The first episode of 2010 has a brand new look, and covers a wide range of topics that have caught my eye over the past
It doesn’t work like that anymore
From the Apple iPad, to the Amazon Kindle and everything in between, MFC gets a fresh look for 2010. Topics in this show also include how to keep wiki sites in business, and what would happen if you printed Twitter.
Hello, good day and welcome. This is Media. Future. Change. Episode 6. I’m mixing things up for our first episode of 2010. Yes, I know it’s February and I didn’t do a show yet this year. Hush. Instead of the Audio/Text/Video format of old, I’m going to count down ten stories that have caught my eye this week, er… month. Let’s waste no time talking about it, though, and get right on with the good stuff.
Well, you know what number one is, don’t you? Of course, it’s the Apple iPad. I’m covering it first and quickly so we can get it out the way and move on. Firstly, the name is terrible. Really, really bad. Secondly, I’ve seen a lot of reaction along the lines of, we don’t need this, it’s unnecessary, another thing to carry, etc, etc. The same kind of things were said when the iPod came out. We don’t need any of the gadgets we know and love, but they can and do revolutionise the way we go about our day. I don’t know if the iPad will have the same effect, and it is still way too early to say. It’s not about this version of the iPad, it’s about what it can do in the future when app developers get their hands on it. Thirdly, and finally, it went quite a way down in my estimation when the iBookstore turned out to be US only. I can only hope they see sense to make it worldwide, but if the Kindle is anything to go by, I’ll be waiting a long time.
The Haiti earthquakes were completely devastating, and although the search for survivors was called off, and the media stopped giving it so much attention, recovery will take a lot longer. One of the things that impressed me most of all, though, was the sheer number of ways to donate to the cause. Almost instantly, the Red Cross had a text to donate number, and after only a week or so, they had beaten the entire previous year’s text donations figure. The scale of the campaign was incredible, and with Twitter and Facebook helping to spread the message, plus ways to donate so easily via phone, or Paypal, or iTunes, the sum just kept on rising. With a concert, and music sales following that as well, it’s almost impossible not to give them your money. I didn’t like much of the music in the concert, but we still gave iTunes a bit of money for the cause. Shakira let the side down, I feel.
Mashable has a really interesting blog post published this week about comments, and whether they are useful or not. Technology blog Engadget have closed their comments for now, because they don’t feel they are adding anything to the conversation. More to the point, the announcement read: “Hey guys, we know you like to have your fun, voice your opinions, and argue over your favorite gear, but over the past few days the tone in comments has really gotten out of hand. What is normally a charged — but fun — environment for our users and editors has become mean, ugly, pointless, and frankly threatening in some situations… and that’s just not acceptable.” It’s long been true that comment trolls exist, YouTube being the well-used example of some scary segments of the population. Engadget are sure that switching off comments is fine because their readership is so much bigger than that. But isn’t the internet about two-way communication, rather than the top down level we see in newspapers, and where does this leave us in terms of open and engaged debate? I have no answers, but I’m keen to hear what you think. Is it worth the trolls for the useful comments? Also, just as a side note, when I looked, Engadget still had a rather large graphic in the sidebar with the most commented articles listed out. I guess that won’t be updating anytime soon.
A New Debate on Blog Comments is Brewing
We’re Turning Comments Off for a Bit
Have you heard of WikiLeaks? I only heard of it recently, and admittedly, I’ve never actually visited the site. It appears that for now I won’t be able to either. The site was making a name for itself for hosting documents, submitted anonymously, that tend to blow the whistle on various contentious topics. They do plenty of verification to establish originality of these documents but in true Wiki fashion, the site relies on donations to fund it’s operations, including overheads of hosting and staffing. With that and growing legal costs, the budget runs to about $600,000 a year, and they’ve only managed to raise less than a quarter of that. I don’t have much to say on the Whistleblower aspect of it, except that the BBC ran a story with quotes from an investigative journalist who said: “The problem for the self-funding model is that sites like WikiLeaks will not find it easy to attract funding through advertising. At some point people who care about free speech will realise that free speech has to be funded, otherwise it’s not free.”
Wikileaks whistleblower site in temporary shutdown
Way back at the beginning of January, and bearing that awful slogan – US only – Pearl Jam gave away their brand new single to consumers, if they posted a message to Twitter about it. The song Just Breathe was available for free, if you hit the connect button on their site, entered in your twitter details and followed directions. They issued you with an iTunes coupon code which translated into a free-of-charge download. Great thinking from Pearl Jam, as people like getting things for very little effort, and spreading the message via Twitter is as good as any campaign you can start. It is a little bit specific though. Most giveaways say things like: no purchase necessary, and if you want to enter another way write to this address. For your free song, you have to use Twitter, you have to use iTunes and you have to do it their way. Just something to think about.
