Monday, October 26, 2009

An astronaut, e-postman or maybe online communicator

This post is about where do I see myself in the near future. A kind of What do you want to do when you grow up? where grow up means 'after leaving the Master of Communication in Digital Media'.

Want to start saying that for me the best plan is always Plan B. When I research one city before going on holiday is just to feel that I will have things to do in case I don't feel safe or confident enough to improvise, which is my first option. And I feel this post is something similar: I guess I still don't know what will be the perfect place for me, maybe it doesn't even exist, but will try to picture myself in the future with what I know now.

My background is online information, ranging from regular writing to product management. And my reasons to be in this Master are to learn a different information culture, see from the inside what's going on in the USA and, more specifically, learn new ways to tell stories and to provide information.

So I want to be...
In the next years I see myself trying to create new storytelling formats for the Internet and figuring out which way the users want the information to be delivered in an overcrowded and multi source world. I feel that we need to come out with some 100% internet journalistic genre, other than links and tweets.

If I have to think about just one position that already exists and I would love to have it would be at The New York Times Research and Development Lab. This is a place where they try to display the NYT content in ways that could be more convenient for mobile devices or could break the notion that an online newspaper is "just the same" in another platform. They also try to create formats that doesn't need to resemble a printed media and would be internet native.

And if I find a different way to tell stories and communicate I will be happy. Don't need to make money for this or to become famous. For me Internet is a place where people gets and gives things from and for others, and I'd love to make my contribution something else than posts, comments and photos.


Saturday, October 24, 2009

The history of internet

History of the Internet from PICOL on Vimeo.

This is a german animated documentary explaining the inventions from time-sharing to filesharing, from Arpanet to Internet.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

NYT video section: doing as always but in a different way

The New York Times was one of the very first print newspapers in producing specific video content for the web version. In 2005 they started to create their own videos, ranging from breaking news to in depth reports. Most of the content were created by NYT staff, including interviews conducted by some of their better known journalists.

My feeling as an user is that they've always tried to meet the quality and excellence of their written stuff. Although it took some time to adapt their style to an audience used to shorter pieces than the ones they use to deliver at first, now their archive ( is really a video world in itself. A place for both the casual user and the one that thinks that looking for something interesting at Youtube is a loss of time.

Text and video are complementary
The company has made a great work trying to make video and text sites compatible and complementary. Just to put an example, anyone interested in business information sure will have time to spend at their video section, that offers both interviews, analysis and help discovering innovator ideas.

Two of the most popular columnists of the printed version, David Pogue and Mark Bittman, have their own spaces in the video site, where they show (each on in his own style) that an information video doesn't need to be a simple visual translation of a text and create formats that are not just well fitted for the internet, but make their videos perfect for watching with a mobile device as a video podcasts.

Since 2007 The New York Times is one of Brightcove's investors and uses their software to manage most part of their site.

For the last two years, the video section of The New York Times has also tried to create or use formats that would set apart, both from the content and the formal points of view. That way they came out with Blogginheads (a deal with in order to showcase all kind of debates), or the Screen Tests, where popular actors talk in a minimal and intimate way.

Finally I guess that creating content in a similar way that a magazine does (entertaining, somewhat timeless, not mandatory tight to the breaking news) they have create a pure internet experience, where any of the videos can be considered a piece in its own or just a part of something else.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Tasting Pears

Tasting pears from seretuaccidente on Vimeo.

Horrible back light, I know. Used a Flip HD + mini-spider tripod and iMovie for edit.

Can a pear be too sweet? This Comice from Safeway ($1.5) was. Not bad at all and really tasteful, but the excessive sugar killed the natural flavor. I guess it should be great with plain yogurt.

Maybe the cheapest thing I found at KFC was this Bartell pear. Just $2 per pound. A single yellow bell pepper was more expensive. Is not only that it was too green. The outside was great but you had the feeling that it had been frozen. The flavor was just decent. For decoration.

From the Farmers Market I chose one Bosc at $2.5 each pound. Just ripped. The smell is great. So is the texture. The flavor was not as expressive as the Comice but I found it better, because was far more natural. Need to get more of this.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free books at $26.99

Chris Anderson: "Zero is one market and any other price is another".

'Free' is not a completely new marketplace. As Anderson writes in the book of the same title and before in the Wire article Free! Why $0.00 Is the Future of Business, there are examples of businessmen that decided to give away one of their products in order to gain something: either audience or create in the consumer the need of a complementary product.

In fact this is what he has done with the book. For a limited time, anyone could read a pdf version for free in Scribd, and even now anyone can obtain the unabridged audio version, read by Anderson himself, without paying for it. But if anyone prefer to have the hardcover book version at home, then he or she will need to pay $26.99.

The book talks about a reality in the digital world: storage and delivery costs are getting cheaper and cheaper each year and tend to zero cost. And talks also about 'free' as a marketing trend that is becoming one of the few successful nowadays: give something for free and you'll have the attention that would cost enormous amounts of money otherwise. And Anderson does so with an entertaining style, mixing storytelling and statistics.

