A Practical Navigator for the Internet Economy

COOK Report Business Model and Policy for Economics of IP Networks Creation Space

The COOK Report serves an international community of thought leaders focused on strategy affecting the Internet as a global utility that is critically important to the advancement of education, science, and the economy of every nation that it touches.  The COOK Report sponsors an international community of interest limited to 200 industry visionaries.  Subscribers gain access to the Economics and Architecture of IP Networks mail list [Arch-econ] now in its seventh year. Arch-econ is a private creation space offering a unique online discussion where industry leaders share knowledge and develop ideas.

I borrow the creation space concept from a new book The Power of Pull.  The authors - John Seely Brown, John Hagel and Lang Davison - remind us that the old top-down and “push” based ways of doing things are no longer very productive.

Problem solving and strategy building is a central foundation for all business.  However the on going practice of business depends both on accessing resources and attracting new people and their passions. Doing this is of little value unless coupled with a third set of actions "that focus on driving performance rapidly to new levels. These practices involve participation in, and sometimes orchestration of, something we call “creation spaces” -- environments that effectively integrate teams within a broader learning ecology so that performance improvement accelerates as more participants join." I point out that to engage the power of pull you need a creation space. According to JSB "to get better faster at whatever it is you do, you've got to be supported by a broad array of complementary people and resources from which you can pull what you need to raise your rate of performance improvement (and vice versa – reciprocity matters now more than ever)." Arch-econ is now in its sixth year of offering such a space.

New members are announced to the list so that members know who is reading.  Comments made on the list are private and are not to be ported outside without the author's specific permission. While it is impossible to give iron clad assurances of trust as to how list members behave toward each other, the list has worked well since it started in April 2004.  However, the harvesting of names and setting up of a sub list that asks members for help on special confidential projects the existence of which is therefore to be kept confidential from other members is violation of policy which will subject any person who does this to removal.  Conversation is for the whole list or for private one-on-one mail.  I obviously cannot police this at the level of every single member but I find, unfortunately, that I must state it in order to circumscribe behavior that began in all apparent innocence and grew way beyond any reasonable bonds. Comments to the list are considered on record in that I edit and republish the very best of them on a monthly basis. However, I always  let the authors know my intention in advance and give them an opportunity to make adjustments if need be.

Arch-econ membership includes commercial players such as Google, Cisco, BT, Motorola, Dell, Sprint and others. Other members represent the research and university community, supercomputing centers, network operators, industry analysts and VC communities. Also represented are community network and wireless players, both regulatory and regulatory attorneys, entrepreneurs, public sector, university researchers. Twenty percent of member spaces are reserved for industry executives who work outside the U.S. There is a strong focus on the economic impact of open access fiber, advanced networks and other forms of rich connectivity.

The COOK Report is a newsletter first published in 1992.   It  appears at least six times a year with exclusive interviews and commentary on strategic planning affecting Internet policy, economics and infrastructure. Also included may be other areas of interplay between technology and policy such as the April-May 2010 issue on 45 years of privatized computerized vote counting and unresolved problems of election administration. From this point forward The COOK Report is likely to go even more into depth on emerging new areas.

Over the past six years, Arch-econ has become a trusted forum for the free exchange of ideas and information.  As far as new members of Arch-econ are concerned, after a period of some number of weeks I often ask someone to subscribe if they feel they are getting requisite value.  Often they do.  If they do not, I remove them with hopefully no hard feelings on either side.  Now there are also some folk who know so much and contribute such a lot to the list that I find myself making a judgment that their presence adds so much value for everyone that I have little reasonable choice but to leave them on. 

A major focus for me now is to nurture the list by adding as many similarly motivated thought leaders as possible. It has earned a good reputation as a place where people want to be and, even if they don’t manage to read my long newsletters, I am finding that they will keep up paid subscriptions to remain a part of the community.  (Subscribers must renew if they are to remain on the list. If there is an extenuating circumstance, I am willing to discuss it with the subscriber.)

Except for license fees for redistribution of published newsletters and very occasional other writing assignments, my income is derived entirely from paid newsletter subscriptions.  Two years ago there was  an exception -- the
COOK-In which did produce additional revenue. (I am trying to have a COOK-In every year but I make no promises.  Sponsorships will be likely the determining factor.)

New subscribers to Arch-econ must be announced.  People want to know who's listening.  Lurking is permitted and no one is badgered to participate. Signal to noise ratio is regarded as high.  I endeavor to maintain the list as a forum where people can explore new ideas and get reaction from their colleagues. Continued membership is not guaranteed. In five years, only four people have been removed.

Interview, Subscription and Licensing  Policy

I am focusing on three different products:

subscriptions of one, 2, or 3 seats
2. negotiated price group subscriptions
3. licensed re-use of published issues

The following describes in detail
licensed re-use of published issues in detail.  It also etablishes policy for working with interviewees.

From time to time I either take on an assignment, as in the July 2008 issue on Taiwan's NDAP for which I was paid a one time fee negotiated in advance, or an interview on a subject with commercial potential such as Darkstrand where I also negotiated a one time fee for their right to re-use in their marketing.  More recently there was another occasion with regard to the February 2009 issue.  I completed
that issue in my normal way and by the time I was finished, both parties interviewed said they really liked what I had done and wished to license the result. Another subscriber elsewhere in the world had the same opinion and also requested a license.

Based on these experiences, I have established the  following policy for interviewees:

Since I cannot work all the time for free, I tend to prefer paid subscribers for interviews.  However, I am always on the look out for cool leading-edge stuff.   Therefore, probably not more than 50% of the time, ithe interviewee is a paid subscriber.

If I interview a non-paid subscriber, the interview is done with the following understanding:

a. The interviewee will receive draft copy for review but will NOT receive a published PDF.

b. The interviewee who IS a paid subscriber will review drafts right up to the point of publication and, of course, will also receive a published PDF.  However, the interviewee does not own the published pdf.  In addition, the work itself must not be placed on a website or widely shared, although on a case-by-case basis, if requested, I will cease being restrictive after 3 to 6 months.

c. If the interviewee likes the piece and wishes to distribute the published PDF broadly within their communities, I will gladly negotiate a license for that purpose.

To summarize
, I with to remain self-employed and therefore take a proprietary interest in reuse of the published PDF. For 19 years my independence has been a well-known fact and one of my strongest assets.  I intend to carefully protect it. Fore example, I do not write interviews for a fee.  I indicate in advance that I don't give them away either, and that by holding off the question of licensing until the interview is done, I avoid the appearance that the person who pays for a license controls what I say.

If you would like further clarification, please do not hesitate to call me