All 30 entries tagged New Media

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February 03, 2007

Web 2.0 to the fore: The Davos Web 2.0 Webcast

Web 2.0 to the fore

Well I didn't know it at the time but my selling of Web 2.0 to parents and prospective media students was bang on target for 2007. It has been obvious for some months that MySpace and YouTube are the public face of significant changes in the way that the internet and ultimately the future models of the media industry for some time will start to work. The fact that there was a special section of the Davos economic forum devoted to Web 2.0 is highly significant. The webcast which can also be downloaded as a Realplayer file has some very interesting comments not least from Bill Gates. 

Second Life Intervention 

Before you click onto the Davos webcast I thought I'd just draw your attention to some serious social protest from the virtual world with a link to the real world as reported by Adam Reuters:

Pictured below: luemmel Lemmon of the WEF protest group DaDavos. (The group has a beautifully designed logo, which is displayed on his placard and can also be seen on the website.) Luemmel is talking to a guy whose name I missed, but who is perfectly dressed to fit in here among the suits.

Davos Protest Seconf Life

The Davos Webcast page on Web 2.0. There are several language version here. This is a copy of the line up:

The rapid rise of online social networks is both a social and business phenomenon, the impact of which is only beginning to be understood. The consumer-powered Web 2.0 creates innovative ways for businesses to operate and people to communicate.

  1. What is driving the emergence of virtual communities? Is the rapid rise in their valuations justified?
  2. How are companies beginning to use social networking strategies for product and market development, as well as for communication?
  • Caterina Fake, Founder, Flickr, USA
  • William H. Gates III, Chairman, Microsoft Corporation, USA
  • Chad Hurley, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer, YouTube, USA
  • Mark G. Parker, President and Chief Executive Officer, Nike, USA
  • Viviane Reding, Commissioner, Information Society and Media, European Commission, Brussels

Challenger

  • Dennis Kneale, Managing Editor, Forbes Magazine, USA


Viacom Versus YouTube

Relatively Old Media versus New Media: Viacom versus YouTube

YouTube

Introduction 

Well one of the most interesting New Media stories to break at the beginning of February is the spat developing between Viacom who control MTV and Google's recently bought YouTube. Its fornt page stuff  for the Weekend Financial Times (non-virtual) and it also appears in their important Lex column and it's an important story for the BBC online business / technology columns. 

Viacom too greedy for its own good? 

Its interesting because it raises the question of whether Viacom in the longer term is shooting itself in the foot.  Viacom has demanded that YouTube remove approximately 100,000 videos which contain some of its copyrighted material from MTV videos and other easy to use clips. this is likely to intensely irritate an exponentially increasing youth community who have already rocked the mainstream music industry to the core. The youth market is primarily who music videos aim at and those are the same people who are increasingly turning to user generated content, perhaps in a post-modern style of hybridised mish-mash of images which partially use 'found objects' such as bits of music video. 

The fact of the matter is that the dramtically falling prices of technology and the rapidly growing base of people who can use these technologies represents the youth 'barbarians' battering at the gates of civilisation as Viacom shareholders know it.

The attitude which Viacom are taking is merely likely to help create a sort of repetition of Punk where the behmoths and dinosaurs of mid-seventies rock spending onanistic months producing some 'concept' album or another. The young don't mind it raw and 'in yer face' the key thing about the content is that it needs to be up to date and dynamic. The era of 'high added value' otherwise known as ripping off the consumer is rqapidly coming to an end in the pop/rock video era.  

Warners see the light 

Well if I was a pension fund manager or similar I would be reconsidering any long-term holdings in Viacom. Previously they were gatekeepers just as EMI was, now look at the latter.  Whilst the Lex column a little pompously notes that:

Among the ragbag of user-generated content uploaded to YouTube, many of the more popular video clips are from mainstream content providers. Those media groups understandably want to be paid. (Lex 03 / 02 / 07)

Lex then notes  that Warner Music, for example quickly came to a deal by arranging revenue sharing with YouTube for advertising that appeared alongside its content. Lex notes that Viacom's MTV and comedy Central both have content which is easily cut and pasteable by choosing highlights. Viacom didn't get offered the deal it wanted and has 'turned up the heat'. 

Lex notes that Viacom probably doesn't want a head to head with Google which is now exceedingly wealthy and any lawsuit is inherently unstable. Lex might have added that Google appear to be more in tune with the spirit of youth which is pervading the social networking sites. The reality is that market fragmentation means that there will be more people producing content and getting paid less. For the forseeable future it probably means that trends will come and go more quickly.

The BBC story on this quotes Google as saying:

But it added that it was "unfortunate" that Viacom would no longer be able to "benefit from YouTube's passionate audience which had helped promote many of Viacom's shows".

This is rather in accord with my point and could be interpreted as a velvet glove covering the digital fist.Viacom would be better off taking a sensible deal rather than risk having its acts being sidelined. 

Conclusion

These are the sort of fascinating case studies which my AS media students have to look at. (For anybody who doubts for a moment the importance of web 2.0 and social networking look at this years Davos lineup). Usually there is a question along the lines of 'Do media companies always welcome New Technologies'. Well the answer is that buying up the owners of the technology if it looks as if there is a potential market  is a good idea otherwise you risk being sidelined. Google has entered the fray of the media world making the transition from being primarily a very effective search engine into a global player. Viacom appears to be doing a Waltz whilst Google is break-dancing. In the long term they may be heading for a fall. If I had the money I'd be buying Google shares not Viacom ones!

