If you’re one of those music fans who hounds bands and musicians with questions such as ‘When are you coming to play MY town?’, Detour is one service you will be all over like a
deranged groupie rash.
London-based startup Songkick launched crowdfunding platform Detour in private beta last year, focusing on a small group of serious music fans. In the intermittent period, the service has seen 10 fan-generated gigs come to fruition which, when you consider it was only opened to 1,00 fans, isn’t bad.
In its short life to date, 114 fans used Detour to bring Braid to London, while 80 fans prompted Desaparecidos to play live too. In total, $100,000 in ticket sales have been generated through Detour so far.
It’s a simple-yet-genius idea, and from today any music fan based in the UK capital can use the service.
There’s three stages to the crowdfunding process – pledging, selecting promoters and confirmation.
The first phase is all about building interest and seeing how much demand there really is. Sign in using your Songkick log-in details, and YOU decide how much you want to pay. Though your pledge is secured with your bank card, no money is actually taken off until the gig is confirmed.
Once an artist has gained sufficient popularity, the good folks at Songkick will establish contact with a promoter to help make the gig happen. And the final stage is ‘Confirmed’, meaning it’s all systems go and fan pledges are transformed into tickets. Any remaining allocation then go on general sale.
Now, to get your favorite artists to tour near you, you can manually search for them in the Detour database. If you choose someone who’s ‘too popular,’ you’ll be asked to search for someone a little more ‘niche’. In other words, someone who may not be confident of any demand for their live show. Otherwise, you can browse the existing Pledge Leaderboard and throw your own hat into the ring.
If you’re not familiar with how Songkick’s core platform works, it scans your device for music (via Web and mobile apps) and tells you what gigs are coming up near you, based on your collection. As such, Detour already knows who you like, so in your tracked artists section you can see if there’s anyone needing an extra pledge to get things moving.
Although it is only London-focused at the moment, it will be opening across the UK shortly. And don’t be too surprised if it opens further afield after that, as Songkick co-founder and CEO Ian Hogarth says in a blog post earlier today, that the team have been “thrilled at the emails we’ve been getting from fans and promoters across the world asking when Detour would come to their city.”
Interestingly, Detour isn’t just being used by fans. Some independent London promoters have also used Detour to kickstart concert campaigns, as it means far lower risk – it’s like a market research tool to establish demand. Also, it could be used for just about any artist or live performer – Detour has already been used to sway comedian Aziz Ansari towards a London gig.
“When we launched Detour London in November, we really didn’t know what would happen,” says Hogarth. “In some ways, that’s the most amazing thing about the Internet – if you give people a powerful new way to connect, they figure out ways to use it that couldn’t be anticipated in advance.”
Detour is open to London users now, and will open across the UK shortly after.
All the salacious headlines are (mostly) true — as of today, you can’t unlock a carrier-subsidized smartphone on your own before the contract associated with it runs out without technically running afoul of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Granted, I’d wager that the number of people who faithfully stick to their multi-year wireless contracts far exceeds the number of people who would unlock their phones and bail, but this is still a damned lousy turn of events for all you proponents of phone freedom out there (myself included).
But how did this actually happen? To more clearly understand the change that went into effect today, we have to flash back to the heady days of 2010.
In late July of that year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation announced on its blog that it had won three big exemptions to the DMCA. One of them dealt with the legality of using copyrighted footage from DVDs for noncommercial works of “criticism or comment,” but yet another exemption made it legal to jailbreak a phone, and the final was actually the renewal of an existing exemption for (you guessed it) unlocking phones for use on other networks.
Everything was copacetic until this past October, when the U.S. Copyright Office and the Librarian of Congress spent time reviewing some of those exceptions made to the DMCA. Geekier endeavors like jailbreaking or rooting your devices are still totally kosher, but after extensive review the original exemption for unlocking phones was overturned, noting the ability for users to unlock their own phones for use on other networks just wasn’t necessary anymore given the perceived ease of obtaining either a pre-unlocked phone or a carrier-sanctioned way to unlock one:
The [Register of Copyrights] concluded after a review of the statutory factors that an exemption to the prohibition on circumvention of mobile phone computer programs to permit users to unlock “legacy” phones is both warranted and unlikely to harm the market for such programs.
At the same time, in light of carriers’ current unlocking policies and the ready availability of new unlocked phones in the marketplace, the record did not support an exemption for newly purchased phones.
The decision goes on to say that, considering “precedents in copyright law,” a 90 day transitional period would be allowed so people would have time to unlock their phones before the exemption kicked in. That period has just run out.
The full text of the Librarian’s report can be found here (the section on unlocking starts on page 16), and after taking a few moments to glance through it, the amount of lobbying and discussion that went into the process of drawing a conclusion is pretty amazing. As you might expect, one of the most vocal proponents of axing the exemption was the CTIA, a wireless trade group that counts every major U.S. wireless carrier (not to mention a whole host of others) among its members. It’s no shock to see the CTIA — and, by extension, the carriers — get a little worked up over this.
