TextDrive vs. Textpattern

Once upon a time, TextDrive was started with a certain idea in mind.
bq.TextDrive was founded in 2004 by Dean Allen, and was originally conceived as a managed hosting service for users of his Textpattern content-management system. In an unusual move, Allen offered lifetime hosting accounts, at a one-time price of USD$199, to the first two hundred customers in lieu of seeking venture capital; this initial group was dubbed the “VC 200”. The scope of the company quickly moved beyond Textpattern hosting, however, and TextDrive has been a general-purpose hosting service for most of its history… Since early in its history, TextDrive has provided support to open source software projects; the company donates a portion of proceeds from each customer’s hosting services to an open source project of the customer’s choice, and has offered hosting services specifically tailored for developers of open source projects. – “Wikipedia(TextDrive)”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TextDrive Four years later, things have changed.
bq.As a pragmatic result of our long-lasting struggle to tame the touchy Subversion host we finally gave in and moved our code repository. – “Robert Wetzlmayr(Textpattern repository moved to Google Code)”:http://textpattern.com/weblog/315/textpattern-repository-moved-to-google-code I still have my second round VC lifetime account so this won’t affect me directly but I still think this sort of marks the end of an era. And not in a good way.

Movable Type vs. WordPress

bq.Movable Type 3.0 and on will not be the solution for everyone, and that’s okay. For some users, TypePad makes more sense. For others, non-Six Apart tools make more sense. – “Mena Trott(Another CMS)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2004/05/15/cms Many of us at the time and many more since have made the choice to use “non-Six Apart tools.” Six Apart is “making an effort(we’re here to compete)”:http://sippey.typepad.com/filtered/2008/03/were-here-to-co.html to change that.
bq.As you might know, WordPress 2.5 is about to be released, and we wanted to encourage WordPress users to upgrade. To Movable Type. – “Anil Dash(A WordPress 2.5 Upgrade Guide)”:http://www.movabletype.com/blog/2008/03/a-wordpress-25-upgrade-guide.html As you might expect, there was a response.
bq.Movable Type once led the market, it had over 90% marketshare in the self-hosted market. Now they call “pages” and “dynamic publishing”, features WordPress has had for 4+ years, innovation and you still can’t do basic things like click “next posts” at the bottom of home page. For the record, I’m glad they’ve taken the license of MT in a positive direction that prevents them from betraying their customers like they did with MT3, but they have a long way to go before the project could be considered a community. – “Matt Mullenweg(WordPress is Open Source)”:http://ma.tt/2008/03/wordpress-is-open-source/ I consider myself semi-neutral in this since, at this point, I don’t use either product much although I still have sites that are running both. Six Apart made a strategic mistake four years ago and the open sourcing of the product is a good first step toward a remedy. But just like Leo Laporte noted recently, it isn’t that Twitter is better than Pownce or Jaiku (most of them have more features), it is where the community resides. What Six Apart is going to have to do to make Movable Type a force once again is restore the user community that once surrounded it. And that, I think, is going to prove very difficult to do.

Don’t Call the Magic Attic

Just to be the safe side, you might want to check your local library and see if they have any of these titles.
bq.Hillsborough County librarians spent much of Tuesday tracking down a series of children’s books that referred readers to a telephone sex line. Patricia MacMartin discovered the faulty phone number when her 9-year-old daughter asked to dial the 800 number in the back of her Magic Attic Club book. She notified library officials and when they didn’t remove the books, she checked out every Magic Attic book available from her local branch, the New Tampa Regional Library. – “Laura Kinsler(Librarians Hunt Children’s Books With Porn Link)”:http://www2.tbo.com/content/2007/nov/06/librarians-hunt-down-childrens-books-porn-link/?news-breaking I first head about this last night during one of those sensationalized news breaks our local stations love so much: something about “Librarians failing to remove books from their shelves.” As it turned out, that actually wasn’t necessary. When we looked into things this morning, it only required removing a pre-perforated card. Nothing sensational at all, but then is sweeps month…

