Tuesday, December 19, 2006

iPhone is here... from LinkSys

Well, iPhone has been introduced as the rumours told, but from wrong manufacturer. LinkSys iPhone is a VoIP phone used with Skype and similiar VoIP clients. Apple has not commented the release of iPhone in any ways. It will be interesting to see what cards Apple has in its sleeve.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The end of the course

Well that's it. Time's up and its time to leave the managing dynamics part of the blog alone. More pictures would have been nice and a new navigation system. Well, I'll just put the posts in order from the earliest and show them on one page for easier browsing experience. Hopefully I'll have time to come back to this blog soon, maybe in some new thoughts about creative commons and open source. Or maybe related to a J2EE dilemma I'm facing currently at work...

Interesting sites gathered

I have been gathering some more or less interesting links at my del.icio.us list for the Managing Dynamics: Creative Content Business course. Looking back to the links I've remembered to save shows the way I've been going through the course. At the beginning I've saved some definitions related to the early topics. I felt unease with the new things and didn't yet know what to think about the cases and the whole course.

While the course progressed, I felt that I made some progress too. I started to save things that interested me: Creative commons, open source, mobile phones and even Christo's and Jean-Claude's installations...

Well here's few top picks from the link list in case you don't have time or interest to browse them through:

Creative Commons comic: A Spectrum of Rights
A nice comic explaining the ideas and usage of Creative Commons license.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar
A great book about open source and the differences between commercial "cathedral" way and the open source "Bazaar" way.

Lawrence Lessig
A homepage of a person who has contributed a lot on Creative Commons license.

Website of Christo and Jeanne-Claude
An artist couple that creates temporary environmental installations. Nice looking pieces of art and interesting business model behind it

OpenLife.cc | Open Life: The Philosophy of Open Source
An open source book about open source. Extremely interesting!

Individual readings and thoughts about open source

As two of my individual readings mainly concentrated on open-source, I'll try to reflect on my own ideas of it after reading some of these books. The Creative Economy by John Howkins takes a very traditional view on the creative content business with explaining different viewpoints. On open source Howkins mainly explains the basic licenses behind them and just touches the brilliant business and social models behind the whole thing.

The most interesting book of these three was Lawrence Lessig's Free Culture. It consists of many case reports about free culture, copyrights, open source and public domain. Interesting cases, some of them were already familiar to me, some of them were interesting smaller cases. All in all, the practical view and cases was just what I could think people would need to see the benefits of open source and creative commons. Also seeing that even open-source or public domain can make income to you. I must agree on Lessig on the potential of open source, but the time it takes for open source to grow will take long. As Lessig states in his conclusion:

"I’ve told a dark story. The truth is more mixed. A technology has given us a new freedom. Slowly, some begin to understand that this freedom need not mean anarchy.We can carry a free culture into the twenty-first century, without artists losing and without the potential of digital technology being destroyed. It will take some thought, and more importantly, it will take some will to transform the RCAs of our
day into the Causbys.
Common sense must revolt. It must act to free culture. Soon, if this potential is ever to be realized."

Creative commons seemed to be a license of choice for individual writings and open-source for small trivial software. Should I write something down every time I'm learning something? Should I publish software written for my own aid or just as an aid for learning? I can't think a reason why not. So I guess I'll license this blog under creative commons.

Back to the readings: The open life by Henrik Ingo was mainly chosen because I haven't had time to read this through before and this would force me to read it. :) The main point in this book is that it also concentrates on the social aspects of open source. It describes the actions of open source community and tells how the open source software projects are carried. Everything has a person centric start point and the results seem to be promising. The different business models in different cases are also a nice way to tell the reader that this "free open source thing" doesn't mean that you don't ever get paid for your job. The little practices for every day jobs from open source projects could benefit almost any academic worker.

Interesting readings and more thoughts on mind. Open source and creative commons feel natural choices right now. I'll guess I'll change this to Creative Commons right away.

Reflections on the fourth case study: Christo and Jean-Claude

The last case study was about an artist couple who create huge environmental installations. The brilliance of this case is still just opening for me. Christo and Jean-Claude create fabulous installations and as a side project the get some income from the preparatory works and documentation of installations.

This showed that art that breaks barriers may be also good business. The only way to make a living from art is not to paint paintings and sell them. Another thing that this has creative is the activity of the Bank Leu. They get an image boost, additional value to customers and publicity from the relatively unrisky line of credit they give to Christo and Jean-Claude.

