There’s one thing we got to get, Heyes….

…and that’s out of this business!”

One of the TV highlights of the week for me in the early 1970s was the TV series ‘Alias Smith and Jones‘, following the adventures of two outlaws on probation, Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry, as they attempted to stay ahead of the law and out of trouble. At the start of every episode, we’d see the two being pursued on horseback, with Curry shouting the above lines to Heyes.

This week I finally decided that I need to get ‘out of the business’ of freelance web development.  I have a nice part time day job, involvement with a startup, and currently enough freelance work to keep things ticking over.  But teh freelance web work will never, ever, make me a good income again, and if I’m going to do anything with my freelancing time, I need to find something else.

What triggered this?  I quoted for a WordPress related job – install, configure, tweak the theme and apply a few small mods to the installation. Admittedly not one of the world’s great technical tasks, but a nice job.  I quoted at my ‘lowest rate’ – £20.00 / hr – this was a UK based customer, and I expected to take about 10 hours to do the job.  I replied a mail later in the day telling me that I’d not been successful as another UK based freelancer had come in at a lower rate.  Of £5.00 per hour.

A fiver an hour.  Less than I’d get sweeping floors in McDonalds. Rates like that are pretty common from suppliers of services based in the Far east, but from a UK based develoeper, it’s scary.  Because it means that the market for some types of development work has become commoditised, price driven and almost at the level of ‘will work for food’.

So…time to get out.  It’s no longer worth it.  Fortunately I have a few ‘specialist’ areas of software development I can fall back on, but am wondering now whether it’s time to take a while different approach.  With a flexible permanent job available to me, maybe it’s time to look at other things to do and leave software development work to the sweatshops of the far east and the UK?

I’ve been thinking of things that are not ‘commodity’ – maybe get my old woodworking skills back?  Or try something new? Art? Something to do with my interest in vintage radio? Who knows.  Perhaps focusisng on the permanent job and doing bits of freelance work or something new for ‘beer money’ is the way forward these days.

Very, very sad.  How long before other parts of our technology and ‘creative’ industries become sub-minimum wage sweatshops?

‘Does Microsoft move the cheese too often?’

Every now and again I bother to read something about my profession.  I know that this sounds rather bad – continuous professional development and all that stuff – but usually I’m too busy doing stuff to read about what others are doing or what I might be doing in 2 years time.  And so I encountered this little piece:

I am a professional .NET developer (OK…I make money by writing code using .NET – my professionalism is up to my clients and employer to comment on!) and yes, it’s a rapidly changing world.  But that doesn’t mean that you have to adapt what you’re doing all the time to keep up with Microsoft.  Now, I can already hear the ceremonial disembowelling cutlasses being sharpened by more hardcore developers, but let’s continue…

I still write code using the .NET 2.0 and .NET 3.5 frameworks, as well as .NET 4.0  Why? Three reasons:

  • The earlier frameworks often do everything that the application needs to do.
  • I understand how they work better than .NET 4.0.  So, I find it faster to create code and hence solve the customer’s problems.
  • The customer may not have (or want to have) the most up to date framework on their machines.  And who am I to say otherwise if the earlier stuff does the job?

Whilst there are some very sensible reasons for making use of the most current, stable version of any technology, it’s worth remembering that many people don’t care what you develop their software in as long as it works, is maintainable and doesn’t cost them the Earth. the preoccupation with newer, shinier stuff comes mainly from us – the developers – who get hooked in to the stuff that the tool makers – Microsoft et al – produce. If we said ‘No, bugger off’ more frequently things might settle down.

I also develop software in PHP and JavaScript, and maintain a lot of legacy stuff in Microsoft VB6.  I do this because, bluntly, people pay me to do it.  And therein lies the answer to the question above.  Microsoft change stuff reasonably frequently – that’s their privilege.  It’s also our privilege to not get roped in to the constant change process.  Remember WHY we write code – it’s to solve problems – not keep the develoeprs at Redmond in gainful employment.

Remember our customers – they’re the people who should matter to us – not Microsoft’s behaviour.





And Facebook carries on downwards….

In my last post I questioned the value given to Facebook in their IPO.  It became clear at the close of first day trading that things hadn’t gone according to plan; the usual ‘Day One Spike’ associated with high profile technology IPOs just didn’t happen, and I have a feeling that the only reason that Facebook didn’t end the day lower than it did was because the underwriters of the IPO bought up stock to shore up the price.

