Sunday, March 27, 2011

Great quote on underestimating uncertainty

I *loved* this quote that headed up one of the chapters in Susan Casey's The Wave, on the folly of underestimating uncertainty in what we do, and that we do exactly this as we get better at what we do.

Penetrating so many secrets, we cease to beleive in the unknowable.
But there it sits nevertheless, calmly licking it's chops.
H.L. Mencken

Book Review: The Wave

Sometime last year I heard about Susan Casey's The Wave, when she was making the rounds on the talk show circuit hawking it. Having heard that it covered some of the hairy exploits of big-wave surfers, I ordered it, as I was pretty rivited by the awesome documentary Riding Giants.

The book arrived and I quickly scanned the contents and then sat it in the "to read" pile for a few months as i worked my way through a couple others.

Then the Japanese quake and tsunami happened, and I remembered that I had a book sitting on the shelf that I seemed to remember touching upon the theory that global warming both made our seas more violent and increased the probability of earthquakes and tsunamis, and I figured maybe it was a good time to go read it.

The book is a bit schizophrenic, playing both adventure and science cards, though it doesn't necessarily play them together. There are interviews with experts on climate change, storm prediction, wave dynamics, and other disciplines. In between these, the lab coat is traded in for a surfboard or a trip to ocean emergency rescue & salvage operations.

The latter of these make the book an exciting page turner. I won't go into the surfing parts in detail other than to say that the guys that voluntarily fly helicopters into storms to try and ride surfboards down the side of moving 7-story buildings are crazy, and that Laird Hamilton is either the craziest of them all, or is actually Poseidon himself.

One complaint is that the science-related portions of the book are a bit weak. Casey sought out experts to support her narrative, and didn't try to find the contrarian view to hear it out. Nevertheless, the combination is compelling. One gets the sense not just that the seas may be growing angrier, but the reader is given a palpable sense of just what that means, and of just how feeble we are to withstand mother nature when she decides to show us who's boss.

But then we've seen a lot of news footage over the past couple weeks that made that pretty obvious.

Still, the book is a good read. You'll learn a few things and be riding the edge of your seat while doing so.

The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean

Book Review: Best of Technology Writing 2010

The Best Technology Writing 2010 is a collection of essays republished from other publications.

The editor, Julian Dibbell, is a contributing editor at Wired, and that should give you an idea of both the type of content selected, one one of which could appear as a wired feature (or already has). This is either good or bad, depending on your perspective.

Some of the fare I found either not to my taste, or at the very least not worthy of the "best technology writing of 2010" title. (e.g. I found Evan Ratliff's 'Vanish' piece from Wired was more sensational than insightful, and Vanessa Grigoriadis's piece on Facebook and privacy/data ownership was passable but not nearly forward thinking enough.)

Still, there are more than a few good pieces in there that make the book a worthy read. My personal favorites were Clay Shirky's piece on the future of newspapers, David Carr's piece on media, and Anne Trubek's piece on the decline of handwriting. Also, while Joshua Bearman's piece on indie games has little to offer for those working in the industry and familiar with the space, it's a nice introductory piece to the indie movement for friends, family, or that clueless exec you are looking to enlighten.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Dan Cook's GDC 2011 Platform Power Session

As promised, Daniel Cook (who is beyond smart, and who's blog you should lap up every drop of) posted his GDC slides and speaker notes.

It's a REALLY good presentation. Talks about the issues with closed "walled garden" platforms in many ways that I've discussed here before, but Daniel formalizes the rules and stages in a fantastic way. Must read.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The 40: Riffing on GapingVoid's 'The 20'

I mentioned in my review of Hugh Macleod's Evil Plans that I got a few good ideas out of the book, and that I wanted to do a post related to one of them.

Hugh has an idea in one chapter called "The 20". It's also discussed here, but the short version goes like this: In your space (professional or other), there are 20 people that matter. Make a list of them. Now ask yourself which of them read your stuff, know what your are doing, etc.

Not a bad idea, but I thought it might be improved in two ways.

First off, it's a little soft. Reading your blog might be a start, but which of the folks on your list would call you if they were looking to hire? Would call you if they needed an opinion on a difficult question? Would invite you to a dinner party of movers and shakers at some industry event? In short, how many of the folks on your list would put YOU on THEIRS?

