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Digital Culture Links: January 19th 2010
Links for January 18th 2010 through January 19th 2010:
- Android Karenina [Quirk] – What a great idea of a mashup novel! "Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters co-author Ben H. Winters is back with an all-new collaborator, legendary Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy, and the result is Android Karenina—an enhanced edition of the classic love story set in a dystopian world of robots, cyborgs, and interstellar space travel."
- New law could block access to anime, manga and slash fan sites in Australia [fanthropology] – A look at what Australian’s proposed Internet Censorship laws could mean for slash, manga and anime fans: in short, not good!
- Call for study of threat from "offline" filesharing [The Guardian] – Anyone remember pre-internet “piracy”? Time to scan USBs and harddrives at customs 😛 "Policymakers urgently need better information on people’s attitudes to copyright law, according to a report out today warning that friends swapping hard drives and memory sticks could pose as great a piracy threat to media companies as online filesharers. The Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property (Sabip): "There’s a whole big question here around what is happening offline digitally, the swapping of discs and data in that world. There’s a lot of it going on," said Sabip board member Dame Lynne Brindley. Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, said existing research did not give a clear picture of consumer behaviour. While there was some data on the proportion of people buying counterfeit CDs, DVDs and video games – estimated at between 7% and 16% of the population – Sabip was concerned that more needed to be known about other copyright breaches, such as hard-drive swapping …"
- Seven launches online catch-up, PLUS7 [TV Tonight] – "Seven today launched its online catch-up portal, PLUS7. The site offers legal streaming of Seven shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Home and Away, FlashForward, Private Practice, Heroes, Castle, Better Homes and Gardens, Parks and Recreation and more. As with the ABC’s iView, the site does not require a show to finish downloading before being available to start play. The site includes “mid-roll advertising” to show advertisements mid programme, much like commercial television. A spokesperson previously told TV Tonight they expect around 3-4 ads per show. Titles will remain online for between 7 – 28 days depending on rights. So far no ISPs are yet on board for unmetered content. The site can be viewed at au.tv.yahoo.com/plus7." (As expected, Plus7 is geo-locked, so only visible inside Australia. Sorry Brits, you’ll have to wait for Home and Away!)
Digital Culture Links: November 24th 2009
Links for November 24th 2009:
- Why Academia Is No Longer A Smart Choice By Melissa Gregg [newmatilda.com] – “So often the perception of university life in Australia is a cosy existence involving luxurious philosophical debates, long holidays and international sabbaticals. The reality is far less glamorous. The past 10 years has seen an escalation of requirements for entry-level jobs so great that starting positions aren’t even advertised. The over-supply of PhD graduates has made competition so fierce for tenured positions that casual contracts have replaced ongoing junior positions. Our best graduates, fresh from the biggest challenge higher education can throw at them, face their most energetic years vying for the privilege of this state of insecurity. As the system currently stands, junior scholars are asked to prove their worth to universities in ways that those hiring them never had to.” (Depressing, but all too true.)
- Murdoch madness [BuzzMachine] – Jeff Jarvis speaks with wisdom: “Were Bing to pay News Corp. to drop Google, it would be a double-play in Google’s favor: Microsoft would lose money and gain little. News Corp. would lose traffic, shifting away from the search engine with more than 60% penetration in the U.S. and more than 80% in the U.K. to one that has 10 percent here – and that’s just the search engine; it doesn’t account for the disparate popularity of Google and Bing News. […] News Corp. leaving Google would be a mosquito bite on an elephant’s ass. Unnotice by Google or by the audience. For there will always be – as Murdoch laments – free competitors: the BBC and Australian Broadcasting Corp, which he and his son complain about, not to mention the Guardian, the Telegraph, NPR, CBC, and any sensible news organization worldwide.”
