Popular Posts

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Intimate Shopping

Dr.Media says, well finally a reporter is willing to notice what the reall issues are about privacy on the web--Intimacy.
He posits a time when if someone followed you around and made notesd on your shopping behavior we would have been upset. What about you sexual behavior, reading choices, religious interests , political acquaintances. I seem to remember a time when there was an agency assigned to this task for politicl dissidents, and those who disagreed with government. policies.Tracking shopping behavior is the least of it.

December 23, 2007

The Way We Live Now

Intimate Shopping

Information,” the apostles of cyberspace have been singing for more
than a decade, “wants to be free.” Well, maybe your information does. But
in late November, the social networking Web site Facebook
discovered that many of its 58 million members don’t feel that way. On social
networks, people can exchange photos, letters and information with people they
know, and “friend” people they don’t. Facebook has grown so big, so rich (its
market value is estimated at $15 billion) and so addictive because it offers its
users new ways to exchange information and intimacies with people they care
about. In early November, Facebook’s 23-year-old C.E.O., Mark
, rolled out an advertising program called Beacon. It would track
users onto the sites of Facebook’s commercial partners — Coca-Cola,
the N.B.A., The New York Times and Verizon,
among others — and keep their friends posted about what they were doing and
buying there.

Did it ever. A Massachusetts man bought a diamond ring for Christmas for his
wife from overstock.com and saw his
discounted purchase announced to 720 people in his online network. What if it
hadn’t been for his wife? What if he had been buying acne cream? Pornography? A
toupee? You could go on. Researchers at Computer Associates, an
information-technology firm, discovered that Beacon was more invasive than
announced. MoveOn.org
started a petition movement against Beacon that rallied 75,000 Facebook

Facebook designed Beacon so that members would be able to “opt out” by
clicking in a pop-up window. But these windows were hard to see and disappeared
very fast. If you weren’t quick on the draw, your purchases were broadcast to
the world, or at least to your network. Since people, too, sometimes want to be
free, privacy advocates urged that Beacon be made an “opt in” program, which
members would have to explicitly consent to join. In early December, Facebook
agreed to this approach.

The Beacon fiasco gives a good outline of what future conflicts over the
Internet will look like. Whether a system is opt-in or opt-out has an enormous
influence on how people use it. He who controls the “default option” — the way a
program runs if you don’t modify it — writes the rules. Online, it can be
tempting to dodge the need to get assent for things that used to require it.
This temptation is particularly strong in matters of privacy. For instance, the
“default option” of the pre-Internet age was that it was wrong to read others’
mail. But Google
now skims the letters of its Gmail subscribers, in hopes of better targeting
them with ads, and the N.S.A. looks for terrorists not only in the traditional
manner — getting warrants for individual wiretaps — but also by mining large
telecommunications databases.

So it is with Facebook’s Beacon. We used to live in a world where if someone
secretly followed you from store to store, recording your purchases, it would be
considered impolite and even weird. Today, such an option can be redefined as
“default” behavior. The question is: Why would it be? The price in reputation
for overturning this part of the social contract is bound to be prohibitively

For the owners of social-networking sites, it may be a price worth paying.
Thanks to data-collection technology, your shopping choices and preferences have
value. Who owns those choices? Common sense says that you do. If a company wants
to use you to advertise its products, it can pay you, just as Nike
pays Tiger
. But the idea that your preferences (not to mention your conversations
about them) are your property rests on an implicit social contract. And the
thing about implicit contracts is that people who can figure out ways to break
them can often make a lot of money.

The concept of “implicit contracts” was developed in a landmark 1988 paper by
the economists Andrei Shleifer and Lawrence
. Their subject — hostile corporate takeovers — seems far from
cyberprivacy, but it is not. Shleifer and Summers showed that increases in share
price following takeovers were not due to gains in efficiency, as the defenders
of those buyouts claimed. There often were such gains, but they were not the
source of the profits. The profits came from reneging on implicit contracts —
like the tradition of overpaying older workers who had been overworked when
young on the understanding that things would even out later. These contracts,
because implicit, were hard to defend in court. But the assets they protected
were real. To profit from them, buyout artists had only to put someone in place
who could, with a straight face and a clean conscience, say, “I didn’t promise

As commerce moves from Main Street to the Web, lots of businessmen are in
that position. All bets are off, and entrepreneurs are seeking new ways to make
money by trial and error. Sometimes they do so by adding value to the economy.
Sometimes they do so by abrogating implicit contracts. Like managers newly
seated after a hostile takeover a quarter-century ago, today’s online innovators
are not always skilled at telling the difference: “Your friendships are your own
business? Golly, I wasn’t here when they negotiated that.”

Beacon was a clumsy attempt to reset the default on the common-sense
understanding of discretion and to profit off the resetting. As in the 1980s,
technological sophistication, entrepreneurial genius and gains to efficiency are
a part of this story — but a larger part was the attempt to monetize and sell a
vulnerable implicit contract. Facebook was thwarted, as the corporate raiders of
years past were not, because it aimed not at pension plans and seniority-based
pay scales but at something considerably more valuable — the unwritten rules of
privacy that make civilized human interaction possible.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Hollywood 2008: Fewer sequels, more risks

Dr. Media says, Happy Holidays, and here's one prediction for next year , interesting to remember that vidgames make more money than movie boxoffice.

a record-breaking summer at the box office, movie studios suffered from
a relatively sluggish fall, casting doubt that box-office sales would
top last year’s $9.2 billion.

The industry did surpass the $9 billion mark this week thanks to
strong openings for the Will Smith apocalyptic thriller “I Am Legend” -
which set a December record by grossing $77.2 million in its first
weekend - and the mix of live action and computer animated “Alvin and
the Chipmunks,” which took in a whopping $44.3 million in ticket sales.

If Hollywood has a strong showing the final two weekends of the
year, 2007 could mark the second consecutive up year at the box office
after a disappointing 2005, when grosses fell 6 percent.

Studios such as Viacom’s (VIAB) Paramount , Warner Bros - which like
CNNMoney.com is a subsidiary of Time Warner (TWX) - Sony’s (SNE)
Columbia, Walt Disney’s (DIS) Buena Vista and GE’s (GE) Universal were
the big box office winners this year. Each studio captured at least 10
percent of the total U.S. box office, according to figures from movie tracking firm Box Office Mojo.

But what about 2008?

Jeff Bock, a box office analyst with movie industry research firm
Exhibitor Relations, thinks there is a decent chance that next year
will top 2007 but that it’s far from a sure thing. That’s because many
studios are taking a gamble by planning to launch would-be franchises
next summer instead of relying on less-risky sequels.

Bock said that some non-sequels to watch in summer 2008 are “The
Love Guru,” a comedy starring Mike Myers; “Iron Man,” the latest film
based on a Marvel (MVL) comic book character; “Kung Fu Panda,” a
computer generated animated movie from DreamWorks Animation (DWA); and
“Hancock,” a superhero action film starring box office Midas Will Smith.

Two other summer films he said will be worth keeping an eye on are
“Wall-E,” the latest from Disney’s Pixar powerhouse, and “Speed Racer,”
a live action version of the cult hit Japanese anime series from the

Of course, there will also be sequels galore in 2008. Most notably,
next summer will feature the long-awaited fourth film in the Indiana
Jones series, “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull,” and
the second movie in the “Chronicles of Narnia” series: “Prince
Caspian.” There will also be sequels to “Hulk,” “The X-Files” and “The
Mummy” as well as “The Dark Knight,” a sequel to “Batman Begins.”

