Archive for the 'Tech' Category

Bringing dollars to viral video

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

Steven Starr of Revver gave a demo of their “super distribution” model for compensating creators of internet video. By taking advantage of Quicktime HTTP hooks, Revver dynamically serves a single-frame advertisement to the conclusion of a video each time it is played. Apparently, this has resulted in over 20,000$US for the makers of the Mentos/ Diet Coke performance.

Questions linger. How will they verify authorship? How scalable is a human-review model? Starr expressed interest in moving to a sampling, permissive license in the future and alluded to a downstream revenue sharing schema. How would this look and how could it be administered? Is this business model and software patented? Assuming Revver is successful, are we comfortable with a single organization managing the advertising money for all of the web’s viral video? If I transfer videos to my non-networked device, does payment end?

The strongest aspect of the Revver model is its openness. It works almost like piping in the unix commandline interface. Revver can compensate video makers in many different viewing environments. (Democracy, MySpace, Quicktime via email attachment, downloaded from a torrent swarm…)

For now, there is no Linux software. All of their software development has been open except for the QT hook – “that’s the business side” – why can’t the business side be open as well?

Jon “Maddog” Hall at Boston Linux/Unix Group

Thursday, January 19th, 2006

Tonight, I had the opportunity to hear Jon “Maddog” Hall give a high-level talk (appropriately peppered with server-room humor for the crowd) at this month’s BLUG meeting. For an audience familiar with the the free/open-source software movement, the presentation was a thrilling cheerleading session. Maddog (so named by his students at the Hartford State Tech College) is an elegant raconteur with a seemingly limitless number of stories describing applications of free software across the globe. He detailed in passionate terms the development of no-cost computer labs, entrepreneurship, research, and education from Africa to Brazil to Fuji. During his first visit to that last tropical locale, Maddog singlehandedly brought GNU/Linux to a University which had been unable to download any distributions because the entire institution shared a lone 1200bps dial-up connection to the Internet.

Recently, my blogroll has been lit up with newly-stirred debate over the principles behind free software. Maddog, though present for and supportive of the introduction of the term Open Source in 1998, described recently reconsidering the diplomatic nomenclature. He suggests that RMS is correct in asserting the original term, “free software”, along with requisite disambiguation of the troublesome adjective for English speakers. “The actual value [of f/oss] is FREEDOM” and with open source, “they still don’t get it.”

Years of globetrotting shifted Maddog’s focus away from the “gratis” side of free software to the “libre.” Use the code, read the code, change the code, share the code. These are the rights of f/oss users and for users with experience in systemic oppression and bureaucratic control (for example, those behind Iron or Bamboo Curtains), these rights not mere mythology but liberation!

Maddog also announced a fundamental shift for Linux International. After more than 10 years as a vendor organization, it will soon transform to the inverse. He estimates that as an end-user organization representing anyone but the vendors, LI will be able to generate ~$18-20million per year. These funds will be redirected to support efforts in areas such as better documentation which should cycle back to increase the number of end-users and, presumably, the next year’s kitty. Keep an eye out.

In an exciting classroom update, we have succeeded in assembling more than 20 no-cost PCs. The kids have started to take them home; Ubuntu on the boot. Canonical hurried 30 free CDs out to us, so the kids are taking home a pair of nice Ubuntu CD-ROMs in fold-out sleeves rather than more of my burned CD-r’s. Nothing like a little spit’n’shine.

Digital media market self-destruction

Monday, April 18th, 2005

Today Adobe announces its purchase of Macromedia and I am forced to wonder, how much further consolidation can the digital media market endure? How far from competition can a market stray before it begins to collapse in on itself like some bloatware blackhole? I am very concerned about the future of the products under the new Adobe/Macromedia umbrella. Photoshop, Illustrator, Acrobat, Premier, Dreamweaver, Director, and Flash (in both cracked and legal form) are tools that have enabled the development of an art space online free from credential and geography. How will this community be affected? Also, can we expect even more restrictive anti-piracy measures?

Widespread piracy of these softwares is due largely to their lofty retail prices (even with an educator’s discount.) As such, purchasing them legally is simply foolish for the majority of hobbyists and amateurs with no hope or intention of recouping that expense through revenue or as a tax write-off. With even less competition influencing pricing, will we see more people looking to f/oss solutions such as the Gimp?