July 18, 2005

Warren Lieberfarb: Hollywood’s visionary outcast


I’m having fun publishing text works as HTML on Ourmedia. Last week it was “Your locked-down digital future” (Ourmedia page | direct link to file on the Internet Archive).

Today, it’s “Hollywood’s visionary outcast” (Ourmedia page | direct link to file on Internet Archive). It’s from my interview with Warren Lieberfarb (above), the father of the DVD. Excerpt:

Lieberfarb is that rarest of birds: a longtime major player in Hollywood who has joined the tradition-smashing, innovation-addicted tech world. As a key consultant to the Microsoft team working on home entertainment technologies, he is putting together program ideas for an Internet that will become an increasing source of secure, full-motion, full-screen video procured from a wide range of new, independent voices.

“All this is going to bypass the broadcast and cable networks,” he says. “The whole notion that you sit at a television at a designated time and you tune in to watch what they say you watch-it’s over. It’s going to take a while, but it’s over.”

I’m publishing more and more of these articles on my own rather than deal with the hassles of the freelance machine at almost all major magazines.

Both are excerpts from my book Darknet.

July 18, 2005

Next-generation social networking


Big news: Here is what a next-generation social network looks like.

The Mercury News’ Silicon Beat today carries a story about the new site that Marc Canter (my partner at Ourmedia.org) has built for Tony Perkins. It’s called GoingOn. Version 1.0 will be unveiled soon at his AlwaysOn site.

Marc has been talking for years about his vision for a “digital lifestyle aggregator,” a trip-over-your-tongue term that I wish he’d revise. Usually, he got blank looks as he explained the concept. So hats off to Perkins for letting Marc go to town and show people what social networking can be. Here’s his post outlining the basics of this “meta-network.”

Now, all GoingOn needs are the people. I’ll be one of the first to sign up.

July 18, 2005

All of the bandwidth you’ll ever need


Hiawatha Bray interviews me about Ourmedia in today’s Boston Globe: All of the bandwidth you’ll ever need. Excerpt:

It’s the Internet’s favorite price point: zero. From software to movie trailers, the freebies just keep coming. Usually they’re come-ons, designed to focus our eyeballs on digital advertisements. But some online giveaways are utterly devoid of strings, and utterly compelling. …

It’s surprising to learn that only 28,000 Internet users have signed up at Ourmedia, a new Internet service that’s giving away both storage and bandwidth, for personal use, at no charge. Any podcaster, text blogger, or video blogger can sign up for a free account at ourmedia.com, and publish as much as he wants, for as long as he wants.

It sounds like a classic Internet come-on: free bandwidth in exchange for a flood of on-screen advertisements. But Ourmedia’s not driven by a quest for profit. It’s the latest venture of the Internet Archive, an ongoing effort to catalog and preserve every document posted online. Brewster Kahle, a veteran of the long-gone Cambridge supercomputer firm Thinking Machines, launched the archive in 1996, with money earned from a successful Internet business venture. Today, the archive, located online at www.archive.org, gets funding from multiple sources, including the National Science Foundation and the Library of Congress. It contains about 40 billion pages spanning most of the Web’s history. …

Despite the Internet Archive’s vast size, it had plenty of unused disk space. Which is why Internet publishers can publish their biggest, fattest multimedia files on the Ourmedia servers for free — a price that Lasica said will never increase.

That’s easy to say with just 28,000 users. But after reading this, legions of Boston Globe readers will no doubt sign up, then tell their friends. Next thing you know, Ourmedia has several million users and a massive bill for storage and bandwidth. How can tthe company keep giving it away?

”We’re going to look for different additional partnerships,” said Lasica. …

With corporate financial and technical support, Ourmedia could become the Internet’s richest and most user-friendly multimedia site — and for publishers, definitely the cheapest. It’s such an appealing vision that it’s sure to enrich someone. Not Lasica, Canter, and Kahle, perhaps. But certainly the rest of us.

July 13, 2005

Eleanor’s first stint as a citizen journalist

Eleanor Kruszewski

I’ve been doing a bit of citizen journalism lately (Dan Gillmor’s trying to shake out the Drupal bugs at Bayosphere; so far, my video there hasn’t shown up). Today, the tables are turned.

Citizen journalist Eleanor Kruszewski, an incredibly smart technologist who just began a new job at Yahoo!, interviewed me at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco during the Supernova conference on June 22, 2005 about my new book "Darknet: Hollywood’s War Against the Digital Generation." Eleanor actually read the book, agreed to conduct an interview on the spot, and, most important, we had some fun during the 30-minute sit-down.

Here are the two versions on Ourmedia: the somewhat higher-quality 130MB QuickTime video and the faster-download 85MB MPEG-4 video. It might be easier to download one of these to your hard drive rather than clicking it to play.

July 13, 2005

When we’re Internet consumers, not producers

Disappointing piece in today’s San Jose Mercury News Business section: “Internet speed battle heats up.”

The article talks throughout about connection speeds.

Notice how the media has adopted the language of Hollywood and the cable companies, which provide us with “content” for “surfing” the Web. Connection speeds, not download speeds.

Not a single mention of upload speeds throughout the article. Not one. (The cable companies haven’t changed their pathetic, paltry upload speeds? OK, then say so.) Jeez.

July 12, 2005

The television will be revolutionized

I’m quoted in this article the other day by Farhad Manjoo in Salon (subscription required): The television will be revolutionized. Al Gore promises that Current TV will be as interactive and democratic as the Internet. But already his restless young audience is wondering whether the network will be another rerun. Excerpt:

Viewers might wish it presented a novel, unpredictable opinion on the issue, or a deeper sense of outrage, or anger. It’s difficult to find a non-mainstream point of view in the videos; politically, they stray neither too far left nor too far right. Just now, there’s little on Current’s site that would seem out of place on ordinary TV.

The youth-oriented network, with Al Gore as a co-owner, launches Aug. 1.

And from 925 — The Online Advertising Community: Gore: Ads Aren’t the Boss of Us. Yea right.

As part of their submission policy, contributors are prohibited from posting their videos on their own sites. But for the ever-growing mass of bloggers—or even “vloggers”—doesn’t it seem they’d be short changing themselves to agree to such a thing? J.D. Lasica, a media consultant and the author of “Darknet: Hollywood’s War Against the Digital Generation” agreed that when it comes to filmmakers utilize the Web, they “have an expectation of immediacy for their material.” As Lasica told Salon: “You put something together and you want to put it online. You want to get it out there.” Ain’t that the truth.