But the industry has to do more than have a hot summer to exceed
2007 sales, Bock said. It’s become increasingly important to spread out
the release of big movies throughout the whole year.

To that end, Bock said he thinks that Viacom’s Paramount is making
an interesting gamble with “Cloverfield,” a movie that has generated a
lot of buzz thanks to a cryptic trailer that first aired before this
summer’s smash hit “Transformers” and Web site featuring more footage from the movie.

The movie has no big stars in it but features what appears to be a
monster of some kind on a rampage in New York City - the poster shows a
decapitated Statue of Liberty. “Cloverfield” has been widely promoted
and is from “Lost” and “Alias” creator J. J. Abrams. It hits theaters
on Jan. 18, not a date typically associated with big blockbusters.

“January is usually a wasteland for the forgotten film. But
Paramount is doing a great job of hyping ‘Cloverfield.’ I think this
one will deliver and has an opportunity to dominate in not just January
but February,” Bock said.

Bock said the “Hannah Montana” concert movie - due out in February -
could also be a big blockbuster considering how much money people were
willing to pay for tickets to this consistently sold-out tour, which
features Miley Cyrus from the popular Disney Channel TV show. Plus, it will be in 3-D, a format gaining in popularity following the successful debut of “Beowulf” this year.

And Bock said that “10,000 B.C.,” a caveman epic from “Independence
Day” director Roland Emmerich, could be 2008’s answer to “300,” the
historical action film that was a surprise smash, pulling in more than
$210 million. Warner Bros. released “300″ and will be releasing “10,000
B.C” in March.

The end of next year looks promising at first blush as well, with
the penultimate film in the Harry Potter franchise, “Harry Potter and
the Half-Blood Prince,” a new James Bond movie, a sequel to the
DreamWorks animation hit “Madagascar,” and a revamped version of “Star
Trek” all on tap for next November and December.

Still, despite all of these possible hits, Bock doubts next year
will top the all-time record of $9.4 billion set in 2004. He’s more
hopeful about 2009. Why? He points to a new “X-Men” sequel focusing on
Wolverine as well as sequels to “Transformers,” “Ice Age” and “Night at
the Museum.” Not to mention “The DaVinci Code” prequel “Angels and
Demons” and the eagerly awaited 3-D movie “Avatar” from “Titanic” and
“Terminator” director James Cameron.

“2009 is the one that could wind up beating 2004. I’m more
optimistic about that. Next year is more of a question mark,” he said.

Posted by Paul R. La Monica 8:00 am 1 Comment comment | Add a comment

Powered by ScribeFire.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

fyi Leaders and Followers

Dr. Media says Larry Goldman's article from DMReview say a lot in a short space, see his bullets under Unsolicited data etc., these points summarize the key elements that need to be addressed to solve the Metadata problem which grows exponentially everyday on the web. A problem which no one has solved, BUT Dr. Media knows pf some groups who have some innovative solutions in the works. I can only say the real answer lies in psychographics but not what you're used to.

Leaders and Followers

Leaders and Followers

DM Review Magazine, November 2007

Last month
I talked about traditional customer information purchases. I discussed
how these large databases of U.S. prospects and households help
marketers target the most likely prospects and how this business is
changing. Another profound change impacting the data purchasing
industry is that organizations’ hunger for transactional and behavioral
information is spilling outside of their walls. Organizations are
looking for other behavioral information to triangulate hypotheses,
identify segments and needs, and verify brand attributes. And this
information may not always be found within their own systems. Most
likely it exists on other Web sites, partners’ systems or social
networks. Last year, I discussed in this column the way firms were
aggregating information from Internet service providers to help
industries understand how their Web site was functioning versus their
competitors. They were able to rank themselves regarding traffic
patterns, understand which products were being viewed versus competing
products or understand how their own product launches and their
competitor’s were resonating in the marketplace. The new twist on aggregating Internet behavior is the
penetration of social networking and feedback sites. These sites allow
people to provide feedback on products and services, and allow
consumers to interact with like-minded people in order to receive
recommendations from the right people.

Unsolicited Primary Research Data

Social networking sites are
providing an avenue for dialog between consumers and any interested
party. Through blogs, feedback and other postings, individuals are
commenting on any and all things - from hotels to the iPhone. As
organizations increasingly leverage their online capabilities to
involve customers in product development and improvement, this type of
information will increase exponentially.

Marketers are hungry for this type of unsolicited primary research
data that takes customers out of the focus group or survey scenario.
The information that can be obtained from these types of sites

  • Feedback regarding product satisfaction,
  • Feedback regarding current marketing and advertising promotions,
  • Understanding preferences for different product or service categories,
  • Understanding preference drivers for different customer types,
  • Understanding the attributes customers assign to your brand,
  • Understanding the customer-perceived attributes of your brand that differentiate you from your competitors,
  • Understanding the customer-perceived attributes of your brand that you share with your competitors,
  • Understanding which attributes are most important, and
  • Comparing customer feedback on your product versus competitive products.

This information provides a customer viewpoint of your brand,
products and services that is hard to collect otherwise. Text mining
your own customer service information may be a proxy, but it is
error-prone based on whether the customer service agent has added their
own interpretation of various comments. These are usually
complaint-oriented and not truly product feedback. This information can be baked into segmentation models which
can drive targeted advertising. As advertising becomes a prevalent
method of revenue generation on these types of sites, ads can be
tailored to the types of implied preferences by participating
customers. This information can be used to tailor search results by
including preferences as an input, tailor or test new messaging and
start competitive campaigns.


The other aspect of these social sites provides
insight into who the true influencers are. If you ask anyone about
customer value, they will tell you that influential value is a big part
of the equation, basically, the measurement of how influential a
customer is regarding other customer’s purchases. If Oprah recommends a
product, you know you are going to get a boost in sales. If you ask
anybody how you might measure influence, you’ll probably get a blank
stare. Leveraging information created by these new social sites,
vendors are now creating models and algorithms to understand which
customers are the leaders and which customers are the followers. This
information will further help with targeted advertising and direct
marketing communications. Firms may communicate with influencers to
receive product feedback or offer special services and discounts. This
information could allow marketers to try to influence the influencers.
Research continues to show that most people trust personal contacts or
recommendations by like-minded people over corporate advertisements. The new world of social networking has opened up a brand-new
avenue for segmentation, targeting and customer feedback. This
opportunity should provide a larger, less controlled, deeper set of
customer feedback than surveys, focus groups or other traditional
primary research methods. Companies are taking this information and
creating a brand index to show the preference drivers communicated by
customers for industries like hotels. Consumers and brand managers can
compare their product versus their competitors regarding brand
attributes, consumer preference drivers, interest and loyalty, and
identify who in a social network is swaying the crowd.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Bebo gives free access to TV and music | Media | Guardian Unlimited

Dr Media says watch this move towards providing content for free, just like TV ain't it and why is free TV free, because it supported by ads, well guess what will be happening in this space, and why not, free TV is still free isn't it?
The key here is to track the market segments responses to shows so this data can be monetized to the advertisers.
Watch this space, more to come.

