old school

So why don’t you meet me, down behind the old school
We’ll waste away the weekend, with perfect regard for how
Cavalier we used to be, that beautiful insanity
The apathy’s surrounding me
Don’t close your eyes or we’ll fade away

A funny thing about the digital age — the more information we have access to, the more misinformation we embrace into our zeitgeist. In the not-so-long ago days when the Internet was mainly for e-mail, and facebooks were made of paper, items were mostly advertised in newspaper ads or classifieds.

It turns out that there was a well-known shorthand language in the newspapers. While we didn’t read OMG or ROFL, we did understand that TLC meant you needed to be handyman and that “efficient layout” meant you’d better like living in small spaces.

I once read an article about how we’ll inevitably catalog our lives with documents, audio, chat logs, blogs and video. Then along came MySpace, Facebook and Twitter.  The thesis was, that, taken to the extreme, there would be more hours of content created per person than we lived. Add in video surveillance from several angles etc. Clearly, we need to summarize, else the person reviewing our lives in gruesome detail would require too much time and possibly waste their own lives trawling through the mass of digital data that we elect to store on cloud storage farms. But what do you leave out, and what do you keep for posterity?

Does this mean that we all need to develop some editing skills, and apply them to our new way of living, else we’ll forever be hoarding irrelevant digital fodder?

Coincidentally, this theme recently emerged in President Obama’s commencement speech at Hampton University where he relayed,

“You’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads, and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.”

When is too much of something irrelevant? And, by what measure?

I agree with the President.

My digital colleagues smile at my usage of an old school gold fountain pen complete with blue Sheaffer Script ink and my Moleskine notebook. Want to really interact with your thoughts in the most intimate way possible? You don’t need an iPad and a finger. Here’s a thought, focus on what takes real effort to craft before committing it in writing. It provides clarity of thought. The distractions of digital immediacy and it’s associated ADHD vanish into deep thoughtful consideration.

Yes my friends smile and joke about my retro-technology quirks, but when I lend them my pen, and give them a precious piece of acid free paper, they just love the smooth feel of the nib and watch the ink flow…

I just sit back, watch and think that some of the old school stuff makes sense, at least to me.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

May 13, 2010 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

changing behaviors

We’ll make a movie, you’ll play the staring role
and I’ll direct you on where to go
We’ll make a movie, up & down and roun’ & roun’
baby just you follow I’ll show you what to do

Before the advent of digital content production, files were limited to dog-eared manila folders filled with copious production notes. And long before videotape, everything was about film, and many of the same workflows remained in place.

Enter digital workflows.

Actually, digitizing the content value chain has started at different points, depending upon the media type. Print was a direct function of the desktop capabilities resulting from the mac platform and the Apple Laserwriter. It was not until later that print facilities moved from film to ‘direct to plate’, or on-demand printing. Radio focused on automating the play out facility, leveraging digital audio files to files integrated with playlist management. Studios digitized their raw film footage, and enhanced the available digital video desktop technologies for editing, and edited the content before mastering back to film. Today, they have moved to capturing digitally, and now distributing to digitally enabled cinemas. What a good colleague of mine calls “Glass to Glass. Forever”. More on that in a subsequent blog.

But the behaviors of content creation have really changed beyond just folks working out how to manage digital content files and integrate them into their current business workflows.

Consider the following.

The economics of a film shoot was centered originally on the cost of the film (the celluloid) itself. In the early days, cameras, film and subsequent processing were more expensive than actors’ time – at least when actors were owned by the studios. At that time, the practice of a clapboard was instantiated, as was the stereotypical “action”. The emphasis was on minimizing the wastage of film. The camera was already a sunk cost. Consumers demanded more interesting perspectives, and eventually cameras and film became more affordable, and so multi-camera shoots prevailed.

When Videotape came along, the clapper’s role was less focused on saving film (or videotape), but more on ensuring the documentation of scenes for subsequent editing. Tape was cheap, make more shots, keep doing it again and again because ‘video’ actors were generally paid less than ‘film’ actors. Film still held premium production qualities that audiences craved but by the 80’s video was ‘best’ for TV.

