June 30, 2005
Nathan Eagle, of MIT, talked at Where 2.0 today, about social activity and tracking. Below is the first part, explaining the Reality Mining, his project that used 100 Nokia phones, tracking these phone users, to see who they know and what they did together or apart, and where, on the video I shot below. Also, he noted that with this study, he could empirically show that a week has 7 days as part of his phd work. It's nice to know that in world where it feels like phds mostly think about commercial opportunities as they pursue their doctorate, or if they pursue teaching, that they still are thinking about how many contracts and commercial grants they can bring into the academic institution the work for, there are still one or two who can joke about non-commercial academic pursuits while still doing something useful. I know this isn't the fault of academics, but rather market forces on academia, but still, I liked him a lot for mentioning this.
The video is the first couple minutes of his talk..
The 5-8 Year Problem: Asking the Ocean To Turn Back Won't Work With Digital Media Tides
In 5-8 years, I think the Grokster problem will be solved by a combination of: 1. business model changes by legacy media; 2. changes in demographics because the fact is there will be a critical mass of users who have grown up with digital models in the heads (who are now young enough not to be of voting age but soon will be); and 3. where enough activity online is about people sharing and trading their own stuff (user generated media). It will be little media makers, supplying their own demands, who will solve this legal problem, first. Legacy media will follow behind them. All those legacy media companies, in order to continue to be as relevant to the masses as they have been in the recent past will have to come to the party and play in order to keep their stuff in front of our eyes. That is, the digital media party online, where they find that in order to participate, they have to give up some control of their copyrighted works, and rethink their models to include things like giving away some media in order to make money in some other place.
Laws are supposed to reflect social norms, attempt to create some fair play between different interests, and reflect our values. As the population changes, the social norms will change, as more of us have frameworks in our heads that include digital online realities, reducing the percentage of the population that thinks the internet is about static web pages and email.
Monday night, all the backchannels were alight with people who work on stuff online, talking about what to do, what they might have to change in their services. We all have to change things a bit to make sure we don't get into trouble the way Grokster did. Even if we are only building for users who make their own stuff and share it, and there is no legacy media at all to be used in our sites. It's still a worry and everyone is having to think about how these services are constructed and used.
Chatting with Jason Schultz and Joe Hall yesterday at Where 2.0, we noted that vlogging is a gateway drug to all sorts of things, including technically, infringement.. and the Grokster loss won't stop it. People are creative, and they want to remix and reuse, and they will. But if they remix each other's stuff, for non-commercial uses, even if it is technically under copyright, they'll learn soon enough that analog copyright as we've known it the past 100 years isn't going to work in the digital age.
- One who distributes a device with the object of promoting its use to infringe copyright … is liable for the resulting acts of infringement by third parties using the device, regardless of the device’s lawful uses.
So there is the Seuter question: how much do you have to have going on, to have a problem? Well. If Microsoft wants to kill you, they can win even if they lose. In other words, they can sue you, and shut you down, even if they are wrong.
Tom Abate made the analogy to King Canute, a Dane who invaded England for a year in 1013 or so, who ordered the ocean to turn back, which of course, it didn't. The RIAA, MPAA, the Supreme Court, aren't going to change the digital media tide. People are using digital media in certain ways and it's only a matter of time before there is a critical mass that will simply change the social norms, and the law and business models will follow.
Robert Cringly predicted the further granular division of Grokster services in his column today:
- What will happen, of course, is that Web 2.0 will turn the next Grokster into several separate organizations offering different services that use a common API syntax to create a Grokster equivalent. Each of these parts will look more like the phone company and less like Grokster until the Supreme Court won't recognize them as the accessories they happen to be.
June 27, 2005
Video for Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town
Nice riffing Michael.
Grokster Loses, and so do we on that and broadband
I'm sure you all know this by now, but Grokster has lost it's latest.. the ruling says: "P2P software manufacturers can be held liable for the infringing activities of people who use their software."
