The Digital Media Manifesto



S. Carmichael


A response to a particularly good question




I found James’ question a thought provoking one:

"What do you mean by "Artist" in Creators / Definition? I think they are probably redundant. Or do you mean "Actor", "Dancer" etc. to match "Screen-Writer". If that's the case, one could also add "Set-Designer" and all the other creative jobs related to Films ("Sound technicians" etc.). In opera, a "Screen-Writer" is a "Librettist"... (J. Ingram)".

A long winded answer ~

It’s clear, or seems so, that when we are discussing the value chain, we mean value vis-à-vis digital media.

More broadly it might be asked: "What do you mean by creator? And in the context of The DMM, what do you mean by creation?"

To answer that in a way that might work within the context of the value chain, I have refined the questions further:

When and how does a creator’s creation obtain value in the context of DM, and what might the life cycle of that creation be, in simple terms, along the chain?

Undisplayed Graphic

A. Beginning with James’ question, "What do you mean by Artist…?" I would begin to reply, artists are many, but in the context of The DMM, the creation provides the answer: it is the person or collaborative group of people that produce a work that either directly or through the involvement of some form of additional production assistance results in a digital work that has currency within the DM Value Chain. So, the dancer is an artist, but in the context of DM, her dancing becomes salient when she is photographed, video recorded, or the like, and her artistry can be conveyed digitally (and with her consent) to others.

All artists that collaborate to establish a creation of am.1 / dm.1 (see above), a reproducible original, should be (are?) accorded the attendant rights / privileges of that creation, rights.1.

B. When am.1 / dm.1 is created, an important personal attribute is required to move it (dm, or future dm) past the first step in the value chain: the desire to do so. That may be the desire to:

  1. Monetize: to sell outright, to sell for limited use, to sell for one time use, to give away, and so on.
  2. Protect: to prevent certain types of use or distribution
  3. Distribute: to allow copies, to package in a certain way, or with certain level of quality of production value
  4. Control: release methods, cycles, locations, performances
  5. Other (?)

The desires listed above overlap and the list is not exhaustive. Importantly, these desires are what move the creation, and the one or many creators or artists, into the value chain with a vested interest in a work that may one day have value. How much value, at least in terms of dollars and pence, will have yet to be determined.

With the desire on the part of the creator comes a second cycle of collaboration which may involve some of: funding, production, packaging, marketing, and technical infrastructure to translate dm.1 / am.1 to dm.2. And with this layer of effort often comes rights.2, or the rights associated with vested interests that are added to those of the creators, and often have to do with funding, and the expertise associated with making that creation one that, it is hoped, will be more appealing to its market or audience.

A.1 It is of course possible - in a frame of mind that everyone is an artist - that a writer or a film maker or a musician may decide that am.1 or dm.1 is not for the masses - none of the desires stated above are borne by the creator. Addressed within The DMM, and considered in the value chain briefly, is the concept of personal media, governed less by DRM, and as much by rights to privacy. This is important because the DM infrastructure, and many elements along the value chain, including storage, connectivity, hardware, software deal in part with DM that is private, but no less important and valuable to the end consumers. Think baby pictures, home movies, the sound of a loved ones voice preserved as a .wav.

C. The value chain may involve strict monetary equivalency or something less tangible. Nevertheless, a receptive audience is central, and reaching the market for the creation, its audience, is the core driver of the value chain: it constitutes the costs and results in its revenues. And perhaps more importantly, the test of an audience, the performance of the creation in a market place of ideas, establishes its social relevance – its life.

The costs of bringing a creation to market is well understood in the am world, but in considering dm, valuation has taken a back seat to market definition. Defining the dm market is a practice of defining what is possible, what is practical, what is allowed. It is also a practice of determining what is the value of what has been created historically, what is the value of what is being created today, and what is the value of what will be created in a time when new rules and custom exists that anticipate broader options, and a greater highest and best use. Here’s to the DMM.

The market, audience, consumers will help determine the value of dm in terms of, among other things, how many times it is copied, streamed, shared. But clear demand metrics have yet to be defined. (imagine.) Some creations will have very high demand, for what ever reason, and some will have less - that may have to do with marketing, or release parameters, or audience, or the nature of the creation. Demand may be very great for a short period of time, or very steady and relatively small for a very long time. Will the nature of demand be similar to what we have seen in the am world? Or will it be different?

The nature of matching supply to demand we may assume would be different in a dm world. Still, planning and cost for a high demand item would involve expertise, time and money. Supply dynamics constitute the value chain as it connects its two ends: the creator/creation and the consumer, and are central to The DMM discussions.

Whatever the supply and demand dynamics may be, it is assumed here that the market, and audience, will define the relative value of a creation over a period of time. Metrics such as downloads, streams, bandwidth consumed, and others to be named all may come into play. Gross and net revenue will certainly come into play.

And towards the end of that dm creation’s useful life, the question may be: is it worth the disk space to store?

D. At some point in time, the creation in this example may establish a proven asset value. The value may have to do with continued demand, and the desire for consumers to experience the creation year after year. As a child, I recall The Wizard of Oz being such a creation. The repository, film library, photo archive: in the dm world, personal repositories exist along side institutional archives, and we are connected, indirectly, to commercial ones.

Dm establishes another set of challenges and opportunities at this later stage of the creation’s life cycle. A future-state vision of the creation, when accessing any film or media asset, ever made, at any time from one’s living room (or the beach), features a mature DM society. The creation now exists as dm.3 and rights.3 or dm.n and rights.n and lives in the context of only imagined infrastructure, applications, devices and accompanying DRM. To what degree will the original creation, in a highly mutable form, morph - its rights splinter to accommodate these many new uses and players?


James: (an attempt at an answer, finally)

At the beginning of the chain an artist creates. Desire may drive the artist to share his creation with others, or not. But should he desire to share his creation with others, the option to share it digitally should be available in such a way – provided it makes any sense at all for the creative work – that the artist (yes, all of the creators) can see his work provided to a public, receive a just reward for his efforts based upon the works reasonable popular appeal, and then perhaps let it slip into the ether - an enriching spirit that once he knew.

Scott O. Carmichael