Saturday, July 11, 2009

Radiohead Manager's new label - artists keep copyright

Interesting model:
Brian Message, manager of alternative rock band Radiohead, is helping to launch a new record label where digital distribution is the focus and artists retain the copyright of the music they create. The new label, called Polyphonic, will be a partnership between ATC, of which Brian Message is a partner, MAMA Group, and Vancouver-based artist management firm Nettwerk Music Group,

From ZeroPaid.

Twitter for those iconic fashion statements/quotations

I'm open to everything. When you start to criticize the times you live in, your time is over.

See who said that here. And check out how many people KL is following.

"Fair Use" an interesting dilemma

From Techdirt: come Greg Gillis - better known as Girl Talk, the popular mashup musician - hasn't been sued yet. Especially since his Feed the Animals CD came out, generating a ton of publicity and popular press coverage (and sampled from hundreds of songs), pretty much everyone has been waiting for him to get sued. Friedman tosses out a suggestion that makes a lot of sense: the recording industry is scared to death that a court will rule in Girl Talk's favor and return "fair use" to music:

BTW it's MusicHackDay @ the Guardian.

"Fair Use" an online tool

The Fair Use Evaluator is an online tool that can help users understand how to determine if the use of a protected work is a “fair use.” It helps users collect, organize, and document the information they may need to support a fair use claim, and provides a time-stamped PDF document for the users’ records.

From the American Libraries Association Washington Office, District Despatch.
Here's the Evaluator.

A new music chart - what's being listened to online

From The Guardian
Once music magazines and DJs helped shaped what we listened to, but today it's music bloggers who are dictating what's hot and what's not. Well, that's the theory anyway. This site trawls through blogs, forums and social networks to work out the 99 most popular tracks based on what's being listened to, talked about and linked to online. The results bare little relation to the traditional top 40 (La Roux being the exception), in that most of the music here is unreleased or album tracks,

We are Hunted.
Techcrunch with the details.
The service monitors the most popular songs on iLike, BitTorrent,, MySpace Music, and other Web music services, as well as discussions on Twitter, blogs, and press sites. A collaboration between Australian news aggregation site WotNews and digital music marketers Native Digital, We Are Hunted uses a whole bunch of sentiment and semantic analysis, along with clustering algorithms to come up with the top 99 songs of the day. It then presents these in a 3 X 3 grid of album art for each song, which can be played in its entirety on the site. (The songs are streamed from YouTube or the artists’ sites).

BBC's Digital Revolution - open source series making

We don't want this to be one medium reflecting on another from a safe distance. We want to bridge the gap. So we have decided to adopt a radical, open-source approach to the production process. We don't just want to observe bloggers from on high; we want to blog ourselves and get feedback and comment on our ideas.

And we have already taken the first step. Our presenter, the Guardian journalist and academic Aleks Krotoski, has just posted her first manifesto - about who holds power on the web - on our blog at This is a clarion call to web users all over the globe to tell us whether they think the web is the utopia it once promised to be - a sharing, open, level playing field - or whether, as Aleks argues, the hierarchy and inequality endemic in human society have spread to the web of today, populated by cliques and big brands.

The blog will be updated regularly with posts from Aleks and a number of guest bloggers, including Wikipedia creator Jimmy Wales and musician and performing rights campaigner Feargal Sharkey. The online crowd now have an opportunity to tell us what they really think - and have a unique opportunity to influence the team's thinking.

From Producer Russell Barnes.
At the launch web-founder Tim Berners-Lee commented:
"When you use the internet it is important that the medium should not be set up with constraints," he said. The internet, said Sir Tim, should be like a blank piece of paper. Just as governments and companies cannot police what people write or draw on that sheet of paper so they should not be restricted from putting the web to their own uses."The canvas should be blank," he saidWhile governments do need some powers to police unacceptable uses of the web; limits should be placed on these powers, he said.

More here.

Friday, July 10, 2009

The Cost of Admission: mashable

The rules have changed. Whatever happened to the interview?
Want to work at Mashable as a full time writer or editor? We'd love for you to join us!

Please note, however, that our applications process has a number of key requirements: you must have prior experience writing for a Technorati Top 100 blog and you must be a regular Twitter user with 500 followers or more.

If you do not meet these requirements, please visit our guest writer page to see whether you may be accepted as a guest writer:

Hiring here - you know the rules.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

"Cognitive cost" of spending...anything, even micro payments

Anderson borrows a term from George Washington economist Nick Szabo, labeling this flag the “mental transaction cost.” Laziness has made us all want to avoid making any decision, no matter how inconsequential. Even if something is financially affordable, once we begin to question if it’s “worth it,” we’ve already spent cognitive energy considering the decision, and will most likely choose not to spend the money, even if it’s just a penny. Anderson says micropayments “are destined to fail, Szabo concluded, because although they minimize the economic costs of choices, they still have all the cognitive costs…many potential customers would be put off by the payment and decision process.”

