The digital video transition has been a long time coming. It’s still early, early days. Many of dreams of the .com boom that shattered upon technical, social or financial reality a decade ago, however, are finally coming to pass.
When the world can watch live rock events and cricket matches on YouTube.com, livestreams from revolutions in the Middle East and watch the President of the United States announce the resolution to a Congressional budget impass on a smartphone, it does feel like a bit has flipped.
As usual, a famous observation by William Gibson (@GreatDismal) feels apt: “The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
Live will allow selected users, like Pop17, to livestream channels directly to YouTube platforms. According to YouTube, the world should expect “thousands” of livestreams to go online in the months ahead.
With the move, YouTube Live will further collapse the line between what used to be “television” and the Internet, with billions of small screens and networked flatscreens complementing the broadcast networks and CRTs that dominated the end of the last century.
YouTube enters a market where uStream, Qik and Livestream.com that have been exploring for years in the private sector. In the public sector, Granicus has been supporting open government video initiatives for going on a decade.
If YouTube Live is as integrated as tightly into the Android mobile platform as Google Maps has become, this entrance could be disruptive on a worldwide level. The Android operating system is now on a plurality of smartphones in the United States, with rapidly growing global marketshare that puts it at #2 behind Symbian.
Given the explosive growth in livestream-capable iPhones and Android devices, mobile broadband providers will likely see increasing demand on upstream bandwidth. That in turn that many more people will be left wondering what “reasonable network management” by telecommunication companies will mean in this context.
Esperanza Spalding won a Grammy for Best New Artist tonight. She’s an extraordinary talent. Moments after her win, White House new media director Macon Phillips congratulated her on Twitter and linked to a video of her performance at the White House Poetry Jam on YouTube:
Shortly after that, the White House account shared the same video, along with a link to all of the performances on the White House YouTube channel.
It’s good to know there are some music fans down the road at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Congratulations to Spalding for the well-deserved recognition.
Mental Health Break: the wonderfully creative video for “This Too Shall Pass,” from the OK Go album, “Of the Blue Colour of the Sky.”
According to the shownotes on YouTube, the video was directed by James Frost, OK Go and Syyn Labs and produced by Shirley Moyers.
The video was filmed in a two story warehouse, in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA. The “machine” was designed and built by the band, along with members of Syyn Labs ( http://syynlabs.com/ ) over the course of several months. OK Go thanks State Farm for making this video possible.
I was the 7,869,145th person to discover it. [HT Mark Drapeau] I’m ok with that. The success of this video built further on “Here It Goes Again,” one of the most popular viral videos ever:
This past week, OK Go took one step further along their transition to “Band 2.0” — they left EMI Records to form Paracadute Recordings. (Paracadute is parachute in Italian, for those wondering, along with being really fun to say.) Fittingly, the move was a;so announced on YouTube:
As Kulash indicated in a New York Times op-ed, “WhoseTube” earlier this year, however, there’s more of a backstory here. As Kulash observed, EMI prevented users from embedding the label’s videos on other websites, a move which likely targeted at increasing the label’s streaming royalties from YouTube. Kulash argued that the policy hamstrung the “viralability” of the video:
When EMI disabled the embedding feature, views of our treadmill video dropped 90 percent, from about 10,000 per day to just over 1,000. Our last royalty statement from the label, which covered six months of streams, shows a whopping $27.77 credit to our account.
Clearly the embedding restriction is bad news for our band, but is it worth it for EMI? The terms of YouTube’s deals with record companies aren’t public, but news reports say that the labels receive $.004 to $.008 per stream, so the most EMI could have grossed for the streams in question is a little over $5,400.
With that move, the “most-downloaded band ever” followed Radiohead and NIN into independent distribution and promotion. Given a press release that credits OK Go with 180 million video streams and counting, perhaps Damian Kulash, Tim Nordwind, Dan Konopka and Andy Ross figure they can make it without a label’s backing.
Given the challenges of selling music online, this hybrid model of sponsored viral media, touring and merchandise sales might allow OK Go to make enough to support families. Not every artist is going to be able to pull this off. As Jonathan Coulton showed in 2007, however, for some savvy musicians, the Web offers a new media model. Code Monkey went viral – and fans got involved:
Both Coulton and OK Go have embraced video, blogging, Twitter, Facebook and other online networks to distribute their work, promote their appearances and — crucially — engage their fans. Making money from that investment of time is the secret sauce, of course, but for some, “band 2.0” will pay off. Not every band will be able to make more than $2 million dollars from digital downloads, as Radiohead managed to do through inrainbows.com, but OK Go’s success does show how creativity can be rewarded.
In the meantime, enjoy that Rube Goldbergian video.
