Scripting News for 8/3/07

Theater movies suck 

I played hookie to see The Simpsons movie, and boy did it suck. It’s probably not the fault of the people who made the movie, because I’m so spoiled with my high-def home theater, and powerful sound system. When I go watch a movie in a theater, the screen seems so far away, so small, and their technology is so poor.

For example, the movie was too big to fit on the screen, about 20 percent of the picture, 10 percent on either side, was actually projected on the drapes.

And the sound was muddy and tinny and soft.

A movie would have to be pretty incredible to hold my attention in that environment.

The movie industry needs to take a look at this. I suppose I’m in the minority, but I won’t be for long. The prices on home entertainment equipment are dropping all the time, and word of mouth must be spreading. For $2K you can create an environment at home that’s hugely better than the one in the theaters. Next year it’ll probably be $1K.

Google mashup editor 

If anyone from Google is tuned in….

I’d like to evaluate the new beta Google Mashup Editor

Contact me at scriptingnewsmail at gmail dot com.


Lock-in and the web, day 2 

Every day I dish up a number of topics, it’s never clear to me which, if any, people will find interesting. Yesterday the topic that got the flow was lock-in and Web 2.0. There were times when that topic would go over everyone’s head, but today it’s much on-topic, as people commit more and more of their creativity to a life sentence behind bars in a Web 2.0 startup’s data silo.

I drew a comparison to the explosive end of copy protection in the 1980s, but that’s just one of many examples of the endless cycle of the tech industry. It’s why we have booms and busts, it’s how we achieve growth, how we shed layers in spring, and grow new fur in fall. Lock-in, it seems, will always be with us, if only so the users can express their independence by deleting it. 🙂

The first time I saw explosive deconstruction was in the late 70s and early 80s when the personal computer rose out of the ranks of hobbyists. I came of age in a university that only had mainframes in the early-mid 70s. I graduated and got a job in the timesharing industry, where we rented out computer time on our mainframes. At the same time, in New Mexico, of all places, another direction was being explored, the idea of a fractional horsepower computer, where each person would have their own machine all to themselves. This idea had legs, big ones.

A few years later, after learning Unix in Madison, I had my own computer, a 64K black box running UCSD Pascal on top of CP/M. Then I got an Apple II, an Apple III, an IBM PC and off to the races. A boom. But the boom got extra lift from the arrogant denial of the titans of the mainframe and minicomputer eras. Had they embraced the change instead of resisting it, the boom would have been much softer. But that never happens, or so it seems. (Bill Gates swore he’d not fall victim to it, but he has, over and over.)

So when people give reasons why lock-in is forever, that’s just part of the transition. I also remember how the web got started, and how many people thought it wouldn’t work (I was one of them, btw, but not for long). This time the lock-in is not in the computer, although that’s starting to happen again (the iPhone is a great example, but it’ll be a short-lived product, I think, kind of like the Apple III or the Newton). It’s not about base-level networking or content or presentation formats, that’s been settled too (HTML and HTTP and RSS). This time the lock-in is about identity.

So if the past is a guide to the future, how will identity deconstruct?

It’s simple. A vendor will come along and they’ll store your identity but give you complete freedom to move it where ever you want when ever you want at no cost. They’ll make it easy to do so. And they’ll get rich doing it, if they want to.


“People come back to places that send them away.”

It’s the basic trust proposition of the Internet. People will only trust a service that gives them complete freedom to come and go as they please. Further, they’ll want to come back if you send them to cool places. It’s why people like Facebook today, and why they’ll be tired of it tomorrow, if it only sends you to places within the Facebook silo.

If you look back to all the booms, they’ve all had that quality of freedom for everyone to do whatever they want. It’s always that way with creativity. And you know the cycle is about to end when everything is controlled, when there are few outlets for creativity. When you wake up and sit down to work and don’t feel like doing anything. That’s when it’s time to start thinking about blowing something up. 🙂

Sting: “If you love someone, set them free.”

11 responses to this post.

  1. “But the boom got extra lift from the arrogant denial of the titans of the mainframe and minicomputer eras. Had they embraced the change instead of resisting it, the boom would have been much softer”

    I’m not sure I understand this… Surely if the ‘titans’ somehow embraced the change (by pouring their good amount of money, resources, ‘opening up’ their protocols etc wouldn’t that enhance the boom?


  2. Posted by Ann on August 3, 2007 at 8:02 am

    Great post Dave. Really enjoyed it.

    BTW, Facebook does send you elsewhere…I’ve discoved some interesting things outside FB linked to from inside the FBapps. If I had my facebook identiy when I got there that might make some things easier, but frankly I want to check out the ‘thing’ first before I commit to them having any clue about me.

    It seems to me FB is a walled garden where you can peek out the trellis gate and see beautiful views — and if you want pass through and check out the view closer up.