Of course, that what the under-writers of IPOs are partially there for; they pick up the spare stock and keep the price up, but given that the slump has continued for two days trading now, I am beginning to wonder whether the initial price was artificially inflated for the egos / benefit of those involved.  If so, that is totally unacceptable beccause it means that the ‘civilian’ buyers of the stock – those not in on the game – paid over the value of the company from day one, and it is increasingly possible (and indeed likely) that everyone involved in the launch KNEW that.

There is an interesting article here, by Michael Wolff, that states what quite a few of us have wondered for a while.  Given that, beneath the hype, branding and bells and whistles, Facebook is an advert supported site, how on earth do they expect to make such money as a 100 billion dollar price tag suggests?  And Wolff should know; he wrote the book ‘Burn Rate’, which documented the crash and burn of the first dot-com boom a decade ago.

The problem is that it’s not just Facebook at risk here; a bad IPO in a sector colours the views of those preparing other stock market launches.  Out there are lots of technology start ups, all wondering about financing.  A solid Facebook IPO would have possibly led to a market place that was more willing to put money in to smaller companies that needed much less money and that might even have been producing goods and services of greater value than the ability to play Farmville or post statuses.  And by ‘solid’ I mean exactly that – a sound valuation – if the fall continues then it may well be that a valuation of 40 to 50 billion dollars was MUCH more realistic – that didn’t require urgent under-writer support, that showed healthy secondary trading over the days after launch and that also showed a steady growth as people realised that Facebook had some value that could be exploited – given availability of money.  After all, that’s what an IPO was ORIGINALLY supposed to do – give some money to the founders but mainly give the company money to develop.

As it is, Facebook was clearly over-valued – whether by intention or accident we don’t know – and analysts are finally asking the questions that should have been asked months ago.  Facebook’s last minute purchase of Instagram to try and grab mobile traction looks increasingly like panic.  The company may settle down to around $50 billion dollars – still, IMO, overvalued but the markets could probably live with it.

But back to those other comanies in the wings.  Based on previous technology trading cycles, a bad high profile IPO:

  • Makes the companies queuing up to do an IPO pause in their tracks.
  • Reduces the value of such IPOs and dents market confidence
  • Causes investors in any technology companies to remember that there might be a downside risk and so be more careful about investing – which isn’t always a bad thing, but sucks if you’re a ‘real value’ company.

Historically this tends to lead to a deflation of the tech market place – the last thing we need now.

As is said in the Pythian Scrolls in Battlestar Galactica : “All this has happened before, and all this will happen again.”

The obligatory Facebook IPO post….or…Hey! Zuckerberg! You’re my bitch!

Well, despite the state of the world economy, Facebook finally managed it’s IPO today and ended the day at roughly the same level as it launched at, having had a high point of about $42 and a start point of $38.  Now, when I were a lad we did IPOs differently – take the VA Linux IPO in the 1990s – a first day increase of nearly 700% on the starting price…..

But the world is different today, and the markets are older – although given recent behaviours not any wiser.   The Facebook IPO was never going to be a show-stopper of the type we saw in the first dot-com boom, no matter how people hyped it up.  But, even Linked In, that had it’s IPO more recently, opened at $45 and closed at around $90 on the first day. So what happened to facebook, and why should we care?

To start with, the opening price was, in my opinion, incredibly high for a company that simply peddles user generated content, games access, in game currencies, personal data access and adverts.  And that’s why we should care, because ultimately the value of Facebook will depend upon how advertisers and data crunchers value that content and the 900 million users of Facebook, and whether those users will keep playing the Facebook game.

Why did Facebook go public?  Traditionally, companies go public when they need a market in which to sell shares in the company to investors in order to raise money, typically for expansion, moving new products to market, etc.  In recent years – especially in tech industries – the IPO has been seen as a means by which the people involved with the startup can flog their shares and get rich quick, and I’m afraid that’s what I see happening here.

The big question is – how is Facebook worth $100 billion dollars?  That’s more than Ford and more than Macdonalds.  Last year Facebook returned a profit of a billion dollars on revenue of 3.7 billion dollars, which isn’t bad going.  Ford had revenues of over $100 billion, and profits of over $6 billion in 2010, having reduced it’s debt by $12 billion in the same year.  Not bad either. But Ford only has a market capitalisation of $38 billion.  So, that market capitalisation of Ford of 38 billions is related to a profit of $6 billions.  Now, whilst you can’t compare Internet and non-Internet stocks, if I were to apply the same rules I’d start thinking that Facebook should, on those proportions, be floated at no more than $6 or $7 billion.

