Tag Archives: web media

Joss Whedon, Dr. Horrible, and the Future of Web Media?

drH

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 official version is available in the new issue of Popular Communication (vol 11, no. 2). If you can’t access the article due to the paywall, then there’s an open access pre-print available at Academia.edu.

Digital Culture Links: January 30th

Links for January 25th through January 30th:

  • Twitter Is a Critical Tool in Republican Campaigns [NYTimes.com] – “When Newt Gingrich said in a recent debate that he was a man of “grandiose” ideas, Mitt Romney’s campaign pounced. It sent mocking Twitter messages with a hashtag, “#grandiosenewt”, encouraging voters to add their own examples of occasions when they felt Mr. Gingrich had been “grandiose.” Within minutes, the hashtag was trending on Twitter. Reporters picked up on it, sending out their own Twitter posts and writing their own articles. The result: for at least one news cycle, the Romney campaign had stamped a virtual “grandiose” on Mr. Gingrich’s forehead. If the 2008 presidential race embraced a 24/7 news cycle, four years later politicos are finding themselves in the middle of an election most starkly defined by Twitter, complete with 24-second news cycles and pithy bursts. With 100 million active users, more than 10 times as many as in the 2008 election, Twitter has emerged as a critical tool for political campaigns, allowing them to reach voters, gather data and respond …”
  • Google CEO Larry Page: Identity Is A ‘Deep, Deep Part Of What We’re Doing’ [Huffington Post] – “Watch out: Google is getting personal. CEO Larry Page emphasized that Google is determined to deliver online experiences tailored to each individual’s interests and social circles, an ambitious goal that requires the web giant to learn even more about its users’ preferences and personal information. “Engaging with users, really deeply understanding who they are, and delivering things that make sense for them is really, really important. We’re at the early stages of that and Google+ is a big effort,” said Page during an earnings call Thursday. “This notion of identity is a deep, deep part of what we’re doing and an example of how we can make all our products better by understanding people.” Though Google already knows a great deal about the people who use its services, from what YouTube videos they’ve watched to whom they email most on Gmail, the web giant still lusts after the treasure trove of personal data Facebook has accumulated over the past eight years …”
  • Twitter uncloaks a year’s worth of DMCA takedown notices, 4,410 in all [Ars Technica] – “On almost any given day, Twitter receives a handful of requests to delete tweets that link to pirated versions of copyrighted content—and quickly complies by erasing the offending tweets from its site. That fact itself is probably unsurprising to people familiar with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown process, which gives sites like Twitter a “safe harbor” against lawsuits related to user behavior and uploads—so long as the sites don’t knowingly tolerate pirated material or links to such material. But Twitter has taken the unusual step of making DMCA takedown notices public, in partnership with Chilling Effects, a project of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and several universities. [...] Scrolling through recent takedown notices, you’ll see names like Magnolia Pictures, Simon and Schuster, Warner Music Group, Universal Music Group, among those of many other media companies.”
  • Apple’s iPad and the Human Costs for Workers in China [NYTimes.com] – Long and important piece which looks at the poor working conditions in some of the factories which assemble and supply the parts for Apple’s most popular products. It balances the enormous profits Apple makes with the human cost which have, in some cases, led to worker suicide.
