Friday, December 30, 2005

Current TV: Think Outside, Get Inside the Box | DV - Features takes a look at Current TV, the "experiment" in user generated television content happening in the U.S. Of course, being the slant is a little more along the technical (not necessarily a bad thing) than the merits or flaws of the system. Still, a good read to get a handle on the basics of the channel without the noise being generated about it on the blogosphere. As someone from a country without the actual channel, but with a distinct interest in the concept, I found it an interesting feature.

As always, DV requires registration but it's well worth it.

My one gripe at this point (again, without having seen the channel) seems to be around the ongoing notion that content only receives legitimacy when it's broadcast on the magic box.

"The rest—a percentage that Current TV wants to grow—is viewer-created content, aka VC². Some of these videos are polished; some are raw. Some are funny, some are heartbreaking, and some may have no appeal to you at all. But they represent identifiable, individual points of view, and they were all, in a reverse-Survivor strategy, voted onto the island by an online peer-review process on Current TV's Web site."

I guess it's just the nature of the times we live in that the majority still views TV that way. That said, I LOVE (with a burning passion) their determination to teach the language of video production to the people, creating a whole new generation of storytellers with the vocabulary to create wonderful content, and possibly push the medium in ways we've not seen before.

Hey, look at that! I just added to the noise in the blogosphere! But then, as I've said before, the editorial team here like to do their bit for Sturgeon's Revelation.

The Winning Ticket - Google Video

Via the always excellent Lost Remote.

So what happens when you mix an old-skool prank with TiVo and a hidden video camera?

The Winning Ticket - Google Video
[WARNING - VERY Strong language alert]

You know, a cruel practical joke seems like a rather apt metaphor to end the year.

Oh, who am I kidding? If I could I'd get Sean and Colin to pull this one on Richard in a heartbeat.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny

And the moment I saw it I immediately thought of Steve and his excellent Bad-ass party.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Video crooks come in from the cold |

Well, it seems that 2006 will finally bring Australian copyright laws into the 20th Century. Care to try for the 21st?

"The Federal Government will next year legalise the video recording of television shows for personal use, and the transfer of songs from CDs to MP3 players, in a bid to overturn a ban which has made criminals of much of the population.

Attorney-General Philip Ruddock has flagged tidying up copyright laws by adding fair-use loopholes that will clear the way for private citizens to copy the content without breaking the law."

"We should have copyright laws that are more targeted at the real problem," Mr Ruddock said.

"We should not treat everyday Australians who want to use technology to enjoy copyright material they have obtained legally as infringers where this does not cause harm to our copyright industries."

"In Canada, where similar laws have been introduced, a fee was levied on blank CD and iPod unit sales to compensate copyright owners with up to an extra $32 being placed on the store price of individual machines.

Mr Ruddock's spokeswoman said a similar system had been discussed for Australia, but was unlikely to be introduced."

Bets are now open as to which company complains first about their intellectual property being sold out by the government. My money's on Sony BMG.

More on this to come, you can count on it.

Lost Remote: Stuff I got seriously wrong in 2005

Steve Safran, Managing Editor of U.S. TV and media blog "Lost Remote", takes a look back at some of his less insightful comments from this year.

"BIGGEST MISTAKE OF THE YEAR: The video iPod. In my six years at LR, I don't think I've made as bad a prediction as guessing it would be a minor blip. It was a nuclear explosion. What I didn't count on was the near-immediate adoption of the format by the major networks. When the original iPod was launched, there was no iTunes Music Store at all. Figuring that hardware needs killer content, I decided the video iPod was an incremental step for Apple. After all - how many music videos were you going to buy? How many podcasts did you want to watch? Turns out - a lot."

Well at least he wasn't one of the bloggers that got the video iPod release completely wrong. Now that would just be embarrassing.

Rocketboom | Reruns!

For those of you yet to get into Rocketboom, Andrew and Amanda are taking a week off between Christmas and New Year's. In their regular place they're running the "best of...", starting with their first episode and showing highlights from the year. On Thursday night they'll tally the votes and proclaim Rocketboom's favourite episode.

Vote early, vote often.

Rocketboom December 26

You can figure out the rest from there. I trust you. - Dogbert's Tech Support

Most days Dilbert's kind of disappointing. But every now and then Scott Adams nails it.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Kerry Packer dies - An interesting way to end an interesting media year

And as always happens in the blogosphere when someone of social stature shuffles on, you get an instant response filled with the loathers, the deluded and the occasional suck-up.

I have nothing to say on the life and death of Australia's richest man. I'm sure the days leading up to New Year's will be filled with retrospectives, analyses and tearful recollections such that anything I say here will just sound poorly researched and self-serving. My interest now is what happens to PBL. The problem is, I really don't think there will be too big a change from the current direction. James Packer, the obvious heir-apparant, has been the face of PBL for the last five or so years as Kerry Packer moved further into the background so you have to question any likelihood of change. You can be pretty sure that any big moves early next year will have been as a result of decisions made under Kerry's watch. Anyway, let's see what the new year holds. Just don't hold your breath for anything mind-bogglingly different (unless James gets himself stuck into another "One.Tel" debacle),

To the Packers, commiserations on the loss of a father and husband.

To the Australian media, 2006 suddenly picked up a small twist to kick off the year.

More Future-gazing - Top 10 tech trends for 2006 |

Let's look back on this in a year's time and see how they went. | 12/25/2005 | Top 10 tech trends for 2006

Friday, December 23, 2005

2006: The Unbundled Awakening | Donata Communications

Terry Heaton offers up his latest thoughts in his ongoing series "TV News in a Postmodern World". This episode takes a look at where he thinks the media is headed next year. While some of what he has to say is overtly U.S. based (as expected) there are elements that I found particularly interesting.

"Despite the fears and anger of many television news employees, the VJ model of newsgathering will spread to more stations in the U.S. during 2006."

This is still a little way away here, but give it time. Newspapers have already started sending out VJ's and TV crews have been shrinking for a while. Career that most needs to be concerned for 2006?: News Editor.

"Online video will be where much of the action is in 2006. ABC and Apple began the explosion this year by offering unbundled programs via download to Video iPods, and the results have been significant. So much so that the other networks, studios and even outside players have jumped on the bandwagon. Rocketboom, the quirky slice of life offered daily by Andrew Michael Baron and the increasingly glamorous Amanda Congden struck a deal with TiVo that makes their vlog available to TiVo users — just like any other television program. This is the final insult to the broadcasting industry — that two young people from New York with a great idea and little resources can compete with their expensive programming. It's only the beginning."

Anyone that's been through this site knows how much I love Rocketboom. While it's true they've copped a bit of a pasting from the more hardcore elements of the vlogging community (who consider Mr Baron's and Ms Congdon's contribution to not entirely follow the spirit of the vlogging ethos) I love what they've done and how they've done it. To the cast and crew of Rocketboom I would offer you my best wishes and a warning to keep an eye on falling into "Wayne's World Syndrome" as the money starts to trickle in. The show's what it is because you made it so. You don't need any media consultants to tell you how to "fix" it (and I can already smell them circling).

