The Economics of News Stories

When a big story breaks, like the killing of a major figurehead of a terror corporation, it follows the typical market model.  More stories (firms) enter the market (news stream) given the demand and resources, until the market is saturated (people get tired of it) or a more viable alternative (new story) comes along.

Just as a new product generates a lot of interest (a fad) for awhile, a new meme spreads rapidly until it reaches a point where it hits dead walls (places it either can’t spread due to lack of saliency or where it has already spread) or runs out of steam (the spreaders give up on it).

All systems are informational systems.  The fact that information spread is vital to every aspect of human life still has not quite been recognized by most policy makers.  Secrecy is the equivalent of clogged arteries to an economy; we get heart attacks, where lack of fluidity in the market causes various sectors (organs) to seize and cell death begins to occur (firm closures, downsizing, layoffs).

Worse than simple secrecy is the one-way mirror.  Asymmetric informational flows are poisonous because of the ability for only some firms to recognize trends.  When a piece of information is only available to limited numbers, it can never reach its full potential.  That is why Open Source works: spread the information of how a piece of software is programmed and the result is better software because more eyes swept over it and had the opportunity to refine it.

All of our current problems, from health care to warfare to budget to terror scares, are the result of poor informational flow.  Many of these problems are caused by man-made dams in the information flows, where a single company or an industry seeks competitive advantage or to simply perpetuate their cash flows through the ignorance of others.

It’s vital we recognize the harm from informational blockage, lest we repeatedly find ourselves victimized by poor information.

biz entertainment

Hulu: Pay Model?

Various sources (eg, The Guardian: Roy Greenslade: Murdoch’s propaganda campaign to charge for content) reported about’s plans to charge for access.

The problem is that corporations tend to overcharge for their content.  Then they complain about an alleged sense of entitlement when their customers supposedly want it for free.  They are reading things wrong: there’s very much a sense of entitlement, but it’s one not to pay too much.  This goes for all forms of content and “intellectual property”: books, news, images, videos, movies, television, music, video games, software, web applications, academic articles, and so on.

Free is less than too much, so free wins over too much every time.

People deserve payment for their creations, but the economics dictate that how much they charge and what they are prepared to deliver (ie, their pricing/business model) will change the composition of their customer pool, determining their revenue.  Before the digital revolution, all sorts of sharing occurred that wasn’t priced in to their model, and yet no one screamed bloody murder over one newspaper getting passed around the coffee shop or office.

The sooner the content creators start moving to alternative models, the sooner they will find the sweet spots, and the sooner they will get paid for their creations.  But if they merely try to copy their old models in the new landscape, they are liable to find themselves with lingering pain for quite some time.

As I did not see specifics on the pricing/business model that Hulu will be using, I will withhold judgment about this move.  But I will say that if they plan on overcharging, they might as well buy some Going Out of Business signs while they’re cheap.

Update: An article on, How Much Will You Have to Pay for Hulu? Nothing. How Much Will You Pay for “Hulu Plus”? Good Question. states the pay content will be in addition to the existing site, rather than moving some content to for-pay so it doesn’t sound like they are doing anything very dangerous with regard to their business model.  I just hope they get creative and take their time to create a better model that can be mimicked by others.  It can work, if they don’t get too greedy.


Heavy Unlockables

—Begin Update—

Looks like Valve has finished their work and are looking to roll out the Heavy update soon.

You can look at their Heavy Update page as they will be announcing the changes to come.  The actual update will probably be in a couple of weeks. will hit on August 19th (so saith the Shacknews).

—End Update—

Valve Software, makers of Team Fortress 2, have begun adding class achievements and unlockable weapons for completing those achievements.

The next class to undergo a makeover will be the Heavy Weapons guy. Here are my ideas for the primary and melee unlockables. I haven’t come up with one for the secondary weapon yet.

Primary: The Gear Gun

The main idea behind the Gear Gun is to give the Heavy an advantage when it comes to the spin-up and spin-down times that encumber him with the regular Minigun. The Gear Gun has a long, thin gear that runs out the bottom and top of the weapon. When the gun is spun up the gear rotates perpendicular to the barrel. With this he can use an add-on contraption I call the Spring Chicken.

The Spring Chicken is a small, round cylinder that has a gear-slot running through its center. When placed on the Gear Gun and the gun spins, the Spring Chicken’s inner coil tightens up, storing the energy. It may then be rapidly discharged to halt the gun quickly. Alternatively, the gun may be allowed to spin down normally and the Spring Chicken can be flipped over. This allows it to be discharged to rapidly spin-up the gun. The gun must be halted before it can be flipped back, so as to allow for recharging it.

The idea behind these functions are to give the Heavy a one-off shot at either spinning up quickly or spinning down quickly. It can’t be reused rapidly, and both can’t be done on a single use of the weapon. It would probably require some remodeling and new sounds.

The other benefit of the Gear Gun is that it can be used with the Engineer’s entry-teleporter. The Heavy can spin up the teleporter manually using the Gear Gun. This would allow a Heavy to sit back near spawn and assist others in moving up to the front lines faster.

Melee: Brass Knuckles

This just seems like a no-brainer for a class that has the default melee of his bare (okay, gloved) fists. Add some brass around those suckers and sucker-punch some lippy snipers.


Called it: Format Wars

Back in January I wrote (“Blu-Ray ”wins”“) about Blu-Ray becoming the winner of the HD disc format.

Basically I said two things which have now been said by the MSM:

  1. Downloads and soft-media are going to takeover, making Blu-Ray’s “victory” an attempt to lock people in before it’s too late.
  2. It was the result of under-the-table deals like this one.

(Other deals include Sony paying media companies hundreds of millions to go Blu-Ray exclusively, etc.)

So, I was right for once. Hurray.

Since I’m on a roll with this prediction/sooth-saying stuff, I’m going ahead and laying out my next prediction:

wait for it

Harmonicas are making a comeback… this time digital. Expect major news to break in the next 48 to 528 hours announcing new, digital harmonicas. You heard it here first.



Blu-Ray ”wins”

The apparent victory for the Blu-ray is a farce. They know the market is moving away from proprietary formats and portable media, so there has been anti-competitive, under the table agreements to end the fight between HD-DVD & Blu-ray.

The idea is that the adoption rates of either hasn’t been what was expected, and that without entrenching that technology soon enough they would risk not having consumers buying their cheap plastic discs for the next ten years.

It’s okay, though. As the network market grows, it will push for increased infrastructure and there isn’t a requirement for these expensive players. They’ll skim some profits for now, but those will continue to diminish as the physical sale of music has.