Media Survival strategy: OpenID Advertising

It will be interesting to see if Mr Murdoch’s innovation of charging for access to his newspaper’s online content works.  We don’t know what he plans: My guess is just like the WSJ, he will simply ask people to pay to read the stories. I think that is doomed. As soon as The Times goes this way, people will swithc to reading the Telegraph or Guardian, their advertising revenue will double, and they have a business model again, having effectively lost one competitor. A which reporter will want to write for a tiny audience?

I can see several mechanisms for making papers and magazines highly successful today.

One very powerful tool would be to make a newspaper like The Times free to anyone with a “Times Buyer’s” card:

Advertisers would scan this card (for high-street and big-box purchases) or use it to authenticate via OpenID for online purchases). At a stroke, this creates a mass market for the paper (who wouldn’t take a free copy of media like The Times, Telegraph or Spectator?), and a verifiable but anonymous revenue stream from advertisers, as well as a motivation for consumers to let choose advertisers in their preferred media (while preserving complete anonymity for the card-holder, the card’s validity for free copies of The Times would be maintained by public-key encrypted notification of purchases.)

The media owners would receive an income stream from their advertisers/sponsors, based not on page views or clicks, but on actual purchases made anywhere, by anonymous, but authenticated buyers of their media.

Just 0.01% of each ‘subscriber’s’ annual purchases would make Media one of the biggest, most profitable, and potentially civilization-enhancing businesses on the planet once more.

More speculatively (say 5 years), once e-paper gets down to a price where a sheet of wirelessly self-updating paper can be given to each person as a loss leader (say £200 manufacturing cost, like an iPhone), I think Newspapers are in for their biggest business boom ever!

A relationship-completer plug-in for Addressbook

If you use OS X , addressbook, and AppleScript, then I think you’ll like relationship completer.This plug-in to Addressbook will fill in the obverse relationship for selected contacts: so if  (a) is (b’s) assistant, b is marked as a’s manager. Quite handy! Unfortunately it doesn’t complete real relationships: So don’t add x as your girlfriend and expect you to become her boyfriend (or vice versa 🙂 ).

collaborative advertising, in a great cause

One of the nicest text editors on OS X, and easily the most innovative, is SubEthaEdit from CodingMonkeys. Named after the late Douglas Adams’ prescient vision of the internet (he called it the sub-etha net), this editor supports collaborative editing (several users editing at the same time!).

The nice thing is that right now, BLOGZOT 2.0 on
are lowing the price in exchange for people like me (and you!) blogging about it. The result is that MacZOT and TheCodingMonkeys will award $105,000 in Mac software.

This is a great piece of software, currently for $6 (as of posting time), and falling. So, go and grab a copy (the code monkey’s are nice guys too!).

Smart and gets things done

Another article by Joel that makes a nice honours topic: smart and gets things done. We have people in academia with IQs of 130+ who basically achieve nothing. The world is, of course, overflowing with people who get nothing done. There are those too who get things done: the wrong things!

So finding people who are smart and get thing done will be of value. Detecting companies run by and staffed by these people will be a good investment guide. How can we do it?

How can we select smart? – easy: there are many IQ tests, and they all measure the same construct: general ability.

But how do we measure getting things done? Is that organization? Maybe. Conscientiousness? (no – too high and you can’t tolerate the noise that abounds during getting things done).

How about “energy”? This is my best bet: just plain energy. The ability to work hard, physically and mentally. To not give in, to not sit idle, not to be busy with busy work.

Human Task Switches Considered Harmful – Joel on Software

This is a good honours-year project: Get people to do Raven’s matrices in a task switching and a non-task switching condition. The switch would just be between different items, or, to be ambitious, that and a third task, like minding baby.

  • What is the cost of switching?
  • Does some processing go on the back task during off-cycle phases?
  • Are there sex differences?

Human Task Switches Considered Harmful – Joel on Software:

This is a related link


A suggestion for Google

Google, the only company whose motto is “do no evil” has a chance, I feel to do a lot of good.

They, alone amongst the big search engines, have resisted the Justice Department demand for information not intended for the Justice Department. If you search with Yahoo, MSN, or AOL, you should switch: punish them directly for breaking trust with their users.

But this prompted a bigger thought: Google, in order to do business, needs to be able to maintain your identity: having an identity for you allows them to tailor search and advertisements. that identity can benefit you (us) massively in ways more important than showing us products we want: it can allow us to build online reputation and establish trust. Implemented correctly, a google-sponsored identity would be a massive boon, facilitating all kinds of currently hard to do things. One trillion dollar example is micro transactions, even peer-to-peer micro transactions, based on trust.

But this will never happen if your identity is not merely a coherent online entity, but also identifies “you” – the physical entity: the one that can be jailed, tortured, blackmailed, exploited, stalked, and all the other travails of flesh.

My suggestion for google, then, is that they create and sponsor a system of de-identifying crypto for their search engine. Allow this system to guarantee the integrity of a coherent online identity, while obscuring the physical entity which lies offline. This would be done by using all the users of google to relay elements of searches. Each of us will route parts of each others searches. The information entropy created by this inefficiency can provide the energy needed to do the work of obscuring identity. A working model is the EFF’s Tor.

This will be a massive benefit for Google: With online fame being possible while preserving physical obscurity, we will soon turn on their complete tracking service. Once google can tract everything we do, their advert hit rate will go through the roof. Plus they will be at the centre of a massive micro-transaction business. They’d do well to hire Peter Thiel, too.

It will be a massive benefit for us: this open identity will make the online world safer and more like the real world: we will profit from being responsible, cooperation will increase.

It will prevent the government and other bodies from decoding the online choices we make, into real world entities.

True Names will be made real, but with a happier ending than Vernor Vinge dreamt.


True Names

“True Names

Searching note: Switch to Firefox, and use google as your search engine. If you are in Safari, you already do: For your own fun and benefit, install Acidsearch. This give you one-key search and a choice of engine.