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Three Screens and a Cloud: Netflix’s Qwikster, Facebook & Amazon 2011/09/23

Posted by nydawg in Copyright, Curating, Digital Archives, Digital Archiving, Information Literacy, Information Technology (IT), Intellectual Property, Media.
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One of the most pressing and intimidating challenges digital archivists face today, is the fact that there is so much content offered in so many quick-changing distribution formats and accessible on short-lived storage media.  I found that the easiest way to describe this is “Three screens and a cloud” or as former Microsoft head Ray Ozzie put it: “how we consume IT is really shifting from a machine-centric viewpoint to what we refer to as three screens and a cloud:  the phone, the PC, and the TV ultimately, and how we deliver value to them.” [i would change that to IP, but hey, I’m not CEO of Microsoft.]

So as archivists who are concerned with the distribution and accessibility of our digital assets, it is important to ask early, “What format or what media will be required and who is the targeted end user on what appliance?”  In other words, you probably don’t want to send a hi-def Blu-Ray digital video stream meant for a big screen tv to a tiny smartphone!  Or you probably don’t want to stream a FlashVideo version to an iPad user.

But, on the other hand, archivists may not need to archive or preserve (for long-term functions) every possible variation of each format version (for smartphone or netbook (iPad) or television).   By articulating what is really needed, archivists can streamline processes and avoid making mountains where molehills are sufficient.  Archivists who can see the forest for the trees will be able to describe fewer assets more completely so that specific needles can be found within the haystacks.

This leads me to the real groundshifting news stories that happened this week.  The first one is that NetFlix is splitting its DVDs-by-mail service from its streaming.  According to Huffington Post: “In a post on The Netflix Blog that went up Sunday night, the company’s CEO, Reed Hastings, announced that Netflix would split its DVD-by-mail service and its streaming-video service into two companies. The new DVD-only company, called “Qwikster,” will be completely separate from the streaming business. Hastings also expressed contrition for the way the company rolled out its recent price hike, which alienated many customers. . . . “It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming, and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology.”

Well, obviously, many people are up in arms and think this is the biggest boneheaded marketing move since Coke introduced New Coke! The NY Times’s David Pogue does a pretty good job of getting his gander up as he parses the Netflix apology without fully acknowledging the economics of the “streaming” game.  I won’t get too much into the legal issues (which I don’t fully understand), but I do remember when I was working in “streaming media” as Senior Encoder at SonicNet (and Streamland), licensing costs and marketing dollars generally shift from one medium (vhs, CD or radio) to another (DVD, streaming media or satellite radio).   It seems inevitable that NetFlix realizes, as Blockbuster did years ago, that physical media will soon be obsolete, . . .  so they’re trying to split themselves in order to have different licensing deals with different stakeholders and end users. . . . . and Blockbuster, long-ago doomed, seeks to get in on the action too!

But ultimately, “An issue that both Netflix and Dish face, even when they don’t want to admit it, is the inconsistency of broadband connectivity across the United States.”

Another huge news story from this week was at f8 where Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced major Facebook renovations. ““Millions of people curate stories of their lives on Facebook every day and have no way to share them once they fall off your profile page…we have been working on ‘timeline’ all year…it’s the story of your life and completely new way to express yourself.  “It has three pieces: all your stories, your apps and a new way to express who you are.”  Zuckerberg said he wanted people to be able to share “their entire lives” on Facebook and have “total control” over how their content appeared online.”

Zuckerberg “also announced a series of partnerships with music, media and games companies –including Spotify, Netflix, Zynga [the maker of Farmville] and The Washington Post.”  So this brings us back to the idea of Netflix which  “announced it is integrating its video streaming service with Facebook — allowing users to watch videos on either site and see what people on their friends lists are viewing.  It will be available in 44 countries except in Netflix’s biggest market — the United States, because of the 1998 Video Privacy Protection Act that prohibits the disclosure of video sales or rental records, the company explained.”

So what does this all mean for “Three Screens and a Cloud?”  Well, it’s important to remember that “Netflix is the biggest driver of U.S. Internet traffic, according to one study. As Internet service providers begin capping or tiering their data plans, that could cause consumers to watch fewer streaming videos on Netflix, analysts say.”  So as phone companies begin capping data plans for distribution (streaming), then another part of the archival equation is the storage medium. . . . and, as many people know, the battle is in the Clouds!