Also, the Supreme Court overturned a decision that required cable operators to lease their lines to competitors... meaning that now they get to provide the physical cable connection *and* the internet access as a monopoly. According to the article, the FCC considers this a victory, along with large cable companies, and the losers are small ISPs, consumers and local governments.
So much for our freedom to connect!
June 26, 2005
Welcome to The Vlogosphere
It is different here. I'm dipping in my toe, have been since December.. and really, I've only made one vlog post myself. I learn both from watching others and doing this myself. The read/write nature of video is very very different than text or the genre of blogging.
What's interesting to me is how I'm now discovering the vlogosphere as I once did with the blogosphere about four years ago.. back when there were maybe 100k blogs... I had no idea what I was looking at because it was all mysterious then: the format, the linking, blogrolls, and the people, online trust and references. There were nuggets of magic, people who came through asynchronously to share and converse both information and points of view that were personal, passionate, deeply held and often far more expert and full of breadth than legacy media. I was taken, I knew there was something there.. but I couldn't figure it out until I started blogging at bIPlog and realized the linking was creating many trails of conversation; it was writers following those links, extending the conversation still further, that was making something totally new and exciting and relevant. Yes there were and are diarists, essayists, as well as others who put out bad information, and so I'm speaking here of those who blog about topics in a conversational way only. A blog is a tool as we've said a million times.. so let's not go back to that old skirmish. The point is, there are some kinds of blogs that create a conversation in blogging, through discussion and links and comments and still more posts, that are compelling, and give free speech a big push over the old analog world. Fast forward through four years of arguing the stupidity of blogging verses journalism because we don't need to go through that again either. We know they are complimentary and different, and need each other to survive.
But now.. vlogging as a low-transaction cost production medium, with reasonable bandwidth and storage costs, and vloggers with time and interest are creating a new kind of story telling that is very different than the text blog entries I can search, skim and remix aggregated by various services like Technorati, Feedster, Pubsub and Blogpulse. Vlog-posts are little movies, or a post wrapped around a little movie. One cannot link from within a movie, but one can reference, remix, explore. I know at last count there was a directory of vloggers that listed about 200 of them. So it's small now, but considering the power of video and the time it takes to make vlog-posts.. it's a pretty good start. I also thing there are probably many more folks online making video.. that aren't included there.
The ways we determine conversation in vlogs will be more along the lines of visual and aural references. Even if we had a transcript to search them, we would not get context or what is shown visually or in the sound beyond the words, nor would we get the references from one piece to the next, as we can now mouse over a text blog's links to see intended references. Vlog references must be viewed in order to see them. So conversation in media, just like in the analog world, for now, will not be tracked by counting hypertext links or key words. It will be different, and I wonder how we will show those vlog-posts conversing or remixing media in meaningful ways.
As I discover vloggers, get to know their work, see what they are thinking about as they explore and forge ahead with their vlogging work, I find myself presented with similar sensations of discovery and mystery as I did when I first was discovering blogs. And yet, because it is a video medium, the experience is different, I'm making the references between their pieces and the referenced subjects in my mind, I'm taken into a story that is not skimmable but rather gives me sound and visual narrative as a complete picture, where I see clips that may quote from others, but are no different in presentations from any of the other clips that may not be quoted. This kind of recognition was something I did in my early days of blog reading, making connections. But it was easy for all those aggregation services to make the connections for me, as they counted up links and made searchable key words in the texts. But who will be the Technorati or Pubsub of vlogging? What will we do with this medium to transform it from an industrial art that cannot be recognized computationally except by humans?
It's a whole other kind of media literacy, of understanding digital sharing of borrowed work, of seeing what remix and re-expression is about. This is true both for us, as viewers and makers of video, and for the computers we want to aid us in searching and discovering video and video conversation.
I also wonder, will broadcast and narrative legacy video producers claim that vloggers aren't 'real' in the same ways journalists have about bloggers? Or will we have learned enough to get past that to the much more interesting question of where the relationships between the top down and bottom up content with lie and how they might get on .. whether and when it will be complementary or contradictory?
