Monday, October 30

St. Louis & Detroit take #1 & #2, America's most-dangerous cities

From: Annual study of crime lists St. Louis as America's most-dangerous; Detroit 2nd | Chicago Tribune:
Days after the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series, their hometown jumped to first place on a list no one wants to lead: the most dangerous cities in the United States.

The ranking was being released Monday by Morgan Quitno Press, a private research and publishing company specializing in state and city reference books. Violent crime surged nearly 20 percent there from 2004 to last year, according to FBI figures released in June.

Is there some correlation between the baseball & violent crime?

Obviously not, but I remember the riots in 1984 after the Tigers won it.

Tried hitting Morgan Quitno Press's website, just appears to be down.

Sunday, October 29

'Web 2.0', a 'viral video'

I'm so sick of the terms and even the very idea of 'web 2.0' and 'viral media' of course I had to post this viral video about web 2.0. :)

Watch movie

Original post on October 23, 2006 from No fat clips!!!: (RSS feed)

A little something you have probably seen before, as it won at The First Post Viral Competition. But if didn't, this is the right time!It shows a very interactive computer system, a kind of interactivity that goes beyond virtuality.The short has been directed by Leo Bridle and Leo Powell. The music was composed by Tom Rubira.Neither of the directors has had any formal training to date although both did Art foundation courses at Winchester School of Art in 2005. This autumn, Leo Bridle goes to Bournemouth Arts Institute to study animation while Leo Powell will study Fine Art at the University of East London. (Source: The First Post)P.S. Ok, there were a money prize but also, the winners "will be shown on a number of online entertainment websites including".

(Via Mefeedia)

Friday, October 27

Can Ask A Ninja make $50-100k a month?

From: Ask a Ninja' visits Madison Avenue - MarketWatch

The two funny guys behind 'Ask a Ninja' are asking serious money for advertisements placed in their podcast.

Douglas Saline and Kent Nichols are pricing their five-minute episodes at a CPM of $50. They told Advertising Age they get 1 million to 2 million views a month, which could mean a price of $50,000 to $100,000 per show. Saline and Nichols were in New York last week to pitch the show to marketers.

Mark McCrery, CEO of Podtrac, the Ninja ad-rep firm, says the pricing is justified by Ninja's audience: 57% between 19 and 34, and 83% male.

There have been 47 episodes of 'Ask a Ninja' since the series got started about a year ago. The venture began after the Saline and Nichols failed to sell a Ninja movie script and decided to try something on their own. It clicked. (Apology for the pun.)

Fans were not pleased with the Ninja decision to take advertising. 'Presenters' get a graphic at the start of the show and a 10- or 15-second scripted segment at the end, with the Ninja endorsing the product. Advertisers have included Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers.

There are other sources of revenue: 'Premium' members pay $12 to $15 a year and get access to shows a few days before they're posted on the Web. The Ninja show's theme song can be purchased as a ring tone. And the Ninja Mart Store sells $20 caps and $16 T-shirts.

'We're just a couple of funny guys trying to pay our bills,' according to the site. 'Bills that are in the tens of thousands of dollars. We don't want to rip anyone off, and we don't want to go broke doing this either.'

First note Ask A Ninja's business plan

1) advertising

2) paid annual subscriptions

3) merchandising

Second... not merchandising as Ask A Ninja is quoted as doing here has been around on vlogs for years... sell some hats, t-shirts and coffee mugs... if you've got a great brand like Ask A Ninja it's a piece of cake.

What's new here is a) advertisting which I'll get into in a second, and b) paid subscriptions.

Paid subscriptions first. It may not be the best model for them and it's still VERY experimental in the video podcasting space. In short I know NOONE doing it yet... and yet I think Ask A Ninja is right to dive into it and include it in their business plan. It's a good experiment.

Now then!

Let's get down to this crazy specs on advertising

1 - 2 million monthly views X $50 CPM = $50-100k/mo

For those of you who don't know CPM is an online advertising term "Cost Per Thousand Impressions" In this case those impressions are pre-roll ads I assume 15-30 seconds on the front of every Ask A Ninja episodes.