- Heads Of Major Movies Studios Claiming They Just Want To Help Poor Indie Films Harmed By Piracy [Techdirt] – “Just last month, we talked about a top exec at Paramount claiming that his “real worry” about movie piracy online was how it was going to harm indie films, since, as a big company, Paramount could take it. Then, just a week or so later, Sony Pictures’ boss, Michael Lynton, also started talking about how fewer movies were being made due to piracy. Unfortunately, he was wrong. In the past five years the number of films being released has more than doubled and the major studios are making more money than ever at the box office. And yet… they keep trying. … the CEO of Fox Films, Jim Gianopulos, is the latest to claim that movie “piracy” is harming independent films the most (while saying it’s harming everyone in the movie business, despite no evidence to support that claim). He made this statement while suggesting that the US needs to follow France in kicking people off the internet for file sharing accusations (not convictions).” (It’s called a straw man argument … or a lie!)
Annotated Digital Culture Links: May 29th 2009
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?)
Will web leaks hurt Wolverine or Caprica?
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!
Annotated Digital Culture Links: April 9th 2009
Links for April 6th 2009 through April 9th 2009:
- on url shorteners [joshua’s blog] – “… URL shorteners are bad for the rest of us. The worst problem is that shortening services add another layer of indirection to an already creaky system. A regular hyperlink implicates a browser, its DNS resolver, the publisher’s DNS server, and the publisher’s website. With a shortening service, you’re adding something that acts like a third DNS resolver, except one that is assembled out of unvetted PHP and MySQL, without the benevolent oversight of luminaries like Dan Kaminsky and St. Postel. There are three other parties in the ecosystem of a link: the publisher (the site the link points to), the transit (places where that shortened link is used, such as Twitter or Typepad), and the clicker (the person who ultimately follows the shortened links). Each is harmed to some extent by URL shortening.” (While I understand URL shortening for Twitter, I think they tend to obscure the actual destination and make evaluating a link very difficult!)
- Facebook Blocks All Pirate Bay Links [TorrentFreak] – “… [in] March The Pirate Bay added new functionality to reach out to millions of Facebook users. Just over a week later and the world’s largest social networking site has blocked all links to torrents on the world’s largest and most infamous BitTorrent tracker. It was less than two weeks ago when The Pirate Bay implemented a new feature making it easier for site users to post links to torrents on their Facebook profile… The entertainment industries were not happy with the new feature, but since The Pirate Bay is not exclusively used to spread copyrighted material, there wasn’t much they could do about it. Facebook users responded positively and many began posting torrent links in their profile. This integration of the world’s largest tracker and the world’s largest social networking site generated hundreds of news articles and excitement. But it wasn’t to last. This morning Facebook … blocked not only the feature, but all links to Pirate Bay’s torrents.”
- Flutter: The New Twitter [YouTube] – When the 140 characters of Twitter get too much, the nanoblogging revolution of Flutter might be right for you! 😉
Annotated Digital Culture Links: April 3rd 2009
Links for March 31st 2009 through April 3rd 2009:
- Internet traffic in Sweden plummets on first day of law banning web piracy [Guardian] – Internet traffic in Sweden – previously a hotbed of illicit filesharing – has fallen dramatically in the first day of a new law banning online piracy. The country – home to the notorious Pirate Bay website, whose founders are awaiting a court judgment on whether they have broken the law by allowing people to find films, games and music for illicit downloads – has previously been seen as a haven for filesharing, in which people can get copyrighted content for free. As many as one in 10 Swedes is thought to use such peer-to-peer services. But the so-called IPRED law, which came into force on Wednesday, obliges internet service providers to turn over details about internet users who share such content to the owners of copyrighted material, if a court finds sufficient evidence that the user has broken the law. … internet traffic in Sweden had fallen by about 30% compared with the previous day.”
- New Wolverine film leaked online [BBC NEWS | Entertainment] – “An almost finished copy of X-Men Origins: Wolverine starring Hugh Jackman has been leaked online a month before its cinema release. The high quality copy of the film has been uploaded to several file sharing and streaming video websites. The movie is incomplete, with some special effects still in need of fine tuning and green screens and wires attached to actors still visible.” (It took less than 24 hours for this workprint to appear for sale in Jordan’s pirate DVD markets and C20th Fox are on the warpath. While a leak like this might be good for publicity, given that a workprint – which means unfinished special effects more than anything else – tends to emphasise the quality of the plot and dialogue, this could really hurt the box office.)