Postscript: for more on the Google buy up of YouTube

Postscript 2:  Interview with Chad Hurley who was a founder of YouTube at the Davos World Economic Forum. Viacom shareholders please take special note :-). Here is another interview with Chad Hurley in relation to  copyrighting concerns.


February 02, 2007

A Level Media. New Media: Will the Web Replace Newspapers?

Will the Web Replace Newspapers?

Introduction: The Changing Mediascape 

The seemingly exponential increase in the influence of the internet especially since the onset of Web 2.0 with its emphasis on collaborative approaches, social networking and filesharing has dramatically changed the global mediascape. The emphasis of new media is currently towards 'User Generated Content' even for news where many Americans are using 'Digg'. The music industry is in immense turmoil as the market has opened up dramatically and the industry gatekeepers have, for the moment at least, been circumvented. Commercial TV is under serious threat in the UK as advertising budgets continue to migrate to the web. The recent Ofcom report in the UK on radio (2006) specifically notes that there is a shift away to the internet and to iPods. It must be remembered as well that the target audience for an advertiser instantly becomes global once it is on a website instead of merely national. What then is the future of the newspaper in this rapidly changing global media  environment? Below David Bowen a web effectiveness consultant has contributed an interesting article to the Financial Times on this issue.

"The relationship is not symbiotic, it is parasitic. And the parasite could be killing the host".

David Bowen Financial Times January 18 2007 (a website effectiveness consultant for Bowen Craggs & Co) puts forward the case that both newspapers and the web need to be concerned. A parasite which ultimately kills its host is a 'Necrotroph' and Bowen seems to think that this summarises the relationship between the web and newspapers. 

The web is a secondary medium. Mr Obama’s site may be a pleasing way of getting his message across – but only if people find it via a primary medium.

What do I mean by primary medium? Simply, one that people will turn to themselves, or be exposed to without effort – a high visibility medium, you might call it. Newspaper articles or advertisements, television reports or commercials, radio ditto, hoardings by the side of the road. Indeed the billboard on a busy road probably wins the visibility prize: it is difficult not to see.

The vast majority of websites are low visibility, and I include those with massive traffic such as YouTube and MySpace, as well as every blog. Mr Obama’s video is on YouTube, the video sharing network, but it is not high visibility. You will find it only by seeking it out, or by being told about it by a friend. You will not trip over it as you might while watching television, reading a paper or driving along.

The big problem for newspapers is that advertising is shifting to the web, but what will happen to the web if newspapers start closing down? It will lose important signposts, and will itself become less valuable. The relationship is not symbiotic, it is parasitic. And the parasite could be killing the host.

David Bowen's point comes down to a key issue that it is hard for people to find things on the web and as such they need signposting. Bowen draws on the example of the Directgov site which had an advertising campaign in 2006:

A four week advertising campaign is not going to change the way people behave. It’s a start, but I think we need to be told over and over and over again that there is this very useful thing called the web, and we will be very pleased with what it can offer us. (My emphasis).

Bowen's point is a fair one and in the short term he may be right, but changing habits of quite literally a lifetime for older people is one which is a cultural thing. What about today's 16 year old? The first place they go to is the web for anything they do. They might well read Metro on the train but they certainly don't buy newspapers. As Web 2.0 proliferates more and more services will develop and the ill used 'Directgov' of today will be hosting forums about the effectiveness of the recycling services offered by various councils before long.

There seems little doubt that as mobile broadband wireless services and the gadgets to access this develop and become more effective it will become increasingly easy to access specialist sites. Currently there are generational issues and technological issues which are reducing 'affordance' but both of these are changing quite fast. There are now far more 70 year olds in PC World than there used to be.

I have found many A level students are using forums to try and get peer advice on their media and film studies research projects and we can certainly expect forums, Wikis, blogs etc to increasingly provide peer experience of everything from cars to councils. If you have an area of special concern accruing RSS feeds and Podcast feeds will be something which everybody does. I would be expecting local councils websites to be delivering podcasts / vodcasts / RSS updates about changes in goods and services. These will take the place of the signposts which David Bowen talks of.

Are their still digital divides?

Naturally all this will take time to develop but the internet as we now know it is only about 15 years old. Broadband has only recently become commonly available at a reasonable price. To me the issue is still one about digital divides. Communications experts such as Murdoch and Golding have for a long time been commenting on the communications gap between classes and the relative cost of information to incomes. Currently having or not having broadband access in the domestic environment is now the fundamental issue here. As William Mitchell has noted it is the number of bits which you can access and the speed which you can access them which will increasingly become the marker of inequalities in the information age.

Changing Media Models 

Currently I don't see an end to newspapers and I'm not really convinced by developments like Digg in which people vote on the top stories. Newspapers have already shifted into becoming multimedia organisations which seems to be the expected outcomes of the processes of convergence. This is great. Now I've become a train commuter for a few weeks this gives me a chance to go through the newspapers. If I see something I'm interested in then rather than cutting it out I can 'signpost' it to students and assume it will be available on the web.

