Behold! I am back with another podcast, and in a relatively reasonable timeframe as well! I had planned to do this a few days earlier, but a sore throat kept me from my microphone. Hopefully all the stories are still relevant!
I’m sure there are budgetary reasons for this as well
On episode seven of Media. Future. Change. we investigate the buzz behind Google Buzz, who is living in a box, why there are cutbacks at the BBC, and how you can keep track of your dog.
Well, hello there, welcome to Media. Future. Change. This is Episode 7. Lots of interesting things have been happening over the past couple of weeks, so it’s about time I updated you on ten of them that have caught my eye. I have also been blogging a bit more recently as well, so make sure you check out mediafuturechange.com for more stuff. Hey, and if you have a topic you want to share, why not write up a guest post? There’s always room for more ideas, opinions and authors. Now, let us get on.
Did you happen to hear about Google Buzz? If ever there was a way to do things wrong. Google introduced the new collaborative social thingamy in the worst possible way. Gmail users were suddenly confronted with an option to join Google Buzz. If you said yes, it loaded up the Buzz - a place for you to post links, short messages, and share with others - and it defaulted all privacy settings to on. You were automatically set up to follow everyone on your profile, and they could see everything about you, and everyone who followed them could see everything about you. It was bad. Google acted instantly, and after a real backlash, they made some tweaks to the default policies. It was a real eye-opener though. So many of our online utilities are by Google - well mine are anyway - and with the flick of a switch, they can reveal it to the world. It’s not exactly encouraging to people to trust the cloud, is it?
Warner Music has decided to step back from streaming services such as Spotify and Last.fm, with a statement suggesting they are harming the music industry. CEO of Warner, Edgar Bronfman Jr, said: “Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry and as far as Warner Music is concerned will not be licensed. The ‘get all your music you want for free, and then maybe with a few bells and whistles we can move you to a premium price’ strategy is not the kind of approach to business that we will be supporting in the future.” He’s not averse to the pay model, though, the one where you spend £10 a month or so for unlimited streaming. I’m not sure why it matters to him, though, because presumably they get their royalty fee either way? Love to hear your thoughts on this, head on over to mediafuturechange.com
A new micropayment system has appeared recently, called Flattr, with the requisite lack of attention to vowels - F-L-A-T-T-R. It’s in Beta at the moment, invite only, so I couldn’t test it out or review many of the features but I can tell you what I know. The idea is simple - as a user, you sign up to pay a certain amount each month, the minimum is two Euros. Then as you meander about your internet business, if you find a song you like, a blog post you enjoy, then assuming the site is participating you can click a button to offer up a reward. At the end of the month, your subscribed amount is split between the sites you want to reward. It sounds complicated, and the founder says he wants it to be simple. That founder happens to be no less than Peter Sunde, also founder of The Pirate Bay. It does sound a bit odd coming from the Pirate Bay’s direction, but Sunde does at least understand. He said: “I know that people are nice enough. People love things and they want to pay.” At least someone understands we want to give them our money!
Did you watch any of the winter Olympics? I tried to keep up but the time zone wasn’t ideal for me. The Ski Cross looked amazing, though. I cannot complain about the coverage here in the UK, the BBC did a fine job. Particularly if you compare it to NBC. I’ve heard loads of complaints about the broadcast delays, very frustrating for people who are in the same time zone as Vancouver and still can’t watch live. You would think in times like that, you could head to the web to watch online. Nope. From a fabulous CNET article written by an author who I won’t even attempt to pronounce… oh go on then, Chris Matyszczyk: “…a mere 400 hours of video will be shown live online. And should you be a enthusiast of something other than curling or hockey, you will not feel terribly lucky. Nothing other than curling and hockey will be shown live online. Nothing. Once you have downloaded Silverlight, you will be able to watch those two sports live or short highlight packages of other sports. That’s it.” Just curling and hockey? Madness.
Whilst you are not watching the Olympics online, then, perhaps we can find you some other entertainment. How about a man locking himself in a box in the hopes that some people will find him? No? This one is just weird. Tim Shaw is using Justin.tv, and is in collaboration with The Sun, to broadcast himself being locked in a steel box for 30 days somewhere in the UK. If you manage to find him, you win £30,000. I just had a look, and the guy was lying on his side, playing Solitaire. I know that since the dawn of Big Brother, we have been able to watch people doing essentially nothing, but at least with Big Brother it is not just one person. If I wanted to view Solitaire being played, I would play it myself. But what do you think? Is it just one big publicity stunt? Or is it good that one guy can essentially come up with a simple idea and make a phenomenon of it? I don’t suppose it is actually a phenomenon yet, but you know what I mean.
