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Here are the slides and audio from my paper ‘Global Media Distribution and the Tyranny of Digital Distance’ presented on Saturday, 20 October 2012 at Internet Research 13 in MediaCityUK, Salford:
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.
Links – catching up – through to May 7th:
- YouTube’s content explosion: 60 hours of video every minute [Online Video News] – ““More video is uploaded to YouTube in one month than the 3 major US TV networks created in 60 years.” Hunter Walk, YouTube Director of Product Management, Google in a tweet. Google told TechCrunch Monday that YouTube users now upload 60 hours of video every minute.” (That’s almost 10 years of content uploaded each day. Wowzers!)
- Angry Birds maker Rovio reports £60.8m revenues for 2011 [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – Angry Birds has generated hundreds of millions of downloads for Finnish mobile games firm Rovio Entertainment, but the company’s financial results for 2011 reveal just how lucrative the franchise was that year. The company has reported total revenues of €75.4m (£60.8m) for 2011, with earnings before tax of €48m (£38.7m). 30% of Rovio’s revenues for the year came from its consumer products business, which includes merchandising and licensing income. Rovio says that the total number of Angry Birds game downloads reached 648m by the end of 2011, with 200m monthly active users (MAUs) across all platforms. As context for that figure, social games publisher Zynga had 21m MAUs at the end of March 2012, while also acquiring US developer OMGPOP, whose Draw Something mobile game currently has 33.9m MAUs.
- Angry Birds Space rockets to 50m downloads in 35 days [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Angry Birds Space, the latest mobile game from Finnish developer Rovio, has reached the 50m downloads mark just 35 days after its release on 22 March. The publisher claims on its blog that this makes its tile “the fastest growing mobile game yet”, beating all previous records for the Angry Birds series. The announcement may be a deliberate reminder to challengers like Draw Something of the scale of Angry Birds. Draw Something was released on 1 February, notched up 35m downloads in its first seven weeks – yes, a similar time period to that required for Rovio’s new milestone – and was promptly acquired by Zynga for $180m. Draw Something passed 50m downloads in early April, while another recently-released game, Temple Run, is also past that milestone. “While numbers like this certainly say something about the popularity of Angry Birds, for us the main goal is to keep creating fun new experiences that everybody can enjoy,” explains Rovio on its blog.”
- London 2012: Olympic photo ban ‘unenforceable’ [BBC News] – “Olympic bosses have admitted their ban on spectators posting videos and images on websites will be unenforceable. In the terms and conditions of ticket purchases for the London 2012 Games it states ticket holders cannot publish images, video or sound online. However, Sir Keith Mills, deputy chairman of organisers Locog, said “we live in an internet world… and there’s not much we can do about it”. He said a “common sense approach” would be used to protect media rights. Spectators will be able to watch many events, including the cycle road race, triathlon and marathon, without a ticket. But the ticket conditions as they currently stand prohibit ticket holders from posting photos and personal footage of the Olympics on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.”
- British ISPs forced to block The Pirate Bay [WA Today] – “Britain’s High Court has ordered the country’s internet service providers to block file-sharing website The Pirate Bay. A High Court judge told Sky, Everything Everywhere, TalkTalk, O2 and Virgin Media to prevent access to the Swedish site, which helps millions of people download copyrighted music, movies and computer games. Music industry group BPI welcomed the order by justice Richard Arnold that the service providers block the site within the next few weeks. BPI chief executive Geoff Taylor said sites like The Pirate Bay “destroy jobs in the U.K. and undermine investment in new British artists.” The service providers said they would comply with the order. A sixth provider, BT, has been given several weeks to consider its position, but BPI said it expected BT would also block the website. Providers who refuse could find themselves in breach of a court order, which can carry a large fine or jail time.”
- Google Drive– Google’s cloud storage drive – the GDrive or Google Drive – has arrived, offering 5Gb for free, with the option to upgrade storage to 25GB for $2.49/month, 100GB for $4.99/month or 1TB for $49.99/month. While Google’s entry is a late entry to the cloud storage arena, the integration with Google’s other products, and Android in particular, will probably see the GDrive rapidly rise in popularity.