Bebo gives free access to TV and music | Media | Guardian Unlimited
Bebo gives free access to TV and music

* Jemima Kiss
o Jemima Kiss
o Guardian Unlimited
o Tuesday November 13 2007

Youth social networking site Bebo will offer free content from major broadcasters - including the BBC - and record labels when it launches a series of media channels today.

The Open Media platform will also feature programmes from the BBC, ITN, Channel 4, BSkyB and Endemol in the UK, and CBS, Turner, MTV and ESPN in the US.

Programmes will Include Robin Hood and The Mighty Boosh.

Companies can embed their own media player on their Bebo channel, including their own advertising, and customise the page for their brand.

Following the launch at noon today in London and New York, additional media companies will be able to add their content through a "self-service" system.

Content will be free for Bebo's 40 million users to access, and content companies will receive 100% of revenues from in-video advertising - something that Bebo hopes will be a major incentive over similar offerings from rivals MySpace and Facebook.

Open Media also includes content from web-based services including music recommendation site Last.fm. user-content channel SumoTV and comedy site Crackle.

Evan Cohen, the Bebo director of strategy and operations, said the platform was not just an distribution tool, but an opportunity for media companies to exploit Bebo to cultivate the community around their brand.

Media content spreads virally, finding those "hard to reach" younger audiences who spend the majority of their time online.

Although media companies might prefer to build this community on their own site, said Cohen, "the reality is that they are not able to".

"There's a shift from that very possessive model of building up your own site to the super distributed mode - 'let's go where the audience is'," he added.

"This is a natural fit with younger audiences who see entertainment as a form of engagement and self-expression. Their life is about expression and defining who they are.

"The foundation of the site is communication but we want to build on top of that a compatible and powerful service of professional video and music that users can watch and put on their profiles."

Powered by ScribeFire.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Harvard Extension Class on Virtual Law Offers Lectures in Second Life | Virtually Blind | Virtual Law

Dr Media says watch this space, if these early adopter experiments work, could be a lot more where this came from, one question , do you get a virtual grade, virtual credit, and will they take virtual money for tuition.

Harvard Extension Class on Virtual Law Offers Lectures in Second Life | Virtually Blind | Virtual Law

Harvard Extension Class on Virtual Law Offers Lectures in Second Life

Posted By Benjamin Duranske On November 17, 2007 @ 3:06 pm In Constitutional Law, Second Life, Virtual Law, Virtual Legal Education, Virtual Worlds & Games | 3 Comments

Harvard Extension Class Second LifeThe Harvard Extension School is running a course focused on virtual law with a Second Life component. Rebecca Nesson (’Rebecca Berkman’ in Second Life) is teaching the class. The lectures, which look fascinating, are available to at-large participants on Berkman Island (SLURL).

You can attend the lectures in Second Life on Monday evenings from 8:00-10:00pm EST (5:00-7:00pm SL time). Videos of past lectures are linked on the course’s web site, where you can also find the syllabus, a wiki, and more. The next class is on Monday, November 19th, and is entitled “The Boundaries of Code — Governance, and Law in Virtual Worlds.”

From the description for the November 19th class:

Now that we’ve all been convinced of the power of code to shape our environment, we examine the boundaries of that power. Today we’ll consider actions in virtual worlds that cannot easily be regulated by code even for those who are in control of the code as well as the questions of what input residents of virtual worlds should have into the control of the code itself.

Sadly, I missed the announcement for this when it started, and the class is now well underway. Better late than never. The class looks great, and I suspect many regular VB readers will want to attend the remaining lectures.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

An E-Book Reader That Just May Catch On - New York Times

Dr. Media says will Amazon light a fire, or get burned by Kindle? Wonder what genius "brander" came up with that--a reference to metaphorically burning books, conscious or unconscious, who knows, it's the web. More importantly, this is a cool technology, as Pogue aptly describes below. All books ever written available in all languages ever written for download, 24/7 on free Wifi. Cool.So now all your reading choices, to say nothing of your porno chices, can be tracked, itemized, cataloged, and stored in on location. You know there was a time, not so long ago, in this very country when, what you read was very important to some people in the government. Don't get me wrong, I think the idea of saving trees and being able to access any book I wanted instantly,and having a portable library which can be researched instatly is very cool, I just want to keep my interests private, what about you?

An E-Book Reader That Just May Catch On - New York Times
November 22, 2007
State of the Art
An E-Book Reader That Just May Catch On

You’ve got to have a lot of nerve to introduce an electronic book reader in 2007.

Sure, the idea has appeal: an e-reader lets you carry hundreds of books, search or jump to any spot in the text and bump up the type size when your eyes get tired.

But the counterarguments are equally persuasive. Printed books are dirt cheap, never run out of power and survive drops, spills and being run over. And their file format will still be readable 200 years from now.

So e-book readers keep on coming and keep on flopping: the Rocket eBook Reader. Gemstar. Everybook. SoftBook. Librius Millennium Reader. The Sony Reader is in stores even now, priced at $350 and making literally dozens of sales.

Then on Monday, Amazon introduced its own e-book reader, called the Kindle. It arrives at $400 — reading material sold separately.

Are they completely nuts?

The Kindle is a thin, 10-ounce slab of white plastic, tucked into a leatherette cover. It’s not, ahem, gorgeous; it’s all white plastic, sharp angles and visible seams, with all the design panache of a Commodore 64.

Its slight left-side thickening is supposed to suggest the feel of a paperback book folded back on your hand.

The screen uses the same astonishing E Ink technology that Sony’s Reader uses. It looks like black ink on light gray paper: no backlight, no glare, no eyestrain — and no need to turn it off, ever.

That’s because E Ink draws power only when you turn a page. At that point, millions of particles are drawn into a pattern of letters (or four-shade gray-scale images) by a brief electronic charge — and there they can stay forever, even if you take the battery out. You don’t turn this thing off; you just set it down, like a book.

The “ink” is so close to the surface of the screen, it looks like it’s been printed there, so reading is satisfying, immersive and natural. At page turns, only a distracting black-white flash reminds you that you’re not viewing paper anymore.

To the right is a screen-height recessed groove. What looks like a shiny bit of silver chrome moves in this groove as you roll the clickable thumbwheel beneath it. This is your cursor; the electronically controlled silver patch grows and shrinks to highlight buttons or page chunks on the screen to its left.

But the part that will really rock your world is the Kindle’s free wireless cellular broadband service.

Now, if you just splurted your coffee, you’re forgiven; “free” and “wireless broadband” have rarely been used in the same sentence before. The Kindle goes online using Sprint’s 3G cellular data network — the same service that costs $60 a month for corporate laptop luggers. The Kindle’s price tag stings less when you realize that Amazon is going to pay your entire wireless tab.

So the Kindle can get online almost anywhere — not just in little coffee-shop hot spots, but in cabs, in lines, in doctor’s offices.

There’s even a crude Web browser. It’s fine for text and graphics, lousy for Web layouts and useless for streaming audio or video. But with some effort, you can use it to get news, rebook a flight, monitor blogs and even check Web e-mail (like Gmail).

But that’s not why Amazon is paying your wireless bills, and that’s not why it burdened the design with a tiny, clicky keyboard. No, the real point is instant book downloading.

The Kindle store offers best-seller lists, Most Popular lists and a Search box. The catalog includes 90,000 books so far, including 101 of the 112 currently listed as New York Times best sellers.

