Monday, October 31, 2005

Hip Hop Yoda - Google Video

Requires Flash.

How to delight customers | BJ Fogg's Weblog

I'm no businessman. I have no idea about products and the like, however I was interested to read BJ Fogg's article on what he believes it takes to keep customers truly satisfied with a company.

"This morning I went outside to retrieve the New York Times in my driveway. Walking back to my house, I noticed a brown box sitting by my door. When I saw the box said "Amazon," I experienced a moment of delight.

Ah, delight! -- that sweet, happy spark. Delight makes you smile inside. Delight makes you feel -- at least for a moment -- that everything is right in the world."

On the BBC Annotatable Audio project |

Good luck to Tom Coates as he leaves the Beeb and starts his new job at Yahoo. We've never met Tom, but I enjoy your work.

On his last day working for the BBC, Tom Coates describes a project he and the Radio and Music Interactive R&D team have been working on as a means of allowing users to annotate and index BBC audio content.

"First off, imagine yourself as a normal user coming to a page about a particular programme or speech. What you see is a simple interface for playing and scrubbing through the audio at the top of the page with marked 'segments' highlighted. If you hover over those segments they brighten up and display the title of that section. If you click on them, it starts the audio playing from that point. This correlates to the sections below which could be filled with any amount of wiki-style content - whether that be links or transcripts or background information or corrections or whatever. Beneath that are tags that users have added to describe the programme concerned. If you click on any of the segment permalinks to the left it starts the audio at that point and changes the URL to an internal anchor so you can throw around links to chunks of a programme or a speech. So basically you get a much richer and fuller experience of the audio that you'd get by just listening to it in a media player"

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Web Two Point Oh!

Via XyroX

You've no doubt heard that most latest of buzzwords doing the rounds, "Web 2.0". The idea is that the post-bubble internet is a tool to assist society through collaborative folksonomies, open-source everything, tags, XML, love and bubbles.

Oh yeah, there's cash to be made as well.

So if you're keen to get capital for your very own Web 2.0 company, but all you're lacking is a name and a business idea, this page can help you get started! With every reload, millions of dollars of ideas flow off its page! Now THAT'S Web 2.0 in action; helping users help themselves (to big piles of steaming cash).

Web Two Point Oh!

I should take this opportunity to point out that the above was written as farce. The referred page is a joke. A nifty one, but a joke nonetheless. It WILL NOT make you tons of money. Now if you'll excuse me I'm off to register "Goohub", my new business for "rss-based shopping via XML".

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Happy 1st Anniversary Rocketboom

A typically understated edition to mark one year of informing, entertaining and generally pushing the button on media creation.

Congratulations, and thanks for making my mornings so enjoyable for the last year.

Who owns the wisdom of the crowd? The crowd | BuzzMachine

A very interesting piece by Jeff Jarvis on the economy and significance of collective value in the New Media society. When you, for instance, search on Google and visit a page from it, those results are used by Google to make the search engine more effective for everyone. The issue is, if you or I are doing the work to make someone else's product better then shouldnt' we get paid in some way?
Jarvis answers that we already do; by having a more effective tool in the future to use in our work.

"On the individual level, I want to own or control my stuff, don’t you? That is a given that too many companies and institutions forget. Thus my first law of media and life: Give us control and we will use it. The corollary: Don’t give us control and you will lose us.

So I want to control the things I create: my content (e.g., this blog); my identity (e.g., my addresses); my collections of neat things (e.g., my bookmarks); my analysis (e.g., my tags); my reputation (e.g., my eBay rating), my behavior (e.g., my history, my clicks). What does control mean? I want to be assured that somebody else can’t muck with or kill it. I want to be able to use it wherever I want — and that means I need it to be portable.

I also want to control the things I consume: my content (obviously, I pick the sites, shows, words I take in); my advertising (I’d like transparent targeting… and so should advertisers, because it would be a helluva lot more effective).

Other players may try to get in the way — keeping me form (sic) my stuff, or pushing me to this page instead of that, or showing me this ad because they get paid to do so — but, again, if I ruled my world, this is what I’d want. Less interference means less friction means less inefficiency means greater value… for everybody."

He then goes on to talk about the other two parts of this equation, the "collective," or group of users, and "entities," the creators of products and services that allow this interaction. Jarvis then winds up with an interesting thought that I think kind of encapsulates the optimistic attitude of Web 2.0.

"This is no longer a centralized world, a world controlled by those institutions. This is a decentralized world, a world controlled by us.

And if you try to take control away from us, you will lose. It used to be that you could take control away from us and we had nowhere to go. But in this post-scarcity world, we can always go somewhere else for content or information or service. There’s always another news story, always another email service, always another search engine."

