Archive for the 'Video' Category

Will “the writer’s” strike kill network television

November 26, 2007

Sometimes innovation is introduced by accident. On other occasions innovation has been purchased. We sometimes see innovative ideas spread through grass roots efforts and on some occasions, we see innovation because of unique opportunistic changes.

Take this writers strike. Many of us are still baffled by the fact that all three major networks and all 1 billion (seems like it anyways) other networks are so radically affected by one group of people. I know that this strike represents the power of unions (the AFLCIO is one of our customers so I know all about unions) and I am all about unions. However, I am not so sure that a strike by this powerful union and the early demise of the 2007 prime time television season is such a good idea.

One of the items that the writers guild is complaining about is that they do not receive fair compensation from the sale of DVD’s and the revenue sharing for shows that are aired over the Internet.

I have spent some quality time with Joost recently (4 days off with friends and family that you have not seen in a while – a long with some late night quality time with friends) and I have to say that I am impressed.  The idea is not all that innovative except that the content is offered exclusively over the Internet.  Essentially, they have “channels” where you can find different content.  They have content ranges from comedy to sports and almost everything else in between.  I am not sure exactly how many channels by they claim to have over 15,000 episodes.  Now granted some of these “episodes” are one minute long and it can be difficult to find quality episodes that last more than 10 minutes but here are a few things me and my family enjoyed over the weekend:

  • 3 full length Snowboard movies
  • several 20 minute extreme sports shows from “MuchMusic” – a content provider for mainstream television
  • Season one episodes of the original Transformers (Mikull – you have to see it)
  • Videos of all the latest songs from MTV and other stations
  • David Letterman’s top 10 lists (great for last call)

If you want to watch last weeks Patriots game or the MLS championship you may not be in luck but the model represents an interesting shift in entertainment.  Much like YouTube but only better quality.  My Joost watching was done on a 27 inch Westinghouse HD LCD TV and at full screen it had no problems.  The shows are “interrupted” with a very small advertisement (about 1/64th of the screen) in the bottom hand corner of the screen.  And since the user can be targeted (hello targeted ads again) the advertisements can be sold for more, they can be more relevant (no more feminine product ads during my viewing time).
Remember when you were a kid (if you grew up in the 70’s and 80’s) and all you had was 4 channels?  You still watched it. I think that this new medium (the Internet – he he) is really in it’s infantile stages. There are new “tools” popping up every day.  I just looked at the new product from Adobe called the Adobe Media Player.  Although the name and interface are lame and the content is lammer, it did have streaming HD and it was very quick – not so good at full screen but pretty good.

Now I can’t say for sure that I will be using Joost every day but I can say that at a time when there will be sparse new content on the old school media (good bye TV) I can say that I will be looking elsewhere for my entertainment.  The Writer’s Guild better be sure that I don’t find something very interesting or they may have walked themselves right of a job.

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Using new media to drive decisions for old media

November 20, 2007

I was in Portland last week talking with a few people who really understand this video:

I saw this video about 6 months ago (maybe longer since I never really know what day it is) but I haven’t seen it in a long time. Since I returned from Portland I have seen the advertisement 4 times (and I have watched a total of 3 hours of television).

Two things I know:

1.) Advertisements often repeat many times in a single segment – Ok cool.

2.) The old media has not caught up with new media this fast – i.e. – The television shows that I watched since I returned are not “aware” that “I” actually watched this video. In fact that would be even more phenomenal since I watched the video in Portland on Thursday and returned to Massachusetts on Saturday. (Somday – but not today)

However, this brings up a good point. What if FedEx was smart. What if FedEx had created a program that could scour social media sites – YouTube, Break.com, VodPod etc… to find all media posted about FedEx. Certainly, they would have to manually massage the list but when they were finished they would have a perfect dataset on how many times their commercials were watched.

Then with this data, they could determine which of their expensive (and probably not so expensive) commercials were most successful. Then if they saw a sudden spike in the number of times a particular ad was played in the new medium, then they could return that ad into the rotation in the old medium.

Or, maybe (the more likely story – unfortunately) the writer’s strike is forcing everyone – including commercial makers – to go back to the content that made them successful in the past.

Live television and “Extreme Sports” – a match made in heaven?