You know that whole argument over whether a ISP should be held responsible for what its users do? The same argument applies to a website, and whether a service such as eBay should be held responsible for what happens on it. Italian courts have found the auction site - can we still call it that even though it’s trying to distance itself from auctions now? - guilty of trademark infringement, and fined them 230,000 Euros. The lawsuit was brought about by Louis Vuitton who aren’t at all happy about their bags being sold on the site - fake or otherwise. eBay have done their best to work with the designer label, but apparently the real problem stems from users using Google Adwords with Louis Vuitton in to direct people to eBay. What can eBay do about that? The cases rumble on, and this one is at odds with a similar case in Belgium with Ralph Lauren. eBay suggested they weren’t at all happy with this latest decision but were at least glad the judge settled for the couple of hundred thousand Euros rather than the 1.2 million Louis Vuitton was looking for.
Now, onto something a lot less serious. I’ve mentioned before, I think, the idea of a camera you can put around your dog or cat’s neck that will snap pictures every few seconds. That way you can follow where they have been all day while you’ve been at work. Now take that one step further and toy maker Mattel are ready to launch something called, drum roll please, Puppy Tweets. It’s a dog collar that is wifi-enabled, so when the animal moves or barks or whatever, the device tweets. There are 500 pre-written tweets that actually have nothing to do with what the dog is doing and say things like: “I bark because I miss you. There, I said it. Now hurry home.” Cute, or annoying. I can’t decide which. It’s reminiscent of the Big Ben twitter thing that Bongs every hour. It’s funny occasionally, but it lost its novelty pretty quickly, and is now really a bit pointless.
The BBC have reviewed their output recently and come up with a new strategy that has been making waves. The premise of the review was to simply determine where the BBC goes from here, and director general Mark Thompson summed it up: “The BBC needs to acknowledge that we must also change the way we behave and act. As broadcasters and newspapers bump into each other online and on other platforms the strain has increased.” Essentially, they’re getting a bit too big and want to pull back, concentrating on quality rather than quantity. I’m sure there are budgetary reasons for this as well. They’re chopping a couple of the digital only stations - 6 Music and the Asian Network - and apparently the website is going to halve in size. That would be an impressive feat, it’s enormous! This whole topic could be a week-long podcast but I just wanted to mention it as it’s an interesting subject. Should the BBC pull back their content? Is cutting stations really the way to achieve it? Particularly when listeners and fans of 6 Music would argue that it is exactly the essence of quality - something commercial radio would not be able to pull off. There are some fascinating comments on the BBC, one of which asks whether cutting one episode of Eastenders a week would save the money required to fund 6 Music. Who decides whether Eastenders or the station has more value to licence payers? I think I may have to blog this at some point, but if you’ve got any thoughts, please share them in the comments.
This is just a quick one. Just recently, Apple managed to celebrate their 10 billion songs milestone - something they celebrated with the traditional countdown and prize. A $10,000 iTunes Gift Card - I would give my right arm for that. But, my real point here is, can 10 billion songs really be a milestone worth celebrating? At what point does the number become meaningless? 10 billion is already more than I can even imagine - will they do the same for 10 catrillion? I would rather that they took that 10,000 and made the TV shows 10p cheaper for a while. That would help me anyway.
Our final story this week is a striking reminder of just how much information we are putting out there into the wider world known as the internet. A new site - pleaserobme.com - does exactly what it says on the tin. It analyses various social networks to work out where people are, and whether their house is empty. The site has an about page, titled Why? and says: “The danger is publicly telling people where you are. This is because it leaves one place you’re definitely not… home. So here we are; on one end we’re leaving lights on when we’re going on a holiday, and on the other we’re telling everybody on the internet we’re not home.” Even if you’re confident that you don’t put out information of where you live or where you’re going, it’s still worth having a look at the site, and recommending it to others, just as a sharp reminder of privacy issues. Pleaserobme.com don’t want to rob you, but someone out there might!
On that happy note, it’s time to go. Before we disappear though, it’s time for your homework. Last week I recommended a new blog for you to read, but this week I’m just going to pose a question. I spent a bit of time recently trawling through tabloid newspaper websites. Tabloids are ridiculous, but hilarious at the same time. The News of the World is a Sunday paper associated with The Sun. So, why does the News of the World have a website? What is the point of a Sunday paper being online, when the internet doesn’t shut down for the rest of the week?
That will do it for this show. Don’t forget to leave your thoughts about anything and everything we’ve discussed, the format of the show, or whatever is on your mind. Mediafuturechange.com. See you next time.