This shows clearly that the traditional businesses have a lot to learn and gain from creative industries and creative content business.

Reflections on the third case study: AtomShockwaves

The third case study was about Atom Films, Shockwave and the merged AtomShockwave. The case descriped how the AtomFilms was founded by Mika Salmi and how the business model and business environment of AtomFilms and later on AtomShockwave evolved. The case was interesting example showing that just great creative content isn't enough, but also the management side and business model are important. Where to get profit?

Problem in this case was that Atom Films heavily depended on the income from advertisements. The advertisements markets have been down since the IT bubble and the Atom Films doesn't seem to have very good alternative business models. The Shockwave part seems to have potential. What should be done in order to make the whole company very profitable and maintain the growth?

I guess all of us on the course were thinking about breaking up the company and selling the Atom Films part. I agreed on this, but when coming back to the case for reflections I realised that one short film market has been existing only few years and will start growing rapidly: Mobile multimedia. Nokia has started its own line of products called Multimedia computers. This can be taken as a sign of time, effort and money that is currently put to make multimedia content truly mobile. Could this be one answer for the Atom Films?

Former CEO of Atom Films, Mika Salmi, has already made his own decision and has started his new work as president of Global Digital Media for MTV Networks. This really makes me think that which one is more important: quality content or good business model. An example on working business model with lower quality content is YouTube.

Atom Films was very creative business, but it failed to stay creative and adjust to constantly changing business environment. One creative burst isn't enough to create anything more than a fairly successful product on some niche market.

Reflections on the second case study: Apple iPod

The second case study about Apple iPod felt completely different than the first one. I personally can't find the point that makes the iPod so creative. In our portfolio workshop we were chatting about this and an idea about product not being creative but the ways the customers use it are. Well, I still can't think that this is the case with iPod. I more think iPod as an attractive looking product that has a certain image. The image has not been created by only Apple and its marketing department, but more by the customers who have bought iPod, or in fact any other Apple product.

Apple has large challenges ahead as the mobile devices are converging and the markets for plain digital music players are slowly fading away. I still feel that the only way to Apple keep its current pace is to broaden its product portfolio and in order to make this, it needs technology partners. Apple can't afford to do bad or mediocre products, because losing its image as a reliable high tech company with stylish and easy-to-use products would be a serious blow for Apple.

I also mentioned that I don't believe that Apple is yet able to develope a mobile phone. Soon after that there rumours about iPhone got stronger and it seems that Apple is going to introduce the new iPhone in next January. These will be interesting times for Apple. I'm looking forward to see what kind of mobile device Apple is able to deliver and have they done it all by themselves.

As I said in the beginning, this case was a bit harder than the first one. This was because I couldn't locate the creative parts as easily as in the first one and as the case itself wasn't very high quality. Well anyways, in my opinion, the strong image of Apple has been created by cretivity from customers and the marketing.

Reflections on the first case study: Cirque du Soleil

The first case study was something that I felt comfortable with. The case was about creative performing artist doing things in a new way, or in a creative way. For me the new way of working seemed at the beginning to be the result of the conditions of the circus business. However, thinking back to it, the new way of doing circus was something unique and the performances with more artistic touch transfers circus from average family thing to entertainment for more cultured adults.

The case study gave me a look about creativity as a merchandise (in form of performances) and as a way to sell the merchandise in a new way. This seemed to broaden my look on creativity and give a practical example on creativity in business.

Finally, I have to say that I was thrilled when I saw that the new Beatles album is used as a soundtrack for the Vegas show of Cirque du Soleil. They seem to continue creating new interesting shows with very entertaining soundtracks.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The fourth case study about wrapping artists, Christo and Jean-Claude

The last case study seemed hardest for me, mainly because the idea of making huge temporary environmental installations with loads of money felt like a total waste of time and money. Well, maybe I somehow understood part of this, and in fact, it already seems like a pretty good business. The case study is available here.

The first thing that felt strange in this, was the actions of banks. How could the artists acquire a line of credit for this kind of things? But after I started to think the case more, it seems like the banks were the winners. For example, The Bank Leu, that financed The Gates installation, gave a lot of additional value to its clients and gained a lot of fame in addition to polishing its image.

