In one of the all too rare lighter moments of the last few weeks, I had great fun chatting with Cassie McCullagh and Jason Di Rosso on Radio National’s The List programme about who should replace Matt Smith now that it’s been announced he’ll be leaving Doctor Who during this year’s Christmas special.
In the short 5 minute segment we weigh the possibility of a female Doctor, discuss the increasing US obsession with Doctor Who and finally I reveal my controversial choice for favourite Doctor (you’ll have to listen if you if you want to find out Who!).
The programme airs on Radio National Australia at 5.30 Friday, 7 June or you can listen online here.
I’m pleased to announce that my article Joss Whedon, Dr. Horrible, and the Future of Web Media? is finally available. Here’s the abstract:
In the 2007 Writers Guild of America strike, one of the areas in dispute was the question of residual payments for online material. On the picket line, Buffy creator Joss Whedon discussed new ways online media production could be financed. After the strike, Whedon self-funded a web media production, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. Whedon and his collaborators positioned Dr. Horrible as an experiment, investigating whether original online media content created outside of studio funding could be financially viable. Dr. Horrible was a bigger hit than expected, with a paid version topping the iTunes charts and a DVD release hitting the number two position on Amazon. This article explores which factors most obviously contributed to Dr. Horrible’s success, whether these factors are replicable by other media creators, the incorporation of fan labor into web media projects, and how web-specific content creation relates to more traditional forms of media production.
The paper drifted somewhat from the original abstract, but in a nutshell asks why it is taking television networks so long to escape the tyranny of digital distance (in this instance embodied by the national delays in re-broadcasting overseas-produced television shows). I look at several examples, including the recent Olympics broadcasts, as well as the deep-seated resistance from commercial TV networks in Australia. I conclude following Mark Scott that the future is already here, in the visage of young viewers and Peppa Pig fans who will never know the broadcast schedule and that these are the viewers for whom networks should be preparing to entertain today.
The Dark Knight Rises Trailer 2: IN LEGO [YouTube] – Beautifully put together Lego version of the new Dark Knight trailer. “LEGO Dark Knight Rises Movie Trailer By ParanickFilmz. http://paranickfilmz.co.nr/ Thanks to Adviceversas for the mouth animation and JediMasterSoda for the CGI. Movie (2012) HD.”
CBS Blocks Use of Unused ‘Star Trek’ Script by Spinrad [NYTimes.com] – “For “Star Trek” fans it was like finding a lost Shakespeare play — only to have it snatched away by the playwright’s heirs.Last fall an unused script for the cult 1960s television show turned up after being forgotten for years. Its author, the science-fiction writer Norman Spinrad, announced that it would become an episode of a popular Web series, “Star Trek New Voyages: Phase II,” which features amateur actors in the classic roles of Capt. James T. Kirk, Mr. Spock and other crew members of the starship Enterprise. But then another player stepped in: CBS, which said it owned the script and blocked a planned Web production of it. Trekkies were appalled. “These executives should be phasered on heavy stun,” said Harmon Fields of Manhattan, who called himself “a ‘Star Trek’ fan of galactic proportions.” … By all indications CBS is within its rights. In the entertainment industry the paid writer of a teleplay generally cedes the rights to the material, even if it remains unproduced.”
Pay TV piracy hits News [AFR] – A detailed investigative report accuses NewsCorp of actively promoting and facilitating the piracy of competitors pay TV network content: ” A secret unit within Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation promoted a wave of high-tech piracy in Australia that damaged Austar, Optus and Foxtel at a time when News was moving to take control of the Australian pay TV industry.” These are hugely important accusations both in terms of NewsCorp but also in terms of how piracy is framed and understood.
What book publishers should learn from Harry Potter — Tech News and Analysis – Useful post detailing the DRM-free release of the Harry Potter ebooks and audio books for sale on J K Rowling’s Pottermore website. The lesson here is that DRM really isn’t necessary, and you’re more likely to reach a wider audience without it. Admittedly Rowling has unprecedented clout in managing her own books in electronic form, and has already made so much money off these books there’s no real risk involved, but the strategy is an important one nevertheless.
