Tuesday, December 26

Microsoft patents web based aggregation - the growing problem of patent spam

So! Microsoft filed for a patent last wek (Dec. 21st) for a web based RSS aggregator. What's so funny (or not so funny) about this patent application is it covers absolutely NOTHING that services and software like we at Mefeedia.com, and others like Odeo.com, Fireant, Democracy, Bloglines, and even the Google news reader, among many others haven't been doing for years.

Here's the summary.

A content syndication platform, such as a web content syndication platform, manages, organizes and makes available for consumption content that is acquired from the Internet. In at least some embodiments, the platform can acquire and organize web content, and make such content available for consumption by many different types of applications. These applications may or may not necessarily understand the particular syndication format. An application program interface (API) exposes an object model which allows applications and users to easily accomplish many different tasks such as creating, reading, updating, deleting feeds and the like. Further, in at least some embodiments, a user can subscribe to a particular web feed, be provided with a user interface that contains distinct indicia to identify new feeds, and can efficiently consume or read RSS feeds using both an RSS reader and a web browser.

It's like some Microsoft stooge desided to start an write up a specification for a news read and the first step in documenting the process was to apply for a patent on it while there's not a single new or original idea in the entire application. If it were car it'd be like the first step would be patenting the idea of putting wheels and an engine on a car. Quite simply and plainly put it's 100% patent spam. Much like spam in your email it has absolutely no value and serves only to further gum up our already very troubled U.S. patent system.

Spam is a problem with any open system... but ussually it's one we hear about with email, or comment spam, or mailing list spam... done by individuals or small groups of individuals on the dregs of society... and usually it has legal reprecussions as with email spam or telemarket spam.

However, in the world of patent spam increasingly the biggest offenders are large companies and corporation that quite often are doing the least amount of innovation as is clearly the case in this patent from Microsoft. The guys out there doing the innovation, the innovation that patents were originally SUPPOSED to encourage are increasingly discouraged in having to defend themselves agains such crap. The weight on innovators, the patent system and above all on the judicial process is becoming a huge factor in the tech industry.

Mefeedia as well as hundreds if not thousands of others have already implimented nearly every method for which Microsoft is applying for a patent on.

Here's some of the points it covers.

  • covers a method of storing "enclosures" or downloaded media in the file system on devices or software that don't read RSS

  • the creation of a "post queue"... (such as my queue on mefeedia)

  • simplified method's for subscribing to RSS feeds... (such as mefeedia's single click subscription and single click queuing system, much like every other aggregatory webservice)

  • a "feed store" which stores both a list of subscribed feeds and feed data (Wow that's genius, at mefeedia we just call these "feed stores" databases.)

  • the syncronization of feed data between the webservice and software and devices explicitely mentioning media players and digital image viewing applications (At mefeedia we deliver RSS to desktop news readers via RSS, OPML, XML and of course anything that can read HTML.)

  • the presenting of feed data to non-syncdication aware applications... such as when applications like mefeedia, google reader, and bloglines present data for mobile devices or TV devices that don't recognize RSS (Like I said, at mefeedia we display data in whatever format a device desires, OPML, XML, HTML, and many others... bloody brilliant. In addition we'll deliver information in the future to such devices anyway the end user like, text messages, email, WAP, mMode, who know. We always thought we were brilliant, but brilliant more along the lines of obvious.)

There's more, but frankly I think you get the point.

The patent: United States Patent Application: 0060288011

Oh, and let's not forget microsoft's content syndication platform

A content syndication platform, such as a web content syndication platform, manages, organizes and makes available for consumption content that is acquired from the Internet. In at least some embodiments, the platform can acquire and organize web content, and make such content available for consumption by many different types of applications. These applications may or may not necessarily understand the particular syndication format. An application program interface (API) exposes an object model which allows applications and users to easily accomplish many different tasks such as creating, reading, updating, deleting feeds and the like.

Bloody brilliant!

Via: Techdirt: Because The Patent System Sucks, The Only Thing To Do Is File For More Bad Patents

Microsoft patents web based aggregation - the growing problem of patent spam

Blogger blows... double posting again. For the actual article go here.

Saturday, December 23

Don't anger the Amanda!

This is a follow up from my last post about Amanda Congdon's new video based thingy on ABC which got some heat. While that's clearly a failure as a web based tool for video communications it rests soley on the sholders of ABC. They do Amanda and themselves an injustice. On the other hand amanda's new vlog Starring Amanda Congdon rules and is a fine example of what a vlog should be. I loved her latest post about Time Magazine declaring "you" the people of the year.

"People of the Year"

Watch movie

Original post on December 22, 2006 from Starring Amanda Congdon: (RSS feed)
(Via Mefeedia)

Best line, "This is not a television show. Please don't make amanda mad by calling this TV."

Amanda was one a complete newb to the blogging vlogging and the tech space in general, but since that time she's really embraced the people and the culture and she really gets what it's all about, which is not about simply TV or entertainment. It's about connecting people.

