Monday, July 31, 2006

What's the secret of Comedy?

Go ahead, click. Hmm... I don't think that gag works as a hyperlink. But when Berle did it, that was funny.

But I wanna tell ya... Speaking of timing, my timing is uncanny in posting the Longtail video to YouTube this weekend. Couldn't have been better. Or worse. Who can tell these days? Open my newsreader today and look who's jumping into the online video game: CNN and Time Warner and a new player Lulu.TV. (Is that an homage to Ed Norton?)

Covered by Marshall Kirkpatrick on TechCrunch, and Om Malik (who figures Apple for the big winner), and Mark Evans.

There are two vectors at play here. The first is that the studios and networks are routing around the choke points of multi-channel providers such as cable and satellite. If you've ever spoken to anyone who has negotiated anything with Comcast, you'll understand why they might want to do this. With online distribution, they can take advantage of all the long tail dynamics that Chris Anderson describes in his book. More titles online. New business models. This vector is about finding new outlets for traditional brands and long-form programming.

The second is the new breed of producers and online aggregators that are creating new niche video content that can find its natural audience through the linking, ranking, recommendation and community mechanisms that are the current flavor of the web. This vector is about creating new brands and favors short clips and snippets.

Best and most comprehensive discussion of these trends--and how they impact traditional TV--is in Shelly Palmer's book, Television Disrupted: the Transition from Network to Networked TV. (with current updates on his blog.)

Stay tuned.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Today on YouTube

This won't last long, but today YouTube features the Long Tail video I did with Peter Hirshberg and Bob Kalsey as the top video on their home page. It has (as of now) over 50,000 viewings. You can scroll down to view it on this blog.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Weight Loss Tips

Chris Pirillo, who dropped thirty pounds in three months has posted a fine, clear, sensible list of what worked. I'm hoping some of it works for me, as I'm on my own quest. (Aided by the wacky shoes that talk to my iPod, I'm down five with plenty to go).

Night of the Living Tail

In celebration of the publication of Chris Anderson's book, The Long Tail, I've uploaded a video that Peter Hirshberg, Bob Kalsey, and I did last year. However big the threat, (see Nick Carr for the latest in the debunking and rebunking of the premise), it's clear that something new and unsettling is afoot. Which gave Peter the idea of treating it all as a trailer to a horror picture.

In this case, our premise was that the established mainstream media and software industry was in danger. If Hollywood sees a threat, the first call is to the lawyers; the second call is to the marketing department: maybe there's a movie and a profit in here somewhere. This is the trailer to that movie.

In true Hollywood fashion, this movie is not an adaptation of Chris's book or the magazine article at its core. The movie is simply, "inspired by... "

(tags: Web 2.0, Long Tail, Anderson, Humor, Movies, TV)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Path to a Best of Both Worlds

Mainstream media vs. the blogs is one of those perennials that have already had more reruns than I Love Lucy, Seinfeld, and (tunk tunk) Law & Order combined.

But Jay Rosen is pitching an approach that combines the best virtues of both

Backing up a step... our story so far:

MSM has deep-pocket resources (although that pocket gets shallower by the click), editorial oversight, and training. On the other hand MSM sabotages its cred by addiction to access, feigning objectivity by giving equal weight to the claims of the wicked and the righteous alike (fueled no doubt by deep fear of being called biased by the mighty-righty Wurlitzer). MSM cloaks itself in a self-righteous sense of virtuous entitlement that's pegs the meter at 3.9 Liebermans.

On the other side, the blogosphere has speed, fearlessness, openness (or is it just cliquishness with better PR?), built-in instant corrective mechanisms, through comments, cross-links, ranking. On the other hand the blogosphere sabotages its cred by shooting from the hip, excessive first-name insider code-speak (the clicquish reality behind the open veneer), and nasty tendency (especially in comments) to debate in the style of the Monty Python Argument Clinic (Shut your festering gob, you tit! Your type really makes me puke, you vacuous, coffee-nosed, maloderous, pervert!!!). Not to mention a self-righteous sense of virtuous entitlement that pegs the meter at 3.9 Liebermans.

So, here's Rosen's idea;

"In simplest terms, a way to fund high-quality, original reporting, in any medium, through donations to a non-profit called NewAssignment.Net.

"The site uses open source methods to develop good assignments and help bring them to completion; it employs professional journalists to carry the project home and set high standards so the work holds up. There are accountability and reputation systems built in that should make the system reliable. The betting is that (some) people will donate to works they can see are going to be great because the open source methods allow for that glimpse ahead.

"In this sense it’s not like donating to your local NPR station, because your local NPR station says, “thank you very much, our professionals will take it from here.” And they do that very well. New Assignment says: here’s the story so far. We’ve collected a lot of good information. Add your knowledge and make it better. Add money and make it happen. Work with us if you know things we don’t."

Could work. Just as netroots contributions are changing the game for running for office, TheNewAssignment, could become a new force in journalism.

What am I missing?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Louvre, quick buck? See for yourself.

In my previous post, I wondered whether the Louvre was pimping art for the quick buck. I may have misjudged.

Art on TV (not what the artist had in mind)

Robert Scoble ran into GalleryPlayer in the Redmond Library yesterday. It's a (Windows-only) service for displaying HD art and photography on your HDTV display. The Gallery Player folks have licensed an impressive collection of images from Life, the New York Times, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and many others.

But everything in GalleryPlayer is cropped to fit the 16:9 ratio of a widescreen TV. Gee, if only the photographers and painters had known at the time they might have taken better care to frame everything they did at 16:9.

If you hate pan-and-scan on widescreen movies, you'll file GalleryPlayer in the same "not-on-my-TV" folder.

Here's what GP does to the Mona Lisa:

Now let's look at it in what home theatre buffs call OAR--original aspect ratio. And let's change out the brushed aluminum TV frame for the one hanging in the Louvre.

That's a completely different piece of art from the one distributed by PictureGallery.

I'm disappointed that oranizations such as the Met and the Louvre have so little concern for curatorial duty as to license cropped versions of the art in their collections. Guess we're all scrambling for a business model these days.

Look, if the old MGM studio could pretend that the movie business was "art for art's sake," in Latin no less, then I guess the Louvre can do art for a quick buck.

Not that I'm a Mona Lisa purist by any means. In the age of Mash-ups, you can bring me the head--and only the head--of Mona Lisa if you want.

But if you're gonna screw around with Lisa at all, you'd better come up to the level of Mona Gorilla as painted by Rick Meyerowitz in 1971 for National Lampoon. I'm a proud owner of a print, given to me by Neal Stulberg, who was probably glad to be rid of it.

The story behind the painting.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Partisan advantage? World War III

It appears that the new Republican strategy is, well, the old Republican strategy. We're at war. A little rebranding... a little repositioning. This season, it's not the global war on terror, it's World War III. They're counting on the American people to be unwilling to change leadership in the middle of a war. Republicans, on the other hand, had no trouble running against war leadership during the Korean war or the Vietnam War.

Nixon at the 1968 Republican convention

Anybody who wonders how to run against a "War President" can learn from Nixon.

(OK... Nixon wasn't running against the War President (Johnson had dropped out). Nixon ran against the War Vice President, Humphrey, was the candidate. But then again Bush won't be running again either.)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Gonna split

I'm thinking about splitting this blog into a tech blog and a politics blog to each a stronger identity. Thoughts? Advice?

Moon, June, Spoon, Zune

Much virtual ink spilled in the past 24 over Microsoft's opening the kimono a bit on their putative iPod killer, Zune. Gotta love the name. In Hebrew (if you pronounce the "u" as in "tribune") it means "fucked." Which apparently all the vendors who followed Microsoft down the "plays for sure" road seem to be. Om Malik says there merely "zunked." But they pretty much zunked themselves by signing up for a strategy that had less customer value than the iPod-iTunes-Store combo. This time, the Microsoft strategy is to offer more, not less. New wireless, community, and discovery features outlined in Engadget, potentially make the getting, uh, er, Zuned even better than what iPod offers. It's all in the details, which we'll have to wait to experience.

Newseek, Wired News, and many more cover it. Zune team member blogs about it at Zuninsider. According to Technorati, it's already in nearly 2600 posts (probably more by the time you read this). So, they're certainly not having trouble getting attention--and that's before any advertising hits.

Will they make headway against iPod? There are signs that iPod sales growth has slowed--but maybe that's because, Apple hasn't released any droolworthy new iPods in more than nine months. Safe bet that some new and stunning entertainment announcements are coming from Cupertino. How will the next iPod fare vis-avis Zune?

Meanwhile, the real threat to the iPod isn't Zune at all. According to Tomi Ahonen it's phones. Tomi explains it in depth and with saintly patience for the flood of Apple fanatics who dispute him. Worth reading. (And thanks to Robert Scoble for the pointer.)

(tags: iPod, Microsoft, Zune)

Friday, July 21, 2006

A gem within the new ZE

The new Ze Frank has a wonderful gem on how President Bush approached vetoing his first bill.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

See the new iPod plus shoe thingy on video

I mentioned the new iPod plus shoe thingy the other day. Jeff Graham of USA Today just posted a video podcast where you can see it (and him) in action.

Monday, July 17, 2006

The Bush Potty-mouth transcript

I'm seeing lots of excerpts and video clips on the overheard Bush-Blair dialog. Adam Boulton on Sky News has the most-complete transcipt I've seen. Anybody have more?

Any thoughts on the new Yahoo home page?

Yahoo has redesigned their home page. I rarely go there. But if any of you are Yahoo home page users, what do you think? (And I'm talking to you, anonymous.)

Mike Arrington covers it today on TechCrunch.

(tags: yahoo, techcrunch, web 2.0, ajax, web_2.0)

Supply your own egg puns

Ed Martin in says CBS is planning to advertise fall shows by laser-printing ads onto eggs. They're counting on four impressions per egg. Once when you inspect the carton at the supermarket. Second, when you unpack the eggs onto the egg rack in the fridge. (oops, I leave mine in the carton). Third, when you take the egg to cook it. Fourth when you throw the egg shell out. (assuming you haven't destroyed the ad in the process).

And this is why I'm proud to be in marketing.

My bet is that the first impression will be the last. Ick, these eggs have been tampered with. I'm calling the manager.

Of course, if this campaign runs through Halloween, there's a whole new set of impressions that can come into play.

iPod and the magic shoes

Last week Nike began shipping the shoes and doohickies that work with iPod nano. Here's the idea: you make a playlist (or buy one from Apple, heh, heh) to accompany your running (or in my out-of-condition condition, walking).

You wear the magic shoes that contain an electronic pedometer that tells your ipod how fast and how far you're going. Tap the iPod, and a pleasant voice tells you how much time you've been running, how far you've gone, etc. Set goals by distance, time, or calories burned.

It works. It's fun. And, it turns out you don't need the Nike shoes. You can buy the transmitter and receiver separately and here's out how to hack the transmitter onto any shoes you own. (hint: velcro).

Lots of insidious marketing angles here: you can upload your workout logs to a server on Nike and find virtual work-out support groups--and give up lots of private data that may some day be subpoena'd by an insurance company. Just saying. And, of course, the iTunes store has a gazillion workout playlists to sell you.

Me, I'm staying clear of that stuff. But loving the basic product.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Freebie: iTunes download from Bright Eyes

Not new. But not a day older than when it first went up on iTunes. Bright Eyes muses musically about what actually gets said, "When the President Talks to God." It's a free download.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Review: NewsFire--best Mac RSS Aggregator

For Mac users: NewsFire is my favorite tool for browsing RSS web feeds (including blogs, news sites, podcasts). It's from Dave Wattanabe, a Mac developer who has done a series of absolute gems (including CoverFlow that brings to iTunes the lost pleasure of flipping through album covers)

Let me get one annoying item out of the way first, NewsFire is nagware. Obnoxiously so. For me, it was well worth the twenty bucks Dave is charging, but I'll bet he'd get a lot more buyers if he toned down the nags.

On to the good stuff: have it your way and switch at whim. Want a flat list of articles? (what Dave Winer calls a "river of news"or conveyor-belt sushi)--or do you prefer folders (a la Scoble)? NewsFire lets you switch at a click.

You can even set up smart feeds that aggregate feeds based on any criteria you want—source, date, title, content, keywords. The NewsFire "river of news" is actually a pre-defined smart feed called "New items" which aggregates all new items into a single list. You can sort by time or by feed. Easy. Powerful. It's a floor wax. It's a dessert topping.

Setting up your own smart feeds is similar to making a smart playlist in iTunes. Add as many criteria as you need. Choose "match any" or "match all" and you're done.

For example, I work for a company that makes a DVR. I have a DVR folder that pulls in any mention of DVR, PVR, or any of our major competitors. When I click the folder, I can view by time or by source with a simple click.

Clicking through to an article will open a new tab in Firefox or Safari behind the newsreader.

Current release is 1.3, but Dave has just put up a beta of 1.4 which includes the ability to watch videos within the newsreader.

(Meanwhile, on the Technorati Weblog, Kevin Marks says, surprise, that Technorati will serve both river fans and folder fans.)

BTW, if Windows users want a peek at Dave's style, check out the beta of his instant search site, Inquisitor.

(tags: bloggosphere, RSS)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

From AmericaBlog--Rahm-alahm-a-ding-dong

I'll source this to AmericaBlog, where I swiped it. But I won't force you to link to it. It's too good. Go Rahm. Go Rahm.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

White House paying $100,000 salary to "Director of Lessons Learned"
by John in DC - 7/12/2006 11:25:00 AM

Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL) offers a few more lessons learned:
Mr. Speaker, yesterday the President said we continue to be wise about how we spend the people's money.

"Then why are we paying over $100,000 for a 'White House Director of Lessons Learned'?

"Maybe I can save the taxpayers $100,000 by running through a few of the lessons this White House should have learned by now.

"Lesson 1: When the Army Chief of Staff and the Secretary of State say you are going to war without enough troops, you're going to war without enough troops.

"Lesson 2: When 8.8 billion dollars of reconstruction funding disappears from Iraq, and 2 billion dollars disappears from Katrina relief, it's time to demand a little accountability.

"Lesson 3: When you've 'turned the corner' in Iraq more times than Danica Patrick at the Indy 500, it means you are going in circles.

"Lesson 4: When the national weather service tells you a category 5 hurricane is heading for New Orleans, a category 5 hurricane is heading to New Orleans.

"I would also ask the President why we're paying for two 'Ethics Advisors' and a 'Director of Fact Checking.'

"They must be the only people in Washington who get more vacation time than the President.

"Maybe the White House could consolidate these positions into a Director of Irony."

(tags: Rahm, Rahm Emanuel, White House, Katrina, Iraq, Congress, Politics)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

How to lose the War on Terror

Bob Burnett on Huffington Post lists ten steps that the U.S. can undertake to lose the War on Terror. Oh wait. it's a summary of the Bush strategy.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Nazis in the US Army? That can't be good.

This report from the Southern Poverty Law Center is not comforting. I'd link to the coverage in the New York Times, but it's destined to be locked up behind the Pay Web Times Select barrier.

We used to have a zero-tolerance policy for accepting racists and members of hate groups in the U.S. Army. But with quotas going unmet, the standards are dropping.

So, Iraq turns out to be not only a training ground for Islamo-terrorists, but for home-grown U.S. advocates of race war.

I'm starting to feel a little queasy about bringing all the troops home.

(BTW, Paul Krassner has something to say about this over on Huffington Post.)

Friday, July 07, 2006

That's right, I'm not from Texas

But I love Lyle Lovett anyway. He's in town for two dates at Chateau Ste Michelle Winery, the first of which I attended tonight, the second of which you should try to catch tomorrow. (Who knows, I might be back.)

He brought His Large Band, including the amazing Francine Reed of Atlanta, who has also recorded with my bud Jez Graham. (See also this morning's entry).

Lyle Lovett and His Large Band bring a little church, a little country, a little blues, a little bluegrass, a little jazz, a lot grace, a lot of class, sly lyrics, and a stage full of great musicians from L.A., Nashville, Atlanta, and Texas. A fine show. It may be coming to your town soon. It's a dilly.

(tags: music, Lyle Lovett, concert, Francine Reed, blues, bluegrass)

Etch A Sketch Gallery

Michael Witlin sent a tip to an amazing gallery of portraits--some of which took 60 to 70 hours to complete--all created on an Etch A Sketch by George Vlosich III. Mainly sports heroes, but not exclusively so.
People see the end result but do not understand the years of practice, hours of planning, and the frustration that gooes along with not being able to make mistakes

Superman vs. Superman vs. Superman...

The best promotional artifact created to pump up ticket sales for the new Superman movie is a cable show running on the National Geographic channel under the name "The Science of Superman." The putative science isn't what's cool here. What's cool is that the show cuts together most of the instantiations we've seen of Superman— from the comics, the Fleischer cartoons, the fifties TV series, the Christopher Reeves movies, Lois & Clark Smallville, and, of course, the current effort. There's a sequence on each of the iconic super powers (flying, bullets bouncing, x-ray specs, missing the door and coming through the wall)--and we get to see each era's visualization of that power.

If I were the current players in the roles of Superman and Lois, I'd have tried to stop this shot-for-shot comparison with actors who did it much better.

(There are a few broadcasts remaining, so set your Moxi--or lesser DVR if you have one).

BTW: in 1978, Christopher Reeve, the guy playing Superman was billed third (behind Brando and Hackman) and Margo Kidder as Lois was billed eighth (behind Trevor Howard as 1st Elder—1st Elder?!). Boy did she have a crappy agent. And, yes, George Reeves had the biggest "S" and the biggest ass.

(tags: Movies, Superman, Superman Returns, Lois, Bryan Singer, Margo Kidder, Brandon Routh, Christopher Reeve, Kate Bosworth, Smallville)

Jez has a new post

My bud Jez has just posted about some recent gigs to his blog. Jez is a musician who loves music and other musicians so much that just reading about his experience of playing is inspiring in its own right. Better, of course, to hear him play. He has some jazz piano solos posted here. (I mentioned these one before. But they're still good.)

(tags: music, jazz, jez, jez graham)

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Who's got the brand? The Boom or Amanda?

Or both.

The Web 2.0 (or New Web) world just got its first big dose of the complexities of show biz branding. Last week Rocketboom was the hot brand in video blogging. Quirky, perky, Amanda Congdon won fans far and wide as the on-camera host. Rockeboom scored deals with Akimbo and TiVo. But as of now, Amanda and Rocketboom are splitsville. Both Amanda and Rocketboom are now in the midst of their Technorati boomlet as the vlogoshpere (where do we get these words?) churns away at the story. This isn't about that.

What this is about is where is the brand value going forward? Does Amanda walk away with the franchise? Does Rocketboom retain its cachet going forward? Is this mitosis? or a dissolution? Showbiz brands are multi-layered. Psycho is a brand. But so is Hitchcock. So is Janet Leigh. 24 is a brand. But so is Jack Bauer. And so is Kiefer Sutherland. Would the Superman movie carry as much weight in the movies without the Bryan Singer brand?

So who's got the power brand in this split--the Rocketboom or Amanda? One thing is clear--at least if you go by Technorati--her ex-partner, whathisname, who has the majority interest in Rocketboom is not a brand.

No prognosis from me. Just a hope that we wind up with two powerful, quirky, entertaining brands. I hope neither side winds up tucking their long tail between their legs and slinking off to the sunset. Maybe the Ninja has anything to say about this?

Best bits to come out of this are from Jason Calcanis who tries to hire Amanda, and Robert Scoble, who tries to hire Jason. Dave Winer has the antidote for anyone who's going through Rocketboom withdrawal: Ze Frank.

(tags: Amanda Congdon, Rocketboom, Ask a Ninja, Scoble, Calcanis, Ze Frank)

Monday, July 03, 2006

New Yorker just posted the new Seymour Hersh

The Cheney administration has Bush rattling sabres over Iran's nuke policy. But this time the sabres are rattling back. Hersh has ferreted out a surprising (to me) amount of military push-back on the option of taking out the Iranian nuclear capability with a bombing campaign.

Steve Soto
in the Left Coaster has some additional comments from one of Hersh's sources, retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner:
This has to be seen as a watershed event. The military have challenged the White House. It was more subtle than MacArthur in Korea, but still it is a major challenge. They have been stage props for photo ops for too long; they are saying enough is enough.
The White House has made the case that you can't challenge the President on National Security because of the supposed unusual circumstances of the time. In less than a week, that notion has been broken by the Supreme Court. Now the military have broken it.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

What the Air Force knows about Blogging

Josh Marshall alerts us to a $450,000, three-year program to help the Air Force mine the world of blogs for important information. Several choice quotes in the summary. Including:
"Blog research may provide information analysts and warfighters with invaluable help in fighting the war on terrorism."
"Blog entries have a different structure,"[Dr. Brian E.] Ulicny said. "They are typically short and are about something external to the blog posting itself , such as a news event. It’s not uncommon for a blogger to simply state, 'I can’t believe this happened,' and then link to a news story."
I can't believe this happened.

Carville & Penn Pimp Hillary in WaPost

James Carville and Mark J. Penn argue that Hillary is strong, smart, and a fighter. She plays to win. And she won't be swiftboated. They're right. What they leave out is that she's also an inauthentic, calculating triangulator. Her support of a futile anti-flag-burning statute (when flag-burning is practically non-existent) is pandering of the crassest and silliest sort. Anybody expect Hillary to raise her smart, strong, voice in defense of a free press? Hillary won't be swift-boated, but she'll keep her head down while the NYT and LAT are under assault. It's not enough to know that she'll fight for herself. I'm looking for someone who will fight for Truth, Justice, and the American Consitution.