Ryan Sohmer Rails Against Internet Regulation

Ryan Sohmer is the author of the wildly succesful webcomics Least I Could Do, and Looking For Group.  His recent post in the LICD forums is a response to the Writer’s Guild of Canada’s calls to begin regulating the internet in Canada, especially in the realm of online video.

“Say what you will about the web, and there is much to be said, it breeds innovation. The reason for that is because it’s non-regulated, because an ass like me can produce whatever he likes, however he likes in an effort to entertain others. The majority of the things we try don’t/won’t/shouldn’t work, but if 1 out of every 100 projects works, that’s a success.” – Ryan Sohmer

excerpted from “Union Woes” – Least I Could Do Forum.

As one of a select few who make their entire living from independently publishing content on the web (and associated merchandise sales), Ryan’s opinion should certainly carry some weight.  

Canadian media has typically been less reactionary in new media intellectual property concerns, with the CBC going so far as to release a DRM-free, high quality version of “Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister” via Bittorrent last March.

High Resolution Inauguration Photograph

The Fullscreen Gigapan Viewer offers a very interesting look at last week’s Inauguration.  Who can you find in the crowd?  It’s like Where’s Waldo for the digital age.  Ultra-high resolution photography offers some interesting opportunities.  

Has anyone had personal experience with this?  I’ve seen scanback cameras used for fine art reproduction, but I’m not sure what kind of camera took this photography.  Could this be from a medium format digital camera like the the Hasselblad H3D-39II?  

Photo by David Bergman
Photo by David Bergman

EDIT:   According to the photographer’s profile page (David Bergman) the image is “made up of 220 images and the final image size is 59,783 X 24,658 pixels or 1,474 megapixels.”  That’s way higher than the H3D’s measly 39 megapixels.  The fact that it’s multiple images stiched together explains the pincushioning on the edges.  Still an interesting technical implementation.  What else could this tool be applied to?

Creative Capitalism and Social Entrepreneurship

This NYTimes article is a must read for anyone interested in the field of social entrepreneurship:

Can Businesses Do Well and Do Good? – Economix Blog – NYTimes.com
“The question of creative capitalism is whether there is some role for institutions that falls between traditional profit-making and nonprofit firms. Is the world being well served with these two clearly distinguished types of entities, one of which serves only shareholders and the other of which has some other goal? Does it make sense to consider hybrid organizations that have an obligation to earn financial returns, for some of their investors, and social returns for others?”

One possibility that this article fails to address is the for-profit entity that is wholly owned by an individual or group of individuals who seek a set return while allocating further gains towards furthering their mission, be it supporting the arts, fighting poverty, increasing the availability of educational resources, or a host of other worthy endeavors.

Old Wheel (Photo by iCampbeℓℓ)
Old Wheel (Photo by iCampbeℓℓ)

Shareholders are not necessarily part of the picture for all businesses, especially in the age of Web 2.0 startups. It is possible to bootstrap a small company, and maintaining full control of the company simplifies a number of questions that this article raises about serving shareholders or social good. If the company management is also the owners, then the decisions are more simple (though not necessarily easy). Furthermore, just because a company is small doesn’t mean that it can’t have wide impact.

One of the most exciting aspects of technological advancement is the capacity to amplify and scale the result of effort, from the wheel to the internet. The potential to turn a small investment into lasting social change is a large draw for many people entering the social entrepreneurship field.

How to Make a Good First Impression

Conversation (Photo by Thomas Hawk)
Conversation (Photo by Thomas Hawk)

According to Prospects, the UK’s Official Graduate Careers Website, research shows that first impressions are made up of the following (via Interviews: How to impress):

  • 55% visual impact, i.e. dress, facial expressions and body language;
  • 38% tone of voice;
  • 7% from what you actually say.

What does this say for how you present yourself?  Whether meeting with an agent, a venture capitalist, or even just making new friends, your appearance and tone have a lot to do with how you are perceived.

If you have time to overcome a first impression, then what you say will have a larger impact in how you are remembered, but it will be much easier if the image your are projecting is consistent with how you want to be seen.

Creative Commons Doesn’t Cannibalize Sales

NIN Frontman Trent Reznor (Photo by Capital M)
NIN Frontman Trent Reznor
(Photo by Capital M)

Chris Anderson recently posted “The best selling MP3 album of the year was free” on The Long Tail blog. Apparently, Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV was the best selling MP3 album of 2008 despite being released under a Creative Commons license that allowed for free, legal sharing.

The album grossed more than $1.6 million in revenue duing the first week in release.  Creative Commons blog has more:

NIN fans could have gone to any file sharing network to download the entire CC-BY-NC-SA album legally. Many did, and thousands will continue to do so. So why would fans bother buying files that were identical to the ones on the file sharing networks? One explanation is the convenience and ease of use of NIN and Amazon’s MP3 stores. But another is that fans understood that purchasing MP3s would directly support the music and career of a musician they liked.

This would seem to be another big win for proponents of alternative models to the traditional intellectual property attitudes stemming from the physical goods economy.