Reporting the Vote on Women Bishops in the Church of England

A very brief note on the reporting of the recent vote on whether women should be allowed to become bishops in the Church of England.

Understandably, there has been a considerable amount of angst about the vote’s failure to pass. However, I was slightly surprised by the reporting of the issue, which has focused almost exclusively on the supporters of the motion rather than those opposed. The BBC headlines have described how Archbishop Sentamu believes there will be “women bishops in my lifetime”, how the new Archbishop of Canterbury regards it as a “grim day”, and the “tears and anger” provoked by the vote.

The result is of course controversial, and to be frank, is not one I’m personally very happy about. The vote may well have been stopped by a minority of votes*, but I’m still keen to hear more from the other side.

* For the motion to have passed, two thirds needed to vote in favour. I realise I am simplifying a bit here.

Update 22/11/12: See Thomas’s comment for a more informed view of things!

On Demand: The Need for Immediacy and the Digital Media Market

The band AC/DC have finally released their recordings on iTunes. They initially argued that their albums should not be available as individual songs, but should be listened to as complete pieces of work.

This is a view I can sympathise with – I was never particularly fussed by the Beatles until my Dad played the entirety of Abbey Road, when it suddenly all made sense. There certainly seems to be a subtle art to the ordering of tracks – had What’s the Story? (Morning Glory) opened with Don’t Look Back in Anger and followed it with Champagne Supernova, I suspect neither song would have been quite as popular.

But AC/DC’s change of heart is almost certainly due to commercial pressures. Despite all suggestions to the contrary, the now-DRM-free music of iTunes and Amazon is making huge amounts of money. Manufacturing costs are almost eliminated by the process, and the downloads are both immediate and cheap. The industry initially insisted on DRM (Digital Rights Management) software to ensure only certain devices were capable of playing a song – an effort to prevent piracy that, like many things in technology, was ultimately doomed by how often users were able to work around the restrictions imposed on them.

Head of Valve Software Gabe Newell once commented that piracy isn’t a price issue – it’s a service issue. He theorised that if the service was made as simple as possible with as little restriction as possible, customers were more than happy to pay for content. Whether or not it was free was not nearly as significant as how constrained the user might be, or whether the product was immediately available.

This is, in part, the cause behind Apple’s success with iTunes. Not only have they put a music store on every computer, but also on every iPad, iPhone and iPod. You can be sat on a train and decide to listen to that song you still have “on the brain”, and download it immediately.

And now, you can even download Back in Black.

The same has not yet been true of the film industry. Interestingly, the birth of digital music downloads coincided with the peak of physical formats. At 700Mb each, a CD can easily contain the information needed for an album at a reasonable quality, and double albums are rare enough that there was never a need to produce a new format.

The movie industry does not appear to have quite reached the same limit. Manufacturers constantly strive to improve the image quality, with both HD and BluRay being embraced by filmmakers. Further experiments such as 3D are ongoing, as the industry explores the question of “what’s next?” and how to best tackle piracy. We may not see any significant shift until the industry feels it is running out of options.

I’m intrigued by Mark Kermode’s suggestion that films should simply be released simultaneously in cinemas, on DVD, and in a downloadable format. This again leans towards resolving ease-of-use for the customer. Given how well this has worked out for the music industry, I can’t help but wonder if this might be the solution.

Edit-in-Place with jQuery

I’ve just released a very simple JavaScript file via GitHub which provides the basis of a Flickr-style “edit-in-place” (i.e. you hover over the item, it turns yellow, you click and it is replaced with a form without you leaving the page). The file relies on jQuery to work its magic.

You can find the repository here: https://github.com/BobLoco/Edit-in-Place-jQuery

It’s not exactly a complex script and probably needs some tidying, but I hope it’s of some use. Full credit should go to Drew McLellan at 24 Ways, who provided the original example in Prototype.js