digital scarcity

From: Michael Wiik (
Date: Mon Jul 30 2001 - 02:15:01 MDT

Years ago, when I actually wasted money on pay cable services, I
remember ads for 'Showtime exclusives', as in movies that were only
available on Showtime and not on HBO. These ads were shown on the
Showtime channel. It made clear that these movies would *not* be seen on
HBO, that only Showtime subscribers could see them.

The point of this was never clear to me. I didn't enjoy movies more
because HBO-only subscribers couldn't see them. I didn't cackle about my
superiority over HBO-only subscribers. Instead I wondered how much of my
subscription payment was going for making movies 'exclusive'.

Once I had a job where I read a bunch of cable television trade rags.
There were some articles on how to excite consumers about pay-per-view.
Not much was said about actual content, or the idea that some people
might want to use ppv just sometimes for certain movies. It was all
about the 'excitement' of paying to watch a movie or show. Apparently
the 'excitement' aspect (or exclusivity) was lost on the consumers.

Maybe this is just the way media moguls think. I guess they enjoy their
riches more knowing that others aren't as well off.

Well, anyone, my point is digital scarcity as an practice session for
post-nanotech economy-of-abundance avoidance. I think any sign of a
human beginning to transcend or initiate some singularity technology
will be met by the same response we'd probably see to a second coming of
Jesus -- SWAT teams, machine guns, cruise missiles.


Michael Wiik
Messagenet Communications Research
Washington DC Area Internet and WWW Consultants

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