So can Ask A Nija really make $50-100k a month?

First... I don't question that Ask A Ninja is getting 1 to 2 million video views a month. It's a very realistic number given my experience with other vlogs.

The real question therefore is can they effectively transfer that ALL to ad views and is a $50 CPM ($50 per 1000 views) a realistic target.

Well... Ask A Nija actually quoted a $50 CPM... but this is quite high. I'm guessing they're NOT making this kind of money on EVERY ad view. I'm betting to some degree they're bragging about their upper limit... and rightfully so... nothing attracts advertisers and gets them to chuck up the big bucks like showing off your biggest brightest tail feathers.

That said... irregardless of wether Ask A ninja is making $50k or $100k a month or just $20k a month we're talking 2-3 guys working out of their basement! They're succeeding... and this is only the start... in the next couple years this industry is going to explode... and they're going to be more and more advertisers competing for premium video and audio podcasts... whomever can come out on the top of the barrel is going to make tremendous money. Right now I think Ask A Ninja is right where they need to be... as is Rocketboom and Ze Frank.

We're at the start of a new industry. A whole new sector for advertising.

What we need now is a Billboard 100 of sorts for various facets of video podcasting, audio podcasting, podsafe music... some industry rags... some groups competing to be the Nielson's ratings of this space to veryify and standardize how numbers like Ask A Nija's are tabulated... so advertisers don't have to gamble on wether they're closer to 1 million or 2 million.

And let's not forget advertising ISN't the end all be all... protect your intellectual property people.

Build brand and idenity... trademark it... merchandise it... later maybe you can licensce for who knows what.

Right now if you've got the talent the sky is the limit. The playingfield is level. You can do all the same thing as big media players.

licensce it

syndicate it

advertise on it

sell it

And most importantly of all make sure you realize that 95% of vlogs and audio podcasts will never monetize like this because Ask A Ninja is ENTERTAINMENT... and while that's funa and all the other 95% of vlogs and podcasts are merely COMMUNICATIONS.

Just like blogs before them 95% of all video blogs and audio podcasts will be closer to telephones than they are newspapers, TV shows and such... this is to say... they are interpersonal communications... that JUST so happen to be public... just because you're communicating in public... standing on a soap box or not... doesn't mean you're a movie star people... know the difference and by all means REVEL in your new found freedoms and encourage others to participate... but don't mistake these completely new media and your place in them for something they are not. This little evilution isn't about entertainment and news... it's about everday communications.

"The film of tomorrow will resemble the person who made it, and the number of spectators will be proportional to the number of friends the director has."

Truffaut saw almost 50 years ago the future of the moving image would be one day belong to everyday people... and the audience would find these everday moments interesting because they would be the creators friends, family and peers.

This is precisely what we're sing on services like youtube... once you get past the "viral videos" and the spectacle of it... you'll realize it's just people sharing little everday pieces of their life with friends, and peers around the world. Not entertainment... just communications. Youtube is more akin to what people one day envisioned as videoconferencing than it is TV or movies. It's like a big video conference party line... with an open ended timeline.

Most of it has very little to do with where Ask A NIja is going and that's great and fine and dandy.

What you thought everyone was going to be a TV star?


Monday, October 23

YouTube turns over user data to Viacom's Paramount Pictures

From: YouTube turned over user data to media firm lawyers - MarketWatch

On May 24, lawyers for Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures convinced a federal judge in San Francisco to issue a subpoena requiring YouTube to turn over details about a user who uploaded dialog from the movie studio's 'Twin Towers,' according to a copy of the document.

YouTube promptly handed over the data to Paramount, which on June 16 sued the creator of the 12-minute clip, New York City-based filmmaker Chris Moukarbel, for copyright infringement, in federal court in Washington.

