December 2nd, 2010
Photo by EssjayNZ – http://flic.kr/p/sEEwE
Recently, the ReadWriteWeb blog founder and editor-in-chief, Richard MacManus posted a short piece titled Top Trends 2010: Content Farms. This was a follow up done in late 2009 and expands a bit on the growth of these websites. These content farms literally farm out jobs to freelancers who contribute a great deal of content very quickly. Most of this is very “uninspired” as MacManus aptly puts it. How can it possibly be inspired? This is fast food content, deeply fried. Produce it quickly and copiously, get it out there and maximize it for the most page views and advertisement potential. This content drives web traffic and fills financial coffers for these players. This leads to the big looming question – What is this doing to quality content on the web and can it take a stand against the onslaught of mediocre media?
The rise of the ubiquity of cellular networks, broadband and the 24/7 information age are helping to feed the content farms. People just want to know. And know right now! The trouble is this is swamping the web with ho-hum content that has been tweaked to get high search engine rankings. One begins to wonder what affect this has on all the brains between the eyeballs that read this content. This goes hand in hand with the fast past paced, short attention span, “I need answers right now” culture that the web has spun into place. They can’t really be blamed. Can they?
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November 19th, 2010
The National Film Board of Canada has long been known to do good work in the documentary space. They have a long and rich history there. In the past several years it seems the NFBC has been looking to expand their creative horizon, the proof of which is abundantly clear in the recent project Out My Window. This web documentary is a rich, interactive exploration of life in and around some of the world’s high rises. Home to millions of people globally, these urban constructions house endless tales of the human condition, but rarely are these exposed to the outside world. Instead the inhabitants go about their lives and struggles inside these hulking creations largely sight unseen.
The idea of exploring life within high rises around the world piqued the interest of the director, Katerina Cizek, who put together a great team of media and journalism experts to pull this off. The result is a very impressive display of interactive technology that also tells the very moving and interesting stories behind the lives of people in high rises. People and families on five continents are profiled for this work, covering both the developed and developing worlds. This is a wonderful exploration of sense of place and the realm of urban geography. I feel this is what ties together this work very nicely. It is well worth reading the Director’s Statement for the project found on the homepage. Cizek’s personal connection and perspective given here is very insightful and interesting, adding further meaning and depth to what you are looking at when viewing Out My Window.
This project is just one part of the HIGHRISE project that Cizek’steam is working on. It will be interesting to see what morethey come up with using the technological, creative and intellectual approaches they have used for Out My Window. There are many stories to tell from these urban trenches and I look forward to hearing more about them.
Just a quick note about the 360 video technology that is used for this project. This is very cutting edge technology that is currently utilized in one form in Google’s StreetView. The video system captures video in 360 degrees and the stills are pulled out from this video and then stitched together to give the static but navigable and updateable view you see in StreetView. A similar approach is also used in Out My Window with many of the images it seems. But, Out My Window also showcases what the actual 360 video looks like. Check out the 360 degree music video in the Amsterdam high rise to check it out. You can play through it, clicking and dragging around to see what how it works. This technology is developed by Netherlands startup yellowBird.It is very worth keeping your eye on this technology and what it can do going down the road. The system is not readily available for the individual consumer yet, but I hope one day it is. Then we can start to unleash even more stories in new, immersive ways.
There is a Q&A session at this link with Director Katerina Cizek for those interested to know more. http://colabradio.mit.edu/?p=6688
July 15th, 2010
For pocket video, first there was the Flip. Actually, scratch that. First was pretty crappy smartphone video. Choppy, 15 fps standard def footage that looked like it was compressed in your kitchen’s trash compactor. THEN came the Flip, Flip HD and a slew of competitors. Soon pocket HD video was as easy as pushing one red button. Great! The Flip was and still is a great no-brainer little pocket vid cam, but it just met a serious challenger in the form of the recently released iPhone 4. Why? Here are a few good reasons.
1) iPhone 4 now shoots 720p HD video at 30fps. This stuff looks good. Very good. Its not Planet Earth HD, but its still leaps better than standard def.
2) LED video light. Not as a much of a big deal, but its a nice feature in a pinch if you really need some light on your subject as long as its not too far away.
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