  • MPAA Wins the Oscar Screener Battle, but Loses the War [Epicenter | Wired.com] – “Every year, the MPAA tries desperately to stop Oscar screeners — the review copies sent to Academy voters — from leaking online. And every year, teenage boys battling for street cred always seem to defeat whatever obstacles Hollywood throws at them. For the last 10 years, I’ve tracked the online distribution of Oscar-nominated films, going back to 2003. Using a number of sources (see below for methodology), I’ve compiled a massive spreadsheet, now updated to include 310 films. This year, for the first time, I’m calling it: The MPAA is winning the battle to stop screener leaks. A record 37 films were nominated this year, and the studios sent out screeners for all but four of them. But, so far, only eight of those 33 screeners have leaked online, a record low that continues the downward trend from last year. They may be winning the battle, but they’ve lost the war. While screeners declined in popularity, 34 of the nominated films (92 percent) were leaked online by nomination day …”
  • Tweets still must flow [Twitter Blog] – Twitter starts blocking tweets nationally: “As we continue to grow internationally, we will enter countries that have different ideas about the contours of freedom of expression. Some differ so much from our ideas that we will not be able to exist there. Others are similar but, for historical or cultural reasons, restrict certain types of content, such as France or Germany, which ban pro-Nazi content. Until now, the only way we could take account of those countries’ limits was to remove content globally. Starting today, we give ourselves the ability to reactively withhold content from users in a specific country — while keeping it available in the rest of the world. We have also built in a way to communicate transparently to users when content is withheld, and why. We haven’t yet used this ability, but if and when we are required to withhold a Tweet in a specific country, we will attempt to let the user know, and we will clearly mark when the content has been withheld.”
  • No More Résumés, Say Some Firms [WSJ.com] – “Union Square Ventures recently posted an opening for an investment analyst. Instead of asking for résumés, the New York venture-capital firm—which has invested in Twitter, Foursquare, Zynga and other technology companies—asked applicants to send links representing their “Web presence,” such as a Twitter account or Tumblr blog. Applicants also had to submit short videos demonstrating their interest in the position. Union Square says its process nets better-quality candidates —especially for a venture-capital operation that invests heavily in the Internet and social-media—and the firm plans to use it going forward to fill analyst positions and other jobs. Companies are increasingly relying on social networks such as LinkedIn, video profiles and online quizzes to gauge candidates’ suitability for a job. While most still request a résumé as part of the application package, some are bypassing the staid requirement altogether.”
  • Online echo chambers: A study of 250 million Facebook users reveals the Web isn’t as polarized as we thought. – Slate Magazine – A large-scale controlled study of Facebook users and their sharing habits suggests that far from an echo chamber (our social networks reinforcing the views and interests of our strong ties), Facebook users appear to get as much information from their weak ties (ie not as good friends/acquaintances) and thus suggesting social networks introduce diversity of information and perspectives. [Read Eytan Bakshy's Rethinking Information Diversity in Networks]