From Jessica Roy's review of Free for the Nieman Journalism Lab.

Copycats? Wait 24 hours and then it is yours?

Insanity, surely, at the Cleveland Plain Dealer, by columnist Connie Schultz .
Schultz says that David Marburger, an alleged First Amendment attorney for her paper, and his economics-professor brother, Daniel, have concocted their own dangerous thinking, proposing the copyright law be changed to insist that a newspaper’s story should appear only on its own web site for the first 24 hours before it can be aggregated or retold.

From Buzz Machine

Friday Project Founder on the UK and E-Readers

Q: eReaders. We can’t do a Q&A without asking about them. Love or hate? Or both?

A: Love them, in all their forms. At present the Kindle isn’t available over here and Amazon doesn’t seem to be in any great rush to change that. To be fair, I think it is down to the fact that they will need to have an option for the whole of the EU, not just the UK, before they go live. That means that the Sony Reader has a genuine foothold here. But there are still issues over pricing, availability and content for eBooks that need to be resolved before they will really take off. They are part of the future and we need to adapt to that.

Scott Pack, Publisher at Harper Collins UK. More here.

Friday Project.

The People versus Frank Luntz

Sample sizes; always sample sizes. Of course the demographic composition may be less than generalized...but are said to be politically "central".
Yesterday’s Mindtracker for PMQs was very interesting datawise for political geeks, over a thousand people (1,150 people between 4 p.m. and 10 p.m.) twiddled their knobs online, so the poll is statistically valid. In comparison Frank Luntz typically has only 30 people polled in a room. Watch the video above to see how people responded in realtime.

Here at Guido Fawkes - who continues to use the web in the most creative ways.

The Mindtracker explained by Guido Fawkes.

No it's not: The Story is Back

Not exactly Flat Earth News - the phone hack.

The news "story" is dead

'Journalism' and 'the news' – founded, as I say, almost
entirely on 'the story' – is not a fixed point in the universe. It's not a
force of nature. It doesn't have to be how we journalists have made

The web has unbundled the bundle we used to sell
audiences as a paper or a bulletin; it's erased the distinction we
journalists used to make between 'news' – what we said it was –
and information, stuff, the whole of the rest of the world.
The web is enabling our former audiences to come to their
news in their ways at their times. Our old image of gripping them
with our ‘stories’ is no more.

Kevin Marsh in The future of journalism.

Expressing ourselves: the new folk culture

From an interesting pamphlet by Demos:
Our will to seek out information and our innate sense of the individual have driven society to devise new ways of experiencing things and new ways in which to focus on our specific interests. The public interest, of course, comprises the multiple opinions, beliefs and attitudes that we all hold, either collectively or as individuals. In many ways, this recalls the folk culture of the past, in which art forms expressed values and provided touchpoints for belief, a precursor to more commodified forms of culture in which a price was put on engagement and access to creative and cultural forms. The result is that when we come to bring these to bear on culture and creativity today, orthodoxy is challenged. Our individualism also creates different expectations of culture. Knowledge and expertise remain in place, but their role is to illuminate more than to improve. Together, they function to enable and communicate the expression of our different values.

Expressive Lives. What and why.

Warren Buffett would "pay" for YouTube, perhaps

Every year, nearly 300 powerful media executives gather here [Sun Valley, Idaho] at the secretive Allen & Co. summit, to which the press is not invited. Perennial attendees include Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Rupert Murdoch and Barry Diller. As the definition of media has expanded to include the Internet, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Evan Williams have been added to the guest list.

From the WSJ.. And the result - the press were not present, but a little leaked:
“No one had any answers” about making money on the Internet, said [Ken] Auletta, who moderated the panel.

Also WSJ.
Malone said he didn’t think that an advertising model made sense on Twitter, but there was some hope for a subscription model. “Sooner or later people will be willing to pay for these services,” he said. Warren Buffett privately told him that he would pay $5 a month for YouTube, he added.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Build Your Own World - make it matter

The 2010 01SJ Biennial has issued a challenge to Build Your Own World, claiming that the future is not about what’s next; it’s about what we can build to ensure that what’s next matters. Fundamental to the conjuring of such worlds is the way in which the artistic imagination can use the tools at hand to provide access to ideas, methods for exchanging new interpretations, and markers that allow people to navigate between mixed reality and hard imagination.

