In a morning keynote session at the Tools of Change conference, Tim O'Reilly set out to explain why "free is more complicated than you think" but, for a company like his, an excellent driver of multiple revenue streams.
First O'Reilly reprised and extended some online posts that crunched numbers to show the easy path to business from free--advertising--is illusory given standard online advertising models. A hypothetical $50 million specialty publishing company (like his) will never generate anywhere even close to that amount of revenue through advertising-supported free content.
O'Reilly told the crowd we're facing all the same challenges as the rest of you--but I still think free is a good idea. But the key is that O'Reilly is already in a lot of different businesses in addition to print book publishing that free help to drive--their online reference/library joint venture; conferences; online courses; a magazine; and even venture capital. Significantly, they can be in all of those businesses because they are all targeted at the same focused community O'Reilly serves in all of their products. That's the important and resonant example more than the fact that O'Reilly uses free online content sharing to drive a variety of revenue streams. (For further relevant reading on this point, look back at Mike Shatzkin's speech on the End of Trade Publishing:
Much of the proof, acknowledged by O'Reilly, was right in the room. "In our business, sponsoring is a big part of what we do." Attendees paid to come to this conference, while over two dozen companies paid for sponsorships and bought speaking slots to address that group. O'Reilly on Free
What Everyone Else Is Reading Public Service Website Ripers: Top 10 intranet sites
Local farmers at NSW Department of Primary Industries / ComputerWorld, January 2008, 2p. Press release from DPI and a news article featuring a list of 10 best designed intranet sites from a world wide competition. NSW DPI was the only Australian site; the New Zealand Ministry of Transport also gained a mention for the antipodes.
San Francisco-based Nielsen Norman Group, which has organised the event for the past eight years, says the priority in intranet development has flipped "from information to people".
"It’s now a given to have basic features such as an employee directory on a company’s intranet,” usability expert and principal of Nielsen Norman Group Jakob Nielsen said in a statement.
"What’s new is the polish and sophistication that companies are giving them so that they serve even more useful purposes, which in the case of the directory means providing more than an employee’s name, rank and serial number, but also his subject-matter expertise, for example.”
• An overview of the report is available at ; [HarperCollins Publishers Promotion to Make Select Books Available Online for Free Harper Tries Full Online Access; For those books not provided free by publishers, there's a new scanner from Atix (selling for about $1,600) that the company calls a book ripper. Newsweek judges it more a thud than a snap, the device—an ominous three-foot high construction draped with a thick black darkroom-style shade—looks like a Goth puppet theater and weighs 44 pounds E-Z Book Scanner Isn't, Yet--But It Will Be ]
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