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Re: <nettime> Return to feudalism
Morlock Elloi on Thu, 21 Sep 2017 09:07:18 +0200 (CEST)

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Re: <nettime> Return to feudalism

Very true.

I recently witnessed something, and will try to explain in as non-technical terms as possible: the event was around distributed applications and in particular the presentation was about micropayments. The audience of 30-40 was rather tech-savvy - developers, entrepreneurs and assorted lurkers.

A system was described that can pay for the video stream in real time, as the stream is being pulled, in units of about 5-10 seconds of video. The payment mechanism is embedded in the network delivery fabric.

Nothing controversial so far.

The main advantage was announced: the price depends on the video quality (essentially, a bitrate) of each segment, so that if you get a particular segment at lower quality (because of network congestion), you pay less for that particular 10-second segment.

The question for the presenter came up, why would the content authors/owners agree to this, in other words why is the content value equated with the bitrate, why is the payload treated the same as the carrier?

The reaction of the audience was pretty much unanimous: this is a non-issue - of course that the value of a movie is equal to the bitrate at which it is consumed. The speaker didn't even understand the question - the counterargument was that Amazon AWS also charges per gigabyte, so what is odd about charging for movies per, basically, weight?

These are the people who are actively developing the systems which will deal with the content in the future. The state of mind is that the value created outside the tech domain - fiber, switches, routers, encoders, players - does not figure at all. The embedded payment systems may not even recognize a possibility of such value.

This is not new. It started in 2000s when EFF argued that "bits want to be free", there is no "content", and DRM is evil. This attitude effectively squeezed out pretty much all small publishers from the market, as only few huge monopolies could afford to effectively charge for the content (through lawsuits and switching to the expensive real time you-pay-we-stream-to-you model.)

The real question, after the long intro: was there ever a monetary value in the content beyond the cost of the physical carrier? Thick books are usually more expensive than thin ones. Paperback is cheaper than hardcover. Tickets for big theaters are more expensive than tickets for fringe rat-infested venues. What happens when the carrier becomes effectively free?

As with the disappearance of the labor, problem-solving with the technology seems to point to the same conclusion: problem-free society is a nightmare.

On 9/18/17, 17:06, John Hopkins wrote:
> Whomever, whatever controls the protocols, controls the device and
> reaps the rewards that the device brings. This is because the protocol
> is a proxy for the actualized projection of energy or the pathway that
> energy is mandated to follow
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