This fits in with Bowen's model, but prior to this I just used to buy a couple of papers a week. Usually both on a Saturday. The Financial Times and the Independent. I gave up on the Guardian because I hated Julie Birchall and you needed a fork-lift truck to take it away, whereupon most of it went straight in the bin. Talking with colleagues most people would rather buy the separate bits from these weekend behemoths.That would need a change in advertising models and perhaps distribution models. 

Looking at the habits of many commuters the lap-tops are out with people polishing thier Powerpoints and spreadsheets in the morning, not accessing the news media whilst others flick through 'Metro'. There is now increasing resistance to the 'free newspaper' phenomenon on ecological grounds and I can't believe that many people take any notice of the adverts at that time of day. The return journey is different. Perhaps that is the time for accessing the media. The local evening paper in a station is unlikely to be of much interest to a commuter living 50 or 100 miles away. Perhaps Virgin will soon be putting screens into the back of the seats then you can just log onto your favourite sites which you may subscribe to.

The fact is that there are now a multiplicity of ways in which to enjoy the media and increasingly fragmented markets. Those companies based upon newspapers will change their business model or die. This appears to be the issue with the American Tribune Group. It is suddenly very hard to value a Newspaper organisation at a time of radical transition in media distribution models. If there is an unconvincing web strategy perhaps that is the underlying explanation for a lack of bidders. (I can't tell you the rest of the story as I haven't subscibed to the FT site!):

So far, on the eve of the extended deadline set last year, no bidder has stepped forward to signal they are keen buyers of Tribune, the second-biggest US newspaper group, which owns titles including the Los Angeles Times and Chicago Tribune. (My emphasis).

Given that there is a comforting physicality about a newspaper which has a throwaway aspect to it I suspect that we will increasingly get thinner newspapers physically and richer websites in terms of content. It may be that the the real newspaper acts as a signpost in the way in which Bowen suggests is needed but the web model of what is accessible and to whom is what is still being worked upon.

The Financial Times approach is making the most of 'the Long Tail' where full articles and archived articles are available to subscribers which seems a very sensible way to go. The proliferation of adverts next to the web pages of newspapers will continue to get more sophisticated and more targeted.

Perhaps some newspapers will experiment with 'lite' versions which are specifically designed as websignposts. Full versions at weekends. Given that the audiences are increasingly global this should mean that newspapers will probably be with us for a long time but it does seem likely that there will be fewer of them and that they are likely to function differently with the main content and income generation streams increasingly focused upon the web.

If you are a football fan in the Phillipines then getting the current stories about Man United by a commnetator you like, which would previously been impossible is now pretty easy. The fact that English is the lingua franca of the web of course favours English speaking commentators and clubs however we could easily see 'papers' employing more translators. There are lots of possibilities but I don't see the pessimistic necrotroph option which Bowen is worried about as one of the likely outcomes of advertising migrating to the web.

I for one wouldn't lament the passing of 'The Sun' but Murdoch has perceptively already brought up 'My Space' with commentators rapidly being forced to swallow their initial criticisms that he had overpaid. News International has clearly got its revenue streams worked out. 


January 31, 2007

A2 Media Studies: Planning Your Website

A2 Media Studies Production Unit: Making a Website 

The planning phase 

In the overall specification for this unit you will need to place your website in the context of the rapid development New Media Technologies. Below I'm using a case study of the CD / Music industry  as this has been strongly effected by New Media and social networking. There are several things that you will need to do:

  1. Briefly research 6 websites that relate to the kind of service or product that you wish to make your website about
  2. You should now think about your target audience and carry out some initial research into that target audience. You should be finding out how much your target audience use the internet to find out about the cultural things that interest them. You should also find out how they use the internet: ask which search engines and which search terms they use, and whether they follow up from word of mouth.
  3. Now choose what you consider to be the best sites and do some textual analysis on them. Note aesthetic factors such as the colour and layout and all the other aspects of mise en scene. Think about whether the site is too 'busy' whether there are too many adverts etc. If images are used what do these images signify and how do they do this? You should also consider how effective the navigation is and evaluate whether there are useful links to relevant sites.
  4. The Current Industry Context. Quite a number of people are doing music related websites such as promoting a band that you know. It is particularly important to be aware of the latest business stories that relate to the upstart independents such as the Arctic Monkeys whose success was largely based upon an excellent web presence (See below for other links). This success can be compared with the struggles of the conventional 'record' industry. Look at the recent EMI results for example (see "Death of a Dinosaur?" below for stories about its problems). You should also consider the problems of the Music Zone chain You should have up to date information and think about how to apply this information to the aims and objectives of your site. You should be commenting on new forms of distribution such as iTunes. Make sure that you keep a bibliography and webliography
  5. Once you have analysed the current industry context you must start to plan out your own site. Remember that you must have a Home Page and at least four other web pages. These plans of the overall site must be handed in as a part of the assessment.
  6. You must take at least 4 of your own images and manipulate them in Photoshop or Flash. Print offs of these original images must be part of the planning section of your portfolio.
  7. You  must submit drafts of each of the pages you are going to put in your website: "...drafting is expected"
  8. Since the passing of the Disability Discrimination Act  (UK) you must design with disability accessibility in mind. please see separate posting for more commentary on this. As far as your action plan is concerned you must show that you are aware of this
  9. You should also be aware of the business issues concerning your website dealing with problems such as how will your target audience find it? You will need to be aware of the issue of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).
  10. You should also be aware of the latest business tools which can help you to track how well your site is doing. These tools are provided free of charge by Google through their Google Analytics programme

This image from Google Analytics tells you how many of the day's or week's visitors to your site hahve visited before. There are an enormous range of parameters within the programme to help you make decisions about which the most popular pages are. For example on this blog I know that the podcasting pages have been quite popular with visitors from a number of countries.

