The Daily Ping

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February 22nd, 2000

Digital music’s gonna be great.

Yesterday I relocated my CDs to a temporary location (in an elfa seven-runner I purchased at The Container Store). Although I wwas impressed at how many discs the elfa held (all of them!), it just hit me that CDs are almost as clunky as records were.

The jewel box itself is a bit too much, although I can’t think of any other way to store them. Cardboard fold-outs work, but they’re the same size as a jewel box. Simple inserts, used for singles, are too minimal and offer no way to easily identify a disc, either. I understand that CDs were also never intended to be portable – witness the bulkiness and amazing battery-eating power of any CD Walkman.

So what’s the answer? It’s purely digital music, of course. Instead of having all of my CDs sitting in my closet, it would be much easier to have them on my hard disk, taking up no physical space. The only problem with this setup is, of course, that playing my music in the car or on a portable device is going to be hard… since I don’t have an MP3 player anywhere but on my computer. I have a CD burner, but that only reinforces the problem at hand.

A wireless network between my portable music player, my car, and my computer would be nice. Sure, the network wouldn’t have much of a reach, but it wouldn’t need it. After an initial download, I could just drive or go wherever I want to, with the music I want, without bulky CDs. Now that’s technology at work. -pm

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

FROM: Old Fezziwig
DATE: Tuesday February 22, 2000 -- 1:33:24PM
While the idea of digital music seriously threatens my goal of collecting as many CDs as humanly possible, I like the idea of a wireless network between your stereo, your car, and your computer. I envision music 'filling stations' where you can pull your car into a service station, download some tunes, and go on your merry way. Or maybe they can add this as an option at the gas pump: "14 gallons of 87 octane and the soundtrack to 'Purple Rain' on pump 10 please."

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Tuesday February 22, 2000 -- 3:22:20PM

I agree with you on two points:

1 -- What will I do when the amount of music you have depends on the size of your hard drive? I love the opportunity to display walls and walls of CDs, tapes, and LPs. For this reason, I hope the digital music industry extends the music industry as a whole and doesn't totally replace it's current model.

2 -- The wireless network between stereo, car, computer, portable device is exactly what I'd love most. With the extremely lame nature of radio, I'd much rather be able to sit at work and program tunes sitting on my home computer for the ride home. Much more appealing.

... Ryan

FROM: Aaron
DATE: Tuesday February 22, 2000 -- 9:59:52PM
I just read something recently about Sony making pen-sized MP3 players. They use Sony's memory sticks to store the music and you plug headphones into them and carry around in your pocket.

Although I think wireless would be pretty interesting. What's the name of the service that has come under fire recently from RIAA where all you do is insert a CD into your CD-ROM, then the CD id is sent to the service provider, then you can listen to that CD in MP3 format at any time thereafter, not needing the CD anymore (since they have a copy of the CD in MP3 form on their server).

Maybe this could be extended via wireless. Instead of even buying a CD, you get a digital certificate, then add that certificate to your digital music player. Your player beams it's certificate to a service provider via wireless transmission, and receives the digital music back.

I had a Boomshot germinating on this, but I didn't have the time to write it up, but the gist of it is very similar to Old Fezziwig's idea. I was thinking that since "smart cards" are the future, why not store digital music on them?

ATMs could be turned into music kiosks (or combined with existing ATM-like devices). The long distance phone card is such a popular item at 7-11, what if they had a "Top 10 songs" smard card for say $.99. I bet a lot of teenagers would grab 'em just to get that weeks top hits. Maybe if you can even redeem them for $.10 a piece. Make 'em disposable like disposable cameras.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Wednesday February 23, 2000 -- 12:14:55AM
Aaron --

That service is MP3's "Beam-It"...

... Ryan

FROM: Andre Randolph
DATE: Wednesday February 23, 2000 -- 12:16:45AM
I think the whole idea stinks.think of the loss in sound quality going from digital to analog and then finally trying to creep it's way back to digital. Why not get an 8 track player and chuck them out the window when you're done.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Friday February 25, 2000 -- 4:13:17PM
Aaron, those ideas are incredible. Patent. Patent now.

FROM: Aaron
DATE: Wednesday March 1, 2000 -- 3:12:53PM
Patents -- ahh, no! I personally think that the patent system is completely screwed up and should be done away with.

But, back to music. I thought I'd post here something I put on Ryan's forum on UAJournal:

...I think someone needs to develop a new system in which artists can prosper given the fact that digital music can be cheaply and easily distributed by almost anyone. I think that at the core, we will have to leave the current system that depends on regulating the distribution of (digital) content -- the very system the entire music and movie industries are based. It won't be easy as these are trillion dollar industries that won't yield quickly, nor easily. I think that going down the rabbit hole of SDMI and stricter copyright laws will not be beneficial to our culture/society in the long run. It will certainly benefit the music companies, but I doubt that our culture/society will be the better for it.

So, what could an alternative system look like? I don't know, but here's an idea that I though of while typing this up:

There already exists a "piracy presupposition" tax on blank tapes. Each blank tape that is sold, a portion of the revenue is kicked- back to the record industry. The presumption is that blank tapes are used to make illegal copies of music, and that costs the music industry, so they are compensated for each blank tape sold. I heard a similar law was passed in Canada regarding blanks for CD-ROM burners. I do not know if it passed or not.

I personally find these laws reprehensible, and evidence of corruption in our government. However, if we could apply a similar system, but one that benefits the artists and listeners, now wouldn't that be just super? So, here it goes, a three-pronged attack:

  1. Affix a "tax" (but think of a better word) to every digital-music playable device. Thinks like RIO MP3 players, sound cards in computers, MP3-enabled car steroes, etc., etc. This money goes to some organization FooBar (more on them in a minute).

  2. Basically remove all copyright protection from digital music (!). Yep, allow people to freely and legally copy digital music as much as they want.

  3. Have FooBar organization run a Napster-like service where artists can upload and register their digital music.

  4. Listeners can go to this FooBar Napser-like service to download the digital music for free, no cost.

  5. Each download pays a "royalty" to the artist fromt the money collected from FooBar in step 1.

That's it. Now I'm not going to claim that this idea is a great solution, but I do think that what we need are some people who can come up with some really radical ideas to re-shape the music industry and make it compatible with the digital content world we are fast becoming.

FROM: Paul
DATE: Friday March 3, 2000 -- 4:32:21PM
Now see, I don't think patents are a bad idea overall (zippers!) The really awful issue of web-related patents falls in the lap of two parties: the Patent Bureau (insert official title here) and the entity registering the patent.

In the case of Amazon's affiliate program thingie, I think it's partly both. The idea of someone being able to patent an affiliate program is absurd! It's been going on for years, and the patent laws state that you can't patent anything sensical. er, wait. no. Can't patent anything that's really... uhm... obvious? I'll double check. It's the Bureau's fault for taking four YEARS to register the patent, in which time the net has changed wildly.

The one-click purchase method really shouldn't've been patented, either, because that's the type of innovation you expect from evolution of the communication form.

Imagine if call waiting was patented. Egads.

FROM: Ryan
DATE: Monday March 6, 2000 -- 9:17:40AM
Re: Patents...

FROM: Paul
DATE: Tuesday February 10, 2004 -- 3:46:48 pm
I wanted to comment and resurface this Ping, if only to show just how far things have come in four years.

I still have my CDs, but they're now stored in proper CD holders in our living room. I still find them bulky, and the iTunes/iPod combo makes the entire thing portable - something I wished for in 2000.

DATE: Saturday January 1, 2005 -- 2:11:32 pm

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