12 January, 2008

My Damn Channel!

WTF is "My Damn Channel"?

From their website:

My Damn Channel is an entertainment studio and new media platform created to empower artists to co-produce, distribute and monetize original, episodic video content. Programming is created by artists for the My Damn Channel site and for syndication on today’s most heavily-trafficked online communities and social networks. My Damn Channel gives its artists 100% creative control to develop their own brands and new storylines. My Damn Channel produces a diverse array of programming and... blah, blah, blah. Are you still reading this crap? This is the web age. People don’t read anymore.

Why, even Harry Shearer's got a channel!

Harry Krishna Harry Krishna, Krishna Krishna Harry Harry....

WSC #63 - Ask a Ninja: Kent Nichols

In today’s episode I get a killer opportunity to Ask A Ninja. That is, I get to talk to Kent Nichols, the co-creator of Ask a Ninja at the Strike TV seminar “Adventures in New Media”. Recorded Wednesday, 9 January 2008.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on

Gizmodo Pranks CES By Turning Off Displays Using TV-B-Gone

My favorite story to come out of CES.

Folks in the blogosphere are all freaking out about it, though. Some say: Get over it. Others have no sense of humor about it. Still others ponder the difference between a blogger and a journalist.

This reminds me of the most fabulous prank of last year: the special ops that brought you AMPTP.com. It was a joke, people. Get over it. Learn and move on.

Striking Writers to Launch Online Video Co., Seeking $30M+

NewTeeVee is reporting:

"Out of work and newly wise to the state of content being distributed online, a group of professional writers is looking to start their own production and distribution company. Aaron Mendelsohn, writer of the Disney film Air Bud and an active WGA member, is captaining the efforts, and says he has gotten a group of “A-list” film and TV writers on the team. He’s also partnering with online community experts from Silicon Valley and raising “north of $30 million” in venture capital, with the idea of launching a company called Virtual Artists later this year."

Entire article here.

11 January, 2008

Get Ready For MacWorld!

Predictions for MacWorld by Gizmodo.

Enter the contest to make your own prediction here. (Must be 18 years older to play. Void where prohibited. See Steve for details.)

WSC #62 - Strike TV: Kent Nichols and Tom Smuts

Today we’re going to hear an excerpt from a panel discussion for the STRIKE TV: ADVENTURES IN NEW MEDIA seminar held at the Writers’ Guild Theater in Beverly Hills last Wednesday. Featured in this episode is Kent Nichols, the co-creator of the smash hit “Ask A Ninja” and writer Tom Smuts, who in addition to having written for Law & Order, Eyes, and Close To Home, is a co-founder of the Berkman Center for the Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. Recorded Wednesday, 9 January 2008.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on

10 January, 2008

TED Talks J.J. Abrams: The mystery box

Strike TV Question and Answer

music, originally uploaded by phil h.

I read this on the Strike TV profile:


A: Unless you've retained the rights, or are actually Bono himself, the answer is no. We cannot post copyright-protected music, film or any other material on Strike TV without the proper clearances.

And now here's my advice: get yourself some podsafe music. Be sure to carefully read the clearance requirements or Creative Commons license from each artist. Having said that go knock yourself out at the sites listed below. They are ranked in order of favorites. I have used them all at one point in another podcast I produce:

If any music artist or band would like to leave a post in the comments below offering your music to contestants participating in Strike TV, you'd totally raaaaawk. Like Slayer, dude!

WSC Show #61 - Strike TV: Peter Hyoguchi and Jim Cooper

In today’s episode I attend a seminar at the Writers Guild called "STRIKE TV: ADVENTURES IN NEW MEDIA" and speak to Peter Hyoguchi and Jim Cooper, the dynamic duo that's driving Strike TV. Recorded Wednesday, 9 January 2008.
Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on

What is Strike TV?

Strike TV is an Internet fundraiser. It's an online "channel" featuring original video shows created by working professionals in the TV and Film Industry. These shows are self-funded and owned by their creators. Funds raised by ad revenue will go toward the Writers Guild Foundation Industry Support Fund, assisting non-WGA members, including IATSE and Teamsters affected by the strike. Strike TV videos will not be about the strike. This is a chance for writers to do what they do best - be original and tell stories.

