Video: Jay Smooth explains music

I came across this one in my feed reader somewhere, and while anyone who has been following the music industry knows much of this already, hip-hop radio DJ Jay Smooth has a nice way of describing what has happened since the days when we all saved up our money and took the bus to a record store to buy a new album. A new record was a special event, with all sorts of rituals that had little or nothing to do with the actual music — the social experience, the album cover, the liner notes, and so on (although I confess that unlike Jay, I have never licked a record).

All of these things are missing, or at least radically different, in a world filled with leaks and downloads instead of records. How does the industry deal with that? How do musicians deal with that? Radiohead found one way, Trent Reznor and GirlTalk and David Byrne have found ways — others will no doubt find their own way. It’s a fascinating time for the industry. For more on Jay Smooth, his show Ill Doctrine and his background in New York’s hip-hop radio scene, check here and here and here.

Google: Should Techmeme be worried?

After years of barely changing at all, Google has unveiled a major change for its Google Blog Search tool. As a whole bunch of people are reporting, the site now provides a kind of “meme-tracker” view of what’s being written about. It’s much like Google News, but next to the main headline there’s a little box that says “92 blogs over 15 hours” or words to that effect, telling you how many other blogs have written about the topic. When you click on that text, you get taken to a page with all of the various blog headlines and a cool little graph that shows the activity on a timeline.

More than one person is calling this a “Techmeme-killer” (because of course new things always have to kill old things or it’s just no fun). But is it? I don’t think so. For one thing, I like the fact that Techmeme.com is kind of dynamic — even if I don’t really understand how it operates. Blog posts go from being a sub-link of a sub-link to being a headline post, then disappear altogether; others form their own sub-group and then get reabsorbed, and some form headlines without any links at all, which makes some people mad. It may be a black box, but I kind of like that. Fred Wilson says that he likes it because it’s more personal than just an algorithm.

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Publishers: Don’t use crappy ad links

As a reader, and as someone who cares about online media in all kinds of other ways, I would like to second the opinions that David Churbuck expresses in a post on his blog about “The blight known as Vibrant Media.” In a nutshell: those double-underlined links that generate pop-up ads or affiliate links to a variety of craptacular sites, which companies like IntelliText specialize in, are an abomination. They make your site look like ass, and what’s worse, they try to trick readers. As David says:

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Real vs. the MPAA: Dumb and dumberer

When reports first came out about a month ago that Real Networks was launching a DVD-ripping software application called RealDVD, a number of people — including yours truly — wondered what on earth the geniuses at Real were smoking. How could such a product not get sued? Even though the software uses its own digital-rights management controls to prevent sharing, burning, etc., it seemed obvious that the movie industry would have a conniption when they got wind of RealDVD. And guess what? They’ve gone ahead and launched a lawsuit against the company.

Real’s lawyers tried to get the jump on Hollywood (or rather, the Motion Picture Association of America) by filing a lawsuit against the organization first, asking the courts to rule that RealDVD complies with licensing agreements, but that’s the equivalent of a Hail Mary pass at best. But if Real is dumb for ever thinking it could launch such a product, the MPAA is even dumber for opposing it. If the app includes DRM controls that prevent users from sharing and burning, then why not let DVD buyers make copies that they can watch on their computers? Seeing any kind of copying as a crime hasn’t done the industry any favours so far.

Zuckerberg worth $1.5-billion — or not

It’s bad enough that people pay any attention to Forbes magazine’s pathetic “my portfolio is bigger than your portfolio” list of rich people, but at least most of the people on the list have actual assets that can be measured in some objective fashion — i.e., by stock-market value. But young Mark Zuckerberg, the co-founder of Facebook, manages to get on the list at #321 with what Forbes calls a “net worth” of $1.5-billion, which is apparently based on little more than someone hitting a few numbers on a calculator. But hey, it makes for a great headline, right?

Is Facebook worth $15-billion? Not in any real sense of the word. Yes, it’s true that Microsoft paid $240-million for 1.6 per cent of the company, which theoretically values the entire company at $15-billion. But the key word there is “theoretically.” There’s about as much chance of someone buying Facebook for $15-billion as there is of me flying to the moon. In real terms, Mark Zuckerberg is worth something functionally equivalent to zero. I’d love to see him walk into a bank with a copy of the Forbes magazine list and try to get a loan for a couple of hundred million or so.