September 29, 2009
Date: September 29th, 2009 dw
September 29, 2009
Categories: broadband Tagged with: broadband • eszter hargittai • fcc • john horrigan
Date: September 29th, 2009 dw
Herkko Hietanen, a Berkman Fellow, is giving a talk about TV. “Television is really broken.” It’s not providing what consumers want: programs when we want them, where we want them. It lacks interaction with other viewers and with broadcasters. It has ads. It’s geographically limited. If you had to pitch TV to a venture capitalist, it would have a hard time getting funding.
Herkko gives a brief history of the highlights. VCRs were an early attempt to fix tv. This frightened the broadcasters, who took it to court, where — in Sony vs. Betamax — they lost. The court said the manufacturers were not responsible for infringing uses because the devices had non-infringing uses, and personal use was declared a fair use. Satellites extend over-the-air (OTA) broadcast. Community antennas were first set up by stores selling TV sets. Now cable is dominant. But contracts limit core innovation. “If you’re afraid you’ll piss off your content provider, you’re not going to do something that’s good for the consumer.”
There has been some innovation in the core. On-demand video. Time-Warner “LookBack” lets you view any show on the day it’s broadcast at any time during that day. Cable also provides a whole lot of channels. But, “Intelligence in the middle stops innovation at the edge.” The industry has litigated against just about everything innovative. E.g., Cablevision want to launch a service that would centralize storage rather than putting it in the set-top boxes. Just about everyone sued Cablevision for copyright infringement. The court saw that every user would have their own copy of a saved show. The court decided it doesn’t matter where the copies are stored. Herkko says it’s too bad it didn’t go to the Supreme Court so we’d have a definitive decision.
The problem with mythtv, Herkko says, is that it’s not user-friendly. [I spent 1.5 yrs trying to get MythTV to work, and failed :( Wendy Seltzer, seated across the table, has been using MythTV for years.] Tivo is easy but not all that easily hackable. You can’t share TiVo’ed shows, you can modify the code in the box. ReplayTV got sued for having a skip commercials feature, and went bankrupt.
Herkko points to living room clutter as another problem with TV today.
Herkko looks forward to PVRs getting connected to the Internet, because connected users create social networks, and they start to innovate. “We want stupid networked records and intelligent open client-players.” We want connected and tagged shows. We’ll have interactive TV for real, including gambling. Social groups could recommend what to watch.
This all creates privacy problems. E.g., an MIT study discovered they could identify gays by analyzing their social networks, with a high degree of accuracy.
At some point, users will probably start sharing their resources, cluster their recorders. Why should everyone record the same show over and over? Why get it from a central recorder when your neighbors have a copy? Of course, this is what got Replay TV into trouble, Herkko notes. He thinks that the social interaction around shows will happen before and after the show, because people won’t sit with a keyboard in their laps. [Since I'm on the backchannel as I listen to him, I guess I disagree.]
What about ads? Adding social networks would mean that people could watch ads they actually want to watch.
Overall: TV can be fixed. Social networks. Socially-oriented recorders.
Q: This is a compelling vision of the opposite of the Net. The Net is smart at the edges and dumb in the middle. TV has been the opposite. You seem to hope that the future will invert so consumers can get what they want. But consumers have never gotten what they wanted. What will change it?
Q: When you were talking about the keyboard in your lap, I think that’s wrong generationally.
Q: You’re talking about what the cable companies will do. But then there’s the stuff in the IP world: mythTV, Boxee, etc. That’s where the exciting stuff is.
Q: If the Internet arises to bypass the core, will the quality decline? Will it be more like YouTube style?
Q: There are a lot of forces driving the centralization of TV. With that comes control against innovation at the edges. Is TV going to change or be changed by people sharing content from the edges?
Q: What is your main research question?
Q: Don’t we need non-Net neutrality to ensure that the video experience over the Net is good enough to inspire innovation in that space?
