Mike Gets It

Mike Dunn wrote: “Try starting w/ (guess what) your customers – what are they already doing and how can you morph to accommodate their desires.” This is in the context of Mike’s review of a CBS News story about an annual retreat of media execs in Sun Valley.

There are a few fundamental principles that have driven me to start a new non-profit to capture, produce and distribute spoken-word events worldwide. I didn’t discover these on my own. Far from it. In fact, it has taken a long time for the implications to really sink in from reading and talking to the Lessigs, Lasicas, Weinbergers, Doctorows, Kahles and Searls of the world. I’m sure I still don’t understand all of the ramifications. Two of them are:

  1. Free content is more valuable than paid content. When content (or whatever you choose to call it) can be freely linked to, blogged, reviewed and remixed, its value to the world (and hence to its creator/owner) escalates dramatically. Conversely, if you put your content behind a toll gate or hinder its access or reuse in any other way, you drastically reduce its value.
  2. Listen to your customers/readiers/viewers/listeners. I was at a party in New York a few weeks ago and found myself arguing with a film producer. First of all, he didn’t get that large-scale pirating of movies in Asia is any different from individuals sharing files. To him it was all theft, and damnit — it was his content and he was going to decide who could see it, where, when and how. I tried to explain that his viewers were trying to send him a message. They want to see his films when and where they want, and that they’d be willing to pay for that privilige. They want it so bad, in fact, that they’re willing to steal his films. If only he would listen and provide a solution to meet his viewers’ need rather than fighting with them, at least this ‘problem’ could be solved. This guy’s wife got it right away. He’s blind to it.

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