That YouTube chose to turn over the data, rather than simply remove the offending video from its site -- as it did Friday when it agreed to take down 30,000 videos at the request of a group of Japanese media companies -- came as a surprise to copyright experts.

The video in question was a student created film with student actors. Based on a segment of script from the movie "twin towers".

Bravo Youtube. Bravo Viacom / Paramount.

Without your bold and heavy handed moves Twin Towers would have had serious box office setbacks as it hits the theatres.

What's more youtubers and bloggers everywhere will cherish and praise your good names.

And meanwhile millions of copies of pirated versions of Twin Towers will flow out of manufacturing facilities and across P2P networks world wide.

But you've shut down one student filmaker, Chris Moukarbel, whom dared to make his own homage to your film.

Way to kick some fan ass.

Money well spent. Bravo.

Again... this was in May. Youtube is just f*cked.

Sunday, October 8

JPG Magazine, a fine example of participatory media

For some time, particularly since Current TV I've been talking with people (particularly video bloggers) about making high level media that is truly participatory bubble up media.

Flickr has acted as a hot bed of activity within the photographic community allowing all sorts of opportunities to create high level participatory media.

Some have created simple photologs of multiple photographers whose work they love. The economics of these mediums are very simple, they promote the very photographers they love and what could be better than that.

Even more interesting though is some books have been published. (I've been flattered to participate in a couple) Magazines and newspapers have established user groups as marketing tools or to aggregate potentially publishable photos.

JPG Magazine is one such magazine. It is a fine example of what can be done with such participatory media.

Ultimately where Current TV failed to create a truly open and sustainable ecosystem for their users by merely creating a giant ongoing contest... JPG magazine, at least in combination with Flickr and other photo-sharing services and independent photo blogs, is a great example of how participatory culture can be bubbled all the way up into traditional and higher forms of media.

In JPG Magazine's case that "higher form" of media is of course a magazine but why can't other opportunities be created.

- A network of videoblogs could create a cable/sat/TV channel, or a weekly show, or a movie... or a film festival, or a gallery opening, or films screening?

- Why can't a network of bloggers publish a collection of essays, a weekly or monthly newspaper or journal, or even a book, or how about a collaborative work of fiction, a novel?

Some of my first impressions on

One of the first things I checked out was JPG magazine's usage restrictions on users submitted photos. I was AMAZED to find out it wasn't draconian, but in fact simple and very user friendly.

JPG Magazine is a big fan of copyright. We respect yours and reserve our own.

Contributors to JPG keep all their rights, and do not have to license their work in any particular way. By contributing your photo, you simply give us the right to display the photo online, and print it if chosen.

That's just freaking beautiful when you consider most websites that take submissions for whatever reason have absolutely draconian terms of service. For example take Youtube, it's terms of service have improved but in essence they claim ownership to anything you submit and can do anything they want with it they like.

JPG Magazine's terms of service alone warrants this blog post of praise. It's an inspiration and it gives me hope that we ARE moving into a much more humane legal age. Needless to say I will be participating in JPG Magazine in the future primarily because of this point, not that it doesn't hurt that JPG magazine pays $100 for each photo it publishes and offers a free subscription if they publish any of your photos.

Side notes:

One of the first things I noticed is that the JPG mag signup had some nice AJAXian automatic verification of data in the signup form. For example when you enter a username the signup form automatically checks that username and verifies visually if it's available. A minor detail, but a very nice detail. ...even though it doesn't tell you if the username is NOT available, which I think might be more important still. :p

Second, after you signup there's a nice introduction to JPG magazine that gives you the lay of the land. Here's the opener to it.

Welcome to JPG, Michael!

We're so glad you've joined us.

JPG is not just another photo sharing site - it's a community that's come together to create a photo magazine.

Here at JPG, we like to say we're all about "imagemaking without attitude." That means we want JPG to be a positive experience for everyone. This isn't about photo snobbery or pixel wanking. It's just about the joy of photography.

If you love photography like we do, welcome. But if you're looking to have yet another fight about film vs. digital, or confrontational critique, that's not really what we do here.