Angry Birds Space gets 10m downloads in three days [BBC] – The latest version of the Angry Birds game notched up 10 million download in its first three days of release, says its developer Rovio. Angry Birds Space only came out on 22 March, but in a tweet on Monday Rovio announced the game’s swift success. … The new Angry Birds instalment features 60 initial levels and six new characters and has what Rovio calls a “unique twist in a variable gravity environment”. As well as Google Android and Apple iOS devices, last week also saw the game released simultaneously on PC and Mac. Nasa was also involved in promoting the game, posting a video showing an astronaut on the International Space Station explaining the laws of physics using Angry Bird characters.
The space agency called it “an exciting way to get people engaged with Nasa’s missions of exploration and discover”.
The Hunger Games Game [CollegeHumor Video] – A parody video from College Humor, turning The Hunger Games into a tween-girl fantasy boardgame focusing on the love-triangle, to great comic effect. On some level, though, this is also a pretty decent critique of the way a film which and certain elements of the fandom around it miss the core critique of authority and a media culture, reducing it to a vapid romance tale.
Dragon Tattoo Has Unique DVD Design – Sony’s DVD release of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo has confused some people because it’s designed to look like a ripped copy and, sporting letters which look like they’re written in felt-tip pen on a DVD-R. Confusing messages you’re sending there, Sony!
Twitter turns six [Twitter Blog] – On the sixth anniversary of Twitter’s launch, the service has reached 140 million users, with 340 million tweets made daily. That said, since most active users seem to tweet a lot more than 3 times a day, a significant proportion of users don’t actually seem to tweet much.
Game sales surpassed video in UK, says report [BBC News] – “Sales of computer games in the UK have surpassed those of videos for the first time, new figures suggest. The Electronic Retailers Association (ERA) said sales of £1.93bn in 2011 made the gaming industry the country’s biggest entertainment sector. By contrast, sales of DVDs and other video formats totalled £1.80bn, while music pulled in £1.07bn.”
Rob Reid: The $8 billion iPod | Video on TED.com – Fantastic TED parody explanation of the logic behind copyright lawsuits and litigation: copyright maths. From TED: “Comic author Rob Reid unveils Copyright Math (TM), a remarkable new field of study based on actual numbers from entertainment industry lawyers and lobbyists. Rob Reid is a humor author and the founder of the company that created the music subscription service Rhapsody”
MEGAUPLOAD (by Dan Bull) – Independent artist Dan Bull raps about the harm shutting down MegaUpload has done to smaller artists. In the name of protecting the intellectual property of Hollywood and the MPAA, it seems that smaller artists who rely on cyberlockers like MegaUpload have found their means of distribution erased without noticed or recourse to protest.
Star Wars crowdsourced film reaches million YouTube views [BBC News] – “A “directors cut” of a fan-made version of Star Wars has passed one million views on YouTube. The film, uploaded on 18 January, is made up of hundreds of 15-second scenes created by internet users. The Star Wars Uncut project is widely regarded as an example of the power of crowdsourcing. Ramon Youseph, of the Crowdsourcing Gazette blog, told the BBC it showed “the power of the web to engage people in a global collaborative effort”. The website starwarsuncut.com began asking for fan-made scenes in 2009. It went on to win an interactive media Emmy in 2010.”
EU proposes ‘right to be forgotten’ by internet firms [BBC News] – A new law promising internet users the “right to be forgotten” will be proposed by the European Commission on Wednesday. It says people will be able to ask for data about them to be deleted and firms will have to comply unless there are “legitimate” grounds to retain it. [...] A spokesman for the commissioner clarified that the action was designed to help teenagers and young adults manage their online reputations. “These rules are particularly aimed at young people as they are not always as aware as they could be about the consequence of putting photos and other information on social network websites, or about the various privacy settings available,” said Matthew Newman. He noted that this could cause problems later if the users had no way of deleting embarrassing material when applying for jobs. However, he stressed that it would not give them the right to ask for material such as their police or medical records to be deleted.”
