Jan 31

written by Jeff Kelly

Jun 09

written by Jeff Kelly

Jan 16

Excuse me while I vent.

Media companies are all battling uphill (upload?) against piracy.  One of the questions I often ask them is: “What pricing and distribution model would you need to put pirates out of business?”  One scenario I ask is, “What if we blew up the current stilted distribution model (i.e., theaters – pause – DVD – pause – VOD – pause – HBO, etc.)?  What if we just say “This new movie releases Friday – how would you like to see it?”

We have already seen movement toward a more compressed distribution model in 2008 when some studios announced DVD + VOD day-and-date delivery.  But, how much longer will we have to wait to get to Theater + VOD day-and-date?  When we do, the pirates will lose some of their advantage.  Let me vent my personal gripe to illustrate:

I have an old buddy coming to visit for the Inauguration (yes – we are unbalanced enough to join the insanity down in DC).  He and I used to love to hang out, crack a few, and watch Clint Eastwood movies (mostly the spaghetti westerns, mostly TGTBTU).  So, it would be great if he and I could watch the new Clint movie, Gran Torino, while he is here.  But, of course, the only legal way to see it right now is in a theater.  There is no way that we can work that into our schedule while he is here.  Now, I would gladly pay $25 bucks to be able to rent this VOD in my home.  But I can’t.  C’mon Warner Brothers – the money is yours – just let me VOD!

Of course, if I was The Bad or The Ugly, I could watch the video right now.  All it would take is a short stroll over to Pirate Bay to download a pirated copy (kids – stop that!).  It would probably be crappy quality but since I have a PC connected to my HDTV, my buddy and I could enjoy it any time we chose.  Now, because I don’t want to do anything to upset Clint (he’s always cranky and often armed), I will not do that.  But there may be others with less of The Good that might choose piracy out of last resort.  If someone is willing to pay instead of pirate, why not let them?  Trust me – it won’t cannibalize your box office receipts.  Theater going is an event/experience.  I will still go to movies.  I may even watch something on VOD and think, “Man – that would be great on the big screen – let’s go next week!”

I’m not the only one frustrated by not being able to VOD when I want and the studios are missing a revenue opportunity. How much longer do we have to wait?

(BTW – when I was growing up, my Dad had a Gran Torino.  I don’t think the rifle is standard equipment.)

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May 21

Here is a very interesting research paper:

The Value of Believing in Free Will: Encouraging a Belief in Determinism Increases Cheating

I added this to today’s links list, but wanted to highlight it. If you want the short version, here is the abstract from the article:

Does moral behavior draw on a belief in free will? Two experiments examined whether
inducing participants to believe that human behavior is predetermined would encourage cheating. In Experiment 1, participants read excerpts that encouraged a belief in determinism (i.e., behavior as the consequence of environmental and genetic factors) or neutral text. Exposure to the deterministic message increased immoral behavior on a passive cheating task that involved allowing a flawed computer program to reveal answers to mathematical problems that participants should have been solving themselves. Moreover, increased cheating behavior was mediated by decreased belief in free will. In Experiment 2, exposure to deterministic statements led participants to overpay themselves on a cognitive test relative to participants who were exposed to statements endorsing free will as well as participants in numerous control conditions. These findings suggest that the debate over free will has societal, as well as scientific and theoretical, implications.

Now, I have long been a proponent of free will theory and opposed to any concept of predetermination. I believe that it undermines individual potential. Predeterminism recuses you from personal accountability. Even those who believe in predetermination but profess “many paths to the predetermined result” makes them accountable are fooling only themselves. If you know in your heart of hearts that the outcome is already determined, you divest responsibility.

What I had never stopped to consider (because I’m not terribly bright) is the impact beyond the individual. This research discussed in the article illustrates the toll predeterminism can take on our society. Frankly stated, the research shows that predetermination is immoral. To strengthen our society, all institutions should be teaching the importance of free will. Now, this could become a discussion of whether free will exists or not, but instead I want to consider what we should be teaching people to strengthen our society. Whether you believe in free will or not, I leave you with a quote from the article:

It is also crucial to emphasize that the present findings do not speak to the larger issue of whether free will actually exists. It is possible that free will is an illusion that nevertheless offers some functionality. It may be that a necessary cost of public awareness regarding the science of human behavior will be the dampening of certain beliefs about personal agency (Wegner, 2002). Conversely, it may prove possible to integrate a genuine sense of free will into scientific accounts of human behavior (see Baumeister, in press; Dennett, 2004; Kane, 1996; Shariff et al., in press). Although the concept of free will remains scientifically in question, the present results point to a significant value in believing that free will exists.

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