Then a funny thing happened on the way to digital cameras… with the introduction of 2K/4K cameras that rivaled film quality, finally the clapper truly became a mechanism for scene/take separation. In fact, anecdotally, I have heard that due to the relative low-cost of digital compared to actors and production, the camera in many instances was just left running. This practice captures ‘behind the scenes’ content, notes, exchanges between actors, directors, writers and bloopers etc. This content used to end up on the cutting room floor, now it can be valuable extra content on a DVD or a Blue-ray.

Economics driven by technology has changed the behavior of how stuff is made. Apart from the time used to plan content and shoots, the time to turn around rushes has shrunk along with the behaviors, which have become the typical unintended consequences.

Now managing that digital content from glass (at the camera) to glass (at the consumer device) faces another problem… how do we handle, tag and forever secure this content? Not very well I’d say.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

May 6, 2010 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

media is the new wordprocessor

Pound for pound I’m the best to ever come around here
Excluding nobody
Look what i embody
The soul of a hustler i really ran the street
I CEO’s mine
That marketing plan was me
And no i ain’t get shot up a whole bunch of times

Earlier this month, Tom Foremski provided notes on why every company needs to become a media company. Much of his thesis was based upon the demise of “mass media” and how companies need to devise the skills of media companies in the brave new emergent world.

You see the major thrust of the presented argument is focused upon new considerations in the marketing approach.  I do not disagree with the points raised, although filling the vacuum created by the demise of “mass media” remains the holy grail of most valley startups. Tom has only presented part of the story. I think there is a more profound change coming…

Why every company really needs to be a media company is because every company has moved beyond just office documents. How many of you remember the days when companies had office typing pools full of typewriters, replete with carbon paper and rubber erasers.

Then whiteout was invented!

Then came the departmental wordprocessor.

Then came the personal wordprocessor…

How many of you had a typewriter in your youth, and can therefore appreciate the profound changes of wordprocessors on business?

Guess what? Today’s ‘wordprocessor’ paradigm shift is digital media, and that is why companies need to become media companies. Not just for the PR/marketing opportunities presented by the interconnectedness of what new web-enabled mediums promise, but for the fact that in addition to documents, spreadsheets, pdfs, presentations… companies now need to manage video, audio and other multimedia files. They need to store them, manage them, search them, archive and back them up. They need to convert them, provide bandwidth for people to use them and provide access to that content in a timely manner. They also need to determine usage patterns so that they can store them on cheaper storage, enable them to be available over the internet via a corporate VPN, check copyright usage and ensure that no one steals them… they need to do this to a budget.

Sound like a media company? I think so. Or, at least the operations side. Then there is creating the content, and then there is the secure distribution, and then there is ability to leverage it for PR & marketing.

I do not disagree with Tom, but I also find complete agreement elusive, and the simplistic perspective presented in the thesis marginalizes the real reason. Humans in companies need to communicate concepts to both their customers and staff. And the most effective communications mechanism is rich media, the richest, and hardest to manage, being video.

I absolutely agree with Tom that “Every company is a media company (EC=MC) is one of the most important concepts to understand”. However, we need to extend our understanding multi-dimensionally.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

April 29, 2010 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

flash momentum

I was born in a cross-fire hurricane
And I howled at my ma in the driving rain,
But it’s all right now, in fact, it’s a gas!
But it’s all right.  I’m Jumpin’ Jack Flash,
It’s a Gas!  Gas!  Gas!

Those familiar with Moore’s Law have seen the disparity between disk and CPU performance increase. Today’s CPUs can easily out-process the data provided to them by even the fastest disk. Why is that?

There is a physical limitation on the rate at which we can spin platters. Our ability to engineer mechanical devices to spin highly unstable platters close to moving heads which are microns away from the surface are limited. Material science, stresses, quality of the bearings – all require tolerances that are approaching our physical limitations. Yet, we seem to be always finding new approaches to managing silicon fabrication.

The end of the mechanical age is near.

Enter flash. Freeing us from our mechanical limitations, flash enables the development of ‘silicon drives’ with speeds approaching those of their silicon CPU partners. With prices declining, these drives are fast becoming more affordable. Yet with still a significant price disparity to their slower, yet higher capacity mechanical cousins, what is the alternative?