While we're on the subject of downloadable content, here's a thought. ABC, NBC and the like have been able to offer incredible shows for nominal download fees to show on the iPod. This will come to affect Australia, not as much as some proselytise, but more than others seem to think. Even if these shows don't make it to the Australian version of iTunes, it's not that difficult to get them through the U.S. site. What do you need, a U.S. credit card? As I mention further down, the internet kind of assists people to find others to help. Once that's in place, the idea of holding onto a show for three months before you start playing it (Series 2 of Lost anyone? Channel 7, I'm looking in your direction...) kind of loses its logic. So what do you do as an Australian television channel? Put out your own content for download on iTunes. Really? Blue Heelers? McLeod's Daughters? We've let our industry get to the point where the real money-spinners are American, and we don't have the rights to charge for them! With less money coming in through traditional TV advertising, how do you plug the local production holes? And with less money coming in comes less money for buying local content. Local content that the ABA says you have to have. Another serve of Funniest Home Videos anyone?

"...citizens media...will continue to be the driving disruptive force confronting all media in 2006. Whether it's blogs competing for political dollars or vlogs competing for eyeballs, citizens media is here to stay... The single most important piece of advice I can give to any media entity in 2006 is to get involved in the local citizens media community."

I'm agreeing with Terry on this one. It's something I keep coming back to but don't believe I've mentioned here. For the last ten to fifteen years we've been told that the internet is this huge, international phenomenon, where a customer in Timbuktu can buy a swiss watch from a store in Brisbane, or a Danish retiree can discuss his love of Smurfs with a Chinese paraplegic. And while this ability to find and create new communities to overlay our physical communities (Foucault's Heterotopia) has been of great importance to the growth of the internet, there seems to be more and more awareness of the power the internet can hold in the local, physical community. In an Australian TV mediascape that seems to be based around shrinking local participation and content (Channel 10's weekend news, Channel 7 doing various city's news out of their Melbourne Broadcast centre) the need for local voices, local citizen voices, has never been greater. Moreover, the ability to reach those people has never been easier.

And I keep telling myself that, but I still haven't moved...

"But the remarkable thing about these enormous changes in our business and our culture is the opportunities that exist for all of us. More people will lose their jobs in the industry next year, and some will be forced to learn new skills and think for themselves in a different way. It will be the best thing that ever happened for them.

There's little about change that we can control except the way we react to it. We can fight it or accept it; it's really that simple. Those who accept it will find a fascinating world awaits their skills and abilities. For those who continue to cling to old beliefs and old ways of doing things, it won't be pretty."

As someone who jumped ship early, I can only say "here here"!

I have to say, between my work and my university this has to have been one of, if not the most intellectually satisfying year of my life. And so I find myself going in to a new year, two more subjects left to finish up the degree, lots of production promises from the job (I don't think I can call it a "new job" now that I've been here a year can I?) and ideas running through my head on what to do with all this. Let's hope 2006 is a year where I take what I've learnt and finally do something about it.

I'm gone until Tuesday. To those that celebrate it, enjoy Christmas. To those that don't, have a good weekend. No mention of New Year yet because I'm at work all week in a production downtime. Expect something.

I'm thinking a nice "Year-in-Archived-File-Vision" piece is in the cards...

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Nothing of Note

I don't seem to have anything to say of late, which I find a little disturbing. Actually, that's not entirely true. It's not that I haven't had ideas. Honest, I have. Follow ups on previous posts, comments on issues regarding Sydney, and the things that bug me about driving, but unfortunately I'm finding that bringing them to fruition to form an intelligent and logical argument is more effort than I'm willing to expend at this time of year.

Perhaps this malaise will disappear in the new year. We'll see.

By the way, new Tiki Bar TV episode. That'll lift the spirits.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

HammerFest '05 |

My boy Grinner Hester, editor extraordinaire, continues his series of "Show Me Your Mods." I'll let Grinner set it up.

IN a nutshell, we have a character on lxforums with over 6k posts. He knows every in and out of every car you can imagine and always has some comedy or wisdom in his words. After thousands of posts, somone asked him to post a pic of his LX car. These are magnums, chargers and 300s. He mentioned he didn't have one and was trying to save up for a down payment for one. Someone chimmed in and offered a donation towards a down payment for him, then someone else did and over about 6 months time, the forums members came up with over 4 grand for him to put toward the car of his dreams. People travelled from all over the nation to meet in Nashville to watch him pick it up. It was a fun, heart-warming experience. This is what custom cars are about for me.. a comradery made between people of all walks of life bringing them together under an umbrella of a common intrest. It's an awesome thing and I hope I captured some of it in this piece.

HammerFest '05

People using the internet to do something good in the real world. That's what it's all about.

Some thoughts on "jadelr's notebook" as a companion piece to "Chasing Windmills"

Matthew Clayfield from Esoteric Rabbit points us in the direction of "jadelr's notebook", the companion blog to the excellent web drama "Chasing Windmills".

Chasing Windmills' sister blog, jadelr's notebook, is excellent as well, an up-to-the-minute, behind-the-scenes videoblog comprised of outtakes, posts about production methods, and shout-outs to supporters. The notebook is essentially Chasing Windmills' special features disc—the windmill chaser's official companion.

As I mention in the comments to his post, I've visited jadelr's blog once or twice but never really got into it as a "behind-the-scenes" additional material resource. I think this is because my natural instinct is to watch the story, without external influence, through to the end before going back and watching or reading external content. Due to the nature of Chasing Windmills as an ongoing serial style drama, this means waiting a while. My comment there was that while an author may create content with a view towards a particular method of access and integration by the audience as a whole, the individual has the ability to use the elements as they see fit. Really, the point of the Video on Demand lifestyle. Power to the people, the individual as consumer and creator, that sort of thing. It's just that in a world where digital distribution allows all manner of additional content to be produced to help sell a product to the audience (giving them a "richer experience") I found it interesting that when I really thought about it I discovered I wasn't really interested in that sort of stuff during the run of the show.

Then again, maybe that's because I'm getting old. A product of the previous generation of media consumers.

By the way, so long as I have you here, I'd just like to follow up on an article I posted a link to yesterday.

The more I think about it, the more I dislike the use of the term "Hive Mind" to describe what's happening with social networking, particularly the concepts of folksonomies and tagging. I find the term evokes images of mindless automatons, all performing the will of a greater authority by following others without question (yes, for the protection of the society I will concede). The beauty of tagging is that while it does work towards concensus, it allows for great individuality as well. Community subsets, subcultures, even individuals can create connections between items with meanings that are known only to them. While I agree wholeheartedly that tagging has problems when it comes to effectively searching for specific content, the ability to refer to things on your own terms, and discover others who think similarly, is a wonderous thing.

The individual mind as part of greater society and culture. Individual thoughts, experiences, backgrounds, thought processes, all working together, explicitly or not, to create something larger. It's a wonderful concept to me.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Lifehack Your Books | The Glass is Too Big

Who says hypertextual and social networking techniques are only valid in a digital environment?