My problem is, to my mind, that this whole network of user-generated influence is based on a very tenuous link, governed by too few people with too much power, whether it's the electricity companies switching off power, telecommunications companies controlling the fiber lines or governments controlling the lot. Should we be able to progress down this line further, all well and good. My question is, will this online mentality of community and shared wisdom translate to the real world, when people are forced away from their screens to interact with their neighbours?

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Should mention...

Assignment finished. Semester over. Relief sets in. Waiting for marks.

New program commissioned at work. Production just starting to ramp up. Exciting things on the horizon. Once we get the bugs out.

Time for planning. "Return to Bug City" running through my head. All sorts of incredible ideas. Plot twists. Narrative flow. Thematic elements. Characters. Shadowrun never felt so good.

Reading "Robin's Laws of Good Gamemastering" by Robin Laws. Nothing new. Nice to have it written down on paper though. An enjoyable read. Then back to Eco.

Annoyed about ideas. Why is all my stuff so derivative? Great ideas. Based on someone else's work. Screw Newton and "standing on the shoulders of giants." Frustrating for someone for whom writing was once so enjoyable and simple. In school I won awards. I won awards I didn't even know about until this year. What did I do wrong?

Random thought - If the best idea the MSM has of "participatory media" is "Funnist Home Videos", why are we bothering? Sick of phone polls and call ins and "hitting the guestbook." No one's doing it right. In this country at least.





Monday, October 24, 2005

Another trailer remix - Scary Titanic Trailer

Via Craig's MovieBlog

Yet another remixed trailer. This time, it's "Titanic" as a horror/action film.

Rules of Success - The Path of Least Resistance | Blog Maverick

About three months old now, but I just had a situation where I wanted to quote from it. Therefore, in keeping with the missionless statement of this blog, the link is put here for me to use down the track.

"I just read a note in CableWorld by Paul Kagan referring to George Gilders “vision” that in the future TV will die, regardless of delivery medium simply because people will watch only what they want to watch.

How wrong he is. Why he is wrong is a lesson in basic business.

It was Aaron Spelling I believe who said that “TV is the path of least resistance from complete boredom”. Which is another way of saying that its easier to watch TV, than to sit there and do nothing."

LR guide to the new newswriting | Lost Remote

Wouldn't be anywhere near as funny if it wasn't so true.

"In the old days (prior to, say, 1993 or so) there used to be specific guidelines at stations for use of on-air terminology. This was done so the viewers could understand the importance of stories in relation to each other. Now, so many of the terms are mixed messages... In the interest of public service, Lost Remote presents what news terms used to mean, and what they mean today.

"We interrupt this program to bring you a Special Report":
OLD: The president has been shot.
NEW: A cute girl is missing.

"Breaking News":
OLD: The president will resign.
NEW: There's a car on the side of the road with a flat.

"News Alert":
OLD: Man will land on the moon within the hour.
NEW: Man landed on Pam Anderson over the weekend."

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Serenity - Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

FINALLY got to go see Serenity. What can I say that hasn't been said before?

Is Joss Whedon a narrative and dialogue genius? Hell yes!

Is this film better than any of the Star Wars prequels? Without doubt.

Does it step past the Original trilogy as the best Sci Fi film of all time? Close one, but the fact it gets consideration says enough.

Can you tell it's based on a backstory? Yes you can.

Does the film deserve a motion picture sequel? No it doesn't.

Why? Because Joss Whedon works best in the longer form of the television series. This story deserves that sort of treatment. A second motion picture would be a disservice to a wonderful narrative vision.

If you haven't seen it yet, ignore waiting until you've seen Firefly first. Catch it on the big screen and THEN go watch the DVD of the series as a prequel.

Friday, October 21, 2005

1st Birthday celebrations!!!

I let a rather important event pass by unnoticed.

It was 1 year ago that I stumbled in here and thought, "Hey, why not. Everyone else is doing it. Let's see what all the fuss is about." Since then this site has achieved almost nothing of value, other than to act as huge "Favourites" folder for whacky stuff I find during my internet wanderings. But then, I never really expected it be much else.

I don't use it as a "voice of citizen journalism" site. I'll leave that to those with more training in the subject than I. And while I have used it on occasion to express opinion, I've tried not to get into too much of a habit.

One thing that has happened, is that we've almost reached 2000 visitors, even though the majority seem to have been as a result of spammers and random passers-by. In fact, the ratio of spam to legitimate comment has gotten so bad that I'm thinking of switching off the comments altogether.