That dwarfs the Sony catalog (20,000 books), but Amazon says that it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Its goal is to have every printed book on earth available for instant download.

It’s a giddy thought. Someone mentions a great book — any book. You whip out the Kindle, download the book in 60 seconds and start reading it.

That fantasy isn’t quite fulfilled at the moment. There’s an endless amount of great stuff on the Kindle store, but not everything. There’s no “Harry Potter” series, no “Book Thief,” no “Inconvenient Truth.”

Still, the instant wireless gratification is intoxicating, especially compared with the clunky method of loading up previous e-readers, with a Windows PC and a cable.

The pricing is another breakthrough: Kindle books generally cost less than half of what printed books cost (and much less than Sony’s e-books). It’s common sense; why should a digital file cost as much as a physical object, manufactured and shipped? Most Kindle hardcover books cost $10, including “I Am America (and So Can You”), “Deceptively Delicious” and “Freakonomics.” Their hardcover prices are $25 or $26. Older books cost $3 to $6.

You can also subscribe to major newspapers for various prices, including this one for $14 a month. Your paper arrives at 3 a.m., Eastern time, silently and automatically, complete with all articles and photos (although without the comics, crosswords, ads and so on). Magazines are available (for example, $1.50 a month for Time) and so are blogs ($2 a month).

Of course, even at those discounted prices, it will take you a very long time to recoup the Kindle’s $400 price; this machine is mostly about convenience, not economics.

But if you’re short of cash, you can also fill the Kindle with your own documents and photos — by e-mail. You, or your authorized minions, can e-mail Word, PDF, JPEG and text files directly to your Kindle’s special address — including any of the 20,000 free, out-of-copyright e-books at Gutenberg.org.

Amazon charges 10 cents for each e-mailed document; if even that’s too rich for your blood, you can also transfer them free from a Mac or PC, over a U.S.B. cable.

This feature means that you can look over documents, contracts and user guides while you’re on the road — without a laptop.

The Kindle holds about 200 books. (As an author myself, I was a little mortified to learn that my months of effort boil down to a pathetic 800-kilobyte text file.) You can insert an SD memory card to hold thousands more.

All of your reading material, and even your notes, bookmarks and clippings, is automatically backed up on Amazon.com. You can delete stuff when the Kindle gets full, confident that you can download it again later.

Amazon says that you’ll get about two days’ worth of reading on a charge of the replaceable battery — or, if you turn off the wireless feature, a week.

The Kindle also plays audio books you’ve bought from Audible.com, although they have to be bought and loaded from a computer. You can even play MP3 files as background-reading music (random-shuffle mode only).

There are drawbacks, though. The right and left margins of the Kindle are gigantic Previous Page and Next Page clickers; it’s almost impossible to avoid clicking them by accident.

There’s a Back button, but no Forward button — a real drag when you’re on the Web or the Kindle store. You can’t read in landscape orientation. And you can’t change the type size for the Web — not even for the Kindle store, whose text is tiny indeed.

So if the Kindle isn’t a home run, it’s at least an exciting triple. It gets the important things right: the reading experience, the ruggedness, the super-simple software setup. And that wireless instant download — wow.

Even though most people will prefer the feel, the cost and the simplicity of a paper book, the Kindle is by far the most successful stab yet at taking reading material into the digital age.

No, it’s not the last word in book reading. But once its price comes down and its design gets sleeker, the Kindle may be the beginning of a great new chapter.

E-mail: pogue@nytimes.com

Powered by ScribeFire.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

What kids learn in virtual worlds

Dr. Media says at least VR has reached a level of interest where people are beginning to speculate what it's implications are. Now perhaps , some will do actual research to find out what is really going on. In Media psychology, and social science, we call this pre tests, post tests, control groups, etc., that actually produce real data, which then we hypothesize about this is called science.Bravo to these Academics for saying the truth, no one really knows and rigorous research is needed, of course why pay for research when making money is the goal? Answer, because you find out what is really going on and what d\to do to enhance the experience, and reduce the noise.. Ask Hasbro and all the toy companies who are losing millions because of poisonous Chinese toys. We do not know what the long term effects of VR life are, of course we still don't know about the longterm effects of TV watching, do we?

What kids learn in virtual worlds | CNET News.com

By Stefanie Olsen

Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Published: November 15, 2007 12:15 p.m. PST

Add to your del.icio.usdel.icio.us

Digg this storyDigg this

Kids who are active members of virtual worlds are learning how to
socialize, how to be technologically savvy, and how to be good little

That's according to a group of academics and researchers who met
Wednesday evening at the University of Southern California to discuss
the effects of virtual worlds
on children today. Of course, virtual worlds are still so new that
researchers haven't had much time to study their impact on kids. But
the MacArthur Foundation, a sponsor of the panel discussion, has
invested millions in research over the next several years to ask such

Doug Thomas, associate professor at USC's Annenberg School of
Communication, said during the panel that much of what's happening in
virtual environments is informal learning. In many cases, kids are
getting an early education with technology, learning how to be members
of a citizenship, and picking up skills that they'll need in the future
workforce, Thomas said.

The downside, he said, is the inherently commercial nature of virtual worlds like Club Penguin and Webkinz,
which encourage kids to play games, dress up online characters, and buy
virtual goods to decorate their in-world homes or avatars.

"If you're a parent, I would be much less concerned about things
like online predators or violence, then I would be about the conflation
between consumption and consumerism and citizenship (in virtual
worlds). Because our kids are being taught that to be a good citizen of
this world you got to buy the right stuff," Thomas said during the
panel, which was being simulcast via video over the Internet.

The panel came together to talk about the promise and pitfalls of virtual worlds from an educational and commercial viewpoint. Virtual games like Club Penguin and Webkinz
have become much more popular with 6- to 14-year-olds in the last two
years, attracting tens of millions of members. Researchers estimate
that more than 50 percent of kids on the Internet will belong to such
an environment by 2012, double that of the current population of
virtual world members.

Educational value

Meanwhile, many educators herald virtual environments for their
educational potential because they manage to get kids extremely
engaged. Thomas, for example, works with kids in an educational virtual
world called Modern Prometheus.
He said the environment is useful for teaching children about subjects
that can be difficult to teach in the classroom, such as ethics. The
game allows the kids to play out scenarios involving ethical decisions
over and over from different angles, letting them see the various
effects, he said.

Most people in America still haven't even heard of virtual worlds,
but that's changing, said Julia Stasch, vice president for domestic
grant-making at MacArthur. This generation is the first to grow up
digital and everyone needs to be paying attention to what kids
themselves have to say, Stasch said.

"If you're a parent, I would be much less concerned about things like
online predators or violence, then I would be about the conflation
between consumption and consumerism and citizenship (in virtual

--Doug Thomas, Annenberg School of Communication

"Only rigorous research is really going to tell us if a profound
change is occurring and what form it's taking. If it's true, there are
significant implications for schools, libraries…families…the economy
and even our democracy," she said.

Yasmin Kafai, associate professor of the UCLA Graduate School of
Education and Information Studies, has been conducting research on
tweens in Whyville.net, a virtual world with a more educational
bent. She said kids are drawn to virtual worlds because adults aren't
supervising and they can bring far-flung friends in vast areas like Los
Angeles to a common place.