We're also about mostly unmodified photos. That means we do not accept photos that have been overly Photoshopped. No fake borders, digitally-added text, or cutouts. Adjustments to color and sharpness is just fine, of course.

Just keep it real, baby. Here's a handy rule: If anything has been digitally added or removed (well, besides dust), it's probably not right for JPG.

There's more, but I'll leave it to you to signup to see it all.

In fact, the only problem I had with JPG view in this otherwise glowing review was their profile page.

After I typed in a nice little bio I was appalled to find that JPG magazine's website just deleted my copy arbitrarily after a certain number of characters and lines... roughly after 500 characters. Quite contrary to the attention to detail on the signup form there was no limit on the form to ensure I didn't type over 500 characters and no alert when I did. Everything over 500 characters was just deleted when I clicked submit. Frustrated I left the following copy as my profile.

I was surprised at how good the usability was on until this profile page. It throws all high standards out the window.

The very idea of a "profile" implies and encourages the user to write freely, but jpgmag arbitrarily truncates (deletes) the users first attempt at a well written profile at 500 chars with no alert, and no way to recover a lost attempt.

There's no reason why there should be a 500char limit. It's just asinine. Why have a limit at all?

To be fair the input form does say "maximum 500 characters" above the form, but this is no excuse.

An arbitrary limit of 500 characters does NOT discourage spam or other negatory activity. It merely tells the user they're unimportant, makes users take less pride, and makes a site like this whose value is in it's sociability a far less powerful and therefore useful too.

The profile page is not just about identity, it's the root building block of user participation... the precursor to the users submitted photos themselves. Case in point I've noticed quite a few grease-monkey scripts floating around on the web that change the user icons all over to link directly to the users profile page and NOT the users photo-stream. JPG magazine like Flickr may be about the photos, but the identity is still the most important building block in community interaction.

The objective of is to aggregate great photos, but without strong identity and identity based mechanisms for identifying great photos and Flickr would merely be websites with a bunch of meaningless photos. Identity is directly tied to meaning. And MEANING, not beauty or interestingness is the root value of such sites and the root underlying mechanism for discovery and sharing.

To put it simply identity is the root from which all things participatory media grow. The stronger the identity, the stronger the community, the more trust, and participation.

BTW, I also submitted my thoughts to their bug report form which is at the bottom of every page. Yet another VERY nice touch.

All in all I thought I found JPG Magazine to be one of the finest if not the finest example of bubbling up participatory media into higher and more traditional forms of media.

JPG magazine only pay $100 for each photo they use in JPG Magazine, if they do use any. ;) However, while this is pretty low considering how much revenue they take in I suspect or at least hope it will rise in the future as their subscriptions and profits increase to attract an ever greater quality of photographers. This could be both a good and a bad thing. In fact... maybe one day there should be an amateur photographer's JPG magazine and a professional photographers JPG magazine. (competition anyone?) The only difference between such magazines would be the bounty they offer for photographs. This would keep the amateur photography magazine accessible to amateur photographers, while creating the opportunity for all to shoot for a higher level of profit and status. Some like me will revel in amateur photography, others will aim for profits and status... and so be it.

All in all, while I do hope JPG Magazine's bounty for great photos continues to rise. I would probably still submit at least some of my photos to JPG magazine no matter what they paid.

This is not to say money doesn't matter to me it does, but being published in JPG magazine is worth more than simply money. There is a far greater value that's often completely over looked. That core value of participatory media is simply social capital.

Social capital includes things like trust, visibility, recognition, credibility, good will, shared history, education, connectivity and above all the potential for greater upward mobility... aka. opportunity.

Let's not forget simple bragging rights and fun! :)

JPG Magazine is creating a tremendous amount of social capital among photographers and while it just past it's second year birthday I'd still consider my contribution an investment and the greatest ROI not money at all, but simple social capital.

Besides what else am I going to do with all the awesome photos I take with my $150 camera? :)