While I’m proud of those posts, one of the themes that emerged from the weekend was the importance of video for communication. I’m not at all on “video as the new text,” especially for countries with low Internet penetration or bandwidth, but there’s no denying that online video has extraordinary power in conveying messages. Just look at video of Iranian protesters on the streets of Tehran, reports from the earthquake in Haiti or the President of the United States on YouTube. Tune in to CitizenTube any minute of the day to witness that power in action.
Following are short videos from Gov2.0 LA organizers and attendees that share their takeways from the event.
The changes that smartphones with camera and an Internet connection are wreaking in society have been both thoughtfully reported upon, relentlessly evangelized and ruthlessly derided, depending upon the angle or intent of the commentator.
The past days will occupy a few lines in the history books. Last night, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a milestone healthcare bill. And earlier in the week, a soldier killed fellow servicemen and women at Fort Hood.
I agreed with him on a few things. The video from “This American Life” (below) that Carr embedded was deeply affecting on this point, in terms of what becoming an observer can do to our involvement in what we are filming.
Changing an avatar to green or changing a location to Tehran did not, despite good intentions, prove to substantively help students escape repression. I gather from reading accounts from journalists that the solidarity demonstrated by doing so was both noticed and appreciated there. And there was a tipping point in terms of the use of the platform to bring attention to a political cause.
Where I was left frustrated is in Carr’s suggestion that those who are watching should be doing something more, whether in the hospital or, in the case of Neda, on the streets of Tehran, instead of documenting events with the digital tools at hand.
I found the example of Neda to be unworthy of the point I think Carr was trying to make.
It also brushed off two key factors: the effect that the release of that video had in revealing the death of a protester and that of the bullet’s impact itself on her heart.
As Suw Charman-Anderson pointed out in her detailed critique and debunking of Carr’s post, “Killing Strawmen,” (which I won’t repeat here), there was a doctor on-site, who was unable to do anything because of the massive trauma to her chest.
In my limited experience, you provide the standard of care to which you are certified and are able to deliver, ceding primary responsibility to others more able as they arrive on scene. As an EMT couldn’t do much more, for instance, than to gauge consciousness, stanch bleeding, stabilize injuries, provide oxygen and transport people. Your choices must change if someone is in the wilderness but in most scenarios, that’s accurate. Paramedics, nurses, doctors and surgeons each have progressively more expertise and responsibility.
In all of that, communication with the nearest hospital and ER docs available is crucial. Transferring information to both medical professionals and law enforcement is something a bystander can and should do.
And to some extent, communication and documentation is precisely what a member of the public equipped with a cameraphone can contribute, despite the vigor with which Carr has chosen to deride that role.
I don’t doubt that seasoned correspondents, armed with an understanding of the ethics and laws that pertain to reporting, are needed to convey information from the battlefield or to analyze the meaning of the trends that confront us.
In fact, Brock Meeks, one such trusted newsman, made a comment on my post about Twitter lists that emphasized just how important getting the facts right is to both the audience and media.
I was left wondering about other situations where the “citizen journalists” Carr derides are providing an important function in the newsgathering ecosystem, whether in reporting national disasters, disease, voting irregularities or consumer sentiment.
A more calm approach might consider whether models of “hyperlocal” journalism that marry traditional media to online platforms might have a chance of success.
My intention is not to suggest that observers couldn’t play a useful role in a crisis. It was to say that when there are qualified staff on scene, documenting what is happening in the absence of mainstream journalists may be useful for those that follow – including news outlets that may use video or audio gleaned on site.
I agree with Paul that running images shouldn’t occur without a full understanding of the ethics or privacy rights involved.
Unfortunately, many tabloids have shown a poor grasp of either historically.
The fact that technology changes behavior doesn’t make it inherently bad. We’re all struggling to make sense of exactly what living in a modern panopticon created by one another will mean. It changes news, our conception of privacy, and even our perception of self.
The traits for good character and decency that the Greeks described millennia ago remain applicable, however, just as the ethics taught in journalism schools pertain to modern reporters armed with Flip cams, iPhones and a direct line to YouTube.
There will continue to be moments when war correspondents are confronted what choices about how covering conflict, versus participating in it, will mean.
Similarly, people driving by an accident will need to be thoughtful about “playing paparrazzi” as opposed to making sure that those involved are receiving the aid they need. Anyone who has a conflict about whether to “tweet or treat” might to do well to consider what basic human decency means to them, personally.
Does an event need to be documented? Or does calling 911 and then moving to help trump rendering assistance?
Citizens are looking for truth, honesty and facts, where ever we can find them. That need was frequently the subject of discussion during Public Media Camp, after which I wrote that “2009 is the year of We, the Media.”
Perhaps, as news organizations and citizens alike contribute to the body of knowledge online, a new model for collaborative journalism will emerge that serves each better.
This morning, I saw many more go live. Fun stuff, for the most part. You can see the hoaxes, pranks and faux sites go up , more or less in real-time, by watching the AprilFools hashtag on Twitter. Here’s what I found:
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