"Particularly for teens with a drive for independence," Kafai said.
"In (these worlds), there's a lot of flirting and socializing, a (play)
ground for what comes later."

Thomas said he was astonished to hear that a majority of kids didn't
know how to find Iraq on a map. But they would know how to find any
kind of map of Iraq on the Internet, he said.

"Knowledge is changing. It (used to be that it) was a set of facts,
now it's not so much a 'what' but a 'where,' in which kids learn how to
find information," Thomas said. "That's going to be the single most
important skill--the ability to adapt to change."

He added: "I wouldn't be worried if they're engaged and playing these games, I'd be more worried if they're not."

an audience member from PBS Kids.com asked the panelists about concerns
of cyberbullying in virtual worlds, which is fairly common in these
environments. The panelists responded that it's the dark side of
virtual environments but it's not much different than what happens in
the real world.

"Bullying, racism, homophobia, every cultural ill is replicated in
virtual worlds," Thomas said. "If you went to any sixth grade class and
studied it for a year, all the good, bad, and ugly shows up in a
virtual world just like every class, and we should all be mindful of

The panelists advised parents to take an active approach with their
kids in virtual worlds. Thomas, for example, said that he would want to
teach his children media literacy skills so that they could discern the
difference between being a good member of society and buying stuff.

Jim Steyer, moderator of the panel and CEO of panel co-host Common
Sense Media, suggested that parents set time limits and put the
computer in a common room.

Kafai suggested that parents become a member in the virtual world
that their kids belong to and play with them. "Go into the world with
them," she said.

Send insights or tips on this topic to stefanie.olsen@cnet.com.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Trust Among Friends on Facebook - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog

Dr. Media says, now we're talkin. Finally the idea that people want to trust one another surfaces. You mean that there are those who would rather not be inundated with recommendations from their"friends".Now we come to the next level of differentiation which the net pushes us towards, TASTES. The net allows for the expression and individualization of taste in a a manner never seen before. Take a look at dating sites, they really let you try to find Ms.or Mr. Right, or at least feed your narcissistic delusion that you can.

Trust Among Friends on Facebook - Bits - Technology - New York Times Blog
November 8, 2007, 1:24 pm
Trust Among Friends on Facebook

By Laura M. Holson

Tags: Facebook

I was struck Wednesday reading Louise Story’s article on Facebook’s new service which would allow users of the social networking site to broadcast ads to their so-called “friends.” I think this new advertising push is going to redefine friendship on Facebook.

Here’s why. When my best friend Kathy calls me to say I should rush to Nordstrom because cashmere sweaters are on sale, I trust her because she knows what I like. But that’s not necessarily so among “friends” on Facebook who are oftentimes better described as acquaintances.

A case in point. I had dinner the other night with some pals and the conversation turned, as it sometimes does, to dating. In this case a woman had met a man she found mildly attractive until she was invited to be his “friend” on Facebook. It was a turnoff, not only did he have too many friends by her standards ­ 65 ­ but 90 percent of them were women. Worse, when she logged onto Facebook last Sunday at 8 a.m., she found her “friend” had already posted pictures from Saturday night on his page. Did I mention he was in his 40s?

“Loser,” said one of the gals at dinner as she tucked into a tomato tart. The woman agreed.

So here is the dilemma for a marketer. This man is the kind of Facebook user, someone with a lot of friends who likes to share, who would likely authorize a retailer to give information to his “friends” about his recent purchases. But it is unlikely the woman, who turned down his offer for a date, would buy anything he recommended. Instead she wants to de-friend him.


Powered by ScribeFire.

Eye-Fi: How One Little Chip Will Change the Way You Share Pictures

Dr Media says , now here we have what could be a lifestyle changing technology. Other than the cellphone, there is probably no other eveyday technology that is as personal as the camera and the way it is used. The ability to snap and broadcast your snapshots , assuming the quality is acceptable and , it is easy, and no user group is necessary. Just think, take pictures of the kids, send them to Flickr or you Facebook page, and alert your network that there are new pics, all at the same time. Think about how this transcends language, and allows for instant survellence as well as snooping.I wonder how Jack Bauer will use this!!

Eye-Fi: How One Little Chip Will Change the Way You Share Pictures

By Cliff Kuang Email 11.09.07 | 5:15 PM
Image: Courtesy of Eye-Fi

Eye-Fi, a new company that makes Wi-Fi camera-memory cards, was formed because of a broken promise.

Three years ago, Yuval Koren, Eye-Fi's CEO, traveled to New York from San Francisco for a wedding. You know, the kind you see in every single romantic comedy ever made? Long-lost friends were reunited, copious snapshots were taken, and everyone pledged to send them along soon after. "There were lots of good intentions," says Koren. "But it never happened."

We all know why: Booting-up your computer, plugging in your camera, uploading pics to the hard drive and finally choosing what to send to the web is universally annoying.

Koren came home and cornered his geeky friends -- some worked at Cisco, others at Wi-Fi vendor Atheros, and a few even labored away at Apple. He posed a question to them: Why do digital pictures so often end up trapped inside cameras?

And then they figured out a way to easily set them free.

Two-and-a-half years of intense work later, they produced a 2-GB SD memory card mated with a Wi-Fi chip. Just sync the card to a hard drive or Wi-Fi network, and plug it into a digital camera and start snapping away. Pics are then routed to the hard drive or to one of 17 photo vendors (like Facebook or Flickr.) The card's software deftly handles scaling and compression while privacy settings at the individual sites allow you to filter what gets published.

The Wi-Fi chip, though, was the technical breakthrough. Developed by Atheros, it uses 70 percent less power than competing products, allowing it to be comfortably nestled in a standard SD card. Atheros didn't realize how much its wunderchip could help Koren's fledgling project.

"They didn’t know about us at first," explains Koren. "The software and hardware were still in beta, but we begged for access." Atheros eventually agreed and granted Koren access in order to help prove their own technology.

A marriage of innovation and vision may have hatched the Eye-Fi, but something larger is also at work here. Next-gen Wi-Fi networking is finally allowing lowly hardware to be integrated with web apps and software.

"Businesses realize that device margins disappear quickly," says Jonathan Gaw, an IDC analyst who covers home networking. "One way to combat that is to integrate upwards with services via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. We’re going to see networking in all kinds of devices."

Eye-Fi was able to beat lumbering industry dinosaurs like Kodak and San Disk to the punch on a Wi-Fi-equipped memory card for a couple of reasons. First, it's rare for hardware companies to have cross-disciplinary chops in software, which the Eye-Fi development required. Second, camera makers like Nikon that have toyed with Wi-Fi seem intent on locking in consumers to one particular application or photo platform. Who cares if you can beam photos around wirelessly if you're shackled to the same device all the time?

Eye-Fi is instead laser-focused on a more technically savvy crowd. "We’re not talking about grandmas," says Koren. "Our customer knows how to get photos out of camera but would rather spend their time captioning and sharing."

Eye-Fi also goes the extra distance to listen to its customers. Even now, anyone can log on at eye.fi com to suggest what other photo platforms should be supported.

Koren is coy about what's next for the company, but says, "There’s a lot more that we have in mind. Keep following what we're doing.

Facebook Unveils Facebook Ads

Here we go Facebook, enters the TV advertising game.Targeted ads, profiling of users based on behavioral tracking and evaluation of choices, based on a computer generated model of what is"liked". Wonder who will try to scam this system 1st, could it be an entertainment company. what do you think!?

