Rearguard and Vanguard: A Presentation to ALPLS, April 11, 2k014


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Rearguard and Vanguard: A Presentation to ALPLS, April 11, 2k014

  1. 1. Rearguard and Vanguard Joseph J. Esposito ALPLS Conference April 11, 2014
  2. 2. Fraud and Piracy If those are the only two choices, which side am I on?
  3. 3. Topics • Personal testimonial • Rearguard: hire more lawyers • Why we got into this business in the first place • The specter of start-ups nibbling at the margins • The Internet as medium • McLuhan 101 • Vanguard: hire more editors
  4. 4. The View from Here • Copyright is among the great human inventions • Investors in IP understandably want strong copyright protection • We need stronger incentives to invest in IP, not fewer • The problem is that this is a rearguard strategy, whereas “the future lies ahead” (Mayor Richard Daley)
  5. 5. The Medium is the Message • The print medium invites us to create works designed for print • Among those properties is the fixed text— since the print medium is itself fixed • A web of externalities arise around the fixed medium: the definitive text, the version of record, the urge to “get it right” • A copy of a fixed text will be identical to the original text—a core problem of piracy
  6. 6. The Medium is the Message--II • The Internet is a digital network • As digital, it permits easy copying • As a network, it permits easy sharing • It lends itself to changing texts—more like conversations than a version of record • It can enable collaboration • Many negatives: Wild West component • Of course, it continues to evolve
  7. 7. Internet piracy is the inevitable outcome when you take content created for one medium, that of the fixed text, and insert it into another medium, that of the dynamic Internet. There is no meaningful solution to this problem that does not change the nature of the content itself.
  8. 8. What’s a Publisher to Do? Strategy #1: The Rearguard Defense • Try to take the conversation out of Internet publishing • Use DRM where applicable • Create restrictive licenses • Empower the legal department • Support anti-piracy trade associations • Lobby governments • This makes perfect sense, but it is a rearguard strategy
  9. 9. Implications of the Rearguard Strategy • Vigilance regarding infringement • Strain on management bandwidth • Meanwhile, we try to create and publish the very same things that were being infringed in the first place
  10. 10. Strategy #II: The Vanguard Initiative • Change the nature of the content • Create content that is like the Internet itself: dynamic and conversation-like • Learn from and adapt consumer social media, but don’t sink to the level of mere chatter • Seek dynamic texts, real-time data feeds, content that is dependent on multiple nodes of a network (of people or data sources)
  11. 11. Consider this: I became a publisher because . . . • I like spending my time with lawyers • Stopping unauthorized use has higher priority than stimulating authorized use • Publishing has always been the same since the invention of the written word • I doubt that anyone listening to this Webinar subscribes to any of the 3 points above
  12. 12. Vanguard Content Strategy • Very difficult to implement • Puts premium on editorial strategy rather than business or marketing (or legal) strategies • More than changing workflow; involves changing the content itself • Not an adaptation of current model but a wholly new model • Not all current players will be able to participate
  13. 13. Some Elements of the Vanguard • Real-time data feeds: impossible to copy because they keep changing • Dynamic data based on sensors placed in mobile phones (each user participates in the collection of data) • A narrowly-focused wiki, where collaborators continuously add new information to a growing text
  14. 14. Have I Just Described Waze? • Mapping software/mapping data • Users provide information on traffic, accidents, potholes, etc. • Directions are changed when the data changes • How can you copy/pirate this? • And yet Waze is a publication • Wouldn’t you know it? Just acquired by Google
  15. 15. Is Waze out of Reach? • How about a community of biologists working around the globe • How about having them build a common database for all to use • How about real-time adjustments to the database • Subscription model, selling memberships • (For an early version of this, see MIT’s Cognet)
  16. 16. Problems with the Vanguard • Mostly lacks tangible examples; must be invented • Costly: hire new editors, invest in R&D • Current authors may not be interested or capable in working in this way • Lacks all of secondary benefits of traditional publications, e.g., journal reputation and use as currency for tenure committees • What’s the business model?
  17. 17. Different Choices for Different Publishers • Established companies necessarily need a rearguard strategy • Start-ups almost certainly will have a vanguard strategy • But a rearguard strategy is less valuable over time; rearguard must be complemented by vanguard • Vanguard alone is highly risky, but some start- ups will thrive
  18. 18. Piracy is not only about bad guys and weak tools for enforcement. It is also about a failure of editorial imagination.
  19. 19. Some Relevant Links • “The Processed Book”: view/1038/959 • “The Face-down Publishing Paradigm”: he-face-down-publishing-paradigm/ • “The Ambient Authorship and Subtle Potential of Sensor Publishing”: ensor-publishing/
  20. 20. Contact Information • Joseph J. Esposito • Processed Media • • @josephjesposito