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Re: [kGen] DTI's Broadband Content Pilots Study...
Hi Alex, Andy, Paul,
Many thanks for your email. We are similar in what we'd like to see as an
end result but I'm not sure if we have the same strategy to get there. I
feel we should strive to bring clarity to *exactly* what our end goal is
and also *exactly* what strategy we will employ to get there.
In summary I'd like to see "informational infrastructure" recognised as a
crucial and underlying component of the digital content marketplace. A
component that needs to be *intentionally* created by both codifying
current business practices and providing tools to enable
people/organisations to hook into the marketplace.
Taking your points in order. I was getting confused so I looked at what
A website is not infrastructure. Please can you explain the difference
between "business" infrastructure and "technical" infrastructure. I have
not used these terms and, unless you define them differently, I would make
no distinction as both, to my mind, are a codification of working practices
and agreed formats/methods of information exchange. Do you see them
differently? The infrastructure that I've been talking about is the
underlying "informational" infrastructure (to differentiate it from
"physical" infrastructure) that facilitates organisations and individuals
to do business together. I've gone into this a bit with my recommendations
to European Commission here:
[kGen] Luxembourg report: Getting money out of Europe...
There are so many examples of your "The Broadband Channel" already out
there in the real world. Up and running and working. Why create another
one? Even if you do "show that it can work as a business" and that you can
buy and sell content on the Internet - which is nothing new - you have done
nothing new to facilitate (I'm not saying encourage - I'm saying
facilitate) other companies setting up similar businesses.
Proof is not what's required in itself. Tools and infrastructure and
assistance to understand and use both are what's required too. It's like
you want to build 100m of road in the desert, drive a car up and down it,
show categorically that traveling by car on roads gets you from A to B
faster and then tell everyone to go out and buy cars. Sure, cars and roads
are great but without the road infrastructure it makes no sense to buy
cars. When I was in China last year I saw constant road making projects all
over the place. There were hardly any cars but it sure felt like they were
planning for them.
The Internet (TCP/IP) is only part of the informational infrastructure
that's required. We also need agreed metadata structures (XML schema),
codification of current working practices, sophisticated interoperability
platforms and all the things we are continuously talking about in Kendra
Initiative. So, providing proof in the absence of tools does nothing to
promote the acceptance and adoption of a working method.
So, the question is who's going to create this informational
infrastructure? These informational infrastructures are not something that
happen by accident. W3C and IETF are great examples of intentionally
working towards informational infrastructure goals. Do you recognise the
need for these "intentionally working towards informational infrastructure
goals" groups? Your report has no mention of either of them yet without
these groups enabling interoperability through building standards I would
not be able to communicate with you via this email.
You say that the consumer needs "trusted guides". I can go with that just
as easily as I can dispute it. Consumers can go both ways depending on what
the trusted sites are offering. Is AtomFilms a trusted brand? Given the
opportunity, consumers are quite happy to use the non-known-brand file
sharing systems (new-Napster-look-a-likes) of the world. These file sharing
systems drastically reduce the "highly complex world of content" to
something far more manageable. Please note I am not singing the praises for
file sharing systems as a concept, because none offer the ability to send
revenue to the content owner. But I am saying they provide an incredibly
convenient user experience and that's what's so attractive rather than
brand name. We should strive to create systems that are better experiences
than file sharing systems provide and also enable consumers to pay for the
content. Why are people not calling for this?
The issue here is one of "sites" and "informational infrastructure". In the
context of desiring to have an "open architecture platform for a content
marketplace" the idea of a singular site being the centre of the system
does not *demonstrate* that. Only multiple sites would show a demonstration
of the use of this informational infrastructure. Also, both the sites and
the informational infrastructure are required for it to work. To have no
informational infrastructure is like having no banking system. Back in the
good old days banks were separate entities and did not have any clearing
houses and so transferring funds must have been a nightmare. Somehow a
banking system got created by some form of consensus. In the world of
content we are at a similar stage but the number of parties involved is
much greater and so driving consensus much more taxing but it still has to
I question the need to "prove that there is a business model". Everyone is
making money right now from what they do. We just to make it easier for
them to do so on the Internet. We don't need a new business model as that
will just scare people away. Please take a look at the Kendra introduction
(URL in last email) for more information on this. If business models change
then it will take a while for it to happen and people will do it their own
good time. Let's just give them the tools to try it out.
I have some specific questions for you:
- What happens after your "The Broadband Channel" is up and running? What
are the ramifications? How will it bring us closer to a distributed (not
one central website) content marketplace? Given that there are many example
of a syndicating websites already how will this one take us anywhere new?
Once you have your "proof" what's the next step? What's the strategy?
- Where do you want to take us? What is your vision of the future? What do
you want it to look like?
At 10:20 29/09/2002 +0100, Birch, Alex wrote:
Thanks for your thoughts on the Content Pilots study.
You comment on two main points:
1. The need for infrastructure for buying and selling content rather
than "sites" to host content and service.
2. In the "creative industries cluster pilot" the need to get SME's
creating content linked to each other and individuals as well as larger
Our view is that we are not very far apart on these topics.
On 1. The Broadband Channel is shorthand for a business that would buy or
commission broadband content on its own account for further onward
distribution. It can be considered as commissioning producer that also acts
as a distributor. The aim - exactly as you observe - is to get the revenue
flowing between sellers and buyers of content. In this instance there needs
to be a body that takes some risk in starting the money flowing. The aim of
the pilot is to show that it can work as a business in this role. We see
this as "infrastructure facilitating and encouraging the buying and selling
of content" although it is essentially the business infrastructure rather
than the technical infrastructure that the "TBC" provides
On the more general point about "sites" as points of focus; we do believe
that consumer behaviour to date strongly indicates the need for trusted
guides (some of them with "familiar brands") such as media companies,
consumer companies and public sector bodies to help consumers navigate the
potentially highly complex world of content and applications on the web. We
believe the role of these groups is a vital element of driving broadband
take-p and needs to be incorporated into our thinking
On 2. You indicate that the report infers that the problem with SME produced
content is quality. We certainly don't believe that and don't mean to imply
it. Indeed, driving broadband content forward with and from the SME sector
was one of our primary goals. Our focus was on the difficulty of
transacting for content that SME's often encounter, across the creative
industries, particularly with respect to rights. Hence the idea was to
ensure that rights management tools were included as part of the pilot to
demonstrate that these issues could be dealt with either between SME's and
large companies, other SME's or individuals.
Overall we agree with your underlying sentiment - we need to get the revenue
flowing. The idea of these pilots is to prove that there is a business model
that can work in a number of areas and across organisational types which
therefore encourages people to get the revenue going.
Alex, Andy, Paul
From: Daniel Harris
Sent: Friday, September 20, 2002 10:21
To: Kendra General List; Alex Birch; Andy Anson; Nick Farhi; Paul Zwillenberg
Subject: DTI's Broadband Content Pilots Study...