The University of Sourthern California's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is firing up a new project that seeks to measure the impact of media. From theNew York Times:
With $3.25 million in initial financing from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the college’s Norman Lear Center is about to create what it is calling a “global hub” for those who would measure the actual impact of media — journalistic, cinematic, social and otherwise.
This is about something more than counting pageviews and "likes". The researchers are going to develop new metrics to gauge how much real world impact–related searches for information, politcal action, etc.–a given piece of media generates.
I’m going to go out on a limb here and promise you that this will be the first of two posts on Present Shock, the Douglas Rushkoff book that has been getting a mountain of attention in the tech press since it was released earlier this month.
The second post will be an in-depth discussion of the book, and I hereby pledge that it will be unveiled two weeks from today. There. Made a promise and barring that thresher accident I’ve been fearing since I was 14, I’ll be keeping that promise.
This post, however, is my surface review. You see I finished the book a week ago and I can’t stop thinking about it. I don’t want to, either. In fact I don’t really want to do anything these days except talk about the book with other people who’ve read it. Which is why Present Shock is this week’s edition of THE WEEKENDER.
The essential thesis of Present Shock is this: time is out of joint. The digital technologies that we have woven so deeply into our lives have a different relationship to the concept of time than the human brain does. No human can multi-task as efficiently as a computer can, and our attempts to do so are driving us a kind of crazy. (more…)
This Ryan Holiday post about this New York Times article would be a lot better if he didn’t spend the top half of it whining about how he was covering how evil Facebook is first.
In fact, I’m going to kidnap the next tech writer who whines about how they were there first and tattoo “Hipster” on one cheek and “Troll” on the other.
There is a certain kind of myopia that comes from living out on the edge. Instead of assuming that everyone else is stupid, perhaps it would be wiser for these tech evangelists to consider why more people are not aware and what effect that has on the world.
I would so not want to be in charge of CNET right now.
CBS, the parent company of CNET, forced the later’s hand on what was to be named Best of Show at CES. The site was going to name the Dish Hopper– a souped up DVR– as the winner. CBS sees the Hopper as a threat and leveled the axe. Now the parent company of CES has yanked CNET’s power to pick Best of Show. Tim Carmody of The Verge with the details:
Yesterday, CEA president and CEO Gary Shapiro sharply criticized CBS’s editorial interference with CNET’s technology coverage in an op-ed in USA Today, and announced the CEA would be “considering [its] legal options under [its] agreement withCNET.” Today, the CEA officially ended CNET’s role in choosing the Best of Show award at CES, and announced it would issue a request for proposals from other potential partners. CEA senior VP Karen Chupka writes that the CEA is “concerned [CNET's] new review policy will have a negative impact on our brand should we continue the awards relationship.”
Scarier than the implications for tech coverage are the implications for the rest of the news. How much gets buried by corporate fiat or for political reasons?
Or is it possible that we live in an open enough age where it’s impossible to hide such shenanigans. However you parse it, I would really hate to be running CNET– which has been around forever– and who are failing to fend pressure from corporate to not cover compeitors who threaten the broadcast/cable TV business model, while corporate also defends their rights in court to post How-To’s on torrents. Which threaten the broadcast/cable TV business model.
There’s not enough coffee in the world to make sense of this.
My friend Jason Louv, who runs the futurist blog Ultraculture*, has a piece up at that recently redesigned site he calls “How to Be Your Own Media Gatekeeper”.
He lays out six things you can do to cut through the noise of the “Information Age”. His reasoning that you need to be your own gatekeeper?
You can’t outsource that job to somebody else anymore, because the corporate media, or the alternative media, or Famous Blogger X, Y or Z, are not going to do that job for you the way you need it done. They’re completely beholden to economics, ratings and their own viewpoints and reality tunnels.
Jason snagged that image from “The Man Who Fell To Earth”, too. Great choice, that.
(*Disclosure: I’ve written a thing or two for UC, pro bono.)
“It did not take long after the rise of the commercial printing press before someone figured out that erotic novels were a good idea. … It took people another 150 years to even think of the scientific journal.” – Clay Shirky
There’s a lot about open source software in here, but that’s just the set up. This is a great peek at a possible future.
