’ll come back to that in a minute.

The next idea is this idea that American Top 40, Casey, I don’t even know if he is still alive but its doesn’t matter so much anymore. And the reason it doesn’t matter is because of something called the long tail. I don’t know if you’ve read this book, you should go out and read it right now, you can read it in 45 minutes. And what Chris Anderson [author of The Long Tail] pointed out is this, if I look at Netflix, what I see is that Netflix rentals, half of them are products Blockbuster doesn’t even carry. If I look at Amazon sales, half of Amazon sales are products that are unavailable in any Barnes & Noble store. If I look at the iTunes music store, half of iTunes sales are titles that you could not buy if you went into any record store. What happens when you give people an infinite number of choices in any genre, polka, doesn’t matter, they spread out. And two things occur. One, they go down the tail and start finding what’s just right for them, and two, sales go up. And so what this means is that the very structure of “how do we force as much attention as we can to the top 40” is actually the opposite of what leads to more consumption.

And then the last one, you’ve seen it before, is this idea of suing the very people you’re trying to talk to is unfortunate.

(Hat tip: Boing Boing)