Sunday, July 20, 2008

Okay, Universal, now you're going after KIDS? Not cool!

I got an interesting text message from my 13-year old brother back home in Nebraska this morning.

"Hey what does a copyright claim mean?  I got an email about a video on YouTube I just put up."

I shot up in bed, my mind shooting in so many different directions.  I thought I knew instantly what was going on.  I told him to forward me the email so I could see for myself.  As I sat down at my computer with my bowl of Cocoa Pebbles™ (gotta be mindful in this blog post ;) ), I was hit with a surprise.  The video in question was not his Halo video I had assumed (you know, what with it's copyrighted music AND video content), but instead his video entitled "Middle School 2007-2008," a slideshow of pictures taken by him at his school this past year.

Obviously I knew then that this was a music issue.  But as I read the email, I understood that the video was not being taken down, nor was my brother being asked to do so.  Turns out Universal was simply claiming ownership of the music and making YouTube place ads on the watch page, and YouTube was in turn notifying my brother that this was happening.  Okay, fine, I'll let you live today, Universal.  I have Safari Ad Blocker, ha! :P

But this made me think about something I hadn't really thought about before.  I realized that a good chunk of the people uploading all this copyrighted content on YouTube are probably young kids like my brother who know how to use the technology, but know nothing about copyright laws.  I don't even consider myself an expert on it, I just know the way it works is...well, it doesn't work.

But are these companies really going to go out of their way to chase down every person who has posted some sort of copyrighted content somewhere without their permission?  Because if they are I imagine they'll spend a lot of time in Juvenile Court.  And of course the whole thing is just ridiculous anyway, as we all know.

Dear Universal,

My brother was making a damn slideshow about his school.  He didn't sell anything.  He didn't claim to have written the songs, he even gave credit, which you would have noticed had you WATCHED the video and not relied upon an "audio matching system" to find it in the first place.  You are greedy and stupid.  Please go away.

Hope you're enjoying your Zune money,

There, that should be rather effective, right?  Yeah yeah, I know giving credit does not grant one permission, but did my 13-year old brother know that?  Hell no!  Do other 13-year olds know that?  Hell no!  Do they still know how to use the technology and put this stuff on the interwebs?  Hell yeah!  Will they continue to do it?  Of course!

I think kids like my brother have been around copyright-infringing content far too long.  They aren't going to grow up and "see the light" and the error of their ways.  I really think he is among the generation that is going to grow up and change the way this stuff works, simply because they haven't been exposed to the status quo long enough to posses any hint of respect for it.  And that makes me one proud brother.  I would love to see young folks like him start to change things, and that starts by going against the grain and making these idiots realize their business model is broken...and making them realize it in the toughest, most embarrassing way possible.  I think they could wage the most hilarious revolution in history :P 

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Yeah, I START way too many of these things

Well I moved my "yammer about anything" blog to Blogger vs the iWeb tool. iWeb is neat and all, but it doesn't feel as robust as Blogger or TypePad or something, and doesn't always look as nice. Plus I don't have mobile options for iWeb, unless Mobile Me brings something to the table, but I don't host my site on .mac as it is, so it wouldn't apply to me.

That's another thing, I can't have comments on my iWeb blog since I use my own hosting. And that sorta sucks, without comments it sorta defeats the idea in my opinion, which takes me into my first new post here (obviously already copied my iWeb posts over).

I've been thinking a lot lately about social networks. Namely where we're going right now. My perspective is sorta centered around myself and my local friends, but hey, that's what I know best.

If you want to go way back, my friends and I started with IM. MSN was the shit back in the day, especially as everyone started moving to always-connected high speed internet and statuses became a major way of communicating things to each other. Down the road we all got onto MySpace. As we all know people started flocking to Facebook and several of us actually deleted our MySpace accounts (myself included).

Facebook seemed to be the one that held us the longest, or at least we did a lot more on Facebook than MySpace. The applications kept us connected quite well, and the more private nature of Facebook seemed more appealing, as was the clean user interface.

The peak of our Facebook use seemed to be this winter. I mean, if I could use Dipity to show all of my Facebook activity during December, January and February, it would look absolutely ridiculous. Now I have to wonder if our Facebook activity is in a slump just because it's summer. I mean we're all working, enjoying the weather, etc and I'm probably the only one with the incentive to use the mobile solutions.

In the wintertime it tends to be a different story. Most of us are stuck inside sitting on our computers anyway, so why not spend that time connected on Facebook? Plus my friend Leigh and I tend to procrastinate a lot, so we could be found wasting a lot of time goofing around instead of her doing her homework or me doing my old editing job (damn you Bumper Stickers!).

But what if it's not a seasonal thing? I look at the iPhone or my BlackBerry and RIM's new marketing strategy toward youths, and I start to imagine these type of sites becoming much more focused and mobile. Example? Twitter.

I'm a Twitter addict. And I don't want help. What I love about it that takes it beyond iChat or MSN status updates is the SMS aspect of it. Anyone of my friends, smartphone or not, can enable their phones on Twitter and update simply by sending a text, something we all do a ton already. In addition to that, other peoples' updates can be delivered to your phone via text. No fancy tools, no profiles to manage and keep up to date. We focus on the simple question of "what are you doing?" and can use it all through the technology we already take advantage of.