Digital Culture Links: January 25th

Links for January 25th:

  • 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.

Digital Culture Links: January 21st

Links for January 21st:

  • iBooks Textbooks for iPad [Apple - Education] – Apple jumps into the textbook market, with impressive pricing and engaging looking media-rich books which, of course, rely on students already owning an iPad. However, with a proprietary book creation tool, iBooks and a supposedly course-encompassing tool iTunes U which reduces education to content provision, at the very least Apple’s latest entry into education will need to be carefully contextualised and managed by educators. Kathleen Fitzpatrick highlights some other important concerns, too.
  • US prosecutors shut down one of world’s largest file-sharing sites, Megaupload [The Washington Post] – “One of the world’s largest file-sharing sites was shut down Thursday, and its founder and several company executives were charged with violating piracy laws, federal prosecutors said. An indictment accuses Megaupload.com of costing copyright holders more than $500 million in lost revenue from pirated films and other content. The indictment was unsealed one day after websites including Wikipedia and Craigslist shut down in protest of two congressional proposals intended to thwart online piracy. The Justice Department said in a statement said that Kim Dotcom, formerly known as Kim Schmitz, and three others were arrested Thursday in New Zealand at the request of U.S. officials. Two other defendants are at large. Megaupload was unique not only because of its massive size and the volume of downloaded content, but also because it had high-profile support from celebrities, musicians and other content producers who are most often the victims of copyright infringement and piracy.”
  • Eastman Kodak files for bankruptcy protection [BBC News] – “Eastman Kodak, the company that invented the hand-held camera, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The move gives the company time to reorganise itself without facing its creditors, and Kodak said that it would mean business as normal for customers. The company has recently moved away from cameras to refocus on making printers, to stem falling profits. The 133-year-old firm has struggled to keep up with competitors who were quicker to adapt to the digital era. “Kodak made all its money from selling film, then the digital camera came along and now no-ones buying film. It’s not like they didn’t see it coming. Kodak hesitated because they didn’t want to eviscerate their business,” said Rupert Goodwins, editor of technology website ZDNet.” For visuals, see [The Guardian's Kodachrome Photo Retrospective]
  • Teenagers Sharing Passwords as Show of Affection [NYTimes.com] – “Young couples have long signaled their devotion to each other by various means — the gift of a letterman jacket, or an exchange of class rings or ID bracelets. Best friends share locker combinations. The digital era has given rise to a more intimate custom. It has become fashionable for young people to express their affection for each other by sharing their passwords to e-mail, Facebook and other accounts. Boyfriends and girlfriends sometimes even create identical passwords, and let each other read their private e-mails and texts. They say they know such digital entanglements are risky, because a souring relationship can lead to people using online secrets against each other. But that, they say, is part of what makes the symbolism of the shared password so powerful.”
  • Facebook: Making Your Political Opinions Less Private Since 2012 [Blog of Rights: Official Blog of the American Civil Liberties Union] – “Facebook announced yesterday that “every post and comment — both public and private — by a U.S. user that mentions a presidential candidate’s name will be fed through a sentiment analysis tool that spits out anonymized measures of the general U.S. Facebook population.” This analysis, along with reader polls and other information, will in turn be shared with politico.com. The brief announcement of this new feature raises serious questions and offers few answers. Most troubling is Facebook’s willingness to search and collect users’ private political preferences and thoughts, preferences they may have shared only with their closest friend in a private email. This raises at least three concerns. The first is that many users may not want to be part of any “sentiment analysis” or poll …”