Visitor information from Google Analytics

Death of a dinosaur? The latest on EMI. Will the rest of the majors be affected?

Below are some recent comments of the state of what was once an very important player in the music industry. New Media Technologies have put it on the back foot. The issues are: will it adapt and how can it do this? 

Implicit in the EMI announcement is an admission that the company has failed to change fast enough to match the rapid shifts in its marketplace, that costs remain bloated, and that an old guard respected for its deep relationships with artists may not have what it takes to prosper in the era of iTunes, MySpace and YouTube. (Financial Times)

But for the moment, the digital music market is still dominated by Apple’s iTunes, a distribution partner which has not proved very profitable for the record companies. The problem is that Apple makes most of its money from sales of the iPod device, while charging little for the individual tracks. (Financial Times)

EMI Shake Up You can get to other recent Financial Times EMI stories from this link.

Music successes via Web 2.0

Artic Monkeys Make Chart History

Wikipedia entry on Arctic Monkeys

This Guardian website has many useful links regarding the state of the music industry and the Web.


January 25, 2007

USB Microphones for Podcasters

Follow-up to More on Podcasting Equipment from Kinoeye

Sound on Sound on USB Microphones


The February 2007 issue of the British Sound on Sound magazine has an interesting and useful article on USB microphones which are primarily aimed at the podcasting community as it develops. (Here is their 'teaser' article it'll cost £1.00 to read the whole thing). As I predicted in an earlier entry it was likely to be an exopanding market in 2007 and so it would seem.

Basic principle of the USB Microphone

The USB style microphone is a combination of a microphone pre-amp to boost the sound output and an analogue to digital converter (A/D converter) to enable the computer to read the information in a digital format. All this extra circuitry is in addition to the microphone itself.

The A/D converters in these microphones apparently have a lower bit rate than conveters in preamp / interfaces. Because some of the available microphones do not have the posssibility of increasing the output or gain to these A/D converters these microphones will produce low signals unless the microphone is very near the sound source. Whilst individual podcasters propbably won't worry about this if you want to record two or more people in a round table discussion you may find that the microphone is not picking up the sound very clearly because of the loss of resolution.

Another potential disadvantage of this type of microphone is that much of the available audio software only recognises items which give both input and output signals. Normally microphones by their very nature are input devices. Microphones like the Rode_Podcaster_mentioned elsewhere on this site have a microphone input which can circumvent the problem.

There are other more technical issues which the  Sound on Sound article covers as well.

The Range of USB Microphones so far 

Sound on Sound report that the first USB microphone they looked at was the Samson CO1 U which they reviewed in June 2006. This article notes that it was "an unashamedly budget mic" and they also note that it was "rather noisy unless used close up". They note that Samson have released a USB version of their CO3 mic using a similar A/D converter to the CO1 U. They don't comment on the quality of this product. 

The Rode Podcaster

The Rode Podcaster has already been mentioned on this blog but this is the first serious review I have seen about it. It notes that the frequency range is optimised for speech. The article notes that it can handle a high maximum input "making it suitable for close-miked speech and vocals". The headphone input is in fact a mini jack. It will work out of the box with both Windows and Mac. There is additional software which is a free download which usfully provides metering, a mute button and recording level control. The reviwer found that the mic didn't work well with his voice. A point that highlights that there are always a large number of variables involved in finding the best equipment for any individual. Obviously on-line buying limits the opportunity to test items out first.  The normal retail price in the UK is around £150 however one advert is offering it for £124 so internet prices are beginning to become competitive as more products hit the marketplace.

MLX USB.006

The MLX USB. 006 is a low cost affiar but is "a true capacitor mic with a large-diaphragm cardioid capsule".  The is also a three position gain switch which helps  set the mic up for mid and close range work notes the reviewer who also notes that there was no technical specifation included. tonally the mic was "very warm in your face and radio DJ friendly". The ability to raise the gain made it just about possible to record two people in discussion but "it doesn't have the gain needed for recording group discussions , where the distances involved  are likely to be much greater." Current UK retail price £79.

SE Electronics USB2200A

At £222 UK retail price this mic was the most expensive featured in the review. The sound was big and flattering suitable for radio style voice-overs. The gain had two settings and there is also a pad which can reduce the impact of very loud sources. This model has the advantage of an analogue connection to a mic preamp unit which makes it more flexible than the other models mentioned. This comment on the internet notes that it played straight out of the box with the Linux operating sytem. Here is a link to a more technical announcement about the launch of this mic.

SE USB2200A

This link goes to a useful microphone blog which reports on the release of this SEUSB mic and has some useful archives.  Link here to IT Review on this product.

