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Comment Makes Sense (Score 5, Insightful) 377

Just like most mutations are unsuccessful, most creative ideas are not "welfare increasing", after all, the status quo came about for a reason and your idea has to be pretty clever to beat it in all, or even most, metrics.

Of course, on the off chance a creative idea *is* successful, we're all for it, but that's pretty hard to determine in advance. And more importantly, after the fact, all the discomfort from change (and one shouldn't underestimate how much change hurts psychologically) has already been paid for, so we can simply enjoy the benefits.

Comment Re:How hard can that possibly be? (Score 2) 663

This reminds me of my youngest in grade 1 in tears at his math homework.

What is 1 + 1?

        He scrawled 2.

How did you arrive at this answer?

    "I just added them. But that's not what the teacher wants. Waah!"

I tried for 10 minutes to tease out the mental process from him, but he was well beyond using representational systems to add numbers. At this point, he just *knew*. Furthermore, my pathologically honest child could not lie at that age, so pretending he put two items together and counted them was right out.

So I pulled out my first year math text which was mostly "God gives you zero and the successor function and 450 pages from now we prove calculus", and copied the appropriate paragraph or two.

Teacher never said anything about it, and I didn't see another quite so insane question that year.

Comment Re:Except He's Wrong (Score 2) 113

Cory's service to the community is not in providing nuanced analysis of issues. It's using his fame to bring issues to light that would simply be ignored by the more mainstream community.

We've got dozens of people with blogs to provide cogent, deep analysis. We've got precious few people with enough name recognition that they can get important issues put on the agenda.

I love in-depth policy analysis, but I'm well aware it's the kiss of death if you want to actually get things done in the real world. Simply put, nuance makes things too complicated for those who have only the slightest of interest in issues that we consider important - and they're the ones that make the decisions.

Comment Re:Monopoly (Score 1) 113

You're sounding awfully bitter that a moderate number of people with limited amounts of time and energy pay more attention to Cory Doctorow than they do to you or me.

Why? Outsourcing news filtering to those we've given some authority to is not a crime. It's how we function.

Personally, I outsource my filtering to newpapers, TV, friends, family, experts who happen to get media coverage, etc...

Comment Re:$20,000 hammer (Score 1) 301

What I will say, however, is that the public sector has to follow a LOT of byzantine rules around procurement

They do, and it's precisely *because* they have to be scrupulously fair that there are these byzantine rules. Such rules are what happen when you attempt to codify every aspect of a transaction so that there is no conceivable way that any party can be favored by the purchaser, etc. And of course, when someone *does* find a way to do something bad within the rules, the answer is more rules.

Fewer rules means trusting human judgement. Trust in human judgment means that there *will* be the occasional misuse of funds. And misuse of funds means that someone will be blamed for not having rules to prevent the problem in the first place. (The idea that the cost of preventing a crisis can easily be more than the crisis itself something few voters can understand.)

So in the end, we get exactly what the public demands - enough rules that compliance doubles the cost of everything, but a level of fraud and graft (which might have added 10% to the price) that is much lower than the private sector.

Comment Isn't a bit late... (Score 4, Insightful) 147

By the time they know it's a flop, isn't a bit late? They've already spent pretty much all the money. At best, it might persuade some theaters to *not* show the movie.

It doesn't really help to find out that the oncoming light in the tunnel is a train 30 seconds earlier than you might have realized otherwise...

Comment Re:Take a LOSS? A LOSS on eBooks? (Score 1) 323

If we're talking about self-published books, it seems likely that the median self-pub book makes about 100 sales. The median for a published book is probably about 2-3K. (Hard figures are almost impossible to come by.)

I've long stopped equating popular with good. They're not opposite, but if you ignore the not-publishable-quality books, I'd say it's orthogonal. As for sales, the main problem for self-publishers is that there's 100,000 books self-published each month. A book that sells 30 copies is not necessarily bad, it's that not enough people will read it (even for free) for it to ever get word-of-mouth, even if it would be good enough to succeed.

A fundamental problem for the industry is that hard-cover books only cost a little more to print than a trade paperback. The main reason for hard-covers at all is that many readers can't handle the fact that they're paying three times a much to read the book immediately. The HC gives the rabid fan who's willing to pay to read it right away an excuse to themselves as to why they're willing to pay so much. (You'll note that they stop selling HCs as soon as a paperback comes out.)

With e-books, it's harder to get consumers to pay a substantial amount up front for what will be the same good in a year. There's no convenient myth that the reader can latch their willingness to pay onto, and thus there's a lot more resistance to paying a substantial amount up front. And unfortunately, the extra money from hardcover is what keeps the industry alive.

Comment The limiting factor is time, not money (Score 2) 323

Almost everyone I know with an e-book reader went nuts buying cheap books until they had a few hundred book in the unread pile. Unfortunately, they've got adult jobs, and thus limited time to read. Their book buying went from 10 times normal rate back down to the normal rate.

I think a lot of people in the industry were hoping that revenue per reader was going to stay constant, even if the readers were buying 5 times as many books at 1/5 the price. Now reality is sinking in. With cheap e-books, people *might* buy 50% more books, which is still a huge decrease in industry income. This is not a merry time to be a publisher, an author, or to have anything to do with the book industry.

However, once the publishers are gone, Amazon should do very well in the self-published market. Not with readers, of course - who has time to sift through hundreds of books to find the odd readable one. But with desperate authors who want to get promoted. I figure $25K to get a book to show up decently in the Amazon listings is going to make a lot more revenue than Amazon did from selling books.

It'll just suck if you want to read anything.

Comment Re:Mobile apps and screen sizes, legit problem (Score 2) 331

I will say that this also comes from many, many users, who will consistently rate a page that has everything tuned to perfection as "more professional" and thus more trustworthy.

It's not just stupid designers. There really is a customer-experience trade-off that is valued by the customers, as long as they have exactly the right screen size. It's one of the disadvantages that Android lives with. The flexibility means that it's not practical to offer the same customer experience that people find on the iDevice, and a lot of customers value that experience. (Personally, I don't, but I'm exactly 1 customer opinion.)

Comment Re:They won't fork it (Score 1) 223

If they're smart, they'll let Google continue to pay for updating Android, but demand a percentage of sales (or a set fee per handset) to keep using Android. The whole point of being the dominant retailer is to take the manufacturer's profits, and leave them with the expenses. Samsung should spend just enough on Tizen to make it a plausible threat (including releasing the occasional Tizen phone), and not a penny more.

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We must believe that it is the darkest before the dawn of a beautiful new world. We will see it when we believe it. -- Saul Alinsky