Sips from the Firehose


Apr 15

John Battelle – Packaged Goods and $100 CPMs


Posted: under advertising, new media, Online Video, Video.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

This is part 3 of John’s keynote at OMMA 2009.

…and yes, I know, I don’t have the excerpts and such that made the other videos interesting to watch. But I figure if you’ve gotten this far, you’re probably already pretty interested in what this guy has to say.

Comments (0)



Apr 14

John Battelle’s keynote at OMMA 2009 – part 2


Posted: under advertising, Digital Migration.
Tags: , , , , , , ,

“So much cash sloshing around that we forgot that the interface is going to change completely.  Again.” – John Battelle

Excerpts to come…


mmm

Comments (0)



Apr 13

John Battelle About the Future of Webconomics – OMMA 2009


Posted: under advertising, New Marketing, new media.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

“We’re about to get another breakthrough, another interface leap.  If I knew what it was, I would start a company there.  But I don’t know what it is yet, but I have some ideas, and that’s what we’re going to talk about today.” – John Battelle

Battelle says he stayed up late one night (visions of the mythical college dorm room & heavy inhalation) to come up with this heavy information and interface theories, and worked up this speech to try to describe where he sees the future of the web going.

If what he said above is right, then there is about to be another evolutionary stage, and the current titans of search (i.e. Google, Yahoo, etc.) are going to be replaced by The New Hot Thing.  He seems to be hanging his hat on “conversations” which sounds pretty good to me – the human urge to connect & trade information is one of the strongest forces on the web.  I’m just not entirely convinced that the Facebook/MySpace paradigm is at all viable.  We’re been waiting a while now for anything remotely resembling a business model to emerge, and the latest news is that Google’s shareholders are starting to get a bit bent out of shape about subsidizing the world’s inconsequential home videos, and that Emperor’s Missing Wardrobe-type questions are starting to get asked about the 1/2 billion a year burn rate.

Money quote:

YouTube will manage to rake in about $240 million in ad revenue in 2009, against operating costs of roughly $711 million, leading to a shortfall of just over $470 million. This half-billion dollar loss comes after more than a year of feverish experimentation in various forms of advertising, cross-product embedding, licensing and partnership deals. YouTube is adamant that ultimately they’ll find an advertising solution that will enable the ungainly behemoth to reach profitability. Looking at the math, it doesn’t seem likely.

Battelle’s take on where all this is headed is pretty complex, and not all that out of line with things that you’ve probably heard before.  This is only the first part, so stick with it – it gets more rewarding as we go along.

Here’s some teaser quotes to get you to click over and watch the video – please excuse the camera movement, but Battelle kept pacing around on the stage, and I had to either go so wide that focus was a problem, or track him, making the camera movements a little jerky.

Every publisher is now a marketer … you have to engage the audience in a conversation … if you don’t know how to do that, you’ll die.  That’s it. It’s over.

I call this the conversation economy.  It’s kind of a sequel to the search.

The three-bump theory of how man interacts with technology … as Eric Schmidt is fond of saying ‘25% of GDP is fine with me.”

We all give Apple credit, but basically we know that Windows won.  I call this the “hunt and poke” interface … that’s way better than learning a foreign language like FORTRAN.  That’s also called the “I’m lost in a foreign country interface.”

We started having conversations at scale with our customers.  All of a sudden every customer could talk to every company, and nobody was ready for the conversation. But around the turn of the century, we started to develop that interface, and that interface, I argue is search.  This is the first time we have ever been able to have a conversation in our own natural language with a machine.  People don’t see search that way, but I do.

Comments (0)



Mar 26

“Newspapers deserve to die” – Jason Calacanis keynote at OMMA 2009


Posted: under Digital Migration, Newspaper Deathwatch, Newspapers, Video.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Advertising, Riots, Twitter, Facebook and the Depression

Curmudgeons skip directly to 7:50 or so, for the juicy bits. If you are in a crowded place, please allow at least 10 feet of safety space in all directions for when your head explodes.

This is the first part of the rather incendiary keynote speech by Jason Calacanis, founder of Mahalo.com, at the OMMA Hollywood 2009 conference. The keynote’s title is “Advertising, Riots, Twitter, Facebook and the Depression,” and in it, Calacanis cheers the death of newspapers and “Old Media,” and lauds paid search as the “most powerful advertising medium ever created.”

Not coincidentally, Mahalo is a paid search company.

Along the way, Calacanis also trashes social media advertising, showing screenshots of drunken parties to “prove” that all advertising on this platform is unwelcome, intrusive and doomed to die.

Highlights:

“Gosh, newspapers didn’t see this coming, did they? I mean, the newspapers were reporting on their own demise for a decade. And they still couldn’t change it.

It’d be as if you’re the Titanic and you haven’t even left port yet.  And they’re like, “By the way, there’s a lot of icebergs to the north.” And you’re like “OK, thanks.” A day later, it’s “Icebergs are still there.”

They’re like, “Full speed ahead! To the icebergs, as quick as possible!”

They did nothing. They deserve to die. Don’t cry for newspapers, it’s great that they go out of business, because new things can take their place that are better. Much better.

(snip)

Don’t cry for journalism.  Rejoice, because a new journalism is being built, today, as we speak. And it’s going to be better than the last one.

(snip)

“They deserve to go away. Goodby, good riddance.”

The keynote was obviously designed to provoke a reaction (more than one conference attendee muttered “linkbait” after listening), and it certainly did that, as every other session after this opened with the panel trying to refute Calacanis’ claims. I’ll post John Battelle‘s rather more measured keynote tomorrow.

