And who can tell me which TV series that was the original title for?

Tunisia: Lessons of Authoritarian Collapse – Interesting article at the Carnegie Endowment website on historical precedents for the sudden ending of authoritarian governments
Tunisia’ Jasmine Revolution – More information on the events, and some regional context, from Mona Eltahawy at the Washington Post
Looking under the street lamp again – As well as writing good books, Charles Stross somehow finds the time to write interesting and thought-provoking blog posts too. This one is about how we identify the causes of a failure and go about preventing a re-occurrence, with some interestingly counter-intuitive points contained within.
Ed Miliband wants me to show courage – Mark Valladares responds to the Labour leader.
Things Real People Don’t Say About Advertising – and if you think they do, there’s no hope for you.

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I’m not entirely sure whether these figures for the number of times certain TV shows and films have been downloaded are trustworthy – there’s an air of ‘and the World Cup Final has 5 billion people watching’* about them – but if they are in the same ballpark as the number of actual download viewers, then it does suggest a possible new business model, at least for TV productions.

Why not create official downloads with advertisements? It’d be something like a distributed Hulu, without the expense of having to pay for the streaming bandwidth yourself. I would expect that people would be more likely to choose an official download rather than a pirated one, and wouldn’t object to sitting through some adverts to watch them – indeed, there’s probably even a way to ‘lock’ the ads, so that they have to be watched, which could also generate viewing figures for the advertisers.

OK, it’s a new field and advertisers probably wouldn’t be paying loads for it, but it’d be an interesting new revenue stream to exploit and getting into it first might be a big financial advantage in itself.

* Most of these figures are usually generated by adding up the total number of viewers who could watch the channels it’s being broadcast on, rather than the number who might actually watch it.

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So, it turns out that standing on the street and trying to force your newspaper into the hands of people who don’t really want to read it isn’t a viable business model. We’ve also discovered the shocking news that Rupert Murdoch and News International don’t like throwing their money into large holes for no apparent gain, and that the closure of a newspaper that most people in the one city it supposedly covered didn’t read is worthy of national news coverage.

Of course, it doesn’t take long for this to be attributed as another sign of the end of the mainstream media and the rise of the internet (not to pick on Mark specifically, his was just the first post I saw making this point), but it is worth pointing out that loss-making newspapers have been closing for years, and that when the global advertising market is in a slump, it’s not surprising that the publications most dependent on advertising are the first to go to the wall. Remember that the same Rupert Murdoch that’s closed thelondonpaper (and have we considered the possibility of a mercy killing by the Society For The Preservation Of Capital Letters?) is planning to start charging for online content now that advertising can’t fund that either.

Ever since I started blogging six years ago – which was perhaps even before ‘MSM’ came into use to denigrate the media everyone so wanted to notice and employ them – there have been people declaring that the inevitable triumph of the blog over the newspapers was imminent. Maybe it is, and it will come the day after tomorrow along with the inevitable triumph of the proletariat and the return of whichever Messiah it is you happen to be waiting for. Until then, I am available for very reasonable rates to write an opinion piece or review the papers for you.

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