June 5, 2009


Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 1:37 pm

I am grateful to my friends Matthias, Tim, Supermann and the rest of the DMY crew that they have made possible this festival. In a way what they are doing reminds me of the objectives of DMP: designing an open marketplace where creators, producers and end-users can exchange value (in the form of physical or digital goods and services).


Some time ago Iepe asked me to speak at the Pechakucha DMY special. Last night I had the chance to learn how it feels to stand in front of an audience of 500. Well… that’s an interesting experience… I recognized that I was not born to be a performer…anyway, you can check out the online presentation.


Two photos of my favorite things can be found here. This is another little contribution to the DMY festival.

March 13, 2009

Value is Action, Credit is Energy

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 8:40 pm

My interpretation of Chris Cook’s paper Knowledge-based Value and Intellectual Property is that value is a quality a human being feels when he or she receives a good or a service (= Wealth). Since people have different perceptions value is utterly subjective and an objective measure for the Value of Wealth can not be found without further ado. At the same time it would not be so bad if an absolute measure for Value existed, because it could be used compare the value of different goods or services on an open market.

Chris suggested to peg the measure for the Value of Wealth to an International Carbon Unit (ICU). One ICU is defined as the greenhouse effect caused by burning 100ml n-octane at the temperature of 20 degrees centigrade. This unit quasi pegs the value of goods and services to the survival of mankind. The ICU unit has the physical quality of energy (measured in Joule).

Although I like Chris’ approach I do not think that energy is a measure for Value. As said, Value is relative to the subject (a human being) and it also depends on what the subject wants to achieve in any moment. If a human does not want to achieve anything he rests and exchanges few energy with the exterior world. When he starts out to achieve an aim a human needs energy and time.

Each action a human performs on her way to achieve an aim costs time and energy. The physical quantity Action has the unit energy times time.

Action (aim) ~ Energy * Time [~ := proportional]

A thinking and economically acting human being will minimize energy and time and therefore act in accordance with the Hamiltonian principle of least action.

Tools (e.g. a bike, a hammer,…) and Services (e.g. support by another human) can considerably reduce the amount of energy and time needed to achieve an aim. An intelligent human will therefore use that Tool and that Service which minimize the Action to achieve a given aim:

Value (Tool) ~ Action (Tool) - Action (aim)

Hence the Value of a Tool would be maximal whose Action is maximal. Like the Action necessary to achieve an aim the Action of a Tool could be pegged to the physical quantity energy times time (measured in Joule * sec).

Value has the physical quantity energy * time

My assumption is: as long not all humans want to achieve the same aim (e.g. survive through avoiding climatic disaster) not only energy but also time is a measure for value. This goes in accordance with the XEG definition of Transaction: a process by which Wealth is exchanged between two parties. If one subject provides a service to another subject the value of the service only exists in the relationship between the two subjects.

Value (service) ~ Action (service) - Action (aim)

Some forms of Value (goods) transferred between humans are physical matter and can be “stored” in space. Other forms of Value are logical (e.g. words) or digital (e.g. data). Those forms of Value (services) may save time (e.g. the information where the train station is) and thus reduce the Action to achieve an aim. However, it is not trivial to “store” these forms of Value in space.

Credit is time to pay. A subject who wants to achieve an aim may need Value (in the form of a good or a service) now. A Credit can save time to achieve an aim.

Credit (aim) ~ Value (aim) / time

Credit has the physical quantity energy

 XEG Entity            phys. quantity        unit
 Credit                Work, Energy          J     (kg * m^2 / s^2) 
 Value                 Action                J * s (kg * m^2/ s) 

Assume that a Credit is needed to achieve an aim. Then the Value Unit could be defined as the proportionality constant p beween the Credit and its associated Action to achieve an aim.

Leonardo Chiariglione wrote that “Standardisation is the process by which individuals recognise the advantage of all doing certain things in an agreed way and codify that agreement”.

A standard for a Value Unit would require that many humans agree on a common economical aim. This common economical aim depends on the economical system (e.g. two humans, a group of humans (family, company, state), all humans). If the survival of mankind is the ultimate economical aim then Chris is right when he demands a compulsory levy for goods and services which set free CO2 in order to pay the Action to achieve this aim.

Rather than a Value Unit the proposed ICU is a measure of Credit (energy). Humans could use these Credit Units to achieve an aim i.e. create (subjective) Value.

March 8, 2009

Is TV dead?

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 8:34 pm

In his article “Why TV Lost” Paul Graham, an author and Internet pioneer, recently explained that in the contest between different media we referred to as “convergence” computers have finally replaced TV – the Internet won.