Well anyways, the artworks look nice and the installations are breathtaking. Some of these can be seen from Christo's and Jean-Claude's website.

Third case study about AtomShockwave

The third case is about Mika Salmi and Atom Films, a short film business run mainly on internet. The case study can be found here.

The problem in this case is that after merging of Atom Films and Shockwave and after bursting of IT bubble, the two parts of new merged company are off the balance. The Atom Films' income comes mainly from advertisements and the future of ad business looks pretty dark. The Shockwave part has brighter future and it's easy to come up few attractive business models for it. It seems like the Atom Films is holding back the Shockwave.

So what to do?

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Apple iPhone is coming

It seems that my arguments on one of the previous posts are a bit collapsing as the release of Apple iPhone seems to move from rumours to reality. :)

Well, this shows that Apple has started to converge different technologies and products into one single product. I guess the future shows how Apple has done its homework and how successful product it will be able to create...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Creative way to market through YouTube

YouTube has been discussed a lot lately because Google bought it and, at least in Finland, because some broadcasters are considering suing YouTube and the people uploading their content to the pages. I shortly touched this subject on "Creativity and business" post. Furthermore, marketing on YouTube was also considered with an example from a smaller Finnish broadcaster SubTV and its new comedy series. Now there is a short interview (in Finnish) of SubTV's On-Air Promotion Editor, Tapio Haaja uploaded on Youtube:

To translate the idea: The idea was to add few clips to YouTube and then write on bigger Finnish internet forums something like: "I found accidentally these clips from a new comedy series. Looks pretty good." After a while almost 100 000 people (a lot of people on Finnish scale) had seen those clips. So with this simple idea to use these new tools creatively, the company made a very successful and effective marketing campaign with almost zero budget. Extremely good example on blue ocean thinking, lower costs and better results together.

Individual readings for the course (business, open source and creative commons)

Just case studies and some discussion around it is not enough for this course. In parallel with the case study work each student has some individual readings. I felt like I would like to read about open source and creative commons, after all those were the main issues that made me participate this course. I'm also interested in open source and web 2.0 business models. How do you make money from it? Who has your money and how do you get it from them?

So from these viewpoints I found three different books. First one was from our course instructors, The Creative Economy: How people make money from ideas by John Howkins. This was just the kind of practical book that give a simple examples and explanations on how to start from an idea and make it profitable.

The other two books are about open source and creative commons. The other is written by Lawrence Lessig, who is strongly encouraging people to publish their writings under creative commons licence. He also does as he preaches, so the book, Free culture, is also available for free from the website. The second one is more interesting from my point of view. This is written by Henrik Ingo, who used to work at the same company I'm currently working and also is my friend's brother. He published Avoin Elämä in April 2005 and it's currently also available in English.

So next task is to read a bit and try to find a common ground for these different books and try to learn something new about creativity and how open source helps it and business. Hopefully I'll have time to write something during next week. Maybe I'll start with the creative commons and apply it with my blog...

Scrapbook and interesting pages

In addition to case studies and reflections on them, a portfolio should contain also interesting articles and news showing a bit what you have been studying and reading during the course. This also gives the portfolio a little bit of your own personality.

I figured out that I could follow the same practices as with the case studies and use web 2.0 tools for collecting links and articles. So I'll add related links to my del.icio.us page with managing_dynamics tag and as a scrapbook I'll use my Flickr page where I'll scan articles that seem to be interesting in some way. Just listing the interesting articles etc. isn't enough, so I'll try to write some thoughts on the articles and link them on this blog too.

Hmm, using Flickr as a scrapbook seemed like a great (and creative) idea. Something that Flickr is not meant to be used for, but the customers are creative enough to use it for that. After a quick search on Flickr, I have to admit that I'm not the most creative person. But hey, there's only 11 497 pictures found with "scrapbook" word...