I admit I've yet to get my local friends on Twitter, but when I explained that it works through simple SMS messaging to one of them, he suddenly found it much more appealing and may finally join. The simplicity of a 140 character status update is remarkably appealing, and I can't help but be reminded of where we all started when we were 13 or 14: MSN. IM status updates, without the need to even chat half the time. That's pretty much what fucking Twitter is now!

Why then, are we going back to this basic form of socializing after all this fancy MySpace/Facebook/Virb crap? I think it comes down to what people really care about. Does anyone care about looking at your profile? No. No one cares. I realized this when I went to fill out my Virb profile and maybe try to wane my friends from Facebook to that. But I stopped and thought "this is the same crap all over again, and no one ever gives a shit in the end."

All I care about is what my friends have to say, what they're doing, where they're at. Sure a profile will always be there for the most basic contact info, but beyond that I don't think I care, and I don't think anyone else really cares either. Twitter is based entirely on what people are saying and doing. Pownce is based entirely on what people are looking at and wanting to share (as is Tumblr). It's totally personal, and without actually using it, it's absolutely nothing.

That is the valuable social network in my opinion. Anyone can create a MySpace page and have it completely ignored. But when you get a group of people on something like Twitter or Pownce and they all start using it together, it's insane. There's now something to actually read, and there's incentive to actually post. It's a bit of a snowball effect that is quite interesting to watch first-hand.

The simplicity of something like Twitter is fascinating to me when you take it to a mobile platform. Everyone has a cell phone these days, and these sites know that. So I look at my BlackBerry and it's much more than a phone (duh). It's more than email too. It's this central device that has the power to connect me to all these social networking sites...yes, even Facebook.

Cameras on phones are getting better and better and everyplace out there has mobile uploading, so we're putting up photos in realtime from anywhere. I'll be uploading photos directly to Facebook during my drive and flight to L.A. on Friday, and any neat thing I happen to be doing while there.

You start being able to get notifications (like the Facebook app on the BlackBerry) of those things and suddenly it's a bit like Twitter. You do something from your phone (like a photo upload), and it hits the site and goes out to all your friends' phones. Now one of those friends at the restaurant down the street realizes you're up to something fun and may want to drop by instead of getting home two hours later and finding the picture online and realizing they were close by. But of course you can turn all this stuff off easily, or schedule it to turn off during certain hours everyday, just like Twitter ;)

The possibilities are pretty crazy, and I feel like this is just the tip of the iceberg. Exactly what lies below the water, I don't know. If I did I'd be creating it myself ;)

California here I come!

So I spent the last couple weeks exchanging emails and doing roto and paint work for Mark Johnson of DVXuser fame. I worked on their TimeFest entry, O2 (pictured above), which was shot on RED and as usual, presented me with one of those “we need these shots yesterday” type of favorite :D

Well I not only completed the bare minimum they needed, but I finished what they wanted, and a couple shots beyond that. During this time, we got to talking about my goals and where I wanted to go with my skillz (yes, skillz with a Z, shut the hell up). Long story short, (and a big shout out to Kyle Stebbins, who DP’d on Alex vs Nate and helped shoot O2 and gave Mark my name in the first place) I turned out to be just the guy they were looking for, and they proved to be just the opportunity I was looking for.

I was hoping (and one of my closest friends can attest to this) things would fall into place perfectly and allow me to quit my job as an ad designer, go out to L.A. for a few weeks and work while feeling the ropes and getting my feet wet, and then come back to shoot The Baneful Curse and lock the edit with Alex, and then move out there completely come September or October.

Well, that’s exactly what has happened. On July 4th I’m flying out of Omaha and going to do work on a couple forensic cases (stuff like photogrammetry and recreating the scene of the crime, etc) with Mark and his guys, while doing some filmmaking stuff on the side. I also have quite a few contacts out there that are willing to recommend me to several studios if I want to find a roto job right away instead of going into the forensic stuff on a more permanent basis (granted I enjoy the work, it does sound very interesting).

Anyway, ‘tis looking like the rest of the year is going to be very exciting for me. Wish me luck, and THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed to making this happen. I owe you guys!

Here we go again...again...

Originally Posted Friday, May 16, 2008

Alright, I’ve tried this several times before, and I’ll try one last time now. If I can’t keep this stupid thing updated this time, I’m giving up. Then again, knowing me as I do, after I essentially fail, I’ll deny failure as an option and try again, so I’ve essentially lied to you, which goes against my nature as a very honest person. Feel that? That was the universe nearly imploding. But luckily I explained myself quick enough and preserved the honesty bit, so as to keep all existence intact. Yeah, bow down bitches. You owe your existence to me. I do that on a weekly basis, it’s pretty cool. You should join me sometime, just me and guys causing havoc as pictured above, lot’s of fun :)

But hey, w00t for new site design! I like this one quite a bit, feels a little more...complete. I plan on keeping things up to date, and when it comes to my personal blog here, I’ll be sure to post about anything that catches my attention and forces some vapor of an opinion out of the mess I call my mind. So here we go again...again...