Archive for the 'Business' Category

For treating everyone like criminals, for acting like we owe you one, and most of all for attempting to drag the world back into the 19th Century.

Fuck you, movie industry.

Okay, I’m not really pissed off at the film industry, just the anti-piracy campaigning.

We’re told how piracy means the industry won’t have the money to carry on making films like it does (cue sad music and black and white clips). But there’s no One True Way of making movies.

The amount of money and human effort spent on producing a big budget movie is wildly out of proportion with the perceived value of it in the eyes of the viewing public. The anti-piracy campaigns are in some way an attempt at realigning this balance. But this is creating a false sense of scarcity, something which we shouldn’t tolerate. It’s simply a fact that films are now effectively free to copy and view, and the current distribution model needs to die out.

It is a shame that we’ll no longer see so many incredibly produced movies. But we no longer see so many hand written books or intricately sculpted pieces of furniture. People still make these things, but they’re much rarer, and their perceived value is much more in parity with reality.

It’s also an unfortunate fact that this means lots of people will lose jobs and money. But it just means that big budget movies are no longer a profitable exercise to put their creativity towards. The value of something isn’t solely based on how many hours people spent making it.

Aside from the monetary concerns, piracy ads often try to equate pirating movies with things like stealing someone’s car. But you know what? I would steal someone’s car if I could painlessly duplicate it with no inconvenience to them.

How would we feel if we suddenly discovered a way to replicate food, and all of the world’s top chefs tried to block its use because it stopped them from making a profit off of their amazing dishes?

The Clone 'o' Chow

Someone still needs to design the dishes for the replicators, it’s just a change in the model.

This is going to happen. We shouldn’t be pretending it isn’t or trying to force the current system to carry on like some kind of zombie. What we should be doing is accepting it and trying to ease the transition for the creators and industries affected by it.

Pixish is a new site which claims to use crowdsourcing and peer review to help businesses source custom photography and illustration.

From the site, here’s ‘how it works’:

  1. Create an Assignment. Ask for what you want.
  2. Get Submissions. People create and submit their work.
  3. Peer Review. Community voting helps find the best.
  4. Pick Winners. Select your favorites and download.
  5. Rewards! Winners get prizes and rewards.

Now, maybe I’m just being cynical, but isn’t this just a way for businesses to get a load of free design on spec, something which is a big, big no-no for the creative industry?

In other words, artists spend their time creating something purpose-made for a business’s specification, and then, except for the ‘winner’, receive no compensation for the time involved.

I know there are lots of community art sites and artists out there who happily create stuff for free for the simple of joy of creating stuff. That’s great, and clearly what this site is based on. But tying it in so closely to ‘businesses paying for your work’ just feels incredibly skeevy to me, and bordering on exploitation of talented amateurs.

Still, it’s a free market, I guess, and nobody’s forcing these artists to get involved. But the mere existence of things like this strengthens a increasingly popular mindset that says that creativity comes cheaply, and that the creators should take the financial and time risk of producing something that may not be what is wanted, rather than the purchaser taking that risk.

As AIGA (the professional association for design) says:

Organizations sometimes initiate contests as a way of developing logos or other identity work. Unlike disciplines in which the designer can bill for implementation of the proposed design (e.g., architecture), in communication design, the submitted solution already represents the bulk of the intellectual work…

AIGA believes that doing speculative work seriously compromises the quality of work that clients are entitled to and also violates a tacit, long-standing ethical standard in the communication design profession worldwide. AIGA strongly discourages the practice of requesting that design work be produced and submitted on a speculative basis in order to be considered for acceptance on a project.

Update: Pixish do mention these concerns on their About page:

But isn’t this spec work? We acknowledge that some artists are against working before there’s a contract in place, so they may not want to participate here. And that’s fine – Pixish isn’t for everyone. If you’re already making a living as a pro, hooray! We’re thrilled for you. But you’re lucky. There are a lot of really talented folks who aren’t. We want to give them a chance to get out there, get seen, and get paid.

Which is true, but doesn’t really address my problem with the culture and expectations that this sort of site perpetuates.

37signals had some downtime recently because of a failure at Rackspace.

Rackspace advertises on 37signals’ site.

So you get this:

Screenshot of 37signal's apology for downtime caused by Rackspace, next to an advert for Rackspace reading 'If it's Mission Critical, you need the hosting experts.'

Basketball player turns down standard endorsement deals, instead sells his own branded basketball shoes at a price ordinary people can actually afford: $15. (2 comments)

An idea I suggested in a Slashdot comment over a year ago goes on to win a Time Magazine Best Inventions 2006 award. Typical.

Yes, yes, I know, ideas are ten a penny, and the value’s in the execution not the concept. Still, I like to keep track of these little non-victories.

They’re selling DropSend (0 comments)

37signals has made their Getting Real book (previously a $19 PDF download) freely available on the web. Lots of short, easily-digestible one-page essays about how to develop, market and release web apps with a lean and mean small team. (0 comments)