Let’s be fairer and take Google as our reference point.  It’s Internet stock, after all.  Current Market Capitalisation of $197 billion, revenue of $40 billion and income of $10 billion.  Applying some ratios again, Google seem to have a profit of about 25% of revenues, and a Market Cap. of around 5* revenue.  Now, Facebook has profits which are not that far off of the same ratio as Google – 1/3.7*100 = 27%, so if we apply the 5* rule we get 5*3.7 billion – let’s be generous and say $20 billions.

So, Joe’s rough and ready calculations say that Facebook should have sold at $20 billions.  Now, I’m not a stockbroker – in fact, I’m not brilliant with money at all, but this seems….logical.  The difference between Google and Facebook, of course,  is the magic words ‘Social Media’.  After all, Social is the future, according to the pundits, so it must be logical that the Facebook valuation reflects something of the massive profits that people expect to make from Social Media in future.  Yes?

Right…let’s look at Linked IN.  Recentish float, social media company, not so many users, blah, blah.  Market capitalisation of $10 billion dollars (no missing zero), Revenue about $670 million, profits about $17 million.  Oooer.  So Social isn’t necessarily the magic word.

So what could that magic ingredient be?  What do analysts think makes Facebook worth so much?  Do me a favour.  If, like me, you’re a Facebook user, walk to the bathroom, look in the mirror.  Say Hi.  You’re looking at 1/900 millionth of Facebook’s secret sauce. Those investors are putting a lot of money in to the hope that we will continue spending money that can, in some way, be associated with our use of Facebook.  Now, I’ve not spent a dime through any Facebook related advert, game or doohickey in the 4 or so years I’ve been on there.  I rate every advert that pops up in my Timeline (except for the ones from Charities and non-profits) as offensive.  How we use facebook from here on in will make or break a lot of fortunes.

If you want something to put a smile on your face today, remember that 1/900 millionth of Mark Zuckerberg’s arse is yours.  Collectively, Zuckerberg is our bitch.


Google Drive…to get your stuff.

I’ve always had the attitude that any company that has to remind it’s staff to ‘Do No Evil’ is either employing the wrong sort of people or is trying hard to hide the fact that they might not be paragons of virtue.

This week my increasingly hardcore anti-Google attitude was turned up another notch by the Terms and Conditions on their new ‘Google Drive’ product. Google Drive is Google’s answer to products like ‘Dropbox’ – look at it as an online hard disc that you can use for storing copies of your files, swapping files with other people, etc.  In teh Terms and Conditions, Google rightly state that they respect your intellectual property rights, and that the rights to the data you upload stay with you.  So far, so good.  They also then say:

 “When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide licence to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes that we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content.”

Whoa, dude!  From this it would appear that by uploading your stuff to the Googleplex, you’re providing them with source material for anything they wish to derive from the stuff you commit.  Sort of like Facebook, but without poking…  And Microsoft have a simnilar clause in their equivalent online Cloud storage service T&Cs.

The difference is that Microsoft and Facebook get ‘pulled’ fairly regularly for abuse of privacy, attitudes towards standard, Intellectual Property and Patent enforcement, what have you.  But Google still seem to be the Teflon boys of the modern IT landscape.  I have to say that I now regard Google as a bigger threat to my privacy and to the general health of the information landscape than Facebook or Microsoft.  Why?

Google own increasingly large amounts of the search landscape; like ‘Hoover’ they are a brand that has become a verb.  People tend to Google rather than Search the Internet; businesses have been known to fail when Google modify their search algorithms. The data that we pass through Google – even when we’re not logged in – can still be logged against our IP address and passed on to the US Government (as well as being used within Google itself for various purposes). Despite this I still use Google – because there is not yet an equivalent that is as good.  Microsoft Bing is getting there, but has a way to go, and I guess that that is how many people who are uncomfortable about Google but still use them feel.

There’s an old saying saying along the lines of ‘If you’re not paying for the service, you’re being sold.’  Maybe it’s time for the unthinkable – a paid for search provider. I’d be very tempted to pay for a good search service that was curated enough to remove the crap, whilst not threatening my privacy or intellectual property.  A new frontier for entrepreneurs?