Distribution Costs and the Long Tail

bq.In lieu of more flexibility on pricing, NBC U sought a cut of Apple’s hardware sales. “Apple sold millions of dollars worth of hardware off the back of our content, and made a lot of money,” Zucker said. “They did not want to share in what they were making off the hardware or allow us to adjust pricing.” NBC Universal programming accounted for 40% of iTunes’ video sales. Zucker used iTunes as an example of the kind of digital business model that, he asserted, is corrosive to the media business. “We don’t want to replace the dollars we were making in the analog world with pennies on the digital side,” he said. Apple did not return calls for comment. – “Michael Learmonth(Zucker says Apple deal rotten)”:http://www.variety.com/article/VR1117974910.html?categoryid=1009&cs=1 When you make a purchase in a brick and mortar store, there are a certain amount of costs that accrue in producing the item and getting onto the store shelf in order for you to make a purchase. And one cost that has to be considered: no one will ever actually buy that item. When you purchase something, you are also paying the store for everything that will never be. Their goal is to offer the maximum numbers of items at the highest price possible that they can survive and, hopefully, make a profit. Contrast that with iTunes. Inventory costs: there is only one copy of the item. Storage concerns are not existent as well as keeping the item in stock. Distribution costs: These are minuscule and only incurred after an item is sold, not before. And many other costs from above (promotion, packaging, salaries for sales staff) don’t even figure in. A Heroes DVD set will retail for $59.99 for 23 episodes ($2.61 per episode if full price is paid, which is doubtful) but NBC Universal will only see a small portion of that overall cost (otherwise Amazon couldn’t sell it for $39.99 or $1.74). On iTunes, the episode cost is $1.99; we don’t know how much Apple gets to keep but judging from music reports, it is probably around $.60 leaving Universal with $1.39 of profit per episode. It just sounds to me that Zucker is trying to make a case he is deserved money for profits he lost when he never actually had them in first place.

NBC v. Apple

One questions that arose the other day in the Apple-NBC Kerfluffle was the demand that NBC wanted more copy protection.
bq.NBC Universal also wants iTunes to stiffen anti-piracy provisions so computer users would not have easy access to illegal downloads. – “Associated Press(Apple, Striking Back, Bars NBC Sales on ITunes)”:http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/technology/apee-apple.html?ex=1346212800&en=055f0bc7f6bdc4fb&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss Most people were quite what that meant.
bq.NBC apparently wants even tighter DRM on its videos than already provided by Apple, which allows users to authorize up to five computers to play back the video but has no DVD burning capabilities (unless the user wants to back up the file itself to a DVD). And as we know from the private admissions of Hollywood, stricter DRM restrictions aren’t about piracy-they’re about control. – “Jacqui Cheng(NBC wants more DRM, higher prices from iTunes)”:http://arstechnica.com/news.ars/post/20070831-nbc-wants-more-drm-higher-prices-from-itunes-report.html Good guess… but not quite.
bq.In addition, we asked Apple to take concrete steps to protect content from piracy, since it is estimated that the typical iPod contains a significant amount of illegally downloaded material. – “Cory Shields(NBC disappointed in not negotiating new iTunes Pact)”:http://quote.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=conewsstory&refer=conews&tkr=AAPL:US&sid=aR7Te_sjiGug Apparently, NBC wants Apple to force users to only be able to download preapproved material onto their iPod. That sound bizarre, but is actually exactly “what CableLabs forced TiVo to do(TiVoToGo and CableLabs)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2006/10/24/tivotogo. Which is probably another reason you won’t ever see an Apple TV with CableCard Support.

Gnomedex 2007

Well, here I am again, back at Gnomedex for a second year. I am really looking forward to learning a great deal over the next couple of days. One difference from last year, though, is I am not going to write a post for every session. That got to be a little too much work last year. But I am going to be writing some thoughts as we go along. Those are going to be available via my “pownce(Pownce: Michael P)”:http://pownce.com/michaelkpate/ account. But I will write some closing thoughts back afterwards.