Secondly, another part of the book contained the following (Canadian) quote-based comic :

So, putting two and two together, and allowing for some margin of error (50% fallout):

The 40:
  • Make a list of the forty people you believe will be the most important people in your space in 3 to 5 years time. There are many relationships you want to cultivate, but these should be higher on you priority list.
  • Start following them. I don't mean on twitter (though that's a start), but what they are doing, publishing, shipping, saying, etc. Play their games or read their books or whatever.
  • Be of value. When you see the opportunity to contribute, do so. Doesn't matter if they know you or not, because if you are of value, they'll know you sooner or later.
  • Revisit and rejigger the list from year to year.

OK, now two caveats:

1) I'm not suggesting you do this opportunistically or disingenuously. I think you'll end up finding that these folks are the most interesting and engaging people to engage with anyway, and so in a sense I'm saying "spend more time on relationships with awesome people because they tend to do awesome stuff".

2) I haven't actually done the above, at least not in a structured fashion like I'm suggesting. Now that I've written it down I might. However in retrospect I think that I've been subconciously doing stuff like this for years, and have been fortunate to cultivate relationships with people who are awesome and who are now doing awesome stuff. For that I feel very lucky, and I'd like to make sure I do more of it.

Book Review: Evil Plans

I've been a fan of Hugh Macleod since I discovered his blog about five years ago. I also enjoyed his first book, Ignore Everybody. So, when he announced Evil Plans, I pre-ordered and waited for it to show up.

It's good material, but I can't recommend it as strongly as I did the first. Like IE, there's a lot of recycled material from his blog here, both in the writing and the comics. And that's ok. Even expected. Add to that that the book is very sparse (single paragraph pages in places, pages empty but for one comic, etc), and it's a very lightweight book. If you are a words-per-dollar person, this book isn't for you.

Now that said, many of his ideas are thought provoking; and what price can you put on a good idea. If the book gets you to think critically about ONE thing, that would be worth the price, no?

There were three such ideas in the book for me, and so I'm glad I bought it. One of those will be the subject of an upcoming post...

Evil Plans: Having Fun on the Road to World Domination

Monday, March 14, 2011

Book Review: Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them

I picked up the audio book to Al Franken's 2004 satirical political commentary while browsing at the library. I figured he's a funny and intelligent guy, so the book should be entertaining and might have a couple interesting points to make along the way.

On the plus side, it is entertaining, and somewhat educational. However, he undermines his own position by taking such a one-sided view, it's hard to trust completely. (I have no doubt that the well researched lies he exposes are accurate, but are we to believe there are none from the left? Doubtful.)

On the down side, the book is dated now (though the meta-level discussion still applies) and his style of humor wears thin after a while.

Ultimately though, his satirical indictment of the right fails for the same reason that Al Gore's The Assault On Reason may have. If you have to explain: You are losing. In today's attention-driven, sound byte culture, the average American can't be bothered to make time to look at all the facts and weigh arguments.

Book Review: The Undercover Economist

Another disappointment. Bought this one on a whim from a sale shelf at Powell's, figuring I'd found a Freakonomics-style lightweight tour through different businesses.

Instead The Undercover Economist was, IMHO, difficult to tolerate. There were some good explanations of basic economic theory. However I found the tone overconfident, and many of the examples poorly investigated, or at least lacking the backing material to support his cases. Thus, I can't recommend it.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Somebody at Bandai Namco is doing excellent design

I took my son Tom to Portland's excellent Ground Kontrol retro-arcade/pub for a little classic gaming.

They've done a bit of a remodel, the most significant piece of which greeted us upon entering:

OMG! Ground Kontrol has Pacman Battle Royale. Most awesome arcade deathmatch!

Pac Man Battle Royale!!! And yeah, that's a big-ass cupholder in that cocktail cabinet. Welcome to America.

I played this back at E3, and it was my favorite game of the show. Picture a modern day treatment of Pacman (i.e. aesthetic of Pacman Championship edition), with the multiplayer head-to-head competition of Warlords, with a high level of emergent strategy that varies a lot depending on who your opponents are. Eat them? Bounce them into oncoming ghosts? Bait them into chasing you to a well-timed appearing powerup?