Paul gives four reasons for this development:

  • the Internet is an open platform – anyone can build whatever they want on it
  • there is sufficient Internet bandwidth
  • watching shows on a computer screen is more convenient
  • the most powerful force: social applications allowed kids to get connected. “Facebook killed TV”

Paul writes that the Internet dissolves the two cornerstones of broadcast media: synchronicity and locality. He concludes that because people who produce a show can distribute it themselves the main value TV networks supply is ad sales. Which will tend to put them in the position of service providers rather than publishers.

I don’t disagree with Paul’s conclusions but my own interpretation of the convergence between Internet and TV is somewhat different.

TV is dead

About 10 years ago I wrote on the website:

Only the access to the source code of our future television sets will guarantee the independence of content and technology.

The TV I was referring to is dead since more than 15 years. In my opinion it’s decline started when advertising financed televison entered the scene (I contributed to it during my student job in the playout department of the first German private TV station PKS in 1984).

But the fact that what we once called TV is dead does not mean that TV lost the battle against computers. TV was simply replaced by LinuxTV. In the late 1990ies some people in Berlin founded a dotcom called “convergence integrated media”. This company was never profitable, but it produced something very valuable: free (GPL) source code needed to implement digital television devices (set-top boxes, playout servers) and TV services (video disk recorders, programming guides). An early documentary characterizes the “inmates” of convergence integrated media as Seminarists – learners who are enrolled in an educational institution.

I claim that thanks to projects like LinuxTV and DirectFB the TV industry (Networks, device manufacturers) got the chance to catch up with the Internet’s “hacker speed of innovation” (Paul Graham). This race to catch up may be less visible than the public development of Web 2.0, but it is nonetheless impressive. Today many Seminarists are employed by renowned manufacturers of TV chipsets and devices.

A new generation of hackers have learned the LinuxTV lessons in university courses. Pablo Cesar writes in the acknoledgements of his doctor thesis A Graphics Software Architecture for High-End Interactive TV Terminals:

I am really grateful to every single open-source project (you can make a difference!), especially Kaffe, SDL, JSDL, DirectFB, LinuxTV, LinuxSTB, X-Smiles, and OpenMHP

Today Pablo contributes to a European project named Together anywhere anytime (TA2). The TA2 Deliverables contain a pretty interesting diagram on the future interaction of service providers in so-called value-networks.

These examples indicate that Open Source community and major CE manufacturers (e.g. Philips, Sony, Samsung, Huawei…) will advance TV just like the Web 2.0 community and major computer manufacturers are enhancing computers.

I agree with Paul Graham that what gets distributed on the Internet in 20 years will probably be very different. However, I predict that - if anything will be distributed at all – a substantial part of the viewers will still ask for synchronicity and locality. People who conciously decide for a common experience in physical space are not necessarily dumb couch potatoes. To share an experience (e.g. a theatre performance, a movie) with others may be a precious alternative in a world where the commitment to be always connected with distant people is the normal case.

February 27, 2009

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 6:59 pm

Click to leave the digital space.

February 23, 2009

Google is your friend

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 4:38 pm

Users of Google Friend Connect can set up social networking sites and add gadgets to their own pages (see e.g. my Google Friend Connect Test page). The drawbackl is that the profiles of your “Google Friends” are stored on the Google servers. As a result Google knows the social network of a user, even if they don’t control the content posted on her site.

Compared to Facebook Google Friend Connect may have some advantages:

  • Google is not responsible for the copyright of content posted by users (instead of Google site owners will receive takedown notices for illegal content)
  • Google Friend Connect is independent from the service that provides a user’s identifier (accepts users from Yahoo, Facebook, OpenID,….)
  • Social networking functionality can be easily integrated on existing websites

What counts for google is the knowledge about a user’s connections. Since Google Friend Connect monitors the user identifiers, google can assign a community to a known user. In the digital space communities dominate brands. Google’s business model is based on selling knowledge about social networks to advertisers of branded products.

Google Friend Connect may be the logical progression of social media. However, I predict that it’s just an intermediate step. Soon there will be an open standard for user profiles. Once users are able to manage the connections on their own devices their social networks will become more private again.

February 14, 2009

Liberté Egalité = free don’t care

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 10:53 pm

JCDecaux provides cities with free public furnishing (e.g. bus stops, displays). In exchange the cities grant the right to commercialize these spaces. The BBC reported that “thefts punctured the Paris bike scheme” because some kids used JCDecaux’ Vélib bikes “pour le freeride“. JCDecaux’s director claimed that “a private business cannot handle it alone, especially as it’s a problem of public order.”


