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Archive for the ‘Boundaries’ Category

Pirates on Current TV

Current TV just put up an interview I did a few months back with Brooklyn producers John Carluccio and Mark Kotlinkski – They dug up some cool slides I haven’t seen before. Mark also has a production outfit called 88 Hip Hop which does some great stuff – look for his film The Mural Kings about legendary graffiti artists TATS CRU – which is well worth checking out.

The Pirate’s Dilemma in Strategy + Business

strategy and business

I did an interview for Booz Allen Hamilton’s strategy + business magazine with Edward Baker – you can read it here.

The Pirate’s Dilemma at The Medici Summit

Here’s the full speech from my keynote last week at The Medici Summit on when and how it’s best to compete with pirates. There were some amazing speakers at this conference, check the Summit website for more videos over the coming months.

Pirates of the Third Screen


I wrote and op-ed on the future of mobile marketing for this week’s edition of ADWEEK, making the case that treating customers like criminals for illegally remixing your brands and messages isn’t a good idea:

“Effective strategies will mean more connections with consumers and increased opportunities to communicate with them. But they may also mean more crossed wires and mixed messages. The question is, are we in the business of spreading messages or controlling them? In the future it’s going to be harder to do both.”

You can read the piece in its entirety here.

Update: The New York Times picked up on the op-ed too.

And… We’re back.

Costa Rica

Apologies for the lack of activity these last few days, was taking a break in Costa Rica, but normal activities have now resumed. While I was away a lot has been going on…

Lawrence Lessig might be running for congress.

Ji Lee developed the ultimate t-shirt for Red Sox fans.

Some great books came out, like Clay Shirky’s Here Comes Everybody and Gerd Leonhard’s Music 2.0

The BBC thinks the Chinese model of music-as-advertising could be the answer, I think that loss of independence will damage music and all we’ll be left with is muzak. As a revenue stream sponsorship makes sense, but as the revenue stream, it will damage music. There needs to be royalties and licenses and other ways for people to earn money from their work. I think as prices of these things fall (which they will) the value artists can create will go up, because more people will be consuming their material.

Oh, and I did an interview with Creative Generalist.

The Medici Effect: Free Download


Giving away something for free is a great way to compete with pirates, but it’s also a great way to compete with obscurity. Around 200,000 books come out every year in North America, and the average book sells 500 copies or less. A free e-version might cost you some sales, but all the evidence suggests it’s more likely to gain you an audience.

It’s also a great strategy for books that aren’t obscure. Bestselling author Paul Coelho had a lot of success with this approach, which I wrote about a few weeks ago. But it seems the idea of free books itself is now starting to go viral. This morning I got this email from Frans Johansson, bestselling author of innovation bible The Medici Effect:

“My publisher Harvard Business School Press has just done a first. They sent me the pdf for The Medici Effect for me to post on my site. Anyone can download it, post it, and share it with anyone for free. They have never done anything like this in the past and we are all very curious about what could happen … The inspiration for this came effectively from The Pirate’s Dilemma blog where my friend Matt Mason describes how best-selling author Paolo Coelho boosted sales in Russia by uploading a pirate copy of his book The Alchemist. Very good example of competing with pirates. I sent the post to HBS Press – and they said let’s do it with the English version.”

You can download the full version of The Medici Effect here (pdf), which is one of the best innovation books I’ve ever read, and a bargain at twice the price.

I realize there is one book mentioned in this post that doesn’t yet have a free e-version available. I’m working on it…

Obama on Net Neutrality

Digg and the Pirate’s Dilemma

Digg Pirate’s Dilemma

Steve D of TechVat has done a very cool appraisal of Digg using the ‘four pillars of community’ idea from the book, a device I use to think about building open source systems, social networks and other types of communities that will attract participants.

It’s cool that people are starting to pick up on some of the other ideas in the book. The pirate’s dilemma model is actually one of many (well, eight…), but it seemed to be the best title that tied them all together. The main points are quoted below, but check out the full post here. Steve uses the four pillars as I outlined them to examine where he thinks Digg is faltering, and where it’s doing well. He writes:

“Pillar 1: Altruism – Inspire your Audience to Help You Start Something.

When Digg began it was all about getting great content on the site. Back then it was strictly a tech site and the user base consisted of a large following that came from Kevin Rose’s days on TechTV.

Kevin had a vision. He wanted to harness the Wisdom of Crowds for the purpose of spreading great content to a multitude of users all over the web. If there was a money making system at work no one saw it back then. Many members wanted to see Digg succeed because they felt it was the wave of the future, putting the power of the media back into the hands of the common man.

Pillar 2: Reputation – Let Your Audience Create New Identities and Distinguish Themselves.

MegaDeth had a song in the 80’s, “Peace Sells, But Who’s Buying?” Even the most altruistic of people like to have a modicum of recognition for their deeds. Many Internet forums are run by volunteer administrators. They do not do it for pay they do it as they see personal value in it. Having the title of admin on some forums gives you a title equivalent to King or Queen. It is something you have earned and others respect.

Between the top digs users list and the DiggNation podcast Rose and company offered a valid reward system to get members involved; fame.

Many of the top Diggers on the site grew to have followings. They became social news celebrities in their own right. Becoming a top Digger was not something that was handed to you. Oh no, it is something that you had to work your ass off to achieve.

Pillar 3: Experience – Give Your Audience a New Experience and the Chance to Improve Their Skills.

Not all users of Digg are in it for the fame. Some of them just want to learn a thing or two about how social media works.

I know, from my own personal experience, that my involvement in Digg has been rewarding because I have met many new friends. People I would have never met outside of Digg are now people that I can call friends.

Not only have I met new people but I have also been able to debate my ideals and sway others (or been swayed myself) all because of Digg. Outside of home, work and my small circle of local friends I do not encounter many people who do not share my ideals and way of looking at things. Thanks to Digg (at least in the early days) I was able to learn things that have changed my point of view on various subjects.

I have found myself to be a better writer and debater because of the time I have spent on Digg.

Pillar 4: Pay Them!

I am not talking about cash money here (wouldn’t that be nice!) but about paying back the Digg user base for, without them, Digg is nothing.

Digg does still give back in the form of the DiggNation podcast but, they dropped the top Digger list. Not only have they dropped the list but they have turned the site upside down by making harder for the top Diggers to stay in the game. They have created an un-level playing field by forcing the more popular members to acquire more Diggs on a story before it gets promoted to the front page.

I understand that Digg wants to attract new members but what about all those people who made Digg big in the first place? If I, as a new user, am told that I am only welcome to submit content to the site until I hit a certain popularity threshold than why should I invest any time at all into the site? Digg is effectively telling me that they are scared of influential members using the site.

It has long been said that good managers hire good workers while bad managers hire bad workers so that they will not be shown up. Is that where Digg is headed?”

Get Steve’s answer here…

Reggaeton endorses Obama

I thought this reggaeton video was worth posting for sheer catchiness, my favourite campaign song yet from any of the candidates. Piracy is a bi-partisan issue, so I try and keep politics off this blog. But in terms of support of open government, net neutrality and defense of the commons, many who understand how important open systems are to the future of democracy, myself included, think Obama is our guy. If he’s elected, it wouldn’t be unthinkable for Lawrence Lessig to get some say in shaping tech policy, which would be pretty incredible.

The Pirate’s Dilemma Act 3: Net Neutrality

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