Twitter, Roddick, The US Open, The NFL and MORE!

If there is one thing you can rely on with new information/communication technologies its that those in power trying to control the spread of information for political or financial reasons will do whatever they can to slow the (inevitable) progress.

This week all the news is about how the US Open, the NFL and other major sporting leagues are trying to ban the use of Twitter by, depending on the sport, the players, the reporters and even, in some cases, the fans.

As reported by the NYT, Andy Roddick is one of many who think this is a bad idea and implies it might not have much force of power:

“I think its lame the U.S. Open is trying to regulate our tweeting,” he wrote Friday night. “I understand the on-court issue but not sure they can tell us if we can’t do it on our own time … we’ll see.”

Of course, for those in power, Twitter should be the least of their worries.  Think about all the fans with iPhones who can record and post video right there in the stands.  And why this obsession with Twitter? What about texting or emailing or shouting very loudly in a crowded room?

The point is that while one can understand trying to protect broadcast rights, it is hard to understand how a written communication from those attending or involved in a sporting event are going to somehow devalue those rights.

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Filed under Uncategorized Comes Up with an “Alibi”

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Sometime I wonder if I post things just to come up with a Variety-speak headline.

Anyhow, just watched episode one of “My Alibi” on (see below).  This was a pick-up for ABC of an existing show from Take180 which tries to elicit audience participation in the form of cliffhangers with resolutions that can be voted on.

The production value is decent and the casting of a 90210-alum can’t hurt but I am not convinced that this sort of simplistic interaction is going to be the hook for a webseries aimed at teens and tweens (or anyone else, really).  Primarily, these interactions tend to hurt the actual story since so many alternatives must be conceived and, at times, produced, even if they aren’t the most satisfying or dramatic direction, due to fan interferance.

Instead, webseries need to find more innovative and immersive ways to get audiences involved OR create a passive story that is good enough to stand on its own.  “MyAlibi” falls into a bit of an unfortunate gap between these two solutions.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Great Gatorade Subway Poster Remix

Although Poster Boy has been getting most of the credit for the very creative remixing of the NYC subway ads that plague us riders, it has been going on for years.

Recently, I saw this incredibly simple but totally brilliant little remix of a Gatorade ad:


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New York Times Helps Movie Studios Spread Lies and Fear

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New York Times writers By BRIAN STELTER and BRAD STONE (full disclosure: Brad interviewed and quoted me for his article on $200 netbooks and I think he seems like a real nice guy) seem to have been drinking a bit too much of the movie industry’s KoolAid.

In an article in today’s paper they write the following:

But if media companies are winning the battle against illegal video clips, they are losing the battle over illicit copies of full-length TV episodes and films. The Motion Picture Association of America says that illegal downloads and streams are now responsible for about 40 percent of the revenue the industry loses annually as a result of piracy.

The problem here is that this 40% figure is completely mythical and the reporters neither back up this outrageous claim or offer any subtantive basis for it being made.

The truth is that Hollywood revenue was up year-to-year and there is little true corellation between rates of piracy and Hollywood profits.  The concept that every “pirated” viewing is lost revenue is simply absurd.  It is wrong to assume that people who watch something for free would be willing to pay instead if the free version were gone.

I might watch “Paul Blart: Mall Cop” on a pirate stream for a few minutes but I will not pay $12.50 to go see it on a big screen.  If the pirated version isn’t available I just won’t see the movie at all.  However, if it is a great movie I want to see on a big screen I will cough up the coin.

The overall tone of this article makes it seem like this piracy is a massive crimewave instead of a rational response to an industry that refuses to evolve with the times.  There is a reason that the studios are losing this war: they aren’t changing to meet their customer’s needs and so their customers are going elsewhere:

But many industry experts say the practice is becoming much more prevalent. “Streaming has gotten efficient and cheap enough and it gives users more control than downloads do. This is where piracy is headed,” said James L. McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research. “Consumers are under the impression that everything they want to watch should be easily streamable.”

