Tuesday, July 31

'I Like Turtles', a viral video post mortem

The only thing better than a random seventeen second news clip "going viral" on the internets and being seen by at least three quarter million people is a three thousand word post mortem on the spectacle from the Washington Post.

Re: For the 'I Like Turtles' Boy, 17 Seconds Of Fame - washingtonpost.com

There was a time, not long ago, when a 10-year-old boy could head to a neighborhood fair, get his face painted like a Halloween zombie and blurt out something utterly inane to a local TV news correspondent and nobody would ever think about it again. Oh, there'd be an audience that night, much of which would chuckle and think "Whaaaaa?" But that would be the end of it.

The moment would not endure as a video snippet, posted on Web sites and viewed more than 500,000 times, nor would it inspire T-shirts, or parodies or remixes or mash-ups. It would not lead a company in, say, England to track down the lad and offer him -- or rather, his parents -- cash to turn his baffling three-word apercu into a cellphone ring tone. He would not hear from the Jimmy Kimmel show. A handful of strangers would not call hoping to send him pets.

Saturday, July 28

"P2P networks harm national security"

This has been going around lately, and it just amazes me how ignorant this article is.

Congress: P2P networks harm national security | CNET News.com

Politicians charged on Tuesday that peer-to-peer networks can pose a "national security threat" because they enable federal employees to share sensitive or classified documents accidentally from their computers.

At a hearing on the topic, Government Reform Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said, without offering details, that he is considering new laws aimed at addressing the problem. He said he was troubled by the possibility that foreign governments, terrorists or organized crime could gain access to documents that reveal national secrets.

Also at the hearing, Mark Gorton, the chairman of Lime Wire, which makes the peer-to-peer software LimeWire, was assailed for allegedly harming national security through offering his product.


The most scathing criticism came from Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), who launched into a lengthy monologue in which he deemed Gorton "one of the most naive chairmen and CEOs I've ever run across," and accused his company of making the "skeleton keys" that grant access to material harmful to U.S. national security.

"I'd feel more than a shade of guilt at this point, having made the laptop a dangerous weapon against the security of the United States," Cooper said. "Mr. Gorton, you seem to lack imagination about how your product can be deliberately misused by evildoers against this country." (Cooper also, at one point, claimed that Gorton's own home computer was probably leaking sensitive documents.)

Aparently either one or both congressmen Henry Waxman and Jim Cooper are in the pocket of the Hollywood lobyists.

Come on Henry and Jim, clue in... everyone knows the route to getting p2p networks outlawed is to claim they induce child pornography.

"Save the kids!" Jim & Henry. That's the battle cry to go for. It's a much more righteous way to pass legislation outlawing p2p then hollywood or some percieved threat to national security. Not that you could outlaw p2p without completely shutting down the internet... because of course fundamentally the internet is a peer based network.

Email is a far greater threat to national security then p2p. Perhaps we should ban all government emplyees from using email. We can start with Henry Waxman and Jim Cooper.

Friday, July 27

No parody required, white house politics

I couldn't not blog this, the white house is it's own disgusting parody.

Re: Democrats Urge Perjury Probe of Gonzales | World Latest | Guardian Unlimited
Senate Democrats called for a perjury investigation against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Thursday and subpoenaed top presidential aide Karl Rove in a deepening political and legal clash with the Bush administration.

``It has become apparent that the attorney general has provided at a minimum half-truths and misleading statements,'' four Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee wrote in a letter to Solicitor General Paul Clement.


In response, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said, ``Every day congressional Democrats prove that they're more interested in headlines than doing the business Americans want them to do. And Americans are now taking notice that this Congress, under Democratic leadership, is failing to tackle important issues,'' he said.
"doing the business Americans want them to do"

That just made me laugh out loud.

According to polls the majority of Americans support impeachment... and the approval rating of the president is at record lows... so... I would say that the white house spokesman touches properly on the vital issue... and of course comes to the exact opposite conclusion as to what the reality of the situation is.

The obvious reality is the Democratic leadership IS doing what the vast majority of Americans want... holding the White House accountable.