It is unfortunate that these things happen, but I doubt that calling for law and order will solve the problem. The cost for additional police or better locks would only increase the cost. My recommendations to JCDecaux would be:

  • Either circulate less beautiful bikes – I am sure that many Vélib bikes are stolen because they have such a beautiful French design. I would love to ride a Vélib in Berlin…
  • Or host “Vélib freeriding contests” for the kids. If the community can regard the Vélib bikes as their property they will be less inclined to destroy them

A propos vandalism: it’s not only a problem in France. The German call-a-bikes are less beautiful than the Vélibs. Still some idiots destroy them, as the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported. After all, I see many people riding call-a-bikes in Berlin and I believe that these bike sharing schemes are successful and economically sustainable.

call a bike

January 29, 2009

Cloud interoperability

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 12:03 pm

Christofer Hoff (Chief Security Strategist, Architect, CISO, Security Visionary and Evangelist/Prophet, Brick layer, priest and short order cook…) proposed a Cloud Computing Taxonomy & Ontology on his “Rational Survivability” blog.

Maybe this is not completely obvious from the diagram below, but my first impression is that Hoff’s conceptualization of the “Cloud” reminds me of the architecture that has been proposed for the MPEG-M (MPEG eXtensible Middleware).

The MXM Architecture:

December 5, 2008

Reinventing registration

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 2:10 pm

The registration of content has been one of the DMP efforts for quite some time (see AD#5). Recently the twentieth General Assembly (GA20) appointed the National Information Agency of the Republic of Korea as the DMP Content Registration Authority.

On 12th December Joe Benso from RegisteredCommons has been invited by Creative Commons to participate in it’s Second Technology Summit. In this event a standardization initiative for copyright registry interoperability called therefore OSCRI (Open Standards for Copyright Registry Interoperability) will be promoted. To me their Declaration of Intent looks good, although they are reinventing the wheel. In DMP we had these discussions long time ago.

Joe Benso’s presentation will contain some slides which I prepared to explain the DMP approach. I hope that this presentation will help, although I have doubts, because I know that some Creative Commons people are sceptical about DMP. I suppose that they just think that DMP is not important for their strategy of creating their own web-based eco-system for managing rights. CC are standardizing their Rights Expression Language in W3C while DMP uses ISO/MPEG as a standards body.

Neither DMP nor CC will give up their standards, so the market will decide which of the competing standards will be adopted. Still, for interoperability’s sake, the registration of content (a basic Function in the context of the DMP Value-Chain) should be based on common protocols.

October 14, 2008

Looking forward

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 12:44 pm

Meet me at the Communia workshop.

Communia Amsterdam

September 12, 2008

CMS DoS Attack

Filed under: Weblog — swann @ 2:05 pm

I attended an art performance today in Berlin. GEMA is a German Collective Management Society (CMS). In their Declaration Form for Original Works they ask to give the length of individual samples on extra sheets. The German artist Johannes Kreidler registered – as a live performance event – a short musical work that contains 70,200 quotations with GEMA using 70,200 forms.

Kreidler arranged his demonstration to protest against in his opinion absurd provisions that even the smallest quotes of other works must be declared to the societies. According to his statement this licensing model discourages the use of new technologies which enable creators to distribute and recycle cultural goods on a large scale.

It took about half an hour for Kreidler’s assistant to unload the 70,200 forms from the van and carry them to the building – Kreidler’s DoS attack managed to block the entrance of the building. However, GEMA appreciated the performance and invited us to the conference room on the top of their building. In the following discussions the GEMA spokespersons made very clear that as a collective management society they represent the commercial interests of their members and that their primary objective is to maximize the returns for a commercial exploitation of a work.

I asked if a GEMA member could license a work for non-commercial exploitation – e.g. by making it available on her private web site under a Creative Commons non-commercial license – in order to encourage the re-use of parts of her work. The GEMA representative answered along the lines that non-commercial usage is not in the interest of GEMA, but in principle it should be legal and possible for GEMA members to make available samples for free.

A lawyer needs to check this in the GEMA membership agreement, but if it’s true it looks like an interesting solution – as a consequence GEMA members could upload their sounds – not songs – to Freesound, a service that encourages the sharing of sound. This would resolve the problem of recycling cultural goods, because creators of musical works could decide to only register songs (“complete” works) with GEMA and at the same time register their sounds (“incomplete” works) with a Registration Agency for commons content (e.g. RegisteredCommons).

Julia Seeliger took some nice photos and 3SAT will broadcast an interview with Kreidler in Kulturzeit tonight.

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