"The first taboo I think everyone should just plain get over is the taboo of writing in books. I write in most of my books. Notes about the content, things the content reminds me of, etc. When you just plain write in the margins, inside the cover, etc. there's no way the notes for that content will get lost. They'll forever be attached to the text they refer to."

Even better, the very tongue-in-cheek response from Wired boss Bruce Sterling.

'The first taboo I think everyone should just plain get over is the taboo of writing in books. I write in most of my books. (((It's the PRIMROSE PATH TO HELL!! ))) Notes about the content, things the content reminds me of, etc. When you just plain write in the margins, inside the cover, etc. there's no way the notes for that content will get lost. They'll forever be attached to the text they refer to. (((He's creating the NAPSTER OF PAPER! All is lost!)))

And to finish it up, a pretty good run through the pros and cons of folksonomies.

"The advantages to top-down hierarchical taxonomies for library collections are without question. For cataloging the Web, however, they just aren’t feasible. The new, “voice of the people” approach of folksonomies emerges at a time when attitudes about information organization and retrieval are shifting and the technology is developing to support them. The opportunities for learning about user behavior as well as the implications for improving and/or complementing existing taxonomies that these systems can provide are of no small import. We are on the cusp of an exciting new stage of Web growth in which the users provide both meaning and a means of finding through tagging."

Given where my mind is currently taking my upcoming Shadowrun game, this is good stuff to have in the back of my head.

Wired News: I Dance, Therefore I Am

Hmmm, what an interesting article.

Read it. You'll see what I mean.

Monday, December 12, 2005

I am an Australian...

...and today I am ashamed.

I don't know what else to say. I'm shocked. Ashamed. Saddened. Not because of this one incident, vile and abhorrent as it is, but because we've let our country come to this.

Then again, maybe this needed to come out. It's only by bringing the darker and filthier elements of our society into the light that we can target them.

Rocketboom gets the Tivo Treatment

Let's celebrate!

Regular visitors to King Leonard - The Weblog will know that the editorial team are huge fans of daily vlog Rocketboom, the quirky news show out of NYC by Andrew Baron and Amanda Congdon. Hats off to them and their crew on getting TiVo, the "I wanna watch it now!" kings of video content, to put them on subscription. Between that and a recent New York Times article the only way is up for these guys.

Congrats to the team! You are an inspiration to a generation of media producers.

Friday, December 09, 2005

How It Should Have Ended - alternate endings to favourite movies

Via Articulate, the ABC Arts and Entertainment blog.

While I'm linking to cool videos, here's a couple of interesting animations that try and "re-edit" the final scenes of some of the most iconic films of the last twenty years, such as "The Blair Witch Project", "Se7en", "Braveheart", "Star Wars", "Saving Private Ryan" and "The Matrix: Revolutions". Very clever stuff.

Includes low res WMV's and higher quality Torrent files.

Coming soon, "The Lord of the Rings".

Yahoo Combines Australian Business With Seven Network |

This kind of came out of the blue. I am a little disappointed at my old freelance employer for, in a way, wimping out, but then I guess it makes sense for traditional television companies not to try and reinvent themselves, but rather team up with those that have the know how. Yahoo's been pushing more and more into media this year, moving up from its origins as a search engine (sound like another booming online company who shall remain Google?) so it makes sense. It's just got us a little shocked is all.

The question now is, how will 9 counter? This sounds a little more dedicated than ninemsn, or their previous deals with Optus and Telstra for content.

Another trailer remix | A Christmas Gory

Via Boing Boing.

Not the funniest or cleverest of these we've seen, but still cute. And, just in time for the holidays!

Side note - I've never seen this movie. I guess it must be a U.S. thing...

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Australian bloggers muzzled | SMH

Well Australia, you voted for it, you deal with it.

No I'm not talking about the rather vapid series of Australian Idol or Big Brother from this year. I'm talking about something a little more important. As a result of the government's end of year legislation grab (17 bills in a fortnight? Of course the government's not abusing its majority) we now find ourselves stuck with the "Anti-Terror" laws, including the contentious Sedition provisions.

"How does that affect me?" I hear you ask. Well, lots of ways, but speaking particularly close to home...

"Many local bloggers are unaware that they may be liable for everything they write on their sites, not to mention all of the colourful comments made by contributors.

Our new sedition laws will make this worse.

Blogs fall under the same defamation and other laws that regulate all media organisations in the country.

While US bloggers are protected by a freedom of speech clause in the US Bill of Rights, new sedition laws passed by Australian authorities may make life even tougher for bloggers."

What happens when you mix an expanding world of popular voice and opinion with legislation designed to squash dissenting points of view? Let's watch and find out as the new year unfolds.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Adobe Completes Acquisition of Macromedia | Adobe Press Room

This is just the prelim stuff. The fun kicks off when Adobe figures out ways to really integrate the two product lines beyond just sticking the Creative Suite and Studio 8 into one big box.

I mean really, Photoshop AND Fireworks? Each using proprietary formats? Overkill?

Uni results - two subjects to go!!!

Final results for KIN810 - Information Architecture have been released. Despite my initial fears I find myself walking away with a very respectable 6, meaning an ongoing GPA of 6.667. Not bad for a guy who hates coding as much as I do. All in all an enjoyable subject in its way. It was just a pity the Post-grad students got stuck with the undergrads.

It's also a pity that the marking for these subjects are based on some application of a secondary training rather than what gets taught in lectures. Hopefully this is one of the things that the new Comm Design restructure will address.

Next year I'm stepping away from the warm and enveloping bosom of Communication Design to step into the harsh, cold world of IT and Journalism. The IT subject, Systems & Networks, is a means of getting a little more practical knowledge with the physical side of my job. Another subject I "should" do rather than one I really want to do. Similarly, the journalism subject, Newswriting, is a means of getting my head around where my colleagues are coming from (sitting in an office surrounded by journos. Know your enemy!). It's also a means of getting me back into writing, and maybe it will help with my blog posts as well. We'll see.

Finally, just wanted to give a huge congrats to my lecturer for this last semester, Simon Perkins, who is heading to the U.K. to pick up a job, kind of similar to the one he's leaving, just with less practical code writing and more academic theory and application. If anyone would be perfect for it it's him. I felt all semester that he was being held back trying to teach us all PHP. The real interest for me was what he was trying to teach us in the lectures; information management, information structures, the interesting stuff.

All the best Simon. Go forth and flourish.

Emergency Naptime Procedures Implelented - Serenity in a nutshell

Thanks to Steve D for the heads up on this one.

The Hand Puppet Movie Theatre Presents


For those that want the highly edited version.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

TheFeature :: It's All About The Archives!!!

Just discovered that all those articles I've posted here in the past from Mobile Technology website "The Feature" can still be accessed, even though the site (owned by Nokia) is no longer running. The comments have been tossed away, but the info's still worth a read.

That is all.

Google: Ten Golden Rules |

In the ongoing effort to use this blog as a poor man's, here's a link to an interesting article on Googles business rules. Interesting stuff. I just wish I owned a business big enough to even contemplate having to use them.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Tiki Bar TV - More funky podcast action!

It's happening!

That is to say, it was already happening and I've only just caught up.