I really meant it when I said "Death to all Spammers!"

Then there's the ratio of Splogs to legitimate blogs on Blogger, which has caused more than a few places to ban Blogger sites from their search engines.

Fighting a losing battle here and no real fervour to continue the cause. The only thing keeping me here is inertia.

Happy birthday. Wheee!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Broadband on the Run | Broadcasting & Cable

Via Lost Remote

U.S. media company GattoMedia has announced a Broadband News gathering truck, to allow news rooms to get out and stream events live.

"GattoBroadband is a vehicle topped with a roof-mounted satellite dish providing high-speed Internet access wherever it goes. Its features include:

  • Internet-ready vehicle delivering broadband Internet access anywhere, anytime

  • The vehicle is also a Wi-Fi hotspot

  • Up to 20 simultaneous users

  • 8 VOIP phones available

  • High-quality voice channels for radio broadcasts"

So what do we call it? A "BNG"?

This one's either going to be incredibly helpful, or it's going to tank. Bets are open.

Saturday, October 15, 2005

BBC F&L to be 75% FCP by 2007. Hundreds of production staff to be sacked |

In response to BBC Director General Mark Thompson's budget squashing at the Beeb, one of the bigger production areas, "Factual & Learning," is to move their post-production in-house, allowing Producers to cut their own shows on Final Cut Pro systems. Because those production staff would be no longer needed, 424 are to be shown the door.

"A senior figure in BBC's documentary and contemporary factual department told Broadcast: "The first experiment was on Full on Food. They found out they wouldn't save a lot of money by getting rid of editors - it showed that producers cutting programmes spent far too long doing it, and that they lacked an objective point of view that editors give. It reinforced the importance of traditional cutting skills.

"There's just a suspicion among producers and assistant producers that the point of all this is to make savings, and that isn't going to happen. And there's a suspicion that it means people working even longer hours. We'll just have to wait and see." "

There's a reason that film and television production is a collaborative process. When you've been involved from the script through shooting to the final cut, it's very difficult to step back and look at a project objectively. Inevitably you want to leave something in because you thought it was funny at the time, or you took ages to get the right shot, but in the cold light of day it just doesn't work with the rest of the show. In that case, it needs someone to look at it and say "No, that's got to be cut out." That's why they call those people "EDITORS."

As I've learned in the last year at the job, producers can be taught to edit, and I mean beyond simple monkey-cutting; just slapping pre-built elements together, but what we do is different to full on production work (of course, that's not always going to be the case. There's something been given the green light we're to start working on. More information later). Given time, people can be taught almost anything, if they really want to learn it.

One of my old colleagues back in T.V., a grizzled old Technical Director with a short fuse and no time for idiots, once told me that for the next ten years the most popular person in a newsroom would be the journalist that could shoot and edit their own work. BUT, he went on, after that things would go back to the old way, with dedicated craft specialists working in designated fields of production. I don't know how accurate this prediction is likely to be, but even if he's spot on the money there'll still be a further eroding of traditional craft skills in an industry that already sees ongoing training as a burdensome expense.

I'm finding more and more, as I suppose it should be with all worthwhile intellectual endeavour, that the further I delve into these issues the more confused I'm becoming. I said the other day that I really enjoy the work of some of these amateur video storytellers, a movement that seems to eschew (for the time being) pretensions of production values while still managing, on occasion, to be engaging, however at the same time I'm worried about this move in big media towards mediocrity for the sake of dollars. The only true way to learn this stuff is on the job, with the top line equipment. It's not something that the tertiary education sector can really do a great job at, despite their statements to the contrary. Speaking to the senior TV editor at work yesterday about editing "courses" he just shrugged and said "They teach you all these theories and this and that, but in the end it's mainly 'feel'. You have to 'feel' your way through it. If it works, you know it works, if it doesn't you try again." Problem is, you don't get "feel" without hours of flight time on some form of editing platform, whether it's a tricked-out Symphony system, a copy of Windows Movie Maker, a couple of tape decks or a Steenbeck, with a specific goal in mind.

Now I'm just rambling. Back to my assignment.

Friday, October 14, 2005

How Bob Iger Saved Network TV - Blog Maverick

On the back of the big announcement of the video iPod yesterday, Mark Cuban runs through is thoughts on how Bob Iger, new CEO of Disney, "saved Network TV" with his decision to make certain programs available for download on the newly refurbished iTunes the day after they go to air in the States.

Doesn't help those of us in the "undeveloped" world who'll still be waiting (and waiting, and waiting...)

