Tag Archives: Google

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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HarperCollins Poised for FAIL with Jeff Jarvis Along for the Ride

American journalist Jeff Jarvis at the 2008 Wo...
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While I realize that the publishing industry is struggling in this digital age I just don’t see how HarperCollins is hoping to make things better with what they are calling “VBooks” or Video Books.

Basically, this entails an author sitting in front of a white wall giving one samples and highlights from their actual book.

A few problems I foresee:

1) This is not a promotional device.  Their first offering, a Vbook by Jeff Jarvis, costs ten bucks and it isn’t even the whole book being read.

2) This format does not add anything of value to the actual book.  Not only is there less information provided but it is impossible to notate, link, copy & paste or do any of the other things with like to do with books and E-books.

3) Few authors are truly compelling enough in this sort of setting to be much more than a cure for insomnia.

4) Maybe it’s just the combo of Jeff Jarvis and the white background but I keep thinking, while watching the sample, that this is just a big ad for E-Harmony.

All-in-all, I rate this as a big old waste of time and resources.

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I Love Scene Kid LOVE

Quick thanks to Tilzy.tv for turning me onto “Scene Kid LOVE” a dead-on satire of the Facebook generation with a brilliant combination of love and snark.

This series is racking up an impressive 300,000+ views/episode and holds those numbers steady over time.  The writing and acting is fantastic and reminds me in some ways of the UK’s “Absolutely Fabulous” but I can’t say they are actually similar.

Anyhow, it is a fantastic example of speaking to your audience and not trying to reach the lowest-common-denominator.  This is where webseries really shine. (see: The Guild)

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In 2009, Big Media to Continue Losing to Pirates

National Football League
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Unless someone makes a very bold move, there is no reason to think that various forms of digital piracy will continue to grow in 2009.

This will be in the face of increased government scrutiny and bolder attempts by groups like RIAA to shut it all down.

Why?  Because the powers behind all big media continues to think that they can somehow beat back the digital tide and continue to make money with business models that have become obsolete.

Take this comment from a recent post on BusinessWeek:

The basic problem is that Hollywood is attempting to preserve an analog business model in a digital age. The result is a crazy quilt of availability in different media, in different geographies, and at different times. Our Man in Havana turns up now and then on cable channels, and the DVD has been available from Sony in Britain since 2005. But that disk is coded so it only works in European “Zone 2” players, not in North America. All of this makes little sense in a world where digital copies, legal or otherwise, are freely available.

If you doubt that, just try Googling (GOOG) “unlocked DVD players” and see how easy it is to get around the geographic zone restrictions. Or simply download a copy of the movie using BitTorrent, as I did. I don’t want to condone piracy. Yet it’s hard to condemn—or resist—when there’s a commodity item out there on the market and the vendor, for no particular reason, neglects to make it available to buyers.

The major sports leagues are facing a similar challenge.  As a first-person example, last night I was at my girlfriend’s TV & cable-free apartment and wanted to see a bit of the NFL playoff game.  I went to Google and tried looking up “streaming NFL playoff.”  A got a whole slew of options, none of which were official options provided by the NFL.

What I found was a site with links to “pirate” streams of the game provided by fellow fans who had taken the TV signal, routed it through their computer via a TV-tuner card and then posted that signal to any number of streaming hosts (UStream was last night’s helpful friend).

Within about 60 seconds I was watching a sort of low-res but completely watchable live transmission of the game.  I was also forced to watch all the ads, so I’m not even sure how this hurts anyone… but the NFL considers this a huge problem.

Of course, the problem isn’t pirates, it’s that the NFL (and MLB, the NHL and the rest of them) have failed to provide a viable option of their own that fits the needs of many potential customers.

How about simply charging $.99 to watch a game online.  With the commercials, even.  I would pay that just to have a simple, high-res, on-demand stream of the game I want to see.

It isn’t that people are dying to use pirate-methods to get the content they desire.  They are just not willing to jump through endless hoops and be over-charged for that content.

As soon as big media wises up to this and decides to go back to treating customers as people they serve instead of people they sue they will put the pirates right out of business.

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The Strange Case of Gabe and Max (and Details)

One its own merits, there is nothing all that wrong with Gabe and Max’s Guide to Style, a sort of silly, campy webseries that pokes fun at male fashion and sexual ambiguity.

The thing that is weird is that it is for Details Magazine, that actually tries to take both of the aforementioned topics pretty darn seriously.  It is almost like they decided to make a webseries that just made fun of everything their magazine stands for.

Adding insult to injury, less that 20,000 people have viewed episode one on YouTube and episode two hasn’t hit 3,000.

As a point of reference, there are currently 22,003 people watching the puppies.

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Scion, Mercedes and the Battle for Gen-Y Drivers

Scion introduces the 2...

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There is a nice little post over on YPulse that takes a look at two very different new media approaches to marketing cars to young people.

Scion has been actively targeting youngins for a while now, making appearances in a number of AdultSwim cartoons including “Assy McGee” and “Frisky Dingo.” I guess they weren’t getting what they wanted from that relationship so they are now making their own branded entertainment which can be viewed oven at on their very own branded portal, here.

Their latest series, “The Fists of Oblivion”, features a bunch of Kung Fu puppets. And not a single Scion. Or much in the way of entertainment value – unless you really dig puppets fighting.  It isn’t clear how this will help sell cars.  Even more interersting is that “The Fists of Oblivion” gets exactly one unrelated return on a Google search, so god knows how anyone would even find it if they wanted to.

Meanwhile, Mercedes is taking a more high-minded approach:

“…by inviting an exclusive group of Gen Y consumers to www.generationbenz.com, a password-protected website. MediaPost (reg. required) reports that the site is an attempt to mine the select Gen Y sample for insight towards their “attitudes, lifestyle and brand preferences” through questionnaires, polls and live chats. Ultimately, the company “hopes to get a new group of consumers into the brand and shape the brand for the future.” (via)

Whether either of these campaigns will get young people to buy their cars is tough to gauge but at least Mercedes has a chance of coming away with a bit of useful data

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HowCast iPhone App – Video Done Right

The HowCast App, now available at the AppStore, lets you have every video from the HowCast site available on your iPhone.

This is what every video website should be doing.  Not to mention every TV network.  I’m actually surprised how few entities have taken advantage of the exposure that is possible providing a clean iPhone app version of their site.

Since there is still no way to watch the videos within the browser, this is the only way that these sites can reach the fastest growing headset market in the world…

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