As a prelude, I already know what I want for my birthday (forget Christmas. That's already sorted). A new wardrobe!

A Rocketboom T-Shirt,

and now a Tiki Bar TV T-Shirt!

For those who have yet to enjoy the pleasures of the Tiki Bar, get on along and have a drink! Dr Tiki has just the prescription for you.

I will buy a T-Shirt and wear it proudly! Especially if I know that the money is going to buy some more microphones (only flaw so far).

The other podcast/vlog I'm slowly coming around to is Help My Patients, a daily "reality" show where a fictional psychiatrist records his fictional patients' therapy sessions then opens up the comments section for people to give advice.

I have to say, I'm finding all this stuff inspiring! Time to get off the pot and make some ideas I've been having start to happen.

Friday, December 02, 2005 | Just Like Christmas

I love it when Warren Ellis comes out with this sort of stuff. Inspired. And just in time for Christmas too!

“What did you expect? Guy with a big beard breaks into your house at night to leave suspicious packages. Only a matter of time before he crashed that sleigh into an office block..."

As always with Ellis' stuff, not for the easily offended or those with a conservative political bent.

Chasing Windmills - O.K. guys, you got my attention

Anyone remember how the other day I said that the stories in Minnesota-based web series Chasing Windmills didn't appeal to me? You do? Well, all that changed over the last few days and has peaked with today's episode.

Congratulations guys, you got me hooked. See you again tomorrow.

Chasing Windmills | Bath

By the way, as a side technical note take a look at the address where the files are stored. Nice way to save on streaming and storage costs.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Site Mods

Just a head's up to the first serious additions to this site in a while (other than the content of course... Well, maybe not).

Over in the right hand column I've added a Flash based links box from Blogbox. This little addition is still a work in progress. Now that it's in place I have to figure out what links I want to add. They've got a few cute open source site additions. Take a look.

Also over on the right, under the Site Meter visitor counter, is a little javascript widget from Surf Tail. The idea here is that it tracks people who are part of the Surf Tail network and mentions if they've recently been on your site. By following this tail it's supposed to enhance a like-minded community by allowing you to see other sites that may be of interest. This one's still up in the air and I'll be interested to see how it progresses.

KL out.

[UPDATE] Surf Tail's out. It was already on thin ice, but today it seemed to be doing weird things and not displaying properly so out it goes.

The French Democracy |

Via Boing Boing.

It's been out for a couple of days but I've only just had a chance to see it.

I've mentioned Machinima (using game engines to create video narratives) in the past, but this one kind of steps beyond what's been made so far.

Lionhead Studios has just released a new game called "The Movies". It's ostensibly a Sims type game where you play the part of a Movie Studio Executive, building the company from the early silent film days to the modern day. All well and good, but the fun part comes from the extras. It gives you the tools to create your own animated feature, complete with camera movements, characters, backdrops, music, etc.

From here on I'll let Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing talk about it...

The French Democracy is a political film about France's riots, made in machinima with the new video game The Movies -- a game whose objective is to make machinima films.

The French Democracy is a little rough around the edges, unashamedly political and one-sided, and could use some work on the pacing, but it's also a stirring piece of political filmmaking, created using a $50 piece of software intended to enable its users to become one-person animation auteurs.

Most machnima is silly, or porny, or violent -- but this is real political stuff, the kind of thing the First Amendment was invented for. It's a real milestone in machinima history.

UPDATE: I also remembered seeing something similar on another site and have just found it. Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, writes on his blog "The Long Tail" about his and his kids' initial experiences with "The Movies" and Machinima in general.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Two good articles

Well worth the time to read. The first, a fairly positive article about trusting your audience, in fact trusting humanity.

We are facing a war for the very soul of our culture, and the side on which you fall depends, in large part, on your view of humankind. It is the most unreported story of our time. If you trust people to generally get it right, then you've no fear of handing over to them the power that comes with knowledge. If, however, you trust that people will generally get it wrong, then you'll see value in protecting such knowledge and continuing the path of hierarchical order. This is a considerable challenge for each of us.

Of all of the revelations I've had since I was a boy, none has contributed to my sense of well-being like the knowledge that I'm not, nor do I have to be, perfect. In taking such a position, I've discovered that nobody else is perfect either, and that includes those further up the hierarchical food chain. The greatest myth of the Modernist culture is that the elite are closer to perfection than the rest of us, and as more people discover that this isn't true, our democracy will only get stronger.

and the other a more guarded and pessimistic article on something that's been bothering me for quite some time now, the fact that a small group, the telecommunications carriers, own the means of distribution and communication for the internet.

We need to stress how the pipe-centric view of the world is responsible for the crippled and asymmetrical "consumer" service the carriers call "broadband". By restricting upstream use of the Net and biasing service to downstream "content delivery", the carriers have effectively outlawed personal and small business enterprise on the Net. This is one area where the carriers have been persistently clueless and hostile to the Net since the beginning, and we need to call them on it...

These are ideas, of course. I present them forcefully because I believe we--the technical community--are being called to fight for a world we made and continue to make. And one which is under grave threat.

That threat appears in many forms, all of which are easy to blame and attack. But all those forms are expressions of a simple concept: that the Net is, above all, a system of pipes. Those pipes are in fact below, not above. They support a World of Ends, but they don't define it.

Unless we let them.

The future: They just don't get it | The Sydney Morning Herald

David Dale from the Sydney Morning Herald Entertainment Blog takes a look at downloading TV programs and how the network execs seem to have problems acknowledging it.

At a forum on the future of television last week, David Leckie, managing director of Channel Seven, was asked if he was worried about people obtaining programs via the net because they can't get what they want from mainstream TV. He said this: "OK, the world's gonna fragment, we know that, but have you seen how hard it is right now to download anything? In five, ten, 15 years nobody knows, but it's not affecting our audience, I can guarantee that. And the two or three people ... I'm sure they've downloaded and they're having fantastic fun talking about Desperate Housewives going to air real time right now in the United States but you know what? It's not really affecting our audiences."

There is just so much to say here, and I don't have the time to do it justice, from the media datacasting rules set up all those years ago to squash competition (of which broadband internet has bypassed), to the highs and lows of using BitTorrent, to the business model for making money from VOD.

Sam Chisholm, managing director of Channel Nine, was asked if viewers were alienated by the erratic scheduling of their favourite shows. He said there was "no evidence that it irritates viewers" and continued: "Maybe you do shift programs but there's no point in trying to ram down viewers' throats programming that they arguably don't want to see. So we put them on with the best will in the world, but if they don't work then we've got to move them to provide the best programming that they do want. If we did treat them with contempt we'd say well there it is, that's your lot, as they say in the garden program that's your blooming lot, get on with it, but we don't do that, that's why we're moving and shifting things and changing them."

These gentlemen are living in cloud cuckoo land. When this column reported last week that Nine was going to make viewers wait till next year to see the season finales of CSI, Cold Case, Without a Trace and The Closer, we received 327 emails expressing varying degrees of rage.