Second case study about Apple iPod

After a busy week at work I finally have some time to do some tasks related to Managing Dynamics course portfolio. So here's the second case study about Apple iPod. I have to admit that I'm not sure what is the extremely creative part about Apple iPod, but it may be because I think creativity as being something the creators of the product have and not as the course instructors who encourage us to think that the creativity comes from customers using it in creative ways. I guess I'll need to meditate on this for a while. :)

Well, anyways. I feel like Apple iPod is in trouble. Very much competition and mobile phones with better and better digital music players makes everything hard. The trend is toward higher convergence. Meaning that the iPods as just digital music players will disappear and convergent devices with mobile phones, digital music players, games and Internet connections will take over. At least from my view this seems to be the most logical future view.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Case study about Cirque du Soleil

The first case work on Managing Dynamics: Creative Content Business course is about Cirque du Soleil and the blue ocean strategy used to create new market inside such an competitive industry as circus industry is. The case report is published through Google Docs and it can be found here. I'll write some of my own and group's reflections about this after a week of interesting discussions and heavy debates on the subject.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Why isn't a product called C++ created?

The title of this post refers to my love - hate relationship with C++. C++ is an extremely flexible, effective, useful, widely spread and powerful generic and object-oriented programming language. At the same time it's frustrating, illogical, badly documented and poorly compatible language. The compilers work differently, the standard library isn't a standard, some of the compiler errors result in cryptic error messsages, C++ used in Symbian related projects doesn't even look like C++ etc. C++ was used very much in the 90s, but nowadays you can find it mainly in embedded systems and Linux programs.

I feel that C++ has mainly been forgotten because it was created to be an object-oriented programming language instead of a product. Bjaerne Stroustrup may be good at developing programming languages, but he seems to be bad in commercializing. I started programming with Java and I got used to standard compilers, cross-platfrom compatibility, very good up-to-date documentation and clear syntax. Then I moved to C/C++ world where even using different compiler may result in failure of the build and where standard doesn't mean that compilers could handle it. The C++ that is not clearly documented in any place and even if it is documented, the documentation may not be compatible with your compiler.

This is extremely frustrating when preparing for a C++ course in which we use different programming environments requested by customer. Checking all the answers with the new compiler and verifying that the needed examples work well with it. In case of extremely bad luck, I'm requested to use Visual C++ 6.o as a tool when teaching how to use templates and Standard Template Libraries. Too bad, the compiler in this case has a few bugs and some features won't simply work with this otherways fine (and old) Microsoft product.

Why, even nowadays, aren't all compilers compatible even though C++ has been standardized? I guess there are few reasons: first of all the standardization took long and was ready at 1998 when Java was emerging and C++ was seen as an old technique. The compiler creators didn't want to invest any more money to make it compatible. Also the people using the compilers already available had learned to cope with the problems. Second reason might be that nowadays the usage of C++ is very much limited to embedded systems. These are very often build on older hardware and this usally means that older programming environment is used. And of course this may mean non-standard compilers. Third reason may be just simple lack of skills. C++ standard required things like templates, RTTI and a collection of useful generic algorithms and collections, STL. These are not simple techniques and as an indication of that at least MS Visual Studio 2003 still seems to have some problems with templates.

I'm glad that Sun has resolved this kind of irrelevant problems in advance and they have relased a product called Java. Java is easy to learn, flexible, compatible, well documented and fairly efficient. I guess the developers have enough problems to solve when developing software so the last thing they want is to have problems with programming language or environment. The focus should be on software design, not finding ways to bypass compiler related problems.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

More visitors for Managing Dynamics blog (Part 1)

For this afternoon I thought I should reserve some time to work a bit more with my blogging business :). So I started with Google, as usually people who want some visitors on their pages do. Google Webmaster central seemed like a correct place to start growing organic visibility of my blog in Google. Well, after submitting my sitemaps and pages to Google, I still couldn't find my blog from Google. Darn.

Reading a bit more carefully through the webmaster help at Google popped new thoughts of marketing this blog. First of all, lists of blogs. A quick search resulted a few interesting lists (e.g. Technorati) which all seemed to need a new blog on their list. So after quick registrations and blog addings there was few links to Managing Dynamics blog! \o/

Still, I felt like my target audience would not find me. So I decided to search for some tips on how to make blogs popular. One very interesting one was the lenses at Squidoo. There was even a free e-book on how to get more traffic on websites with lenses. After reading through that, I was determined that the thing I was missing is a lens. Again in 10 minutes my blog was easier to find, thanks to Managing Dynamics lens. Now, after 1 hour of intensive marketing campaign, I will let Google's webcrawlers do their job and add this blog into Google index. And then it's time to start waiting for income from advertisements. :)

Creativity and business

As a first task for the "Managing dynamics: creative content business" we have to discuss about John Hartley's introduction to "Creative industries" (2005) book. This introduction gives reader a short view on creative industry itself and the problems emerging from the fuzziness of the industry compared to traditional manufacturing or service industries. It also introduces and explains the various terms used when speaking of creative industries.

