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Author Archives: Ryan

Augmented Reality and the Future

Overview of Augmented Reality

Augmented Reality (AR) is a very important technological application that can be applied to different mediated interfaces e.g. cell phone, video game, television, etc.  As a result, the technology functions by enhancing one’s current perception of reality.  We are beginning to see more developments in a variety of different media platforms where augmented reality technology is being introduced.  The relevancy and importance of this topic to new/digital media pushes the envelope and current paradigms of how we interact with our current models of media and technology.  In the following articles, several people help to explain this growing phenomenon and its possible impact on our future.

How Augmented Reality Works by Kevin Bonsor

In this article Bonsor outlines five key points to augmented reality of its role in different interfaces like cell phones, video games, and the military as well as its limitations and its future.  He mentions, “Augmented reality adds graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and smell to the natural world as it exists. Both video games and cell phones are driving the development of augmented reality…Augmented reality is changing the way we view the world — or at least the way its users see the world.”  A rather simplistic definition is to superimpose audio-visual and other sensory graphics over our real-world environment in real time he exclaims.

One example that he references is called “Sixth Sense” utilizing some basic components like: a camera, small projector, smart phone, and a mirror tied around a lanyard that hangs from the users neck.  The user than has the ability to manipulate his reality with the help of this device.  “If he wants to know more about that can of soup than is projected on it, he can use his fingers to interact with the projected image and learn about, say, competing brands. SixthSense can also recognize complex gestures — draw a circle on your wrist and SixthSense projects a watch with the current time.” Bonsor goes on to offer some amazing examples of how cell phone apps which can be downloaded on the iPhone or Android can perform amazing functions.  One example, Layar, uses the phone’s camera and GPS capabilities to gather information about the surrounding area.  Another, Yelp’s Monocle will provide the user with information about the surrounding restaurants.  Next, Bonsor discusses the uses of AR in military technology and video games.

Total Immersion is AR software that allows baseball cards to interact in a very unique way by making the player on the card a 3D model that performs a specific action like throwing the ball.  Even with military technology, a squad in enemy territory doing reconnaissance can wear a “AR-enabled head-mounted display that could overlay blueprints or a view from a satellite or overheard drone directly onto the soldiers’ field of vision“.

Lastly, Bonsor concludes with some of AR’s limitations and challenges that must be overcome like GPS’ accuracy, the reliance on using cell phones, the concern for too much/an overload of information, and of course, issues dealing with privacy and security are mentioned.  He states, “The future of augmented reality is clearly bright, even as it already has found its way into our cell phones and video game systems.

Video: Bruce Sterling’s Keynote – At the Dawn of the Augmented Reality Industry

Bruce Sterling is as excited as a ‘kid in a candy store’ as he goes through some tips, predictions, and advice for the industry.  He describes three features to augmented reality 1) it combines the real and the virtual 2) it’s interactive in real time 3) and it registers in 3D.  People think they know what it is.  There’s too many companies, games, ads, applications, webcam, projected video technology, head mounted displays, and so much more that’s developing.  Along with these, there’s so much designing and skill sets that are required.  It’s a profitable business and AR looks “cool”.  It’s not too hard to understand, it’s not too geeky or remote.  It’s the most exciting thing happening in the tech industry.

  1. There’s a lot of hype that’s happening and awaiting.
  2. You are insulting the term’s pioneers when you try to change or neglect the term.
  3. It’s a tag.  A hashtag that you can look up on Google.  Where are people interested 1) Seoul, South Korea 2) Singapore 3) Munich 4) Kaula, Lam pour 5) Auckland… etc.  Augmented Reality is magic.  It works like magic. Yet, magic can be ‘cheezy’ and deceitful.
  4. It’s sleazy and is involved in pop.  It’s involved in porn, sells tampoons, sci-fi, comic books, politics, medicine, museum culture.
  5. Security advice – criminals are going to come.  Security is important to build first.  You are going to have trouble.  You are also going to get publicity of panics.  You are going to the ‘four horse men of infopocalypse’.  How do you deal with the political implications of AR?  You’re going to need an industry journal and code of ethics to help.
  6. Be prepared that the other guy will buy you out.  The major companies will buy you out.
  7. Host of problems: batteries will fail, screens are too small, environmental problems, roaming fees, walled gardens, opacity in pricing, etc.
  8. You need to have a look, an image.
  9. Everything changes for the better or everything becomes abandon for the worse.  Either case, you are in for a wild ride.

Can Augmented Reality be a Commercial Success for E-Commerce by James Gurd

Despite it’s buzzword appeal and social media’s increasing relationship with commercial planning, Gurd boldly asks the question of whether or not there is a commercial model that could make AR a practical tool in the e-commerce armoury?

Gurd answers his own question with a quaint YES.