August 3, 2007

X-Games LogoBy nature I am a pretty reserved person but there is a special place in my heart for “Extreme Sports”. You know – freestyle motocross, snowboarding, skateboarding, BMX etc… I was a part of the inaugural X-Games which was held in Newport, RI. And was in attendance when Corey Hart (married to pop artist Pink) attempted the first ever back-flip on a motorcycle. It was absolutely insane and everyone in attendance was in disbelief. The sport had elevated (as if jumping 100 feet at 45 miles an hour on a dirt track needs elevation). That was back in 1997.

ESPN has been televising the X-Games since it’s inception back in 1995. In previous years they always edited the footage and televised the events a few weeks after it happened. As the sporting event became more popular (moving from it’s “try-out” spot of Providence Rhode Island to its now more larger venue – Los Angeles California) the idea of “taped” games wore off. So a couple of years ago they started to televise these live. Which brings us to today and what I witnessed last night.

The Setup
The event is called “Big Air”. One can only imagine what “Big Air” actually means to these insane athletes who feed on adrenaline. The inventor of this competition is Danny Way (he was part of the third generation skateboard phenomenon’s who helped pioneer mainstream skateboarding and helped make skateboarding what it is today). The idea is this:

Stand on top of an 80 foot ramp (yes I said 80 feet) and then get on your skateboard. Travel down this ramp (it is only about 8 feet wide) at speeds of up to 40 mph. Then make a selection between 3 different jumps with varying angles and “gaps”. The shortest being 40 feet the largest being 70 feet (no exaggeration) remember this is a skateboard and it is going 40 mph. Then once you have safely “landed” on the other side of the gap, you go down another ramp until you make your way to a huge 30 foot “quarter pipe” ramp. The entire distance traveled from end to end is over 250 feet (yes almost as long as a football field). Then when you hit the quarter pipe you get air (i.e. you travel upwards of 20 feet higher then the top of the 30 foot ramp – psst. 50 feet in the air). You then come down and “land” on the wall of the quarter pipe heading back the way you came (still traveling 30 mph). Ok, so if that is not enough add this in: Over that 70 foot gap you do a 720 (2 rotations) and when you hit the top of that 30 foot quarter pipe you do a 540. INSANE

This “sport” has evolved over the last couple of years and has now become the sickest event at X-Games. If you have the chance to see this “setup” on TV, look in the foreground of the “ramp”. You will see the Motocross “Big-Air” jump. It looks like a sandbox.

So on to my question – is this good for television. I can tell you I do look forward to watching both the Summer and Winter X-Games since neither of them are near my house any more and my kids are not old enough *yet* to travel to see one of these events. I would say they are pretty popular. Then last night put doubt in mind.

When I watched this on TV I got out of my seat and almost lost my breath (my body still produces chills when I think about it). I said to my wife (who was not watching) “Oh my god, that guy just died on TV”. She asked me “Is it live”. I said “yes”.

I have witnessed several other “gross” events in T.V. history – I remember when Joe Thiesman’s leg was broken on Monday Night football – I remember when Napolean Kaufman appeared to be cut in half when he was stopped at the line of scrimmage. The X-Games has had it’s fair share of accidents – I have even seen people like Ryan Nyquist break is nose in practice only to get stitches and place second in the competition an hour after – so I guess this ranks up there. But for godsakes the dude’s shoes fell off! The most “amazing” thing about this was that within 15 minutes he “walked” off the ramp. I have not looked yet to see what his status is but I can say that he broke several bones in several places.

What is going to happen when we see the first live death on television? We all know the impact Steve Irwin had on the web’s video revolution. I still have daily hits from search engines for my Steve Irwin post.

TV to the Web – Web to the TV???

June 25, 2007

When the Internet first came around TV producers were reluctant to deliver their content in the new medium. TV was TV and the Web was the Web. At first, many producers looked at the Internet as just that – a new medium for delivery. What they didn’t know was that this was not just a new medium for delivery of existing content, it was THE medium for delivery of NEW concepts.

Homestar RunnerI first heard about Homestar Runner when I started working with 2 web developers from the University of Alaska. Camie and Melanie turned me on to these guys back in 2002 when we were working on some support issues. At first I was like “Ok, these guys are weird” but after a while I started to really enjoy it. Short clips that lasted under 2 minutes were the staple. Something that the TV medium just won’t support. This was right after Atom Films and a few other early video sites started (No YouTube was _not_ the first video aggregation site).