It’s a very polished and well done game (especially for less than $10). Not only is it polished, but it’s addictive. And the fact that I can play it on both my iPhone and my iPad and keep both games synchronized is awesome. It reminds me of an old school game called Privateer (an offshoot of the Wing Commander series).-Kurt Collins
Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele return for a second season on Comedy Central, but they’ve already started leaking sketches onto the web. We’re also in for a topic spot online each week from Luther, President Obama’s anger translator. And you thought election season was annoying. -Noah Nelson
I’m reading Vijay Govindarajan’sReverse Innovation, a book that explores how we can re-order our thinking about how and where influential innovation happens; specifically, how transnational markets can better capitalize on emerging science and tech from the developing world. Full of “juicy” anecdotes like the South Indian origins of Gatorade (excuse the pun). -Nishat Kurwa
I was skeptical at first about this video documentary series about the making of the video game news site Polygon. Primarily because it seemed to put the cart before the horse: Polygon hasn’t launched yet. They have, however, been holding down the gaming news for The Verge and this web series is a fascinating look at what goes into modern web news production. -NN
Once upon a time there was a blogger named Brandon Boyer, who ran a site called Offworld. It was, for a year, the place where the happy mutants of the Boing Boing tribe went to get their fill of odd gaming news. It had a special place in the hearts of many gamers. But the Internet, like gravity, is a harsh mistress and its fickle ways led to the demise of Offworld.
Over a year went by before Boyer would launch a Kickstarter campaign to create a new site, Venus Patrol, that took up the Offworld cause. In October of last year Boyer closed his round of funding, earning over $100K– while seeking just $50K. The evidence was clear: people wanted a site like Offworld and were willing to pay for it. (more…)
In a move that is equal parts inevitable and surprising Microsoft announced their own entry into the tablet market last night. Dubbed the Surface, after the experimental touch screen tech they’ve been showing off on morning news shows for years now, the tablet devices are one of the Redmond giant’s rare forays into the hardware market.
Until the new device reaches market we won’t know if this is an XBox or a Zune in terms of popularity, but right now we can discern a few things:
Apple’s iPad is THE tablet right now. None of the Android devices have come close and the less said about the Blackberry Playbook the better. Microsoft has done some real iterative innovation on the form and function of a tablet with their two-tiered product line and the emphasis on built in keyboards on both of their attachable covers. The kickstand on the back of the device is a nice touch, as just about everybody uses tablets to watch videos at one point or another.
The keyboard covers really set the device apart from the competition, and that’s the kind of user interface feature differentiation that somebody needed to come out with in order to start making the argument “why would I get this instead of an iPad?” Throw in the pen input on the Windows 8 PRO version and you have something that beings to look and feel like a significantly different piece of tech from the iPad.
It’s a Big Change in MS Strategy:
Microsoft is a software company. That’s right in the name. A few weeks ago I was lauding their choice to make their “Smart Glass” initiative a cross platform software affair. What we didn’t expect was for them to them double down in the tablet space and release a showcase hardware device for the Metro interface they’ve built. This cuts against Microsoft’s usual pattern of working with third party hardware manufacturers. It’s a sure sign of just how much Apple has defined the current age of computing: Google pursues the more traditional Microsoft strategy of relying on hardware partners while MS goes and follows Apple’s lead.
Not that Microsoft is going with full simplicity here. There are two major branches of Surface. Both models look the same, but have different guts and capabilities. The Windows RT versions will be the lower priced of the two models and run on ARM chipsets, which power a lot of the mobile market. The Windows 8 PRO versions add in the pen tool and run on Intel chips that are destined for laptops. It is a market bifurcation that might be confusing if viewed from the vantage point of luring iPad consumers, but between the form factor and the inclusion of Windows 8 on the high end models it’s clear to me that the iPad is a tertiary target here.
Microsoft is going after the ultra book space with these products.
When fully assembled the kits look like laptops that transform into tablets just by folding back the cover. Why would anyone get a Windows based ultra book when you can have one of these things? Even more dangerous for Google: why would you get an Android tablet if you are a PC user?
The current era of computing is rapidly becoming about the full ecosystem: being able to take both productivity and media from desktop to mobile to TV. At present Apple has the strongest desktop to mobile solution, with iTunes running the media side of equation and iCloud bringing the productivity side up to snuff. Google has their feet planted firmly in the cloud, but have yet to gain any passion for their media products Reliable, but unsexy– exactly where Microsoft was a decade ago in terms of personal computing.
It’s Not Just About the Hardware:
Microsoft has a big weapon here, one that none of the others bring to the table: the install base of the XBox. If Microsoft can pull off– and this is a big if– seamless integration of their media environment across the Surface, desktop and XBox lines they have a serious advantage over both Apple and Google in terms of owning the media landscape long term. Google TV has not caught on and Apple TV is still qualified by that company as a hobby.
If the music and videos a consumer purchases on the Surface tablet synch effortlessly to their home XBox, that will make a strong case for making those purchases within Microsoft’s ecosystem. Which in turn drives future hardware and software sales. A virtuous cycle that every major player is desperate to get turning in their favor.