I write software…to solve problems

Well, it’s a while since I wrote a blog post so why not kick off with a slight bit of professional heresy.  I write software for a living; have done for over 30 years, starting with SCMP microprocessors in my teens (yes, I was THAT sort of teenager…) and working through everything in between until now when I spend my time split between .NET, JavaScript and PHP.

Now, why do I write code?  Well, occasionally I do it for fun, but mostly I do it for profit – my clients pay me to do it.  Actually, that’s not right.  My clients pay me to solve their problems for them using software. 

I’ve never been one of the great ‘geeks / hackers’ in life; I’m a radio amateur and electronics whizz, and the closest I ever came was in my teens and early twenties when I was fiddling with low level stuff like analogue to digital converters and the like; but pure software geekery has never been me.  I used to say to people that I was a reasonable programmer but an excellent developer; now I’m more likely to say I’m an excellent problem solver.

Don’t get me wrong; I have an active interest in my profession, from the perspective of how I can deliver better service to my clients in delivering what they want from me.  And I like to think that I write sound, efficient and effective code.  I create data structures, create objects to model those structures and business processes, create code to implement these abstracts and put something on my client’s desktop or web server that allows them, bottom line, to make more money or save more money.  I also write code that is easy to follow and maintain, that has sensible variable names, that I document and leave a pile of useful information with my client.  And I’m there for them when needed.  I love it when I get a call from a client who tells me ‘We needed to add a new feature, so we took a look at the code and documentation and we think we’ve done it right, but next time you’re in, could you give it a quick look?’ – the ultimate accolade for me – I’ve delivered code that others can pick up and run with.

I’m methodical, but don’t have what you could call a methodology; I was recently asked whether I was agile; I almost replied that I used to be but since I tore my knee cartilage a few years back I’m not as nimble as I once was.  Do I practice Extreme programming; not really, I’m more Church of England, middle of the road, myself….

I’ve started to notice that there are two broad categories of software developers; those who work for software houses or in large development teams where words like Agile, Extreme, kanzen, dojos, user stories, sensei are the common parlance, and those who work very close with business and organisational problems, where the usual words that define a day at the coalface are fix, solution, feature, document, debug, budget, timescale.

I like to talk to my clients in their language; I’m afraid I still work in a world where businesses have processes, not user stories; where they don’t particularly care what technique I use behind the scenes as long as I deliver working, maintainable and efficient code, to budget and on time.  I’m sure that the software house methodologies work effectively but do they provide yet another layer of obfuscation, bureaucracy and abstraction between what we do and what our clients and customers want us to do – solve their problems?

No matter how much we dress things up with Japanese words (and I speak with some knowledge and experience of Japanese culture and management) we must not lose track of what we do and why we do it; we solve problems by developing effective software systems delivered on time and to budget.  That is all our clients care about; we’re not ninjas or ronin; we’re professional programmers and problem solvers.

I guess what I’m saying to developers is don’t fetishise what you do to the point where the process becomes more important than the product.  It’s rare I have much good to say about Steve Jobs and the slavering behemnoth that is Apple, but he did once say ‘Great artists deliver’.  And that’s what it’s all about.

Chasing Cars

‘Chasing Cars’ is the name of a song by the band ‘Snow Patrol’.  I quite like it – I’m a sucker for sad songs and this is a fine example of the genre.  However, it has a little bit of ‘back story’.  According to Wikipedia:

“The phrase “Chasing Cars” came from [singer Gary ] Lightbody’s father, in reference to a girl Lightbody was infatuated with, “You’re like a dog chasing a car. You’ll never catch it and you just wouldn’t know what to do with it if you did.”

That phrase has stuck with me, and I have to say that over recent months I’ve been considering more and more how much time we all spend ‘chasing cars’ in our lives.  I’m currently going through one of those times in my life of what can best be described as ‘internal reflection’ (Some unkind folks might call it ‘loafing’ or ‘contemplating my navel’; I’m not listening… 🙂 ) and I guess that some of what’s going through my head right now is a product of that.

What cars do I chase?  Well, I suppose over the years I’ve been a good starter and not so good finisher; ideas are very cheap – I was saying this to a group of start-up people recently – and what counts is implementing those ideas in a form that makes them usable.  If it’s an idea for a business, build a business that’s making money; if for a novel, a written manuscript; if for a cunning invention – a working prototype.  I’ve had a few opportunities over the years that have been very close to what most folks would have called ‘big hitting success’ but that didn’t come to fruition.  On a few occasions I’ve definitely considered that, rather than being afraid of failing, I’ve previously been much more afraid of success.