Digital Culture Links: January 12th

Links for January 1st through January 12th:

  • Amazon Launches iPad Kindle Store to Dodge Apple’s Restrictions [RWW] – Amazon launches even further into Apple’s regulated home turf: “Amazon has launched a more touch-friendly, Web-based iPad Kindle Store. A tablet-optimized Kindle store was available through the HTML5 Kindle Cloud Reader Amazon launched last August, but the new iPad Kindle Store is a standalone Web app. Upon visiting amazon.com/iPadKindleStore from Safari, a pop-up prompts the user to add it to the home screen. This is the most seamless way for Kindle users to buy books on the iPad. Apple’s in-app purchasing rules prevent e-book sellers from offering stores in their native apps (without giving Apple a 30% cut). The route around that was to include a link to the Web store inside the native reader app. Last July, Apple forced Amazon and other e-reader apps to remove this link, so users of e-book platforms other than Apple’s iBooks must buy their books in the browser, in a separate place from where they read.”
  • Search, plus Your World [Inside Google Search]- Google adds more personalisation with “Search, plus Your World” which heavily (but OPTIONALLY) integrates Google+ and other social search results into the first page results when searching Google (if signed in to Google+).Twitter (and presumably Facebook) are unhappy since this competes with their social search roles, but Google have responded that this seems a bit rich since Twitter refused to let Google pay to index Twitter in realtime.
  • Angry Birds named most downloaded paid app [Think Digit] – “Rovio’s Angry Birds has been named the most downloaded paid app for the smartphones and tablets in 2011. According to research firm Distimo, Angry Birds was downloaded more than any other application across all major operating systems including Android, iOS, Windows Phone and others. The only platform missing out on the list is BlackBerry. However, the game was recently made available on the BlackBerry’s App World. Angry Birds was followed by Fruit Ninja, while another variant of Angry Birds, Angry Birds Season grabbed the third spot on the list of the paid apps for the year 2011. Among the free apps, Facebook grabbed the top spot, while Pandora Radio followed at the second spot. The free versions of Word with Friends and Angry Birds remained on third and fourth position respectively. The Distimo report covers data collected from January to November 2011. The report has various notable findings such as Apple App Store has four times more revenue than Google’s Android Market.”
  • Digital Music Sales Surpass Physical Music Sales For the First Time Ever [Moneyland | TIME.com] – “Last year, for the first time in history, digital music sales exceeded physical sales, according to a newly released Nielsen/Billboard report cited by CNNMoney. In 2011, digital music sales climbed past physical sales to take a 50.3% market share of all music purchases. In a continuation of a multi-year trend, digital sales increased by 8.4% from 2010, while physical sales declined 5%.
    In the decade since Apple launched its iTunes music store, a host of digital music ventures have appeared, with varying degrees of success. iTunes remains the market leader but faces increasing competition from upstarts like Rdio, Spotify and Pandora, which went public earlier this year.”
  • Angry Birds bags 6.5m Christmas Day downloads [guardian.co.uk] – Rovio Mobile says its three Angry Birds games generated 6.5m downloads on Christmas Day alone. The company’s vice president of franchise development Ville Heijari revealed the milestone to All Things Digital, while promising new games in the year ahead. “We’re really excited to have such a massive number of new people get acquainted with Angry Birds over the holidays – we have exciting new releases lined up for 2012, and can’t wait to introduce them to the public,” said Heijari. He did not break down the 6.5m figure by game – Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons and Angry Birds Rio are the three available titles – nor did he split them out by platform. While the lion’s share are likely to have come from iOS and Android, Angry Birds is also available on Windows Phone, while all three games are available for Nokia handsets and RIM’s BlackBerry PlayBook tablet.” Angry Birds was downloaded more than 600 million times in 2011, with over a million branded toy and shirt sales each month.
  • Facebook Blamed For a Third of British Divorces [MediaCity] – “So Facebook is again at the other end of the blame-hammer, this time for precipitating about a third of divorces in Britain. The stats come from a website- the UK’s Divorce-Online, and cull stats from 5,000 divorce petitions. The same stats were pulled in 2009, and at that time, Facebook made an appearance in 20% of the petitions. Infidelity-related complaints were a forerunner, along with using Facebook walls to make nasty comments about soon to be exes.”
  • The PostSecret App is Now Closed [PostSecret] – The PostSecret App (iPhone/iPad) closes after anonymous posts and comments prove unmanageable as part of a confessional community. (The closed app is now dubbed an “experimental community” that failed. Despite being a paid app, there is no mention, or apology, to those who paid for it in good faith.) From the PostSecret blog: “Like the PostSecret Blog, the App was designed so each secret was absolutely anonymous. Unfortunately, that absolute anonymity made it very challenging to permanently remove determined users with malicious intent. 99% of the secrets created were in the spirit of PostSecret. Unfortunately, the scale of secrets was so large that even 1% of bad content was overwhelming for our dedicated team of volunteer moderators who worked 24 hours a day 7 days a week removing content that was not just pornographic but also gruesome and at times threatening.”
  • Year in Review: 2011 in Numbers [Instagram] – “We’ve seen the Instagram community grow from 1 million to over 15 million users in 2011. To celebrate, we’re recapping the year’s activity in our Year in Review series.
    Accounts
    1 million: The number of accounts on Jan 1, 2011.
    15 million (and counting): The number of accounts on Jan 1, 2012.
    Photos
    3: The average number of photos uploaded per second, one year ago.
    60: The average number of photos uploaded per second, today.
    400 million: The total number of photos shared on Instagram so far.”