The introduction starts with an essential question: “What is creativity?” The first description of creativity that popped to my mind was that it is an ability to create something. However that doesn't seem to match the respect creative person seems to get. In a way I guess all people have ability to create something, even my nephews create a loads of pictures, decorative items etc. I guess one thing that should be remembered from creativity is that it should result in something unique, something that has never been done in that way, and something that is not the most obvious solution.

This leads us to Schumpeter's idea of innovations and new markets:

Invention -> innovation -> imitation

First there is an invention to start with, this is commercialized and turned into an innovation. The product will be successful on its market so there will be many imitations and so a new market has been created out of creativity.

So is creativity an ability to create an invention or an innovation. If the viewpoint is from business side, I guess the innovation would be an outcome of creativity. We're looking for commercial inventions, innovations. Creativity may play its part in thinking up the invention or in using an old invention in a new, innovative way. Creativity in art, as I understand it, is more in the way an artist promotes his works to a broader audience than in the creation of that particular art piece. At least modern art makes me think this way. Well, I just don't understand art.

These success stories of creativity are not as usual as stories about technical breakthrough or technical innovations. These are harder to report, harder to spot than easily specified technical advancements. Still there are many examples, latest was just few days ago when Google bought YouTube with $1.65 billion.

Google bought a company that displays videos uploaded by normal people on the internet. The income for YouTube came from advertisements and in fact it wasn't producing much profit mainly because the constant growth of users and videos required a lot of investments on the computing power and storage capacity of servers. The company was creative. The company relied on customer created content and it was extremely successful in it, even though a large number of videos on the site are copyrighted for someone else. The point is that the technology behind YouTube is not very innovative.

YouTube has also created a new ways to advertise on internet. A Finnish TV channel SubTV advertised its upcoming comedy series by uploading few short clips from it and then spreading a word about them. The most popular one of these clips has been watched for 128 095 times in one month. Public TV channel Yle has taken a completely different approach to YouTube, even going as far as suing the people that uploaded small clips of their copyrighted work to YouTube. So the broadcaster would be suing its own customers.

Well anyways, creativity, an ability to see differently, do things differently, and think differently, "is now the decisive source of competitive advantage" according to Richard Florida (The Rise of the Creative Class, 2002) that was quoted by Hartley in his introduction. I must agree that. There is a global market for new kinds of services and products available through internet for anyone creative and active. The business model could start evolving from just starting a weblog and publishing ads on it. Now all I need is to get few thousand visitors to make the advertisers happy and to make some income from writing about my readings, courses and thoughts...

Monday, October 16, 2006

Everything has a beginning


I'm Tomi and I thought that I should start blogging. I have had these thoughts for a long time. Well now it finally happened, I started my own personal blog. This didn't happen by incident, this started when a need and my interests met. The need was (or is) the assignment in a course called Managing dynamics: Creative content business at Turku School of Economics. The assignment is a portfolio containing completed smaller assignments and the lessons that I have learned during the course.

So why a weblog? First of all blogging has been an interesting phenomen to follow. I love to read blogs and I've always thought that I should write something too. That something was the problem. Now I have a subject so that problem is solved. Second reason for starting a blog is my interest in Web 2.0 based services (or should I say applications). Many of these are changing the content driven business as the consumers a producers and consumers of the content at the same time. I figured out that doing everything on this course through a web application would bring a nice little addition for this portfolio and would make my work a lot more interesting. Also this makes me a content producer. I guess I will be the only consumer too, in addition to lecturers of the course. :)

So this blog will be the spine of the portfolio. I guess the smaller assignments I will write with Google docs and publish a link to them in here. I'll save the interesting pages to my own bookmark collection at del.icio.us and hopefully manage to create some graphical content to be displayed in Flickr. Nice services with interesting business models behind them all.

I'll try not to take too technology oriented viewpoint but rather i'll try to concetrate on the business side of content as the course objective is. And between the lines, I shall take a role of technology evagelist promoting the best possible solutions. :)

So this is my starting point for the course and for my own content creation business. Who knows where this experiment leads and what will I gain from it. 4 credits from the course would be a nice starter.