This is a perfect example of spin at it's most outrageous and ridiculous ends. Parody is no longer required. The White House has become it's own mockery.

Saturday, July 21

Darknet culture and the Harry Potter leak

My friend Raymond from Copenhagen did an awesome write up on some of the behind the scenes culture that went on before the Harry Potter leak and the corresponding Newsweek article.

It's truly fascinating and unlike anything I've read before.

Re: Evil Vlog is... Darknets and the Harry Potter leak

Here are some Cliff notes on his writeup and the corresponding Newsweek article

1) the NEWSWEEK writer admits to downloading, or at least attempting to download, a pirated copy of the book

2) it's overwhelmingly obvious based on the opinions of those in the Newsweek article this leak will in no way effect sales of the book and does in fact enhance the experience of the fans.

2) What really undermines and subverts the piracy efforts are scores of fan fiction... only a true fan would be able to tell the real from the fake.

4) Raymond's posts takes a look at the behind the scenes culture and collaboration on transcribing the book by multiple groups who are all competing to be the first to release a pirated copy. They are not driven by anything other than pride and being big fans.

5) Raymond's post documents the remarkable transparency of these groups, even documenting the Newsweek reporters direct contact with one of the P2P groups transcoding and leaking the book on Pirate Bay.

6) The Newsweek article while pointing out the inherent impossibilities in stopping piracy both inside the publishing world and by fan culture also documents how remarkably pervasive watermarking technologies are getting. While the age of DRM may be finally slowed or stopped moving forward we're now entering an even more dangerous age of ubiquitous watermarking. Soon every digital good you make and every digital good you buy will be watermarked and traceable back to you. This is a very scary thought, which has implications well beyond piracy such as freedom of speech.

Hopefully more later, that was just the cliff notes.

Tuesday, July 10

T-Mobile announces seemless VOIP / cellular package

Of all the rotten times to launch an amazing new service.

On July 5th T-Mobile announced T-Mobile HotSpot @Home. In a word it is a cell phone that also does VOIP.

For only $10 extra a month you can make calls from the same phone both via cellular and VOIP potentially saving yourself thousands of dollars a year.

To put it another way, this service offers all the ubiquity of a cellular network with all the inexpensiveness of VOIP.

Re: IPhone-Free Cellphone News - New York Times

It’s called T-Mobile HotSpot @Home, and it’s absolutely ingenious. It could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars a year, and yet enrich T-Mobile at the same time. In the cellphone world, win-win plays like that are extremely rare.

Here’s the basic idea. If you’re willing to pay $10 a month on top of a regular T-Mobile voice plan, you get a special cellphone. When you’re out and about, it works like any other phone; calls eat up your monthly minutes as usual.

But when it’s in a Wi-Fi wireless Internet hot spot, this phone offers a huge bargain: all your calls are free. You use it and dial it the same as always — you still get call hold, caller ID, three-way calling and all the other features — but now your voice is carried by the Internet rather than the cellular airwaves.

These phones hand off your calls from Wi-Fi network to cell network seamlessly and automatically, without a single crackle or pop to punctuate the switch. As you walk out of a hot spot, fewer and fewer Wi-Fi signal bars appear on the screen, until — blink! — the T-Mobile network bars replace them. (The handoff as you move in the opposite direction, from the cell network into a hot spot, is also seamless, but takes slightly longer, about a minute.)

I say hurrary!

This first generation service may not be perfect but at the very least it shows that T-Mobile "get's it".

Cellular companies are no longer in the voice communications business... they're in the internet communications business.

This service is a huge step forward. For a cellular company to embrace VOIP to save their customers money and in so doing potentially make much more profit itself is unprecidented.

But this isn't the only way for a cellular company to utilize the internet to make more profit.

Many may also see a direct parrellel between this service and the potential offerings of the iPhone. The iPhone is after all among other things a device that already has all the hardware capabilities of T-mobiles new service. It is an "internet communicator" to quote Steve Jobs... yet it has no VOIP application on the phone.

I assure you hackers and many others are VERY hard at work trying to bring VOIP to the iPhone.