And I really hope ABC get's clued in that you can't just slap a video in a pop up window and expect success and viewership. This isn't TV... the audience isn't captive. The infinite distractions of the web demand that video on the web be open and accessible and there are MANY many mechanisms most of which come from blogging that help keep viewers keep up with a vlog, not just RSS. Again for that see my last post about Amanda on ABC.

ABC, clue up! Amanda, keep rocking! ... and PLEASE clue in ABC.

Friday, December 22

Amanda Congdon's new "vlog" on ABC is not a vlog

While I could frankly give a crap less about the general Amanda Congdon vs. Andrew Baron scrap, Andrew did have some very astute observations about the new Amanda Congdon "thingy" on ABC's website.

Why did I call it a "thingy"? Because it's absolutely positively NOT a vlog. It isn't even a damn video in a web page. It's a video buried in a pop-out window. Even Amanda herself is a little frustrated with ABC, as well she should be. They are absolutely clueless and her video based thingy is almost guaranteed to be a flop unless ABC does an about face.

1) has no permalinks

2) no archive

3) no display of shows in reverse chronological order

4) no RSS feed

5) no comments

6) no copy and past urls or code to embed or re-blog a show like youtube

7) absolutely obnoxious pre-roll advertising

Much as I may like and even respect Amanda all in all these points add up to a HUGELY damning prospect for her show. It's almost doomed to be a flop.

Amanda's success on rocketboom came from the shows accessibility, conversational and participatory nature. ABC has done a complete 180 on this, a failure.

In essence ABC has replicated what made Rocketboom successful not at all. They have taken the conversation and the accessibility completely 100% out out of the picture. What's left is bupkiss. Nada. If I were Andrew Baron I sure wouldn't be getting into another spat, I'd be feeling sorry for Amanda right about now. She's starting 10 feet in the ruff, nay in the sand bunker, and frankly I don't see how her ABC web based thingy is going to be a success at all.

If there were to be any discussion of the new Amanda Congdon show on ABC around the blogosphere, which there won't be, it would go something like this.

Person A: Heh did you see yesterday's episode of the Amanda Congdon show?

Person B: No, where's it at?

Person A: Hell if I know.

Person B: F*ck it.

Person A: Yeah, never-mind. Sorry for bringing it up.

All this courtesy of ABC, much to Amanda's disgrace.

I've seen a lot of "videoblogs" that aren't really videoblogs at all in the last two years, but this is cut and dry one of the worst cases ever. I really strongly advise anyone in a position to do so to tell ABC to get their head out of their arse before they drag Amanda down with them.

Podcasting News did a great post on the advertising angle.

From: Podcasting News - More Proof That People Hate Intrusive Advertising In Online Video

Remember Rocketboom founder Andrew Baron's recent critique of ABC's new Amanda Congdon video blog? One of his chief complaints was the show's 'irrelevant pre-roll ads that outlast many people?s curiosity.'

While Baron's critique may not be completely impartial, his experience as a video podcasting pioneer gives him insight into what works and doesn't work in video podcasts. And new research suggests that Baron is right about intrusive video advertising.

Burst Media has released a study that found 69.5% of survey respondents actively view video content on the web and 56% recall seeing ads in content they have watched.

The study also found that 52.7 percent say they typically continue watching video content once they encounter an advertising unit. That means video publishers could be losing nearly half their potential audience with the use of intrusive ads.

The study found that (77.5 percent) of respondents say advertisements in online video are intrusive and nearly two-thirds (62.2 percent) say advertisements in video content disrupts their web surfing experience

?We did not explore the quality of video ads and if the creative played a role when the ads are abandoned by users. But I suspect that it is a significant factor, especially since one in four users like video more than inert online ads,? says Chuck Moran, manager of market research for Burst. ?For users who take the time to watch video ads, their recall rate is pleasantly high.?

The survey highlights that video podcasters and mainstream publishers can learn from the experience of pioneers like Baron and other successful video podcasters and vloggers. Baron's Rocketboom has focused on creating engaging sponsor ads that features the show host. Vloggers like Ze Frank have successfully used end-of-roll ads.

Even manufacturers are using video podcasting creatively. A great example is the Will It Blend video podcast - an incredibly entertaining way to promote a product that, otherwise, isn't that exciting.

Here's the message ABC! I can't put it any louder or clearer.

First make them laugh, THEN people will be more receptive to your advertising!

Clueless, clueless b*stards.

I hate to say this but whatever this new Amanda thingy is it's the worst case of a bastardized misunderstood videoblog I've ever seen, and that's pretty damn sad because I've seen a lot of wannabee PR video blogs come and go over the last two years.

the owl, a music video

I stumbled on this on del.icio.us. I love the beautiful simplicty and intensity of it. It's a music video for the band I love you but I've choosen darkness.

Watch movie (22.6 MB, 2.8 min)

Original post on December 21, 2006 from del.icio.us/popular/system:filetype:mov: (RSS feed)

(Via Mefeedia)

Tuesday, December 19

Amazon to open DRM-free MP3 Store in Q1 2007?