Digital Culture Links: December 15th

Links, catching up through to December 15th:

  • What Louis CK knows that most media companies don’t — Tech News and Analysis – Good round up of Louis CK’s online non-DRMed release of “Live at the Beacon Theater”. While a direct plea to fans didn’t prevent pirate versions altogether, CK’s fantastic online sales and healthy profit within 4 days show that this is a huge success (and arguably the torrent versions may still be helping with publicity).
  • Facebook riot page: Danny Cook jailed for 30 months [BBC News] – “A man has been jailed for 30 months for creating a Facebook group page called “Letz start a riot”. Danny Cook, 22, of Marlpool Place, Kidderminster, admitted intentionally encouraging or assisting in the commission of theft or criminal damage. Worcester Crown Court heard he made the Facebook page during the August riots. The judge, Mr Justice Butterfield, said: “I would be failing in my public duty if I did not impose a substantial custodial sentence.”"
  • Louis CK – Live at the Beacon Theater Statement – Comedian Louis CK released his new standup video “Louis C.K. Live at the Beacon Theater” online for $5 via PayPal, available anywhere in the world, which in his words has “No DRM, no regional restrictions, no crap. You can download this file, play it as much as you like, burn it to a DVD, whatever.” A bold experiment in doing away with any sort of rights restrictions or DRM, Louis CK has released a statement thanking his fans and showing that this experiment has been a huge success. After just 4 days of sales: “As of Today, we’ve sold over 110,000 copies for a total of over $500,000. Minus some money for PayPal charges etc, I have a profit around $200,000 (after taxes $75.58).”
  • Google buys licensing firm RightsFlow‎ [guardian.co.uk] – “Google is getting serious about paying artists royalties for songs that are used as soundtracks or videos on YouTube. The company said on Friday that it has acquired RightsFlow, a New York-based company that will help it identify the owners of music that people use in videos they post. “YouTube has had a long-standing commitment to solving the really tough challenges around online copyright – how to manage content rights in a quickly evolving technology world,” said David King, YouTube’s product manager, in a blog post. “We’ve already invested tens of millions of dollars in content management technology such as Content ID. We want to keep pushing things forward.” The deal should help YouTube, part of Google, manage the complex relationship it has with content owners, who are rarely consulted when their work is put online for free.”
  • No Copyright Intended [Waxy.org] – Great post from Andy Baio on the immense confusion around copyright and remix: “These “no copyright infringement intended” messages are everywhere on YouTube, and about as effective as a drug dealer asking if you’re a cop. It’s like a little voodoo charm that people post on their videos to ward off evil spirits. How pervasive is it? There are about 489,000 YouTube videos that say “no copyright intended” or some variation, and about 664,000 videos have a “copyright disclaimer” citing the fair use provision in Section 107 of the Copyright Act. [...] On YouTube’s support forums, there’s rampant confusion over what copyright is. People genuinely confused that their videos were blocked even with a disclosure, confused that audio was removed even though there was no “intentional copyright infringement.” Some ask for the best wording of a disclaimer, not knowing that virtually all video is blocked without human intervention using ContentID.”
  • (New) Twitter: Yours to discover – Twitter’s official announcement of the new interface. It’s a bit busier, with more of a nod towards larger social networking sites, shifting away from the focus on the trademark tweet brevity. Mashable has some useful notes on the new version.
  • Judge Hits Blogger with $2.5 Million Charge for Not Being a Journalist – In a case that’s sending a frightening message to the blogger community, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that a blogger must pay $2.5 million to an investment firm she wrote about — because she isn’t a real journalist. As reported by, Judge Marco A. Hernandez said Crystal Cox, who runs several blogs, wasn’t entitled to the protections afforded to journalists — specifically, Oregon’s media shield law for sources — because she wasn’t “affiliated with any newspaper, magazine, periodical, book, pamphlet, news service, wire service, news or feature syndicate, broadcast station or network, or cable television system.” The Obsidian Finance Group sued Cox in January for $10 million for writing several blog posts critical of the company and its co-founder, Kevin Padrick. Obsidian argued that the writing was defamatory. Cox represented herself in court.”
  • H&M;’s New Lingerie Models Are Computer-Generated [The Cut - NY Mag] – “The models fronting H&M;’s new holiday lingerie campaign are unreal, literally. Jezebel translated an article from Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet in which H&M; press officer Håcan Andersson confirms that their new lingerie-clad bodies are “completely virtual.” For H&M;’s website or catalogues, much of the store’s clothing is now shot on mannequins, which are then humanized via photo-editing software — which explains the eerily uniform pose now increasingly commonplace online.H&M; also shot real models for the campaign, but only to superimpose their heads on the standard body form. Aptly, H&M; calls them “facial models,” who are apparently aware of their abridged role in the finished catalogue shots.”
