Friday, August 08, 2008

12 Things I Love About Dr Horrible's Singalong Blog

1) The ending.

2) Remembering how good Joss Whedon is at writing tragicomic musicals.

3) Being so long from the Whedon narrative loop that I totally didn't see the twist in the final act. I should have, I really should have, but I didn't until it was too late.

4) At which point I gasped, watched through to the end, then went "[Sigh] Yeah!"

5) Neil Patrick Harris. We knew how good a comic actor he was from "How I met Your Mother", but this just takes it to a whole new level.

6) Nathan Fillion. Nice to see him play a jerk. Well, I mean a different type of jerk. The "no redeeming features" kind.

7) The guy in the pink superhero spandex, sitting on the bed, wearing pink boxing gloves.

8) Did I mention the end?

9) The fact that it began out of the Hollywood writer's strike as an opportunity to prove that the major media companies were becoming irrelevant. If anyone has a reason to tell the networks to go stuff themselves it's Whedon.

10) The fact that Felicia Day was doing her own web series about World of Warcraft. And it rocks. And that she walked up to Joss with her card and said "watch it". And particularly that he replied "I already do. And it's great. And I'm thinking fo doing something for the internet."

11) Moist. Man, that sucks as a super-villain power.

12) And what about that ending!

Sing along at home.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Real Social | Rushkoff Blog

I have a tendency to automatically expect that I don't understand things. It seems to be my default position that other people really understand the underlying value of what's coming down the road at us, while I'm just picking up the pieces.

For instance, two Christmases ago my lovely wife gave me a copy of Douglas Rushkoff's "Get Back in the Box", a great book about the real value of being innovative around a business' core competencies, rather than just spending time trying to find ways to convince your market.

So I started to read Rushkoff's latest blog post. In the first sentence he invokes "Back in the Box" and my first reaction was "Oh God, I obviously didn't understand what he was saying. Not really, not thoroughly, not deep down."

"Instead of just buying banner ads or conducting new forms of computerized market research, many of these players are coming to understand that the Internet is a social phenomenon - not a content revolution - and that it offers the opportunity to connect to a real culture and its most competent members in a real way."

"Oh God," thinks I, "why is my initial reaction to that sentence 'what is the opportunity?' rather than 'well it's obvious what the answer is.' "

But then I read further and things started to make more sense. I thought about the kind of interaction and engagement Rushkoff has advocated for years; real, thorough engagement that isn't just a shop front for commodities, and I found myself falling into the article.

"Going “social” online means more than hiring a company to create a ‘white label’ version of Facebook for your organization to chat with customers, employees, shareholders, and others. It means understanding the real value of creating a “transparent” company; it means understanding why sharing and collaborating beat hiding and competing; it means learning to work with unfamiliar measures of success - like how many new unsolicited resumes from people looking to join you come over the transom, instead of just how many “unnecessary” jobs could be cut."

In the end the post turns out to basically be an announcement that he intends to start "practicing what he preaches" by joining a friend of his in a start up company advising businesses how to succeed in social media. The rest of the post however is a nice wake up call that reminds us that we're perhaps not as open as we like to think we are, or should be. It's also a nice reminder that I'm not as dim as I can sometimes think I am.

Monday, August 04, 2008

CCi Digital Futures Report: The Internet in Australia

Confirming the stuff we kind of already knew.

On the Internet and Media consumption;

For users the internet is now their most important source of information. Just under seven in ten users described the internet as ‘important’ or ‘very important’ compared to a third for television and less than a half for newspapers or radio.

Internet users spend less time watching television, listening to radio and reading newspapers than nonusers.

Television watching is the media-related activity most affected by internet use. Four in ten users say they watch less television since access while less than a quarter feel they read newspapers or books less.

Around six in ten users would visit an online news service if either a large international or large local story was breaking. Overall, internet users rate the internet as reliable an information source as newspapers and more reliable than television.

However, on the Internet as entertainment;

The internet is an increasingly important source of entertainment, however it is yet to really challenge television or even radio for most users. The proportion of users who describe the internet as a very important source of entertainment is just slightly less than the proportion for television which points to the potential of the internet in this realm. We would expect that as broadband improves in both speed and coverage that entertainment uses will become increasingly important.