Here's what I don't get. They have content. Whether it goes to air or not, they have access to that content. They make money by letting people watch that content. Wouldn't it make sense to find ways to let people watch as much of the content they want to see as they can? Charge them for it or find new ways to integrate advertising? If there's issues in the arrangements for transmission of that content (can only be broadcast once, etc) then someone in charge needs to think outside the box when negotiation time comes round. The sooner these people stop thinking of themselves as TV stations and more as video/media distributors the sooner things will turn around for them.

But then, these are the same guys who told us a week ago that the future was TV, only smaller.

Here's a start.

Steve Safran, Managing Editor of U.S. TV blog Lost Remote had some great ideas on how to save the recently cancelled FOX show "Arrested Development".
(Editor's note - What is it with Fox and dropping innovative and interesting television programs? Says something about their audience? Their executives? Heaven knows the Simpsons hasn't been the same since they took more interest, and the less said about Firefly...)

Here’s what "Arrested Development" and its producers should do once they are are free of the network shackles and retake ownership:

# Offer the show online and on VOD every week for free
# Make it a free video podcast
# Seed Bittorrent with it.
# Set up a site that has all the shows right there, along with shorter-form content, ready to watch or download in all formats
# Have the cast blog - in character. Have them do video blogs and even live webcasts in character, too
# After each show, have viewers comment and then address their comments. Invite the best commenters to have a guest spot on the show
# Heck - invite fans to shoot their own fan-fic shows. Celebrate “AD” as the first open-source sitcom
# Web contests: “GET ARRESTED”! “George Bluth is hiding somewhere on the web. Clues are available both online and at geocaching locations. Find him, and you’ll be on a show - and not just in a cameo role - as the man who caught George!”
# Find a title sponsor, but for just enough money to make a dent in your budget.

Then comes the money:

“Arrested Development” is already a proven, strong DVD seller. Put out DVDs with all the extra content you’ve created on the web. Don’t wait until after the season is done: put out a month’s worth of shows every four weeks on one DVD.

After four weeks, the video podcast version will cost 99 cents. The VOD version will be 49 cents after the initial month, for the rest of the year. After that, older episodes will be just a quarter.

Invite premium membership on your site for unlimited archival access and free podcast downloads, in addition to direct access via chats with stars. Auction walk-on parts on eBay

It will be a phenomenal success. There is one warning, however: “Arrested Development” will make so much money that the networks will try to woo it back. Under no circumstances should the show make that mistake.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Adobe Forums - The English Language

Dag Norum over at the Adobe Premiere Pro User forum recites an interesting little poem on the intricacies of the Mother Tongue. Try speaking it out loud and see how well you do.

Dearest creature in creation
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I: Oh hear my prayer.

If you're not a member of the forums, just log in as a guest. Please note that this poem came as a result of some earlier discussions regarding the Canopus User forums. This should in no way serve as an indictment or comment on those forums or Canopus products.

Yahoo! The Super Network | Wired 13.09

Keep an eye on Yahoo! making a run up the inside against Google. In this interesting article by Josh McHugh from Wired we take a look at how the former search engine is making headway in the battle to be the one that controls the burgeoning video distribution and search market that's only a year away from exploding.

Returning home after a vacation in 2004, Andy Volk dumped his luggage in the hallway and settled into an armchair for an evening of his favorite shows: The Simpsons, Futurama, and The Streets of San Francisco. But when he called up the Now Playing menu on his TiVo, he discovered a couple of things he'd never seen next to the usual items. A friend who'd been house-sitting had loaded the DVR with a whole new world of television. At the top of the list was Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, something Volk, a product manager at Yahoo!, had never considered watching. He pushed Play. And he loved it.

Every so often, Volk would find that his TiVo had recorded another obscure gem. He told the story to his boss, Bradley Horowitz, senior director of Yahoo!'s Technology Development Group, and suggested that Yahoo!'s video search technology, then in the early stages of development, needed a house sitter of its own. Horowitz had to laugh. Since his days as a grad student at the MIT Media Lab, he'd been trying to develop a machine-based version of Volk's houseguest. If only a computer could grasp the appeal of a 1965 vampire fest.

Amen to that.


Sunday, November 27, 2005

"Wax Off" - Pat Morita, 'Karate Kid's' Mr. Miyagi, dies |

Via Boing Boing

I don't know many people around my age that wouldn't have wanted Mr Miyagi as a mentor. In fact, going back to his roles on Happy Days and even MASH, I can remember a great actor that showed a lot of heart. Sad to see him go.


William Burroughs' Naked Lunch as an Historical Document | Reality Studio

Interesting essay on Naked Lunch, William S Burrough's most well known novel. I'm looking forward to checking out the article when I get a moment, so this post is basically just a placeholder and link.

In the mean time, posted here more because in it I see shadows of my own country in recent times than as a commentary on the U.S...

A Thanksgiving Prayer, by William S. Burroughs

For John Dillinger
In hope he is still alive
Thanksgiving Day, November 28, 1986

Thanks for the wild turkey and the Passenger Pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts

thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison —

thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger —

thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin, leaving the carcass to rot —

thanks for bounties on wolves and coyotes —

thanks for the AMERICAN DREAM to vulgarize and falsify until the bare lies shine through —

thanks for the KKK, for nigger-killing lawmen feeling their notches, for decent church-going women with their mean, pinched, bitter, evil faces —

thanks for "Kill a Queer for Christ" stickers —

thanks for laboratory AIDS —

thanks for Prohibition and the War Against Drugs —

thanks for a country where nobody is allowed to mind his own business —

thanks for a nation of finks — yes, thanks for all the memories... all right, let's see your arms... you always were a headache and you always were a bore —

thanks for the last and greatest betrayal of the last and greatest of human dreams.

He always was such a happy guy...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Holographic-memory discs may put DVDs to shame | New Scientist

Don't forget, you heard it here first (other than all those other places that mentioned it. 33rd at most...)

Back in July the editorial team here at King Leonard - The Weblog made mention of Holographic storage as a new technology coming through to trump the bipartisan debacle that is HDVD/Blu-Ray. New Scientist reports that the first commercial product should be available at the end of next year.

"The discs... hold 300 gigabytes of data and can be used to read and write data 10 times faster than a normal DVD.
...the technique could theoretically be used to store up to 1.6 terabytes of data on the same size of disc and to read data at 120 megabits per second. This is 340 times the capacity of an ordinary DVD and 20 times the data rate."

A new kind of Vlog | Chasing Windmills

What is it about Minnesota in the U.S.? Is this state the innovation capital for video weblogs? Heaven knows there's enough of them.

A few thoughts on what I find so great about this. For the last ten or fifteen years we've been told, usually by marketing types and venture capitalists, that the internet is a global phenomenon, that a tiny shop in a small town can suddenly get access to customers around the world. Suddenly you have the ability to realise communities based on common interests rather than geography.

Fact is, we are kind of tied to our geography. It goes with being physical entities. So I find it wonderful that there has been a reminder in the last year or so that the internet is also a great way of communicating and sharing common content in smaller, geographically based communities. That's what I find so interesting about this scene. The people involved are happy to promote and assist each other, creating content that is of specific interest to a core community, with the added advantage of also being available to the rest of us.

