4th June 2007

Buying Photos

Hillel writes about buying photos of his daughter and the conflicts between traditional business models (selling prints) and our new digital world. I thought I’d add a few comments to the discussion.

First of all, the way he approached the photographer was destined to cause misunderstandings. I guess he knew it in writing “It probably didn’t help when I told him that if I wanted additional prints I wouldn’t order them from him anyway, I would just scan the print I got and make more.” Given that the photographer owns the copyright to the photos, even if they are of your kid and they sold you prints, what he pretty much said was “I’m going to steal your work”. Not the best way to help the guy work through the business challenges that he faces.

I’ve seen these same issues going on with photographers who take photos of rafting trips and people at ski-resorts. In the local white-water areas there are two outfits that take photos of you, one that sells online and will sell digital images and the other still takes photos on conventional film and only sells prints. I’m curious to see how it all works out, but I suspect the digital folks are going to win- they are able to take 10 photos of each boat as it goes by at no cost so its much more likely they are going to get the great shot that will make the sale.

At Snowbird a couple of years ago we passed by one of those guys taking photos on the hill. I’ve been by them many times but never bought a thing. This time we stopped by and there were actually quite a few shots that were much better than the ones I’d taken myself (go figure, they are the pros, I’m not). But what clinched the sale for them was that they were willing to sell me a digital photo for $25, or 6 for $100. Sure enough, taking advantage of the 0 COGS, helped them upsell me to the $100 package, and everyone is happy.

I do think Hillel misunderstands in his evaluation that the cost of the printed package has something to do with the cost of the printing. The cost of printing photos, even 8x10s is (relatively speaking) almost 0 today. You are paying for the photographers expertise and the intellectual property of their photo (and for a copy of it, not to own the copyright itself). They just have a pricing model where they charge more for more reproductions and bigger ones, just like Microsoft charges more for 4 copies of Vista than for 1, and charges more for 1 copy of Vista Ultimate than 1 copy of Vista Home despite the fact that the exact same bits are on each DVD, just different features are enabled/disabled. In many ways this photography business is closer to software than either side has realized yet.

posted in Business, Technology | 1 Comment

4th June 2007

Dare on ObjectSpaces, WinFS, etc…

Dare posts about a friend writing about the origins of LINQ and its history with ObjectSpaces. I also worked with the ObjectSpaces team as they went through several iterations forced by various political winds inside Microsoft. We were hoping that they were going to be a great compliment to databinding in Avalon (WPF). Ideally you could easily define some database schemas, create some .NET objects to represent your data logic, and then use WPF databinding to create great user interface on top of it. All resulting in an application with great abstractions so you can evolve the various parts independently as necessary.

I had done some similar experimentation back in 1999-2001 (using Java to model an object programming layer first for Exchange and later for SQL). From my perspective the key was to not try to do a full complex “object relational” layer where you make things artificially automatic. Don’t hide the underlying database, but make it a lot easier to interact with it.

So far the most effective version of this is pretty much the ActiveRecord library that is part of Ruby on Rails. Judy’s Book also has their own version for the various sites built there, and I’ve built my own as part of various Fast Carrot / Launch21 projects. Writing lots of custom SQL and dealing with generic records all over your UI logic can be a big pain, and you also get stuck with poor choices for where to put your business logic. Part of what makes these technologies contraversial is that the database purists want you to put all the logic in the database. You build stored procedures, triggers, or more recently .NET based custom types that live in the database. The advatantage of that approach is that you have a guarantee of consistent behavior no matter what client talks to your database. For certain OS or enterprise applications this is very important. For most of the web-applications we build on the other hand this is a non-issue and just makes building the whole thing a giant pain.

I haven’t had a chance to get my hands dirty with LINQ yet but I’m hopeful that its going to be really cool. I know there were a bunch of neat projects brewing in this space so if they make the database side of the programming really interface with .NET in an elegant way, that could be a huge win for .NET programming.

posted in Developers, Technology | 0 Comments