In case you missed it earlier today, I had the pleasure of moderating the 3rd Google+ Hangout for Warner Brothers’ hit sci-fi web series H+: The Digital Series. I had a chance to interview cast members Hannah Herzsprung (Manta), Alexis Denisof (Conall), David Rogers (Kenneth), Caitriona Balfe (Breanna) and Samuel Vauramo (Topi). There are a few spoilers, so if you haven’t already checked out the series, be sure to start watching here.
The bill goes too far.
My mother is very by-the-book. For years my father called her “Moral Marian” because she wouldn’t cross the road without a walk signal even if there was no traffic in site. Well, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree… Even though I’m constantly disappointed when Netflix and iTunes don’t have all the titles I want to watch, I never turn to torrent sites to access them illegally.
“A little-noticed portion of the proposed law, which CNET highlighted in an article, goes further than Protect IP and could require Internet providers to monitor customers’ traffic and block Web sites suspected of copyright infringement.”
Under SOPA, a site could literally be shut down after a single copyright claim without a trial.
This directly affects my industry: the web TV industry.
Since 2005 I have created and produced a number of web series that relied heavily on fair use. This exception to copyright allowed me and my partner Rudy Jahchan to create parodies on our sci-fi comedy show Galacticast and display comic artwork in our comic book review show A Comicbook Orange. Even though we were extremely careful to follow the guidelines of fair use law, we still lived in fear that a big studio would sue us for using their characters, music, images, or video footage. Thankfully this never happened, but if it had we did have the law on our side. If SOPA goes through, web videos that feature any sort of copyrighted material under fair use laws may not be so lucky.
Another very serious problem the web TV industry could face is copyright infringement claims from corporations. As a producer I have often licensed music, images and art directly from musicians, photographers and artists. In fact, the background for the A Comicbook Orange web site is made up of copyrighted illustrations that are used with permission from the artists directly, but (under SOPA) if a big company like Marvel or DC were to claim they infringe on their copyright our entire site could be shut down without our ability to protest and prove our innocence.
Think this doesn’t sound possible? Read this article about how Universal Media Group removed an episode of TWiT show Tech News Today from YouTube for reporting on a recent Universal copyright controversy. Hell, UMG and other music and media companies have been removing and blocking videos from YouTube for YEARS… why would we give them the keys to do this throughout the entire internet?
We all need to take action.
Call your congressperson and let them know that you do not support this bill. Feel free to add that if they do, you will not support them in the next election. Go here to find your local representative.
In addition, let the corporations and organizations behind this bill know that you expect them to retract their support or you will publicly boycott their products and services. For your reference, here is a list of companies that have come out in support of SOPA. Personally, I’m disappointed in the Screen Actors Guild, especially since they should be representing the interests of the web TV community and if they have conflicting interests between the studios and independents, they should simply retract their support and stay neutral.
Be sure to give a pat on the back to all of those who have come out to oppose the bill. Aside from all the forward-thinking internet companies, I’m truly grateful to the Writers Guild of America, West for speaking out about its’ opposition.
And lastly, be sure to vote for representatives in the future who understand current technology because… it’s no longer OK to not know how the internet works.
I’ve been thinking a lot about cutting the cable with Time Warner Cable. I started thinking about it after I read this Wired article last fall, but never actually thought I’d do it until I signed up for Netflix streaming and XBox announced Live TV at E3 this year.
Now with recent rumors about Apple trying to kill the cable industry using Apple TV and iCloud, we’re getting closer and closer to the death of cable TV. But reading Robert Scoble‘s Google+ post about Apple TV the other day forced me to think of a huge potential problem; internet access.
Although we pay for Time Warner Cable’s Road Runner Turbo, the fastest internet access possible with the service provider, every single time I stream something – whether I’m watching Netflix, talking to my parents on Skype, or appearing as a guest on TWiT – TWC never fails to cut off my internet forcing me to reboot my modem and wifi over and over again. This is called throttling, and it’s driving me f*cking crazy.