60 hours per minute and 4 billion views a day on YouTube [YouTube Blog] – “Since the dawn of YouTube, we’ve been sharing the hours of video you upload every minute. In 2007 we started at six hours, then in 2010 we were at 24 hours, then 35, then 48, and now…60 hours of video every minute, an increase of more than 30 percent in the last eight months. In other words, you’re uploading one hour of video to YouTube every second.”
How Parents Normalized Teen Password Sharing [danah boyd | apophenia] – Interesting insights from danah boyd regarding teens sharing passwords to social media services with each other. It’s all about trust, and that’s something learnt at home since parents ask kids to trust them and let parents look after (or at least know) their passwords in the early years (normally): “When teens share their passwords with friends or significant others, they regularly employ the language of trust, as Richtel noted in his story. Teens are drawing on experiences they’ve had in the home and shifting them into their peer groups in order to understand how their relationships make sense in a broader context. This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone because this is all-too-common for teen practices. Household norms shape peer norms.”
Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea) [YouTube] – A great talk from Clay Shirky explaining the history, context and potential impact of the US SOPA and PIPA bills which seek to radically censor the internet in the name of stopping “piracy”. Important to listen to since, as Shirky argues, there’s no doubt more of the same just around the corner.
Parents using Facebook to attack school staff, Principals Federation says [Perth Now] – “Parents are using Facebook and other social networks to attack principals and teachers they dislike or believe have wronged them or their children. The growing practice of raging against school staff online has sparked calls for the Education Department to step in. “These forums can also fuel the sort of misplaced anger and hatred that can end in physical confrontations and school lockdowns,” Australian Principals Federation president Chris Cotching said. Lawyers acting for the federation have warned the department it could be legally culpable if it continued to ignore online campaigns against staff.”
Palin Fans Trying to Edit Wikipedia Paul Revere Page [Little Green Footballs] – Interesting case study on Wikipedia’s accuracy – after Sarah Palin gets history wrong, her supporteres try and edit Wikipedia to make the Palin version; drama and editorial warfare ensue: “Man, you’ve gotta almost admire the sheer blind dedication of Sarah Palin’s wingnut acolytes. Now they’re trying like crazy to edit the Wikipedia page for “Paul Revere” to make it match Palin’s botched version of history. Here’s the Revision history of Paul Revere; check out the edits that are being reversed. Also see the discussion page for an entertaining exchange between Wikipedia editors and a would-be revisionist.”
Google Chrome: Lady Gaga [YouTube] – Clever ad for Google Chrome featuring Lady Gaga (and simultaneously a Lady Gaga ad featuring Chrome!) which really highlights how she’s deeply engaging with her fanbase via social media.
Google’s YouTube policy for Android users is copyright extremism [guardian.co.uk] – Cory Doctorow laments Google’s copyright-driven philosophical contradictions: “The news that Android users who have jailbroken their phones will be denied access to the new commercial YouTube pay-per-view service is as neat an example of copyright extremism as you could hope for. Android, of course, is Google’s wildly popular alternative to Apple’s iOS (the operating system found on iPhones and iPads). Android is free and open – it costs nothing to copy, it can be legally modified and those modifications can be legally distributed [...] unless you’re running a very specific version of Google’s software on your phone or tablet, you can’t “rent” movies on YouTube. Google – the vendor – and the studios – the rights holders – are using copyright to control something much more profound than mere copying. In this version of copyright, making a movie gives you the right to specify what kind of device can play the movie back, and how that device must be configured.”
Google +1 Button – +1 = Google’s answer to Facebook’s “Like” button, bringing social recommendations thundering into Google (opt-in for now).
