Monthly Archives: March 2013

Tweaser: noun — a movie teaser cut into a 6 second Vine video and tweet

I never expected to associate a “tweaser” with The Wolverine. (I assumed Wolverine’s healing powers would always extrude any splinter.)

That changed yesterday, when James Mangold, the director of the most recent cinematic treatment of the comic book hero’s adventures, tweeted the first “tweaser” of the new century. He used Twitter’s new Vine app to share the short clip, a tightly edited 6 seconds of  footage from the upcoming film. You can watch Vine’s big moment in tweet embedded below.

Twitter certainly has come a long way from txt messages. As Lily Rothman quipped at Time, the emergence of a 6 second tweaser that can be retweeted, tumbled and embedded gives “new meaning to the intersection of Hollywood and Vine.”

Jen Yamato has the backstory behind 20th Century Fox’s debut of a 21st century tweaser over at Deadline, including credit to Fox executive Tony Sella for the coinage:

Last week FilmDistrict was the first studio to use Twitter’s new looping app as a marketing tool. Here’s an even buzzier use of Vine: A 6-second “tweaser” (that’s Twitter teaser, or “TWZZR”) previewing Fox’s July 26 superhero pic Wolverine.

I suspect that at least a few of the tweasers that go flickering by on Twitter, Vine and blog posts will lead people to do what I did: become aware of the upcoming and film and look for a longer version of the teaser trailer elsewhere online. If a tweaser comes with a custom short URL, so much the easier.

To that point, If you want to watch a higher quality “full-length” version of the teaser, there’s now a teaser trailer available on the iTunes Store and a YouTube version:
… which, it’s worth pointing out, can also be embedded in tweets.

Hopefully, history remember will remember “The Wolverine for more than being the subject of the world’s first “tweaser.” Then again, our attention spans may not be up to it, particularly if the length of the interactive media we consume continues to shorten at this rate.

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Can journalists change their social media avatars to political symbols?

Nisha Chittal asked a number of journalists (including me) about where they stand for on using same-sex marriage symbols on their social media profiles.

Here’s what she found: “The answer is a multi-layered one: it depends on the journalist, the outlet they work for, the social media platform, and whether the journalist is covering this week’s Supreme Court hearings.”


I was honored to see that Nisha gave me the “kicker quote” at the end. If you’d like to weigh in on your stance on this ethical issue, comment away.

Here’s the statement I submitted to her inquiry:

In general, the consensus answer amongst the journalists I respect is that changing your avatar to a symbol like this is not OK, based upon the ethics policies of places like the AP, WSJ, NYT, PBS or NPR.

I think the capacity to demonstrate support for one side of a contentious social issue like this varies, depending upon the masthead a journalist is working under, the ethics policy of that masthead, the role of the journalist and the coverage area of the journalist. Staking out positions on a reporter’s beat is generally frowned upon.

Opinion journalists who regularly take positions on the issues of the day as columnists have often already made it clear where they stand on a policy or law. Advocacy journalism has an established place in the marketplace for ideas. Readers know where a writer stands and are left to judge the strength of an argument and the evidence presented to back it.

If a reporter takes on overt, implicit position on an issue that she is reporting on, however, will it be possible to interview sources who oppose it?

On the other hand, there are a number of social issues that may have had “sides” in past public discourse but have now become viewpoints that few journalists would find tenable to support today.

How many journalists were able to remain neutral or objective in their coverage of slavery in the 1860s? Womens’ suffrage in the early 20th century? Civil rights in the 1960s? Child slavery, sex trafficking, so-called “honor rape” or the impression of child soldiers in the present?

Interracial marriage was illegal in some states in the Union, not so many years ago. That is not the case any longer. It seems to me that gay marriage is on the same trajectory. The arc of the moral universe is long indeed, but I tend to agree with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on its trajectory: it bends towards justice.


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White House supports unlocking cellphones but Congress must update DMCA to fix rule

“…neither criminal law nor technological locks should prevent consumers from switching carriers when they are no longer bound by a service agreement or other obligation,” wrote R. David Edelman, senior advisor for Internet, innovation, & privacy, in an official response to a popular e-petition.

In other words, the Obama administration has come down on the side of consumers unlocking their phones. That’s a good thing for every user, from what I can see.

The meat of the reply, in terms of what they’ll actually DO about the e-petition, recognizes the authority of the Librarian of Congress and the validity of the rulemaking process, And as far as I can tell, the statement from the Library of Congress does not indicate that they’ll be changing, which leaves it to Congress to act.

“The question of locked cell phones was raised by participants in the Section 1201 rulemaking conducted between September 2011 and October 2012 by the Register of Copyrights, who in turn advises the Librarian of Congress. The rulemaking is a process spelled out by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in which members of the public can request exemptions from the law to enable circumvention of technological protection measures. In the case of cell phones, the request was to allow circumvention of technological protection measures controlling access to copyrighted software on cell phones.