For quite a few opportunity-filled years I was, looking back on it, chasing cars; had I managed to get what I was allegedly going for I’m not sure I’d have known what to do with it.  Were the same opportunities to present themselves today, I can say two things; I’d give them a rather closer going over to make sure that I really DID want to chase ’em, and then when I’d made the decision I’d get out there yapping and barking until I caught ’em.

The trick is to know WHY you’re chasing your ideas and projects; what are you wanting to get from them?  Money? Fame? Success with women / men / small dogs?  Free food and drink at your local pub?  Or do you just want to contribute to society?  Grow spiritually? Help out folks less fortunate than yourself? Get your own back on folks who upset you at school?

Don’t let yourself chase cars in your life without being reasonably sure you’ll know what to do if you manage to catch the object of your desire; I’ve been there and it’s a bloody waste of time if you’re not sure!

The world’s messy – get used to it

One of the great things about Twitter is that it brings articles to my attention that I wouldn’t otherwise have read. This blog post originated in one of those articles. It’s here – in it, the writer notes that managers and creatives tend to work on different chunks of time for getting things done – for managers hour diary slots are usually adequate, but for creatives an hour barely gives you time to get going. So far so good – I’ve written a Joe’s Jottings piece in which I mention that my own to-do list doesn’t deal in units of time much under half a day.

The writer then goes on to comment on how his organisation – a venture capital outfit – runs it’s diary slots on the ‘maker’ basis rather than the ‘manager’ basis. And turns the whole thing in to a selling point for their services. OK – at one level this is a good example of catering your working practices to your client base, but it started me thinking again about the increasing tendency I’ve witnessed in the last year or so amongst start up companies and those catering for them towards over-complicating what are really quite straight forward and, in some cases, old fashioned, good personal and business management skills and techniques.

I’m just getting a little tired of seeing things that are just this side of bleedin’ obvious being touted as if they were the bastard intellectual offspring of an orgy between Wittgenstein, Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci and Drucker.

I wear a number of hats in my day to day life; I’m a husband, cat-wrangler, consultant, software developer, charity Trustee, line manager, householder, social entrepreneur…you get the picture. Each of these activities requires me to operate in different ways – sometimes I’m working to someone else’s priorities, sometimes to my own. Oddly enough these things all get recorded in the same diary, with prioritisation and time-slots allocated to the job in hand. If there’s a day on which I want to do development work, I block it out in my diary – the things that will shift me from that are family or major line management issues. If I have a board meeting, I block out the morning or afternoon. It’s called time-management, prioritisation and flexibility. It’s an essential component of what is needed to get stuff done in a world that is messy.

It’s important for startups to get used to the idea that sooner or later they’re going to have to get used to dealing with the world the way it is, not the way they’d like it to be. Pandering from VC companies doesn’t help this; people in startups learning the basics of time and diary management and prioritisation will.

Tweeting in meetings….

I came across this rather interesting article from the personal blog of a Pastor in the US recently in which he suggests that Tweeting in Church might be a good idea.  Now, I have to admit that I was something of a late adopter with Twitter (and Facebook…and for that matter with SMS texting….yeah, OK, I’m a bit of a Luddite in some respects!) but I have to say that this suggestion surprised me.  I’m afraid that when I’m in Church I’m focusing on my own engagement with God, via my participation in the collective experience of the congregation in the church.  Which sounds more like an academic treatise than a celebration of faith, but that’s me!

the idea was that by tweeting ‘commentary’ on the sermon and other aspects of the service it could be regarded as a means of evangelising to the outside world and so bringing the Word to others – perhaps, but I think it’s one tweet too far for me.  Which then led me on to business meeting tweets, conference tweets, etc.

Perhaps it’s a generational thing but despite having a Blackberry, a Netbook and enough technology at home to sink a small boat, I still go to meetings armed with a pen and paper for note taking.  As far as I’m concerned, it’s reliable, no batteries to run out, makes no weird noises, doesn’t force me to think ‘How do I do that?’, will take text, drawings and doodles and isn’t ostentatious.  Pen and paper is what I like to call ‘humble technology’ – it does what it says on the tin, no muss, no fuss.  I’ve been in meetings recently where iPads have been deployed, tweets have been made (as I found out after leaving the meeting and looking at twitter) with no apparent damage to the business of the meeting…but…looking at my own notes taken in the meetings concerned, I’m wondering whether the meetings were actually needed / useful as my notes are pretty skimpy, and I take good notes.