GoDaddy CEO Shoots Elephant, Injures Brand [Mashable] – “GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons may have achieved a new social media equivalent of jumping the shark. Call it “shooting the elephant.” A video of Parsons shooting an elephant in Zimbabwe made the rounds Thursday, causing the domain registry company to become a Google Hot Topic and the subject of criticism. Leading the charge is PETA, the animal rights group, which has closed its account with GoDaddy and is asking others to follow suit. Parsons, a Vietnam vet known for his brash image, brought on the publicity by posting the video on his blog. The video shows the damage elephants caused by trampling a farmer’s sorghum field. Parsons and his fellow hunters are shown waiting at night for the elephants to return. Then Parsons shoots and kills one of the elephants. [...] . Anticipating a backlash, GoDaddy competitor NameCheap.com has already swooped in. The company is running a transfer from GoDaddy to Namecheap.com [...] domains for $4.99 with 20% of the proceeds going to SaveTheElephants”
Facebook ban for boy accused of eliciting webcam porn [WA Today] – “A teenage boy has been barred from social networking sites while he awaits court proceedings for which he has been accused of pressuring girls into performing sexual acts in front of a webcam and posting the videos on Facebook. The 16-year-old boy, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, was charged with encouraging a child aged 13 to 16 to commit an indecent act, procuring a child aged 13 to 16 to commit an indecent act, producing child exploitation material and distributing child exploitation material. [...] Today the boy briefly fronted the Perth Children’s Court with both his parents, but was not required to enter a plea as he had not yet sought legal advice. He was remanded on bail to appear again in April. The state prosecutor successfully sought to have his bail conditions tightened, which already banned his use of Facebook and other social media, to include a ban preventing him from any form of contact with either girl.”
Pediatrics Gets it Wrong about ‘Facebook Depression’ [World of Psychology] – “You know it’s not good when one of the most prestigious pediatric journals, Pediatrics, can’t differentiate between correlation and causation. And yet this is exactly what the authors of a “clinical report” did in reporting on the impact of social media on children and teens. Especially in their discussion of “Facebook depression,” a term that the authors simply made up to describe the phenomenon observed when depressed people use social media. Shoddy research? You bet. That’s why Pediatrics calls it a “clinical report” — because it’s at the level of a bad blog post written by people with a clear agenda. [...] The problem now is that news outlets suggesting not only that it exists, but that researchers have found the online world somehow “triggers” depression in teens. Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics should be ashamed of this shoddy clinical report, and retract the entire section about “Facebook depression.”
Amazon Cloud Player goes live, streams music on your computer and Android [Engadget] – Amazon’s new cloud-based music and storage service, just released for users in the US only (for now): “Look who just ate Apple’s and Google’s lunch here? Amazon has just pushed out its very own music streaming service, which is conveniently dubbed the Amazon Cloud Player. Existing customers in the US can now upload their MP3 purchases to their 5GB cloud space — upgradable to a one-year 20GB plan for free upon purchasing an MP3 album, with additional plans starting at $20 a year — and then start streaming on their computers or Android devices. Oh, and did we mention that this service is free of charge as well? Meanwhile, someone will have some catching up to do, but we have a feeling it won’t take them too long.” [Amazon Mp3 CloudDrive]
The impact of social media use on children, adolescents and families – Kathleen Clarke-Pearson, Gwenn Schurgin O’Keeffe, American Academy of Pediatrics [Australian Policy Online] – “Using social media Web sites is among the most common activity of today’s children and adolescents. Any Web site that allows social interaction is considered a social media site, including social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter; gaming sites and virtual worlds such as Club Penguin, Second Life, and the Sims; video sites such as YouTube; and blogs. Such sites offer today’s youth a portal for entertainment and communication and have grown exponentially in recent years. For this reason, it is important that parents become aware of the nature of social media sites, given that not all of them are healthy environments for children and adolescents. Pediatricians are in a unique position to help families understand these sites and to encourage healthy use and urge parents to monitor for potential problems with cyberbullying, “Facebook depression,” sexting, and exposure to inappropriate content.” [PDF]
