I want to suggest that superdistribution is evolving in 3 stages and that we are presently moving from Stage 2 to Stage 3. In part 1 of the Chronicles, I outlined the evolution of thinking about superdistribution. We can now say that the evolutionary stages are probably these: (1) Broadcast Superdistribution; (2) P2P Superdistribution; and (3) Incentivised Redistribution. Let me elaborate.
- Broadcast Superdistribution. This is really the Mori mode in which content is broadcast to a wide audience and through hardware and software, consumers "grab" and retain the items of interest Maybe this is best called Items in a Stream.
- P2P Superdistribution. For the past many years, this is where the battle has been joined. Napster, Grokster, Morpheus, BitTorrant, etc. The efficiencies of P2P promote fast file sharing and distribution. Unauthorized distribution and redistribution of copyrighted content was initially the main use of P2P Distribution. More recently, P2P networking is being used to superdistribute DRM-protected content with the blessings of the rightsholders. For those who really like category schemes, the evolution from piracy to protected content might be thought of as superdistribution stages 2A and 2B.
- Incentivised Redistribution. As noted in Part 1 of the Chronicles, one vision of superdistribution is that consumers are turned into distributors. What distinguishes Stage 3 from earlier forms of superdistribution is that consumers are economically motivated to pass along protected content. In effect consumers benefit from their recommendations to others. The recommendations may be explicit in the form of I like this music, here's a pointer to it on the net, to more implicit recommendations in the form of making specific content available via one or more of the p2p networks. The difference is also a matter of the consumer being able to add rules to the content indicating a markup for their marketing efforts. One might call this the Incentive Tick.