You see, shelling out a mere $99 and signing a piece of paper may seem like a trivial action for the person actually doing it, but the carriers view the situation a little differently. They sell those phones with hefty subsidies in hopes that they’ll make up the difference (and then some) over the two years a customer is contractually bound. In this case, the CTIA’s argument basically boils down one of money: “the practice of locking cell phones is an essential part of the wireless industry’s predominant business model.” Put another way, unlocking a phone can be considered one of the first steps in jamming up a carrier’s revenue stream, and they certainly don’t want that happening too often. In this case, carriers get some additional protection without inconveniencing their customers en masse — not a bad deal for them.
So yes, unlocking your phone without your carrier’s explicit approval is technically verboten. But let’s not forget what this particular change doesn’t mean — the police most likely aren’t going to knock down your door because you felt the compulsion to free your phone from your carrier’s shackles. It also doesn’t mean that the stash of old phones nestled in your drawer can’t be unlocked — so-called “legacy” devices are exempt from silly change, so feel free to take your old phones and show them a little bit of freedom. You can still buy unlocked phones from eBay and Amazon like you always could, and hey, some phones sold by carriers are unlocked right out of the box anyway.
But all those caveats raise an even weightier question: what will actually happen if you unlock your phone? For now, it’s the sort of question that comes without any clear answers — if anyone, it’s the carriers who have the ability to detect and crack down on unsanctioned unlocked phones, but so far none of them seem very keen on addressing the matter. I’ve reached out to representatives from AT&T and T-Mobile, the two most prominent GSM carriers in the country (and therefore the two carriers that are mostly likely to deal with the issue of unlocked phones) and asked what would happen if either carrier had determined that one of their customers had illicitly unlocked their phone.
Surprise, surprise — I was met with canned responses and unsatisfying non-answers at every turn. It seems they’re angling to keep that particular card close to their chests for now. What’s also unclear is whether or not intrepid unlockers (and the folks that make unlocking tools and services) will soon face any legal ramifications. Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer Mitch Stoltz told Engadget earlier today that the U.S. Copyright Office is “taking away a shield that unlockers could use in court if they get sued.”
The key word in that sentence is “if” — while I doubt we’ll be hearing about many unlocking-related lawsuits in the weeks and months to come, there’s little denying that this turn of events has left more than a few people wondering about what it really means to purchase and own something. Some have already made their discontent known; a We The People petition imploring the Librarian of Congress to rescind the decision has already made the rounds on Reddit and Hacker News, and racked up nearly 15,000 signatures in two days.
UPDATE: To its credit, the CTIA has painted a clearer picture of the potential legal penalties of unlocking a phone on its official blog. Sadly, those penalties aren’t inconsequential:
Civil penalties are based on the carrier’s actual damages and any additional profits of the violator, or a court can award statutory damages of not less than $200 or more than $2,500 per individual act. Criminal penalties are even more severe: any person convicted of violating section 1201 willfully and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain (1) shall be fined not more than $500,000 or imprisoned for not more than 5 years, or both, for the first offense; and (2) shall be fined not more than $1,000,000 or imprisoned for not more than 10 years, or both, for any subsequent offense.
See original here: Unlocking Your Phone Is Now Illegal, But What Does That Mean For You?
He fleshes it out in a series of posts, but basically, it would be a network of drones that would carry things the same way the Internet carries data: in packets, over a series of multiple hops, routing on the fly.
Sound like a pipe dream? Not at all: Matternet is a startup working on implementing just that for delivery of high-value goods (pharmaceuticals, electronics) to developing countries and/or rugged locations where the roads are so few and/or terrible that UAVs become the superior option. Their idea is for drone transportation to – literally – leapfrog trucks in those areas in the same way the cell phones leapfrogged land lines.
Robb’s, typically, is bigger. Essentially, he envisions the Dronenet delivering to individual buildings and even houses, eventually replacing UPS, FedEx, DHL, and the postal system. What’s more, it would dovetail awfully nicely with the 3D-printing revolution: I’ve argued before that almost nobody needs their own 3D printer, but the Dronenet could ultimately provide not just same-day but often same-hour delivery of newly printed items.
Feel free to be skeptical about the economics or the logistics, obviously – we’re talking about, by definition, a lot of moving parts – but hey, at least you can’t complain that this idea is boring.
Best of all, though, it lets me quote one of my favorite lines in all of science fiction:
The analysts at CosaNostra Pizza University concluded that it was just
human nature and you couldn’t fix it, and so they went for a quick cheap
technical fix: smart boxes.
–Neal Stephenson, Snow Crash
Just as shipping containers (and pallets) revolutionized shipping, the Dronenet will need standard-sized, interchangeable, reusable smart Droneboxes. (Which in turn every self-respecting 3D printer will be able to crank out pretty much from scratch.) They will be to the Dronenet what packets are to the Internet.
If I may step back into a slightly philosophical stance, this would actually be quite a striking development. People have been talking and speculating about the “Internet Of Things” for so long that it has actually threatened to become a little boring before it even begins to exist. Until now my assumption has always been that the Internet-Of-Things mostly just meant ubiquitous Internet connectivity coming to things that already exist in the physical world. But the Dronenet would be different: The Dronenet, if it happens, would instead be an instance of the physical world becoming more like the Internet.