Q: The picture you’re painting is not very TV-like. It’s not broadcast, not one-directional, the business model doesn’t work, we’ll be using our computers…So, it seems like you’re dissolving what TV is. Rather talking about the “social enrichment of TV” [the title of Herkko's talk], we should be talking about the visual enrichment of the Internet. E.g., how do you see Hulu, which has some community features.
Categories: entertainment, everythingIsMiscellaneous, media Tagged with: broadcast • everythingIsMiscellaneous • mythtv • television • tv
Date: September 29th, 2009 dw
September 28, 2009
I agree with Jeff Jarvis’ critique of Google’s Sidewiki.
Sidewiki is ThirdVoice yet again. Both let you write and read comments on a site — actually on the site — so long as you have the proprietary client. ThirdVoice failed mainly because it couldn’t get enough people to install its client. (Of course, one could ask why enough people weren’t interested in this.) Sidewiki might succeed because it’s part of the vastly popular Google Toolbar. And, as Jeff says, that means it might succeed because Google is using its near ubiquity as a center of the Net. Which is troubling. For example, again as Jeff reports, insofar as the commentary on his site about his Sidewiki post occurs in Sidewiki, Google now owns the comments on his post. Troubling.
I think there are reasons to doubt Sidewiki’s success. As more people add comments, we need good ways to sort through them, to eliminate spam, to decide which types of comments are useful to us. Google is promising us algorithms. But algorithms won’t know that I don’t particularly want to read comments about my friend Jeff’s character, but I am particularly interested in what technologists are saying, or about Net politics, or what my friends are saying, or about how to hack Sidewiki.
Sidewiki has its uses. I’d rather see it connected to social networks, and I’d rather see it provided as an open source browser add-in. But I don’t know who should own the comments and what the control mechanisms should be. This is one of the edges of the Web that defies easy answers because it’sso hard to tell what is the center and what are the sides.
Categories: blogs, everythingIsMiscellaneous, social media Tagged with: everythingIsMiscellaneous • google • jeff jarvis • sidewiki • thirdvoice
Date: September 28th, 2009 dw
September 27, 2009
I am very interested in this debate and will likely post more pointers. My overall concern is the misalignment between the access providers’ interests â€” they are financially structured to want to sell us content â€” and our interest in preserving a Net as open to innovation and ideas as we can. I look forward to the discussion among those (like Richard and Harold) who know much much more about this than I do.
September 26, 2009
I have only so far read the 5-page executive summary of Richard Bennett’s argument against Net neutrality, but this looks like a piece to be reckoned with by all in the Net neutrality debate.
Here, for flavor and substance, are two key paragraphs from the summary:
I look forward to learning from the discussion this look at the history of the architecture of the Net is going to engender…
September 25, 2009
Tim Beyers at FastCompany has put together an article about Cluetrain‘s reaction to Twitter. After all, we’re the “markets are conversations” people, so how do we feel about Twitter and its conversations getting valued at a billion bucks?
It turns out that the four of us think different things about Twitter, as Tim indicates in this brief article. My own view is overall quite positive, but compound. I don’t think Twitter is “closer than anything we’ve seen before” to an ideal conversational medium. Twitter conversations are pretty weird because of the brevity of tweets, but mainly because of the asymmetry of the conversation: If the people you’re talking to respond, their responses go to people who may not be following you, and you may not see their responses.
That’s not a criticism. It’s simply to say that Twitter conversations are weird, and not the closest to some Platonic ideal of conversation. It all depends on what you’re trying to do. Twitter is fantastic at some things, but not at everything. And it’s fascinating in all sorts of ways: as a social system, as a news propagation system, as a recommendation engine, as a reputational ecology…
In fact, one of the aspects of Twitter I most admire is its ability to work at multiple scales. As Chris Locke points out in the article, at Oprah-scale Twitter functions just like another broadcast, star-based system. But Twitter also works 1:1, 1:2, 1:100, and so on, functioning differently at each scale. That’s true of the Internet over all, but is not true of any (?) other medium.
So, I find myself both more positive about Twitter than a casual reader of the FastCompany article might think, but also less enthusiastic than one might take it as saying.