Hybrid storage. Take the performance advantage of silicon flash, with the mechanical capacity of drives. Balance these devices for the workload, and you get unmatched price-performance. There is a whole class of devices emerging that support this philosophy. The question is, do systems engineers have the tools to understand their applications sufficiently to tune configurations to optimize this opportunity.

It’s nascent. More education than marketing is required.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

April 22, 2010 at 8:00 am Leave a comment

nab 2010

It’s the same old story
Same old song and dance, my friend
It’s the same old story
Same old song and dance, my friend

I love NAB, it is a great place to catch up with colleagues, see the new developments and occasionally stumble upon a seismic shift… but where is the really cool new stuff that is going to drive the industry back into high growth?

Is it 3D?

I don’t know, the jury is out, but the marketing folks and just about every booth rendered the 3D story in some respect. What I do know, is that there is only one company that I saw, that actually converted 2D to 3D – and it was good. It was in real-time, and it provides a really interesting path to monetizing ‘old, really long tail content’ and making it a new experience. I don’t promote companies or technologies in this blog, not my style, but if anyone is interested, drop me a line…

Is it ATSC M/H?

On April 9, the Advanced Television Systems Committee (ATSC) threw its hat into the mobile TV broadcast ring with word that it has begun developing ATSC-M/H, an ATSC-backwards-compatible transmission system to reach mobile viewers via broadcast DTV transmissions. With ATSC-M/H, broadcasters can use their excess DTV broadcast bandwidth to provide new services directly to small hand-held receivers, laptop computers and moving vehicles. It all sounds great, and it will be – if a couple of things happen:

  1. Where are the handsets to drag a compelling business model? Can I get them at my local cell-phone store?
  2. Where is the content to drag the manufacturers to make the handsets to drag a compelling business model? Will the consumer really care about “yet another video service”…?
  3. How do you hand off from one broadcaster to another (like a mega cell)? Well, this problem has been solved technically and that is a seismic shift… problem, who gets the money in this multicast model?
  4. Will the telco’s have enough incentive to let this happen i.e. support a multi-protocol handset, with the vision that this will save precious unicast bandwidth from multicast-affinity content e.g. real-time news/sports?

It’s the economy?

Personally I perceived attendance was down. Floor-space was certainly down, with large curtained-off sections, and the registration are moved to fill hall space in a veiled attempt to prevent booths from rattling around in otherwise less than occupied halls. However, business activity was up… my friends and colleagues told me of a more qualified attendee, with a higher likelihood of decision-making authority, and there was certainly many discussions covering pent-up demand and a perceived relaxation of previously frozen budgetary constraints.

It was a good show. Tiring as usual, but as is so often the case, the same stuff re-packaged differently.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

April 15, 2010 at 1:00 am Leave a comment

computing gets consumerized

Oh, oh, oh
Spending all my time buying stuff
When I’ve more than enough
More than enough
Cough, cough
Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh
Neo consumer
Neo consumer
Consumer

Consumerized – sounds like a badly made up word, reminiscent of a presidential past.

The wordplay is only for effect, the idea is real…

Previously, in computing utilities cometh I discussed the inevitable move to utility-focused computing. A large, simple, ubiquitous and all encompassing information utility.

Well, what use is a ‘grid’ or ‘network’ without appliances? You may well argue that the PC, smartphone, small business datacentre of today are ‘appliances’ for just such a utility. Its job is to provide a common information infrastructure for sharing, backup and transfer – instead of moving current, it moves bits. Probably not far from the truth.

But.

When I was growing up, washing machines, although they had an electric motor, were beastly devices. They agitated the clothes, but to ‘wring’ those newly washed clothes, you swung the rollers into action, disengaged the agitator motor, and fed the clothes ‘through the wringer’. These appliances did the job, but they required skill on the part of the operator. The process was manually integrated. This skill was eventually replaced with mechanical, then electrical, and subsequently computer-controlled timers. Not to mention, pre-defined wash cycles (or workflows). How many of us cherish those halcyon wash days, where you intimately got involved in the process of making clothes clean?

