Blaming The Bullet

Who Should Be Responsible For Funding The TCTF?

Quote:  “The trade body for UK music, the BPI, asked internet service providers to disconnect people who ignore requests to stop sharing music.

But Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse, which runs the TalkTalk broadband service, is refusing. He said it is not his job to be an internet policeman.”

It seems like the British music industry is keen to have ISPs police their clients’ product usage. At least one ISP, however, has refused. As online piracy drives music, film and video game producers to reconsider their means of distribution, the question arises of whose responsibility it is to police the internet.  On one hand I agree with Dunston; why blame the bullet, especially when its communicative potential is as great as any invention since the printed word? On the other, this could be seen as a question of externalities; Car makers let national governments maintain roads and provide healthcare for people suffering from smog – so when do the costs to industry associated with internet piracy outweigh the benefits of the web’s commercial and communicative applications?

The internet is a new kind of commons. So, on the third hand, how can we avoid overgrazing, and who is likely to stop us if we try? A fourth hand wonders about the possibility of the ‘net itself being seen as a means of production and its neutrality dissolved to turn it into a one-way means of production. Even if we avoid that (on the…fifth hand?), quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

In short, do we blame the bullet, the gun, the manufacturer… or the human impulse to shoot?

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Indy Developers, VWs to Usurp Publishers?

EA's Board of Directors

Video game publishers are dead. They’re walking corpses. They just don’t know it. 

Fighting words from Corey Bridges, a veteran of Netscape who in his time has also been involved with some other interesting projects. Bridges, who is a co-founder of The Multiverse Network Inc., was speaking at the South by SouthWest Festival in Austin, Texas.

Bridges predicted that the future of games development would mirror the history of Web itself. He said that the initial belief that large media companies would provide quality online content turned out to be false, that the majority of interesting content on the Web is created by everyday people, and that the most important Internet media companies (Google, Youtube, etc) got their start outside the existing media establishment. 

Bridges maintains that game publishers are already in trouble, due to high costs of development, short shelf life of games and low developer profits. These factors discourage experimentation and create stressful conditions for employees, he said. 

Bridges believes that these conditions, coupled with the increasing availability of broadband and middleware have created an environment that encourages indy game development, which is happening simultaneously with an increase in the popularity of virtual worlds (for which Multiverse is a universal client and tool).

The future of games, according to Bridges, involves new genres for a variety of gamers, not just the hardcore ones. Playing games will lose its stigma as an entertainment medium, much like manga in Japan is accepted. Virtual worlds will begin to blur with the Web in general, and the virtual world, game, and social network industries will cross-pollinate. Publishers will [continue to] consolidate and will survive, but with more competition from “boutique firms” who will offer developers financing, management, marketing, and recruitment without as much need for physical distribution.

It’s a bold statement. Can indy developers truly hope to compete in the long run against the big publishers, with all their industry clout and resources? We know that games developed independently can be lots of fun – but do they have the chops for a 12-round bout with the likes of EA?

You listening, al-Qa’eda?

UPDATE: Another cable has been severed, this time off the coast of Dubai . . .
ORIGINAL POST: Wreaking global ruckus requires no radioisotopes or weaponized anthrax. A couple of box cutters in the right place can reap you a whirlwind. Anyone hear what’s happening in the Middle East and India this week? I give you the destructive potential of an ordinary cargo ship:

It took just one vessel to inflict the damage that brought down the internet for millions. […] the internet blackout, which has left 75 million people with only limited access, was caused by a ship that tried to moor off the coast of Egypt in bad weather on Wednesday. Since then phone and internet traffic has been severely reduced across a huge swath of the region, slashed by as much as 70% in countries including India, Egypt and Dubai.

The right thing in the wrong place at the right time can make all the difference in the world . . .