"Content has been available for download for years and years. That content could be played on any number of devices, from computers to DVD players to PDAs. Being able to playback a video from the new Video Ipod just like you can play a song from a current IPod, certainly is not a technical marvel.

It is a business marvel. Bob Iger has gone contrary to what every current and previous TV network head has and would have done had Bob not turned the industry on its head with his announcement with Apple yesterday. Bob Iger has saved Network TV.

How ?

By completely changing the economic model."

How Bob Iger Saved Network TV - Blog Maverick -

The moment it was announced, we here at work started thinking about how we'd need to change things to start "vodcasting." Let's face it, there's no point being left behind, especially when the lovely people from Rocketboom made Steve's presentation of iTunes.

Of course, for the other side of the Video iPod debate, you can always rely on those grumpy pommy bastards at The Register to have their say (and say it well).

Thursday, October 13, 2005

John Doyle's address at the Andrew Olle Media Lecture 2005 | ABC

The incomparable John Doyle, half of TV and Radio's "Roy and H.G.", shares his thoughts on the media at this year's Andrew Olle media lecture.

"If commercial radio is so slight because it is under resourced, so too is Television. And if more channels are allowed then the resources will be even further stretched. As it is the ABC has been cut to the marrow and can no longer afford to do any Drama, and commercial networks have decided Drama is too flakey and expensive. Meanwhile our very fine drama schools are pumping out scores of new young actors each year and there is nothing for them to do. The lucky ones might get to appear in a Holden advertisement or survive for a season in the Bell Shakespeare Company. So our local content is reduced to game shows, dancing shows, lifestyle shows and talent quests all creaking under the weight of diminishing returns. Think of something mindless, rope in a couple of celebrities and there’s your show.
Big Brother is a waste of an opportunity. The housemates live in a state of perpetual boredom, unless they’re pissed. Why not engage them. A house of really smart gifted young people from various fields: scientists, engineers, mathematicians, builders, a Latin scholar, a poet etc and they have a problem to solve. With a shared incentive of a few million dollars they have to find a solution to Australia’s water problems in ten weeks – there’s a show."

You can download an mp3 version of the speech here, and ABC2 will broadcast the speech next Monday (17 October) at 7pm and 9.15pm.

Apple FINALLY announce the Video iPod

Despite the naysayers' denial it would happen today, the illustrious Mr Jobs launched the video iPod. That's all I have to say on the matter. There'll no doubt be plenty of comment on this from people with far more interest (and ability to purchase one) than I.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Remix & Re-examine!

For those that have yet to see them, here's two wonderful examples of what happens when ordinary people with ordinary equipment have some extraordinary ideas. Two movies remixed to create trailers that jump genres.

First up, Steven King's thriller "The Shining" remixed as a Romantic Comedy.

Then, you get to see the classic musical "West Side Story" remixed as a Zombie Horror film.

Via the ever popular Cruel Site of the Day.

Cat and Girl - Conspiracy Theorists

Monday, October 10, 2005

Text of Gore speech at media conference | AP Wire

Former Vice-President Al Gore makes a few comments about the failure of television to make society better.

"One morning not long ago, I flipped on one of the news programs in hopes of seeing information about an important world event that had happened earlier that day. But the lead story was about a young man who had been hiccupping for three years. And I must say, it was interesting; he had trouble getting dates. But what I didn't see was news.

This was the point made by Jon Stewart, the brilliant host of "The Daily Show," when he visited CNN's "Crossfire": there should be a distinction between news and entertainment.

And it really matters because the subjugation of news by entertainment seriously harms our democracy: it leads to dysfunctional journalism that fails to inform the people. And when the people are not informed, they cannot hold government accountable when it is incompetent, corrupt, or both."

Amen! I hope you're listening, Today Tonight.

Of course, Gore doesn't miss the opportunity to plug his own network, Current TV.

"I don't know all the answers, but along with my partner, Joel Hyatt, I am trying to work within the medium of television to recreate a multi-way conversation that includes individuals and operates according to a meritocracy of ideas. If you would like to know more, we are having a press conference on Friday morning at the Regency Hotel."

I dunno Al, it kind of loses some sincerity with the self-promotion thrown in.

Documenting the Documentors | karmagrrrl

I hate bad video. Despite that, I love what people are doing with their cameras and editing software. Another nice piece from Karmagrrrl documenting motivations for why regular people were out there in the streets of San Francisco, with their own cameras, documenting a demonstration.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Can a Man Become President? | The Huffington Post

Nice piece on what it takes to be an effective leader in a democracy, not just applicable to the U.S. experience. At some point a true leader needs to be able to say "You know what? I screwed up. I learned from it, I've fixed it, we're moving on. If I have to take the lumps, so be it." Problem is, when you own the parliament there's no longer any reason to feel yourself accountable. That's when you get the responses like we've seen in the last few days.

