We all create for one another. And our creations assume a life of their own.

Brightcove’s AfterMix

April 30th, 2007
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aftermix, brightcove, youtube

Headline: tech luminary and founder of Brightcove, Jeremy Allaire, discusses their new AfterMix online video mashup tool at a Media Post conference (MediaPost Videos), and shakes up media world. AfterMix is Brightcove’s venture into the world of online video editing , and will offer some interesting features targeted at facilitating video capture directly to the Internet as well as the easy incorporation of other material available both through Brightcove and on the Web into a consumer created video.

Brightcove is certainly an interesting company, with a good presence in the professional and prosumer worlds. Now they want to gain entree to the world of consumer video.

Various blogs speculate about competition with YouTube, which is a bit of a reach. Okay, it’s a major reach. So what are they up to over at Brightcove? First, take a look at this really goofball AfterMix overview. Notice the use of whiteboard and lack of product? So it’s fairly safe to assume the thing’s half-baked right now. So we can’t really know if it’ll be different or better than, say, Jumpcut.

I think the interesting thing here involves the underlying business model. Brightcove seeks to attract professional producers and distributors with a high-quality video management and hosting service. They make money by sharing in advertising and/or sales revenue. So why would they want to go after the YouTube consumer market? To attract videos in which nobody would want to place an ad and nobody would want to purchase? What gives?

It seems to me they’re looking to offer possibilities for their more professional producers to get their work distributed in new forms. Mashups can easily become more popular than originals. In theory, this would drive the curious back to the originals. The mashup becomes free-advertising for the original. I’m not sure what the legal arrangement will be, but whether AfterMix operates under some sort of creative commons license agreement with the producer or even through fair-use, the business model remains the same.

If I’m right, then this becomes a really interesting test case for the ability of content owners and publishers to monetize their property by enabling mashups. Brightcove has a contained ecosystem of professionally produced video and they track the use of such content, and the revenues generated by that use. They should be able to provide a slice of their data to exhibit how increased use of the content in AfterMix either does or does not directly impact revenue.

In the end, this isn’t about competing with YouTube, or anyone else for that matter (although
the Jumpcuts of the world should be pretty afraid here). It’s about a Web 2.0 firm adapting part of their core business model to the fluid world of Media 2.0. I’ve got to give them props.

My Maps

April 11th, 2007
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google maps, mashup
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I’ve moved into a new position in my firm, which has placed some new demands on my time (especially since I’m still in my old position). I’ll do my best to blog as much as I can.

Google has a new feature built into its maps service. Check out the My Maps tab. It’s become old hat to mash-up Google maps with other bits of information, and Google keeps making it easier to do so. Now they’ve made it easy to see some results.

I like the entry for “Our Earth as Art” presented by NASA. The photographic images really do like like paintings, and are pretty amazing in scope. The “Oral Histories of Route 66” map has some good interviews and great photos.

Google also provides KML, which feeds into Google Earth for an even richer presentation of these mashupmaps. So cool.

Overall, the product would be much, much better with integrated multimedia. But it’s worth a gander, and an occasional check-back to see what’s new and exciting.

On a more philosophical note, I find the intersection between the physical and digital worlds presented by this sort of mash-up quite compelling. The world of virtual environments springs from the imaginings of sci-fi authors such as William Gibson and role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons or even Ultima. As Second Life proves, this is a viable and attractive option for people, to the point where alternative reality becomes a meaningless phrase.

The opportunity to combine virtual and real has vastly greater potential. Google’s My Maps offers a tiny glimpse into this future. As computing becomes, as IBM likes to call it, more pervasive, the experience becomes both richer and more relevant. Physical location becomes both more important and less. ‘More’ in the sense you can maximize the benefit of being in a place, either through offering live video/audio to others or maximizing the instant availability of information to deepen the experience, such as walking through a Mall and knowing what you, your family, or similar individuals have purchased in the past or even enjoyed at the food court. ‘Less’ in the sense you needn’t travel to a place to experience something of its qualities, or to interact, even intimately, with another individual.

In Olaf Stapledon’s astounding novel, “Last and First Men,” the most evolved form of humanity, 2 billion years hence, exists with a dual consciousness, that of the individual and of the collective. This idealized vision imagines the utopia of individuality of thought and experience merged with the brain-power of billions of minds thinking as one. Maybe we’re just now taking the first small step down this long path.

Optical Chips

March 29th, 2007
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IBM has announced a new chip that’d take a HD full length movie download from 30 minutes to 1 second. This gee-whiz news should make the folks at Verizon happy, what with their FiOS service. It’s also very similar to other efforts (Intel has something like this brewing).

