September 30, 2006

1st Amendment Coalition

Milo Radulovich

Just got back from the California First Amendment Coalition event at the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, where I met Milo Radulovich (pictured above), who rose to fame in the 1950s after Edward R. Murrow called out Joseph McCarthy. Radulovich’s story was the centerpiece of the 2005 George Clooney film “Good Night, and Good Luck.”

Also met Daniel Ellsberg, who authored and released the Pentagon Papers — about 30 years after the last time I met him at Rutgers.

Here are nine photos from the event.

Participated on the panel “Blogging and Citizen Journalism” with Daniel Weintraub, Lisa Stone, Kevin Bankston and moderator Dan Gillmor, talking about the rise of participatory media.

September 29, 2006

The coming dramatic decline of YouTube?

Mark Cuban had this the other day: The Coming Dramatic Decline of Youtube.

What is it about youtube.com that has made it so successful so quickly ? Is it the amazing quality of user generated content ? Is it a broadband fueled obsession with watching short videos ?

No & No.

Youtube’s rapid ascension to the top of the traffic ranks can be attributed to two and only two reasons:

1. Free Hosting from any 3rd Party site
Hey, why pay for bandwidth for a video if you dont have to ? A blog, a myspace page, an email, any website. Just throw in some html in Youtube.com foots the bill for bandwidth. Sure you are limited by size of file, but so what. Just chop it up into parts 1 through N. Its fast, easy and free.

Come to our website and use our video hosting services, we can party like its 1999 all over again !

2. Copyrighted music and video. …

This so reminds me of the early days of Napster. They were the first to tell you it wasnt illegal. They didnt host anything but an index to link to all the illegal downloaders. Youtube doesnt upload anything illegal and will take down whatever you ask them to. Sounds legit right ? …

And the New York Times follows up Saturday with this: YouTube’s Video Poker.

YouTube has also become a vast repository of video taken without permission from television shows and movies, not to mention home movies constructed — with nary a cent paid in royalties — from commercial music and imagery.

Mr. Hurley was surrounded by curious media executives at Allen & Company’s annual Sun Valley mogulfest in July. They wondered: friend or foe? Is he earnestly working to make YouTube and its exuberant users conform to the existing standards of copyright law and contractual obligations? Or is he cynically flouting the law to enable YouTube to grow rapidly, calculating that he will be able to cut a more advantageous deal later, or perhaps sell the company to someone else who will be able to sort through the mess of liabilities?

September 28, 2006

First Amendment Coalition event

On tap:

- Tomorrow and Saturday, the California First Amendment Coalition and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism present the 11th annual Free Speech & Open Government Assembly. Arianna Huffington, Daniel Ellsberg and Judith Miller are among the speakers.

I’ll be on a panel “Blogging and Citizen Journalism” from 10:30-11:45 a.m. Saturday with BlogHer’s Lisa Stone, the Sacramento Bee’s Dan Weintraub and EFF’s Kevin Bankston, moderated by Dan Gillmor, at Sibley Auditorium. The event requires advance registration, I believe. (The program is available only as a PDF, here.)

- Thus, I won’t be attending this year’s Podcast and Portable Media Expo, tomorrow and Saturday in Ontario, Southern California.

- I also won’t be able to attend the Inaugural Society for New Communications Research Symposium & Awards Gala, Nov. 1 – 2 at the Colonnade Hotel in Boston, Mass. Details:

“Be the first to hear the results of our 2006 research initiatives and winning case studies from around the globe. Receive a copy of the first Journal of New Communications Research. Help us determine our 2007 research agenda and hear about developing standards for social media initiatives.” Register here.

September 27, 2006

Back from Sweden

Raya Ribbius

My keynote Sunday at Växjö University’s Participatory Academy went well, with quite a bit of interaction with the students and educators in the audience.

I’ve posted a Flickr set of photos here.

Another highlight was the time I spent with Pernilla Severson and Lars Mogensen at Malmö, particularly the hourlong meeting with Pernilla’s students about their media habits. Monday night I gave a talk at Malmö University on darknets and mashup culture. More about that at my Darknet blog.

It was my first time in Sweden, so here are some snapshot impressions:

Thumbs up:

- Great weather — 70 degrees most of the time (take a memo, Al Gore)
– amazing, how just about everyone spoke English — and did it well
– everyone I met was quite friendly
– clean ‘n’ tidy streets and parks
– like the unisex bathrooms
– Swedish showers are the best I’ve seen in Europe
– corny but delightful: the gathering at the Glassworks where the locals sang such standards as “Hell and Gore” and “Did the Saints Have Snaps?”
– dependable train service, comfortable rides
– Nice continental breakfasts

Thumbs down:

- Lack of decaf coffee got my nerves all jangly
– Other than breakfast, the meals won’t make you forget French or Italian cuisine anytime soon.
– the dreaded but not expected jet lag. from west to east seems to be more severe than the other way.

