Wednesday, October 12

More crazy talk about the future of vloggy media

I just posted the following to the video logging group but thought I'd post it here as well since it's incredibly on theme. It was in response to Peter Van Dijk of fame's post about providing transcoding services to provide video feeds to the PSP, and it was inspired by the release of the much anticipated video iPod today. Beware, it's long and indepth, but I think you'll find it very interesting and fast paced. It's a rant.

On Oct 11, 2005, at 5:16 PM, Peter Van Dijck wrote:
Hey Nerissa,
I won't be charging people to watch videos.. I guess I explained it
badly. I was thinking more charging for a synching tool that lets them
receive the videos on the PSP's.. But your ideas are interesting too,


Or... now what we'd need is a webservice that lets user manage subscriptions on a website and transcodes all content to H24 for the new video iPod. I guess I was right about the whole server side subscription thing. And I bet people would possibly even pay for it as Peter suggests. Let the monetization begin. ;)

The future of portable media - we need server side subscription management


This is not about gloating this is about loving all of you all and the awesome creative media you create. This is about the people taking back the media and about media literacy. :)

Now, can we please turn the web into a giant Tivo? :)

I will write a detailed specification, mockups, wire-frames, and maybe even do some CSS, jscript and what ever it takes for anyone who will help me prototype the first server side subscription mechanism capable of queuing any video on the web with a single click. Let's get this party started.

It would also be nice if and other hosters and middle players could focus in on transcending transcoding (damn spell check) services and figure out ways to offer cheap transcoding service because for the time being portable devices are going to be rife with video codec incompatibilities. Some of these solutions could tie in nicely with and Ourmedia using them for hosting.

In fact I could see someone like Prodigem or maybe even Feedburner offering a service that will take your standard RSS video feed and transcode all the videos in it to H23, put them on a host or and create a H23 iPod compatible RSS feed or better yet a RSS bittorent feed full of H23 videos, which solves the hosting cost problem. ANT could then act as the aggregator of the bittorent feed, download the H23 iPod compatible videos and hand them off to iTunes to be synced with the video iPod. (Or ant could just sync directly as it does with the PSP on windows.) This bittorent approach would bring the cost of transparently transcoding and hosting the new videos down significantly. But let's not forget... there's also plenty of need for core video blogging services like Eric Rices to offer all this in one package. Smiley. Smiley.

Well... I'm just saying. :)

So, I think the monetization will start to happen in the middle players like Mefeedia who can create "marketplaces" for finding and purchasing content and offering services like transcoding for specific devices. But there's no reason why it can't also happen with hosting providers and vlog platforms like Audioblogs, and others. People will likely pay for services to get video to specific devices like the Akimbo, TIvo, PSP.... or pay for overall access to specific subscriptions. The key will be aggregating enough great content into a single marketplace to gain market-share and build a brand, this is why I think content independant middle players have the best chance.

In order for these middle players like mefeedia to become marketplaces they will need to manage subscriptions, some may offer transcoding service, and of course take payments. Think of these middle players as the grocery stores of media. They may not make all the content, but they'll be able to broker arrangements with vloggers and content creators collect pay for subscriptions and services such as transcoding and pay back to the content creators. (Let's not forget advertising, which will gain new value on portable devices.) The reason we need these marketplaces is because I HIGHLY doubt people will "buy direct" or sign up for subscriptions on individual blogs. NYtimes for example has enough of a time getting subscribers and there's one of the most trafficed sites on the web. So what we'll need is marketplaces. Only a few select players like Rocketboom and Mobuzz may ever be able get people subscribing directly, but of course this shouldn't stop everyone from trying.

I'll try to make some models and post them soon here and to my blog to help people visualize what this marketplace will look like.

Also, I forgot to mention Webjay and others who are in a prime position to offer such services for creators and subscribers.

I'm a little stoked. :)

further thoughts on the evolution of the marketplace..

First of all it's important to note that most people will not be interested in paid subscriptions, because media will no longer be ONLY about entertainement. It will be a full blow communications network used more and more for inter-personal communications.

This is just the very start with the video iPod... as the model evolves and proves itself other makers like Creative, Sony with their PSP, and many others should start delivering more compatible players some of them with aggregators built into the device like what Peter was saying with the PSP. These devices will use Wifi or 3G to aggregate content directly from these middle players or marketplaces directly to the device, essentially removing the computer from the delivery mechanism and making our media both portable and hub-less... Imagine a world in the next 6 months where you can buy a $150 PSP device and use it to aggregate and watch ANY video from the web using the actual computer only for managing subscriptions and queuing content. This will cut the barriers for entrance into the sector significantly. In this way you could user your home computer, work, school or any internet connected computer to manage your subscriptions and ANY open wifi network or cellularly connected device to aggregate the media to the device. This type of highly flexible aggregation and subscription mechanism will eventually allow media to flow anywhere and go anywhere with many many options for monetization in communications services for personal media and subscriptions for entertainment media, not to mention advertising. I suspect players like Rocketboom and Mobuzz will be much more enticing to advertisers as they move onto portable devices like iPods, PSP's, Tivo's, Akami, and of course the Video iPod. But it's going to take some time for momentum to grow.