Australians buy 1 million mobile phones monthly: IDC [The Australian] – AUSTRALIANS’ love affair with mobile phones shows no sign of abating with more than 1 million units purchased each month last year. This means just over 34,000 mobile phones were sold every day in 2010. In coming months Google Android will unseat Nokia’s Symbian as the leading smartphone platform in Australia, IDC predicts. However, despite intense pressure from rivals, Nokia retained its number-one position in overall mobile phone sector after aggressively slashing prices to woo customers. [...] According to statistics from IDC Australia, 12.74 million mobiles were sold last year, a sharp increase from 10.99 million in 2009. The research house combines mobile phone sales from two categories: smartphones and feature phones. According to IDC, smartphones — unlike feature phones — run on a standalone operating system such as Apple iOS, Google Android, BlackBerry OS and Windows Phone. Smartphones accounted for around 57 per cent of mobile phones sold last year …”
Rebecca Black’s First-Week Sales: Not Bad, But Not In The Millions … [Billboard.biz] – “…Rebecca Black is not netting hundreds of thousands of dollars from the more than 33 million YouTube views of her uber-viral video “Friday” or its digital sales. However, she’s not doing badly. The 13-year-old is netting roughly $24,900 per week from track sales of her surprise hit song, according to my calculations. It’s the start of a great college fund, but she’s not making the kind of money from iTunes sales that some writers have estimated. Forbes.com erroneously reported her digital iTunes sales at 2 million, a figure that was picked up by other publications (Forbes has since posted a correction). So how many tracks is she selling? I’d estimate less than 40,000 in the U.S. last week and probably more this week. [...] Black appears to own the copyright to her sound recordings — the label is listed as “2011 Rebecca Black” on iTunes and Amazon MP3 lists “2011 Rebecca Black” in the “copyright” field of the song page.” (I’m impressed she kept the copyright! )
Lady Gaga first to have nine million Twitter followers [BBC - Newsbeat] – Twitter goes GaGa for GaGa: “Lady Gaga is the first person to have nine million followers on Twitter. The American singer, 24, became the most popular person on the social networking site last August overtaking Britney Spears when they both had just over 5.7 million followers. She joined Twitter in 2008 with her first Tweet saying she was rehearsing for the Just Dance video. Justin Bieber is the second most popular celebrity on the site, with just over 8.3 million followers.”
You probably remember last year’s amazing Old Spice social media campaign (details here and here) in which the man from the ads started replying to people’s comments on YouTube. It was incredibly well put together and the most endearing and genuine use of social media for marketing to date. In a really clever move, after announcing that newly crafted ads were coming soon, the marketing team decided the best way to share the first new ad would be to give the link to just one fan and let them decide how/when/if to share it. Here’s Isaiah Mustafa in his Old Spice Guy persona looking for his Super Fan:
Having a teenage winner is a slick move, since it really targets the aging Old Spice brand at a youthful demographic. It’s also a little risky, but acknowledging the importance and power of Old Spice’s fans (fans of the videos, and thus fans of the brand, even if not yet prominent users) is important and will endear the brand even further. The risk, and probably reward, comes in giving Chris Gatewood the only link to the new Old Spice advertisement, which a lot of people are waiting to see. If Chris uses this opportunity, it’ll certainly drive traffic to his twitter page and elsewhere. For the Old Spice folks, it really empowers one fan and encourages others to see Old Spice once again as truly interacting with their fans/consumers rather than just talking at them (as 90% of online brands tend to do).