It's a superb new design on a classic game, and one that I pray they'll have the heart to ship on XBLA sometime soon, because going to play this at the arcade with 3 friends is easily a $50 evening at 2-quarters a game, per person. (Its also a superb redesign from the business standpoint, as there hasn't been a 4-player quarter eater like this Gauntlet, or maybe Daytona-USA, though the latter's cabinet price was steep).

Anyhow, my point is around it's superb design. I believe it's from the same team (at least same engine and look) that did Pacman Championship Edition, and Pacman Championship Edition DX for XBLA, both of which are awesome designs and very imaginitive twists on the original game.

I'm not sure if all three are from the brain of the same designer, but if so, they need to pay him/her more.

Anyone who thinks about game design should play all the classic pacman titles, but then spend some time with these three latest incarnations and think about what makes them so great. All very different, all still linked to the same core mechanic, and all great.

Book Review: How to Lie with Statistics

I Breezed through this book pretty quickly, but still consider it time poorly spent. I bought it on impulse from Amazon based on title alone and while the subject matter was what I expected, it was handled at too elementary a level, and with examples so dated that I can't even recommend it for beginners.

The book is an overview of the most elementary use of statistics and how they can be misused out of ignorance or malice. Mean vs median, graph doesn't start at zero, "four out of five dentists recommend...", I'd imagine that most of these are obvious to anyone over the age of fifteen. However the case examples and language are so dated (the book was originally written in the fifties), that I can't recommend it for someone under that age either.

In short, not recommended.

Friday, March 11, 2011

GDC 2011 Trends & Sessions

This year’s GDC was my 18th and I returned from it… spent. Unfortunately I also returned with the dreaded “GDC Lurgy”, the annual disease that spreads when 19,000 sleep-deprived immune-suppressed game developers get together and finger the same touchscreens, and so was knocked out sick for two days this week, thus the late report.


It was an interesting GDC this year for one to try to infer industry direction from “sniffing the air” (especially since the olfactory peripheral guys were back this year!). On the one hand, there was a loud and visible emergence/amplification of mobile (iPhone in particular) and social (being almost synonymous with Facebook – which is short-sighted). On the other hand, you had a significant majority of the show (exhibits, sessions, etc) continuing quietly and steadily down the big-budget AAA path. That said, here’s what I took away as trends, as judged by show impressions and conversations.

1. Developers have MANY choices of platforms to target

One takeaway was that given the sheer number of devices playing games today, developers have more choices than ever before in where to focus their game-making efforts. The sheer pace of change, combined with secrecy about numbers from owners of closed platforms as well as successful developers, along with the confusing and/or obfuscated data about new business models (analysts are also having trouble parsing/sizing some of them) means that the choices are daunting, and yet there ARE choices, versus a more limited landscape in the past.

2. Social growth begets social gaming cred

Last year there was a huge amount of interest in Facebook as a game platform, much of that interest perked up by the money that games like Farmville making eye-raising amounts of money. There was also some envy with that, with much of the established industry saying “these weren’t real games” etc. Over the past year, many industry vets have shown up in leadership roles at social games companies, acknowledging that perhaps there’s a real vehicle for game experiences here. To the rest of their nay-saying counterparts, the sentiment was best captured by the yearly “Rant” session, entitled social-gamers rant back. For a poignant, synopisis, view Brenda Brathwaite’s 5 minute rant here.

Note that one of the themes she touched on was an influx of two types of developers into the social gaming scene, the designers looking to explore the medium’s potential, and what she called the “strip miners”, those looking to exploit existing models for maximum revenue and profit. This was also touched on by Scott Jon Siegel’s rant, a transcript of which can be found here.

3. The Mobile gold-rush continues, but with some sobering of expectations

There was of course a ton of interest in mobile, led by interest in Apple for iPhone & iPad games, and with Android being the only other platform of note. Window Mobile 7 is mentioned as a possible credible 3rd, but that’s it. There is trepidation about Android, as the exciting growth and size of the installed base is tempered by a fragmented platform landscape and less lucrative marketplace. That said, people are developing for it more than sitting on the sidelines. Sentiment seems to be that people are marching ahead but testing their footing as they proceed.

4. AAA games get more ruthless

While there was much excitement about the new areas mentioned above, most established companies were clear about the size of these new markets and the fact that they pale in comparison to the established markets for AAA fare. For example, in Jobs keynote, he boasted of $2B paid out to developers in the almost 3 years since the appstore’s debut. In that same period, depending who’s estimates you listen to, the console business generated >$50B of SW revenue for that same time period (Never mind that the $2B is divided amonst 250,000 apps, giving a mean of maybe $4k/app/ and a median that is likely much, much lower. Aka, a brutal hit-curve fall-off).

However, given that console SW market is not expected to see any remarkable growth, this means that when the pond isn’t getting any larger, the fish start fighting one another for the food. The big fish get bigger, and the medium size fish starve. This means that the console title hit curve will become even steeper, as mega-blockbuster franchises focus on achieving numbers like those we’ve seen lately for CoD, Red Dead Redemption, and their ilk. As they manage their portfolios tightly, $50M titles will manage to get their many-multiple returns (e.g. Call of Duty’s latest incarnation is estimated to have taken in excess of $1B in retail sales). As these mega-blockbusters compete for share of mind and share of wallet, the place the money will come from is the “AA” titles. Those with significant budgets($10-$40M) but falling short in the awareness building, etc. If 2008-2010 saw the demise of the B title, we will start to see some of this same effect on AA titles, making the hit curve even steeper. (Note: here’s a good quote echoing that sentiment from Cliffy B).

5. Early prep for the next-generation of AAA games

Some folk were talking next-generation tech for the next generation of consoles, without being specific about when that might be. Epic Games had a theater presentation going with a demo of their next-generation tech, using a high end PC and triple-SLI high end discrete setup. I’ll leave the dissection of tech up to others (vid of demo here), but suffice it to say that it bolstered my confidence that the next generation of consoles WILL be able to deliver a visual experience that is demonstrably different than the current generation. Perhaps not the same degree of leap of, say, PS2->PS3, but still noticeably different. And as there is clearly a market for $50M+ titles, I’m confident there’s a market for next-gen consoles (and PCs). A rumor was circulating about a next-gen Nintendo console debuting at E3, but I’ve been unable to get any industry confirmation on this. Anyone know better? :-)

6. First warnings on Closed vs Open

Several sessions had industry veterans warning on the long term costs and risks of being subservient to closed platforms. Veteran Trip Hawkins had a ‘rant’ session on this, pointing to the browser as the path to salvation. An even more direct-to-the-point talk was one of my favorites of the conference, from Dan Cook of Spryfox, who’s talk was entitled “How to survive the inevitable enslavement of developers by Facebook”. (Dan promised to post his slides soon to his blog at:

7. Indies are Hot

In a good way that is. The IGF (Independent Games Festival) was filled with a massive number of REALLY polished and innovative games. Many of these are falling into the category of what Chris Hecker called “AAA Indies”, or in other circles, “Perfect gems”. The idea being that rather than being an all-encompassing experience done on a shoestring budget, that they are games that take a single idea or game mechanic (the ‘gem’) and polish it to perfection.

On the plus side, everyone now considers indie fare as a must-have in their portfolio of titles for their platform, and so between that and the number of platforms, there is no shortage of ways that indies can get games to market. On the down side the level of polish expected means that by and large, indies are expected to develop multi-hundred-k titles on their own dime. Publishers and platform vendors alike are signing deals with these guys, but with mixed results, leading to the same risk aversion we see with AAA games. Budgets like they've normalized for console downloadables around a ceiling of $800k-$1M, and while titles like Spyparty and Limbo are likely sign-ons, titles like Dinner Date (my fave, and described as ‘You play as the subconsciousness of Julian L, waiting for his date to arrive. You listen in on his thoughts while tapping the table, looking at the clock and eventually reluctantly starting to eat...’ are far more risky to fund, but necessary for the medium of games to reach its potential.

8. The Last stand of the handhelds (or is it?)

Lots of talk about Sony and Nintendo’s bets on the NGP and 3DS respectively. While there was also theorizing about the console’s demise in the era of more multi-purpose platforms, there was a general sentiment that the place this battle will first come to a head is in handheld. It can be summarized as follows: “Can a dedicated-function device (3DS, NGP) built on a business model of $40 games, offer a sufficiently compelling experience to justify the cost over a general purpose device (iPod touch, iPhone) with $0.99 games”. To their credit, both Sony and Nintendo are taking this seriously and have very compelling offerings to bring to the table:

- Nintendo: 3D display, dual display, first to market with streaming 3D Netflix (trailers at first), exclusive deal with AT&T for 10,000 free wifi access spots in NA, amented reality games, and of course, a killer IP lineup including Mario and Zelda.

- Sony: High-end HW that should do a killer job on 3D tiles, playstation back-catalog content, a good IP catalog including Metal Gear, etc, also a focus on augmented reality, and a touchpad in back*.

(*Prediction: everyone is undercalling the touchpad on the back of the NGP. I predict this is going to prove to be the controller that finally cracks first-person shooters on handhelds. Every other attempt has sucked)

It certainly will be interesting to watch it play out. My personal hunch is that Nintendo is safe, despite a device inferior to the NGP, based mainly on their 1st party IP. Sony has a harder challenge. They’ll find a market, but I’m doubtful it’ll be large enough to keep the ecosystem aloft.

Favorite Sessions Attended

I managed to attend a dozen or so sessions. Here are my favorites:

I. Nintendo Keynote: Consisted of 3 sections, each of which was quite interesting:

Part 1: Nintendo background, growth of market, lessons learned

  • Iwata gave an overview of his history at Nintendo and lessons learned. Among them that content is king (e.g. He gave the example of having programmed a technically superior game to his counterpart/rival Miyamoto, who’s game contained an Italian plumber named Mario – lesson learned)
  • Nintendo has surveyed 5,000 users across all age groups/demos for the past 7 years. Probably an unparalleled insight into gamers. Great graphs showing gamings permeance into culture over time. Bottom line is that the population that isn’t gaming is shrinking and aging over time. Near future will be everyone(!), Google for any of the numerous liveblogs to see the charts.
  • Industry quotes echoing some of the trends I mentioned above as to AAA games: e.g. "We’re all playing much bigger gambles, and that’s getting scary” – Mike Capps, Epic
Part 2: Reggie came out to do the infomercial section: 3DS: First to deliver streaming Stereo3D on Netflix (!), Record Stereo Video or take Stereo Pix, AT&T deal to provide 10,000 wifi hotspots for 3DS owners free of charge across US, at airports, malls, etc, Improved digital store, Mario & Zelda titles in the works <-- note how games was the LAST item discussed in the infomercial section.

Part 3: Iwata came back out, talked about Industry concerns. This was a two part thing: ( A) Large games mean increasing specialization; harder to develop talent that sees “whole picture”. Those that do are aging. (B) and this was uncharacteristic of Nintendo: A direct attack on Apple and to a lesser degree, Facebook. Short version goes like this: Closed systems have hundreds of titles, “big app sites” have many tens of thousands – not enough for everyone to make money. Those systems not designed FOR games specifically care more about harvesting the ecosystem than nurturing it. Nintendo cares about protecting value for devs, and value in games (i.e. 0.99c games will lead to low quality fare). It was definitely a defensive attack, but not without an element of truth

II. NG Moco’s Neil Young on why Japan is a leading indicator of the worldwide mobile market

This was a great session for 3 reasons: (1) Half of it was really a back story on how the startup got off the ground up until it’s acquisition, (2) Great insight on the future of mobile, (3) Neil is a great presenter and presented almost half of his talk while impersonating his VCs, one of whom he swears is a shoe-in for Michael Myers “Fat B**tard” character.

Interesting conclusions they reached before re-vectoring the company: Being a mobile games publisher was unsustainable. Back of envelope math: Would need to have 3 titles in top 10 – every day, all year, to be a $20M company – Almost impossible to do. Note that market bigger now, but regardless, decided this was the wrong path to being a multi-billion dollar company. Re-vectored around F2P games, and targeted an acquisition/partnership that would let them broaden the service across platforms and geographies.

Great quote: “In a world where there are more apps than appetite, customer relationship is the real valuable IP”

Hope he posts slides, there was some great info on growth of japanese mobile market as indicator of future.

III. Game Design Challenge: 3 designers face of in designing a game around a given, difficult-to-design-for theme. This year was “bigger than Jesus” a design challenge around designing a game that could serve as a religion. Entertaining, thought provoking. My favorite (and not the winner) was Jenova Chen (of That Game Company) who’s religion was centered on the propagation of ideas, and who designed a meta-game on top of the TED website. Cool concept, and I'm betting he'll get a TED invitation out of it!