- Man jailed over nude Facebook photos [WA Today] – “A jilted boyfriend who put nude pictures of his former lover on Facebook has been sentenced to six months jail – a landmark social media-related conviction for Australia and one of just a handful in the world. Ravshan ”Ronnie” Usmanov told police: ”I put the photos up because she hurt me and it was the only thing [I had] to hurt her.” … Privacy experts say Usmanov’s case has exposed the ”tip of the iceberg” of online offences that are rarely punished.
In sentencing the 20-year-old, NSW Deputy-Chief Magistrate Jane Mottley said she was ”deterring both the offender and the community generally from committing similar crimes”. ”New-age technology through Facebook gives instant access to the world … Incalculable damage can be done to a person’s reputation by the irresponsible posting of information through that medium. With its popularity and potential for real harm, there is a genuine need to ensure the use of this medium to commit offences of this type is deterred,”.”
- The Filtered Network – Mark Zuckerberg of facebook buying Instagram for $1 BILLION [YouTube] – Fun remix of the trailer for The Social Network, playing with the question of what exactly Facebook purchased for a billion dollars!
- Introducing Facebook Offers [YouTube] – Facebook Offers = Facebook’s answer to Scoopon.
- 4% Of Children On Facebook Are Under 6 Years [AllFacebook] – I’m a bit suspicious of these statistics since they’re generated by a company that markets tools allowing parents to monitor the social networking of their kids, but the numbers certainly warrant attention: “Kids are learning to use computers at ever younger ages, and some are figuring out how to lie about their age to access Facebook. The site has a minimum age requirement of 13, yet four percent of children using the site are under age six. That’s the most startling statistic in the infographic compiled by Minor Monitor, one of the newer entrants into the already crowded market for surveiling kids’ activity online. According to the vendor, barely half of parents use technology to keep a digital eye on children, despite worries about sexual predators and bullying.”
- Google+ redesigns and says 100m of its 170m users used it in past 30 days [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – “Google says 170m people have registered for its Google+ service since it was launched 10 months ago – and that 100m have “engaged” with the service at least once in the past 30 days and 50m have engaged with the service at least once a day in the past month.”
Links for May 26th 2011 through May 30th 2011:
- China used prisoners in lucrative internet gaming work [guardian.co.uk] – Chinese prisons used as gold farms (ie playing games to earn virtual gold to sale): “As a prisoner at the Jixi labour camp, Liu Dali would slog through tough days breaking rocks and digging trenches in the open cast coalmines of north-east China. By night, he would slay demons, battle goblins and cast spells. Liu says he was one of scores of prisoners forced to play online games to build up credits that prison guards would then trade for real money. The 54-year-old, a former prison guard who was jailed for three years in 2004 for “illegally petitioning” the central government about corruption in his hometown, reckons the operation was even more lucrative than the physical labour that prisoners were also forced to do.”
- Better Facebook – Browser Extension – Nifty browser extension that makes Facebook more useful – including tracking comments, far more detailed filtering options, unfriend tracking, themes and so forth. Works on most browsers except IE.
- “Literally Unbelievable” – The extremely odd, disheartening and worrying Tumblr blog which captures people’s reactions to stories in The Onion without realising they’re parody and satire. All a little worrying.
- The Tunnel – The Tunnel is an Australian horror film released in May 2011 which took the unique approach of officially and legally releasing the entire film exclusively as a Bittorrent file, while offering other ways to support the film (buy stills and various types of DVDs and extras), betting that working with p2p communities rather than against them would win fans and financial support in the long run. There’s a quick write-up in the SMH and some fascinating background: IMDb initially refused to let the film be listed since it wasn’t using any recognised channels for release (eventually IMDb bowed to fan pressure and it’s listed there now).