Between now and January 15, we invite WGA members to think about what they'd like to shoot and submit a proposal to us. Strike TV is open to all active WGA members.

For more information, go to http://myspace.com/striketv.

09 January, 2008


Can I get an "amen"? Check and balance! Check it:

House Launches FCC Investigation; Warns Against Destroying Documents
House Energy & Commerce Committee Looking Into Federal Communications Commission's ‘Regulatory Procedures and Practices’

By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 1/8/2008 4:38:00 PM

As promised, the House Energy & Commerce Committee launched a formal investigation into the Federal Communications Commission's "regulatory procedures and practices."

The committee was following up on a Dec. 3 letter asking the chairman about procedural criticisms.

Committee leaders advised Martin Tuesday that they expect FCC staffers to cooperate and ordered the agency to start preserving all documents and e-mails, adding for emphasis that no historical records "shall be destroyed, modified, altered, deleted, removed, relocated, or otherwise negligently or intentionally handled so as to make them inaccessible to the committee."

The investigation followed complaints externally and internally about how items were brought to a vote, information that was leaking to some lobbyists and not to others and complaints about Martin's resolve to vote on modifying the ban on newspaper-broadcast cross-ownership -- which passed Dec. 18 -- despite attempts to stop or delay the vote by members of FCC oversight committees in both Houses.

Look, read the entire article here.

It’s Not the Same Game

Terry Heaton posts a new blog entry entitled "Local Media in a Postmodern World" that's worth a mention.

Reposted below with permission as indicated in Creative Commons license 2.5:

Local Media in a Postmodern World
It’s Not the Same Game

by Terry Heaton

This piece examines changing fundamentals of media in the new world, primarily how mass marketing is increasing problematic when access to the mass is what’s restricted. We’ve all grown up in an industry where value was created by restricting access to content, so what we’re dealing with today is, in many ways, the opposite of what we know.

One important factor to consider when reading my essays is that I don’t approach this stuff as a zero-sum game. New media won’t “replace” the old — at least not for a very long time. Mass marketing will continue, but it would be foolish to assume that it alone — or any variation thereof — can rescue the sagging revenues of local media companies. This is why we must follow a dual path approach, which is the foundational strategic principle of AR&D’s Media 2.0 unit.


During the Vietnam War, I was stationed at a long-range navigation base in the Philippines with 15 other guys. Our beacon was used by the B-52s to guide them as they bombed North Vietnam. It was considered "isolated duty," and we had a lot of free time on our hands, especially during the rainy season. We played poker and a wonderful game called Euchre, a trump game where the jack of trumps is the highest-ranked card and the jack of the other same colored suit is the second highest.

Euchre is only popular in pockets around the states, so we had to teach it to newcomers who joined us on the base. One guy, a fellow from New Jersey named McDowell, said, "Oh, this is like Hi, Lo, Jack and Game." Actually, the games had little in common except the use of trump, so we set him straight.

"No, there may be similarities, but that's a different game. This is Euchre."

A few years ago, I was delivering my new media message to a group of media executives led by a man with great vision and skill. His history and thinking, however, was all based in the Media 1.0, mass marketing paradigm, so his disconnect with the Media 2.0 concept was along these lines:

"No matter how you slice it, Terry, it's still the same game."

He was referring to the assembling of audience, whether en masse or by grouping fragments. This has long been the central framework for advertising, and it is in this area that media companies have considerable expertise. But is it true? Is the revenue challenge for media companies today one of understanding new rules for the same game, or is it a new game altogether?

As we said to the newcomers back in the Philippines, "There may be similarities, but it's not the same game."

Jeremy AllaireLate last year, Jeremy Allaire, founder/CEO of Brightcove and one of the brightest minds in technology, wrote in his predictions for 2008 that nothing about the Internet changes the fundamentals of media, adding that "value is created by controlling the content or controlling access to the audience."

"Media companies with established brands and new start-ups," he continued, "will continue to build successful branded destinations so they can control the access to audiences."