Web 2.0 Meme Map on Flickr - Tim O'Reilly

Tim O'Reilly, owner of O'Reilly Media and sponsor of the "Web 2.0" conference currently being held in San Francisco has posted a meme map defining some of the key points of "Web 2.0", based on a brainstorming session held at FOO (Friends of O'Reilly) Camp 2005.

Interesting to see where 2.0 starts and where 1.0 ends. Moreover, it's amusing that the new term for those that don't "get it" is "1.0.". You can almost hear the self-satisfied sigh when they say it.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

"The Proposition" - a filum

Monday night was spent attending a special screening of the new Australian feature film "The Proposition" directed by John Hillcoat, starring Guy Pierce, Ray Winstone, David Wenham, John Hurt and a host of others. More importantly (from my perspective) the screenplay was written by Nick Cave, with music by Cave and Warren Ellis (that's Warren Ellis from "The Bad Seeds" and "The Dirty Three", not Warren Ellis exceptional comic writer).

What can I say? Loved the film to bits. I've always been a fan of Nick Cave's musical work, as well as his prose (If you haven't read his novel "And The Ass Saw The Angel" do yourself a favour and grab a copy. Have a dictionary standing by), so it wasn't going to take too much to get me into the mood. Without doubt a terribly violent film with no punches pulled, however at no time did I feel that the violence was overt or overly glorified. If anything, the violence put a stamp on certain scenes to give them context. People committed violent acts, but you could either see the justification for it or loathed them all the more for what they'd done.

More importantly was the quality of the writing, the music, the acting and the cinematography. I'll never cease to be amazed at how central Australia has the ability to look so hellish and so awe-inspiringly beautiful at the same time. I'd be pleased to go back and see it again.

That said...

Tickets were provided through work so I managed to see it for free. Should this sort of offer arise in the future I want you all to promise to stop me from going.

Problems? Of course! Whenever you give out a bunch of free tickets to people with no real interest other than "being seen on the town" on a Monday night you end up with an audience with no investment in the movie or the narrative experience. Because these sort of screenings commence within a minute or two of the printed start time, and because everyone's been conditioned into cinemas taking fifteen minutes of ads and previews to get to the feature, you wind up with people sauntering in late, trying to find seats in the dark. Then, after being dissatisfied with the second row corner seats they've found themselves stuck with, they go wandering through the cinema looking for better ones, right next to where I'm sitting. Moreover, as these tickets tend to be double passes, they tend towards an inclination to talk to their companion, a cardinal sin in my opinion for which perpetrators should be publicly flogged after the conclusion of the film. In fact, I'd have thought that the scene where one of the characters is publicly flogged would have been enough to make these incessant yappers realise what was awaiting them at the end of the show. Alas it did not.

I understand that Cinema (note the "big C") is a communal affair, a shared dream best experienced with a large group of like-minded people, however when, as mentioned before, they have no investment in the story, or even the film experience, I find myself thinking that I would happily pay $15 in a theatre only a third full, provided each of those people wanted to be there as much as I did.

Quote of the night -
(From a woman in the row behind me as the audience left): "If it hadn't been for all the people in this row I'd have run out halfway through."

I turned around to catch a glimpse of this woman. She had tears crawling down her face and her eyes had the red puffiness of fear. I have to admit, I've never seen a cinema empty so quickly. One other patron had this to say to his wife as he left.

"That was the most violent film I've ever seen."
Reaction? You haven't seen many films, have you?

Which reminds me of one last beef before I wrap up.

I'm a credit-watcher. I don't necessarily want to see who everyone was, but I like to sit and take in the music until the movie concludes and the curtains return to centre stage. I'm not the only one, but there's precious few of us. Gripe is, cinema staff wandering through before the credits are done, cleaning up for the next showing, yelling at each other. If I'd paid for those tickets, I swear, blood would have been spilt.

Enough! Feel the love for Australian cinema. See it! Believe that one town can have that many flies.

Death to ALL Spammers!!!

That's right. You heard me.

BBC iMP screenshots |

The editorial team here at KingLeonard - The Weblog mentioned some time ago that the BBC were about to start making TV content available online, as well as make their own open source delivery codec and media player available. Well, first images of the BBC's Internet Media Player or "iMP" are up for perusal. The system's in Beta at the moment, but looks interesting.

Lighting for Chroma Key, Part 2: Lighting the Foreground |

The education continues.

Requires registration.