Today’s washers do all manner of things, even steam clean clothes. What they don’t really allow is for dad or his friend to get a wrench and start into fixin’ the darn thing when it breaks, like they used to.

And so it is with the iPad.

I have been observing the pre-launch rumors, launch critiques and release reviews, along with a whole array of comments across that same time continuum. Interestingly, this is a highly polarizing device, even more so than its Apple product brethren. And I think I know why…

Every commenter who hates the iPad is religiously attached to:

  1. It is an Apple product and therefore is sex without substance
  2. Has no screws, heck, cannot even change the battery, and therefore as a technical person, this is bad engineering
  3. Lacks features – e.g. flash, usb, not e-ink etc. Therefore it is technically inept.

Most interestingly, these observations have been made in the absence of ‘actual product’, and are highly reminiscent of those strange people in NYC who bear tacky, grammatically challenged signs implying that the ‘end is near’. Seemingly warning us of the impending doom about to befall modern computerdom.

Those that gush over the product are equally religious (particularly those who believe without having seen!), wanting stuff that ‘just works’… and prepared to wait in line for hours to do just that.

Funny how we’d expect consumers not wanting stuff that ‘just works’. Vertically integrated appliances enable consumers of all ages to focus on what they want to do, without fear that they may get their hand stuck in the ‘clothes wringer’. For those that want to tinker with technology, there are plenty of things to play with… I for one, one who works in this business, am not threatened by the impending ‘lack of technical sophistication’.

I think that the iPad is really the consumer marketplace bellweather for the information appliance of the future. Yes, computing is getting consumerized – at both ends of the spectrum, the utility and the appliance.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

April 8, 2010 at 1:00 am 1 comment

every house needs a san

I know the fear you hold inside
I know what’s weighing on your mind
There’s nothing you can do
So stand up, get up, back up.

Ever notice how much digital stuff you accumulate? Notice how you have copies of copies floating around in different directories, on different machines? How much of it is important?

I’m not going to preach about backups… we all know what we need to do.

I can honestly say that I do it, and it has been a part of my life for many years. It saved me about two years ago when my laptop got stolen. Simply bought a replacement a I was fully operational within hours. It is just like insurance. You hate paying the price, but when the promise is made good, you feel it has all been worthwhile.

What would you do if you lost a movie? These days most people would kiss their DVD goodbye and use the misfortune to upgrade to a Blue-ray version. What if you lost an entire digital library? Maybe a little hard to imagine just yet, after all, how many people have digital movie libraries on their home network?

But what if the same thing applied to all of those great digital photos? Your MP3 library?

Is this why I’ve started to see SANs and Mirror drives starting to become a consumer category? Not too many at your local big box electronics store just yet, but certainly a whole range on-line for the serious hobbyist consumer.

Will it ever hit the mainstream? Or will the general digital consuming populace opt for consuming ‘long-form content’ on-line? Pipes into the home are now sufficiently affordable to support streaming, and those Blue-ray players, Xboxes, PS2s, Wiis, TVs and PCs etc. support some type of commercial streaming service (like a Netflix, Blockbuster etc.)

I have seen my children lose files. Having grown up with computers, they accept it as a normal thing and source another copy from the web immediately – even though they can get the backup quite easily. So it leads me to a conclusion that the consumer of tomorrow is more likely to see the ‘cloud in the web’ as their information/data/content repository and not really be bothered with a SAN in the basement. I, on the other hand, will continue to indulge myself and keep a copy… just in case.

Tell me it isn’t so… I’m listening.

April 1, 2010 at 7:14 am Leave a comment

Older Posts


Archives

Feeds

My Tweets

  • #OneDrive support disappointing - over 72hrs and no update. Losing confidence. Is there anybody out there? 1 year ago
  • Interested in Programmatic Trading for TV? lnkd.in/bBWjhfV 2 years ago
  • On CBS this morning, COO of Facebook makes claim that computer science started in the 80's. Revisionist history or am I just getting old? 2 years ago
September 2016
M T W T F S S
« May    
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930