Tim O'Reilly Gets It


Tim O'Reilly discusses an important problem underlying the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act. His company is a popular publisher of quality technical books, and uses digital media and the Internet to strengthen his business, rather than regarding them and his customers as enemies like the largest media conglomerates do.

The Pedestrian Genius Of The O'Reilly Business Model

Tim O'Reilly, publisher of extraordinary (and a few ordinary) technical books beloved by geeks like me all over the place, really seems to understand the economics of the expanding markets in which he does business. Unlike hidebound corporate bureaucracies run by geriatric people referred to in mainstream news media as each having "home addresses" rather than "a home adress" like the rest of us, who are so out of touch that in most cases they barely understand how to operate a computer and can't tell the difference between "the blue e" and "the Internets", Tim O'Reilly offers anyone who has purchased a hardcopy O'Reilly book anywhere, from anyone, a five dollar ebook copy of the same text in any of several file formats -- actually, as many copies as they want, on whatever devices they own that can handle them, without DRM.

This forward-looking recognition of the digital era of publishing, with its effectively zero-cost publication costs for not just industry giants but anyone at all, allows this publishing business to grow and profit from digital distribution as marketing rather than suffer the travails of costly, ineffective attempts to enforce the unenforceable through the act of mass punishment of its best customers. This policy of embracing new technologies and markets, and customers who wish to benefit from these technologies and markets as well rather than persecute them, has made something of a loyal customer of me -- someone who is in general even more disinclined to be a "loyal customer" than most people in our increasingly disposable culture.

O'Reilly Points Out "We" Are Solving The Wrong Problem

In Before Solving a Problem, Make Sure You've Got the Right Problem, Tim O'Reilly details some substance of the real problem behind legislative arrogance such as SOPA and the PROTECT IP Act. It's worth a read.

To those of us smart enough to have spent five minutes examining the situation as it stands, and as it will continue to evolve, the enlightenment in that piece of writing is eminently obvious. To those who simply seek to impose their wills and their preconceived notions in service of maintaining a stranglehold on outdated markets, it is possible the insights Tim O'Reilly offers may never appear to be anything other than traitorous lies, regardless of their truth and obviousness for those with open eyes to see it.

Unsolicited Endorsement

By the way, I heartily recommend Ruby Best Practices, an excellent book for intermediate through advanced Rubyists (and precocious Advanced Beginners according to the Dreyfus model of skill acquisition). Buy it as cheaply as you can get it, wherever you like, then go to to register it and get your five dollar ebook. I did.