Details of the competition here

The "M" manifesto

Stirring stuff out of Harvard business blog:
You wanted financial fundamentalism. We want an economics that makes sense for people — not just banks.

You wanted shareholder value — built by tough-guy CEOs. We want real value, built by people with character, dignity, and courage.

You wanted an invisible hand — it became a digital hand. Today's markets are those where the majority of trades are done literally robotically. We want a visible handshake: to trust and to be trusted.

Find out what the "M" stands for here.

The Tablet Cometh

From Softpedia:
Noted analyst Gene Munster (of Piper Jaffray) predicts that Apple has a gap to fill between the iPod touch and the MacBook, that gap evidently being the yet-non-confirmed Mac tablet. The device would be priced between the $500-700 range, but wouldn't see the light of day until FY 2010, due to the complexity of the OS it would require.

Er, anyone launched a new open source OS recently?

Free is free - google/scribd

Free is free
And here on SCRIBD

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Epistemologically louche: the NYT

...highlighting a word or passage on the Times website calls up a question mark that users can click for a definition and other reference material. (Though the feature was recently improved, it remains a mild annoyance for myself and many others who nervously click and highlight text on webpages.) Anyway, it turns out the Times tracks usage of that feature, and yesterday, deputy news editor Philip Corbett, who oversees the Times style manual, offered reporters a fascinating glimpse into the 50 most frequently looked-up words on in 2009.

Check out the most frequently looked-up worlds here.

One of ten facts about Twitter

English still dominates Twitter. When exploring Russia as part of a class that I am teaching this summer at Georgetown, one of the barriers we learned about was the difficulty of fitting some Russian language words into just 140 characters. Twitter is, however, extremely English-friendly. As the Sysomos report found, the top four countries on Twitter are all English speaking (US, UK, Canada, Australia). Of these, US makes up 62% of all Twitter users, followed by UK with nearly 8% and Canada and Australia with 5.7% and 2.8% respectively. The largest non-English speaking country on Twitter? Brazil with 2%.

For the other nine...

Beyond journalism: libraries

The one thing that we should do in the face of the erosion of commercial journalism is invest heavily in libraries. That means we should publicly support the human capital, technological tools, and collections of public, school and university libraries.

The problem is not journalism per se. It’s the health of the public sphere, of which quality journalism is a major part. So if we accept that the landscape we have grown accustomed to over the past 50 years is ebbing rather quickly, we should do the following. We should invest in and support an environment that will enable experimentation and the emergence of new models and voices.

From Creative-I. This was Siva Vaidhyanathan; for others follow the link.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Blur: journalist or influencer? Everyone is everything to PR

Instead, she decides that she will “whisper in the ears” of Silicon Valley’s Who’s Who — the entrepreneurs behind tech’s hottest start-ups, including Jay Adelson, the chief executive of Digg; Biz Stone, co-founder of Twitter; and Jason Calacanis, the founder of Mahalo.

Notably, none are journalists.

This is the new world of promoting start-ups in Silicon Valley, where the lines between journalists and everyone else are blurring and the number of followers a pundit has on Twitter is sometimes viewed as more important than old metrics like the circulation of a newspaper.

Gone are the days when snaring attention for start-ups in the Valley meant mentions in print and on television, or even spotlights on technology Web sites and blogs. Now P.R. gurus court influential voices on the social Web to endorse new companies, Web sites or gadgets — a transformation that analysts and practitioners say is likely to permanently change the role of P.R. in the business world, and particularly in Silicon Valley.

From the NYT Business.

The PR is for Wordnik - is this the wiki of words?

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Yelvington lays down the law on free - some people have learnt it; others have forgotten

Consumers will actually make content purchases when they are confronted with many free options. Over the last 15 years, this assumption has been demonstrated to be false in digital paid-content experiments by newspapers all over the world. The numbers of consumers so inclined aren't great enough to sustain a business of significant scale. This idea persists primarily because so many newspaper people are deeply ignorant of what's been going on in their own companies, and because digital people generally lose power struggles with print people. Almost everyone I know who ran a paid-content online media experiment no longer works for the company where they tried it. Those companies are now largely ignorant of their own histories.

From Yelvington.

So is the Kindle the "one" - or lingerie

From the Huff-Po.
In the emerging world of e-Books, Kindle-Amazon will increasingly occupy a position similar to the iPod while Google (a collector and purveyor of e-Books) together with its partner Sony (a manufacturer of e-Readers) will forever be positioned at the lower end of the e-Book market along with several other manufacturers. This too, resembles the structure of the digitized music industries.

