Google Books Settlement: Two Events

Tonight, the Boston Public Library is hosting an event on the GBS: July 21 at 6:00 p.m. at the BPL, moderated by Maura Marx of the Open Knowledge Commons.

On July 31, we at the Berkman Center are hosting an open workshop on alternative futures for digitizing of books in the shadow of the GBS.  We have 95 registrants so far and will close registration at 100 — so please sign up fast if you are interested (and then add your name to the public wiki, if you’re willing, to let others know you are coming; only 71 people have done so as of right now).

The Internet Governance Forum

A week or so ago, we at the Berkman Center joined our friends and colleagues at the Oxford Internet Institute in hosting an academic pre-briefing related to the Internet Governance Forum. The IGF, announced in July by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, is the process and institution that has grown out of the two phases of the World Summit on the Information Society. The IGF is directed by the highly able Swiss diplomat, Markus Kummer, and chaired by the equally able Nitin Desai. The OII’s director, Prof. Bill Dutton, has been leading the way on these briefings for the past three years and gently, appropriately, helpfully, keeping academics and technologists in front of the diplomats. On our end, fellow Mary Rundle — jointly at Harvard and at the Stanford Center for Internet and Society and director of NetDialogue — coordinates our efforts in this space and pulled together major aspects of this briefing.

In listening to the participants in an academic-heavy workshop, we heard a number of areas on which the Internet Governance Forum ought to focus and some hard problems that the IGF faces moving ahead.

For starters, especially for those who have not been following the blow-by-blow of WSIS and its progeny, here is my short FAQ based on this briefing we just had.

1) What is the Internet Governance Forum?

– It is something we feel good about.

– It is a process outcome of the WSIS process.

– It is a “new institutional approach.”

– It is uncharted territory, under a UN umbrella; it is relevant for the conversation about UN reform.

– It is a place for informed and meaningful discussion in a multi-stakeholder context and framework – once unacceptable, now the basis for moving ahead.

– It can be analogized, in part, to the OECD, which has been quite successful via the mode of sharing experiences and best practices (but importantly is different from the OECD in other ways, such as the inclusiveness of all states, not just 30).

– It is full of creative ambiguity.

2) What should the IGF do with that “creative ambiguity”? Or, put another way, how does the IGF deal with hard issues?

The IGF has been tasked, for its first meeting in Athens, with taking up four areas of inquiry: openness, security, diversity, and access.

– Openness: includes IPR, which is polarizing and about which the assembled group has agreed to do nothing in the past, though the Forum will have to grapple with it. Net Neutrality is another contender for a specific issue to handle under the “openness” banner. We all know how hard it is just to define “openness,” so the IGF has its hands full here, as important as this theme is. My personal favorite under openness, perhaps not suprisingly, is the cluster of freedom of expression and security and privacy issues that we work on through the OpenNet Initiative.

– Security: Everybody agrees that Internet security is something that needs to be addressed. But privacy, Mr. Kummer notes off the bat, will cause controversy. Kenn Cukier wonders if there’s in fact consensus about what security means? Do developing countries think that security means something different than what the West thinks it means?

– Diversity: Everyone agrees that ICTs for development is an essential component of what the IGF should do. Multilingualism and IDNs will certainly cause division. I think there has to be a major push to get funding for people from developing countries to be able to participate in meetings, as well as a devotion to free, web-based means of active participation.

– Access: This topic includes the age-old issue of interconnection costs and compensation related thereto. In most contexts, liberalization is perceived to be the common answer to the bulk of the problems. But it might also mean development and it might also mean open access, connecting up to the A2K movement and to the IPR themes dealt with (or not dealt with) under the “openness” heading.

3) But how, really, will the IGF manage to deal with sensitive topics?

– The idea is that the IGF will indeed deal with hard issues, not just sweep them under the table.

– But the IGF is not meant to make decisions, so it may be a good venue for bringing them up.

– It will be essential that the IGF figures out how to make participation meaningful, not just creating an environment where everyone can talk but no one listens.

– Connecting to results: even though the IGF does not have a mandate to make policy decisions, much less enforce anything, how, if at all, can the IGF lead to the world becoming a better place?

4) What were the key take-away messages at the briefing?

– From the Executive Secretariat, the clear message from Markus Kummer was that expectation management is essential. If it is interesting, it allows you to contribute, you learn something – even if the world has not changed – then that should be a success.

– Professor Jonathan Zittrain, our beloved colleague, had the most provocative suggestion. Is there an absence of opportunities for diplomats to get together? Is there an absence of opportunities for network architects to get together? (Even if there are enough opportunities for these two groups separately, we need to get these guys all together, plus one sociologist, responded one participant.) The IGF, JZ said, should not just be a meta-meeting. There is a lesson from Wikipedia. In the first instance, the IGF should leap-frog the so-called stakeholders. Go, instead, straight to the users. The right audience is the one-laptop-per-child children who are about to get the equivalent of a blinking cursor. We don’t want them reading stuff and clicking on ads. We want them to see something that they can change, anytime.