The Price of Pearl Jam’s New Single: One Tweet
We have good and bad news when it comes to online streaming and video rentals. This month, Netflix announced a deal with Warner Brothers so that the film distributor will release more of their movies to the online rental service, but it comes at a price. Now, Netflix will delay new title rentals for 28 days after the DVD is released. They are promoting it as a good thing, yay for more content, but we can all see this is just a desperate bid to retain the old format – watch film in cinema, rent movie, buy movie. It doesn’t work like that anymore, and they need to wake up and realise that.
Say Goodbye to the Netflix New Release Rental
In better news, YouTube announced their intention to start renting movies online, beginning with five films that were featured at the Sundance Festival. They are looking at more distributors to work with, and the CNET article about the announcment says: “Going forward, YouTube is inviting what it calls a “small group” of partners that will be able to apply the new rental model to videos they have hosted on the service. And similar to what YouTube did with paid video downloads around this same time last year, owners of these videos will be able to set their own pricing, as well as duration of how long that rental can be accessed.” With every step, YouTube is trying to get away from being that place where you view the keyboard cat, or the latest Beyonce music video. I hope they can find a way to do both.
YouTube to Sundance: Independent Filmmakers Wanted
In the middle of January, a new site opened called Blippy. I hate it. It’s touted as a “purchase sharing tool”, meaning if you shop online, it tells the world how much you spent and where you spent it. This is fine, I guess, and one of those things that people can sign up to if they really want their whole life to be out there in the open. At the time of recording, I can tell you that Leo Laporte of the TWiT network just spent $6 at iTunes, purchasing amongst others, two songs by A.M Kidd. He spent $32 at the New York Times – his fourth purchase since joining Blippy. And he spent $250 at a restaurant in San Francisco, as a first time customer. This is more information than I would ever need or want, and if it’s supposed to be used as a recommendation tool, I can think of less intrusive ways of doing it. It also strikes me as exactly the same tool that Facebook tried to launch with their Beacon project. Alright, that was more underhanded, and played havoc with your privacy. This is opt-in, but I will firmly choose to opt-out and stay out.
We all talk about Twitter too much, so just some very short snippets. I was very excited about the internet connection on the ISS, meaning the astronauts can now Twitter live from space. They previously posted things to Twitter, but it involved relaying their message back to earth so someone could tweet it for them. Now it’s all go up there.
Bill Gates joined Twitter less than a month ago, and within 12 hours, he’d broken the 100,000 follower mark. He’s currently almost at 450,000 and I’m sure this podcast will shoot the number right up. Eh-hem. Gates tweets about things that interest him, including politics, technology, and the various foundations he’s involved with.
Finally, there was another of those infographics created called If You Printed Twitter, with some fascinating facts. Here are a couple:
If you printed Twitter and did nothing but read tweets throughout the entire work day, it would take 2,912 years to get through it.
If you printed Twitter and laid the pages end to end, they would stretch 60,763 miles or two and a half times around the earth.
I don’t know whether you’ve been keeping up with the Jammie Thomas legal action in the States, but it’s taken an interesting turn – if only because this will no doubt set a precedent for the future. It’s been rumbling on for ages, but here’s the brief: She was found guilty of sharing music, therefore wilfully infringing on copyright, and fined $1.9 million. A court just recently reduced the damages to $54,000, saying the RIAA couldn’t possibly justify that high an amount in damages. The music association offered her a settlement of $25,000 but Jammie Thomas and her lawyers have refused. That means it goes back to trial again. Her lawyers are looking for the case to be thrown out, the RIAA are keen to challenge some of the conclusions that saw the damages lowered. When will it end?
Jammie Thomas rejects RIAA’s $25,000 settlement offer
Finally, whilst all the attention was on the iPad, still a horrible name! Amazon opened up the Kindle to third party apps. Well, I say opened up. They released a developer kit and encouraged apps but within reason. They have to stick to some strict ground rules, they’re limited to greyscale, obviously, and the Amazon examples include sudoku, dictionarys, crosswords, all the thrilling things people want from an app. A dictionary would be kinda useful, I suppose, but it’s not really a rival to the Apple app store. Still, it seems that a device is not relevant without an app store, so Amazon have got with the programme.
Fatal flaw in Amazon’s Kindle developer programme
Ahh, you thought this was just a short little podcast you could relax and listen to, didn’t you? Wrong! I am giving you a homework assignment this week. Don’t worry, it’s completely optional and pretty easy. I would like you to head on over to CNET and check out the new Molly Rants blog. Molly Wood, CNET Editor and host of the most excellent Buzz Out Loud and Buzz Report shows, has taken her ranting to a new medium – the written word. There have been just a few articles so far, but they’re well crafted, insightful, and certainly worth a second look. Plus, they take pot shots at the media industry, and that’s what we like to see. Tell ’em how it is, Molly.
So, that will do it for this week’s show. Feedback is always appreciated, particularly on the new format vs the old one. As ever, we’re a work in progress, even though MediaFutureChange.com is six months old now. It’s a slow work in progress. Leave your thoughts on the site, and stay tuned for the next show.