Japan’s Complexity, Problems and Opportunities

It was a whirlwind two-week visit to Japan, but I think I learned a lot. The word “think” is in that last sentence on purpose. Japan is a fairly opaque place.

More in my Sunday column.

Your Own Radio Station

Whether Napster is a tool for thieves or a needed adjunct to the record industry’s brain-dead distribution methods (it’s both), one of the software’s under-appreciated facets has always been its ability to serve as a personal radio station. You could tell the world what was on your own “play list” and let the world listen.

UserLand Software has taken that notion a step further, but also deliberately omits something, in a newly released product called Radio UserLand. You can tell the world what you’re playing, and modify your own play list like crazy, but Radio UserLand doesn’t let people go straight to your computer to download the MP3s. If I understand this right, we’re talking about a personal radio station, not a web-cast station — something for individuals to create their own playlists, sharing the titles but not the actual music.

CAUTION: Radio UserLand is beta software, and installation problems have already been found (and are being fixed). I doubt novices will find it very intuitive in this initial version.

More Weekend Reading

  • Clay Shirky: Blurring the Lines (Business 2.0). With Napster, you register a name for your PC and every time you connect, it makes your current IP address an alias to that name, instead of the other way around. This inversion makes it trivially easy to host content on a home PC, which destroys the asymmetry of “end users consume but can’t provide.”
  • Floyd Norris: Piling On Amazon’s Stock, After the Fact (New York Times). Even in this weird investment age, it is hard to believe that one equity analyst, forget the throng, would turn tail on a stock because its revenues came in at $578 million rather than $585 million — a difference of 1 percent. What scared the analysts — just a guess — was Amazon’s falling stock.
  • Ed Foster: Mixing B2b Dot-coms and UCITA Will Make for a Volatile Combination (Infoworld). Will dot-coms be held responsible for damages caused by every stray bug? Read Ed’s column and weep.

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