This video from dtlq is a beautiful play on tagging, vlogging, storytelling.. pivoting flickr for material, making something and remaking it, and then remaking it, and telling it again. Just a minute or so but worth watching a couple of times.
Lovely repetition and remix.
June 24, 2005
For the honor of being nominated to the Technorati AO 100.
It's nice that people think of me as a trendsetter. It's an amazing and great list of people to be associated with.. including John Battelle, who has been a sort of mentor to me, and with whom I worked on a couple of projects at UCBerkeley, including our first blog, bIPlog, and been amazingly sweet in helping me with my projects since then. I really like John's work, because whatever he does, he does really well.. it's high quality, and then he polishes it at then end. I wish him well on FM Publishing.. his new venture, which will shine, I'm sure.
And to the rest on all five lists, who are friends and people I admire for doing interesting, thoughtful stuff.. thanks for the inspiration!
June 23, 2005
Live Vlogging Supernova
... and here are the results. I made this on the fly.. the past two days, and showed it during the last session at Supernova 2005, yesterday. It was a bit of an adventure making it and trying to show it all in a few hours.
Not perfect, but that's blogging, or vlogging.
So I know people live blog conferences, and they live cast or webcast or stream video.. but are there any other live vlog posts? I'd love to hear about them?
Supernova was interesting.. everything from distributed systems to VOIP to tech com policy to socio-technical observations to a naval military project (presented by Commander Greg Glaros but JC Hertz who was on another panel is also on the project) to media, privacy and identity. The video is just a little snippet of the conference.. but doesn't cover it all. Video sort of requires that you make a little story.. so last minute.. I put together a quick story. Which means you don't necessarily get it all in.. certainly not in 4 minutes.
June 16, 2005
Andrew Rasiej, First NYC Candidate with a Video Blog
Rock and roll. This is so cool. Andrew does a video blog. (He's running for Public Advocate in NYC in case you don't know.) Jay Dedman and Ryanne Hodson did a super job creating the vlog.
And look at the video:
He's very cute there with that little slightly embarrassed smile, should get lots of votes! He's on his way to a wifi hearing, where he testifies that wifi in NYC is key to keeping NYC 1st in the world.
YES! I want universal wifi. It's like a water. Which should be a municipal utility.
Also, the low res quality of the video gives it that "60's -- we're gonna change the world!" feel.. like we're watching JFK or something!
I love this. Every candidate should have a "man on the street" vlog.
Previous videos include: Being a Business Owner in NYC and Meeting Andrew (where you can learn that his name rhymes with Shea (Stadium), that he works out, sends his own email, and works late a lot, was born in NJ, lived in NYC, studied art and architecture, and wants to know your complaints so that he can use new technology to connect you and others to each other, and the right folks to fix it.
Nice work, Andrew, Jay and Ryanne!
Update: See Andrew get interviewed by Amanda Congdon at the Rocketboom vlog, about NYC wifi.
Bittorrent files mixed with spyware
Why? Because it's legal. And they feel like it. And they have nothing better to do but to screw around with users that don't know the difference.
Here is the article. They say they are fully disclosing at the point a download completes, and the user is presented with nail.exe for installation. But my guess is, most users want to see what they've believe they've downloaded and think they are agreeing to that, not a spyware install. MMG says it's all totally legal. But I'm also wondering, did they host the file the user really wanted, and then send their spyware along with it, or did they just slip it into bittorrent streams as they found them going across the network, or did they find sites with desirable content and seed their spyware files in with the others?
Someone hacked their site today:
But you can contact them here if you want to complain about their practices:
Marketing Metrix Group
1344 Pheasant Lane
Victoria BC Canada
June 14, 2005
SBC Global Does it again
.. in the worst way. (I've blogged about this before, but lately my DSL service has been okay.) But my brother just got DSL from SBC Global Yahoo. And it's been challenging for him.
I gave him my old windows laptop to use, which he did for a month, and then brought back to have me help configure stuff, and set up things like the Flickr uploader, AIM, and get his pop mail going on outlook.
