The ICSC concept to me is becoming precariously balanced on my increasingly firm belief that the internet is rapidly becoming a closed system. This belief was informed both by Tim Wu's assertions at the IIEA (http://www.iiea.com/events/the-innovation-cycle-how-convergence-affects-global-media-and-broadcasting) which opened my eyes to the possibility but also by the entrenchment of the Open internet evangelists. Here are just a few random examples of why I think the case for the internet becoming a closed system is strong:
As a film producer recently said to me, the ISPs held out on tackling piracy because they didn't want to hold back broadband uptake. But now that it is nearing ubiquity and telcos are being squeezed financially, doing a deal with content owners for some of the back end is potentially more appealing for them.
I've always felt that PCs and notebooks are not good viewing devices - nothing beats the TV or better still the projector for long form content. With HD increasingly becoming standard, good distance viewing is necessary - then you get Sony looking at doing this - and you can see the TV becoming like the Ipod or Iphone.
Governments have always been cautious of the internet. As Larry Sanger (a founder of Wikipedia) said, give them an excuse to regulate it and they will. Piracy is rapidly becoming the excuse.
Closed, proprietary systems like the iPhone app store are functioning much better then their open equivalents online. Android is going nowhere soon. Look even at Kindle vs Sony Ebook reader. Users want a quality, well-designed service and will pay for it.
Google Books initiative is ironically developing a closed system by sheer weight of their resources - and that is what the Open Book Alliance are fighting against. In reality, Google will become the only game in town if they are allowed go ahead with it....and maybe they should.
Now the big problem is the payment mechanism - phones are lucky because of subscription. But people don't want to subscribe to a plethora of content providers - so this does open up the advertising-support question. Once advertisers get over their hangups about brand-building on traditional media, it should be game on there too. But they too will want closed, measurable systems.
My view is let's give it to them. Closed and open systems can sit side by side. But we should strive to create closed, well-run proprietary systems that offer quality content so that we don't get lost in the detritus of poor content that pervades the World Wide Web. The Web should be seen as a resource - and an extremely useful one at that - Wikipedia, Slideshare, Scribd - i love and use them all. But alongside that we need to ensure that there are business models for the distribution of quality content that protects and respects the owners copyright. If they decide to give a Creative Commons license, that is their decision but those who infringe that copyright should be pursued. If that means regulation, well then so be it.
posted by Neil Leyden @ 1:24 p.m.