Every chapter of Living Networks is being released on this blog as a free download, together with commentary and updated perspectives since its original publication in 2002.
Creating Value When Digital Products Flow Freely
OVERVIEW: In a hyper-connected world digital products flow freely, unless safeguards are put in place. Providers of content – including entertainment and high-value information – must balance protection and promotion to maximize value. All content industries are in a state of massive flux, and evolutionary strategies are required to succeed in this time of transition.
Chapter 8 of Living Networks – Commentary and updated perspectives
One of the dominant aspects of change today is in content distribution. The information, news, and entertainment that feeds our work and lives is coming to us in new ways, transforming all content businesses. All of the fundamentals as well as the strategic recommendations offered in this chapter still hold true today. However some of the details have been superseded given the pace of change in the content distribution landscape.
One thing we have discovered over the last five years is that Digital Rights Management has limited applicability. Certainly for music distribution it seems that DRM has a limited shelf life. However for movies it will continue to be used for the foreseeable future.
My underlying premise for much the chapter – that collaborative filtering will be fundamental as content proliferates – has been borne out.
The immense value of the collaborative filtering systems described in Chapters 1 and 4 is that they bring the highest quality material to the fore. This broadens the spectrum of what is available, and increases demand as people find what they like far more easily. The recommendations features of Amazon.com, Yahoo!’s Launch.com, and their peers are already playing an important role. As more sophisticated collaborative filtering systems are developed and widely used, we will be able to tap the collective experience of the many people that have similar taste to us, but we will never meet.
However the trend to collaborative filtering this has further to run. I believe that this will become central to how we find and consume content of all kinds. I have loved Last.FM since I first discovered it in 2003, and there are now a wide variety of recommendation engines around, but this is just the beginning.
I conclude the chapter with five recommendations for content creators and distributors, summarized below:
1. Build evolutionary business models
2. Define and refine strategies for standards and interfaces
3. Develop and implement aggregation strategies
4. Enable versatile syndication models
5. Rework your product versioning
These absolutely still apply for any company in the content space.