I have a few reactions to this, and I’ll post some more with the other three videos in this series.  But to start with, the notion that newspapers did nothing at all about the internet is absolutely false.  The industry has tried to engage with online since before there was an internet (you’ve probably all seen those videos from San Francisco, showing the early paper over video screen tech of the 80s). The problem is, that the battlefield on which newspaper have been trying to engage has shifted radically.  First, it was the fight between portals – Prodigy vs. CompuServe vs. AOL.  Then it was Netscape vs. Internet Explorer. Yahoo vs. Google. Facebook vs. MySpace.

Newspapers are a $50 billion a year industry, with tremendously expensive production and distribution infrastructure, grown up over centuries.  If the Tribune chain had just splashed kerosene over the presses back in ’92, and declared in the flickering light that they were shifting every penny over into becoming a competitor to AOL … well, they probably still woulda wound up about where they are.  But along the way, there would have been tremendous dislocation – millions of readers not getting information.  Millions of readers turning to competitive print products that would have made billions.

So the newspaper industry has tried incremental solutions. Right up to this point, where, as we see in Seattle & Denver (despite what Jason sneers at, there are plenty of people who want to read what he dismisses as “boring” stories about local government, taxation, schools and crime) the papers are being forced to migrate to the web under conditions that are nothing short of brutal.

It’s all very well and good to talk about the exciting news products that are “being built today, as we speak.”  But I know many of the people that work at these small, struggling web news outfits. They are up against the wall, just trying to keep the broadband bill paid.  They are not going to be able to devote thousands of man-hours to digging through documents and making connections, and going out and doing original research (i.e. interviewing people to get things that are not archived on the magical, all-seeing web). Maybe this will be solved someday – but it ain’t the case today, and that’s when we need it.  We need this kind of enterprise reporting, or this country is going to implode, because society is angry at the economic collapse, and nobody’s really been able to dig deep enough to explain it. At least, not in a way that holds up & makes sense for more than a month or so…

If I sound like a bit of a curmudgeon here, well, it’s hard to watch this and not get a bit grouchy. I agree with Jason on the broad points – that Big Media has sinned, and is paying the price; that ad dollars are shifting to where the consumer eyeballs are, and that this trend is only accelerating.

But dude? Less of a gleeful grin.

Comments (3)



Feb 09

Ukrainian Sarah Palin Berated by Exasperated Director


Posted: under journalism, new media, Online Video, Politics & New Media.
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Hire this director and have him start whipping Christian Bale into shape.

This video had my class rolling with laughter – it’s slightly NSFW (mainly with the cussing in the subtitles, although if your office has Russian speakers, they might object).

This is the mayor of Kharkov, and he was trying to record a TV campaign commercial, but couldn’t manage to string enough coherent words together to spit out a sentence. Apparently, he’s notoriously stupid – “The Sarah Palin of Ukraine” – and is the subject of much mockery & head-shaking.

I was particularly impressed by the torrent of expletive-laced abuse hurled at this guy by the director (who we see in some of the early shots). I think this must have come at the end of an exhausting filming session, because the director is just going off on him in a way that would put Joe Pytka to shame.

Gems include: “Try to have an expression. Come on, at least try. Let’s go, let’s go.” “Misha, stop this crap.  Really, stop it.”

D: “Why the fuck did you take your hand away?
M:”I finished?”

D: “So fucking what. You finished! Sit one second, motherfucker. OK, we have to do this all over again. From the top…”

D: “Your face is boring. Nobody is going to give you any money.”

Please, can anyone out there who has access to the footage of Palin campaign commercial filming post the outtakes to the web? Because I think the wolf-shootin’ turky-genocidin’ Caribou Barbie must’ve had sessions like this.  Then again, maybe she had the offending directors fed to polar bears.

Comments (1)



Jan 26

Enhancing Spacetime: New Video Process Uses High-Res Stills to Beef Up Low-Res Video


Posted: under Video.
Tags: , ,

Probably the best way to view this video is with the annoying voiceover turned down.

Basically, what is going on here is that researchers at the University of Washington have come up with a way to use high-resolution still photos to provide detail to low-res video.  The results are definitely eye-catching.

Enhancing and Experiencing Spacetime Resolution with Videos and Stills from pro on Vimeo.

I’ve noticed the artifacts and “slices” in some morphing footage in the past, and wondered what was up with that.

What this means is that a news reporter can, with Fred Flintstone-esque technology, capture some fantastically detailed footage … say, by duct-taping a 21-megapixel camera to an HD or even SD camera (the closer the lenses are to source point, the less you’ll have to mess about with parallax), and shooting a series of stills to go along with the video footage.

Imagine how good slo-mo footage at a sporting event can be with this.  Or how amazing footage of, say, Obama’s inauguration would have been if you’d been able to zoom in from the Washington Monument all the way to a close-up of his hand on the Bible. 

They say:

Our algorithm targets the emerging consumer-level hybrid cameras that can simultaneously capture video and high-resolution stills. Our technique produces a high spacetime resolution video using the high-resolution stills for rendering and the low-resolution video to guide the reconstruction and the rendering process.

I say: using one camera is not an optimal solution. Most of the “hybrid” cameras that can capture both hi-res and video suffer from one big flaw: cheap glass.  The lenses on these cameras are not really up to the task.  Having a second still camera on hand to do the work would mean that you’d get the benefit of a decent lens & its attendant sharpness.

It’ll be fun to see what happens in a few years, when this is commercially available as a plug-in on Final Cut or Premiere…

Technorati Tags: , ,

Comments (0)