An interesting read to get a snapshot of the state of the Internet nation.

A debate has broken out around the office...

Can you legitimately call the U.S. Olympic basketball team the world's best at this point?

I was looking at this report on the site and took umbrage at the first par.

"Team USA showed their strength as the world's top basketball team (my emphasis) powered past European champion Russia 89-68 before an energised crowd in Shanghai in an Olympic Games warm-up match."

So the question came up; can you legitimately call the current U.S.A. men's basketball team the world's top team when they haven't won a major international competition in six years? I don't think anyone assumes that this particular team isn't the gold medal favourite, but can you say they are the current top team in the world?

I'm of the opinion that at this point you have to call Spain the best team in the world. They are the current FIBA World Champions and until someone comes along and proves otherwise.

My colleague contends that this is not purely hyperbole, asking whether, in my opnion, I would realistically call Argentina or Spain the top basketball team in the world. As he put it, how do you determine this title? If you look at win/loss, or number of international tournaments it would be hard not to say the U.S. team is not a clear front runner.

I hold to my original position, that until (or, realistically "when") the U.S.A. team sweeps everyone in their path to regain the Olympic gold medal, then, and only then, should they earn the title of world's top team.


Friday, August 01, 2008

The world could end tomorrow...

Today is a special day.

Nothing can bring me down today.

There could be the promise of global calamity and economic downturn, but today I don't care.

Mountains could rise, seas could fall, and today it all means nothing.

Today my son took his first unaided steps.

He plodded, warily and shakily, a whole two steps from the safety of the toybox...

straight into my arms.

These are the moments there are no words to properly express the way you feel.

Life is good.

Enjoy your weekend, world.

I know I'll enjoy mine.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Networks plot online video assault | SMH

Hulu and iView in the one sentence?

"The fledgling News Corp-NBC Universal online hub for television shows and movies,, is meeting Australian broadcasters this week to discuss an all-broadcaster video portal underwritten by in-program advertising, a move which could stymie talks about ABC's new iView technology being used for a similar venture."

I'm not sure I would have seen iView in that role, but obviously someone did.

I have to admit, the idea of Hulu basically taking over the role of TV's internet portal leaves me slightly disturbed. I keep thinking it smacks of laziness on the part of Australia's broadcasters.

That said, ABC head of TV, Kim Dalton, gets it spot on when he says "The approach we have taken is we want our content on whatever platform is available and people are accessing. We want to be there."

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Sky is Infinite...

I didn't break radio silence for a lot of things over the last few months.

I didn't mention my four days at GenCon Oz, which was just incredibly awesome, and I didn't stop and mention the ABC's launch of iView (although I probably should have - check it out).

But I am stopping to say something about this.

One of the problems with working flat out through the day and being responsible for an 11 month old at night is that you don't have time to really stay up to date with what's happening in the world of online video productions. That's why I was happy to find mention of a thread on Warren Ellis' Whitechapel discussion board relating to a student film production called Wormtooth Nation.

Written as a feature and released as a web series, Wormtooth Nation is (loosely) based on the Bard's comedy "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Set in a Steampunk world in an underground city, the inhabitants live their lives from one sleep cycle to the next, never caring much about anything beyond maintaining the city for their "boss", Baron O'Brien. The only things that really break up the monotony of existence are listening to the dulcet tones of their beloved lady Tania on the city's wireless system, and the fear that they might inhale the "Wormy gas", a substance that wipes a person's memory clean.

However, vague, collective recollections of a world outside the city, "the Surface", are sowing the seeds of a revolution, sparked by the mysterious scramblings of an unknown resident known only as the "Grafitti Artist".

The story follows the experience of three people who have lost their memories, slowly unravelling their own pasts and learning the secrets of the city and the history of its inhabitants.

I sat and watch the whole thing yesterday, episode after episode, for 90 minutes. I can see holes and issues with the production and scripting, but the fact is I've spent the whole night thinking about it, revelling in it, which is the first time I've been so engrossed in a TV or film since Serenity, another slightly flawed production that I love to pieces. And I have to say I see a lot of Whedon in Wormtooth Nation, right from the opening titles.

The producers have released the entire series as a feature, both at a cinema release and as a DVD, something I'd like to see to get a handle on how it worked being converted from a series of ten minute episodes to a seamless 90.