Curating Google Doodle Highlights incl. Freddie Mercury’s Tribute 2011/09/06

Posted by nydawg in Curating, Digital Archives, Digital Archiving, Digital Preservation, Information Technology (IT), Intellectual Property, Media.
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Hi everyone: Maybe this isn’t totally an archival or curatorial issue, but in some ways, these GoogleDoodles do what a good archive strives to do: provide easy access to available information and resources.  So pump up the volume, click on today’s GoogleDoodle, look for the cc [closed-captioning] button for lyrics to sing-along as you watch an animated music video tribute to the late great Queen singer Freddie Mercury.  http://www.google.com/

and check out Queen guitarist Brian May’s blog tribute here.

But if you want more of those awesome GoogleDoodles, don’t forget some of my favorites including: Alex Calder’s moving mobiles;  playable and recordable Les Paul guitar; John Lennon’s hand-drawn Imagine (animation); Martha’ Graham’s “Thought of You” dance; Mr. Men and Little Miss; Charlie Chaplin’s 122nd Birthday; and who can forget GoogleDoodle Dots, Jules Verne or the Google PacMan?

Those are some of my favorites, but I can probably think of a dozen more if i put my head to it. . . .If you’re interested in learning about the doodle history, check it out here.  And if i’m missing any good ones, please let me know!

Photo Curating Google Street View (GSV) for Kicks & Laughs 2011/08/20

Posted by nydawg in Copyright, Curating, Intellectual Property, Media.
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An interesting article, “Navigating the Puzzle of Google Street View ‘Authorship‘”
from Wired looks at the idea of copyright, authorship, photo licensing exhibition, distribution and curation, selection and appraisal (and cropping) by two artists using Google Street View.

from Wired

“I decided to explore how a casual observer who hasn’t spent years
thinking about authorship, photography and the nature of art and
artist may dismiss the images as obviously identical, but an art
history buff could fall down the conceptual rabbit hole lurking in
that assumption. If you’re as intrigued as I was, take the red pill
with me and read on. (Warning: No intellectual lifeguard on duty.)
Rafman’s Nine Eyes and Wolf’s A Series of Unfortunate Events are the
two most well-known and most circulated projects of the Google Street
View (GSV) ilk. Rafman continues to add images to Nine Eyes, while
Wolf has since ventured into newer sets with a geographical focus on
Paris and New York.

. . . “For traditionalists, the problem with GSV projects is one of
engagement. Documentary photographer Alan Chin, speaking of Mishka
Henner’s No Man’s Land expresses a view that can be applied to GSV
projects in general.  “Google Street View is a navigational tool, an
educational resource, and sure, it can reveal a lot about a place and
a scene at a given moment in time,” says Chin. “But if you, the
artist, are really so interested, then go there and take some pictures
yourself. Postmodern, post-structuralist, post-whatever denizens of
the art world and academia love this shit. But it has little to do
with actual reporting and actual documentary work in the field.”


Google Purchases Motorola Mobile for $12.5B to Compete with Apple & Microsoft 2011/08/15

Posted by nydawg in Information Technology (IT).
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I’m fascinated by this continuing soap opera story, a piece in the puzzle, of how mobile technologies are changing everything!  In case you’re not totally up-to-date, it seems that there’s a competition between smartphone companies including Blackberry (RIM), iPhone (Apple), Nokia (Microsoft), Motorola (Google) and Droid (Google). (Yes, there’s others, but for the sake of simplicity. . . .)  Earlier this year, Microsoft announced they were purchasing Nokia for $19B.  The implication, (to me at least), was that Microsoft would install their (subpar, soon-to-be-obsolete) Windows  Phone software on a well-known & respected smartphone brand and, inevitably, would . . . .

In other words, I see this as a software company realizing that they need control over the hardware.  Like Apple’s iPhone and Microsoft’s Windows Nokia, now Google is recognizing that they need hardware! . . .

“Google made a $12.5 billion bet on Monday that its future — and the future of big Internet companies — lies in mobile computing, and moved aggressively to take on its arch rival Apple in the mobile market. . . . The acquisition would turn Google, which makes the Android mobile operating system, into a full-fledged cellphone manufacturer, in direct competition with Apple.. . . .  The deal, which requires regulatory approval, would also give Google a valuable war chest of more than 17,000 patents that would help it defend Android from a barrage of patent lawsuits. . . . That is because Google works with 39 phone makers that use different versions of Android across their platforms, resulting in variable performances, said Richard Doherty, research director for Envisioneering Group, a market research and consulting firm.

