Web 3.0

next steps : i don't want an HD YouTube

This may sound crazy, but stick with me.

YouTube is a mainstream indie.

It's fun because it works and feels like a start up.
The overall experience is like playing with somebody else's really fun contraption.

The empty design is part of the user gen centric YouTube experience.

  • I almost prefer the days before YouTube had the scrolling flashy videos at the top.
  • I don't like YouTube pages with a background, they don't feel like YouTube.
  • I like the occasional skipped frame or other hiccup in YouTube. 
  • I enjoy the occasional smudge, it makes everything feel real.

HD content would change everything.
Did you ever watch a VHS on a high def screen?  It looks like an old home video on a reel based projector.  High def streaming of video recorded on cellphones or standard def home cameras would make the content look horrible.  Today it looks grungy, grassroots, real. 

High Def is about immersion, professionals and enhanced realism, not UGC, not YouTube.

Redesigning or reconfiguring YouTube to look and feel like a professional site would be to destroy the entire YouTube culture.  I'm in favor of a YouTube successor, but not a replacement. 

If Google wants to launch ProTube, I'm all for it.  But PLEASE, don't take away my YouTube!


digital media jam

Just picked this up off Scobelizer.  This may be a very long video, but I found much of it to be a worthwhile listen.  Check it out below:


Key Takeaways:

  • Users want to control all their digital media in the same way they control their DVDs. 
    • I can watch watch my DVDs at a friend's house without leaving a copy there.
  • BitTorrent has been successful because it enables and empowers content portability.  It's not all about the piracy, it's about access and delivery.
  • Your content is yours.  You want it to live as such.

For previous coverage of free-flowing-DRM (or liquid DRM) click here.

On that note, this Media Master System looks promising and truly liquid (liquid?).  If the pricing, connectivity and user interface are there, this could be huge!

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- PS - Can anyone out there please explain what happened to Orb?  They nearly had a similar system built out YEARS AGO and haven't yet taken off!


transitioning from the old to the new - in need of a map

Globe Most of our digital behaviors are extensions of our analog behaviors, somehow supplemented, augmented or made better by their new digital iterations.  We as an industry are heading down a new road and the only map we have is years is nearly a century old.  So how do I get from point a - today - to point b - tomorrow... before we arrive there?  If I learned anything from Back To The Future 2 it was that knowing the future is a profitable business.  So let's break this down.

What we're really asking is - to what extent does digital media create new behaviors?  How has the digital evolution gradually become a revolution?  Our roads have been rerouted and redirected so many times that our maps are oftentimes obsolete, yet we haven't undergone too many major overnight changes.

What started as digital mail (email) became file sharing and ultimately P2P-Torrent-like digital asset distribution- ultimately changing the way we view, store, access and interact with media as a whole.  The gradual evolutionary steps we have undergone as a society  - when viewed through the lens of a decade of progress - have become a virtual revolution in our social and behavioral ecosystems.

So bottom line: we're all in this field as consumers, professionals and/or hobbyists - how does anyone know where we're going to be 5 miles down the road?

Firstly, I would suggest that we cannot forget the lessons we have learned as a market over the past 80 years, nor can we afford to ignore that which has  not yet been discovered - or was previously rejected.  Nothing is irrelevant.  iTV may have failed 8 years ago, but I may become huge in the coming years.  Print media may be undergoing a fundamental shift, but with new technologies (like e-ink) we may see it rise in the digital domain once again as a growing media.  The continuous shift the digital marketplace has seen and will continue to witness over the coming decades will continue to open new doors without closing all existing ones. 

Someone recently asked me, why would you blog if you could sell your ideas for money?  Firstly, I'm not convinced that I'm that smart or insightful.  Secondly, I don't believe that any one person (Godin included!) has all the answers.  The best we can hope to do is to read, to write, to discuss and to contribute, to create a new information and marketing ecosystem - together

In 10 years from now, college professors and mainstream media outlets will be looking  back at "predictive" blog posts from today and estimating the extent to which we were correct in our analysis and predictions.  What will they say about you?