Could it be? An actual honest to god digital marketplace for music with downloadable MP3's which will play on any MP3 player not just the iPod or the Zune?

In addition it's rummored this marketplace will have *variable pricing* allowing it to meet a supply and demand for music based in reality and not the arbitrary $1.99 per song price schema.

Could the digital marketplace every music lover has been waiting for since Napster actually arive in the first quarter of 2007?

Bob Caswell from Computers.net sums the rumor up best.

Looks like rumors are afloat that Amazon is planning on a late first quarter 2007 launch of a new music download store. In an already crowded music download market, Amazon hopes to differentiate itself in two major ways:

The company is apparently telling labels (politely, I'm sure) that it is only interested in selling DRM-free mp3s (meaning, once you download the song, it's yours for whatever purpose you see fit, no more restrictions like you can burn only X amount of times or you can only have it reside on X computers, etc.). The second difference is that Amazon seems interested in offering variable pricing.

Rumors are claiming that Amazon began circulating contracts to labels late last week. Obviously if Amazon goes the DRM-free mp3 route, the company nicely avoids playing favorites on the hardware side, as it will only sell music downloads that are compatible on all devices.

Right now it's not clear which major labels might be included at Amazon's launch. Indie labels seem to be branded as the likely first movers. The DRM-free approach may not be what some labels want, but variable pricing is a feature other labels have been interested in for some time.

So the question is: Is Amazon big enough to take significant market share away from Apple & friends? If the DRM-free ideal comes true, I think we may have something to look forward to in 2007.

Monday, December 18

santa park, NY

santa park
santa park
, higres version

Santa infestation.

Comment that sums it up best.

"its like a scene form the warriors but with santas, how many where there?"

Who here knows The Warriors? :)

Participatory culture, the things we create have magic powers

, higres version
From: pt's photstream>

The things that people have made themselves have magic powers. They have hidden meaning's that others can't see.

This from a craft makers manifesto posted by Phil torrone on his Flickr feed, but it bears some strong parrellels to not only why we make crafts, but also media, and why not why we create and develop software. In fact anyone with a creative bone in their body will recognize the points here.

We are all makers. We're all creators. It's not just the story of crafts. It's the story of media makers as well... and not just media makers... but the makers of software and webservices that make the media making possible. But I am being redundant. :)


Saturday, December 16

A Charlie Brown Christmas Remix

I'm flumuxed by this enigma. A remix of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" with a new script and voice overs by the cast of the television show "Scrubs". I don't have the backstory of this posting yet. I don't see how the Scrubs crew could have gotten permission for the Peanuts gang, but the production quality is high I'm guessing it must have been done as some sort of in-house christmas video card, now leeked onto the web. Reminds me of the christmas video that led to the creation of the TV show South Park.

Watch movie (53 MB, 9.3 min)

Original post on December 14, 2006 from Film Threat: (RSS feed)

Former "Scrubs" production assistant Ryan A. Levin presents the Charlie Brown classic, as re-dubbed by the cast of "Scrubs"...

(Via Mefeedia)

Thursday, December 14

Lip Dubbing: Endless Dream from Jakob Lodwick

A fun suggestion to videobloggers everywhere. Record yourself while walking along singing or lip-singing to your favorite song on your iPod. When you get home redub the acutal mp3 of the song over the video of yourself. Post it to your vlog and be sure to tag it "lipdubbing".

Enjoy: Watch movie

Original post on December 14, 2006 from Vimeo / mmeiser's contacts' video clips: (RSS feed)

From jakob:I walked around with a song playing in my headphones, and recorded myself singing. When I got home I opened it in iMovie and added an MP3 of the actual song, and synchronized it with my video. Is there a name for this? If not, I suggest 'lip dubbing'. Music by Apes + Androids http://apesandandroids.com

(Via Mefeedia)

Martin Scorsese's Sesame Streets

Watch movie (5.3 MB, 1.9 min)

Original post on December 12, 2006 from Vlog of the Day: (RSS feed)

Sesame Street will never be the same after this mashup trailor. Mason Dixon's notes: This should be shown in editing classes. Every shot is recontextualized according to the codes of filmic reality. Robert Dinero in Martin Scorsese's Sesame Streets from Apollo Pony

(Via Mefeedia)

vlogosphere needs more independant verification

From: Frank Barnako: Technorati follow-up

Technorati?s doing the best it can. While Google Analytics (GOOG), Alexa, Podtrac, Feedburner ? the list goes on ? each have their own technologies and are also making efforts to measure what?s going on. Which convinces me there is a huge opportunity for somebody to wrestle this metric reporting monster to the ground. While Nielsen/NetRatings (NTRT) and ComScore have rocket scientists working on Web traffic tools, features like RSS and podcasts and blogs have exploded. And there appears to be no third-party, verifiable resource for measuring them all. Yet.

I've been saying this about the videobloging space in particular for a long time.

Needs more independant data veritification and ratings companies.

Speaking purely from a business sense if you want a marketplace to evolve, say an advertising marketplace, you're going to need more than just a technoratti rating, or some unverified traffic stats.