The content in iTunes® is made up of binary bits and bytes – we like to call this data. It’s arranged in a certain way we like to call it music (complex data). These “objects” have certain characteristics or attributes, we like to capture such as Title (Name), Author (Band), Length (Time, in seconds), Genre / Classification (Rock, Blues, Jazz) and so on (more data). iTunes® allows me to add my own “tags” to these objects like “favorite” and apply a star rating system.
Each time I play a song iTunes® adds one increment to that song’s counter (usage) – all of this is still data. As the data is built layer upon layer, more and more value is added to it, depending on its use, distribution, how ma
ny people it affects and what it affects, where, when and why.
This data, the processes and system wrapped around it gives us the ability to create playlists which are yet another kind of data – linked lists of my favorite songs from certain authors from certain genres. iTunes® ‘Genius’ looks at all this and says, using heuristics and pattern matching technology, maybe this guy would like to buy some more from this band or in that genre, and presents me several appealing options (to buy more data). Bang! Targeted or micro-marketing – it’s like an iRobot for your music.
Millions of people are adding “user-defined” content to this eco-system, and it takes on a life of its own. Who owns the songs? Who owns the tags? Who owns the playlists? Who benefits from those tags and playlists? There is a lot going on here.
There are different kinds of data, metadata and systems with workflows for usage of that data in iTunes® which create value – entertainment value for you and me, and enormous business value for Apple® (owner of iTunes®). Think of iTunes® as a city and we’re driving around using the roads which have tolls. The city can maintain the roads and build more of them. The toll gives us the right to use the roads, but we don’t own the roads.
Wait a minute! Those tags are mine! I own those – how dare Apple® make billions of dollars from information I provided them? I should get a discount on the music, right? Well, no, because this is a system of give and take, of an exchange of information for value, of entertainment for money. Each participant in the system contributes some and takes away some. The intermediary or infomediary (A
pple®) probably benefits the most – but they have the greatest burden and risk as well. Thus, Apple® invested to build the infrastructure and invented it, hence thrives on it.
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