Conclusion

Given that this market has been going for much less than a year there is plenty of opportunity for more models to enter the markeplace soon. all these models look to be good value within their various price brackets and as they save the lone podcaster the necessity of buying mic preamps, interfaces and mixers all of them offer a good route into podcasting. Nevertheless if you think you may wish to record more than one voice at a time the USB route seems to be a less flexible option for the moment.  The Rode Podcaster and the SE USB2200A both offer headphone monitoring which makes a lot of sense and seem worthwhile saving up for. 


January 21, 2007

The Growing Location Free Media Market

Introduction: What is Location Free?

Location free computing and media refers to the growing possibilities of both creating and consuming media products and content, anywhere, any place any time.

This capacity is all part of the process of convergence which is based upon the rapidly growing hi-speed digitally based communications infrastructure which underlies everything. Increasingly higher speed wireless and broadband links and the potential for satellite uploads and downloads means that individuals wherever they are can access these links through their service provider and either upload or download content. In 2006 the advent of Sling-media (See New Media glossary) meant that somebody in the Phillipines could access a transmission of a live sports broadcast in Europe via their own home computer and a laptop connected to a broadband link in the Phillipines. Potenially this technology is reformulating audiences as broadcasting is now becoming far less nationally restricted than it was before.

What’s coming in 2007?

Predicting the future is an impossibility however identifying trends and visions of the movers and shakers in this world can give us an idea of the possibilities. At the end of the day it will be the audiences that decide whther something will be successful or not. Below is a prediction for an exciting year in mobile media from Keith Washo of memory technology company SanDisk. (They are the people who make things like SD cards for your digital camera).

New MP3 players and phones, for example, can access music downloads stores directly without the need for a computer or cable, whilst others can tap into internet radio channels. Both developments open up a whole new world of wireless listening.

Watch out for the Sansa media device from Sandisc which will allow you to watch and store moving images and show them on a TV anywhere.

Sansa Prototype for mobile video

For more on mobile futures check out this BBC Technology story.


January 13, 2007

New Media Glossary Continued: O–Z

Follow-up to Glossary for New Media Technologies: A–N from Kinoeye

Online advertising. See separate entry.

Paid for Search. Internet search engines have rapidly become one of the most successful and effective ways in which new media has been able to act as a vehicle for advertisers. The main way that the search engines make money is by selling links to the advertisers websites which are displayed alongside the research results. Almost everybody who uses the internet (the number increases dramatically every year) needs to use a search engine. This means that there is effectively a captive market exposed to advertising. This is compared with other ingenious systems such as pop-up advertising which can be filtered out by the use of firewall software.

Podcasting. Podcasting is rapidly becoming the new buzz thing at the time of writing. Podcasting allows anybody with digital audio recording technology to download programmes onto a computer and from there onto the internet. These podcasts can be downloaded onto iPods / MP3 players and represent a new way of finding audiences particularly for smaller organisations, however now there has been some success companies such as the BBC are looking at the potential. It has become an important part of Web 2.0. Watch this space!! Below the recent launch of the rode Podcaster microphone with USB connection and input for headphones has set the agenda for 2007. Expect to see more versions of this appear in 2007 from competitors.

The Rode Podcaster in Action

PSP or Playstation Portable. Launched in the UK on September 1st 2005. It is billed as the new ‘must have’ gadget which some are suggesting that will finally see the much vaunted term convergence start to happen.

Sony Playstation Portable

Rewritable digital media. The ability to record use and then record something else over the top as with the old analogue cassette and video-cassettes for example. Digital audio-cassettes followed by mini-discs were the first of these onto the domestic and semi-professional market-place and were expensive. The market driven by the PC means that most computers now come with rewritable-CD for backing-up information. It is now becoming increasingly common to get rewritable-DVD both as stand-alone machines and built into computers. These are likely to replace the domestic video-recorder in the next few years.

RSS. RSS stands for ‘Really Simple Syndication’. RSS feeds are just a special kind of web page, designed to be read by computers rather than people. It might help to think of them as the free, internet version of the old-fashioned ticker-tape news wire machines. Not all websites currently provide RSS, but it is growing rapidly in popularity and many others, including the BBC, Guardian, New York Times and CNN provide it. Below is the icon for an RSS feed. Here is part of the Wikipedia definition. Users of RSS content use programs called feed ‘readers’ or ‘aggregators’: the user ‘subscribes’ to a feed by supplying to their reader a link to the feed; the reader can then check the user’s subscribed feeds to see if any of those feeds have new content since the last time it checked, and if so, retrieve that content and present it to the user.

RSS Icon for web feeds

Second Life. Virtual worlds are becoming a big thing. They are working on different models of development. The World of Warcraft is dungeons and dragons for the web however Second Life is a far more creative and dynamic model which is generating real interest in the world of business as well as individual adventurers. To get a better feel of what Second Life is about please use the tag in this blog’s side-bar which will give you a lot of pages which have relevant links. Please also see the entry which is summarising the Net interview with Philip Rosedale the founder of Second Life. Certainly some are beginning to see Second Life as the new ‘killer’ application for the broaqdband era for it is the availability of cheap broadband that is a core technology in allowing the model to operate. Broadband is to Second Life what roads are to a city.Potentially Second Life could become a huge business. Below see their recruitment poster:

Recruitment Banner for Second Life Virtual Environments

Set-top box. See digital set-top box

Sling-box. Launched in 2006 this technology enables people to access their TV systems via a broadband connection and thier home computer enabling them to watch local live TV from anywhere in the world. House owners can access their security cameras and at least one owner discovered people breaking into his home when he was on holiday and he was able to alert the police!