This is quite a statement, and one that bears close examination in light of disruptions to mass media, disintermediation, unbundling and the escalating fragmentation of all forms of media. The key fundamental that has shifted is that the pyramid is upside-down. The people formerly known as the audience are now in charge. Access to the audience, therefore, is what's restricted today, not access to the content.

It's the opposite of mass marketing. Consider the soapbox image of a guy above a crowd pitching his message, the preacher at the pulpit, the anchor at the news desk, or the full page ad in the paper. These are all one-way messages from the source to the crowd. The Web, however, makes the opposite possible. The consumer is on the soapbox facing a sea of messages. The mission now is to make those available in an easy-to-access form.

We're in an "unmarketing" era now, one wherein attraction is the key to value creation, not promotion. The days of the captive audience are gone forever, and how do you "control access to content," when your content is either being commodified or replaced by that which isn't controlled? In an era of attraction as the key to growth, more attention — and resources — must be given to product creation, not marketing. What we say about what we create was important in a top-down paradigm, but it's mostly meaningless in a world where users are in charge.

So the assumption that controlling access to content is still a valid business model in today's disruptive environment is problematic, at best, and more likely, dead in the water altogether. There are three issues to consider:

First of all, the "branded destinations" spoken of aren't unique in the architecture of the Web, and this is a problem. It doesn't matter how many people "visit," how long they stay, or what’s available through any particular URL, the Web considers them all the same, what I call pixels on a page. Therefore, any system of control is fragmented to the nth degree. Cable changed the value proposition of broadcasting, and the Web does the same to cable. We can spin things with HDTV and other things like specialized content, etc., but the dynamic is the same as what drug companies encounter when patents expire on their products. "Time-released" becomes the selling point, not the product itself. But people — who are driven by price — go for the new generic. Same with content creators. No matter how we spin it, it’s just another pixel on the page in the architecture of the Web.

So from a structural perspective, the media value proposition is lessened, because the eyeballs necessary to earn from that "value" have thousands, if not millions, of other choices. Moreover, as content becomes more and more commodified, it gets harder to identify any of it as "special."

Secondly, the assumption requires a belief that this "content" has sufficient qualities to compel the eyeballs in the first place. This, too, is a problem, because the creators of professional content have known — even before people starting unbundling things for themselves — that it was getting harder and harder to produce profitable demand. There were many factors at play here, but the one that the creators least wish to discuss is that content built on previous success — that is to say content based on research and history — does not necessarily lead to audience growth. And without growth, the fundamentals are meaningless. Hollywood, the record companies and the rest of the copyright industry are largely victims of the crap they've been producing for years. But crap is easy — and it can be profitable.

It is into this paradigm that J. D. Lascia's "personal media revolution" has blossomed, people educating and entertaining themselves with technology’s help. Nokia is predicting that in just five years, this type of "media" will account for one-fourth of all entertainment in the U.S.

The value of YouTube has never been in the distributing of the kinds of content described in media accounts of alleged pirating; it has always been about growing communities who are entertaining themselves. Professional video creators can scoff at and discount this all they wish, but eyeballs viewing this type of content are eyeballs that once needed the restraints of those creating value through restricted access.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, this assumption dismisses the contemporary reality that advertisers — the people who funded the assumption in its earlier times — don't need the content anymore in order to do business. Advertising IS content in Media 2.0, and where money is spent by advertisers in creating their own content, it is not being spent on supporting the content of Jeremy’s "branded destinations." Some advertisers are actually becoming their own media companies, and this challenges the assumptions of traditional media.

The problem may not be that the value proposition of media is changing as much as the definition of media itself, which is why companies must proceed down simultaneous strategic paths — monetizing their "content" as best they can but also moving to become portfolio companies by innovating in the worlds of advertising and Media 2.0.

So "media" is not the same game as it was in the old world, and the most dangerous move any media company can make today is to operate as though it's simply a matter of rules changes. It's not. It's a new game, and the rules aren't so much about gathering audience (en masse or fragmented) as they are about two significant value creation opportunities:

  1. 1. Helping the people formerly known as the audience do their own thing. The rise of personal media is a significant opportunity for local media companies, because in producing their own forms of media, people are demonstrating a desire to do what we do and know what we know. If nothing else, we can teach them, but by enabling this — actually helping the process — we are in a better position to organize and aggregate its output in a variety of new businesses.