On her personal weblog Amanda Congdon of Rocketboom fame made some comments regarding the state of vlogs, in particular personal vlogs. In her opinion (and I have to say I kind of agree) the sort of content we tend to see now ("A lot of the video blogs out there are by someone in their bedroom, half-awake.") will not be very palatable to a mainstream audience.

In other words, the majority of video weblogs (a genre still in its infancy with a HUGE potential) are just people making content for other vloggers. That's why it's nice to see something different.

Chasing Windmills is a semi-daily guerilla style series of short pieces, kind of half drama, half reality show, about a young urban couple that's starting to push what the genre can achieve. I have to say from the outset the stories don't really appeal to me but I find it enthralling to see the genre develop in this way. More power to jadelr and Christina Cordova for trying something beyond the norm.

Hang Up and Drive | Wired News

Social Commentary time, kiddies...

Praise be to Tony Long, copy chief for Wired News, for telling it like it is!

"One of the things that makes riding a motorcycle so dangerous is that the people out there in their cars don't see you. It's the first thing they tell you in motorcycle school: "Remember, drivers don't see you."

The instructors should consider adding another warning: "They don't hear you, either, because they're too busy yapping on their cell phones when they should be paying attention to what's going on around them." "

If you even occasionally feel like you need to make a phone call while driving a car, read this article and get it through your skull; PULL OVER AND GET OUT OF THE WAY! The road is an inherently dangerous place as it is without someone yapping away in a runaway metal and plastic missile.

Wired News: Hang Up and Drive

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Minnesota Stories | Family

Today's Minnesota Stories has an interesting piece on recording personal histories, in particular the history of your family. While it's a bit saccharin in places (as is to be expected when dealing with loved ones your audience doesn't know) it makes a strong point about the value of getting out your video camera and talking to your parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, anyone that can help tell the story of where you came from. With recording, production, distribution and archiving facilities in the hands of the everyday person now more than ever we have an opportunity to tell the personal stories that matter to us for future generations to look back on.

Now I'm getting saccharin.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

In a losing race with the zeitgeist | Los Angeles Times

Patrick Goldstein of the LA Times has some interesting things to say about the falling position of the cinema in todays media sphere, and about the executives in charge who seem even more separated from their consumers than ever before.

"Hollywood needs a new mindset, one that sees a movie as something that comes in all shapes and sizes, not something that is wedded to the big screen. Studios have to do what record companies refused to do until they nearly went out of business: embrace the future.

People increasingly want to see movies on their terms, today on a big TV at home, tomorrow on an iPod or cellphone. It breaks my heart that people have fallen out of love with movie theaters, but if I were king, I'd start releasing any movie with multi-generational appeal on DVD at the same time it hit theaters, so the kids could get out of the house and the parents could watch at home.

The music business has already adopted this two-tier system, selling downloads and CDs simultaneously. TV networks are starting to do the same thing with their shows. It's only a matter of time before movies are forced to do the same. The day isn't far away — desperation being a great motivator for innovation — when a studio opens a blockbuster on Friday in theaters and on Saturday on pay-per-view (at $75 a shot) so fans could watch it with a bunch of friends at home."

It will happen. I'm no fan of HD at this moment, but the fact is that will take over the top end of video distribution. When it does and the average punter has set up their own personal cinema room, complete with widescreen or projector, surround sound system and comfy chairs, what need do they have for going out and paying all that money? Despite today's symbolic victory over download movie piracy (As Warren Ellis points out, "This would be because’s search engine is shite and no-one uses it, surely?"), the more they try and clamp down on maintaining antiquated models of distribution the easier they make it for the pirates to exist. Until you start following the "Path of Least Resistance from Total Boredom" and giving users the ability to consume your product ON THEIR TERMS then you're just making trouble for yourself.

They'll get there. And those that don't will make a song and dance about the death of cinema, and get all nostalgic and weepy about their film and cultural history, blaming everyone but themselves. Yeah, that's it. Blame someone else. It's the modern thing to do. - Murdoch and Trujillo in internet talks

The man whose company almost destroyed Firefly and the man who last week told us he'd shed 12,000 Australian jobs, got together to plan strategy (you'll notice that I hold the two events on an almost equal level of infamy).

Well, O.K., they just got together for a meet and greet, a cup of tea and some bikkies. Still, it's an interesting coming together of two very powerful men in the Australian Media/Telecommunications scene.

"The pair discussed the future of Foxtel, Australia’s dominant pay-TV platform in which Telstra has a 50 per cent stake and News Corp 25 per cent. Mr Trujillo has said he is keen for Foxtel to take advantage of technology to increase its market penetration.

However, both companies declined to give details of the outcome of the talks or what else was discussed.

Analysts believe they would likely have touched on the implications of Telstra’s announcement last week that it would launch a movie download service for broadband subscribers.

One analyst said: “The boundaries are being blurred so much it is hard to know what the opportunities are and for whom. Telstra needs movie content for its download services but, then again, Murdoch might be concerned that it could become a rival to Foxtel’s own movie services.” "

Monday, November 21, 2005

Star Wars: Episodes I-VI - The greatest postmodern art film ever |

An interesting view on the entire series, now that we're able to sit and watch the six episodes back to back.

"As literary critics have long pointed out, the arbitrary yoking together of events in the service of storytelling is one of the fundamental characteristics of all narrative. R2-D2 needs to hook up with Luke on Tatooine, just as Prospero's enemies need to wash up on the shores of his island, and Elizabeth Bennet needs to marry Mr. Darcy, for the narrative requirements of those stories to be fulfilled. The audience's willing surrender to narrative coincidence is demanded by the story's need to conclude itself.

But Lucas takes this self-consciousness about narrative artifice a step further: He makes explicit his theoretical interest in the mechanics of plot. As viewers, we take pleasure in the implausible events that must happen for the narrative contraption to snap shut in a satisfying way. But the characters come to understand that there is another agent, external to themselves, that is dictating the action. Within the films' fiction, that force is called … er, "the Force." It's the Force that makes Anakin win the pod race so that he can get off Tatooine and become a Jedi and set all the other events in all of the other films in motion. We learn that Anakin's birth, fall, redemption, and death are required to "bring balance to the Force" and, not coincidentally, to give the story its dramatic shape. The Force is, in other words, a metaphor for, or figuration of, the demands of narrative. The Force is the power of plot."

Australian IT - Govt to fast-track digital TV

So Senator Coonan is thinking about subsidising the sale of digital set-top boxes so they can free up that bandwidth by 2008? Problem is, there's only so many boxes you can sell with the marketing line "purty pictures, great for a TV set you probably don't own yet."

Here's the problem, and it's no secret. People don't want to buy set top boxes because it's too expensive for what's extra to watch on it (other than ABC2, but as fond of it as I am it's just not enough to get the crowds pouring in), manufacturers don't want to make more because no one's buying them, and content providers don't want to make content because no one owns one.


Ahem. Sorry.

So anyway, now that it's become obvious to the government what should have been obvious to all from the start, they're looking into handing out set top boxes to get people off the analog service.