Slingbox TV

Social Networking. Here is a recent BBC definition Websites such as MySpace give users a chunk of webspace they can personalise with images, video and blog entries.To this they add a messaging system that lets members keep in touch with friends on the same network. In the past few years these sites have become hugely popular among young people and some, such as MySpace, are by some measures challenging Yahoo and Google for the title of most popular site on the net. The link also reports on the popularity amongst US teenagers.

Solid State Digital Recorders. The growth of podcasting has brought a much market to the relatively unknown solid state digital recording market. For podcasters, musicians and radio reporters these devices make recording live much easier and more reliable than DAT (Digital Audio Tape) and the Minidisc. It is expected that these older technologies will quickly die out.

Edirol R0-9

Tascam HDP 2

Splog. This word is a combination of spam and blog. A splog exists in order to get ad impresssions or provide links to other sites. “Usually these sites contain giiberish or an unruly combination of content stolen from other sites.” (Grapone & Couzin. Search Engine Optimisation, 2nd Ed, 2008)

Tagging. This is becoming an increasingly common way of navigating around sites. This entry has a range of tags at the bottom and you probably got her by using the tag for glossaries in the sidebar. This BBC technology story gives you more details. Below is a quote from Mr Weinberger from this story:

“Tagging allows social groups to form around similarities of interests and points of view. If you’re using the same tags as I do, we probably share some deep commonalities,” he told Pew Internet.

This story also debates the advantages and disadvantages of tagging as an important way of logging data effectively so that it can be easily searched for.

T-commerce. The growing marketplace for commercial transactions via the idTV. Lottery tickets, games, sports-betting, pay-per-view, travel tickets and more. Will require new forms of micro-payments as the subscriber may not be the person doing the buying.

Third Generation / 3G. Third generation mobile phones enabling customers to view video-footage. The mobile phone will then become a multi-media device. First company in the UK to deliver the service will be 3. Date of launch currently unknown likely to be early March 2003. Owned by Hutchinson a Hong-Kong based conglomerate which launched Orange. What the multi-media content is the key to success. Currently 100 content providers have signed deals with 3 including the FA Premier League and news companies ITN and Reuters. The video footage will not be real-time because of technological constraints.

THX. Sound system for surround-sound cinema and home cinema systems licensed by Lucas Laboratories. There are very exacting specifications of sound reproduction required before a licence is granted.

Total marketing. The elaboration of metaforms for the sake of greater profits. First seen in children’s popular culture with toy lines being developed into TV programmes or the other way around. Later developed into the usual sort of ‘spin-offs’.

USB. Universal Serial Bus. The development of the USB port for computers meant that PCs finally caught up with Macs as items such as printers, cameras and cameras could ‘plug and play’. in other words just be connected to a USB port. Now microphones, audio interfaces and special headphones are coming out with USB connections to feed the voracious Web 2.0 user generated content market.

User Generated Content. Old media and new media are interacting. Users are able to and frequently do send news companies instant news via texts, camera phones etc. The issue becomes how to rank these stories.
Here is a Reuters story on ‘User Generated Content’ from Jan 03 / 07 .

Viral Advertising / viral marketing. An extract from the Wikipedia entry. Viral marketing and viral advertising refer to marketing techniques that use pre-existing social networks to produce increases in brand awareness, through self-replicating viral processes, analogous to the spread of pathological and computer viruses. It can often be word-of-mouth delivered and enhanced online; it can harness the network effect of the Internet and can be very useful in reaching a large number of people rapidly. Here’s what Alex West who Alex West, who launched the first-ever Viral Awards says:

What agencies are saying now is you need to buy consumers’ time, and to do that you need to entertain them and give them something back.

Certainly this new advertising method is set to change the way advertising works. See Channel 4 article here.

Virtual Reality or VR. The search for fully immersive computer generated environments which could be interactive games, or ‘game narratives’. See also the fascinating development under Second Life which is going beyond any of these.

Voice over Internet Protocol. This is a service introduced by British Telecom /BT in January 2004. It enables users to use broadband connections to make phone calls to phones from computers and the other way around. This is an advance over previous systems in which users have only been able to make Internet phone calls between computers. In May 2004 a less sophisticated version of the system will be sold to the mass market domestic consumer. BT hope this will help persuade more consumers to upgrade to broadband systems. At time of writing Google have just announced a new internet based telephone service which is likely to be highly successful.

Vlog a video based blog. see vodcasting below for a good link. Also see blogs for more on Web 2.0 publishing.

VODcasting. This is podcasting but based upon the idea of Video on Demand hence the VOD. This article from Missouri University provides a useful explanation in full.

VoIP. see Voice over Internet Protocol

VR. See Virtual Reality and entry on Second Life

Weblogs. See Blogs.

Web 2.0

Wi-fi.


Selling the One Laptop Per Child

Follow-up to One Laptop Per Child from Kinoeye

BBC News update on the Negroponte One Lap-top per Child initiative at the CES technology exhibition.