The big vision though is that one day in the near future someone in africa may be Able to get your media delivered to a $100 or so PSP-like device with little more than wifi internet acces and access to the local cybercafe to manage their subscriptions. And after that? We reverse the flow and make wifi enabled digital video recorders and create the mechanism by which those devices will flow video directly into your vlog and video feed.

People like Eric Rice, kudos to him, think this will happen on the cellular level, and he has a great many points, the marketing hype for video on cellular devices is hot but in my opinion cellular networks and the devices tied to them are way to closed at this point not allowing aggregators for RSS yet, besides this type of media does not require always on services. One of the primary problems of these cellular devices is there interfaces are to small and to poor for finding good content. Sure when you're just looking for the latest hot music video or simple news clips these interfaces will be capable enough, but once you start getting in to finding the local college footbal game these interfaces will become to cumbersome. This is just one of the reasons I suggest moving subscription management and content queuing into webservices at least in part.

Still people ARE working on RSS aggregators and playback for Palm devices. There's also an issue of penetration. Cellular penetration and wifi penetration are battling each other in markets all over the world. Both have their advantages in different markets. To me it doesn't matter how this happens just that it does.

As we (both vlog and podcast media) go portable it's going to be harder and harder for incumbent media to keep up with us and we'll gain momentum... essentially turning what was primarily broadcast media and accessible (interms of creators) ONLY to a few into a very flexible world wide rich two way mechanism for audio, video and photo. Media will stop being a spectator sport and become a communications tool as ubiquitous as mail or a phone. A dream of mine for many many years. It's under this light concepts like DRM, the Broadcast Flag and other legislation to control digital media and digital media channels will slowly become irrelevant in the light that communications networks and devices are used more and more by the people and not just movie houses, media companies and record labels.

In the future media communications by the people will quickly come to dwarf the amount of media these networks transfer for these incumbent media companies. For example... if you looke at the number of podcasts, conservatively 5k- 7000, the average number of shows per week, conservatively 2-3 shows, and the number of subscribers, which is untrackable at this point, you get an astronomical number of files traded which is quickly growing to dwarf the number of files traded on P2P networks. It will eventually make what's happening in that space seem trite. It's something I've written about again and again since very early on on this group.. which is dragging media and media communications back out onto the open web where it can grow and flourish in size and complexity. J.D. Laisca's "darknet" is slowly coming into the light.

Back on point, ironically as it is as much as the record labels, movie houses and rest of big media bitch about this change it will benefit them tremendously as it will expose them to new markets and opportunities. It is ironic that we call these companies big media and us small media. In the future it's going to be funny trying to explain to younger people why we call coporate media big media when our so called little media will actually dwarf them in all aspects from number of participants to number of media items. This is in much the same way that the word count in the blogospher and other bottom-up media has come to dwarf the word count of the news print media. In my opinion this will take 5, 10, 20 years before it become fully realized. It sounds ridiculous coming from just one nobody with with a tendency to rable but I'd bet a hell of a lot of money on it if I were a rich man. Of course I'm not, so I pledge my sweat equity. :)

And yet I fully expect they'll be MANY twists and turns none of us could even anticipate, and tons of people that will disagree with me. To which I say, please share your ideas!


Sunday, October 2

Search and Rescue - New York Times

Tim O'reilly of O'reilly books on Google's project to digitize thousands of books to make them searchable. The article reiterates a point that's important to ALL forms of intellectual property, and he ought to know what he's talking about being a widely successful publisher of technical books.

"Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors than copyright infringement, or even outright piracy.'"

In my opinion it's a fundamental truth about the long tail of intellectual property that applies to everything from books to music, movies, and blogging... you name it.

From Search and Rescue - New York Times:

"A search engine for books will be revolutionary in its benefits. Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors than copyright infringement, or even outright piracy. While publishers invest in each of their books, they depend on bestsellers to keep afloat. They typically throw their products into the market to see what sticks and cease supporting what doesn't, so an author has had just one chance to reach readers. Until now.

Google promises an alternative to the obscurity imposed on most books. It makes that great corpus of less-than-bestsellers accessible to all. By pointing to a huge body of print works online, Google will offer a way to promote books that publishers have thrown away, creating an opportunity for readers to track them down and buy them. Even online sellers like Amazon offer only a small fraction of the university libraries' titles. While there are many unanswered questions about how businesses will help consumers buy the books they've found through a search engine for printed materials that is as powerful as Google's current Web search, there's great likelihood that Google Print's Library Project will create new markets for forgotten content. In one bold stroke, Google will give new value to millions of orphaned works.

I'm sorry to see authors buy into the old-school protectionism of the Authors Guild, not realizing they're acting against their own self-interest. Their resistance can come only from a failure to understand the nature of the program. Google Library is intended to help readers discover copyrighted works, not to give copies away. It's a tremendous service to authors that will help them beat the dismal odds of publishing as usual."

Be sure to read the whole article.