Personally my friend Adam (a non-blogger but brilliant guy non-the-less ;) thinks Apple is trying to use the iphone to leverage itself into the world of communications in exactly the same way it used the iPod and Pixar to leverage their Apple from simply computers into media. This final piece of the puzzle would of course give Apple the unprecidented power to sell and deliver digital media and services DIRECTLY with it's customers anywhere and anytime.

What's more with already ubiquitous WiFi and the potential for ubiquitous WiMax sometime in the next 2-10 years my friend thinks Apple is going to try and leverage the iphone into being a communications company by either buying out a current cellular company or slowly using their leverage to turn all important cellular services into a mere commodity regardless of whether the end use of their networks is voice, data, text messages or accessing ANY webservice.

This may sound like a long shot, but it is VERY similar to what apple is now doing with the iTunes Music Store in shaking up the music biz and turning major music labels product back into a simple 99 cent commodity.

Not only do I think my friend is right on all counts but I'll one up him.

Given DRM dies in a fast and firey death as it is extremely anti-competitive and a huge hindrence to fluid markets the commoditization of BOTH these markets (digital media AND cellular data) will bring TREMENDOUS innovation to both markets over time accellerating the pace of innovation and creating ironicly explosive growth and revenue for Apple's unwitting and often disagreeable partners.

In so commoditizing cellular services into merely data access providers much like internet service providers I think the cellular companies will find a cornicopia of growth like they've never seen before as millions of webservices innovators, so called web 2.0 companies, strive to deliver services over their networks.

As cellular networks stop trying to be the gatekeepers of cellular networks like Cable TV operators... offering extrmely limited services like 10 cent text messages and $2.99 ringtones and finaly offer full unprecidented access and integration with the internet like the iPhone and T-Mobile's new Hotspot @Home service... the tremendous innovation in web based services will add tremendous value to their network and with it exponetial usage and revenue increases.

The most basic lesson here for cellular network providers is this:

Better to make a penny a kilobyte then a buck a minute.

Cellular services only THINK they are in the voice communications business.

Soon they will wake up and realize they have it all wrong. While they were slumbering on their profits or trying to find more ways to nickle and dime their customers to death their industry changed.

Cellular network providers are no longer in the voice communications busines they're in the mobile internet access business.

Sunday, July 8

Rupert from twittervlog, one of my favorite video blogs as of late, posted this excellent video of his thoughts on videoblogging since returning from Pixelodeon Fest 2007 in L.A.

His words are of equal merit.

Today, I realised that everything i've been looking for is right here in front of me.

It's happening right now.

It might not be your dream, but it's mine, and I've only put the pieces together after meeting everyone at Pixelodeon and seeing all the curated sessions of films.

This is why i've fallen in love with internet video distribution. Funny how it's taken me so long to realise the obvious.

I guess i was too busy looking ahead for the one big idea, and not realising that it wasn't a 'show'.

As we say in Jedi school:
It's not the End, it's the Means Whereby.

And as the Dwarf said in Twin Peaks:
Let's rock.

I don't know this Jedi school that Rupert speaks of and I've never had the pleasure of following Twin Peaks, but Rupert's sentiment hits home for me.

Being in Los Angeles Pixelodeon was highly focused on the growth of videoblogging as an industry with a heavy focus on so called shows and "episodic content", but in it's optimism over future growth as an industry what most pleased me is it retained and remembered it's roots. It is at it's core simply a new method of communications and therefore as much of a communications industry as an entertainment industry. And of course this changes everything.

This is something I think audio podcasters so often forget in their own strive to grow into an industry.

We call video blogging "video blogging" and not "video podcasting" because it isn't television and it isn't only about news and entertainment. It's roots and all the things that are important to it come from blogging world and remebering those roots are what keep videoblogging going strong.

Like blogging, videoblogging at it's core is just ordinary every day people speaking their mind, sharing their stories and simply communicating. In that videoblogging has and is succeeding beyond many of our wildest dreams.

In the video blogging world we are already living the dream, vlogging IS a success... all the beautiful things we've dreamed of have come true... all the "overwhelming intangibles" have been there since the first day people picked up their camera and posted videos to their blog.

