Posts from June 9, 2004

F’ vous

F’ vous

: Chirac, in the words of the BBC, snubs Bush‘s suggestion that NATO should get involved in Iraq. Well, that means he’s snubbing Kerry’s suggestion, too, since that’s at the heart of his strategy. He’s just snubbing America, again.

Blogs read in the halls of power

Blogs read in the halls of power

: For the second time (the first was in the NY Post, this is in the Wall Street Journal), Paul Wolfowitz is quoting Iraqi bloggers.

After a suicide car bombing killed Iraqi Interim Governing Council President Izzedine Salim and eight others on May 17, one Iraqi put that act of terror into a larger perspective for those who wonder if democracy can work in Iraq. His name is Omar, one of the new Iraqi “bloggers,” and he wrote on his Web log: “We cannot . . . protect every single person, including our leaders and the higher officials who make favorite targets for the terrorists–but we can make their attempts go in vain by making our leadership ‘replaceable.’ ”

Exercising his newfound freedom of speech via the Internet, Omar addressed what he sees as the terrorists’ fundamental misunderstanding about where Iraq is going. Terrorists–whether Saddamists or foreigners–“think in the same way their dictator-masters do,” failing to grasp that the idea of leadership by an indispensable strongman applies to totalitarian regimes–not democracies.

Explode your TV

Explode your TV

: TV is about to explode, just as publishing is exploding thanks to the web and weblogs.

Many elements are coming together that will mean the barrier to entry to TV is dropped to the ground. Anybody can produce TV. Anybody can distribute TV. And TV will thus be able to serve any interest. Just as you no longer need a printing press to publish, you no longer need a tower (or cable or satellite) to broadcast.

Of course, that’s hardly a new prognostication. Many smart folks, like Adam Curry and Ernie Miller, have been writing about this for a long time (more links shortly). But now all the things that will make this happen are coming together quickly — why, as fast as global climate change in The Day After Tomorrow.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what Doc Searls started here and continued here regarding radio and I believe that the tsunami will come first to TV because:

: TV is more exciting to consumers.

: TV is more exciting to advertisers (who have been trying to turn the Web into TV ever since it started).

: Thus there’s more money in TV.

: There are also far greater savings in TV. Radio’s already cheap to produce. TV isn’t. But with new cameras and tools and citizen producers, just a few people (or even one person) can turn out decent TV today.

: TV does not bring with it the added expectation and difficulty of portability; we do expect to get radio everywhere but we don’t (yet) watch it in our cars (much).

Citizens TV will not look like the early efforts at TV online. It won’t be all edgy Atom films (nobody watches them). Neither will it exactly mimic broadcast and cable (why bother?). But you can, today, turn out useful TV with little effort and expense.

For example, you could with one camera person and one host and a little editing create a house remake show like the ones my wife and I now love to watch. You could create local shows about sports or politics. You could review movies. You could test drive cars or gadgets. You could teach people how to use, oh, PowerPoint. Or you could create source material: Tape the board of ed meeting and put it online. And then you can distribute it. And then you can get people to watch it.

Here’s how it comes together:

: Tools: It will take one now-inexpensive camera, one host, and some editing on inexpensive tools like Visual Communicator or even free, open-source tools, if you wish (Terry Heaton sent me to the work of Drazen Pantic, who can put an entire free editing suite on one bootable disc). That’s cheap.

: Distribution: You’ll no longer need to break into the cable or broadcast or syndication biz. You can put it up on the Internet. Once was, that would cost you a fortune in bandwidth. But thanks to BitTorrent and Broadcatching (see frequent Ernie Miller posts) — peer-to-peer distribution — the audience shares the cost. That (pardon me) is the wonder of distributed distribution.

: Marketing: The only way to market TV content in the past was, of course, to get distribution. But that changes in this new world where everyone can distribute. How does a weblog get seen? Because people link to it. How will citizens TV get seen? When weblogs and citizens link to it. Also see what Doc has been saying about sending out RSS notifications of new content.

Again, this isn’t all new but it is all coming together. I’ve been collecting links to stories that dance around all this in recent days:

: The New York Times today reports that TiVo will allow you to store and watch shows not just from cable and broadcast but also from the Internet. Soon you can create shows direct-to-TiVo.

: The BBC is going to change the way you watch the Olympics, allowing you to make your own sportscast.

: CableNewser reports that CNN is developing a broadband channel, competing with its cable channels.

: The Times also reported the other day about TV networks that can’t get on regular analog cable tiers and so they’re moving to the digital tier and then to the video-on-demand tier. Well, it’s not far at all to see them distributed on the Internet.

: See PaidContent.org’s coverage of Internet-delivered TV networks that go into boxes on your TV: Akimbo and TimeShiftv.com. And get a load of the programming they offer: niches of niches — Africa Movies, Asian Beauties, Billiard Club, OutOfTheCloset.tv, Sail.tv, The Yoga Learning Center.

: And, of course, see various pioneers who’ve been writing about all this for sometime: Adam Curry, Doc Searls, Ernie Miller, Dave Winer….