    I agree with that openness is attractive, and lock-ins are offputting. Maybe I’m missing something basic here? I guess you’re saying a user should have the right to take their use data (and media) with them to other services…That makes sense.

    But sometimes it’s nice to reinvent yourself too. :^)


  3. Posted by Yoni on August 3, 2007 at 8:23 am

    Great post Dave, was very interesting to read it (first time I’m on your blog, btw).

    I agree with much of what you said here, but think the future today is a bit different than you’re painting it. For example, Microsoft has managed to lock-in users to their Windows platform for years, and as time goes by are trying to do it more and more – mostly by purchasing other people’s techs and labelling it MICROSOFT. They really aim for a world where a company’s network will be completely Microsoft – the client OSes, the servers, firewalls, NAC, etc. Do you think they’ll fail? Do you think they’ll succeed and then it will explode?

    I haven’t made a decision regarding this matter yet, but feel Microsoft still has a glamorous future – most of their strategy decisions are actually pretty good (even though many people hate them for it…).


  4. Dimitris, I can see why it might appear so, but if they embraced the change it wouldn’t have a chance to build up pressure. The explosiveness that makes it a boom comes from the dam breaking and the pressure being relieved.


  5. Another aspect of the mf/mini case is the role of the IT department clinging to them along with the hardware vendors. In some ways the dam burst was a user revolution against IT. Is there a parallel enabler in the web scenario?


  6. As always, you’ve nailed it. Being ‘sent away’ is one of the main reasons that I’m so addicted to Twitter. Thanks for the steady flow of enlightenment..


  7. Maybe this time the meme will stick. I wonder if freebase or attentiontrust will be good enabler to break the data lock-in.

    I wonder what will come next. After the Hardware lock-in, the big companies started to make money with the Software lock-in. Now the new big companies make their money around the Data lock-in. When the data will be freed what will be the enabler for the next big companies?


  8. Posted by Solo on August 3, 2007 at 10:38 am


    I know this is off-topic, but: where is the cactus?

    As far as a consistent online database of one’s wishlists, film queues etc. I think you are onto something. The skeptical geek will keep lists like this in .txt form somewhere, but it is hard to fight the convenience of clicking and creating proprietary lists.


  9. You know, I’m not a movie person. Years, if not decades, go by between the times I buy a ticket. But, I’m pretty sure the reason you had to watch The Simpsons on an iPod-size screen is because the theater owner figured out he could cram, I dunno, six screens into the same space that used to be occupied by one big screen.

    You’re old enough, Dave, to know what it was like to watch a movie on a screen that was large enough, rather than on something that looks like an over-sized TV.

    As the movie-going experience becomes more and more indistinguishable from watching the film at home, why bother?


  10. good post, movies do suck, but unlike you, i blame the sotry lines more than anyhing else; too bad the movie industry thinks illegal downloading is destroying their industry…while, and i would say the same about music, it quality…music and movies suck today…i feel i’m totally in a culture which is stagnant, or stagnating…

    i often look at it this way, when i was 16, 1983, i loved new cool stuff like the clash, grandmaster flash and the furious five, new order, the cure…

    that was the birth of a a lot of different styles of music. i would never listen to 50s, early 60s music…fuck that shit, it was old.

    now, hip-hop is still big, punk rock is now green day wanna bees, and belle and sebastian, or someone like elliot smith, who are actually good, are never even heard on the radio even though they are 10 years old.

    why don’t the kids rebel, how can they stand the banality of it all…its like hip-hop is 30-something years old, punk was dead in 1983…create something cool….

    maybe its just me, but i’m bored. we need more good movies, and music, i wish the kids would just tear it up and start rebelling…

    any way…i think the change your speaking of, the shift to the personal computer, is probably similar to the work i’m doing…p2p networking, letting people communicate, do commerce, between themselves without a middleman.

    its totally new.

    its like how the insurgants/viet-cong kick our ass…we’re too entrenched, slow, lazy, overly protective, bearucratic, weak.

    i think we will swtich from centralized websites to non-centralized communication architectures; it more naturally fits the actual architecture of the internet.

    today, with websites, we realy just have a copied version of how we centeralize things on the ground. instead of wallmart, we have ebay; instead of a phone company, we have google…extra.

    all i’m thinking is, along your same lines, that the complexity will be reduced, and each person will be their own website,ecommerce store….

    just think about it…you could walk around with your iphone, take a picture, and place it on sell, your whole life, all the things you create, either available for free or for sale.

    that is why i’m pissed at steve jobs for locking up the iphone.

    that is why i’m pissed about all the lemmings and facebook…that and facebook is boring compared to my space (i prefer flavor compared to they stuffy harvard types).

    anyway…i’ve bitched too much and need to get back to work.

    thanks for the good post.


  11. > “People come back to places that send them away.”

    My first exposure to this Eternal Truth came around age 9,
    1960, watching “Miracle on 34th St.”

    Thanks Dave for continued focus on this.

    — stan


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