    At a conference of leading edge technical types — pioneers, if you will, of personal media — I asked 500 people if anyone would be interested in a subscription service of raw video that they could use as they wished. Every hand in the place shot up.

    There is a market for people creating their own newscasts or creating videos from archival material that's currently just sitting in vaults across the country. This is money waiting to be made.

  2. 2. Helping the people formerly known as advertisers do business. The aggregator of the messages is the opportunity here. I wrote about this three years ago in "The Economy of Unbundled Advertising," and it's still a valid business proposition for local media.

    Letting people search for the messages they want is clearly one of the paths before us, and it will spawn a whole new form of attraction-based advertising, which will enable commerce in our communities and return local media to a key role therein.

There are business and governmental issues in a world where the "top" is occupied by everyday people. How does one grow a business, for example, when access to the mass is restricted? We'll figure that out. The real meaning of branding will be the foundation of new approaches, for the need to stand out in a crowd of other messages is the real challenge. We're already developing primitive solutions through, for example, search engine optimization.

What about civil defense? How will we get the word out to people in times of emergencies? We'll figure that out, too. Just as we do now, messages of local, regional, national or global concern could be assigned a priority.

And the warning for media companies is serious. We can either participate in the new game, or we will have to deal with increasing irrelevance, because somebody else — most likely the internet pureplay companies — will do it instead.

WSC Show #60 - Reinterview with Bill Froehlich

powered by ODEO

In today’s episode I head out to the picket line at CBS Radford Studios to revisit with strike captain Bill Froehlich. Here, he shares how he’s keeping his creative edge as the strike enters its ninth week. He also tells us his experiences with his mentor: the legendary Rod Serling. Recorded Tuesday, 8 January 2008.

Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on

08 January, 2008

United Hollywood's 1st Annual Short Film Contest

A few weeks ago, Jeffrey Berman from United Hollywood gave me the scoop on the FairDeal4Writers video contest. They're looking for videos on how to get the Moguls to make a fair deal, but they've also recently expanded the scope of the contest. You can now choose to make a film on any WGA contract issues that inspires you.

Get the contest rules here.

Jeffrey is probably one of the hardest working guys around. I've seen him practically every time I go to the lines. He diligently goes about collecting the autographs for the big prize: an authentic WGA strike poster with over 150 signatures, autographed by writers, actors, actresses and directors who signed it while on the picket line. I've seen it and I have to say: it's super cool! Nice job, Jeffrey!

For more information about United Hollywood's 1st Annual Short Film contest, log on to FairDeal4Writers.com.

Welcome to the Human Network

I tagged this in my del.ici.ous, but it's worth a separate blog post. In addition to announcing the Entertainment Operating System (EOS) at CES this week, Cisco goes all out with the "Human Network."
You can drag and drop people wherever they want to go!

(OK, who wrote that?)

Drag me baby! I love it when you drop me like that!

Is it the MyFace killer? Pro'ly not. It will most likely represent to social networking what the NY Times is to journalism. Perhaps, it'll give Current TV a run for the money.

I think the thing that disturbs me about this so-called human network ad is how young everybody is. I mean, the preponderance of millenials as opposed to boomers and even gen x'rs speaks volumes to me. Teenage wasteland, indeed.

I don't get it. Right now, the site seems to be just a random collection of blogs and websites that use Cisco products. Social networks are not about products, they're about people and the community those people create.

My two cents. YMMV.


UPDATE - 01/09/08 12:04 a.m. - I cross-posted this to my personal blog and got this comment from a friend: "Welcome to the digital divide, the new caste system, welcome to the ever widening chasm between wealth and poverty, welcome to the new world order… Welcome to globalization, powered by CISCO." Yeah. What he said.

UPDATE - 01/09/08 12:17 a.m. - This was posted on my personal blog. I *heart* this! Now we're talking!