Laptops for Development


January 03, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

Negroponte’s Brainchild

My BBC new technologies feed has just alerted me to the promising progress of this project which could dramatically change the lives of people in the underdeveloped countries. This is the One Laptop per Child Project directed by digital guru Nicholas Negroponte.

We had some great debates about this project last year in AS Media Studies New Media Technologies project on our forum. At least one student was very sceptical suggesting that perhaps water projects would be more useful.

Basic needs is a hard one to argue against yet the world can easily afford both. Stop supplying arms to tinpot dictators. Make sure foreign aid is for the benefit of the recipient countries rather than a grand capital project which largely benefits the large corporation which builds it. Appropriate technology is the expression you are after. International governmental will could allow clean drinking water for all global citizens.

Needing New Technology

This shouldn’t detract from Negroponte’s project. The quickest way to get the whole world wired up and letting people in Africa and Bengal or the Favela of Brazil gain the benefit of free knowledge from the likes of Wikipedia could move the world on from the ludicrous polarisations underpinned by Texan oil companies and their favourites inthe White House. you can’t argue against cheap laptops for all. Perhaps the Bill gates foundation could throw some money at it as well.

EMail the Bill Gates Foundation

This gives you information about the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s global development programme.

Wing them an e.mail and ask them to send a few thousand of these wind up computers out to Africa and be a good blogocitizen.


Web 2: Cultural Diversity, Adverts & The Long Tail

Currently there seems to be a debate going on about making money through blogs and websites for small organisations.

Media Studies students will recognise very general issues which occur whatever the kind of media you are using. This post suggests that many people think that it is possible for a small scale blog which is targetting a very niche audience is going to make some money through services such as Adsense which are offered by Google. (The post is from Anderson’s diary about his concept of the Long Tail).

The following quotation has been taken from another blog which is bemoaning the fact that the tiny amount of money generated from her site falls below the minimum amount that Google is prepared to administer:

I’m beginning to have my doubts about Chris Anderson’s long tail, the proposition that cultural boutiques can make a living from audiences on the Internet. One disgruntled publisher complains she’s owed less than the minimum Google can be bothered to pay her. And, as fast as she makes money, Google lifts the threshold. [She writes:] “When I started with Adsense in late 2004/ early 2005 the minimum was $25. Just when was about to hit the $25 minimum, they raised it to $50. Now that I have $45 in my account, the minimum is $100. Granted, I have a site with very low traffic, but how many website owners are getting screwed by Google? If the long-tail theory holds out, there could be millions of dollars of unpaid Google ads. (My emphasis).

I must say I don’t have much sympathy. Of course Google had a low starting point they were trying to encourage creativity which would ultimately generate successful people and Google a fair bit of money. I believe Adsense pays about a dollar a time if somebody clicks an advert on your blog. If you are expecting to magically make money from a tiny niche market you will be disappointed. People can still get a free blog from Google and Google Analytics provides an extremly sophisticated service which many commercial concerns can use to improve marketing or to try and make pages more popular. All these services cost money yet they are free.

I use Google Analytics on this blog. I’m interested in who is attracted to this blog and what it is that attracts them. For example I had 16 hits the other week from Chellaston in Derbyshire. I have also had hits from cities in Chile and in Australia as well as from China, Vietnam and Taiwan and a lot from the USA. I’m both surprised and pleased because much of this blog is targeted to quite tight audiences.

What is Google Analytics?

On November 13, 2005, Google announced Google Analytics, a free Web analytics service targeted at the long tail of small and medium-size businesses that lack a Web analytics solution. While “free” is a powerful word, the Urchin product on which Google Analytics is built is less than a Web analytics powerhouse. The offering will succeed at the lower end of the market, but won’t completely ruin the party for high-end vendors.

The above analysis comes from a business technology company Forrester Research who describe themselves as:
Forrester Research (Nasdaq: FORR) is an independent technology and market research company that provides pragmatic and forward-thinking advice about technology’s impact on business and consumers.

Their analysis of Google Analytics in full will cost you $50-00 if you are silly enough. They may wish to eat these rather expensive words by the look of the client base Google seems to be gaining. (Anyway no links to rip off artists like that!).

The point about Google analytics is that anybody is allowed to use to help them get some income from their site. As that isn’t this sites primary aim then I can use the tools for other purposes such as seeing whether my students are accessing the site. Criticise Google for giving us all a version of big brother if you like but they want you to make money and they seem to be doing all they can to encourage this by letting you study the audience you do have.

Creativity and Diversity

Of course I am interested in the possibilities of individuals or small companies making a living from working in this way! As far as I’m concerned blogs are a fascinating form of media. If people can make them interesting enough then an audience will appear. Audiences are fickle at the best of times as Ien Ang’s classic media book Desparately Seeking the Audience shows. (Please note the publisher is remaining nameless. I could put a link through and if they pay me I will, otherwise you will have to find it yourself. In other words there are lots of opportunities to offer a service to interested parties).

There is no reason why the web should be any different to any other sort of media in this respect. Cheapness of access is nevertheless democratising. Finally we might get to the point where audience and content interact to provide a genuinely new media paradigm.

Being able to publish in a range of different forms when you are ready to is genuinely liberating. Previously media companies were having to programme full schedules now the: what you want, when you want it how you want it culture that new media is developing means that good quality programmes, sites, etc. can be made available for years if need be.