- Thanks, YouTube community, for two BIG gifts on our sixth birthday! [YouTube Blog] – YouTube turns six with some amazing stats: “Today, more than 48 hours (two days worth) of video are uploaded to the site every minute, a 37% increase over the last six months and 100% over last year. […] We’re amazed that over this last weekend, you drove YouTube past the 3 billion views a day mark, a 50% increase over last year. That’s the equivalent of nearly half the world’s population watching a YouTube video each day, or every U.S. resident watching at least nine videos a day.”Last year YouTube celebrated their 5th birthday with a dedicated channel page and a 5-year YouTube timeline which are still useful, too.
Links for March 21st 2011 through March 25th 2011:
- Record Industry: Limewire Could Owe $75 Trillion – Judge: “Absurd” [Crunch Gear] – “… this is beyond ridiculous. This is… sublime. The record companies suing Limewire were asked to estimate the damages that should be paid by the file-sharing service. Their estimate? $400 Billion on the low end, and at the high end — $75 trillion dollars. That’s more than the GDP of the entire world. The judge, in a refreshing stroke of good sense, deemed these potential damages “absurd” and the plaintiff’s approach “untenable”. The $75tn figure relies on an interpretation of copyright law that provides statutory damages for each instance of copying, and with the numbers of downloads and individual songs the industry is alleging, the money adds up quickly. Even the $400bn figure is certainly grossly inflated, however “conservative” it may appear to Virgin, Atlantic, Sony, and so on. It was decided that an interpretation of copyright law enabling the music industry to sue for more money than they’ve made in the history of recorded music was necessarily wrong…”
- Troll jailed for posting child porn on tribute pages for dead children [News.com.au] – A MAN charged over Facebook vandalism for plastering child pornography over sites set up to pay tribute to two slain schoolchildren has been jailed. The Brisbane District Court was told Bradley Paul Hampson, 29, posted offensive messages and photographs on Facebook “RIP tribute” pages for a 12-year-old boy stabbed at a Brisbane school and a nine-year-old Bundaberg girl abducted and murdered in February last year. Hampson, of Tarragindi, on Brisbane’s southside, today pleaded guilty to two counts using a carriage service, the internet, to cause offence and one each of distributing and possessing child exploitation material between February 14 and June 4 last year. […] Judge Kerry O’Brien jailed Hamspon for three years, but ordered he be released after serving 12 months. Judge O’Brien ordered Hampson be placed on a two-year probation order upon his release from jail.”
- Tweeting with the telly on [BBC News] – Twitter TV – it can be more than just #qanda! “The days of families reverentially gathered around the box may be long gone but the doom-mongers who said that on-demand would kill linear TV completely may also be somewhat off the mark. A new generation of viewers is watching what has been dubbed social TV – a synthesis between TV and social networking. A recent study from marketing agency Digital Clarity found that 80% of under-25s used a second screen to communicate with friends while watching TV and 72% used Twitter, Facebook or a mobile app to comment on shows. Currently it is little more sophisticated than watching TV with one eye on Twitter or Facebook, but that is beginning to change as TV executives start to experiment with greater social networking integration. In New Zealand, TVNZ has just launched a new youth channel which sees Facebook heavily integrated to create an interactive entertainment and music show.”
- Amazon Appstore: what does it mean for developers? [guardian.co.uk] – Amazon launch their new Android App store. Testimony to the choice available on an open system. However, launching it US-only seems ridiculous. Rovio’s ‘Angry Birds Rio’ is free for the first day of Amazon’s App Store, but no one in the US can ‘buy’ it (ie download it) at all. Not a terribly auspicious start. (Oh, and Apple are going to sue them for use of ‘App’ in the name of their App Store.)
- Piracy: are we being conned? [The Age] – A thoroughly research article which rebukes some of the ridiculous claims in several recent industry-backed “piracy” scare reports: “This month, a new lobbying group, the Australian Content Industry Group (ACIG), released new statistics to The Age, which claimed piracy was costing Australian content industries $900 million a year and 8000 jobs. The report claims 4.7 million Australian internet users engaged in illegal downloading and this was set to increase to 8 million by 2016. By that time, the claimed losses to piracy would jump to $5.2 billion a year and 40,000 jobs. But the report, which is just 12 pages long, is fundamentally flawed. It takes a model provided by an earlier European piracy study (which itself has been thoroughly debunked) and attempts to shoe-horn in extrapolated Australian figures that are at best highly questionable and at worst just made up.”