What this really comes down to is a game of technological leapfrog, intended to satisfy the upcoming demand for high-quality online video, both over the network and inside the home. Another core goal involves speeding communications within a data center or even within a PC or server box is pretty cool. By 2015 or so we may have seen the last bit of copper in a PC or interconnecting wire.


March 29th, 2007
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audio books
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Interested in Charles Darwin? How about the Jabberwocky? There’s a neat project that makes “The Origin of the Species,” “The Jabberwocky,” and much more available as audio files for free. You can pick from various formats; I particularly like the PodCast option. The service can be found at LibriVox. Check it out — there’s a wonderful variety on their site. In the true spirit of New Media, you too can record and submit readings.

Wanna make money?

March 28th, 2007
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Here’s an excellent post regarding various video sharing sites and their models for compensating producers. It’s worth taking a look at. Even if you’re not looking to make money off video now, you might want to check it out for the links. One notable absence: Joost.

thinking outside the rectangle

March 21st, 2007
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DIGG, google, USA Today
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I’m back from an unexpectedly long vacation. It was surreal to travel to Canada and to not be able to return due to bad weather back at home. At least the circuitous route foisted upon me to get home allowed me to experience the Edmonton airport, which was surprisingly attractive. Enough about me.

USA Today, the paper famous for designing their printed page to look like a TV news report, has redesigned their site to incorporate and prominently display user feedback. I guess it’s sort of MySpace meets CNN meets the for-dummies book series. Don’t worry — this post will not focus upon the mundane redesign of this banal site. Instead, I will now compound the sin of starting my post with a personal tangent, then following up with a tangent about USA Today, and then embarking upon another tangent. Don’t fear, my patient audience, I will knit together these tangents and make a point. Or not.

Tangent #3: Object Modeling
Object modelers (a.k.a. programming geeks at universities), at least the good ones, posses an adeptness at finding like qualities across a broad spectrum of information/noise. They also can tease apart related, but different types of data. For instance, they can visit a pet store and create a file folder to contain information about animals, and then file folders to contain information about cats and dogs. The animal folder allows otherwise redundant information to be kept out of the cat and dog folders, making for a more efficient filing cabinet.

Step 1: discard my meaningless paragraph about my journey across North America
Step 2: consider USA Today allows user comments on their stories
Step 3: apply object modeling to USA Today’s more user driven model for their Website

Okay. Done? Guess the meaning of the title of this post?

Sites like Digg provide news based upon user votes. Google News uses search coupled with technology to select stories “ranked by computers that evaluate, among other things, how often and on what sites a story appears online.” USA Today seems to have moved towards a hybrid of the Digg and traditional editorial selection models.

What do all three models have in common? Why, the stories themselves, right? Sure, no two reporters will write about a story the same way; often, the angle taken will be quite different. But the underlying fact is the story itself.

In that context, USA Today, I suspect unwittingly, has invited their readers to comment on two pretty different things: the story and how it’s reported. Comments on the reporting pertain to USA Today’s coverage and belong on their Website. Comments on the story transcend the site and are certainly redundant with comments on a myriad of other sites, and even votes on places like Digg.

In a more precise model, there would be a place to comment on the story outside of the USA Today site; some more universal service to solicit reader feedback, which would link back into the various news sites. A site like USA Today could then use this meta-data to better select which stories to display on their homepage. Certainly, they wouldn’t like this approach since it defeats the purpose of making their site more sticky and attractive to advertisers, but the readership would be better served in the end.

All this calls out a limitation with Web browsers: their little rectangular windows, even with tabbed browsing, make it difficult to concurrently display multiple Web pages that require interaction. Sure, Google, Yahoo!, Apple, and others now provide Web widgets, which are stand-alone Web apps not all bound to the same window. But as far as I know, nobody yet provides an integrated multi-window platform, which seamlessly links individual Web driven applications, allowing for interaction and a richer user experience. Nobody has created an OS X like environment for interacting with the Web. It’s about time for Web 3.0: the Object Modeling approach to developing applications to interact with Web information.

My Second Life

March 6th, 2007
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molotov alva, second life, traveler, youtube
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Here’s an interesting new episodic series out on the Web. Douglas Gayeton has released “My Second Life,” a drama about a man, Molotov Alva (sounds a bit like Kaiser Sosa, nez?). The premise is that Alva has disappeared from the real world and reappeared in Second Life. The initial episode has also been released on YouTube – My Second Life.

The first episode holds some promise. The abstraction of creating a drama on top of the Second Life platform is clever, and may well provide some fun interactive avenues in the future. The episode is so-so in terms of quality; it’s well done from an animation standpoint, but the writing is a bit stilted. It bothered me that the opening takes place in the real world, but was shown using Flash animation. It would have been much better to use real footage and then cut to the Flash stuff for the Second Life segment. Overall, it held my attention and made me want to see what’s next.