"There is the issue of how you would get a consortium of retailers, consumers, governments and broadcasters to plan the switch-off," Senator Coonan said yesterday.

"Because one of the problems we have got is that the market-driven model won't work unless you (provide incentives).

"(The issue is) whether or not (there is) a cost-benefit of continuing to pay for analogue-transmission simulcast or whether it would be more cost effective to give a box to people who haven't crossed over."

But even that won't work. Want to know why? Let's go back to Mark Cuban's "Path of Least Resistance from Total Boredom". The more obstacles you put in the way of people, the more they're likely to look elsewhere for entertainment. That's what a set-top box is, an obstacle. You want to sell digital TV? Provide incentives for manufacturers to build the tuner into the set so it's exactly the same as their old analog receiver. If manufacturers keep selling analog TV's, or digital TV's with no inbuilt tuner, why would you bother? Especially with the rather ridiculous rules regarding what can and can't be put in the available bandwidth. Heaven knows content won't be the bait, and if "the King" can't drag in the customers, what can?

"Senator Coonan stepped away from the possibility of allowing free-to-air television to broadcast on multiple channels and all but ended any hopes for a fourth free-to-air television licence, saying she did not think it would be commercially viable."

Well yeah, a fourth TV channel would be suicide with our population, but maintaining the clamp on multi-channeling just stymies innovation. Then again, it could be argued that having to think outside the box engenders innovation, but we all know that any new ideas are likely to get stomped on...

" part of a digital action plan that will be the subject of a broad discussion paper on new media rules to be released next month ahead of planned legislation later next year.

The paper will also canvas options for relaxing cross-media restrictions, foreign ownership, the spectrum for so-called data-casting services that become available in 2007 and changes to anti-siphoning rules...

"The paper will have a very short consultation period that now formalises the informal consultations that I have had with industry," Senator Coonan said yesterday. "

Short consultation period? Well, that doesn't come as a great surprise. We're kind of getting used to that.

Steve Garfield's Video Blog: Amanda Congdon at the Corante SSA

Video by Steve Garfield, one of the most prolific vloggers out there, of Amanda Congdon talking to the Corante Symposium on Social Architecture held at Harvard law School about Rocketboom and how they view the input of their viewers. An interesting few minutes, even if the audio is shot.

:: Douglas Rushkoff - "Get Back In The Box" excerpts ::

Dougles Rushkoff prints excerpts from his upcoming book "Get Back In The Box." Links here so I can find them again easily in the future.


Great quote from Jeff Jarvis at Buzzmachine regarding Sony and their continuing debacle over DRM.

"CD? What’s a CD? They’re working so hard to protect a dead medium. It’s as if they posted a militia around a graveyard."

A Tale of Two Broadband Speeds...

"Web 2.0 is broadband. Web 3.0 is 10 gigabits a second."

But I'm still getting used to this version of the web...

Anyway, Reed Hastings, chief executive of online DVD rental company Netflix made this statement at the TechNet Innovation Summit recently, according to Yahoo! News. According to Reed, we're going to be seeing homes connected to the net at whopping speeds of 10Gb/s, introducing a glorious world of unprecedented choice and freedom.

Now for the flip side.

Same day as this comes out, we hear from our old pal, Mark Cuban.

Over the past 5 years, bandwidth to the home has grown from 300k for broadband to 5mbs, and in some cases even 10mbs. But that bandwidth is not dedicated per user. That bandwidth is shared. The number of users sharing that bandwidth has increased even faster than the size of the pipe. Thats not going to change...

So in a nutshell, at the very point in time when a rapidly growing number of consumers are going to be expecting programming at the highest possible High Definition bitrate, there isnt enough bandwidth to deliver it.

So which one do we believe? More to come no doubt.

dot mobile - Celebrated literary works as text messages

Things that amuse me vol. 2.

A U.K. company intends to start texting extremely compressed synopses of favourite literature works, purely for educational purposes of course.

"The scheme, which will be available from January 2006 offers dot subscribers concise summaries of classic works of literature in text format. The new service has been specifically designed to aid English students in both their choices of books to study and to serve as a valuable revision tool for exams.

The texts which are sent directly to subscribers handsets have been developed in consultation with Professor John Sutherland and his students exclusively for dot mobile and succeed in translating complex plots and quotes into easy to digest messages or little more than three or four lines of text."

Don't believe it? Check out some of these classics...

William Golding, Lord Of The Flies
NuclearWar-2boysRalph&PigyFormGrup2reviveOldCultr.Jack-oposnLeadrTaksR'sSuportersAway. MystryBeastOnIslandCauzsPanicBtSimonFindsOutTisOnlyAParachute.Jtries2kilRbtR's savd ByShipDat c's emergncySmoke.

John Milton, Paradise Lost

devl kikd outa hevn coz jelus of jesus&strts war. pd'off wiv god so corupts man(md by god) wiv apel. devl stays serpnt 4hole life&man ruind. Woe un2mnkind.

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
5SistrsWntngHsbnds.NwMenInTwn-Bingly&Darcy Fit&Loadd. BigSisJaneFals4B,2ndSisLizH8sDCozHesProud.SlimySoljrWikamSysDHsShadyPast. TrnsOutHesActulyARlyNysGuy&RlyFancysLiz.SheDecydsSheLyksHim.Evry1GtsMaryd.

'Lost' deal hatched for mobile

Via Lost Remote

Things that I love...

You take a hit TV show, "Lost", build in a bunch of characters that sit around the skirts of the main action, then use them to produce off-shoot stories for distribution on mobile phones. Good to keep in mind.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Off-Topic - Rocketboom or Pink 5?

Hotter low-rez internet video babe (and attitude plays a part here):

Amanda Congdon from Rocketboom?


Amy Earhart from Pink Five, Pink Five Strikes Back and the upcoming Return of Pink Five?

People who know me will understand that this sort of objectification is usually well outside the way I think of women, but I was just sitting here watching Pink Five again, thinking how similar the two were, at least in character, not intelligence. That prompted the question, which one do I find the more attractive? Should anyone drop by and have an opinion, feel free to do so.

To be honest, it's probably because in attitude they both remind me a lot of my wife whom I get back tomorrow night for another weekend.

Mobile TV the next frontier | The Australian

Despite Australian Soccer's night-of-nights (quick off-topic: I think we all realise that Kewell's "pass" to set up Bresciano for the only regulation goal of the match was just an almost-air swing. Another half inch to the left and we're thinking about four years time, trying to keep Guus from jumping on the first plane out of Sydney), last night the Australian representatives of free-to-air commercial TV, "Free TV Australia" managed to get the chief executives of the networks - Ten's Grant Blackley, Nine's Sam Chisholm and Seven's David Leckie, together to front advertisers and supporters to talk about the future of TV in this country.

Some interesting points brought up as to where these guys, the ones that have final say on this stufff, are willing to take Australian TV in the next five to ten years. The big mover? TV on your mobile phone;

"Mr Chisholm said Nine was involved in the trial of a new technology called DVB-H, which uses the digital TV spectrum to send normal TV channels to mobile devices. DVB-H, which is being tested in Sydney, is expected to provide a better mobile TV viewing experience than 3G mobile phones, which have limited storage capacity.