Cult of the Amateur

I just finished reading Andrew Keen’s “Cult of the Amateur(Cult of the Amateur)”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0385520808/ref=nosim/libraryplanetcom. I had heard it discussed on more than one podcast, so I had been looking forward to reading it. It was pretty much what I expected. Keen holds a “Michael Gorman-esque(Gorman on Web 2.0)”:http://www.libraryplanet.com/2007/06/13/gorman-on-web-20 view of the world, in that the only choices that matter are made by book publishers, newspapers editors, and record producers. Everyone else should stay on the sideline and be happy that they are allowed the privilege of purchasing things chosen by industry giants. He singles out Lawrence Lessig, Jimmy Wales, and Glenn Reynolds for particular scorn. And he sometimes blames Web 2.0 for issues like Internet gambling and Child pornography without making bothering to explain just how they are linked. He is also the only person I can think of that champions both COPA and Dopa. “Michael Sauers(The Cult of the Amateur a partial response)”:http://www.travelinlibrarian.info/2007/06/cult-of-amateur-partial-response.html does a great job of going point by point through it. If you want to read a well-written screed, I can’t think of a better one. But I don’t really consider it anything more than that.

Longing for Library 1.0

While it hasn’t always been embraced by everyone, I think most people are willing to either give Library 2.0 a chance or just ignore it. Unfortunately, the “Editorial Staff of the Tampa Tribune(Mission Creep In Library System Deserves Fresh, Closer Look)”:http://www2.tbo.com/content/2007/jul/29/bz-mission-creep-in-library-system-deserves-fresh-/?news-opinion-editorials don’t fit into those categories. They would prefer a third path. Here are a few choice bits of wisdom.
bq.With people increasingly accessing information online, libraries have quietly grown their mission beyond simply circulating books and researching questions. Today, they also serve as computer centers, neighborhood meeting spots, art galleries, tutoring sites and even homeless centers. Some in county government believe every neighborhood deserves a library, so plans have been developed to build more and more. But such convenience carries a high cost, and taxpayers are in revolt over costs that have grown too great.
bq.But in discussing the demand for new libraries, it becomes clear that the role of libraries has evolved. You could even call it ‘mission creep.’ Today, the top priorities are more computer labs and more public meeting space. Book collections are deliberately being kept small. So make no mistake about it. The construction of new branch libraries is mostly about adding value to neighborhoods, not about getting more books to more people. If circulating books were the top priority, the library might decide it makes more sense to buy more bookmobiles, since the current two mobile units have been wildly successful.
bq.The board might also want to review its reciprocal agreement with Pasco County, a deal that’s become a mostly one-way street and gives Pasco a pass on building sufficient libraries for its neighborhoods near the county line. While we want to be good neighbors, it’s hard to see how this agreement serves Hillsborough taxpayers.
bq.Another good place to cut is the heavy focus on movies. While it makes sense for libraries to stock the classics and documentaries, there’s no reason to stock the latest Hollywood shoot ’em up. If people want to watch such movies, the private market offers ample opportunities. Besides, libraries are having a tough time keeping track of movies, and spending much too much to replace lost copies.
bq.And in refocusing its mission, the system also should reconsider the wisdom of saying yes to social events – such as Dance Dance Revolution. While the goal is noble – getting teenagers to the library – teens who arrive to play free video games aren’t there for the books. It seems some would prefer Library 1.0. Or even 0.1.