But in all its brightness, it would be dangerous to see his points as perfect, absolut or definitive. It wouldn't be fair to look at this work as a philosopher's stone that can solve all the business model problems. Mainly because Anderson tries to show how it works something that is still growing and mutating.

Healthy controversy

For that reason is good to find voices as Malcom Gladwell's that make objections and ask questions that, if answered, can help the 'free' hypothesis to become stronger. A good example is Anderson's response to Gladwell in the post Dear Malcom: Why so threatened?

I don't really see a tremendous difference between what Anderson says and Gladwell's points. Basically what the latter says is that most web free services that are successful engaging people still doesn't make enough money to pay their costs. And that considering 'free' an iron law is wrong, because what really happens is that the digital age has changed everything and now we have to figure out how to make a living from our intelectual work. And 'free' is just one more option among the many that can show up in a near future.

And I find too adventurous to state, as Seth Godin does, that a publishing company as Conde Nast will sure disappear quite soon. I agree that they'll have to change, but may stay in business even longer than Youtube, Hulu or MySpace. Godin himself says that "only really valuable information will get paid", and Conde Nast produces great information. Their challenge is to guess how to monetize it, and Mark Cuban believes that the Music industry has already found a path: you can give content for free but always keeping control on the distribution.

Internet and 'free'

For me, the concept of 'free' in the internet is somewhat wicked. First because is not real free: you are paying for the connection. Then, because giving content without expecting money in return was a great marketing idea when the commercial internet started up, but it haven't fully proved to work from an economic point of view.

If advertising revenue keeps low and no-one comes with new business models, a lot of webpages will have to close at some moment. Even some with millions of users. Because millions of users represent millions of profit options but what they are, for sure, is millions of spendings. Will MySpace or Hulu resist if they don't have benefits in three more years? If they do is for strategy reasons related with companies that have their assets in the offline world.

And also internet 'free' is wicked because you tend to think that you have some kind of right to get everything without paying. And maybe won't use a web service that is $1 more than free, even if is terribly useful. But at the same time you but will pay $5 for a latte and a muffin in any coffee shop just because you need to make time waiting for someone. Culture and environment makes a big difference when stating what are you willing to pay for.

And that's the reason why the paper version of Anderson's book needed to have a price. Because all books have. At least until now.


PD: 2 cents on storytelling in a 'free market': if both the creation and distribution costs are almost free and I can compete with the best possible price (zero), I'll find myself in the same start conditions than anyone else. This can be stressful, but also hopeful: all I have to think about is to deliver the best possible product, focusing in the user's attention because of my topic and trying to engage them at the very beginning of my pieces.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Yo La Tengo: 'A girl like you' and 'Our way to fall'

Yo La tengo - A Take Away Show - Part 1 from La Blogotheque on Vimeo.

A beautiful evening in Paris, one of the greatest (indie) rock bands of the last 20 years, and an adventurous group of filmmakers lead by Vincent Moon. A cover of a Troggs' classic, and one of Yo La Tengo' best songs. Here we are, another Les concerts a emporter jewel on La Blogotheque. Maybe the best of the year, so far.

Second part (with 'Sugarcube', and 'Periodically double or triple') is also great.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Whistle my name

This video is part of a marketing campaign made by spanish agency La Despensa (check other works in their Youtube page) for the online learning service Buusu.

The clip performs a group of people from La Gomera, one of the Canary Islands, who still uses the ancient... launguage? of Silbo Gomero, a way of communication that consists on whistles. In a way similar to Morse. The campaign was awarded with a Silver Lion at the last Cannes Advertising Festival.

In the last years Silbo has been re-introduced in the public education system of Gomera, and hopefully a bunch of young guys will learn it and keep on using it for a long time.

Last week the Silbo Gomero has been included by Unesco in the List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, among others as Argentina's and Uruguay's Tango, China's Qiang New Year festival or Azerbaijan's performance art Ashiqs.

- Official site for the promotion of Silbo Gomero (spanish).
- Here's an article by one researcher from the UW dated back in 2005.
- Coursebook (in english)


Ideas for final video work

Ideas for the final video work at com597b from seretuaccidente on Vimeo.

For those that have problems with the video (the audio is quite low) or my english, or just because is more than 45 seconds long, here's the four options I put on the table:

- Neighborhoods, because most of the Seattle ones work as small independent units, have their own personality and resources. Quenn Anne and International district are world apart. This subject is open enough for people also to focus on any daily issue that involves the people you live with and the relations with/among them

- Transport (bus, bike, car, light rail, monorail, train...) because is one of the defining characteristics of the city and allow to talk about the people and the relations with the place where they live.

- Music, that have been a city's leitmotiv for the last 20 years (from Mudhoney to Fleet foxes), is one of it's creative forces and also can give us the opportunity of talking about the cultural diversity of Seattle.

- Coffee + coffee shops. This is an obvious one, don't know if too closed. What's the role of the coffee houses in the daily life, if the (again) cultural and ethnical diversity has something to do with the fact that Seattle is one of the prime consumers of coffee in the States...


What am I doing?

Take a look at my Friendfeed account / contact me at seretuaccidente(at)gmail(dot)com or illbeyouraccient(at)gmail(dot)com


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