Facebook Unveils Facebook Ads

60 Leading Consumer and Internet Brands Announce Participation in New Ad System

NEW YORK — Facebook Social Advertising Event, Nov. 6, 2007 — Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg today introduced Facebook Ads, an ad system for businesses to connect with users and target advertising to the exact audiences they want. Through Facebook Ads, these users can now learn about new businesses, brands and products through the trusted referrals of their friends.

“Facebook Ads represent a completely new way of advertising online,” Zuckerberg told an audience of more than 250 marketing and advertising executives in New York. “For the last hundred years media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation. And they’re going to do this by using the social graph in the same way our users do.”

The keynote opened the Facebook Social Advertising event, which also featured senior executives from landmark partners including Blockbuster, CBS, Chase, The Coca-Cola Company, Microsoft, Sony Pictures Television and Verizon Wireless. More than 60 major consumer and Internet brand partners were highlighted at the launch of Facebook Ads.

Today, Facebook Ads launched with three parts: a way for businesses to build pages on Facebook to connect with their audiences; an ad system that facilitates the spread of brand messages virally through Facebook Social Ads™; and an interface to gather insights into people’s activity on Facebook that marketers care about.

More than 100,000 Facebook Pages Launch Today
Zuckerberg detailed how Facebook Pages allows users to interact and affiliate with businesses and organizations in the same way they interact with other Facebook user profiles. More than 100,000 new Facebook Pages launched today covering the world’s largest brands, local businesses, organizations and bands.

“The core of every user’s experience on Facebook is their page and that’s where businesses are going to start as well,” explained Zuckerberg. “The first thing businesses can do is design a page to craft the exact experience they want people to see.”

Just like a Facebook user, businesses can start with a blank canvas and add all the information and content they want, including photos, videos, music and Facebook Platform applications. Outside developers have created a range of applications to enhance Facebook Pages, such as booking reservations or providing reviews of restaurant pages, buying tickets on a movie page or creating a custom t-shirt. Companies launching applications for Pages include Fandango, iLike, Musictoday LLC, OpenTable, SeamlessWeb, Zagat Survey LLC and Zazzle.

Distribution through the Social Graph
Advertising messages will gain distribution through what Facebook has termed the “social graph,” the network of real connections through which people communicate and share information. When people engage with a business’ Facebook Page, that action will spread information about that business through the social graph.

Users can become a fan of a business and can share information about that business with their friends and act as a trusted referral. Facebook users can interact directly with the business through its Facebook Page by adding reviews, writing on that business’ Wall, uploading photos and in any other ways that a business may want to enable. These actions could appear in users’ Mini-Feed and News Feed, Facebook’s popular products that allow users to share information more efficiently with their friends.

Unique Ads with Social Actions
“Social actions are powerful because they act as trusted referrals and reinforce the fact that people influence people,” said Zuckerberg. “It’s no longer just about messages that are broadcasted out by companies, but increasingly about information that is shared between friends. So we set out to use these social actions to build a new kind of ad system.”

Facebook’s ad system serves Social Ads that combine social actions from your friends – such as a purchase of a product or review of a restaurant – with an advertiser’s message. This enables advertisers to deliver more tailored and relevant ads to Facebook users that now include information from their friends so they can make more informed decisions. No personally identifiable information is shared with an advertiser in creating a Social Ad.

Social Ads can appear either within a user’s News Feed as sponsored content or in the ad space along the left side of the site.

Insights about Brand Presence and Promotion
Facebook gives marketers valuable metrics about their presence and promotion on Facebook. Facebook Insights gives access to data on activity, fan demographics, ad performance and trends that better equip marketers to improve custom content on Facebook and adjust ad targeting. Facebook Insights is a free service for all Facebook Pages and Social Ads.

Protecting User’s Privacy
Facebook has always empowered users to make choices about sharing their data, and with Facebook Ads we are extending that to marketing messages that appear on the site. Facebook users will only see Social Ads to the extent their friends are sharing information with them.

For more information about Facebook Ads, please visit www.facebook.com/ads.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

New WGA stumbling block is old issue: DVD

Dr. Media says, pay attention folks , the WGA is fighting the fight that will affect all content providers for anything in the future. After all, as will soon be realized while everyone can put anything on the net, everyone is not talented and a good story teller with an original idea and the ability, gee, how surprising, writers want to get paid.

New WGA stumbling block is old issue: DVD

New WGA stumbling block is old issue: DVD

By Carl DiOrio
UPDATED 8:35 p.m. PT Oct. 31, 2007

It's deja vu all over again for the writers and studio reps around the bargaining table.

After months of speculation that Internet compensation will decide whether the WGA seals a new contract or goes out on strike, the studios' chief negotiator has blamed an eleventh-hour impasse on a little shiny disc.

Once again, labor strife is being spelled DVD.

Judging solely from the point-counterpoint between the producers and the guild late Wednesday, the tone would suggest the odds of a writers strike just went up.

"We've been working hard to come up with a package in response to your last proposal, but we keep running up against the DVD issue," said Nick Counter, president of the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers. "The companies believe that movement is possible on other issues. But they cannot make any movement when confronted with your continuing efforts to increase the DVD formula, including the formula for electronic sell-through.

"The magnitude of that proposal alone is blocking us from making any further progress," Counter said at the end of a second long day of mediated talks with the WGA. "We cannot move further as long as that issue remains on the table. In short, the DVD issue is a complete roadblock to any further progress."

Counter said writers can only expect the same terms for permanent Internet downloads of movies and films as they are now provided under the home video residuals formula. The AMPTP exec left unaddressed the matter of ad-supported content streamed over the Internet for free, a reuse for which WGA members get no further compensation but seek first-time pay minimums.

"We are ready and willing to proceed to reach agreement with you," Counter said. "We call upon you to take the necessary steps now to break this impasse, so that bargaining can continue for our mutual benefit and the good of everyone else who works in this industry."

The guild, in responding with a public statement, seemed to sidestep the question of future DVD residuals and instead slam the suggestion that it must maintain the home video formula on downloads.

"The companies refused to continue to bargain unless we agree that the hated DVD formula be extended to Internet downloads," the WGA said. "(Wednesday) morning we presented the AMPTP with a comprehensive package of proposals that included movement on DVDs, new media and jurisdictional issues. We also took nine proposals off the table. The companies returned six hours later and said they would not respond to our package until we capitulated to their Internet demand.

"After three and a half months of bargaining, the AMPTP still has not responded to a single one of our important proposals," the guild said. "Every issue that matters to writers, including Internet reuse, original writing for new media, DVDs and jurisdiction, has been ignored. This is completely unacceptable."

No further negotiating sessions were scheduled, and it was unclear if the writers' would continue to work under terms of their current contract with the AMPTP, which expired at midnight Wednesday.

Still, Hollywood todayThursday is enjoying a limited reprieve from the threat of a writers strike -- at least until tonight, as the WGA has set a 7 p.m. membership meeting at the Los Angeles Convention Center to update writers on the status of talks.

The AMPTP said the guild rejected an offer to meet today and said it would get back to management over a subsequent offer to meet Friday.

When the negotiations began July 16, the WGA demanded a doubling of current DVD residuals. But the guild more recently presented new proposals in several areas.