Perhaps the greatest creative outlet generated by new/digital media is not the content itself, but the nature of the ecosystem in which the content resides.  There is conversation.  There is expression.  There is emotion.  And perhaps more importantly, everything is documented and recorded for all posterity. 

This post will still be here in a week, in a month, in a year, in a decade. And I'm sure we'll all have great fun looking back out our "pre-historic" thinking and have a good chuckle at ourselves.

So do us all a favor, and read before you write.  Comment without fear that you will be viewed as a newbie, the conversation is how we all learn!  And once you have a feel for what this whole social media thing is about... WRITE! 

Leave your mark.  Be part of the conversation.  Become part of tomorrow's thought leadership today.


future visions: when empowerment IS annoyance marketing

Everyone but used car salesmen hate radio ads that yell at you.  They are obtrusive, they are annoying, they make you actively turn off the ad by switching stations, turning off the radio or at the very least turning down the volume.

As we transition through and beyond web 2.0, technology and connectivity will become part of and empower ever growing portions of our lives.  As our connectivity continues to grow, marketers will increasingly look to play a part of ever growing parts of consumer lives.   

And consumers will push back.

There is a line that we as an industry need to find.  I don't ever want Unilever playing an audio ad when I open my fridge.  I don't want my alarm clock projecting video ads from Folgers onto my bedroom ceiling when I wake up.  I don't want my cell phone getting bluetooth pop-ups asking me if I would like to view an ad from Macy's when I walk past their store in the local mall. 

At a certain point we need to learn to stop intruding (even if it is by empowering) and let consumers LIVE their lives.  The first brands to offer value or content normally associated with intrusive advertising FOR FREE with NO ADVERTISING OR INTRUSIVE BRAND INSERTIONS will be marked as innovative.  Mark my words.

So were do we draw this line?  I would work with three determining factors when drawing the line:

  • Personal Space
  • Interruption
  • Annoyance

If you are marketing in a place that consumer's consider "personal" you're the brand equivalent of a "close talker". It's uncomfortable, uninvited and makes people feel uneasy.  The same goes for interruptive and annoyance marketing.  The parameters that define these 3 criteria will differ by demographic, and some groups will be more open to intrusive branding than others, but I shudder when considering that my kids may grow up expecting and inviting ads and marketers into their lives in ever growing capacities. 

At a certain point, every individual will have to make this call for themselves and say - this is the place where I don't want brands.  This is MY SPACE!

And BTW (by the way) if anyone out there is in the mental health or personal development fields, this is sure to be a hot emerging market.  By the year 2020 there will be an entire professional counseling field devoted to teaching consumers to draw these lines in their own lives.  By 2025 this lesson will be part of state mandated health class curriculum's.  Remember, you heard it here first.

So how does the market evolve?  By embracing the consumer's desire to turn their marketing off.

Just as Dove stood out by anti-marketing to the beauty market, so too will the first brand who recognizes this emerging trend and markets the white space they provide for their customers, giving them room to live their lives relatively marketer free.  And that my friend's, is the ultimate empowerment.


future visions: when the web lives beyond the browser

The Web is a place where possibility meets reality.

Believe it or not, the web really is a series of tubes. 

When many of us think of the web, we think of the browser.

But the web is greater, the web is stronger.  The web is the connection.

The web delivers newer, smarter, free-er, independent abilities beyond both our hardware and software manufacturer's greatest imaginations.  The web is open, massive and offers unlimited opportunity.

The web residing application powers our social networking, our browsing, our publishing, our communications, our lives.  The web takes the stationary and makes it mobile, makes it portable, breaks down walls and smooths out mountains for newcomers while generating new ones for traditional giants.