I also set up a hodder.org email for him.
Well... the fun began with SBC Yahoo's site links which were broken, on their mail options page. Specifically, the pop mail configuration link, is broken. YES, BROKEN.
Click on help, from the mail page. Get a phone number for SBC Yahoo. Call it. Give loads of info. Get a person, and just as she's beginning to get what the problem is (not our email, but their mail options link, is broken), she disconnects us (we did give her a number to call us back but she never did.)
Call back, and get go through many phone menus and requests for info, to get some other woman who tells us we have to call Yahoo about the link, and gives us a number that turns out to be for Yahoo dating tech support.
Decided to try the online chat since clearly, the phone support doesn't work well. They have an extensive form of questions about the amount of ram we have, or our processor speed, type of OS, modem model (SBC sent it to my brother.. so for god sakes, they should know what it is without asking, and yet, they ask repeatedly on the phone and in the form for live chat, as if this all we might have a problem with..), and then they give us 70 (YES, 70) characters to explain our problem.
Then you hit enter, and guess what? They give us a message saying that something, though they don't tell us what, was incorrectly entered in the form, and when we close the error pop up, the form is returned to us BLANK. Oh yes. Blank. So we try again. And guess what? It happens again, even though all info is entered correctly.
So we call back, and beg, BEG, for the correct URL to reconfigure his settings so that he can have not just webmail, but popmail as well. You'd think that would be the default, having both. You'd think, they would fix the URLs on their mail options page for account holders.. after all these are paying customers.
But we get a woman who tells us we have to go to second level tech support to get a freaking correct URL. To configure the pop access. Which consists of a radio button. I saw it on the screen shot on a help page. Geez. And then, they have to get supervisor approval to go to second level tech support. And we are on hold again.
This has been going on for 1.5 hours.
In the meantime, I'm cleaning spam, popups, and spywear off of the laptop, which I stupidly gave to him, with administrator level access, and then said, don't install anything. I believe himm when he says he didn't but due to the level of access from the general login.. it means that every website he or his girlfriend surfed by with some spywear, that asked them to click on something, came with an install file for some evil crap. So I'm reconfiguring the permissions too.
Ack! I hope this ends soon.. I have other work to do. But most of all, I'm thanking God for my mac. And next time he gets a computer.. it will be a mac. Cause the nightmare of being a window's user is too much for a newby, not to mention a new DSL / email / AIM / flickr / etc user who is having trouble getting to the fun part of this, because of all the technical barriers.
Update: after a half hour on hold for 2nd level tech support, we did get someone who helped with the URL and configuration. This problem is solved, but I'm not sure my brother, as a new user, would really slog through it all, or be able to articulate it all, to the various support people. One problem SBC has is that they try to route everyone through issues around modems, when not all the issues have to do with that... which is why they ask what OS you have or what modem, even after you say the problem has nothing to do with that, as in this case, it did not. If their website had more usability testing and better forms and interaction, we likely could have solved it all online with having to call.. which is my preference.
Update to the Update:
A guy from SBC Global (who asked that his name not be blogged) happened to notice this post, and has been emailing me, trying to get additional information. In the email, I tried to encourage them to look at this as not one specific problem, around my brother, but as an overall usability issue.
This is what I sent him:
The real issue is that your web pages are set up for one kind of problem, regardless
of whether you start by calling or IMing (your version of chat -- which I was never
able to access due to the form). The questions you ask, and the links and information
don't server uses beyond a small set of problems to do with modem issues etc.
Our problem was that the link to the Pop configuration was broken. We were not
able to get help, for almost two hours, to just change a setting, and the people we
called couldn't comprehend that a user might have another kind of problem,
or listen when I explained that this was not a hardware issue. They instead kept
asking for modem model numbers and OS info, and ram quantities, instead of
getting to the real issue, which was that your link was broken, and we had
no other way besides contacting you, to change the POP configuration.