The AMPTP initially suggested studying the question of new-media pay for three years but pulled back that proposal when the guild balked.

Whatever the next few days produce, industry preparations for a possible strike continue.

On Wednesday, IATSE and AFTRA issued instructions to its members on now to conduct themselves during any writer work stoppage. SAG, the DGA and the Teamsters sent out similar messages.

"IATSE contracts contain provisions that require us to continue to honor our contracts," wrote Thomas Short, international president of the crafts union. "These no-strike provisions require the IATSE to notify our members of their obligation to honor these contracts and continue working. Any individual member who chooses to honor any picket line is subject to permanent replacement."

The relatively stern tone of the missive is perhaps unsurprising, as Short previously has charged the WGA with taking too militant a posture in the talks.

"In the event of a WGA strike or lockout by the producers, AFTRA members are instructed that they may not perform duties covered by the WGA contract that have been performed by members of the WGA," the performers union said.

AFTRA also noted that its current contracts with studios and networks contain no-strike clauses, and members must report to work and perform their jobs.

"(Members) may express your support -- as an individual, through non-work-related activities, during non-work time -- to fellow union members of the WGA in their effort to achieve a fair contract," AFTRA said.

"AFTRA hopes that the WGA and the producers can reach an acceptable agreement for a new contract without a work stoppage," officials added.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Hulu Readies Its Online TV, Dodging the Insults

Dr Media says watch this space, there is some serious "real" content being made availabe by these high end studios, lets see how the public responds.
Could change the model or fall on its face, remember movielink and cinemanow.

October 29, 2007

Hulu Readies Its Online TV, Dodging the Insults

The knives are out for Hulu.com.

Hulu is the new-media creation of two old-media rivals, NBC, which is owned by General Electric, and Fox, owned by the News Corporation. Since March, when the broadcasters announced their joint effort to bring free, ad-supported television shows to the Web, critics have pounced, predicting the venture would be doomed by diverging agendas, technical challenges and an all-powerful enemy: YouTube.

Skeptical bloggers even slapped Hulu with a derisive moniker: “Clown Co.”

Now the defense is ready to present its case.

Today, Hulu, now an independent company with more than a hundred employees and its own offices in Los Angeles, will begin privately testing its new service with select users at Hulu.com. It will also begin sending its videos to the sites of five distribution partners, Microsoft, AOL, MySpace, Yahoo and Comcast.

Hulu is presenting select episodes of some 90 television shows, including new and old programs from NBC (“The Office,” “The A-Team”), Fox (“24” and “The Simpsons”) and an assortment of smaller broadcasters like USA Networks. It has also added two new partners, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, which distributes programs like “Chapelle’s Show” and “Reno 911,” and Sony Pictures Television, which will make selections in its archives like “I Dream of Jeannie,” available on Hulu.com.

All the shows are viewable inside a Web browser and festooned with advertisements.

“You will not find this lineup from top to bottom anywhere else,” said Jason Kilar, 36, chief executive of Hulu and a nine-year veteran of Amazon.com.

Mr. Kilar says that although some of the same shows are also available free to viewers on sites like NBC.com and Fox.com, Hulu has a unique agenda: to marry the largest collection of professionally-produced video to the widest audience possible. “We don’t have to worry about showing TV schedules or letting fans get to know the actors,” he said. “All we have to worry about is the video.”

Rival ABC, owned by the Walt Disney Company, is focusing on bringing high-quality versions of its programs to its own site, ABC.com. CBS has developed its own relationships with video sites like AOL.com and a new independent online video service, Joost.

Hulu, demonstrated last week to reporters, might surprise some of its critics. In addition to television shows, the company is experimenting with free movies. The service will begin with 10 films, including “Master and Commander” and “Sideways,” though each will run with commercial breaks.

Hulu’s long-awaited introduction and new content deals are giving the executives involved in the effort a chance to respond to the criticism.

“I think there’s a snarky desire to say this is big dumb media and this is a big dumb joint venture,” said Peter Chernin, president of the News Corporation. He said he first conceived of Hulu when thinking of ways to get Fox shows distributed as widely as possible. “If there is a product that’s attractive to consumers, we’ll be just fine,” he said.

Hulu might prove most attractive to advertisers, since the videos on Hulu are chock-full of promotional opportunities. Messages for companies like Cisco and General Motors remain above the video player during each program. Hulu is also using overlays, promotional graphics that roam over the bottom of the screen during a show. (YouTube is also experimenting with this ad format). Hulu is, however, cutting by half the length of traditional commercial breaks during its videos.

For each show streamed online, Hulu splits the revenue with the content creator and the distribution site, like MySpaceTV or MSN. The revenue splits vary by the type of program, but the content owner takes a majority, according to Mr. Kilar.

Hulu will offer some features not available on other online video sites. One innovation lets users share television shows and video clips with friends. An easy editing tool lets users isolate a select clip of any length from a program and e-mail that clip to a friend or post it on a blog. “This is a big deal,” Mr. Kilar said. “It is a great way to let users express themselves through our content.”

Mr. Kilar promises that Hulu will continually add new shows from its two primary backers. “Fox and NBC are doing everything possible to clear the rights and get us material,” he said.

Critics have questioned whether NBC and Fox are truly motivated to make Hulu succeed. Both networks make many of the same programs freely available on their own Web sites.

In addition, Fox sells ad-free, downloadable versions of its programs on Apple’s iTunes. NBC pulled its material off iTunes earlier this fall, citing Apple’s reluctance to let content creators set their own price and now sells shows on Amazon.com’s Unbox service.

NBC recently removed its content from YouTube to make way for the Hulu introduction. Hulu “is really the centerpiece of what we’re trying to evolve to digitally,” said Jeff Zucker, president and chief executive of NBC Universal.

Hulu must still overcome some significant obstacles. If it wants to become the true destination site for professionally made TV shows and movies, it must attract other major content providers like Viacom and Disney. Those media companies reportedly rejected previous offers to participate in the service.

The executives involved in Hulu say they will again approach those companies and others when the service is offered more widely, and give them better revenue-sharing terms than they can find anywhere else. But big companies like Viacom will likely be reluctant to embrace an effort jointly owned by two of their largest competitors.

“These are all friends of mine,” Mr. Chernin of the News Corporation said. “They all have their own strategies. They have every right to sit back and see how this works and if it is in their best interests. I’m optimistic that others will join us, but even if nothing else changes, I already think this has more premium video than anywhere else.”

Another challenge: Hulu’s operating costs could quickly escalate. Hulu wants to offer the rich video that people are used to seeing on television. It will have to spend far more than other video sites to store the video on servers and then transmit the files to users, and at the same time give away much of the advertising revenue to its partners.

YouTube, by contrast, does not pay anything for its content (users freely submit it). It gets to keep all its ad revenue and does not provide video in a high-quality format. Still, because of the high operating costs of running a video-sharing service, YouTube is not thought to be very profitable for Google.

“To me the biggest challenge is economics,” said James L. McQuivey, an analyst with Forrester Research who was briefed on Hulu last week. “The content is good, and they are distributing it in all the right places. But over time they will have pressure to increase the quality of the streams and that is going to raise costs even more.”

Mr. Zucker does not appear to be concerned about the long-term financial viability of Hulu. That might actually provide more fodder for those critics who say Hulu has so many diverging mandates that it will be difficult for it to create an enduring, stand-alone business.