Towards this end:

  • Twitter isn't anything new, it's just another connection that works within the limits of our mobile connectivity.
  • A Metaverse is nothing new, it's just a graphical representation of the text (and at times flat-2D video) world we lived in.  The Metaverse is to the traditional browser as Windows 3.1 or the Apple II was to DOS.
  • The iPhone is revolutionary in it's design but it's greatest strength lies in web developers' embrace of the platform to distribute the web as an experience, as an interaction, as an open ended connection - not as a browser. 

Widgets may live today in our personal and social network pages largely within browser, but the distributed web will fuel the 2.0 - 3.0 transition.

So in a sense, web 3.0 isn't about the destination, but the experience of the living and breathing organism that is the web - the connectivity, the openness, the power of the (distributed) interaction that is the web experience.


liquid DRM - opening doors for customers without slamming doors in the faces of content creators

Water If you're a regular reader you're familiar with my desire to see DRM live - in a transparent and unobtrusive rol.  I like to think of this as liquid DRM.  Our current DRM system is like a ton of bricks, getting them from place to place is virtually impossible.  Liquid DRM is clear, flows and may be bottled by the content owners, but as far as users are concerned, it's their own water to drink, waste or flavor to their own tastes. DRM, be it ad supported DRM or paid content with DRM is the only way to keep content secure - which much of mainstream media (Dave Matthews Band aside) relies heavily upon to monetize their content to both reimburse the content creators and generate revenue.

There are two ways a liquid DRM system could live without being evil:

  • Content owner-side licensing - which can port across multiple DRM schemes, so I can transfer my Apple DRM content over into a Windows DRM scheme via a transfer utility embedded in both players.
  • Virtualization: a third party media player layers itself on top of both Windows and iTunes (and others) delivering one library consisting of multiple DRM formats.  This third party player would also sync with multi-DRM-format capable portable players.  It may be a pipe dream today, but I fully expect to see this in a few years time.

So Amazon just delivered a DRM free music store.  EMI seems to be selling DRM free music all up and down this crazy town (forgive the 1950's verbiage, you've gotta love two-toned jackets).  While this is certainly a great step in the right direction, I have to ask - why are we seeing this new DRM free craze?

A few years back Napster got shut down because of P2P piracy/sharing. 
iTunes secured massive contracts with record labels because they locked down their system with DRM.
What has changed since then? 

    Why are record labels suddenly ready to open up the doors they closed 5 years ago?

I'd like to believe it's because the content owners care about their consumers.
 In reality however, it's because DRM is broken and they are desperate to regain their record sales revenue.  The labels are desperate enough to unnecessarily give up their own record sales future.

DRM free music won't seriously combat piracy, better, smarter, more liquid user-side transparent DRM might. 

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Stay tuned for more on the subject later today.  In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to comment below!


Future Visions: Where does network tv go from here?

Future_tv_43_3 I was jamming with Jordan Bitterman this morning about of all things... NBC Direct, the future of Network Television, and our mutual love of all things Family Guy.  And we came across a couple of interesting trends, I'd love get your thoughts on them.