In fact, I think it would be very reasonable of you to simply make the combo of
web access and pop access the default setting for all your email uses. That way
people don't have to change a setting in order to pull down mail locally.
Secondly, i would suggest user testing and usability heuristics for your chat system.
I can understand wanting to to know the user's OS, etc for modem issues, but once
a user says the problem is related to email config up top, the form questions should change,
and then if the user incorrectly fills out the form, the system should not delete all the entries
the user just filled out (20!) but instead should highlight the incorrect entry and give the user
the chance to correct it. Also, if users use AIM or YahooIM, you should simply allow us to
IM you directly instead of using that irritating form, and then requiring that we install a program
to chat, when in fact we already have two highly used chat programs to begin with
(the height of arrogance on your part to ask us to install a chat program that only works
with your system.. like I have CPU and RAM to burn on programs that only work with you,
and that I will likely use once or twice.
As it is, due to the one month in which my brother had the laptop without spyware protection
or user permissions that would block the installation of spyware, he got 7 new spyware
programs. So to protect against this, I made him a different user on the system that won't allow
installation, without a special password. I don't think at his new level that he should be
able to install. And therefore, asking him to install software at all, when a large company
such as yours could easily license web chat software (I can direct you to a number of
software developers that would license it to you) that doesn't require installation is another
option for you, when dealing with new users, that will have issues and need to communicate
with you. There are also at least ten open source web based chat code bases you could
use to accomplish this, which also would keep your uses from having to install web chat
software that only works when talking with SBC.
I appreciate your looking into this problem and trying to solve it, but really, there is a long
way to go before your system is really usable and stupid simple.
June 13, 2005
You can only say yes, to Yes!
Or at least to Mark Pincus, who invited a group of friends and bloggers to see the film, Yes. Sony, which is distributing the film, seemed less sure than Mark about having this group view the film. But the event went well, starting off with a couple of Youthspeaks.org poetry readers -- kids around 18 with really good stories to tell -- then followed by the film and then hanging at a waterfront bar. Mark is pushing legacy media into distributed, uncontrollable, scary blogspace. A place they need to go, and this showing was a dipping of a toe in the water.
The film is definitely arthouse material, where all the dialog is in prose rhyme, but it actually works. And the subject exists in many layers of misunderstanding: personal domestic marital conflict, friends and more conflict, the Oriental and the occidental conflict, among others. It's well done, mostly, though it could use a little editing, as well as tightening of the story in parts that feel unfinished, like the plotline around the goddaughter. But it's worth seeing, for really great cinematography, great acting with Joan Allen (also awesome in the Upside of Anger), and Simon Abkarian, and beautiful locations. It's a gorgeous film.
Photos from the event are here.
June 09, 2005
Josh Leo does it again: Rain. I have watched this several times. Reminds me of American Beauty with the plastic bag. Except it is it's own story and meaning; it's very beautiful and I can help rewatching it, probably 10 times, since Tuesday.
Greg Elin called Rain 'voetry' after I sent him the link. I think we both really love this video. The best 2 minutes you can spend on the internet right now.
Update: Greg linked to Store Wars.. about organic farming, staring "young cuke" and "darth tator" battling over the "death melon." And "Yogart" who says "stretch out your peelings...". Very cute.
June 07, 2005
Podcasting in leaps and bounds....
KYOU.. formerly an SF station that wasn't making money but has been transformed as Open Source Radio Station, KYOU, is serving up podcasts..
And Feedburner just put this out.. showing the rising number of podcasts:
I have to admit, I don't really listen to that many of them, mainly because they are time consuming.. but I do find the podcasts I catch to be really cool. It's definitely cutting into my radio time.
June 05, 2005
For the Love of God, or Transparency, or My Sanity... or Bacon is the Soul of Brevity
Could everyone please cut down the blogging, just a tad?
I mean, there is so much going on. Geez. I know! How about we take even license plates and odd license plates, and promise to only blog on the corresponding even and odd days? If you own two cars, then pick one as your blogger license plate and stick with it.