At the time most TV cartoons were only running on TV. Even the radical Cartoon Network remained popular only from their TV audience. But then the Video revolution hit and TV producers were not scared to publish their content on the Internet. In fact, most of them jumped ship completely because the Ad revenues far exceeded that which they recieved from the Television Studios. Plus, with the popularity of the Flash player, they could push ideas out faster.

So, I naturally thought that the progression would move from the Web back to the Television. I envisioned that artists would use the Internet as a low end pilot system where they could test out their ideas. When one got popular, they would shop it around at the TV stations for that illustrious weekly spot on Cartoon Network or the like. However, it appears that it may not happen this way:

It seems like a foregone conclusion that the hit online animation Homestar Runner and his cartoon friends will end up alongside Meatwad, Space Ghost, Brock Sampson and the other pop culture icons on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim — a block of cartoons for grownups.

Unfortunately for this would-be marriage, the only people who think Homestar isn’t quite right for Adult Swim are the character’s creators, Matt and Mike Chapman.

I would now agree with Mike and Matt. Keep the show where it made it’s history, where it has it’s sharpest fans. It proves to me that maybe the Television is the 2nd medium. That the Internet will dominate and as TV advertisers flock to the Internet, you will see a ration of content larger than ever seen before.

Nice Work Guys! Long live Strong Bad.

The first mention of YouTube on TV and they may not benefit…

June 23, 2007

Apple has begun to advertise on TV and as you may expect it was not what you expect. Instead of touting all of the features on the iPhone, Apple decided to talk about YouTube. At first, I thought it was a commercial about YouTube (I was listening to the ad at the time) and I was all like “cool”, finally an ad about YouTube. The technology that will irronically take advertisements away from TV, is using TV to get out the message. Genius.

It was an interesting advertisement either way but I wonder two things:

1.) Of the people that are going to by an iPhone, which of them does not already know that you will be able to run YouTube on your new iPhone.
2.) Was the mention of YouTube inadvertent or, are Google and Apple really working together closer then people think?

Some crazy thoughts about Web 2.0

May 3, 2007

As Mike posted about “RSS in Plain English” , it reminded me of some of the conversations we have been having at work as we try to jump-start discussions surrounding our companies general approach to Web 2.0 (which includes a healthy dose of RSS). I spoke at internal round table last week about RSS, Wiki’s and Blogs and their place in the Web Content Management space. Particularly, focusing on how RSS was effecting the Enterprise business world and how our product would be growing to support that need. During my work, I came across a great video (like a great cult movie these days you need to watch it a couple of times to pick up everything) which helps to dispel the myths about Web 2.0.

What I found to be well done in the video was the process of not only describing what Web 2.0 is today but how we got here. How HTML was built as a markup language which was

“…designed to describe the structure of a web document … such elements defined how content would be formatted. In other words, form and content became inseparable in HTML…”

In the early days of pure HTML development, the tags were the power. <b> for something bold, <i> for something italics. We coded because we wanted to designate that something was important and should be looked at differently. We were not thinking about the actual content in the context of the document, we were simply saying “when this is displayed on the Web we want it to look like ‘x’.”

What is remarkable about the current changes on the Web is that they are not simply architectural changes (support for semantic style markup like <address>4222 Clinton Avenue</address>) but it was also the explosion of the user compiled data:

Amazon.com customers rushed with surprising speed and intelligence to write the reviews that made the site useable. Owners of Adobe, Apple and most major software products offer help and advice on the developer’s forum web pages. And in the greatest leverage of the common user, Google turns traffic and link patterns generated by 2 billion searches a month into the organising intelligence for a new economy. [excerpt from “Unto us a machine is born”]

Nobody could have ever imagined how much the consumers of the world would contribute to the web and it’s over all growth. In some articles it is said that a new blog is born every 1/2 second. When I first started blogging at WordPress.com (which was admittedly way after the general populous started) there were roughly 190K blogs. In the short amount of time that I have been active in the blogsphere, that number has grown to an astonishing 900K+.

So as this data grows and the web spins out of control, we must start thinking about the next thing. How many times have you gotten to a great Digg article, only to find that 850 people had already commented on this article. Rendering the comments section of this article completely useless. Who can sort through that many comments and make heads or tails of anything relevant to the discussion. Likewise, how do you weed out the unproductive comments that prove we still have a long way to go as a society? You don’t, that’s how!