“At a minimum it’s another way for us to offer our content to users and get paid for it,” Mr. Zucker said. “If the site itself does well, that will be gravy on top of it.”

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rummble, Whrrl: Social networking doppelgangers

Dr. Media says now this is cool. You can be virtual, and beam out of VR to the real world to meet with Carbon based units and maybe even hook up. Can't wait for the 1st real VR stalker to get busted, that will be an interesting law suit.

October 24, 2007 9:24 AM PDT

Rummble, Whrrl: Social networking doppelgangers

Rummble logo
whrrl logo

There are very few essential differences between Whrrl and Rummble, two new social networks built on geotagging, ratings and recommendations within a trusted network, and an amphibian experience of comfortable operation on the Internet and cell phone.

Both Rummble and Whrrl pin users' whereabouts and ratings on a local map so their friends can see. Both also contain stealth settings to dissuade stalkers or shunned friends, and a manual mechanism for updating location if the phone isn't GPS-enabled.

The major differences between the reviews service and Yelp is mostly philosophical. Yelp, too, contains filters for whittling opinions to your network, and privacy settings to cloak your identity. Yet Yelp doesn't place you on a map for all to see, and won't help you schedule a meet-up as a result.

Whrrl map

Whrrl's mapping key serves up ratings at a glance.

(Credit: Whrrl)

Between Whrrl and Rummble, Whrrl is much more ready for prime time than Rummble, which is still locked into a closed beta and which sports a much plainer ("faster, more universal") mobile interface. Whrrl's mapping key is also much more meaningful than Rummble's. Yet Whrrl needs a WAP site to get smartphone users to jump on board, and to improve the way information is organized on the phone. And let's not discount Rummble's fancy behavior-based algorithms for adjusting the percentage of trust you have in your friends' judgment.

Whrrl's plans for behavior-based intelligence is linked to ad support. Thankfully not the location-based targeting that pummels pedestrians with coupons as they pass a shop; rather offers associated with actual patronage.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

More Internet users getting a virtual life

Dr Media says this interest in VR by consumers is a significant change, and this has been a break through year. Why, not because of the money now coming into this space, but because these worlds allow people to take advantage of the Inet's characteristic of anonymity and surreality to explore their Personal Mythology in interactive ways which , as the young woman at the end of the article points out,

"It's a break away from reality.You can dress up your avatar. It doesn't have to look like you, and you can interact with people all over the world instead of interacting with someone right next to you in the real world."

More Internet users getting a virtual life

Monday, October 8, 2007

The online universe is brimming with dozens of virtual worlds vying to build sustainable life.

From Gaia, a Japanese anime-inspired site, to vSide, a hip nightclub scene, they represent the latest way people are interacting through the Internet. Users create alter-ego avatars to navigate these online worlds, where they meet and hang out with other people, go shopping, watch movies, even start a business.

And they're live: Day and night, they change as people join in.

Though the idea is not new, the technology and the business to support these virtual worlds are starting to catch up. And now a new generation, inspired in part by Linden Lab of San Francisco's Second Life, is starting to evolve.

"We call it the avatar age," said Reuben Steiger, CEO of Millions of Us, a Sausalito startup that helps create in-world communities and promotions for advertisers. "We're able to connect with each other in real time and represent ourselves as we want to be seen."

For some, virtual worlds could become a means of social networking, replacing static pages with live ones as destinations for people to spend time.

"The first generation of virtual words is a step in the right direction," said Scott Raney, a partner with Redpoint Ventures and an investor in Gaia.

Estimates vary on how popular the virtual worlds will become. Technology research firm Gartner forecast this year that by 2011, 80 percent of active Internet users will have a "second life" in some sort of virtual world. Another research company, eMarketer, predicted last month that more than half of U.S. children and teens who use the Internet - about 20 million people - will visit virtual worlds by 2011.

About 8.2 million young Internet users, or 24 percent, already are checking out a virtual world once a month, eMarketer estimated.

In the past year, investors have put $1 billion in 35 virtual-world companies, according to a report advancing the Virtual Worlds Conference, being held Wednesday and Thursday in San Jose.

Some companies included in the report are more game-oriented than virtual world-oriented, and therein lies one of the debates for the nascent industry. Some draw the line between virtual worlds and games such as World of Warcraft, in which millions of players pillage and battle each other to advance. Others contend that the massive multi-player games nevertheless take place in an online world where participants don't necessarily have to follow the arc of the story and can create an avatar just to go inside and meet other people - or orcs.

"It's definitely a changing landscape," said Chris Sherman, executive director for Virtual Worlds Management, which conducted the study.

The virtual worlds are taking all kinds of shapes.

San Jose's Gaia had 2.5 million users last month, including 100,000 logged in at the same time. It was created by comic book artists, with two-dimensional avatars that resemble Japanese anime characters.

In vSide, which began about two months ago and has about 200,000 registered users, the online world is more about the music scene, with nightclubs where groups such as All-American Rejects drop in.

"You have something to come back to every week," said Tim Stevens, CEO of Doppelganger, the San Francisco company behind vSide. "If you're a fan, you want to get the rush you get from going to a concert or a music festival or finding that new song."

One of the criticisms, however, is that each is its own little world, disconnected from other virtual worlds. To join another one, users have to create new avatars and find new friends.

Metaplace is testing a service that would allow people to create virtual worlds that they can share with friends and publish on their blogs and social-networking profiles.

"Our goal is to democratize virtual worlds, to put them in the hands of everybody," said Raph Koster, founder of Metaplace.

The reality, though, is that while the virtual world is essentially limitless, Charles Darwin's theory of evolution still applies. Some aren't easy to use, discouraging participants from returning, or they don't have enough activities or people in them at one time to make it fun.

"It's inevitable there will be too many," said Raney, the partner with Redpoint Ventures. "We know there's going to be tremendous activity in this space. There's no shortage of places competing for people's attention."

And with most virtual worlds still attracting a large population, it isn't clear how users will react.

"My biggest worry is it's going to get so fragmented that people are going to be discouraged," said Michael Wilson, CEO of Makena Technologies, which runs There.com and also helped MTV build a series of virtual worlds for its television shows, including "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills."

Tiffany Stoddard, a 19-year-old psychology and sociology student at Macalester College in Minnesota, uses Zwinky and IMVU.

In Zwinky, part of InterActiveCorp, she and her friends dressed up as security officers and bugged other players in a virtual shopping mall. In another instance, she acted as a minister to "marry" her friends.

"You can't do all that stuff in real life, so it's an opportunity to do things you can't normally do," she said.

Stoddard, who is black, also experimented with race, creating avatars with different-color skins and testing how others reacted to her. She found that she received different responses as she looked for a virtual boyfriend, getting, for instance, responses only from white men when her avatar was white.

"It's a break away from reality," she said. "You can dress up your avatar. It doesn't have to look like you, and you can interact with people all over the world instead of interacting with someone right next to you in the real world."

A galaxy of virtual worlds

Gaia: gaiaonline.com

Habbo: habbo.com

IMVU: imvu.com

Kaneva: kaneva.com

Metaplace: metaplace.com

MTV: vmtv.com

Second Life: secondlife.com

There: there.com

vSide: vside.com

Zwinky: zwinky.com

E-mail Ellen Lee at elee@sfchronicle.com.


This article appeared on page C - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle