Weekend Reading: Commercial Imagery, Proof Mechanisms, and Cinematic Universes

August 8, 2020 • #

🌏 The Commercial Satellite Imagery Business Model is Broken

My friend Joe Morrison’s latest is an extended rant on the commercial satellite imagery market, and a plea to that industry to rethink how they might improve their go-to-market approaches for selling to commercial businesses.

I can vouch for his account of what it’s like to work with a commercial provider first-hand. Their business models make it challenging to go direct-to-customer, even at fairly high price tags. Until they can lower the barrier to entry into the two- or three-figure territory for acquiring any imagery, I don’t see the market widening very much farther beyond the use cases commonly addressed today. It’s not just pricing, though; they need self-service, automated delivery mechanisms to get the scale economics working.

It’s still too niche of a business, to me, to be truly realized at SMB/mass market level. Perhaps the continued convergence of gaming tech, mapping, and imagery data will create new use cases and customers to ramp demand high enough to motivate some of what Joe is asking for.

📑 Proof of X

Julian Lehr’s latest essay addresses proof mechanisms in internet services. How proof points relate to signaling. When new social networks emerge they have to introduce new proof mechanisms to differentiate themselves from existing incumbents. These can either be novel proof-of-creative-work hurdles or completely new proof-of-x mechanisms.

Also check out his previous related article on Signaling as a Service.

🎥 Cinematic Universes Aren’t New; They’re the Oldest Stories on Earth

The entertainment industry’s fascination with fantasy, science fiction, and superhero properties is giving people what they’ve wanted for thousands of years: epic, interconnected stories like those of Greek, Norse, and eastern mythologies:

At the core of our current fascination with the MCU or the Star Wars Galaxy is a fascinating fact: they resemble the epic stories that dominated human culture for thousands of years. They tell stories that feature countless characters, each one serving a role as part of an vast story, authored by scores of unknown writers and slowly shaped by audiences, each of whom could explain - if not detail - the particulars of these universes.

I’m currently making my way through Stephen Fry’s Mythos, his retelling of Greek mythology. The parallels between ancient myth and modern fictional universes like Marvel and Star Wars are striking, especially when you get to read them in a contemporary style from an author like Fry.