One thing I will say that I have spoken about in the past (and is iterated in the article mentioned above) is that the system is growing and the tools that are becoming available to us are opening up our use-able networks. We are currently connected (most of us) with way more people then we were in the past. Additionally, we are capable of maintaining relationships with hundreds of people at at time through many different outlets.

I am not sure that we are “teaching the Machine (a.k.a. the Internet)” but I can say this, when I get involved with projects like Behavioral Targeting I can truly say that we are living in a remarkable time, and I am glad to be a part of it.

Where is wis.dm Webisode 2?

March 27, 2007

I have certainly been bitten by the Wis.dm bug lately and so I wanted to share with you a few of the interesting “things” going in the quite creative community which has so nicely developed over at wis.dm. To do so, I am going to introduce you to a “character” that has joined the community.

The first is George Pepper:

Sent to document and report on the pop culture of the early 21st century, I, Commodore George Pepper stepped through the time displacement portal and arrived in the year 2007. Expecting to find a time of peace and prosperity, as had been recorded in my history books, I’ve found a culture mass paranoia, military conflict, and degrading environmental conditions which will lead to mankinds doom.

Faced with customs and beliefs alien to my own, I’ve set forth to change history for the better. My only guide on this journey is Wis.dm, a research assistant from my own time, who appears in the form of an 8-Track player attached to a tripod. And so, I must scour pop culture, striving to find the people, events, and institutions that have corrupted the timeline…hoping to save this era, and my own.

 

In addition to some of his posts he has produced a video which can be seen here:

This was posted some time ago (February 12th) and I am very much looking forward to the second Webisode where I hope to meet some of George’s arch enemies like Dr. Digg and his evil henchman Facebook.

More from this later.

Best response ever to idiot celebrities

February 22, 2007

I can not even take any credit for this it is too genius [they have shown the Dwayne Wade injury another 4 times].

You must watch this NOW:

Tim Hardaway is a Homophobic Asshole

So you thought You Tube was built by the people?

September 21, 2006

While I could not find anything in the “About Us” or “Blog” sections of the YouTube website explicitly denying the US Government the right to uploading propaganda videos, I would say that in general this is possibly a bit off the path from YouTubes goals. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against Anti-Drug videos targeted towards children. And to be honest it’s a bit genius for them to post them here. But isn’t this a bit hypocritical? Or at least a bit of a slap in the face?

So our government can build multi billion dollar software products to track every one of our emails sent over the Internet. And they can force publicly traded companies to divulge private search information (our private search information). And now they can post on YouTube???

Isn’t YouTube _our_ playground? Its like when your mom barged into your room when you had the door shot (and locked). That’s your space man. What’s next? A George Bush page on MySpace? Geez, give us some room to grow.

Steve Irwin did (not?) want his death televised

September 20, 2006

Ok, so this is just weird but I guess when you are a superstar animal “tamer” you have to sit down and wonder: “When I die it could very well be during the taping of one my shows. I mean I did wrestle a 6 foot alligator the other day and last week that poisonous snake was a bit close to my larynx”.

According to a comment posted on “TechAddress” by a fellow in Australia, Steve Irwin did _not_ want his death televised. After a bit of review I found that he did indeed state that the camera should keep rolling and that his death on film would “…be the ultimate for me”. [wikipedia]

My number one rule is to keep that camera rolling. Even if it’s shaky or slightly out of focus, I don’t give a rip. Even if a big old alligator is chewing me up I want to go down and go, ‘Crikey!’ just before I die. That would be the ultimate for me.

So who has the rights to that film clip? If this was Steve’s true ambitions would he have put in place some legally binding contract with Discovery Communications and BBC Worldwide to force them to publicising his death (assuming that it happened during the filming of an episode)? I am sure this must be public record somewhere.

Who stands to benefit from the publicising of the event?
So on a more morbid note (and possibly what is holding up the process to deliver the tapes) is what domain should this tape fall under? Is it public domain and should it just become free property for all to see (probably not). Is a network like Animal Planet brash enough to televise this as an “Event”. Wouldn’t advertising during this event be equal (if not surpass) that of the Super Bowl?

What if there was some copyright protection placed on the file and it was “quietly” delivered over the web without much traditional media hoopla. It could then be “low key” enough to not draw attention to the network, but by forcing the viewing of the event through their website they could stand to benefit monetarily. Proceeds could go to benefit Steve’s favorite wildlife fund (I am sure his kids are set for life).