- Google accuses China of interfering with Gmail email system [The Guardian] – Google vs China, round two: “Google has accused the Chinese government of interfering with its popular Gmail email system. The move follows extensive attempts by the Chinese authorities to crack down on the “jasmine revolution” – an online dissident movement inspired by events in the Middle East. According to the search giant, Chinese customers and advertisers have increasingly been complaining about their Gmail service in the past month. Attempts by users to send messages, mark messages as unread and use other services have generated problems for Gmail customers. In the wake of the catastrophic earthquake in Japan, Google set up an application to help people find relatives and friends lost in the disaster. This service too seems to have been compromised. “Relating to Google there is no issue on our side. We have checked extensively. This is a government blockage carefully designed to look like the problem is with Gmail,” said a Google spokesman.”
Links for October 25th 2010 through November 1st 2010:
- WikiLeaks on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan [The New Yorker] – “Whether WikiLeaks will prove over time to be a credible publisher of such truths is another question. Assange disclosed the names of informants in some of the war reports, even though doing so might endanger them and possibly cause their death. […] If the organization continues to attract sources and vast caches of unfiltered secret documents, it will have to steer through the foggy borderlands between dissent and vandalism, and it will have to defend its investigative journalism against those who perceive it as a crime. Assange is animated by the idea of radical transparency, but WikiLeaks as yet lacks a fixed address. Nor does it offer its audiences any mechanism for its own accountability. […] if WikiLeaks cannot learn to think efficiently about its publishing choices, it will risk failure, not only because of the governmental opponents it has induced but also because so far it lacks an ethical culture that is consonant with the ideals of free media.”
- MI6 chief red over daughter’s Facebook shot [The Age] – This seems a ridiculous media beat-up to me: “British spy chief John Sawers is facing public embarrassment after his daughter posted a photo of herself posing with a gold Kalashnikov rifle on Facebook. Oxford graduate Corinne Sawers, 23, is seen standing in front of a family Christmas tree holding the gold-plated weapon – similar to those found among Saddam Hussein’s treasures after the 2003 Iraq invasion – in her profile pictures, The Sunday Mirror reports. The gun is a decommissioned Kalashnikov and is believed to have been a gift to Corinne’s father, MI6 boss Sir John, as a memento of his time in Iraq. All of Corinne’s 873 Facebook friends, and tens of thousands of their friends globally, can see her gun-toting picture on the networking site.”
- New Zealand is still Middle-earth: A summary of the Hobbit crisis [Observations on film art] – An outstanding summary by Kristin Thompson of the issues surrounding the ill-advised actors’ boycott of Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, the subsequent debates, deliberations and the eventual change in New Zealand’s laws to accommodate the production and any other films with budgets of $NZ150 million (James Cameron is supposedly looking at shooting Avatar 2 and 3 there). If nothing else, the whole debate shows just how deeply tied New Zealand is not with Middle Earth, both metaphorically and emotionally.
- LimeWire file-sharing site shut down in US [BBC News] – “An injunction issued by the US district court in New York has effectively shut down LimeWire, one of the internet’s biggest file-sharing sites. It ends four years of wrangling between the privately-owned Lime Group and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The injunction compels Lime Group to disable its searching, downloading, uploading and file trading features. The firm plans to launch new services that adhere to copyright laws soon. Visitors to the LimeWire website are confronted with a legal notice that reads: “This is an offical notice that LimeWire is under a court ordered injunction to stop distributing and supporting its file-sharing software.””