Things get more interesting when you dig deeper. Molotov Alva is apparently a “Traveler.” Google and surf a bit and you’ll find various sites and videos on YouTube about the whole Traveler thing. There’s even a MolotovAlva user posting videos on YouTube. Whether this is a legit subculture or not, it’s certainly an interesting method for marketing the product.

I’d say you should check the video out if you have the time. It’s not worth dropping everything to see it, but I like the concept and feel the investment of a few minutes worth the effort.

Lots happened

March 2nd, 2007
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Firstly, sorry about the absence. Life tends to intrude.

There’s a vid circulating around now of a guy who sky dives, has his primary and reserve chutes fail, plummets at 80mph, and survives. The video is first person — from his helmet cam, followed by the helmet cam of a friend who comes to his assistance. Here’s a link.

Besides being pretty unreal to watch, the video serves as a good reminder of how news reporting can, at the same time, both be disintermediated and validated by New Media. The video tells the story in graphic detail. Yet reading the news story before watching it enriches the experience, adding context and depth. Video may be worth thousands of words, but there’s a reason the currency of thought is still the word.

It’s Jerry Time

February 20th, 2007
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it's jerry time, jibjab
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It’s Jerry Time is a stand-alone site, which mainly presents Flash animated comedy shorts, staring who-else-but-Jerry. The shorts chronicle (supposedly true) adventures in the life of Jerry Zucker, as prepared and presented by who-else-but-Jerry and his brother, none-other-than-Orrin. The content is all original, and bears a resemblance to JibJab’s style of animation.

The stories are amusing, and sometimes pretty funny. There’s nothing per se that’s laugh out loud, just smile and snicker. I enjoy watching them, and await the RSS update telling me there’s a new installment.

The 13 episodes comprise the plum offerings for this site. They are well animated and written. The Jerry character is something of a cross between Seinfeld and Costanza, a snarky, smart almost-lovable, almost-detestable loser. He finds pretty interesting situations, some by chance, but many of his own making.

Jerry also has a blog on the site, which is a bit sparse and disappointing. The entry on the background behind the “Texas Chainsaw Customer” episode is worth the read, though. The “Ask Jerry” section of the site is a bit weird — not really funny, yet somehow amusing.

There is no advertising on the site. The only visible ways the Zuckers try to make money off their product are a donate via PayPal icon and a DVD for sale link. They certainly do market themselves, and have won several awards for their work. I wonder what commercial avenues they intend to explore. Hmm. Maybe I’ll “Ask Jerry.”

Anyway, check the product out. It’s worth the small investment of time to see if the quirky humor is your bag or not. It’s certainly my thing, and it doesn’t hurt that I like hockey.

Apple iTV

February 16th, 2007
Posted by
apple, bittorrent, comcast, iTV, joost

I intended to only post a review today of an interesting Web program, “It’s Jerry Time.” But before I do, I feel the need to discuss an I, Cringely article. In keeping with the theme from my earlier post addressing Google’s seemingly contradictory stances on Web TV’s viability, I want to close out the week with a brain-tickling thought, and maybe a reason to flip some of those Google shared into Apple stock.

I must admit, proportionate to their size as a firm, Apple garners quite a bit of attention, and this blog is no exception. What can I say? They do interesting things. One of these ‘interesting things’ involves the release of the iTV appliance, which was very much overshadowed by the hyped iPhone. This is where Cringely comes into the picture, with his theory on why Apple’s included such a hefty 40GB hard drive in an appliance that purports to only exist to connect computers with TVs. He speculates Apple plans on implementing a P2P network using the device.

Right about now, some of you are probably thinking, wow. Some are thinking, what’s P2P. And some are thinking, is this a new Sony Playstation? P2P is short for peer-to-peer. If you’re curious, read the Wikipedia entry on the topic.

Cringely speculates Apple plans to use the iTV as a device to download and store bits of popular entertainment, keeping these bits in your local neighborhood. Say there are 500 iTV units within a couple of miles of your home. Then Apple has 2000 GB of storage in close proximity, more than enough to serve up multiple streams of high-definition film, for instance. Starting to get it?

P2P’s main player nowadays is Bittorrent, which some say accounts for 1/2 of all Internet traffic. That’s a lot. Firms like Joost plan to use the good ole PC as their platform for P2P video sharing. But how much more powerful is the concept Cringely proposes? A lot. Why? TVs are where people watch longer-form (more than 5 minutes) content. Someone might want to tip off Comcast about Apple’s grand scheme.

Tune in next week for my review of “It’s Jerry Time.” Have a great weekend everybody.

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