Categories: cluetrain, everythingIsMiscellaneous, social media Tagged with: cluetrain • social media • social networks • twitter
Date: September 25th, 2009 dw
At last, that brave band of oppressed companies who have been granted near-monopolies to deliver over-priced, under-performing broadband to the entire USA (exempting the parts they don’t find particularly profitable) have managed to scrape together an organization to give voice to their position. BroadbandForAmerica.com is finally going to air their views about why de-regulated near monopolies are the best and only way to bring affordable, open Internet to everyone in the country â€” views that until now have gone unheard, except from their hundreds and hundreds of lobbyists. Why, the industry could barely put together a mere $765,000 to send to John McCain’s campaign!
The site itself seems innocuous. Their history of the Internet nods in some appropriate directions, including to Al Gore and to students who have innovated on the Net. (It oddly leaves out Tim Berners-Lee.) Of course, it’s actually a paean to private industry that cleverly equates the role of creative individuals who have contributed mightily for free and the incumbent infrastructure providers whose financial incentives lead them to prefer to tilt the field against cash-starved start-ups. The closest the organization comes to stating its actual intent is in the wording of the print ad they’re running. Hmm. On the open medium of the Internet the organization hides its purpose, but in the controlled medium of print, they come close to stating it. How unexpected!
So, welcome to the Web, BroadbandForAmerica. Now â€” after your long list of rules of discussion, followed by a forum that is only soliciting happy stories â€” how about engaging in some honest, forthright discussion?
[Later that day:] Here’s a New Yorker interview with Julius Genachowski about Net Neutrality.
Categories: broadband Tagged with: att • broadband • comcast • lobbying • marketing • net neutrality • telecommunications • verizon
Date: September 25th, 2009 dw
WLEX-TV in Lexington, Kentucky, an NBC affiliate, has turned its news site into a blog. It actually contains news produced independently of what goes out on broadcast. Very very interesting. It’s a different way of slicing the news, with much debt to Dave Winer’s river of news idea, and it’ll be fascinating to see how and in what ways it’s useful and how it changes our idea of what news should be.
Categories: everythingIsMiscellaneous, journalism Tagged with: everythingIsMiscellaneous • journalism • media • news
Date: September 25th, 2009 dw
September 24, 2009
CNN’s breaking news service on Twitter (cnnbrk) has 2.7M followers. Here are all of its posts since August 24, a month’s worth:
I grant that there’s some subjectivity (=total subjectivity) in deciding what’s actual news. Nevertheless, Google News Timeline will show you at least some of the other events that happened during this month. And this query at Google News will list the 6,600 articles CNN.com posted during the past month, of which these 38 are not the most important, except by some radical redefinition of importance, of news, and of CNN’s dignity.
Categories: journalism Tagged with: cnn • journalism • media • twitter
Date: September 24th, 2009 dw
September 23, 2009
I’ve started a series of interviews with FCC folks and others about the progress of the Broadband Strategy initiative. The site is BroadbandStrategyWeek.com. The first interview is with Blair Levin, who’s in charge of the efforts.
The site is in beta, and I screwed up a few things about the video: I sat too close to the camera, etc. But, I’m in beta, too.
The project came about because I volunteered to do whatever I could to help the Broadband Strategy initiative move forward. I’d met Blair at a get-together. He suggested that I do this series and promised access to his team. He also agreed that this series is completely independent (except, of course, for the fact that it depends on access!) and that I have complete editorial control. I got the Supernova conference to agree to pick up some of the production costs, all of which go directly to Sean Fitzroy, the producer of it.
Most of the interviews will go up unedited. I reserve the right to edit, but will not edit out material because it’s controversial. I may well want to edit out some questions that go nowhere, or stumbles that require a re-do of some sort. In the Blair Levin interview, the only edit (besides the splicing together of my camera’s output with the FCC’s, of course) was to move a joke Blair told at the end to the section to which it referred.
All of the videos are in the public domain (CC0), so you don’t have to ask permission to reuse them, mash them up, etc.
Categories: broadband, egov, everythingIsMiscellaneous, net neutrality, open access Date: September 23rd, 2009 dw