"The new battleground of this business will be mobility," Mr Chisholm said. "Radio taught us this three decades ago as they grew their business by mobility and the invention of the transistor radio." "

The problem is, these guys are still blinkered by the idea that TV is different to everything else, somehow superior, and that the only thing they need to do is repurpose existing content for the small screen using the existing broadcast schedule model. If you're going to take away some value (making the picture smaller) then you need to create some value to offset, like creating the option for video-on-demand. However in my opinion the big winner will be the one that looks beyond what they can produce as video and start making use of the technologies out there. By that I mean beyond just setting up websites as add-ons to TV programs. Of course, the question then is, if a TV company starts producing a website news service (online newspaper) or podcasting specially created programs (online radio) where do cross-media ownership laws come in? This may be one of those situations where the laws that once protected us may now, in a media world of almost unlimited reach, be holding us back.

ABC Game On | "Kafkamesto" - A Scholar Replies

Now this almost borders on hilarity.

Arrive at work, receive the latest edition of "Digital Bites", the ABC Broadband mailing list. The lovely Nicola Fern from ABC New Media publicity runs through this fortnight's changes and additions, including, to my surprise, a Flash game called "Kafkamesto" based on the works of 20th century Czech author Franz Kafka. As anyone who's read Kafka will understand, my immediate response was "huh? You did what?!?" Because what I really want to do is play a game where I've turned into a giant cockroach and my family only puts up with my disgusting presence through social duty. I want to play a game where I run around a nightmare bureaucracy to clear my name from a crime that was never even committed, let alone by me. I want to hate my father like he despises me!

"That's it!" I thought, "Let's get the kiddies understanding the hopelessness and absurdity of life as a 20th century man, struggling through personal neuroses and social anonymity!"

It turns out to be a pretty basic adventure game (turn left, turn right, click on the items, talk to the bad guys, everybody hates me...) so in that respect it was kind of fun.

The amusing part, to which this post makes specific reference, is an academic response from "Emeritus Professor Janusz Kazmierczak, Reader in Comparative European Literature, Columbia University, New York." It seems that the authors of the game contacted the good professor to assist with the intellectual elements underlying their proposal and add his name as a "technical adviser." His reply is printed on its own page.

My immediate response to his comments began with surprise and amusement;

"Let me make it utterly clear from the outset that I have no time for games. I abhor crosswords, detest puzzles and absolutely loathe rebuses and the like. Even as a small child, I purposely shunned all forms of schoolyard hi-jinks, instead preferring my own company and the adventures of Huck Finn or David Copperfield to indulge in. And now, as a cultural scholar somewhat reluctantly approaching his ‘twilight years’, I maintain nothing more than passing academic interest in the decadent cultural declinations of the so-called ‘PlayStation generation’ and their persistent idle pursuit of instantaneous reward..."

prodded cautiously through the jungles of disbelief;

"I still remain tormented by this experience albeit only through my loose association with the correspondents as detailed above. As one of Kafka’s own characters remarks in his novel Der Process, “The main thing is to ask questions…” And indeed the questions abound. Why did these potentially talented lads waste their time (and government money, no doubt) employing designers, binary coders and the like to manufacture such a trivial and pointless pursuit? Who would ever take the time to ‘load’ this game, let alone attempt to engage with it on an intellectual level, when there are so many unread stories and letters that any true scholar of Kafka still has yet to savour? I shall never know the answer to such questions, nor will I stay up late at night pondering them."

and kind of finished up somewhere sitting on the fence between the fields of whimsy and derision;

"Long before the silicon surge of seventies’ games such as Space Invaders or Super Ethnic Brothers sparked the jaded imagination of a generation of idle youth - the “X-ers” as I am reliably told - the world’s first interactive medium was still abundantly available, yet vigorously ignored. I am, of course referring to the book. Instantly accessible, readily obtainable; its ‘program’ relying solely on harnessing the inexhaustible memory and imagination of the user, rather than driven by the finite power of any external operating system.

So in conclusion, to those of you with serious academic intent and purpose, I recommend you ‘log on’ to the ‘wide wide world’ beyond your ‘desktop’ and ‘download’ a truly interactive experience by simply visiting your local library and reading a goddamn book."

A very funny read on a number of levels, and I'm still not convinced that the good professor doesn't have his tongue placed squarely in his cheek.

MICHAEL ROSENBERG: A year later, Palace brawl still too fresh | Detroit Free Press

Some people celebrate wedding anniversaries, others hold as solemn great moments of national pride. One of the things this weblog is supposed to talk about is hoops, and so I post remembrance to the defining moment of last year's NBA season, "the Brawl" (or "The night Artest snapped once too often").

Journalist Michael Rosenberg reminisces on his part in the events:

"You know the guy Artest went after? I was the guy next to that guy. On the video replay, you can clearly see me, the stunningly handsome guy who looks like he's soiling himself.

...I instinctively took a couple of steps back; in the confusion, I guess I thought I was at an NHL fight and didn't want to be the third man in. Then I took a step forward and the following thought popped into my head:

I should step between them and break it up.

...I didn't try, because one rule of journalism is that you aren't supposed to become the story, and one rule of life is that you shouldn't volunteer to get the snot beaten out of you."

Lest we forget... whatever.

The Challenge has been laid down... |

Tom Coates (formerly of the BBC, now starting his new job at Yahoo) through his site talks about Google's new Beta launch Google Base, a central site for people to upload their content to make it more easily accessible and searchable.

"From a personal perspective, I don't quite get it - there's no obvious reason I can think of for an individual to post a recipe to the service - but from a business perspective it's really interesting. Basically it's a complete circumvention of the problems with the Semantic web which abandons decentralisation and microformats completely. If your company has a database of things (whether that be products or pictures or weblog posts or news articles or whatever) that it represents on the web, then Google Base suggests that you should not wait to be spidered and nor should you expect them to do all the heavy-lifting to work out what your site is about. Instead, you just bulk upload all your data to Google directly and associate each entry with your corresponding page on the web..."

"It's not all positive for the businesses or start-ups, of course. It consolidates the idea of Google or a parallel search engine as the definitive place to find out information of any kind (rather than the local brand that you usually associate with events, restaurants or whatever). And that kind of corresponds to a larger question about whether Google is gradually and systematically eating the web."

The fun part comes at the end when he lays down a challenge to his old employers at the British Broadcasting Corporation.

"My old colleague Mr Biddulph (who has been freelancing for the BBC for a few months) and Mr Hammersley (of RSS, web services and utilikilt infamy) have been working on a representation of the BBC Archives Infax database for a few months. They've written about it in two pieces: The BBC's programme catalogue (on Rails) and Hot BBC Archive Action. So why not make this content more explorable and searchable (and help define the way the web understands TV and radio programming) by bulk-submitting the entire massive database to Google Base? That would be an extraordinarily interesting move..."

An interesting move indeed. Let's see if there's a response...

While we're at it, he had an interesting article yesterday on whether "subscription media" via technology like podcasting will kill streaming video, or even, as he posits, broadcast.