- Tweeting celebrities in dash for cash [SMH] – “Australian celebrities are being offered as much as $10,000 for a single tweet endorsing products to their thousands of Twitter followers, say sponsorship experts. But while the US celebrities like Kim Kardashian, Lindsay Lohan and Snoop Dogg are reportedly already enjoying large one-off payments to promote brands and products on Twitter, the dash for cash is yet to take hold here. The celebrities need only post a one-line product endorsement in exchange for the fee, and according to Britain’s Marketing Week, Range Rover approached 40 British celebrities this week to tweet in a similar way about the recently unveiled Evoque 4×4 in the UK. Bruce Kaider, president of Sponsorship Australasia and founder of a sports management company, confirmed that high profile Australian sportspeople were already being approached to endorse products on Twitter for fees of anything between $500 to $10,000 per tweet.”
- Facebook and Farmville dominate 3’s mobile broadband data [Technology | guardian.co.uk] – Zynga and Farmville second only to Facebook in UK mobile network traffic: “The mobile network 3 has released the first in a series of research papers describing traffic use and behaviour among its mobile broadband customers, published here first by the Guardian. Of the 2,500 terabytes of data used across the network in July, it’s no surprise that Facebook (by several metrics now the most popular website in the world) came out top, accounting for 7.023 terabytes of data use across the network. 3 says the data, from more than 1 million customers, is specifically from mobile broadband or dongles, which evidently have moved far beyond primarily business use; 3 claims its users account for 40% of the dongle market. […] The surprise is that casual gaming company Zynga is second only to Facebook in volume of data used at 3.584 terabytes, while Zynga’s own flagship game, Farmville, is listed fifth with 1.68 terabytes for the month.”
- Go beyond the PC, Microsoft urged [BBC News] – “Microsoft must think beyond the PC if it is to weather the changes due to hit in the next five years. The warning was given by Microsoft’s chief software architect Ray Ozzie in a memo penned soon after he announced he was leaving the company. […] he said, the strengths that had helped Microsoft grow in the past now risked holding it back. The memo, called “Dawn of a New Day” mirrors one Mr Ozzie wrote soon after taking over from Bill Gates as the man in charge of charting the development direction of Microsoft’s portfolio of programs. That first memo imagined a world of seamless computing and kicked off Microsoft’s attempts to get its many different programs working together across lots of different devices. In Dawn of a New Day, Mr Ozzie praised the work Microsoft had done towards that end, but said rivals had done even better.”
- A Labor Issue Entangles ‘The Hobbit’ [NYTimes.com] – The real battle for Middle Earth: “Is Wellywood burning? New Zealand’s feisty film workers have taken to the streets this week to try to keep Peter Jackson’s production of “The Hobbit” in their country, nudging the prime minister, John Key, toward a Tuesday summit meeting with a visiting contingent of Warner Brothers executives. Filming had been threatened by a dispute over whether a New Zealand branch of an Australian union could engage in collective bargaining on the Hollywood films, which they have not been able to do in the past. As of Tuesday afternoon in Wellington — the New Zealand capital and the center of a growing movie industry sometimes called Wellywood — the matter was unsettled. But it was clear that Mr. Jackson’s furry little film creatures were not going anywhere without a fight.”
- Sony Kills The Cassette Walkman On The iPod’s Birthday [Gizmodo Australia] – Steve Jobs killed the cassette playing star? “After 30 years, Sony has announced that they will stop manufacturing and selling the venerable cassette Walkman. In a poetic twist, the official death of the Walkman also lands on the iPod’s 9th anniversary. The Sony Walkman was introduced on July 1, 1979 in Japan and it was a major breakthrough in delivering a low-cost portable stereo. […] Over its 30 year history of the Cassette Walkman, Sony sold 200 million units. A portable music player became a part of our lives, largely in part of the Walkman.”