Now, it’s certainly true that the largest single audience will be when the Old Spice ad plays during the US Superbowl (which is the peak ratings event in the US, and also where their most expensive ads usually debut), but reaching out to the online fans first is still a clever move. Here’s the hilariously kitsch video of the Old Spice Man calling Chris to tell him he’s going to posses the only link to the new Old Spice video in the entire universe for the next three days:
Links for September 6th 2010 through September 8th 2010:
In ‘Bed Intruder Song,’ Gregory Brothers Have Billboard Hit [NYTimes.com] – “Viral videos tend to have a short lifespan online. [...] But in one of the stranger twists in recent pop-music history, a musical remake of a local news clip transcended YouTube fame and reached the Billboard Hot 100 chart in August. It was a rare case of a product of Web culture jumping the species barrier and becoming a pop hit. The song’s source material could not have been more unlikely: A local TV news report from Huntsville, Ala., about an intruder who climbed into a woman’s bed and tried to assault her. But with some clever editing and the use of software that can turn speech into singing, the Gregory Brothers, a quartet of musicians living in Brooklyn, transformed an animated and angry rant by the victim’s brother into something genuinely catchy. The resulting track, “Bed Intruder Song,” has sold more than 91,000 copies on iTunes, and last week it was at No. 39 on the iTunes singles chart. Its video has been viewed more than 16 million times on YouTube.” The background to this meme:
Avatar activism [Le Monde diplomatique] – Henry Jenkins on the mobilisation of popular cultural in protest movements: “Five Palestinian, Israeli and international activists painted themselves blue to resemble the Na’vi from James Cameron’s blockbuster Avatar (1) in February, and marched through the occupied village of Bil’in. The Israeli military used tear gas and sound bombs on the azure-skinned protestors, who wore traditional keffiyahs with their Na’vi tails and pointy ears. The camcorder footage of the incident was juxtaposed with borrowed shots from the film and circulated on YouTube. We hear the movie characters proclaim: “We will show the Sky People that they can not take whatever they want! This, this is our land!” The event is a reminder of how people around the world are mobilising icons and myths from popular culture as resources for political speech, which we can call Avatar activism.”
Reputation bankruptcy :[The Future of the Internet — And How to Stop It] – Should we be able to purge our online reputation record and declare reputation bankruptcy? Jonathan Zittrain: “As real identity grows in importance on the Net, the intermediaries demanding it ought to consider making available a form of reputation bankruptcy. Like personal financial bankruptcy, or the way in which a state often seals a juvenile criminal record and gives a child a “fresh start” as an adult, we ought to consider how to implement the idea of a second or third chance into our digital spaces. People ought to be able to express a choice to de-emphasize if not entirely delete older information that has been generated about them by and through various systems: political preferences, activities, youthful likes and dislikes. If every action ends up on one’s “permanent record,” the press conference effect can set in. Reputation bankruptcy has the potential to facilitate desirably experimental social behavior and break up the monotony of static communities online and offline.”
What Are BP, Apple, Amazon, and Others Spending on Google Advertising? [Fast Company] – A peak into adword spending: “Google is typically very secretive about the specifics of its search revenue. I can’t actually recall any other leak quite like this one, in which the budgets of specific companies are laid out–kudos to AdAge for snagging the internal document with such rarely seen information. Much of the list, which covers the month of June 2010, will be of no surprise to anyone that uses Google Search regularly (which is pretty much everyone): AT&T spends ridiculous amounts of money, as do Apollo Group (which owns the University of Phoenix), Amazon, and Expedia. It’s worthwhile to note that some of AT&T’s $8.08 million budget was probably due to the launch of the wireless carrier’s biggest product of the year, the Apple iPhone 4. Apple itself spent slightly less than $1 million, which puts the company in the upper echelon of Google spending but not all that close to the top. 47 companies spent over $1 million, so Apple was, at best, in the top 50.”
On Wikipedia, Cultural Patrimony, and Historiography [booktwo.org] – A fantastic way to illustrate the importance of Wikipedia histories: “… Wikipedia is a useful subset of the entire internet, and as such a subset of all human culture. It’s not only a resource for collating all human knowledge, but a framework for understanding how that knowledge came to be and to be understood; what was allowed to stand and what was not; what we agree on, and what we cannot. As is my wont, I made a book to illustrate this. Physical objects are useful props in debates like this: immediately illustrative, and useful to hang an argument and peoples’ attention on. This particular book—or rather, set of books—is every edit made to a single Wikipedia article, The Iraq War, during the five years between the article’s inception in December 2004 and November 2009, a total of 12,000 changes and almost 7,000 pages.”