He begins by briefly and simplistically explaining what augmented reality is.   Then, Gurd examines the current landscapes of different businesses and interface applications that are using AR in some examples of retail, publishing, and automotive.  Again, Gurd asks another question, “What will drive the uptake of AR?” and then adds that the increased usage of smart mobile devices like the iPhone, iPad, Kindle, Blackberry, Android, etc.  will be driving forces for uptaking AR technology.

Lastly, he proposes some plans where AR can be applied to in retail and asks if it can add value to consumers and drive commercial value.  Here are some of his suggestions:

“The savvy marketers will deliver content and solutions that people didn’t even know they wanted but subconsciously always desired. I think retail can tap into this latent demand in several ways:

  • High street retailers can develop a Store Finder mobile app that overlays local store information on interactive maps – perhaps an aggregation of all major brands would provide cost efficiency.
  • Dynamic contextual advertising that displays offers and promotions based on the location and profile of the mobile user (e.g. iPhone user gets different message than Blackberry user) – next step on from voucher code sites.
  • Serving customer reviews to mobile devices to facilitate decision making on the move.
  • Dynamically generating cross and up-sell recommendations based on scanning a barcode in-store on your mobile phone.
  • For the fashion industry, improving modelling of clothes from home to help make purchase decisions – increased accuracy should also help reduce returns.

If You’re Not Seeing Data, You’re Not Seeing by Brian X. Chen

Quotes taken from this article >

  • “Augmented reality is the ultimate interface to a computer because our lives are becoming more mobile,” said Tobias Höllerer, an associate professor of computer science at UC Santa Barbara, who is leading the university’s augmented reality program. “We’re getting more and more away from a desktop, but the information the computer possesses is applicable in the physical world.”
  • “Augmented reality is stifled by limitations in software and hardware” Examples are batter life, prices in hardware,
  • “The smartphone is bringing AR into the masses right now,” Selzer said. “In 2010 every blockbuster movie is going to have a mobile AR campaign tied to it.”
  • “This is the first time media, internet and digital information is being combined with reality,” said Martin Lens-FitzGerald, co-founder of Layar. “You know more, you find more, or you see something you haven’t seen before. Some people are even saying that it might be even bigger than the web.”
  • “This industry is just getting started, and as processing speeds speed up, and as more creative individuals get involved, our belief is this is going to become a platform that becomes massively adopted and immersed in the next few years.”

Augmented Reality

Here’s where the future is headed>  Perception is reality… Reality becomes augmented/mediated in a variety of different ways from books, video games, cars, contacts to cell phones, glasses, maps, and much more.  Similarly, our previous topics of interfaces and the ubiquity of digital media complement this topic.  Enjoy fantasizing about all the new possibilities that we will see more and more of especially with this phenomenon.

Required Reading & Viewing:

Recommended Reading & Viewing:

Enjoy digging deeper into this and scouring the net for more… It’s a very sexy topic ;)


“Mashup Conclusion” (TDMC Remix)

Music and video mashups continue to proliferate in this digital age.  Proprietary laws which protect artists and their affiliated companies from having their material stolen or used without their permission will continue to be criticized and circumvented by other artists.  With such acclaimed artists like DJ Danger Mouse and Girl Talk who have left their mark on mashup culture, I believe that we will continue see more and more artists like these in the future.

Hopefully, businesses will continue to adapt to these cultural changes and work towards a compromise or better solution instead of simply just continuing to tighten or extend the years of proprietary laws.  The current model of copyright laws are based off of greed, control, and exclusion benefiting more of the companies than the individual artists.  On one hand, artists should have rights to protect their works and the incentive of financial gain if anyone wishes to use it.  However, the prices to which other artists or individuals must pay in order to sample or use one’s material is too high.  As a result of these outrageous fees, individuals will continue to challenge and circumvent the systems in place with the risk of being sued.  However, the question remains – are companies going to sue everyone or just those who they feel are extensively profiting off of their material?  Is it just a matter of ethics or a matter of money?

“Everyone has access [to content]. Enforcement is a global problem. It is a practical problem, because of the reach of where the content might appear.  Finding [infringed copyrighted content] is harder.  One issue the law has to deal with is this new sense of a user ‘right’, referring to that of mashup creators.  User-generated mashups are changing the face of copyright laws, which have to evolve to catch up with the Internet generation.  Laws need a way to catch up with changing culture.  This could be in a greater recognition by the courts of the social use of user expression, or legislative change.  On the part of businesses, having a solid online business model will help prevent broadcasters from taking down every use of their content.  Businesses should have a clear and robust revenue stream online. We’re not there yet.” Mary Wong, an expert on intellectual property (IP).