You know, editing is a kind of respect for your audience. Kevin Marks made his Bacon movie only 16 seconds, but it took work, he says. If it were a podcast, it'd be 20 minutes.
For my sanity. Please. It's kiling me. I have three hundred feeds to read, and about 14 hours a day of work, and I have to work out, and meet with people, and socialize a little. And cook something to eat, maybe sleep. And I have to get it all done in only 24 hours. And you would all be helping enormously if you would just cut things down a smidge.
Brevity. It's a saving grace. Run with it.
June 02, 2005
The Heterogeneity Issue, Part II: Working Inside or Out
After my first post on this topic, regarding Poptech!, the subject noted there as having a conversation with me about women speakers at conferences, talked again with me about our conversation. That conversation, as I discussed it there, and as we had it originally, was very short, and not terribly nuanced. But I wanted to point it out in the post not because of him or what he really thinks about these topics or diversity and other voices, but because I felt that it represented the short attention many people give to the subject of having other voices join in at some institution or event. I think often this is all the attention people give to the subject, and so the conversation was applicable in that way.
This all may sound cryptic, but let me explain.
The original conversation was short, and simply noted his thought that he saw people complaining about a lack of diverse voice at Poptech! and elsewhere, and thought those people who complained should consider making their own venue to show what they felt was missing. Having discussed it quite a bit more recently, he's noted that this isn't a simple statement, but that he's always felt, with technology development, with social issues, with large and powerful companies and institutions, that effecting change that really mattered was best done from the outside.. rather than working from the inside. He has often done outsider disruption and development, and felt this was a reasonable response. And so the remarks, while short, really had a lot behind them. They were loaded with his experiences of being a disrupter himself, and he thinks that people who want change should do the same: work from the outside to make change happen.
I think the issues are more subtle, and considering that we are talking about women speaking, require some analysis of the dynamics of women and men and conferences.
First, men tend to ask to speak, whereas women don't call conference organizers to ask for a speaking spot. Combined with the lack of thought about who speakers are on many organizer's part, beyond who they see already speaking at events (who tend to be white males), the result is that mostly white men are signed up or asked to speak by the organizers of events. This happens unless they break through their own frames and references about who spoke at past event to actively seek other, different speakers.
Also, women speakers are fewer in overall number, at least in technology fields, and with family and other demands, even when going for those speakers, it's harder to get them than with male speaker who will show up for the conference or speaking engagement regardless of other obligations. However, my experience in organizing a conference was that men who volunteered or we asked, would mention family or other work constraints but they would shift them for the opportunity to speak.
And if there are submissions or requests involved for the conference, women will also not necessarily feel invited to submit or participate in a paper or research demonstration, whereas men almost always feel they can submit or participate.
Additionally, if working from the outside, in this case, means creating a whole new conference, as the person noted in the earlier post suggested, there is a huge undertaking and commitment there. It may be that this is the best ways to effect change, but can most people do it? Is there room for another conference, will people attend yet another conference, will the organizers be able to finance the first conference and want to take on that risk, is it realistic to apply what might be called hacker ethics around technology (roll your own or DIY or just, hack up some new code over the weekend) to those who might make change in conference diversity by making a new conference?
I think making change from the outside is an option, and certainly, Blogher is an attempt to do this. Blogher is finding lots and lots of different speakers, but also, it's not an established conference, and the topic is centered around online communications and blogging, which is less broad than say, Poptech or Web2.0, which focus on the much larger scope of technology, development and cultural trends, as well as their own individual twists of theme. The result for Blogher is that it's attracting people interested in blogging, as it should, not focusing on these larger themes. Therefore, it's not much competition for Poptech or Web2.0.
It's an extreme undertaking, making a new conference, and not many people have the skills or know how, or for that matter, can set aside everything else they are doing for a couple of months, to make one. It is, in effect, making a new business, and very few people want to take that on, even if it does mean effecting change in ways they think should happen.
Instead, it may be more realistic for us to consider speakers with other backgrounds at existing events.. to leverage what has already been created.