Audiences will eventually decide whether these are worth bothering with. If nobody recommends them then they will die a natural death or adapt. (bit of cyber-Darwinian theory :-). But the woman who is complaining has been given free publishing opportunities, unheard of in the past. Given that it costs Google something to run I don’t think there are reasonable grounds for complaint. Let’s face the now $100.00 payout is miniscule for an advanced Western country. If you want money find an audience or else be happy that you can egoistically be speaking to a few afficionados worldwide.

However, an alternative is that if you are a small-time publisher who is unlikely to ever get those few dollars from Google, why not all club togther and donate to the one lap top per child project. For $100.00 or around £60-00 you can get a child in an underdeveloped country a good computer. Indirectly this is increasing your market so do the world a favour and get that money out of Google’s accounts if it bothers you.

Publishing opportunities

Thanks to Google for allowing lots of people to play with these new technologies and affording some the opportunity to create new cultural voices for nothing. If you are publishing poetry you usually pay the printer for the priviledge, and you feel proud if you get your money back. Most poetry publishers do it because they feel a creative urge often it will only be read by people with similar interests and that’s fine.

In the world of Jazz Derek Bailey and Evan Parker both excellent and highly experimental musicians were making music more for other musicians than for a wider public. Miles Davis made a good living and was popular and so does Jan Garbarek, on the whole their music is less experimental. Often not to many people’s tastes but to enough to enable them to go on making their style of music.

Whatever kind of media you are working in you can either make your art / service with a wider audience in mind or you can target a very narrow audience. At the end of the day it is the audience which drives cultural diversity, not advertising, nor the artist. Without audiences cultural creators are nothing. If people are so egoistic that they only want to make a cultural creation for their own benefit that’s fine, just don’t whinge when you don’t make money from it.

This doesn’t detract from the original argument put forward by Chris Anderson in Wired Magazine:

In the tyranny of physical space, an audience too thinly spread is the same as no audience at all.

On the above link you can find his original concept of The Long Tail.

Is Diversity Necessarily Good Quality?

A point worth making about the issue of cultural diversity is that just being diverse doesn’t necessarily equate to being good in terms of the quality of what is produced. What it does mean from the perspective of cultural citizenship is that many people are finding a voice in ways that were previously impossible. Hopefully the better ones will be able to make a living
without compromising their ideas for the sake of commercialism. Sometimes all people want to do is to communicate thier ideas, and there has never been a better opportunity than now.

The advantage of web publishing as we move inexorably towards a networked society creating what I prefer to think of as a global city it affords opportunities for many. The metaphor of city is more appropriate than Marshall McLuhan’s “Global Village”. The physical city of Modernity liberated people from the claustrophobic control of the Local landowner and the Church. It is getting increasingly hard to disagree with Anderson’s argument that the networked society is freeing many from the ‘tyranny of physical space’ which was previously the prerogative of government or powerful media tycoons.

It appears as though Web 2 is finally begining to deliver on the original promise of the internet. There will always be crass commercialism and so-called ‘celebrity’ culture with sad people talking about ‘Celebrity Big Brother’ the home of has-beens and cheap publicity seekers. encouragingly vast new cultural spaces are beginning to open in a genuinely “popular way”. When I say popular I mean generated and growing from people’s own ideas rather than people being spoonfed with crass programmes like Big Brother keeping the ex public schoolboy ‘inventor’ happy in his mansion in Hampstead.

The Long Tail Market

The Long Tail in Media

So what then is this ‘long-tail market’ that people are doubting. Here is Anderson’s summary contained on his Long Tail diary

In Long Tail markets, hits lose their monopoly on culture as they share the stage with million of niche products. Minority taste rules.There are three basic types of participants in Long Tail markets: consumers, aggregators and producers (note that it’s possible to be all three; these aren’t mutually incompatible). The main effects on each are: * Consumers. Effect: Largely cultural. People have more choice, so individual taste increasingly satisfied even if the effect is an increasingly fragmented culture. * Aggregators. Effect: Largely economic. It’s never been easier to assemble vast variety and create tools for organizing it, from search to recommendations. Increased variety plus increased demand for variety equals opportunity. Also note that just as one size doesn’t fit all for products, nor does it for aggregators. I think the winner-take-all examples of eBay, Amazon, iTunes and Google are a first-inning phenomena. Specialized niche aggregators (think: vertical search, such as the real estate service Zillow) are on the rise. * Producers. Effect: Largely non-economic. I responded to a good Nick Carr post on this last year with the following: “For producers, Long Tail benefits are not primarily about direct revenues. Sure, Google Adsense on the average blog will generate risible returns, and the average band on MySpace probably won’t sell enough CDs to pay back their recording costs, much less quit their day jobs. But the ability to unitize such microcelebrity can be significant elsewhere. A blog is a great personal branding vehicle, leading to anything from job offers to consulting gigs. And most band’s MySpace pages are intended to bring fans to live shows, which are the market most bands care most about. When you look at the non-monetary economy of reputation, the Long Tail looks a lot more inviting for its inhabitants.

Well this blog seems to be largely agreeing with my audience analysis above and interestingly makes a lot of the the notion of a blended world of culture with material life interacting with virtual a core value. It is audiences that make the culture in the final analysis!


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