Archive for the ‘Podcast’ Category

Books for Twits

In listening to the latest episode of This Week in Tech, I was at first horrified that I would not get my normal weekly dose of half-arsed, funny but still very informative insights into the world of tech and Web 2.0. The tone was serious! Well, I still clung on, and in many ways this must have been one of the more interesting Twits in a long while.

Joining the regulars, this time Leo (of course) and Dvorak (.org/blog…) was the able hands of Denise Howell of This Week in Law fame; and a special guest: Brewster Kahle. Who is he? He’s none other than the guy behind archive.org and as such one of the first persons with foresight enough to realise that not all things are printed anymore, and what that will mean for the possibilities of future research.

Anyway, this time around the round table concerned among other things the FBI screwing up in their dealings with archive.org; dealings it’s very doubtful if they should have commenced with to begin with. But the really tasty bit was the scanning and distribution of printed works over the Internet. Archive.org have in conjunction with such big shots as Microsoft and Yahoo! scanned thousands of books and published them for free on the Internet. Now, recently MS and the big Y decided to pull out, but the project will go on as a public service instead. (Nothing but kudos to MS and Y in spite, they poured millions into a project that they from a business perspective shouldn’t have undertaken in the first place.)

And this is where it starts to get interesting for the rest of us. Where are the European initiatives to something of this kind? We, collectively, own some of the finest historical collections in the world in everything from books and manuscripts to records and art. Why is this not on archive.org or similar services? Why, since a lot of our stuff is owned and produced by the public, can’t the public get at it in a user friendly and informative way? Mind you, the few euro efforts you sometimes find often have a very tangy googlesk feel to them, meaning ugly and not very useful. (As we all know, Google Books is nothing short of a cruel joke on humanity.) But just think of the possibilities, the combined history of Europe (this is from a Euro perspective, but obviously other parts of the world would benefit from the same thing) all tagged and searchable on the Internet. It’s a wet dream for me as a historian.

Of course you already can get a lot of stuff via, for instance, archive.org and the fairly new project Open Library, but there is one snag: what’s on there is predominantly in English. As a Scandinavian I might find that of little or no use depending on what I am looking for. So, to concentrate on my neck of the woods, I urge the governments of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland to digitise books in the same general fashion as archive.org. Preferably add it to archive.org for free while you’re at it! It is a shame that we, as some of the most technological nations in the world, seem to have completely abandon our history just because it’s not in MS Word format. This needs to stop now! Our children, nay the world, deserves it. Otherwise, we will get a truly horrible generation; and we will thoroughly deserve…

For books are more than books, they are the life
The very heart and core of ages past,
The reason why men lived and worked and died,
The essence and quintessence of their lives. – Amy Lowell

Thobias

P.s. To show what can be done with these scans, I want to ask you to have a look at this Cinderella, or this edition of Alice in Wonderland. Both are with archive.org, but the latter found via Open Library. They are beautiful and nothing short of fantastic!

Advertisements

Internet Radio

As a modern internet person, I’ve more or less stopped listening to the regular radio. This is not for any particular reason more than a serious lack of interesting content… But we do have internet radio! Now, with the advent of podcasts, the allure of internet radio might have diminished somewhat, but none the less, it is still around. Now, in this post I am not intending to address the problems, nor the free services you can get via SHOUTcast or iTunes, the independent channels, such as Pagan Radio Network, nor paid-for services like Live365.com. No, today’s subject is AOL Radio.

Now, before you object and rant about the staidness of AOL, hear me out. AOL Radio contains over 200 free radio channels with really very little commercial breaks. These can be accessed either via their web-client or through their app. It seems though that they are meaning to get rid of the app over time, which is to bad, since it is really nifty. It still available here though.

Now, all you have to do is get you self a free AOL/AIM screen name, enter the info and off you go! Hours and hours of free, streaming music, fun, talks, news etc. I have no problem with streaming via my 2 Mbit/s connection, so it should work well even on slower connections. So go on, it will cost you nothing but a dent in your pride at being associated with AOL. But you know, if it weren’t for the name, AOL could be really cool. Actually…

May your downstream never faulter!

Thobias

Why Amazon MP3 isn’t a real threat to iTunes, yet!