The rulemaking is a technical, legal proceeding and involves a lengthy public process. It requires the Librarian of Congress and the Register of Copyrights to consider exemptions to the prohibitions on circumvention, based on a factual record developed by the proponents and other interested parties. The officials must consider whether the evidence establishes a need for the exemption based on several statutory factors. It does not permit the U.S. Copyright Office to create permanent exemptions to the law.

As designed by Congress, the rulemaking serves a very important function, but it was not intended to be a substitute for deliberations of broader public policy. However, as the U.S. Copyright Office has recognized many times, the 1201 rulemaking can often serve as a barometer for broader policy concerns and broader policy action. The most recent rulemaking has served this purpose.”

To put it another way, the Librarian of Congress heard these concerns during the rulemaking process and decided an exemption from the DMCA was not warranted. This White House response does not change that decision. If you read that letter differently, let me know in the comments.

For this rule to change, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act itself, which led to the contentious rule, will need to be amended.

“In today’s phone unlocking response, the White House took a strong stance in favor of consumers, competition, and innovation,” said Sherwin Siy, VP of Legal Affairs at Public Knowledge, in an emailed statement.

“We’re very glad that the administration recognizes the significant problems created when copyright laws tread upon the rights of consumers to use the products they have bought and owned. These problems will continue, however, so long as the law is written in such a way that laws intended to protect artists can be abused to stifle competition–not just in cell phones, but also in a wide variety of other products and services. Public Knowledge has long sought changes to the DMCA that would prevent not just this problem, but many other abuses. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration to put these changes in place.”

A statement from the author of the petition

“I received a call from David Edelman at the White House, and he gave me the news,” related Sina Khanifar (@sinak), who introduced the e-petition, in an emailed statement.

“I’m really glad to see the White House taking action on an issue that’s clearly very important to people. As the White House said in the response, keeping unlocking legal is really “common sense,” and I’m excited to see them recognizing this. David was enthusiastic about getting this fixed as quickly as possible.

This is a big victory for consumers, and I’m glad to have played a part in it. A lot of people reacted skeptically when I originally started the petition, with lots of comments to the effect of ‘petitions don’t do anything.’  The optimist in me is really glad to have proved them wrong. The White House just showed that they really do listen, and that they’re willing to take action.

While I think this is wonderful, I think the real culprit here is Section 1201 of the DMCA, the controversial “anti-circumvention provision.” I discussed with the White House the potential of pushing to have that provision amended or removed, and they want to continue that conversation. I’ll have exciting news on the campaign to make this happen tomorrow.”

Bottom line?

My read of this response is that the White House essentially has said that it would support “narrow legislative fixes” (over to you, Congress!), encourages mobile carriers to “enable customers to fully reap the benefits and features they expect and notes that the FCC has a role to play.

“From a communications policy perspective, this raises serious competition and innovation concerns, and for wireless consumers, it doesn’t pass the common sense test,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, in a prepared statement. “The FCC is examining this issue, looking into whether the agency, wireless providers, or others should take action to preserve consumers’ ability to  unlock their mobile phones. I also encourage Congress to take a close look and consider a legislative solution.”

To put it another way, thank you for the e-petition, we agree with the principle, but the rule stands unless Congress acts.

There are other aspects of the response, however, worthy of note.

Tech journalist Rob Pegoraro also highlighted an important element of this response: “The White House didn’t just endorse legalizing phone unlocking, it also backed Carterfone for wireless.”

The White House’s response to a petition urging the administration to undo the recent re-criminalization of unlocking cell phones goes farther than I would have thought possible. In it, tech advisor R. David Edelman endorsed legalizing unlocking not just phones but tablets–a type of hardware unmentioned in the petition. Then he wrote this: “if you have paid for your mobile device, and aren’t bound by a service agreement or other obligation, you should be able to use it on another network.”

That would be a huge step forward for the wireless business–and would bring it in line with wired telecom, where the FCC’s “Carterfone” decision ended the Bell System’s control of the hardware we could plug into its lines. It’s a big deal for the administration to endorse.

This response is also a modest victory for online activism and open government, as expressed on the We the People platform.

“This is terrific news,” said Derek Khanna, a vocal advocate for this change, in an emailed statement:

“It shows the power of the people to affirmatively act to fix policy rather than just stop bad policy.  We the people have this power when we come together to fight for positive, common-sense solutions. This is a major affirmative victory for the digital generation that stood up against censorship of the internet through SOPA a year ago. The work of this movement is not done, now Congress must follow through – and it will require continued activism and engagement from average people who made this possible.

A free society should not require its citizens to petition their government every three years to allow access to technologies that are ordinary and commonplace. Innovation cannot depend upon a permission-based rulemakings requiring approval every three years from an unelected bureaucrat.  A free society should not ban technologies unless there is a truly overwhelming and compelling governmental interest.”

[Image Credit: Josh Bancroft]

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