September 23, 2006

At the Participatory Academy

I’m at the Participatory Academy, the 4th European Workshop on Cross Media & Collaboration, at Växjö University in Sweden, where I’ll be giving the keynote tomorrow about participatory media. About 150 people are here, mostly students and educators, discussing the emerging new media landscape. Ulf from SVT — Sweden’s equivalent of the BBC or our PBS — loaned me a high-definition camcorder and I’m doing a couple of short video interviews, so we’ll see how those turn out after I get back.

I’m bouncing off the walls because of the high-octane coffee — the Swedes don’t believe in decaf. The weather’s great — a balmy 68. It’s been the warmest September here on record, I’m told.

Meantime, a few brief highlights from today’s sessions:

Lena Glaser, head of SVT Interactive, gave a great sampling of the 2,000 hours of SVT programming available on demand at svt.se. For instance, a cooking show hosed by popular chef Niklas Mat, “At home with Niklas,” is shot in different formats. One is shot for television. For the Web version, which also goes to mobile and to “pod television,” Niklas doesn’t wear makeup. “You get a sense of nearness, you feel as though you’re in his house,” said Lena, who explained that SVT equates mobile with streaming media and pod TV with downloadable media, a much smaller number of files because of copyright holders’ concerns about unrestricted content online.

SVT’s goal, she said, is “to create interactive programs without scaring a large passive audience away from the program.”

Ron van der Sterren described the nonprofit Danish music site 3Voor12‘s coverage of 20 music festivals a year. Cool site! He said some DJs have begun turning down requests to videotape their shows because when the site streams a show, it shows up on YouTube within a half hour — illegally, of course.

A speaker showed off the trippy virtual world Entropia Universe, run by Mindark with about 35 staffers. Many thousands of real-world dollars are changing hands as people trade for virutal goods, as they do at Second Life and elsewhere. They’ll soon go public on European trading exchanges.

Peter Zackariasson of the Umeå School of Business, an expert in Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs), described the online game landscape.

Who plays online games?

• 73 million online gamers worldwide
• 27 million of them play MMOG
• average age is 29 years old
• 43 percent are women
• average person spends about 22 hours/week in a MMOG

Most popular MMOGs

World of Warcraft (Blizzard Entertainment), with 6.5 million users worldwide
Eve-online (CCP Games)
Everquest 2 (sony online entertainment)
Lineage (NCSoft, out of South Korea)
Dark Age of Camelot (EA Mythic)
Anarchy Online (Funcom, out of Norway)

September 23, 2006

My longest day. Ever.

I’m here at the Participatory Academy at Vaxjo University in southern Sweden — barely. Here’s what happened.

After an 11-hour flight from San Francisco to Frankfurt, Germany, I asked a fellow passenger for the local time. He gave it to me, and I set my watch eight hours ahead, from 12:45 am to 8:45 am. Had a long layover, so went to a cafe and did some work. Then headed to the gate to catch the final leg of my flight to Copenhagen. I got nervous when the terminal was empty. I stopped a maintenance staffer and compared times — his was an hour ahead of mine. I missed my flight by 5 minutes. Apparently my fellow passenger had forgotten to factor in daylight savings time — there’s a 9-hour difference this time of year.

Fortunately, there was another flight three hours later. “You’re lucky — these flights to Copenhagen are usually filled,” the Lufthansa agent told me. I caught it and arrived in Copenhagen wiped out from no sleep in 24 hours. An hour later, caught the train to Vaxjo and arrived at 10 pm.

Only one problem — no one was there to meet me. I had emailed my contact person at the university from an Internet terminal at the Frankfurt Airport nine hours before (can’t wait to see the bill on that one), since my Cingular account doesn’t cover Europe (or at least I haven’t been able to get my Nokia cell phone to work here).

I put on a jacket, accosted two local Swedes, Britt and her college-age son, who called a contact of mine in Malmo, who in turn called my contact’s boyfriend, who directed us to a nearby hotel (the wrong one, it turned out, but by then I insisted on a room to collapse in). Finally hit the sack after more than 30 hours.

I never found out why my contact didn’t show, but next time I’ll insist on getting her phone number in advance. And I’ll double check on that time change.