Florida Quality of Life

As I wrote about a few months ago, the State Legislature of Florida decided to force reductions of county budgets across the state. Our own county has reduced their budget by 3% from previous year. This has caused a great deal of discussion about which departments are essential and which are quality of life. At present, we are facing a 10% reduction. Other Florida Libraries are facing similar circumstances. * “Charlotte(County budget workshop meeting set for Monday)”:http://www.sun-herald.com/Newsstory.cfm?pubdate=072907&story=tp6ew2.htm&folder=NewsArchive2 – Laura Kleiss Hoeft, director of the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources department, said the tax reform is forcing different programs to face problematic issues of charging people to use their facilities, including libraries, public pools and even Englewood’s new skate park. * “Duval(Budget Cuts Take Bite Out Of Library Hours)”:http://www.news4jax.com/news/13648236/detail.html – In response to the 2007-2008 budget cuts, the library will cut nearly $3 million by reducing services and programs. The most noticeable change will be library hours. All branch libraries will be closed on Sundays with the exception of the Main Library downtown. Four regional libraries, two on the east/south side and two on the north/west side, will remain open on Sundays during the school year. On Mondays, the regional branches will close, leaving only the Main Library open. The branch libraries will operate Tuesday through Saturday. The cut also includes a $500,000 reduction for new books and materials, like DVDs and CDs. * “Hillsborough(Hillsborough County announces 2008 budget cuts)”:http://www.tampabays10.com/news/local/article.aspx?storyid=59663 – Even the Director of Libraries in Hillsborough County plans to start his workday putting books back on the shelves. As part of proposed budget cuts, most of the employees who restock books now, called pages, would be eliminated. Seven new park projects and seven new library projects are also being shelved for now. The Director of Libraries says it means people without libraries in the University and Sulpher Springs areas, will have to keep waiting. But Joe Stines hopes library users won’t notice the change. * “Miami-Dade(Dade proposes lowest tax rate since 1983)”:http://www.miamiherald.com/416/story/180934.html – In his proposed budget, Mayor Carlos Alvarez called for opening seven new libraries already under construction but canceling plans for four others because the county cannot afford to staff and operate them. * “Sarasota(Cuts, at a cost)”:http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20070729/NEWS/707290525 – In Sarasota, libraries could be among the hardest-hit services. Director Sarabeth Kalajian proposed a $12.9 million library budget for 2008, but leaders have suggested a 7 percent cut. The cut could eliminate four positions and trim library hours from 4721/2 to 440 per week. The loss of hours, which could cut six to eight hours per week from the North Sarasota Library, would lead to a loss of some of the programs libraries offer, such as art workshops and computer classes. There is one glimmer of hope… * “St. Lucie(Nonprofits to see same funding levels from St. Lucie)”:http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2007/jul/24/nonprofits-see-same-funding-levels-st-lucie/ – Commissioners decided last week to find funding in the budget so libraries in the county aren’t shuttered one day a week to save cash. Commissioners also shifted $8,000 back to the library’s budget to keep the Bookmobile operating during the summer. However, if the legislature is successful in getting the proposed tax changes that they are looking for next year, this will all be minor.

The New NannyState

Apparently, some members of Congress were so impressed by John Edward’s “fictional campaign pledge(John Edwards Vows To End All Bad Things By 2011)”:http://www.theonion.com/content/news/john_edwards_vows_to_end_all_bad, that they are going ahead and planning to enact the measures now. The House of Representatives is going to focus on file-sharing.
bq.Members of Congress Monday lashed out at the chief executive of a popular filesharing service after it was revealed that classified information was easily accessible via his and other P2P systems. Mark Gorton, chief executive of The Lime Group and Limewire P2P service, however, appeared bewildered that people were using Limewire to access confidential information. “I had no idea that there was the amount of classified information out there or that there were people who were actively looking for that,” Gorton told the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. – “Chloe Albanesius(House Targets Limewire on Leaked Classified Info)”:http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,1895,2162599,00.asp Rather than curb the behavior of government employees, it makes much more sense to regulate or even ban the software. Of course, The Senate isn’t going to settle for one class of application when there is a more obvious target.
bq.US senators today made a bipartisan call for the universal implementation of filtering and monitoring technologies on the Internet in order to protect children at the end of a Senate hearing for which civil liberties groups were not invited. Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Vice Chairman Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) both argued that Internet was a dangerous place where parents alone will not be able to protect their children. – “Adam Thomas(US Senators call for universal Internet filtering)”:http://pressesc.com/news/78225072007/us-senators-call-universal-internet-filtering Perhaps it is time to look back on how the Supreme Court felt a decade ago.
bq.The record demonstrates that the growth of the Internet has been and continues to be phenomenal. As a matter of constitutional tradition, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, we presume that governmental regulation of the content of speech is more likely to interfere with the free exchange of ideas than to encourage it. The interest in encouraging freedom of expression in a democratic society outweighs any theoretical but unproven benefit of censorship. – “John Paul Stevens(RENO, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES, et al. v. AMERICAN CIVIL LIBERTIES UNION et al.)”:http://www2.epic.org/cda/cda_decision.html This is no more constitutional than it was a decade ago. And interestingly, the two Justices who had the most reservations about the decision then (O’Connor and Rehnquist) are not even on the Court. But let’s hope we don’t go through all of this again.