- Obama Depressed, Distant Since ‘Battlestar Galactica’ Series Finale [The Onion – America’s Finest News Source] – “According to sources in the White House, President Barack Obama has been uncharacteristically distant and withdrawn ever since last month’s two-hour series finale of Battlestar Galactica. “The president seems to be someplace else lately,” said one high-level official, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Yesterday we were all being briefed on the encroachment of Iranian drone planes into Iraq, when he just looked up from the table and blurted out, ‘What am I supposed to watch on Fridays at 10 p.m. now? Numb3rs?'” “I haven’t seen him this upset since Admiral Adama realized that Earth was actually an uninhabitable wasteland,” the official continued. “Or at least that’s what he told me. I don’t actually watch the show. It’s not really my thing.””
- Victim Of Wikipedia: Microsoft To Shut Down Encarta [ paidContent.org] – “Microsoft will discontinue both its MSN Encarta reference Web sites as well as its Encarta software, which have both been surpassed by rising competitors, like Wikipedia. In a message posted on the MSN Encarta Web site, Microsoft says, “Encarta has been a popular product around the world for many years. However, the category of traditional encyclopedias and reference material has changed. People today seek and consume information in considerably different ways than in years past.””
Annotated Digital Culture Links: December 24th 2008
Links for December 23rd 2008 through December 24th 2008:
- Top 10 Most Pirated TV-Shows of 2008 [TorrentFreak] – ” Lost is without a doubt the most downloaded TV-show, with over 5 million downloads for one single episode. TV-shows are getting increasingly more popular on BitTorrent. Most TV-broadcasters won’t be happy to hear this, but one could argue that BitTorrent has actually helped TV-shows to build a stronger, broader, and more involved fanbase. Perhaps even more importantly, the rise of unauthorized downloading of TV-shows is a signal that customers want something that is not available through other channels. Availability seems to be the key issue why people turn to BitTorrent.” (In order: Lost, Heroes, Prison Break, Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Desperate Housewives, Stargate Atlantis, Dexter, House, Grey’s Anatomy, & Smallville.)
- Making the Intangible Tangible, the Economic Contribution of Australia’s Copyright Industries IP Down Under [PricewaterhouseCoopers report] – “PricewaterhouseCoopers, for the Australian Copyright Council, has released its report Making the Intangible Tangible, the Economic Contribution of Australia’s Copyright Industries, which has found that Australia’s copyright industries in 2007:
• employed more than 837,000 people (8 percent of the nation’s workforce) – up 21 percent since 1996;
• generated $97.7 billion in economic activity (10.3 percent of GDP) – up 66 percent since 1996; and
• accounted for $6.8 billion in exports (4.1 percent of all exports) – up 6.3 percent since 1996.” [Via Terry Flew]
- Aussie ‘Doctor Who’ Fans Set to Time Travel With BitTorrent [TorrentFreak] – “Australia has been the focus of much tech news recently, as the country struggles with its Internet piracy ‘problem’. Thanks to the infinite wisdom of ABC, Aussie Doctor Who fans are left with a tough decision – wait until mid-January to watch the show’s pivotal ‘Christmas Special’ – or pirate it with BitTorrent.”
- WoW! How The Guild beat the system [Media | The Guardian] – “The Guild was written as an hour-long TV pilot but was rejected by a number of studios. “We were fighting against the stereotype of online gamers as pickly-faced teenagers living in their basements,” she recalls. In the end, Day and her co-producer, Kim Evie, funded the first episodes themselves and spent eight hours a day emailing bloggers about the show and marketing it through the Buffy and WoW communities. The next seven episodes were funded through donations collected via a PayPal button on their website and donors were credited at the end of each show. … The Guild has been a masterclass in direct marketing of content to a niche peer group. “The web is an amazing opportunity for people who want to tell stories but aren’t permitted because they aren’t the mainstream,” says Day.” (Profile of The Guild as a rags to riches webisode series now it has been picked up by Microsoft.)
- Net music theory ends up a tall tale [Australian IT] – “The internet was supposed to bring vast choice for customers, access to obscure and forgotten products and a fortune for sellers who focused on niche markets. But a study of digital music sales has posed the first big challenge to this “long tail” theory: more than 10 million of the 13 million tracks available on the internet failed to find a single buyer last year. The idea that niche markets were the key to the future for internet sellers was described as one of the most important economic models of the 21st century when it was spelt out by Chris Anderson in his book The Long Tail in 2006. But a study by Will Page, chief economist of the MCPS-PRS Alliance, a not-for-profit royalty collection society, suggests that the niche market is not an untapped goldmine and that online sales success still relies on big hits. It found that for the online singles market, 80 per cent of all revenue came from about 52,000 tracks. For albums … 1.23million available, only 173,000 were ever bought”
Annotated Digital Culture Links: December 16th 2008
Links for December 16th 2008:
- The writer’s guide to making a digital living [Australia Council for the Arts] – “The writer’s guide was developed through the Australia Council’s Story of the Future project to explore the craft and business of writing in the digital era. It includes case studies from Australia’s rising generation of poets, novelists, screenwriters, games writers and producers who are embracing new media and contains audio and video content from seminars and workshops, as well as extensive references to resouces in Australia and beyond.” (The online presentation is great, but you can also download the full guide as a PDF and watch the hilarious introductory video.)
- YouTube Videos Pull In Real Money [NYTimes.com] – Making videos for YouTube — for three years a pastime for millions of Web surfers — is now a way to make a living. Michael Buckley quit his day job in September. He says his online show is “silly,” but it helped pay off credit-card debt. One year after YouTube, the online video powerhouse, invited members to become “partners” and added advertising to their videos, the most successful users are earning six-figure incomes from the Web site. For some, like Michael Buckley, the self-taught host of a celebrity chatter show, filming funny videos is now a full-time job.”
- A “Run” of William Gibson’s “Agrippa” Poem from a Copy of Original 1992 Agrippa Diskette [The Agrippa Files] – A video capture of William Gibson’s infamous self-destroying poem Agrippa – to read it, you had to erase it! Amazing stuff.
- Top 10 Most Pirated Movies of 2008 [TorrentFreak] – Surprising no one, The Dark Knight is the most pirated movie of 2008, but how did The Bank Job end up at #3 given it took less than $US 65 million at the box office? The match between downloads and box office figures seems vague, at best!
- News About the News Business, in 140 Characters [NYTimes.com] – “With staff changes and reductions across the media industry, even a blog post can be too time-consuming a way to announce who is in and out of a job. That is why a public relations employee turned to the instant-blogging platform Twitter to create The Media Is Dying, a Twitter feed that documents media hirings and firings in one-sentence bursts of text. “These sorts of layoffs are unheard-of,” said the stream’s founder, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to preserve his sources in the industry. “It’s gotten insane to keep up with who was moving around and changing beats.” Initially, The Media Is Dying was accessible only to select Twitter members, as the feed was intended to help those in the P.R. industry stay on top of the revolving entries in their address books. But requests to be included flooded the founder, who decided to go public three weeks ago.”
- Iran’s bloggers thrive despite blocks [BBC NEWS | World | Middle East] – “With much of the official media controlled by the government or hardline conservatives, the internet has become the favoured way of communicating for Iran’s well-educated and inquisitive younger generation. Go online in Iran and you will find blogs or websites covering every topic under the sun. Politics, of course, but also the arts, Hollywood cinema, women’s issues, women’s sport, pop music. Whisper it quietly, there is even an online dating scene in the Islamic Republic. Day-by-day there is an intriguing cyber-war, as the government wrestles for control of the internet, and Iran’s bloggers wrestle it back. Iran hosts around 65,000 bloggers, and has around 22 million internet users. Not bad for a country in which some remote areas do not yet have mains electricity.”