As more and more people dump cable for internet streamed television, we’re going to have to address this problem in a big way. Currently I’m looking for alternatives to TWC in my area, preferably a service provider that doesn’t need to string a line through my apartment building to get me internet service. I’m looking for the future… there must be someone out there who’s providing throttle-free wireless internet service at ludicrous speed! If not, they’d better start doing it soon… otherwise we’ll all have to file a class action suit against service provider TWC and their lack of, y’know, providing service.
Earlier this year I was really interested in Klout, a site that measures your online influence by connecting with your social networks. Initially the site worked only with Twitter, but in early March Klout started connecting their profiles with Facebook as well. After liking how Klout measured Twitter influence, I gave their Facebook interface a try. Sadly, once I allowed the Klout app on Facebook, it turned out that they only measured influence on my personal profile (a place I don’t strive to be influential at all) and didn’t give me any choice to connect my Facebook Like page. Upon learning this I tweeted to them unsuccessfully and later sent them an email to ask when they would start measuring influence on Like pages. Their response:
Thanks for your feedback. Connecting Facebook Pages is something we’re already looking in to, but there is no definite timeline for that yet. However, I agree with you that Page integration is the next logical step especially when you think of it from a branding perspective!
This satisfied me for about a minute.
Now, almost five months later, they still haven’t managed to integrate Facebook Like pages and we’re seeing the site integrate more social networks like LinkedIn and FourSquare. [Facepalm] Really?! Hasn’t LinkedIn become spammy enough…? And FourSquare? What kind of clout does one get from posting their location?
“…it’s what you do that defines you.” – Batman Begins
Klout went from claiming to be the authority on online influence, to making their site into more of a social game about increasing your score. While self-acclaimed “social media gurus” work to increase their scores, there is no reason why actual celebrities would connect their personal Facebook profiles and FourSquare accounts… do you think they want the Paparazzi knowing where they are and what they’re doing at all times? Why, then, would they be active on FourSquare at all! Instead of increasing their online influence, adding these types of social networks to the site would only increase their creepy stalkers.
If I worked at Klout, I would be working on integrating Facebook Like pages, and Google+ profiles. If you’re listening, Klout employees, take note… and get to work.
First came caseymcKinnon.com 1.0, a 70s-girly-exploitation site built in January 2007:
Then came caseymckinnon.com 2.0, a more spacey-but-girly site built in February 2008:
Then came this uncompleted happy “As seen on (web) TV” redesign in late 2009:
Then came this even happier uncompleted rainbow/”woodland creature” redesign in early 2010:
And finally came this Brian Wood-inspired black-&-white-urban redesign about two weeks ago:
I’m so happy. I still have a few things to add and tweak, but it looks awesome (to me, at least). Thanks to Rudy Jahchan for spending so many late nights bringing my vision to life. And thanks to the following people/web sites for providing creative inspiration and ideas on social media integration: Nerdist, Felicia Day, Olivia Munn, Complex, and Geek Sugar.
A couple of weeks ago my friend Stu Maschwitz (@5tu), as Creative Director of Red Giant Software, launched a new iPhone App called Plastic Bullet. At the time I had mixed emotions… the angel on my shoulder says Stu is a visual genius, and the devil on my shoulder told me I already have a zillion camera apps on my iPhone and that Hipstamatic was the bee’s knees. The devil was wrong.
This morning I paid the $1.99 and downloaded the Plastic Bullet app to my iPhone. And. It. Is. Beautiful.
I’ve found a lot of camera apps are hard to control: Hipstamatic is a crap shoot; Toy Camera makes it difficult to change settings; and CameraBag was great at first, but I’ve grown bored of it over time. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all great apps… but I love how Plastic Bullet simplifies creativity to the max. By placing a refresh button in the top right corner, you can keep generating random combinations of photo effects until you find “the one.” And, even if you find one you like, you can save it by clicking on the heart icon and continue searching for other effect combinations you like. Genius. And just the kind of simplistic experience that Apple is all about.
Below is a photo I took while shopping last weekend. The original photo was very plain (I was going to post it here, but my iPhoto kept freezing when I tried to import it), but you can see the effects generated for the photo make it look super cool. Hell, I want to march straight back to the store and buy that dress ASAP! …and perhaps a belt too… and some go-go boots. ;)
Thanks for the awesome app, Stu! XOXO