There were more than 400,000 tweets during the Lost season finale; I didn’t make any of them, or read any of them in real-time, but not for a lack of interest. Rather, as I write this post (on Tuesday, 25 May) Australia has still not screened the Lost finale; it’s scheduled for Wednesday night on Seven. While Seven have reduced the delay between US screenings and Australian broadcast times, as was noted in yesterday’s links, the finale was simulcast live in the UK, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Israel, Turkey, and Canada but that was not the case down under. To add insult to injury, Seven couched this decision as service to Australian Lost fans:
Channel Seven will not screen the 2½-hour finale until 8.30pm Wednesday. A spokeswoman for the station said a Monday afternoon simulcast was considered, but it was felt fans would find the show more easily in its current timeslot – although the finale has been upgraded from digital channel 7TWO to Seven. […] ‘Ridiculous,” says comedian Wil Anderson, a Lost die-hard. ”If I was going to watch it on Wednesday, I could not go on the internet at all for two days. I will definitely have watched it by Wednesday.”
Better to have said nothing, or spoken plainly that they’ve decided the ratings boost from the Lost finale would be insufficient to justify tinkering with their Monday line-up, but to have Seven claim that the delay is to make things easier for Lost fans in Australia is really pretty offensive.
On the 400,000+ tweets made during the Lost finale by those who could see it live:
“And that is a conservative estimate,” said Mark Ghuneim, chief executive [of WiredSet]. That beat the show’s average of 27,000 tweets during the season, but was still a smaller volume overall than an event like the Oscars, said Mr. Ghuneim. “We tracked about 780,000 tweets during the Oscars,” Mr. Ghuneim said. “But it’s still an impressive number.” In addition, he said, tweets about the show peaked during commercials. “Instead of running to the fridge during commercial breaks, people were running to their laptops and phones,” he said.
From those comments, Twitter is a boon to commercial television: a social media tool which encourages real-time viewing, which actually justifies the ad breaks as times to reflect, comment and connect with other fans (with the ads still blaring away rather than risk missing the opening of next act), rather than skipping the commercials altogether. For so many Lost fans, that sense of shared viewing made the finale much more meaningful event television, whether you loved it, or hated it. Spreading that conversation across North America and sizable chunk of Europe made it even richer, but those riches were denied Australians. What Seven fails to understand, is that a delay of just over two days may as well be two decades; most people I know in Australia have already seen Lost via means which aren’t legal, be that a peer to peer download, or circumventing the geographic restrictions for an online replay-service like Hulu. Lost succeeded admirably in creating dedicated fans across the web; Seven succeeded admirably in forcing them to look elsewhere.
Perhaps the greatest irony, and the surest sign that Seven doesn’t understand social media, is the fact that there will be a “Live Blog” on the official Seven Lost pages on Wednesday night. On the web, live means live globally, not live in an arbitrary national sales region bounded by water. Besides which, I live in Perth, on the west coast of Australia, and the live blog wouldn’t even be live here anyway; were I watching Lost in Australia, it’d still be one giant spoiler thanks to Perth being 2-hours behind the East coast.
I’ve written about the tyranny of digital distance before which, in a nut-shell, occurs when the real-time nature of digital information sharing isn’t fulfilled due to historical, political and commercial boundaries which were largely established before the internet, before the web. Not being able to participate in the Lost finale’s global commentary is a poignant example of the tyranny of digital distance in action, and has done nothing for my relationship with commercial broadcasting in Australia. In an era where the immediacy and real-time nature of commentary can add so much to the shared viewing experience, the boundaries which prevent that fan experience can be all the more disappointing and distancing.
For the record: I’ve now seen the finale, and I loved it.
Links for May 7th 2010 through May 10th 2010:
- An Early Look At Twitter Annotations Or, “Twannotations” [TechCrunch] – Twitter are adding annotations, or twannotataions, in the near future; it’ll let specific ‘things’ be identified. It’s a bit like turning Twitter into a semantic communication tool. Richard Giles asks if this will make Twitter (a privately owned) internet protocol be default, but either way annotations should make Twitter even more of a cultural barometer.
- The Tell-All Generation Learns When Not To, at Least Online [NYTimes.com] – Privacy concerns online cross all generational barrier, despite the myth of the millennial mindset: “The conventional wisdom suggests that everyone under 30 is comfortable revealing every facet of their lives online, from their favorite pizza to most frequent sexual partners. But many members of the tell-all generation are rethinking what it means to live out loud. While participation in social networks is still strong, a survey released last month by the University of California, Berkeley, found that more than half the young adults questioned had become more concerned about privacy than they were five years ago — mirroring the number of people their parent’s age or older with that worry. They are more diligent than older adults, however, in trying to protect themselves.”