Music and Videos are data that have a code.  They can be sliced, spliced, edited, and mashed together to get an entirely different code.  Remixing or mashing up the code in one’s own unique way allows a person to potentially enrich the value of the existing program.  While artists can conjure up their rights to “Fair Use” = an exemption in U.S. copyright law that allows limited use of works under copyright without permission from the rights holders.   Parody, teaching, news reporting and commentary are some of the uses allowed under fair use, the stipulations under which one can use copyright material without the owner’s permission seems limited and weakly defined.  “Transformative works” need to be better defined.

Mashups will continue to challenge the system of copyright while copyleft and other alternatives challenge the traditional statues and ideologies.  One of the biggest downsides to this debate is the incentive for artists to create an original work and have someone take it without permission, recognition, or even payment.  Of course, this is extreme, however, defenders and advocates for mashup and remix culture will continue to push for a more open system.  Lastly, people need to recognize the significance that whole new genres have been birthed due to sampling, remixing, and mashups.  Consider this in a brief article by Grant Gross,

Artists shouldn’t face threats of huge fines and prison time for sampling from copyright works, said filmmaker Nina Paley, creator of the film “Sita Sings the Blues”, Paley, speaking at an event in Washington, D.C., called for a wholesale rewrite of copyright law to allow mashup artists to create new works without threat of lawsuits or prison time.  Paley’s 2008 film uses several songs from 1920s jazz singer Annette Hanshaw, and copyright holders demanded she pay US$220,000 for use of the works. Paley eventually settled for $50,000.

$220, 000 US dollars?  $50, 000 dollars?  Honestly, who can afford to pay money like this to use other people’s work?  I would argue that the average person cannot.  No wonder people are so vexed at the current proprietary system.  Peep the video.  Thanks.

Bonus listening: If you want to you can also listen to this song that I made using parts of a sermon by a Christian apologetic Ravi Zacharias and Common’s instrumental to his song “Resurrection”.  It took me a couple days to fit things together the way that I wanted to.  I can only imagine trying to fit together an a cappella  and an instrumental let alone put together a song using sampled-snippets of other songs.  Like hip-hop producer 9th Wonder exclaimed, it’s not as easy as it looks/sounds.  Enjoy.

Resurrection (Ravi Zacharias Remix)

Until next time, try not to get sued-  Clear your samples and get permission if you can afford it.  :)

Weekly Summary: Genomes, Singularity, and Biomedia

Everything has a master code, which contains many smaller codes that exhibit various functions.  In past weeks, we have seen how coding plays a very important part with new media technologies from the computers to mobile devices.  The debate surrounding open source code and its implications for what Yochai Benkler has coined “commons-based peer production” was a useful stepping stone for what was ahead of us.

This week, we explore the potential and exciting possibilities from uncovering the genome sequence.  Several individuals outline how this shift in unlocking the code/map of life has been a remarkable impetus for the quest for immortality.  One such speaker, Juan Enriquez, believes that in order for human beings to thrive, we must master this specific code of life.

Decoding the Future with Genomics by Juan Enriquez (2003)

His video is broken up into four sections called: 1) The Implications of Scientific Discovery 2) Shifting Codes: What’s Next? 3) Genomics in Computing War, Power 4) Mind the Gap

-The Implications of Scientific Discovery

  • This is the single greatest mapping project ever. It’s importance is imperative and most exciting and intellectual adventure ever.  It tells us a lot about evolution > a history of where we have been and how things have changed.  We can start changing medicine and archeology with our knowledge of this code.
  • Example: White Europeans suffered plague which begot CCR5 mutation.
  • James Watson and Craig Venter found structure of DNA in 1953
  • There are different life forms living in different places e.g. bacteria

-Shifting Codes: what’s next?

  • Experimentation: cow gives birth to a different animal.  Another example, we can re-program species, we can close the gene gaps, and in turn put a full string of DNA together to possibly give birth to extinct animals.
  • Prediction: In near future, around 2011, we will all have our genome coded on compact discs.
  • Execute code which produces a function.  We have ability to change and reprogram source code e.g. vaccine, Dupont polyester, chickens with more wings.  >> The possibilities of regeneration.  Possibilities include expressing different body functions and/or stopping undifferentiated cells (cancer) with continued development of stem cell research.
  • Minuscule differences in genes > Example: “A woman without her man is nothing/ A woman, without her man, is nothing/ A woman: without her, man is nothing”.  Small changes in genes can have very big outcomes.

-Genomics in computing, war, and power

  • Depository knowledge from Library of Congress has printed less volume of data compared to what a genome company produces in a month.  >> Moore’s law (exponential growth).
  • Genomically literate world >  US has the power.  You can watch the rise and fall of empires of intelligence.

-Minding the Gap

  • It really matters that one is literate.  Especially, with regards to who speaks life (genomics).
  • Production
  • Argentina is crashing not because of inflation.  1/3 of India’s population produces.
  • Countries are splitting and seceeding and becoming more fragmented.  People are taking control of their own states for better or worse.
  • We are being empowered to build empires.