We then have the recent debacle in the UK where some aspects of an industrial relations negotiation between British Airways and Trades Union representatives was tweeted to the outside world, resulting in a ‘pitch invasion’ of the building where the negotiations were taking place.  I’m sorry…negotiations are supposed to be delicate affairs between the parties involved and any mediators.  If someone feels they can’t negotiate without doing the equivalent of bellowing from the window, perhaps they need to be in different jobs.

As you can probably tell by now, I’m not a fan.  My own rules of Twitter are pretty straight forward:

  • If I’m in a meeting, focus on the meeting. 
  • If I’m at Church, focus on that.
  • If I’m at an event and want to tweet, I’ll wait until a ‘natural break’ and do it then.

I recently read a good tip about the etiquette of Texting and Tweeting.  Basically, imagine pulling out a crossword puzzle and doing it.  If you wouldn’t do that in the situation, then you really should think hard about whether you should tweet / text (emergencies excepted, naturally!!)  I was at a social event the other evening and I found that tweeting is sort of like smoking used to be (never smoked so maybe on tenuous ground here…) – it gives you something to do with your hands whilst you’re nervous!

In most meetings, unless you’re there as an observer or reporter tasked with providing a running commentary, I can’t imagine a need to Tweet that can’t wait an hour or so.  So just focus on making the meeting effective.

Arrogance 2.0

Maybe I’m just old, or maybe I just don’t get some aspects of modern business – or are some people online purporting to be business experts just arrogant and opinionated folks with insufficient experience and a habit of stating the bleedin’ obvious as if they’d just discovered a Unified Field Theory?

And what triggered this off?  As frequently happens these days, I came across something on Twitter that just bugged the Hell out of me.  And it was the following:

“Book publishers. Stop talking about cannibalisation. Create and invest in businesses and services which destroy today’s model.”

I guess the reason why this statement annoyed me is that I’ve had books and magazine articles published, starting in the early 1980s, and I suppose I have an emotional attachment to the whole paper based ‘traditional’ publishing business.  One of the aspects of that business I like even now is that there was an element of quality control involved that the current ‘anything goes’ online world lacks.  Those nasty gatekeepers called ‘editors’ used to brass all of us off, but they at least ensured that what was published fitted the style of the magazine, was reasonably well written and was believed to be good enough for other people to spend money on.

Because the traditional publishing business did something that most modern online publishing isn’t managing to do – make money based on quality, focused product.  Why buy content when the Internet is full of it?  Getting people to buy text content is increasingly difficult and I’ve seen more than one magazine that I used to buy regularly go to the wall because of the free availability of published material on the Internet.  So what’s the problem?  The problem is that whilst there might be items of high standard on the Net (I hope I produce a few myself) what is lacking is the focus and selection that went in to a magazine – in one pace you had a series of relevant articles, of high quality.  Over the years we’ve kept getting the promise of ‘The Daily You’ online – a one stop web site which you will be able to configure in such a way as to get material that interests you.  That promise has never delivered.  Whilst there are a number of issues that I have with the concept in general (not going to go in to them here – that’s for another day) the basic problem is that whatever ways have been used to try and put something together that gives us relevant and quality content, like RSS feeds, it’s never quite worked.

To be told by someone ‘go and destroy today’s models’ sounds like iconoclasm of the worst sort.  Destruction of what doesn’t work is one thing;  destruction of a market place and set of products that does work is quite sad, especially when the new products and services coming to replace what is going has elements of ‘The Emporers New Clothes’ about them.  And a lot of ‘new media’ stuff does start with cannibalisation – when you aren’t paying for content, you start by linking to it, re-hashing it, etc.  Whilst there are markets for new, paid for content on the Internet it’s frequently poorly paid and provides little stimulus for authors to spend time in developing engaging content when they’re going to see very little recompense for it.

The freetard mentality is again coming through with so many of these Business 2.0 zealots – I have news for you.  Free doesn’t survive hard times.  It’s not enough to say ‘the content is out there, just find it’.  People like to pay for organised and focused material because it saves them time.  Destroying today’s models before there is anything to replace them is simply the business plan of the would-be market dictator – those who would come to lead a mediocre market with mediocre products because the good stuff has already gone to the wall.