- Facebook’s Gone Rogue; It’s Time for an Open Alternative [Wired.com] – Ryan Singel takes Facebook to task for the continual failings in respecting user privacy both in terms of their architecture (so many things simply can’t be turned off now) and their policies (basically, screwing with privacy one step at a time, while using a raft of lawyers to ensure it’s not illegal … but maybe unethical). Singel argues that everything Facebook currently provides could be achieved by a series of open tools and protocols which provide real and clear choices about what we do and don’t share with the world. Singel argues we need to make these choices now because Facebook, for many, has almost become our online identity.
- Zuckerberg’s Law of Information Sharing [NYTimes.com] – From November 6, 2008: “On stage at the Web 2.0 Summit on Thursday, Mark Zuckerberg, the chief executive of Facebook, was cheerfully unruffled. Mr. Zuckerberg pinned his optimism on a change in behavior among Internet users: that they are ever more willing to tell others what they are doing, who their friends are, and even what they look like as they crawl home from the fraternity party. “I would expect that next year, people will share twice as much information as they share this year, and next year, they will be sharing twice as much as they did the year before,” he said. “That means that people are using Facebook, and the applications and the ecosystem, more and more.” Call it Zuckerberg’s Law.” The great thing about controlling the privacy settings for more than 400 million people, is it’s pretty easy to change things so more and more and their information is shared … even if many users don’t understand how and don’t think this is what they signed up for!
- The Evolution of Privacy on Facebook [mattmckeon.com] – A really useful inforgraphic by Matt McKeon which demonstrates five stages of Facebook’s default settings and how much information is public by default at each stage (short version: 2005 – not much; 2010 – almost everything!)
- Most pirates say they’d pay for legal downloads [News.com.au] – Peer-topeer sharers want legal options in Australia: “Most people who illegally download movies, music and TV shows would pay for them if there was a cheap and legal service as convenient as file-sharing tools like BitTorrent. That’s the finding of the most comprehensive look yet at people who illegally download TV shows, movies and music in Australia, conducted by news.com.au and market research firm CoreData. The survey canvassed the attitudes of more than 7000 people who admitted to streaming or downloading media from illegitimate sources in the past 12 months. It found accessibility was as much or more of a motivator than money for those who illegally download media using services like BitTorrent. More respondents said they turned to illegal downloads because they were convenient than because they were free … [More results here.]
- What Happens When You Deactivate Your Facebook Account [Read Write Web] – Facebook is a big part of millions and millions of peoples’ lives, but what happens when you pull the plug? Last night I met a man who walked to the edge of the cliff and nearly deactivated his Facebook account. He took a screenshot of what he saw after clicking the “deactivate my account” link on his account page – and it is pretty far-out. That man considered quitting Facebook because it was having an adverse emotional impact on him and I’ll spare him and his contacts from posting the screenshot he shared with me. I have posted below though a shot of the screen I saw when I clicked that button myself. Check it out. I bet you haven’t seen this screen before, have you? […] Can you believe that? How incredibly manipulative! And what claims to make. Facebook has undoubtedly made it easier to keep in touch with people than almost any other technology on the planet, but to say that leaving Facebook means your friends “will no longer be able to keep in touch with you” is just wrong.”
My column ‘FlashForward or FlashBack: Television Distribution in 2010’ is now up as part of the latest edition of Flow TV. The article concludes thus:
Promotional campaigns and social media discussions ensure that global markets are primed; the only thing missing is the means for viewers and fans in many countries to legally access their favourite shows. Whether it’s the US-produced FlashForward, the BBC’s Doctor Who or the Australian soapie Neighbours, if distributors don’t have their own flash forward to new distribution models it is likely that more and more of the people formerly know as the audience will see the second decade of the twenty-first century as the time to take distribution into their own hands.