  • When we time and/or place shift television content we don't think about The Office as an NBC show, but as our content.  At the same time, if we had to choose a network that was ours, we would say NBC.  This is based on historical viewing behaviors from the time when we spent our Thursday nights on NBC. 
    • What affinity (if any) will the next generation of future viewers have towards networks? (the build out below is my own)
      • As kids they will still have Nick, Disney and PBS channels. Most children don't have appointment viewing that must be time-shifted or the capability to place shift.  They don't have the need for personalized controlled viewing.
      • Once in Junior High to High School their tastes, viewing behaviors will shift and asset control capabilities will shift. Additionally, the many kids whose parents won't let them have televisions in their rooms but may have computers, iPods and other rich media capable devices will begin to view more content on digital mediums - which offer additional control.
      • Colleges and universities are currently a primo ground for piracy. While universities are cutting down on pirating and p2p activity, this is largely outside of their own network - ie - access to internet, not their own intranets.  Having recently visited a number of campuses, the sheer volume of internal file sharing I witnessed is astounding.  These behaviors are being learned for life.  (This should be NBC Direct's primary target audience.)  When I'm accessing my digital content through aggregate sites, what affinity will I have at this life stage towards an individual network? 
  • In the age of true user control, what position will networks play in the market?  Networks buy programming from the content creators and distribute that content via broadcast media and now digital media.  Once networks opens up their content to user controlled digital distribution, what's to stop content creators from working directly with digital distribution platforms and collecting all the ad revenue for themselves?
  • The voice of the user is pushing longtail content up towards the fat belly.  Case in point:
    • D#@k in a box and Lazy Sunday ultimately drove to Superbad
    • Family Guy's DVD sales and cable tv popularity led to their return to network TV
    • TMZ is on Network TV
  • How does this change the current media landscape?
    • Is talent discovery is no longer controlled by industry leaders?
    • Is content distribution shifting away from the networks?
    • Will tomorrow's viewers hold network affinities or will ubiquitous distribution create affinities towards content alone?


Next Steps: DRM

Lock We all know how much we hate DRM.  It's obtrusive, it's annoying and it obstructs the free flow of content.  It runs counter to the very nature of the web.

Yet DRM is necessary for the protection (read: monetization) of premium content (think: The Office) in the digital world. So where's the middle ground?

It seems mainstream television believes this middle ground can be found in both old-school lock-down DRM (Apple and Windows) and protected streams on content. 

This falls short of user desires and expectations in a number of places:

  1. We use one TV and hopefully one remote to access all of our television content.
    • Yet when viewing content online we are supposed to go to hosted sites to view that same content.
  2. Television's reside in our living rooms and in our bedrooms.  We watch from our couches.
    • Computers reside on desks, we're leaning forward.  Much of the time we multi-task.  If we're watching video (when not on an airplane) there is a very good chance that we are watching it as a screen-in-screen while working on other content, otherwise we'd be watching it on a screen.
  3. Our Tivos give us a degree of ownership over the content.  We have a copy of it.  When we buy DVD, there is a degree of ownership.  The content is ours.
    • Streams aren't ours, they are yours.  The internet is our playground.  Let us download the premium streams of ad-supported content with a 30 day license.  This shouldn't hurt the DVD market, but would allow users to time and place shift legally - with the ads.
  4. DRM Stinks.  As a user, the protections you place on your content should not be my concern.  DRM and licensing should live behind the curtain.  I don't want to see it, I don't want to deal with it.
  5. Apple shouldn't own your licensing.  All Apple distributed licenses should reside within the property owner's (TV networks) database.  If I want to view my iTunes DRM protected content on a Windows Media device, I should be able to convert my licenses via collaboration between DRM formats - on the backend this would require something as simple as pinging the content owners.

Next Steps: Digital Rights Management

  1. Enable limited-licensed content with a 30 day expiration for download.  Bake in the ads.  If hackers cut out the ads and distribute the content on BitTorrent, you haven't really lost anything as the content is there already.
  2. Empower users to cut up your program into snippets, remix it, embed it on their own pages, play with it and make it their own.  Let us view what we consider to be our content where we want to, on our own terms.  Let us view it on our own pages, on our own terms.  These steps will only generate additional traffic to the programs themselves. 
    • And don't worry so much about content adjacency.  We don't know what posters people have on their bedroom walls right next to their televisions.  IF we don't have real world adjacency, why do we demand it of digital? 
    • Alternatively, just drop the ads from streams on inappropriate sites and cut out the last few minutes of the program with a link to view the remainder of the program on a safe site - with ads.
  3. Courts should forcibly mandate that Apple and Windows collaborate on their DRM.
    • In the short term, media players and media playing devices should be able to handle multiple DRM schemes.

As this is a hot button issue, I'm sure you all have lots to add!  Looking forward to your comments!