– Professor Milton Mueller, a longtime participant and analyst of this space, disagreed, contending that we should not “continue to conflate the free association communities, like Wikipedia, and governance institutions, which get stuck with problems that people come up with.”

5) A few of my own reflections on what the IGF might do, after the meeting.

– We should recognize that there are various modes of grappling with problems, and of governance, related to the Internet (and yes, I do believe in some degree in Internet exceptionalism in certain contexts, that the laws of gravity still apply but that problems have different and distinctive contours than their real-world counterparts do, prompting thought around different types of governance that might be appropriate):

– Sometimes, the sovereign state, or a collected group of states, carry out governance (for good and for ill). This is the zone of governance that Tim Wu and Jack Goldsmith cover in Who Controls the Internet?;

– Sometimes, it’s something that users can do a lot to work out, and should do to work out first, with a back-stop of the states and involvement of companies (ISPs, e.g.) (this was what I had in mind for my own part in a co-authored paper, the Accountable Net);

– But there is also something very intriguing of democratic institutions that seek to bridge the public and the private to work on problems together. Part of the function could be the collection and aggregation of comments, employment of an ombudsman, and provision of a feedback loop.

To me that’s the wonder and the intriguing challenge of a “new institutional approach” here:

– How do you clarify the themes, prioritize the conversations, and join the hard issues (not forgetting history, or the broader construct of these issues, but also aware of where Internet is different)?

– How do you invite, manage, and make participation meaningful, when someone not representing a state seeks to participate? (Capture the energy that went into WSIS, rather than let it dissipate, says Mary Rundle.)

– And how do you link this process, with appropriately managed expectations, to making the world a better place? To figure out the answer to that question strikes me as the way to take the IGF from a garden-variety “success” and to turn it into an outstanding success.

(Want to know more about the issues that the IGF could take up? Check out NetDialogue, and help us to keep the conversation about these issues informed and lively.)

"How to Make Money" BloggerCon session

We didn’t start from scratch this morning in talking about how to make money session at BloggerCon IV, and I think the un-conference group made a lot of progress in exploring the topic. (Dave had duct tape over his mouth.) Dan Farber of ZDNet has got a rockin’ round-up of the session, complete with loads of photos. Doc has his amazing outline in real-time of what was said. And the whole thing is available in mp3 format (along with all the others).

Here’s an outline of suggestions people have made — before, during and after — for the “How to Make Money” session:

  1. Making Money By Blogging
    1. Run ads
      1. On your own site
        1. Text/images on your site (BlogAds, Adwords/Adsense)
        2. Sponsorships on site (TechCrunch, or the “Be Mike Arrington” strategy)
      2. In feeds (Feedburner)
      3. In a podcast (Chris Pirillo)
      4. In a vlog (Rocketboom)
    2. Put other thing on your blog that generate money for you
      1. Classifieds (EdgeIo “listing” tag)
      2. Other feeds (Stylefeeder feed)
      3. Affiliate program (e.g., from Amazon with books or other products)
    3. Put up a tip-jar on your blog
      1. (Some) people at BloggerCon said they’d contribute to you (IT Conversations).
      2. Lean into the micropayment movement — it might be $10/year (Dan Farber’s suggestion) or it might be much less — make both possible
    4. Get hyperlocal (Lisa WilliamsH2OTown, Nashville is Blogging)
      1. But maybe we need a new, easier way to give pizza parlors the ability to post ads, for which they’ll pay a higher cost per click/impression/whatever than what they will through Google Ads.
    5. Join a network of blogs
      1. Federated Media: John Battelle approach
      2. Pajama’s Media, Corante, Weblogs.com
    6. Sell your feed or other content itself to publishers (will someone pay? Gather, Squidoo)
    7. Generate payment via aggregators and revenue-sharing (Feedshow)
    8. Promote a specific product or products (Manolo shoe blog)
    9. Give it to charity (Goodstorm, as retold in TechCrunch)
  2. Making Money Off of Blogging
    1. Sell software, services (whether or not you blog)
    2. Blog to brand yourself (establish trust, credibility, relationships, goodwill), then…
      1. Sell consulting
      2. The Dave Winer solution (no ads, get famous, sell a pinger or the like for millions of dollars)
      3. Host a conference (Blogher, Gnomedex, Web 2.0 Conference)
    3. Sell search etc. (Technorati, Feedster)
    4. Become a VC (make money off of other people’s work)
    5. Make money for other people, like charities, through the leverage of your blog

A Wired story about BloggerCon mentions the How to Make Money session. Frank Paynter has posted lots of good stuff in the lead up to the conference and in covering sessions like the Emotional Life of Bloggers.

Post a comment with suggestions for more examples to add to the list and I’ll try to keep the outline up-to-date.

(Disclosure: I have an interest in a few of the companies above — Stylefeeder, Edge.io — and am a part-time investor in other entities that are included by reference above.)

"Our reach exceeds your grasp — deal with it"

Doc Searls quoted Chris Locke in the last panel of today’s day 1 of the digital ID mash-up conference. We haven’t gotten to the point where customers/end-users/seats are yet treated like people, Doc claims. The issue is the creation of relationships, not just market-clearing prices. He’s focused now on the Intention Economy — which, he says, will “save us all a lot of grief.”

John Sviokla says that no market has changed more in the supply/demand equation in the world than information. The industries are de-maturing, he says — from overbuilding, over-mature industries to immature industries (that sounds like us).

Louise Guay of My Virtual Model begins with a collage of her own identity, in the form of a visual grammar — self-expression through images, a true mash-up, about women and technology. Success is based on the user, Louise says, in a paraphrase of Meg Whitman. Louise has demo-ed a Virtual Search Engine — pretty wild — which perfectly demonstrates Doc’s Intention Economy point, as John Sviokla points out. MVM is “doing for fashion what mortgage-backed securities did for the mortgage business.” Louise credits Frank Pillar and Eric von Hippel with inspiring their design.

ID Mash-up is on

I think the key aspects of this conference are figuring out how to make this digital identity business 1) real and understandable to non-technical people (use case-driven, etc.) and 2) a genuine improvement over what we have today, or have had in the past (privacy-enhancing? a better online experience? better grease for commercial transactions?).

Tid-bits:

Doc says that Mash is Up and he has a pic of Esther and her PC.

Esther Dyson, in the opening session, tells us she hinks we should call the conference “Presentation of Self.”

Kim Taipale, says that the identity we’re talking about is about little more than “allocation of risk.”

Christine Varney (former Clinton administration senior official, now of Hogan and Hartson) says that privacy is really about trust, with four elements that went by really fast.

Here’s Charlie Nesson doing the welcome with me.  In case you were wondering, his T-Shirt says “Gay? Fine by me.”

Here’s my profile (identity?) on the IDMashup conference CMS. I am eager to see what happens with/to it, if anything. (Have I just filled in another form? I suppose it’s the job of all of us to ensure that this is not the case, that it’s more than just that.)

On the topic of Harvard’s own identity, a wonderful post on “Harvard through Canadian Eyes” from Kaliya, Identity Woman.

Identity Mash-up!

Tomorrow morning, we begin the digital identity mash-up conference. I have reason to expect a particularly cool demo from Louise Guay, CEO of My Virtual Model.
Whether you’re in Cambridge, MA, or not, come visit and participate in the community hub.

And follow along with Beth Noveck and all manner of other wonderful people coming to join us, and no doubt blogging it.

The "How to Make Money" Session at Bloggercon

Dave Winer has kindly (or, well, maybe…) offered me the chance to be the discussion leader for the “How to Make Money” session at Bloggercon IV. I’m delighted and honored to be taking up this challenge with the help of the rest of the unconference attendees later this month in San Francisco. Here’s a framework for the discussion:

During every conference about Web 2.0 (oops — did I say that?) blogging, the conversation gets around, one time or another, to “how to make money.” It’s obvious there’s money all around this space. The simple proof: the venture capital world salivates at the prospect of a hot new company in this space, bidding up valuations and fueling the trend with not just their capital and attention but big-time connections and leadership. Somebody, definitely, is making money related to blogging and related technologies, or is pretty sure they will make money on it, but it’s not obvious that bloggers, in fact, stand to make much money from blogging.

If you are a blogger, how do you go about making some money from your work? One obvious answer is the classic approach of throwing BlogAds or Google ads or whathaveyou ads on your blog. That works for some people, but it generates more than beer money only for a select few at the left-hand side of that famous power law distribution. Some, like Mike Arrington at TechCrunch, have added premium sponsorships to the mix; then again, Mike’s plainly in the select few. Others contend that a blog is itself an advertisement. You don’t make money on the blog itself, but rather you make money on other things (as in the artist who gives away his or her content on a p2p service and makes money on other things to pay the rent). I trust that we’ll kick around these ideas, but also get into some new possibilities: shouldn’t really simple syndication allow for some new thinking around getting people to pay for the content you create? And are there ways for bloggers themselves to get on the bandwagon of making some of the money that the venture guys are planning to make? How could that work, exactly? Put another away: lots of people have spent lots of digital ink (sound and images too) on the general problem of “how do you monetize the long tail?”

In classic Bloggercon/unconference style, though, this is just a starting point. The beauty and the thrill is in where the conversation may go.