  • PS3: Delete Browser Cookies and Cache [Technipages] – Useful if iView is buggy on PS3 in Australia.
  • Swiss Govt: Downloading Movies and Music Will Stay Legal [TorrentFreak] - “One in three people in Switzerland download unauthorized music, movies and games from the Internet and since last year the government has been wondering what to do about it. This week their response was published and it was crystal clear. Not only will downloading for personal use stay completely legal, but the copyright holders won’t suffer because of it, since people eventually spend the money saved on entertainment products. In Switzerland, just as in dozens of other countries, the entertainment industries have been complaining about dramatic losses in revenue due to online piracy. In a response, the Swiss government has been conducting a study into the impact downloading has on society, and this week their findings were presented. [...] The report states that around a third of Swiss citizens over 15 years old download pirated music, movies and games from the Internet. However, these people don’t spend less money as a result …”
  • Many Online Book Buyers First Shop Around in Stores [NYTimes.com] - “Bookstore owners everywhere have a lurking suspicion: that the customers who type into their smartphones while browsing in the store, and then leave, are planning to buy the books online later — probably at a steep discount from the bookstores’ archrival, Amazon.com. Now a survey has confirmed that the practice, known among booksellers as showrooming, is not a figment of their imaginations. According to the survey, conducted in October by the Codex Group, a book market research and consulting company, 24 percent of people who said they had bought books from an online retailer in the last month also said they had seen the book in a brick-and-mortar bookstore first. Thirty-nine percent of people who bought books from Amazon in the same period said they had looked at the book in a bookstore before buying it from Amazon, the survey said.”
  • Zynga Sets Offering Price at $8.50 to $10 a Share [NYTimes.com] - “Zynga set the price range for its initial public offering at $8.50 to $10 a share, a highly anticipated debut that could value the company at $7 billion. At the top end of that range, the company, a four-year-old online game maker, is on track to raise $1 billion, which would make it the largest United States-based Internet offering since Google in 2004. [...] Zynga, unlike many of its peers, is churning out a profit, a crucial selling point as it starts its road show on Monday. It recorded earnings of $30.7 million for the first nine months of this year, on revenue of $828.9 million. The company, which makes the bulk of its money from the sale of virtual goods, is the top game maker on Facebook, with some 227 million monthly active users. Its latest franchise, Castleville, which started about two weeks ago, has already attracted about 20 million users on Facebook, according to AppData, a site that tracks online games.”
  • 9 In 10 Moms Are Facebook Friends With Their Kids [All Facebook] - “While 90 percent of mothers are friends with their children on Facebook, 46 percent of them restrict their kids’ access to their profiles, according to a study by the publisher of Parenting and Babytalk magazines. This percentage is significantly higher than what we’ve seen in a Kaplan survey of teens, about 65 percent of whom said they are Facebook friends with their parents. We wonder whether the moms have a more idealized view of things, but it’s possible that some of these mothers might have separate, made-up aliases for befriending their kids on Facebook. Meanwhile, other findings from the email survey of 1,146 mothers by The Parenting Group are: 33 percent of mothers allowed their children to create Facebook pages by age 12, despite the age limit of 13 set by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act and the social network’s own rules. 73 percent of moms who aren’t Facebook friends with their kids monitor their Facebook usage by accessing their pages as someone else.”
  • Facebook Extends Maximum Status Update 12-Fold [All Facebook] - “Facebook has extended the maximum length of status updates to 60,000 characters, 12 times what it used to be. Perhaps this move intends to offset the site’s recently announced plan to end support of RSS in the Notes application.The change might offer longer thoughts better visibility in the news feed than the old Notes had.  However, longer statuses don’t jibe with the ticker, which tends to clip posts after a period mark.”
  • PS3: Delete Browser Cookies and Cache [Technipages] - Useful if iView is buggy on PS3 in Australia.
  • Fail! Qantas red-faced after Twitter campaign backfires [Perth Now] - Social media #fail: “It probably seemed like a great idea in the marketing meeting. But a social media campaign in the midst of a bitter industrial battle spilling over to thousands of angry passengers has backfired for Qantas. The airline posted a seemingly innocent tweet this morning using the hashtag #qantasluxury asking for entries to a competition with suggestions for a dream in-flight experience: @QantasAirwaysTo enter tell us ‘What is your dream luxury inflight experience? (Be creative!) Answer must include #QantasLuxury. Little did they know just how “creative” – and angry – the responses would be as Twitter users seized the opportunity to have their say in their hundreds. While many of the tweets were sarcastic, most were from passengers unhappy with the state of the airline or who had experienced the disruption first-hand.  timwattsau#qantasluxury was being abandoned at Heathrow for 4 days in the snow with no customer support while trying to get home to 8mo pregnant wife!”