Apple, by contrast, controls its entire product — device and software. With the Motorola acquisition, Google, too, could exert greater control over its products.  But it is far from clear that Google, a $179 billion business largely built on sophisticated search algorithms and online advertising, can transform itself into a device maker. The business is costly, and the margins are slim, said Jordan Rohan, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus.  “Computing is moving onto mobile,” Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, said in an interview. “Even if I have a computer next to me, I’ll still be on my mobile device.”




G is for GoogleBooks and “D is for Digital” NY Law Review 2010/12/22

Posted by nydawg in Copyright, Digital Archives, Digital Preservation, Education, Intellectual Property.
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Some of you may not know that NYDAWG began at the New York Archivists Round Table (NYART) Google Books meeting at New York Law School in January 2010. Well, it’s true.
So check out this holiday release of the latest developments in GoogleBooks, Fair Use, patents, and DIY in New York Law School Law Review “D Is for Digital” themed journal.
The Intro is particularly good reading, written by James Grimmelmann who summarizes :

“Google will sell digitized books to individuals and institutions on a grand scale, sharing the revenue with authors and publishers. Millions of copyright owners, tens of millions of books, hundreds of millions of dollars: numerically, it’s a tremendous settlement.”

I think it shows an excellent understanding of how scalability works with small or large institutions.

Read all about it: http://www.nyls.edu/index.php?cID=2789


Neutered Net Neutrality Is Worse than Worthless 2010/12/22

Posted by nydawg in Archives, Digital Archives, Information Technology (IT), Intellectual Property.
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For the last few months [or years] some of us have been following developments related to today’s long-awaited [mislabeled?] announcement that  “FCC Acts to Preserve Internet Freedom and Openness” also known as “Net Neutrality.”

This is a very complex issue, but there’s some good articles that provide essential background.  As I understand it, one important part of the issue is whether the Internet (or associated broadband ISPs or carriers) are classified as “telecommunications services” or “information services”.  [Of course, there’s also some nitpicking going on about reclassifying and regulating wired services but not regulating wireless services (e.g. mobile broadband) (and still referring to both as broadband providers. . . . as per an agreement (proposal) from Google-Verizon a few months back).

So here’s the announcement from the FCC:

  • “The record and the economic analysis demonstrate, however, that the openness of the Internet cannot be taken for granted, and that it faces real threats. Broadband providers have taken actions that endanger the Internet’s openness by blocking or degrading disfavored content and applications without disclosing their practices to consumers. Finally, broadband providers may have financial interests in services that may compete with online content and services.”


And here’s an interesting article, “Net Neutrality Is a Ruse” with some typos:

“First, in classifying cable modem services as information services rather than as telecommunications services the FCC attempts to ignore the behavior of the cable companies. The decision ignores the fact that companies like Comcast are common carriers because Comcast is acting like a telecommunications company rather than an information service. Comcast owns the lines, and is agnostic about the content it carries. Or at least it was until it realized that it could favor it’s own content.

Second, just because the FCC bestows a service with the classification of an information service dosen’t necessarily mean that it is.”


So to put this in context, some people who are unfortunate (or unwitting) subscribers to Comcast’s monopoly have been caught in a battle between Comcast & Level 3 (partner of NetFlix) and the war front is online:


So when Comcast completes its deal for NBC Universal, you will understand why they have an incentive to provide better (faster) service for their Hulu videos and not such good service for NetFlix subscribers.

Some like Sen Al Franken (D-MN) are outraged and arguethis is the important free speech issue of our time and the FCC’s plan for a tiered system (w/ paid prioritization) is “worse than nothing.”

And here’s an article from earlier this year that quotes two pro-network neutrality academics

Lawrence Lessig and Robert W. McChesney [who] argue that . . . without net neutrality protecting the equality of Internet traffic, “the Internet would start to look like cable TV,” which would mean that a “handful of cable and telephone companies” could impose
“tollbooths at every on-ramp and exit on the information superhighway.” of the http://www.dgaquarterly.org/BACKISSUES/Winter2010/ThePiracyProblemNet…

And here’s a link to the “No Tolls on the Highway” Op-Ed by Lessig & McChesney from June 2006.