At the very least, go to the site and watch it from start to end. Then read the discussion thread about the notion of the "Eternal Now" and how we seem to be seeing it more and more in popular fiction.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Someone stole my idea, Gahdammit!!

Via C|Net


The Web site lets parents set a list of tasks for their children--like washing the dishes or filling the dog's bowl--and kids can rack up points for completing the list.

Sounds suspiciously like my DoLE project of a few years ago.

It actually sounds like a great project. Nice to see it put into action, particularly given that all the people I explained my idea to basically dismissed it as "Feh, good luck getting kids to do anything!"

I think the "cash [points] in for digital gear in the site's virtual world, or for tangible goods with a few dollars from mom and dad," may be the big selling point here.

*Sigh* I guess I was just a few years ahead of my time.

Best of luck to the guys running it. And if they'd like to leave a thanks, or even a job offer, comments are open!

Of Interest: My Grad Dip assignments links

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Websites win right to show Games clips | Australian IT

O.K., here's the main reason I decided to resurrect this blog.

INTERNET sites in Australia will be allowed to show short video clips of Olympic events for the first time during the Beijing Games, following a historic agreement announced yesterday between the Seven Network and the International Olympic Committee.

Basically it's Channel 7's attempt to put some kind of control on a situation that they know they really can't stop anyway. We've seen before that media organisations are going to find ways around a blanket ban, so best to be seen to be allowing some leeway and then applying a parental spanking when they catch the major players inevitably sneaking in past curfew.

Under the agreement, which has been a long time in the making, non-official sites will be allowed to show three minutes of Olympic events a day.
But they will have to "geoblock" their websites so they cannot be seen by internet users outside Australia.

So it's basically the old TV 3x3 agreement (1 minute blocks of footage, no less than 3 hours apart, maximum of 3 times a day) moulded into the web age. I have to say, it's nice to be given at least a little something to work with. During Athens we jumped through hoops trying to give an up-to-date Olympics video news service without showing a single frame of Olympics footage.

Here's where I think there's going to be problems.

Geoblocking any content is hardly 100%, and to be perfectly honest I can see a number of players making only perfunctory attempts at blocking the content from the rest of the world. Even if it does work, separating Olympics video content from the rest of the website is just going to be a bitch. Doable, but a bitch.

But that won't make any difference, because the restrictions only apply (here comes the punchline) to "bona fide news organisations".

Yeah. Right. Because the rest of the population isn't going to record the stuff off-air and stick it all over YouTube. There's likely to be so much of this stuff it's unlikely YouTube will be able to get rid of all of it, no matter how loudly the lawyers of the IOC knock on Google's doors. Then there's all the other video service providers that are going to be having to do exactly the same thing. By the time there's any sort of meaningful response the cauldron will been extinguished, the athletes will have gone home and the doves will have died from carbon monoxide poisoning in Beijing'tos pollution.

In the end I can see this Olympics, the first Summer Games of the YouTube era, causing a few rights holders and host broadcasters to examine whether they're really getting value for money in these deals with the IOC. It's been said for years that TV's great strength in the internet era will be live events, broadcast in real time to a mass audience. The Olympics are made for this and in my estimation are worth every cent live. Where there's going to need to be real soul searching is whether there's any value left in a phantom exclusivity after the event.

Let's see how it goes.

[Edit]While we're on the subject...

...And we're back!

Greetings gentle reader!

Much has happened since my sign off late September last year.

The Broadband unit concluded its move to Sydney to become the "CNC" unit and has since received media coverage following the MD's announcement of a 24 hour continuous news service.

I moved from being an Adobe Community Expert for Premiere Pro to the newly created Video on the Web.

I'm enjoying my new role in the News Online development area looking at allowing quick and painless rich media creation for an institution that spans a continent.

After doing everything I possibly could to avoid the collectible card game fad that started over a decade ago, I have discovered Shadowfist and have become an avid player and collector. It has definitely changed my view on gaming.

My little boy is fast approaching 8 months old and fills me with joy every day.

Life is good.

There won't be a huge number of posts, but I should get back to using this blog for the reason it was originally designed for; a poor man's where I can spout on about what I find interesting on teh Intuhweb.