IV. Epic Legal Battles: A panel of games-specializing lawyers and legal profs each gave a mini-presentation on areas of pending increased legal activity over the near future. I agree on all counts:

  • Collision between Games and Gambling. To the degree that players can get any real-world value out of the game, or get anything of perceived value, you stray close to gambling laws that are deliberately vague. Ticking timebomb? [KP: Yet another reason that the industry needs to continue to lobby for games as art deserving of free speech protection and respect as an artform. Gaming’s esteem by the general populous will determine how it withstands coming under the eye of scrutiny, which it inevitably will]
  • Antitrust: Finger pointed directly at Apple and Facebook, but this could apply to any closed platform. Good quote on the idea of filing suit against Apple “you could. It’s like lying down across barbed wire so your friends can then walk over your body”
  • Destroying Worlds: When a game is a service, and you find it no longer is profitably, and you want to take it down, you violate a contract you have with the remaining players. Despite whether or not the fine print says you can do so or not, their hearts are in it, and they may want revenge.
  • Privacy: We’ve only scratched the surface. The more people put online, the more they’ll care. Also, laws are coming up to speed with the issue and as new laws go into effect, games industry will need to deal with it. Example given of ‘cookie law’ going into effect in EU in May.

V. Social Game Developers Rant. The rant session is always one of the better ones of GDC. See trends II and VI in the trends section above for links to a couple of the better ones.

VI. Moriarty's 'An Apology to Roger Ebert': I’m not sure this was labeled the closing keynote, but it may as well have been. It was a brilliant speech about games, art, culture, and a provocative close to the conference that kicked off hundred email/twitter threads about its ideas. The full transcript is online here:

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Reasons For Making It

I read a quote that I think bears paraphrasing and applying to games:

"A game is only as good as the reasons for making it"

I think it beautifully captures the reasons why games succeed or fail, as well as why a well crafted indie game like Braid, Portal, or World of Goo take take their place in the pantheon of great games alongside Red Dead Redemption, Half-Life2 or other AAA productions.

A game made for reasons of love and conviction can - if carried through to its maximum potential - trump any game made for want of commercial success.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Book Review: the Master Switch

Tim Wu's The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires is one of my favorite books of the past several years. It is a deeply insightful and ultimately important work, and should be on everyone's reading list, especially those in any part of the computing, communications or entertainment industry.

More on why I feel so strongly about it in a second, but first, since a picture is worth a thousand words:

I can't think of a book I've dog-eared this much since I was in school. There were a ton of points I wanted to mark and reference in future talks or articles.

In The Master Switch, Wu takes a look at the history of the telephone, film, radio, broadcast television, and cable television industries, to show how all of them exemplify The Cycle. The Cycle being that between an open period following the invention of a new information medium, and the closed period that follows as a few economic giants gain control over that medium. His presentation of these histories is as entertaining as it is educational, and I found myself glued to the page.

This is not strictly a historical text though. All of these case histories serve both to define the rules by which the cycle occurs, and also to warn of its costs to societies, and to innovation.

He then goes on to look at the last great information empire battle: The battle for the Internet. As Wu puts asks it, "Which is mightier: the radicalism of the Internet, or the inevitability of The Cycle?"

Those of us raised in recent times, and on the openness of the Internet and in the era of Google, Microsoft and Amazon, may take it for granted that the open horizontal platforms inevitably win. However, as Wu shows in the cycle, the vertically integrated conglomerates and the owners of infrastructure are remarkably resilient in their ability to tame those that would rock their boat. Also, he shows us that often enough, those that free prisoners from one market are soon tempted to forge chains of their own. Apple of course being a great example here.

If anything, the first line of defense this book offers us is education. An ability to recognize the elements of the cycle at work should be important for all of us. Secondly, Wu offers a prescription for a "constitutional solution". This is meant not in the sense that he'd have us modify the US constitution, but rather that a balance of powers could be struck between members, with sufficient but not over-reaching regulation from bodies such as the DOJ and FCC.

If there's one downside to the book - and it's a small one in an otherwise masterful work - its that the work is extremely US-centric. Some reference is made to Europe, and there is the occasional mention of PRC, but that's it. I would have thought it worth a lengthy discussion about how, for example, the entertainment industries are using international copyright treaties to entrench their favorite policies in foreign countries' laws, and then in turn to use that as precedent to influence US law.

This minor complaint aside, this is a must read work for our day and age.