MediaBytes 01.08.2008

Shelly Palmer continues expanded coverage of Media Bytes at CES. I love the way he cuts it right down into a byte sized snack.

Larry Lessig at TED – March 2007

How creativity is being strangled by the law: Larry Lessig at TED, March 2007.

In light of Sony BMG's announcement to drop DRM (and the subsequent announcement that Napster is going back to mp3s), I thought a little celebration is in order. Here is lawyer, Stanford law professor, and founder and CEO of Creative Commons: Larry Lessig at TED this past spring.

Also, a great debate between Lessig and Jack Valenti:

powered by ODEO

WSC Show #59 - Fair vs. Equitable with Aaron Solomon and Richard Buckley, Jr.

In today’s episode I go to the strike line at NBC studios where I meet up with writer Aaron Solomon and actor Crown Prince Richard Buckley (son of Lord Buckley!) to record what is probably my shortest podcast to date. Recorded Thursday, 3 January 2008.

Anybody want to help me code an XML feed? Hit me!
Producer/Host: Tanja Barnes
Music: "Ay Mambo" by Falik
available on

07 January, 2008

MediaBytes 01.07.2008

CES: Toshiba's response to Warner ditching HD-DVD

From ShinyMedia

We now resume our regularly scheduled podcast (?)

It looks like Odeo fixed their equipment problems and my little mp3 player is available for y'all to grab the podcasts I loaded this weekend. I have a new one I was meaning to load when their server failed, and I'm kinda nervous to post it now until I'm sure they got all the bugs worked out. New podcast tomorrow, if all goes well.

Stay tuned!

CES: Bill Gates' Keynote "Next Digital Decade"

Bill Gates says he's calling it quits at CES this year, but not without some jabs at Steve Jobs and of course, some announcements.

Up and coming for Microsoft:
- deals to offer the entire MGM movie library and Disney/ABC television for download via the Xbox 360;

- specifcially 500 hours of programming in both standard and HD including such shows Desperate Housewives, Lost, Grey's Anatomy;

- renewed partnership with NBC to bring the 2008 Beijing summer Olympics on-line both in live broadcast and on-demand video. You may recall, they did this in winter games 2002 for the Salt Lake City.

Details Fox Business News (fair and balanced!).

Distributing progressive voices on Internet TV

A recent blog posting from Shai Sachs about Internet TV as tool for progressive media:
The key to building a mature Internet television industry friendly to the progressive movement is an open, fast, cheap, and user-friendly pipe that goes directly from content producers to content consumers (and possibly in the reverse direction as well.) In particular, that means building (or latching on to) a cheap set-top box that attaches easily to a living room TV, and works with a reasonably easy-to-use remote control. It also means a set-top box that offers programming from an open network, and doesn't lock viewers into a closed network.
The one thing I'll dispute him on is this: "If Internet TV ever gains enough market penetration to rival cable TV, we will still need to work on offering attractive, compelling content, and properly distributing that content."

Dude. Strike that "If" to "When". It's only a matter of time.

As referenced in his post, I loves me my Miro player.

06 January, 2008

Technical Difficulties

Today's episode of the Writers' Strike Chronicles podcast is delayed until further notice. Odeo, the website from which I upload the feed, is down and I am unable to connect at all. This also temporarily disables the use of the embedded mp3 players used in this blog.

Until then, why don't you tell your own story?

Make a film. Get involved.

What TED said. Word.


Now this is kewl! JVC announces a line of LCD TV sets with integrated iPod dock at the CES 2008.

Read more in Yahoo news here.

CES: iLuv i255 desktop iPOD/DVD Player

Oh, it's another shiney black box! iLuv brings the iLuv i1255 at CES. It's luv-erly!

- Plays music from audio CDs, MP3 CDs and docked iPods
- Remote
- Dock adapters for a variety of iPod models
- Video out lets you view iPod video on-screen
- On-screen navigation
- DVD player supports DVD, VCD, MP3 CD, Audio CD, JPEG CD, and Kodak Picture CD

The iLuv i1255 is expected to ship in March and can be yours for $130.00. More here.

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