Of course they are under that impression – it’s true.  Where studios and TV networks are losing money is by not finding ways to offer a similar service at a reasonable price.

When they do make the effort, like with, they see great results.  Viewership goes up immediately.

Why they don’t simply release copies to torrent sites with ads embedded is completely beyond my comprehension.  With what they waste each year trying to “fight” piracy, they could develop and distribute a new business model that would make pirating basically obsolete.

Instead, they risk going the way of the music industry and suing their way right out of business.

Meanwhile, I am baffled as to why the New York Times seems to be siding so heavily with “Big Hollywood.”

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Fear of a Google Planet

The New York Times uses a painfully bad metaphore comparing Google’s Book Search program to Daniel Day Lewis in “There Will Be Blood.”

IN 2002, Google began to drink the milkshakes of the book world.

Back then, according to the company’s official history, it began a “secret ‘books’ project.” Today, that project is known as Google Book Search and, aided by a recent class-action settlement, it promises to transform the way information is collected: who controls the most books; who gets access to those books; how access will be sold and attained. There will be blood, in other words.

The article lays out the fears of some that Google is going to create some sort of evil book monopoly by scanning and indexing the collection of America’s (and maybe the world’s) libraries:

Robert Darnton, the head of the Harvard library system, writes about the Google class-action agreement with the passion of a Progressive Era muckraker.

“Google will enjoy what can only be called a monopoly — a monopoly of a new kind, not of railroads or steel but of access to information,” Mr. Darnton writes. “Google has no serious competitors.”

He adds, “Google alone has the wealth to digitize on a massive scale. And having settled with the authors and publishers, it can exploit its financial power from within a protective legal barrier; for the class action suit covers the entire class of authors and publishers.”

While the article does go on offer a number of solid counter-arguments, it is disturbing that the lead voice is that of, well, a scared Luddite.

Simply because Google is the only company willing and/or able to take on such a massive program is no reason to fear the amazing potential the program will have.  To be able to search and access the collections of any library from anywhere in the world is just not a bad thing.  In fact, it is a glorious thing to spread information and knowledge.

Will Google suddenly control all the information in the world by scanning and indexing it?  I don’t see that happening.  It certainly won’t be harder to access material via Google than it would be to walk in off the street to Harvard’s library and borrow whatever you want.  Try that one and see how far you get.

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Havard Law Students Take on the RIAA

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There’s a very important case brewing in Boston where Joel Tenebaum is being sued by the RIAA for what could be $1,000,000 all for downloading seven songs from a popular P2P network.

ArsTech has been covering the story and they have a great overview/update of it on their blog.  Here’s a taste:

[Harvard Law Professor] Nesson took the case, acting as Tenenbaum’s attorney, but he outsourced the work of research, strategy, and brief writing to a set of eager Harvard Law students. The students would quickly mount an ambitious defense, not just of Joel Tenenbaum, but of the claim that the RIAA legal campaign was unconstitutionally excessive and improper. Armed with a law library, Twitter, a Web site, and caffeine, the students have already made sure that the upcoming Tenenbaum trial will eclipse the Minnesota Jammie Thomas case for sheer spectacle.

This is great reporting by ArsTech on a story everyone should be following.

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Time Warner Cable Losing Subscribers. I’m One of Them.

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God, I love being part of a trend! Especially when that trend is to dump your over-priced, inflexible and poorly serviced cable TV via Time Warner Cable.

According to CNet:

The cable operator only gained about 49,000 new lines for a total of 34.2 million during the quarter. And basic video subscriptions decreased by 197,000, to 13.1 million. This drop was attributed to customers ending their service, but was also due to the fact that Time Warner Cable sold some properties.

Aside from the obvious reason that paying close to $100/month to watch TV is a tough pill to swallow in this tight economy, the free alternatives just continue to become easier to access.  I dumped my TWC TV service almost two months ago and continue to see everything I want – I just don’t pay through the nose for the privilege.

While I hate to see anyone lose a job due to a business downsizing, I simply can’t root for Time Warner Cable in this particular battle.

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