Yesterday I listened to the latest edition of MacBreak Weekly, number 79, and one of the things they talk a lot about was the iTunes Store vs. Amazon MP3 thing. Now as you may or may not be aware the record labels aren’t to happy with Apple’s position when negotiating with them, and have there for decided to give Amazon the upper hand by letting them sell un-DRMd MP3 files at 256 Kbps through their store. Only EMI does this thrugh iTunes with un-DRMd AAC files also at 256 Kbps. The idea is that people will clamour for the non-DRM tracks and leave Apple weakened. And it could work, but here is why it wont!

As someone on TWiT did say, iTunes gets 80% of its revenue from within the US. But still, look at where you can find iTunes music. Most of Europe, chunks of Asia, the entire North America, Australia, New Zealand and parts of South America. Where can you buy Amazon books? All over the world, if you are willing to pay for shipping and possible tarifs depending on the mood of whatever governement that day. But the MP3s can only, due to the labels not really getting it, be bought in the US. You can’t even buy them in the other Amazon stores yet, much less the non-Amazoned countries! As long as this remaines the case, and it could change quickly if someone realises, iTunes will have a good chance of withstanding the onslaught of the labels. That said, Apple is notoriously poor at realising it is not a US inly company…

Death to DRM, just say NO!

Thobias

New Media – Where to go next?

Recently I listened to the MacCast, the Mac Podcaster meet-up episode (part one). In it  Scott Bourne, Leo Laport, Dave Hamilton, Ken Ray, Cali Lewis, Victor Cajiau and Adam Christianson debated the current state of new media in general, and podcasting in particular.

The general consensus seemed to be that podcasting is stalling a bit, and that iTunes basically has reached as many people as it can. Where can we find a market to expand our business into? The answer lies, as is so often the case, outside the US!

What do I mean? Well, historically American companies have been very good at inventing, coming up with new ideas and putting them out there on the market. The US has always outperformed Europe from an entrepreneurial standpoint. But, as soon as the external markets wake-up, as they are bound to do, the Yankees tend to turn around and sit sulking back home. A perfect example is the automotive industry in the US. Ford and General Motors decided that Europe was a fringe market many years ago, and that that market would be much better served by local companies they could just own. Well, now they are in trouble because the European branches lack exclusivity and therefor doesn’t sell very well, and the American made products are basically un-sellable outside the US and possibly Canada. This was worsened even further by modern environmental, qualitative and design demands, and both Ford and GM have fallen behind the curve, struggling in all markets, including the home one.

There is a lesson in all this. The lesson is that American companies should A: pay attention to what goes on outside the US, or sooner or later the Japanese will do it better, and the Europeans will have more class. B: Expand into the foreign markets, and get them to look at, and consider your products as valid competition to what is made locally. And C: acknowledge that you have a market outside the US and make them feel part of what it is you company does.

In Podcasting terms this means that you should try to expand your audience, not necessarily in the US or Canada. But the rest of the English speaking world like Australia, the UK, Ireland, New Zealand etc. But let’s not forget that English is slowly becoming the “youthlanguage” even in continental Europe, and in Scandinavia English can soon be considered a second national language in most places. Granted, we may not see hundreds of thousands of new listeners, readers or viewers. But it is a largely untapped market. In Sweden for instance, most podcasts seems to be recorded radio shows from established radio channels, and it is extremely difficult to get people to understand that yes, you can play podcasts on most devices, and no, you don’t need an iPod. Time and time again I have this discussion with people. While the iPod is popular in Sweden to, there are plenty Creatives and especially Sony Ericsson and Nokia phones

So how would you go about this? Well, that is tricky, but you could start by not having these silly US-only competitions, coupons, and other consumer perks. The Internet is global for a reason. It is time the US started to treat it that way. Another way would be to strike up partnerships with eg. European mobile carriers an/or phone makers. Nokia yes, but don’t forget Sony Ericsson. I am aware that Sony Ericsson is not very common in the US, but they are a common sight in Scandinavia and also very media-centric in general.

So my two ¢ on this subject is, don’t forget that the world is larger than the United States of America. Don forget about the old world, even if you think it’s the greatest country in the world.

Thobias