Subject: Re: Free *Network* Software Business?
From: "Michael R. Bernstein" <>
Date: Thu, 04 Dec 2008 08:55:12 -0700
Thu, 04 Dec 2008 08:55:12 -0700

On Tue, 2008-12-02 at 23:13 -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.

I've had some time to think about what you're saying here.

Of the two industries I've been using as examples in this thread, fonts
are closest to having objective measures of the quality of the
information, specifically flexibility ansd adaptibility:

At a bare minimum, fonts are only required to have a few hundred glyphs
for the alphanumeric characters and punctuation. But beyond that, they
may have italics, multiple weights, alternate characters, swashes,
titling numerals, lining numerals, kerning pairs (to make typeset text
flow better) ligatures (specially drawn character pairs such as 'ti'),
small caps, and probably a few others that don't come to mind at the

Of course, all this is over-and-above the more subjective measures of
quality such as aesthetics, but it is usually a pretty good bet that a
font that has had that much extra work put into it's objective measures
will look good based on the subjective ones as well. 

Objective measures such as these may be possible for the new content
type / data format that I have envisioned, but they certainly don't
exist yet. 

>   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.

There is probably some room for measuring social activity around the
relative use/popularity of the new content (how many people are using a
particular file, as well as how much it is being used), but there are
also privacy concerns.

> 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

No. That's not even close. It is *much* less impressive than that.

>  -- yet it would seem to me that the adoption/uptake
> would be predicated on its universality/generality or adaptibility or
> simplicity, or somesuch.

Short-term uptake will be predicated on trendiness and social popularity
(but uptake as an *art form* may be determined by simplicity and
adaptibility of the format). Long term uptake may depend on
applicability and utility for branding and marketing (both personal and

- Michael

["application/pgp-signature" not shown]