If you’re interested to know how I got there, go read the full column.
Links for May 28th 2009 through May 29th 2009:
- Cambridge study: DRM turns users into pirates [ Boing Boing] – “A long and deep study of user behaviour in the UK by a Cambridge prof confirms that when an honest person tries to do something legal that is blocked by Digital Rights Management technology, it encourages the person to start downloading infringing copies for free from the net, since these copies are all DRM-free.” [Via] [Full Study] [(Readable) Study Summary]
- Illegal downloads soar as hard times bite [SMH] – Asher Moses suggests: “Hundreds of thousands more Australians have turned to illegal download sites in the past year to save money on movies, music, software and TV shows during the economic downturn, new figures show. Total visits by Australians to BitTorrent websites including Mininova, The Pirate Bay, isoHunt, TorrentReactor and Torrentz grew from 785,000 in April last year to 1,049,000 in April this year, Nielsen says. This is a year-on-year increase of 33.6 per cent. The figures, which do not include peer-to-peer software such as Limewire, are in line with a Newspoll survey of 700 Australians in April, which found almost two-thirds of respondents said they were more tempted to buy or obtain pirated products in tough financial times.” (I wonder if more immediate legal options to purchase tv would actually fare rather well in these tough times – more folks willing to pay a little to watch something at home rather than a cinema ticket?)
So, in the wake of the much-discussed and widely downloaded leak of the Wolverine workprint, the direct-to-DVD BSG prequel pilot Caprica has also found its way online over a week prior to any official release (on DVD or via direct download). Yet, while media corporations decry the sales supposedly lost and the evils of piracy, any real evidence that these leaks will hurt either the film or the prequel series pilot is hard to come by.
The Wolverine workprint is an unusual case, as the leaked version is unfinished – while it is feature length, many of the special effects shots are either absent or only partial and a series of pick-ups shot earlier this year are missing. While one Fox reviewer got the boot after admitting downloading, watching and liking the workprint, some reports suggest that the leak has actually worked as great publicity amongst the key demographics most likely to see Wolverine in theatres. More importantly, in my view, this unfinished and thus can-be-improved-upon version may just lead some people to review the film more favourably – while folks won’t admit seeing the workprint, if the official release is better, and reviewers’ expectations were lowered by the workprint, I’d guess they’re going to give relieved and thus warmer reviews. More to the point, the workprint might also function as the most in-depth audience screener ever, which has resulting not just in mixed reviews, but in useful advice on how the film might be improved. A canny producer might just collate these suggestions and get some free tips on what the film-going public would really like to see in Wolverine!
Caprica is a different beast altogether – anyone who believes that any distribution of the Battlestar Galactica prequel series pilot will hurt its sales of the series are fooling themselves. It has long been argued that the US release of Battlestar Galactica was aided by the enthusiastic word-of-mouth generated by peer to peer sharing of the first episodes when they were released in the UK before the US. The direct-to-DVD pilot (no, it’s not a movie any more than Razor made sense as a standalone movie; it’s clearly a pilot) is there to do one thing: get audiences interested in the coming series. The DVD release is happening primarily because of the success of Battlestar Galactica, and the desire of BSG’s fans for something new in that franchise, albeit a very different sort of show from BSG. From the studio’s perspective, it’ll also help gauge the level of audience interest. Yet Caprica is, more than anything else, an advertisement for the coming series. The fact that the Caprica pilot DVD will clearly make money (it was 22 on Amazon’s best selling DVD chart today, for example) is candy, and perhaps one way the producers could get a special-effects heavy pilot created, but this is definitely an addition to the normal process of shooting a television pilot. Sharing the pilot on bittorrent will produce another metric by which the studio can see how popular the coming series will be. That word of mouth (presuming it’s positive) will be amongst the best advertisements Caprica can have.
Update: The workprint leak clearly didn’t hurt X-Men Origins: Wolverine: it clocked an impressive $AU221 million globally during its opening weekend!
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