Subject: Re: Free *Network* Software Business?
From: Seth Johnson <seth.johnson@RealMeasures.dyndns.org>
Date: Tue, 02 Dec 2008 23:32:32 -0500



Seth Johnson wrote:
> 
> I've often speculated that one might be able to sell the *quality* of
> information -- its accuracy, its completeness, its timeliness, its
> usability in terms of attributes available for whatever uses one
> needs, common understanding of its specifications and "business
> terms", its scalability and flexibility generally in terms of
> nonredundancy and reuse.  You'd have to establish a context of
> measurement of these characteristics, perhaps advertising your quality
> rates in an open way that allows verification of the integrity of the
> measure, perhaps hooked up to usage contexts that happen to
> problematize particular characteristics -- like some sort of context
> where successful outcomes depend on accurate information, or complete,
> or whatever.  So maybe there could be independent actors measuring
> various providers of information, or maybe there could be "discovered"
> or "intuited" quality in circumstances where providers don't volunteer
> measures.
> 
> It seems to me that competition would be really, really hard, though.
> Selling more accurate or complete, etc. information than your
> competitors seems like hard work against rapidly escalating
> improvements in technological and procedural approaches.


(I think the above paragraph is a really good example of my general
inability in this area.  I think I'm trying to say that the techniques
would become generally known very quickly, but I'm not sure that's any
kind of a valid notion -- couldn't competitors keep their techniques
to themselves?  And now another idea comes to mind: how do you get
from the world we're in, where people are generally happy with the
information they come across, whatever its quality in any sense, to a
world where they start to pay more than a pittance so real investments
can be made into the production of quality information?  Now I return
to hiding, having rambled all of the notions I have that I think might
be of some interest here.  :-)  -- Seth)


> You seem to want to create some sort of uniform data architecture for
> consumer network services, and some aspect of it you seem to think
> would be salable -- yet it would seem to me that the adoption/uptake
> would be predicated on its universality/generality or adaptibility or
> simplicity, or somesuch.  I have almost zero capacity to think clearly
> about business/market/economic models (hence my almost complete
> silence on this list), but my feeling is that competing would be
> really hard.  When I think about information freedom and the intrinsic
> freedom of information, I always tend to bottom out with selling
> quality as such.
> 
> Seth
> 
> "Michael R. Bernstein" wrote:
> >
> > Hi folks,
> >
> > I am considering launching a new venture, centered around a (to be
> > written) consumer network service.
> >
> > My inclination is to license the software under the AGPLv3, and make it
> > a 'Franklin Street Statement[1]' compliant Free Network Service.
> >
> > There are proprietary competitors in this space, but no dominant vendors
> > (indeed, speaking of 'vendors' at all is somewhat misleading, most
> > existing services are promotional rather than revenue-generating). The
> > service itself does not have strong inherent network effects beyond the
> > social and word-of-mouth kind, nor would independently deployed
> > instances have much to gain by peering or federating with each other.
> >
> > However, by embracing data portability, I think I've identified an
> > opportunity to add some interesting functionality and define a new data
> > format. None of the existing services in this space give *any* thought
> > to data import or export, and each is more-or-less built from scratch.
> >
> > So, I think it is possible this new data format could create it's own
> > network effects, and thus create an ecosystem and minor industry. The
> > potential size/importance of said ecosystem could end up being anywhere
> > between 'Desktop Themes' (ie. a cottage industry at best, some
> > opportunity for monetization through aggregation) and 'fonts' (whoah).
> >
> > Sorry for being somewhat coy at this stage, but can anyone suggest case
> > studies or existing business models that would be applicable for the
> > constraints I've laid out?
> >
> > - Michael Bernstein
> >
> > [1] http://autonomo.us/2008/07/franklin-street-statement/
> >
> >   ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> >                        Name: signature.asc
> >    signature.asc       Type: application/pgp-signature
> >                 Description: This is a digitally signed message part
> 
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-- 

RIAA is the RISK!  Our NET is P2P!
http://www.nyfairuse.org/action/ftc

DRM is Theft!  We are the Stakeholders!

New Yorkers for Fair Use
http://www.nyfairuse.org

[CC] Counter-copyright: http://realmeasures.dyndns.org/cc

I reserve no rights restricting copying, modification or distribution
of this incidentally recorded communication.  Original authorship
should be attributed reasonably, but only so far as such an
expectation might hold for usual practice in ordinary social discourse
to which one holds no claim of exclusive rights.