Monday, November 19, 2007

Paradigm Shift

Amazon's getting ready to release an e-book reader, Kindle. This sounds pretty cool. Too bad $400 is more than I want to sink into an reader. Robert Scoble points out that a lot of people aren't loving this device. Whether it succeeds or fails, however, I think this device is fascinating, for the same reason I find the the current writer's strike interesting. We have a traditional, risk adverse industry (publishing, music, TV, movies). A new, disruptive technology comes along (the Internet). Now, those industries have to figure out a new way to make money at what they do. Everything changes. This is an old story. The same thing happened at the invention of the printing press. Initially, the printers were the main ones making money. A publisher would buy a book from an author, and that was the end of the author's rights. The printer could publish the book. He could change the book. He could put his name on it. Somehow, we went from there to today's situation: authors are paid a more or less fair percentage of the sales of the book, they are credited, they have some say in what changes get made to the book before publishing. Today, we (publishers, studio executives, writers, and consumers) are trying to figure out how to make money at this. The old media probably aren't going away soon, but they are becoming less important. The new-fangled Internets are messing everything up. Will the solutions that we reach now be the final ones? (Final here means until the next disruptive technology comes along tomorrow.) Maybe not. That's what's interesting.
(Tomorrow, back to the writing and coding series.)

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