Will it actually happen? Who knows? It may become yet another beautiful notion slain by that tragic assassin named economics. Or niche Dronenets may arise in a handful of places around the world where they make economic sense, but fail to ever quite mesh into, well, a world-wide web.
My greatest concern, though, is not economic but political: it’s that someone will start packing drones full of Semtex and sending them after political targets. I’ve been thinking about drone disasters for some time: a whole four years ago, before drones were big, I wrote (and CC-released) an entire novel about their misuse by terrorists.
That seems inevitable, and it seems likely that when it happens it will lead to a ham-handed, TSA-style clampdown on all drone activity everywhere, and a government monopoly on the use of drones (perhaps for panopticon surveillance), throwing the Dronenet baby out with the terrorist bathwater. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen. But I fear I have a lot of trouble coming up with reasons why it won’t.
See the original post here: Enter The Dronenet
Big retailers are showing more and more that they’re not just about to let the tech wave pass them by.
The latest example? BlackLocus, an Austin, Texas based startup that builds technology that helps retailers make data-driven pricing decisions, has been acquired by home improvement retail giant Home Depot.
The deal was announced in a blog post today by BlackLocus, which began several years ago while its founders were getting graduate degrees at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (they reportedly started moving operations to Texas last year.) According to BlackLocus, going forward its staff will remain in Austin and be the founding base for the new “Home Depot Innovation Lab.” No word yet on what will happen to its current customers.
Details on how much Home Depot paid for the company have not been disclosed. Last year, BlackLocus closed on $2.5 million in funding from Houston-based seed VC firm DFJ Mercury and Silverton Partners; there are currently 32 BlackLocus employees listed on LinkedIn, so it seems to be a sizable team (we’ve reached out for more information and will update this with what we hear.)
This is not Home Depot’s first bit of M&A in tech startup land. Earlier this year, the company snapped up Redbeacon, the home services marketplace startup that received the top prize at TechCrunch 50 back in 2009.
Read the original post: Home Depot Acquires Data-Driven Retail Pricing Startup BlackLocus
Driving through downtown Detroit is like seeing a city after the Fall. The streets are empty, and there are entire buildings devoid of windows, let alone occupants. It’s the Rust Belt writ large, a reminder that we are not permanent.
We spent a few days in Detroit during our meet-up and I spoke to quite a few entrepreneurs who are either based in the suburbs there, plan to come back after school, or are thinking of moving into the heart of the city. I can’t tell you how happy it made me to see even a few folks rolling back into town. But they need more.
My exhortation is this: Go there, live there, and repopulate Hack City.
I’m not the first person to try to save Detroit. We spoke with a number of big figures there – the biggest being Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans who bought out most of the old downtown core and filled it with teams of young men and women who work the phones all day. He also funds a pair of accelerators. We’ll be talking about that next week when we run our interview with Gilbert.
However, as a hardware guy, I think the possibilities are even greater. In Brooklyn I’ve seen hackers take over entire factories to build guitars, bike lights, and 3D printers. I’ve seen an open source hardware company expand to fill an entire Manhattan loft. I’ve seen distilleries, knife-makers, and Arduino programmers fill up the empty spaces in the endless Williamsburg wastes.
That can happen in Detroit, and it can happen now. A friend, on seeing the empty buildings, wrote “Think of all the stuff geeks could do in there.” And he’s right.
I’m not naïve about the costs and problems associated with building a business. I’m not ignorant of the very real possibility that the city could implode in on itself, taking startups with it. What I’m sure of, however, is that if we turn Detroit into Hack City, if we fill up empty floors of derelict office buildings with CNC machines, Shopbots, and designers, we can build a new manufacturing sector in darkest Michigan.
When I posted that Foxconn might build an LCD factory in Detroit (or LA) a few days ago, I did so knowing full well that large-scale manufacturing in urban cores is a sucker’s game. The world needs more TV plants like it needs more TVs. However, by creating “artisinal hardware,” even if it’s Kickstarter project after Kickstarter project, a hardware hacker could pull in a stable income, create an ecosystem of interconnected manufacturing partners, and help grow one of America’s forgotten cities.
I was talking with a guy in Detroit who told me about building a special kind of PC for a client. He needed a steel case so he went down to a fabricator in the city and drew the plan out on a napkin. An hour later the job was done for $375.
“Charge me more,” said the designer. “They’ll laugh if this is how much it costs.”
The fabricator shook his head. He wouldn’t raise his price. “All I ask is for you to make a thousand of these,” he said.
Instead of hacking in a San Francisco garage, why not hack in a whole building? Instead of landing in the middle of a potential bubble, why not live like a (well-financed) artist in a strange new city? Think of it as a year abroad in an up-and-coming post-crash economy.
Detroit is coming back. It’s a horrible place right now, that’s for sure, and I’m embarrassed that we, the American people, let it get this bad. I’m willing to go back and cover the renaissance (if there is one) if you’re willing to investigate the possibilities. Matt Burns lives just to the North. If you need contacts, we can get them for you.
I want to go back to Detroit, and when I get there I want my dream of Hack City to be on its way to coming true.
See the original post: Detroit Hack City