TV’s exploding before our very eyes. Can’t wait.

Six column-inches under

Six column-inches under

: Conventions you wish you were invited to: the 6th Great Obituary Writers’ International Conference:

In the closing minutes of the 6th Great Obituary Writers’ International Conference (their title), one of the events that obituarists hate the most burst in on them. Just as Tim Bullamore, a Bath city councillor who writes for Fleet Street newspapers and the British Medical Journal, began an elaborate slide show on the glories of his city, where the conference takes place next year, someone rushed in and shouted: “Reagan’s died!”

Gasps of astonishment, cries of surprise, uproar and confusion. Several delegates sprinted to the hotel lobby’s public call boxes or grabbed cellphones. The bringer of the news was surrounded and peppered with questions. Bullamore’s presentation was ruined. Finally, he grabbed the microphone and bellowed: “Reagan’s dead and he’ll be deader. Let’s go on with the show.”

He resumed his slides, but it wasn’t the same. The 40th president of the United States, Ronald Wilson Reagan, had died inconveniently and thrust obituarists into disarray. But really, they loved it. One delegate, her eyes sparkling, gushed: “Isn’t this just wild?”

[via Editors Weblog]

Do you speak fiddish?

Do you speak fiddish?

: Protoblogger Steven I Weiss has just launched a blog for The Forward.

Hyperlocal

Hyperlocal

: I’m at Northwestern getting ready for the final presentation of the hyperlocal news project (go to GoSkokie.com). If appropriate, I’ll blog.

: The presentation of the Hyperlocal Citizens’ Media project — aka GoSkokie.com — was great.

My favorite part came at the end when fuddy-duddy, fuss-budgety, old journalism professors fretted about things that are wrong getting onto the web site. One was “scared as heck” and the other was actually “terrified.” One of them warned that a thousand people could be misinformed. It was all quite sensationalistic.

The students shrugged at all the whipped-up fears and quickly said that the community edits itself and corrects errors. And because this medium — at last — lets the people have proprietorship over content, they take pride in getting it right and in their reputations. “The end result,” said one student, “is an informed public reporting about what they know.” Another student said, “It is a means for enacting change democratically.” I raised my right-on! fist.

These journalism students were not in the least bit scared, terrified, or reluctant to question who is a journalist and what is news. Their definition came out loud and clear: If it informs the community and enables democracy, it’s good.

They found a half dozen other hyperlocal citizens’ media sites, including WestportNow.com, iBrattleboro.com, Fredericksburg.com, and LiveFromArlington.com. They put up software — Geeklog — to get it going. They went into Skokie to sell the site. And it took off, a bit slowly but then it gained altitude. They held a contest and got 100 people to register for the site, then 200. They added photos and video and audio. They created something real and plan to keep it going after school’s out.

Other students presented a product — web with a print companion — aimed at teens in the Quad Cities of Iowa for the newspaper publisher there (I’m not supposed to give away anymore than that because they’re giving the official presentation Friday). But at the end of it all, one (forward-thinking and not fuddy-duddy) j-prof saw something that tied both these presentations together: “It strike me,” he said, “how very narrow the landscape of mainstream journalism is.”

Not if these students have anything to do with the future of journalism.

I’m going to another presentation of the Hyperlocal project in downtown Chicago tonight and will be curious to see what the reaction of the j-pros is.

Don’t let the designer door hit you in the ass

Don’t let the designer door hit you in the ass

: Herbert Muschamp, hard-to-bear architecture critic of The Times, says he’s tired of the beat…. which should have been obvious to his editors long since.

The American skyline of the future will have to get along without any more chunks of quartz, children

The Daily Stern

The Daily Stern

: CLEAR QUISLING: Clear Channel is settling its indecency case with the FCC. The New York Times reports they will pay $1.75 million (beating the prior record Stern/Viacom settlement of $1.70 million) on top of the $495k they agreed to pay because of Bubba the Love Sponge. The Washington Post’s report here.

Clear Channel will also admit that it aired indecent programming.

Quislings.

If they had balls or a spine or a soul or a brain, they’d fight this as a matter of Constitutional principle, as a defense of the First Amendment, and simply as good business. For now that they have knuckled under to the FCC, there’s no telling what’s next.

: SPEAKING OF QUISLINGS: Ernie Miller reports that John Kerry has “clarified” his stance on FCC regulation of cable content.

[Kerry spokesperson] Davis suggested that Kerry was not seeking either a crackdown or a free pass for cable and satellite, but a middle ground.

Well, that’s as clear as Clear Channel.

Man, Kerry, that fence must hurt when you plop down on it like that. Or maybe you’re used to it by now.

: AND MORE QUISLINGS: Kerry would grow balls or a spine on this issue if just one thing happened: If Hollywood rose up to defend free speech and demand that Kerry defend it — or else they wouldn’t raise money for him. But Hollywood isn’t because, of course, Hollywood has not balls, spine, heart, soul, brain, or good sense. They don’t understand that once censorship starts, it only grows.

: UPDATE: Boortz says: “There is no greater threat to free speech than the government deciding what you get to see and hear.”