The Medium and the Message

Written by Sam Vaknin

A debate is raging in e-publishing circles: should content be encrypted and protected (the Barnes and Noble or Digital goods model) - or should it be distributed freely and thus serve as a form of viral marketing (Seth Godin's "ideavirus")? Publishers fear that freely distributed and cost-free "cracked" e-books will cannibalize print books to oblivion.

The more paranoid point atrepparttar music industry. It failed to co-optrepparttar 108508 emerging peer-to-peer platforms (Napster) and to offer a viable digital assets management system with an equitable sharing of royalties. The results? A protracted legal battle and piracy run amok. "Publishers" - goes this creed - "are positioned to incorporate encryption and protection measures atrepparttar 108509 very inception ofrepparttar 108510 digital publishing industry. They ought to learnrepparttar 108511 lesson."

But this view ignores a vital difference between sound and text. In music, what matter arerepparttar 108512 song orrepparttar 108513 musical piece. The medium (or carrier, or packing) is marginal and interchangeable. A CD, an audio cassette, or an MP3 player are all fine, as far asrepparttar 108514 consumer is concerned. The listener bases his or her purchasing decisions on sound quality andrepparttar 108515 faithfulness of reproduction ofrepparttar 108516 listening experience (for instance, in a concert hall). This is a very narrow, rational, measurable and quantifiable criterion.

Not so with text.

Content is only one element of many of equal footing underlyingrepparttar 108517 decision to purchase a specific text-"carrier" (medium). Various media encapsulating IDENTICAL text will still fare differently. Hencerepparttar 108518 failure of CD-ROMs and e-learning. People tend to consume content in other formats or media, even if it is fully available to them or even owned by them in one specific medium. People prefer to pay to listen to live lectures rather than read freely available online transcripts. Libraries buy print journals even when they have subscribed torepparttar 108519 full text online versions ofrepparttar 108520 very same publications. And consumers overwhelmingly prefer to purchase books in print rather than their e-versions.

This is partly a question ofrepparttar 108521 slow demise of old habits. E-books have yet to developrepparttar 108522 user-friendliness, platform-independence, portability, browsability and many other attributes of this ingenious medium,repparttar 108523 Gutenberg tome. But it also has to do with marketing psychology. Where text (or text equivalents, such as speech) is concerned,repparttar 108524 medium is at least as important asrepparttar 108525 message. And this will hold true even when e-books catch up with their print brethren technologically.

An Ambarrassment of Riches

Written by Sam Vaknin

The Internet is too rich. Even powerful and sophisticated search engines, such as Google, return a lot of trash, dead ends, and Error 404's in response torepparttar most well-defined query, Boolean operators and all. Directories created by human editors - such as Yahoo! orrepparttar 108507 Open Directory Project - are often overwhelmed byrepparttar 108508 amount of material out there. Likerepparttar 108509 legendary blob,repparttar 108510 Internet is clearly out of classificatory control. Some web sites - like Suite101 - have introducedrepparttar 108511 old and tried Dewey subject classification system successfully used in non-virtual libraries for more than a century. Books - both print and electronic - (actually, their publishers) get assigned an ISBN (International Standard Book Number) by national agencies. Periodical publications (magazines, newsletters, bulletins) sport an ISSN (International Serial Standard Number). National libraries dole out CIP's (Cataloguing in Publication numbers), which help lesser outfits to cataloguerepparttar 108512 book upon arrival. Butrepparttar 108513 emergence of new book formats, independent publishing, and self publishing has strained this already creaking system to its limits. In short:repparttar 108514 whole thing is fast developing into an awful mess.

Resolution is one solution.

Resolution isrepparttar 108515 linking of identifiers to content. An identifier can be a word, or a phrase. RealNames implemented this approach and its proprietary software is now incorporated in most browsers. The user types a word, brand name, phrase, or code, and gets re-directed to a web site withrepparttar 108516 appropriate content. The only snag: RealNames identifiers are for sale. Thus, its identifiers are not guaranteed to lead torepparttar 108517 best, only, or relevant resource. Similar systems are available in many languages. Nexet, for example, provides such a resolution service in Hebrew.

The Association of American Publishers (APA) has an Enabling Technologies Committee. Fittingly, atrepparttar 108518 Frankfurt Book Fair of 1997, it announcedrepparttar 108519 DOI (Digital Object Identifier) initiative. An International DOI Foundation (IDF) was set up and invited all publishers - American and non-American alike - to apply for a unique DOI prefix. DOI is actually a private case of a larger system of "handles" developed byrepparttar 108520 CNRI (Corporation for National Research Initiatives). Their "Handle Resolver" is a browser plug-in software, which re-directs their handles to URL's or other pieces of data, or content. Withoutrepparttar 108521 Resolver, typing inrepparttar 108522 handle simply directsrepparttar 108523 user to a few proxy servers, which "understand"repparttar 108524 handle protocols.

The interesting (and new) feature ofrepparttar 108525 system is its ability to resolve to MULTIPLE locations (URL's, or data, or content). The same identifier can resolve to a Universe of inter-related information (effectively, to a mini-library). The content thus resolved need not be limited to text. Multiple resolution works with audio, images, and even video.

The IDF's press release is worth some extensive quoting:

"Imagine you'rerepparttar 108526 manager of an Internet company reading a story online inrepparttar 108527 "Wall Street Journal" written by Stacey E. Bressler, a co-author of Communities of Commerce, and atrepparttar 108528 end ofrepparttar 108529 story there is a link to purchase options forrepparttar 108530 book.

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