The Sony reader is less imaginative than the Kindle. It's cheaper, uglier, less functional, less popular, and its ecosystem is not as fully developed. While it is true that other applications spread Googles' inventory onto mobile devices, notice the vagueness of the term 'mobile device' itself. The Stanza, eReader and 'iKindle' applications are all add-ons for existing machines that have small screens and are mainly valued for other functions: phoning, messaging or mobile Internet connectivity. While electronics manufacturers constantly dream of designing, building and selling an all-in-one personal electronic doodad to 6 billion people, still no Swiss Army Knife will never replace a good corkscrew, a good screwdriver or a good pair of scissors.

Or to look at this another way...
The Kindle, on the other hand, is what you keep at home or take with you on vacation to relax into. It is for the book-lover who might occasionally buy a first, a signed or a special edition. It is lingerie.


Free: the "takedown" debate, and more future of news....

It's all here today in the NYT.
Free is also the subject of new book by Wired editor Chris Anderson, “Free: The Future of a Radical Price,” which got its first big review this week, by Malcolm Gladwell in the New Yorker, a media moment that’s provided much entertainment to observers.

“It’s always fun when one popular idea popularizer goes after another popular idea popularizer,” says Paul Kredosky.

At the Awl, Chorie Sicha said, “It’s like War of the Speaker’s Bureaus.” To which Tom Socca replied: “MOTHRA V. MOTHRA.”

What many liked about Gladwell’s review was that it was a “takedown” of Anderson’s book, and in these troubled times, such things are need to put a little vim back in the vigor of old media enthusiasts.

And there's a good take on this from Fred Wilson too.
...the Internet allows an entrrepreneur to enter a market with a free offering because the costs of doing so are not astronomical. And most entrpreneurs who take this approach will maintain an attractive free offering of their basic service forever. But that doesn't mean that everything they offer will be free. That's the whole point of freemium. Free gets you to a place where you can ask to get paid. But if you don't start with free on the Internet, most companies will never get paid.

Groupthink: journalists are boring, discuss

Groupthink rules. No editor or producer wants her media outlet to be the only one that ignores the Michael Jackson story for even a day. If a reporter's story in next edition differs significantly from everyone else's, he feels stupid and worries about his job security. (A call from his editor likely reinforces this fear.) What once was a badge of honour - idiosyncrasy - is now highly suspect. ("That guy from the Press-Gazette, he thinks he's Woodstein or something. He actually interviewed every single person on the train platform in Kelowna yesterday. No wonder his piece today says the candidate is more popular than the press says. Guy's nuts.")

Much more fun here from David Olive.

It Felt Like something

The dramatic bar was set very high after Masque of the Red Death; the relevancy bar similarly high with The Tunnel. So what about It Felt Like a Kiss? It follows many of the Punchdrunk tropes: detail, sense of place, smell, and most of all the feeling that we as audience are participating in a particularly dark personal tragedy brought about by larger social forces. Walking in small groups through the suburban houses of those for whom the New Frontier was really a dream it's clear we are in a far more specific narrative, polemic almost - which makes sense for at the centre of It Felt Like a Kiss is a documentary film, edited with Godardian skill, by Adam Curtis. The film makes the links between pop (before the Beatles or the Stones) and violence; between chimps and AIDS - and space flight; between Rock Hudson and Doris Day movies and the semiotic "other" life led. There's even a marvellous clip of Richard Nixon and Nikita Khrushchev having a great translation-saturated spat. There's no Edgar Hoover, but there is the JFK murder.

The film is the centrepiece; but in the Red Death (at Battersea Arts Centre) the centrepiece was a Victorian cabaret with cross-dressing strippers and Absinthe on tap: the communal worked - even if we the audience were all wearing raven headmasks to maintain our anonymity. Here with Kiss we are much more alone, at first metaphorically and then in the post-film sequence literally as we experience early 60s style Guantanamo techniques. Ultimately we run, genuinely frightened, down a tunnel alone, worried that the chainsaw wielding stranger might be following. Before I experienced Felt Like a Kiss I suspected Edward Bernays crossed with Mad Men: I wasn't far wrong, but the echoes of James Elroy, Peter Whitehead and Godard feature too.

The allusions throughout are spot on: Mailer's American Dream; B.F Skinner; IQ tests and cold war fetish. Deep Throat in the car park and The b/w Avengers came into my head as well. What is missing, and surely this could have been possible, were actors. Kiss has little of the fragile sexy energy of the Red Death, and for every perfect recreation of Vertigo influenced suburbia there was an equally imperfect sense of what live theatre (rather than oversized dummies) could have brought to our experience of this Punchdrunk environment.

It Felt Like a Kiss was still an amazingly fraught experience: in the end though it never quite escapes the idea of conspiracy theory meeting the John Soane museum. More when the nightmares stop.