Digital Culture Links: October 31st through November 4th

Links for October 31st through November 4th:

  • Anonymous online comments [The Age] - “Online news readers should be forced to reveal their identity when commenting on a story, a parliamentarian has argued while complaining about West Australian’s poor online behaviour. WA Labor MP Andrew Waddell called on news websites, including this one, to publish readers’ names with their post. “It has become an unfortunate fact that there is a group of cowards who, hiding behind the veil of anonymity, abuse their right to free speech to perpetuate lies, abuse others, commit hate crimes, libel others and behave in an unacceptable manner,” Mr Waddell told parliament yesterday. “It is often possible to post a comment on a very public site without there being any need to provide real validated identification. This gives … courage to those who may not otherwise be willing to stand behind their comments and face the consequences of their opinions. “A vibrant society has a healthy ongoing political debate … [but] vicious, nasty, anonymous trolls have no place in that debate.”
  • Man jailed for posting sex images of ex-partner online [BBC News] - “”A Nottingham man who posted sexual images of his former girlfriend online as he stalked her via social networking sites has been jailed for four months. Shane Webber, 23, of Hodgkin Close in Clifton, sent photographs and personal details about Ruth Jeffery, 22, to her family and strangers. Webber admitted one count of harassment at an earlier hearing at Southampton Magistrates’ Court. Miss Jeffery said she was devastated by Webber’s actions. Outside court she said even if Webber had received the maximum jail sentence magistrates could impose – six months – it would not have made up for the hurt she had been caused. She said: “I am extremely pleased with the outcome. The maximum sentence in a magistrates’ court will never make up for the hurt he had put me through but I am pleased I can now put it behind me.”
  • Q&A: Felicia Day, from ‘The Guild’ to ‘Dragon Age’ [latimes.com] – “Playing” Felicia Day: “And when Electric Arts [makers of Dragon Age] called, that was the first call in years that was really like, “Oh!” They asked, “What would you like to do?” and I said, “What properties do you have?” And when Dragon Age came up I was, like, “Yes!” Because when am I ever going to be able to be in a medieval world as an actor? Probably never. So I’ll help create it myself. This will be the first time that a video game property is a Web series; and the elf is an actual playable character. So my character will be a DLC [downloadable content] piece; if people own Dragon Age II, they’ll be able to purchase an extension pack and play with my character. It’s full motion capture with me, full facial capture, full vocal acting. It’s pretty much the coolest thing I could ever imagine: Not only am I in a game, but it’s as a character I created.”
  • Angry Birds smashes half a billion downloads! [YouTube] – Cute little video with statistics about Angry Birds including the big one: half a billion downloads so far. That’s an awful lot! (Personally, I can account for 5 of those – 3 on Android, 2 on the iPad!)
  • Plagiarism [Common Craft] – Basic but very accessible and useful video explaining plagiarism: “While Plagiarism can be intentional, it is more often caused by misunderstanding.  Avoiding it means understanding the role of intellectual property and what makes plagiarism wrong.  This video teaches: Why giving credit to others is necessary; A definition of plagiarism; Steps to avoiding plagiarism; Types of ideas and media that can be plagiarized”
  • BBC News – Man jailed for posting sex images of ex-partner online – “A Nottingham man who posted sexual images of his former girlfriend online as he stalked her via social networking sites has been jailed for four months. Shane Webber, 23, of Hodgkin Close in Clifton, sent photographs and personal details about Ruth Jeffery, 22, to her family and strangers. Webber admitted one count of harassment at an earlier hearing at Southampton Magistrates’ Court. Miss Jeffery said she was devastated by Webber’s actions. Outside court she said even if Webber had received the maximum jail sentence magistrates could impose – six months – it would not have made up for the hurt she had been caused. She said: “I am extremely pleased with the outcome. The maximum sentence in a magistrates’ court will never make up for the hurt he had put me through but I am pleased I can now put it behind me.”
  • Angry Birds developer Rovio to open stores in China [BBC News] – Angry Birds maker Rovio has announced plans to open stores in China within 12 months. Unofficial merchandise connected to the videogame has already proved popular in the country. The company’s chief marketing officer, Peter Vesterbacka, made the announcement at the Techcrunch conference in Beijing. He said he was targeting $100m (£62m) in sales from the shops in their first year of operation. “On the physical side, we don’t have a lot of our officially licensed products out here, so we have ourselves to blame,” he told the conference. Mr Vesterbacka said he had been to China many times “checking out the Angry Birds’ presence”. He told delegates he was unhappy with the quality of the unofficial products, but had also gained “a lot of inspiration from the copyists”. The comment drew laughter from the audience.”
  • Qantas’ Social Media Response Rapped For Bad Service [The Age] – “Qantas has been criticised for its mechanical, impersonal social media response to the grounding of its fleet and the ensuing customer chaos. The announcement sparked a torrent of posts on Twitter, with independent social media analyst Thomas Tudehope noting that, at its peak, “Alan Joyce”, “Qantas” and “Anthony Albanese” were all trending worldwide – indicating in excess of a thousand tweets per minute. “This is particularly remarkable given that Australia only has an estimated 2 million Twitter accounts compared to a global audience pushing towards 250 million accounts,” Tudehope said. [...] Several Twitter accounts have sprung up lampooning Qantas and its CEO, Alan Joyce, including @AlanJoyceCEO and @Qantas_VH_OQA.”

Everything is a Remix–Part 3 – Creativity

Kirby Ferguson has followed up the episode on film with another fabulous offering in the Everything is a Remix series. This one looks at creativity and debunks the myth that creativity is the product of a few (arguing, instead, it’s always the product of many):

Everything is a Remix Part 3 from Kirby Ferguson on Vimeo.