This amazing ability between people across the world to connect on a deep, profound and personal level is inherent in the video blogging medium. Much more so then good old fashion text blogging, photo blogging or even audio blogging.

One might say though that this "message in the medium" has even been inherent in the web since before blogging, and that videoblogging is simply an extension of the obvious... of what the internet already is with all it's blogs, wikis, bulletin boards, mailing lists, and even it's earliest bulletin boards. However, it is clear that videoblogging is currently and for the near and foreseeable future the height of this fulfillment and that as we move forward this new space will continue to bloom as it becomes accessible to more and more of the world. I truly believe we haven't even begun to reach the full potential of this sector; video as a tool for mass communications... not communicating TOO the masses... but for the masses to communicat with each other.

So while many, myself included, will always be struggling to take it to the next level, to grow this fledgling little hobby of ours into an entertainment and communications industry and to continue to improve on it and make it ever more accessible throughout the world the truth is we're already living the dream. We're already doing what we want to do.

Like blogging the majority of us may never make money off our video blogs, at least not directly, but that is of no consequence for us. Videoblogging connects us in new ways and opens not just new doorways but a whole realm of possibilities around the world. It's a very large step down that path to the new global village.

It is not about the entertainment for us... it's simply about a radical new shift in communications. All the power of CNN to connect with people around the world and much more is now afforded to anyone with a digital camera and internet access.

In many respects videoblogging has fulfilled on all those misdirected concepts of ubiquitous video telephones and then some. That we didn't realize that realtime one to one video wasn't the solution is inconsequential. The real answer is web-time one to many... and whatever role those original concepts of video telephony held we can now see that while they had may have their place they are to video misdirected. They are in fact as misdirected as the concept that Alexander Graham Bell had that the telephone would be the new radio, broadcasting messages to the world.

Recently I've read a lot of hype about the iPhone and despite the slow AT&T EDGE network, and despite the fact that it doesn't have a video camera and can only shoot still photos... despite this and yet because it is has ubiquitous and powerful wifi accessibilty with full and unprecedented access to all webservices (read: END to END interoperability) it will wether it gets it's video capabilities soon... or wether AT&T and the EDGE continue to suck... or even if apple refuses to open the platform to software development it has truly changed the game and will accelerate this world where we will all be able to participate in a ubiquitous and immersive media rich communications revolution. It has accelerated this eventuality by at least one or two years.

As our ability to both create and respond to each other with rich many-to-many audio, text, video and photo becomes untethered from the desktop the power and utility of these medium as tools of communication will expand exponentially.

Apple's iPhone's with it's many great promises and despite it's few minor flaws brings new and unprecidented access to this world of media rich communications on the street, in the world and puts it at our fingertips and in our pockets. That it doesn't yet fullfil every promise hardly matters. It has changed the game, set new precident and laid out the model for all others to follow. Within a year or two's time we'll not just have $500 iphones and $1000 Nokia N90 series phones but sub $100 phones which are capable of ubiqutiously accessing and creating many to many video, audio, and photo communications around on cellular networks, wifi, and hopefully even wimax... where everything we know now about these communications will simply explode and we'll realize huge new potentials and efficiencies we have yet to even dream of.

The model is already set, and some would say has been since the internet began, with it's inherent end-to-end architecture. All that remains now is to sharpen the toolsets and services, to cheapen and improve the hardware, to make it more accessible, and to enjoy, revel in and evangelize these new freedoms.

Rupert's video, shot so simply with a Nokia video cam as he speaks his mind rushing to work down london streets, not only summarizes the optimism I've felt about videoblogging since I discovered it myself in 2004 but is also for me a demonstration what it's all about, communicating and connecting with friends, family and people of like mind you have yet to meet no matter where they are in the world.

Re: Waking up at Twittervlog.tv

P.S. Thanks, Rupert for the inspiration, I hope you don't mind my theivery of the idea and spirit of your message and I hope that maybe I've expanded on it in some worth manner if not just exposed it to a few more eyeballs. ;)