Futurist Ray Kurzweil Pulls Out All the Stops (and Pills) to Live to Witness the Singularity by Gary Wolf (2008)

In this article, Wolf explores the life of Ray Kurzweil and his obsessive notion of singularity.  Wolf sums up the definition of this word by exclaiming that,He [Kurzweil] is attempting to travel across a frontier in time, to pass through the border between our era and a future so different as to be unrecognizable… He calls the border singularity.“  It’s easy to dilute the intricate details surrounding Kurzweil’s idea of singularity into the catchphrase of “cheating death” or looking for ways to live much longer.  However, Wolf explains at great length the incredible drive that Kurzweil has for trying to live much longer than the short lifespans of his father and grandfather.  Additionally, Another famous mathemetician and computer scientist, Vernor Vinge, took it one step further and applied Kurzweil’s notion of singularity to the technological evolution of improvements in computer hardware.

  • Kurzweil transformed idea of singularity into a social movement based off of his ideas from his best-selling books The Age of Spiritual Machines and The Singularity Is Near.
  • “He argues that while artificial intelligence will render biological humans obsolete, it will not make human consciousness irrelevant.”Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be used as extensions of our selves to extend the boundaries of human capacity i.e. hearing, seeing, touching, thinking, etc.  AI will also help us to fight disease and build better memories.  Singularity will not end up destroying humans but immortalizing them affirms Kurzweil.
  • Singularity is catching on.  There are conferences, journals, research, and possibly even a university on the topic.
  • Kurzweil takes his vitamins – is an understatement.  This man takes A LOT (180 to 210) of vitamins each day.  He also spends A LOT of money on health advice and intravenous treatments to prolong his health.  In 1988, he cured his diabetes and high cholesterol by strict dieting.
  • One of his biggest achievements was inventing a device called The Kurzweil Reading Machine that, “…teaches computers to decipher words on a page and then read them back aloud”.
  • Moore’s law is the inspiration behind much of what Kurzweil and other ‘futurists’ believe about exponential growth of technological computing power.
  • Wolf writes, “Computers will soon be smarter than humans. Nobody has to die.”  Immediately, I thought of the AI based science-fiction movies like Terminator, iRobot, and The Matrix.
  • Taken directly from Wolf’s artical>> According to Terry Grossman, Kurzweil’s longevity physician, and other singularitarians, immortality will arrive in 3 stages:

1) lifestyle and aggressive antiaging therapies will allow more people to approach the 125-year limit of the natural human lifespan. This is bridge one. Meanwhile, 2) advanced medical technology will begin to fix some of the underlying biological causes of aging, allowing this natural limit to be surpassed. This is bridge two. Finally, 3) computers become so powerful that they can model human consciousness. This will permit us to download our personalities into nonbiological substrates. When we cross this third bridge, we become information. And then, as long as we maintain multiple copies of ourselves to protect against a system crash, we won’t die.

  • Kurzweil predicts that by the early 2030s, most of our internal organs will have been replaced by robotic organs and that knowledge doubles every year.  Will it be like having an Artificial heart and everything else inside of us like that?
  • He has an alter ego called Ramona.  He would like her to have rights much like our version of human rights.  One day he hopes that he could experience what it would be like to be her.  Happiness isn’t what concerns him.  His purpose of life is to, “Extend our knowledge and cast a wider net of consciousness.”  According to Kurzweil, we may see computing rocks in about 200 years.

Biomedia (2004) by Eugene Thacker

  • We have uncovered the code of life (DNA and it’s analogs, etc.) and can now begin to manipulate that code.  Humanity was a literary endeavor, but has now shifted into a technical endeavor.
  • “We” are the true ‘new media’.  We are the new screen (screen of cave > printed text > electronic screen > and now us as new screen).  We are climbing the mountain of re-contextualizing human beings in a biological sense by the manipulation of genetic code i.e. “anthropomorphosis”.
  • There is a synthesis between code of life and code of technology mediated by code of capital.  The ones with the most capital will benefit from it in a advantageous/exploitative way by splicing, dicing, and patenting codes.
  • “In our hands, biomedia is the encoding process of information contained in our genomes over time.
  • Encoded text of genomes > recoded text according to specific agenda of editor > decoded into biomedia in order to remediate our bodies and answer the question, “What can a body do?”.
  • The soul seems a little lost in this process of becoming bodies.  In other words, the soul becomes subjugated to the flesh.  Yet, we cannot find the soul, so biomedia suggests that we have lost nothing.
  • ‘Bioinformatics’ signals collapsing of two newest codes: genetic and digital code > The Code.  It gives an impetus for a ‘hybridization’ by diminishing the boundaries between silicon and DNA bodies.  I loved this quote, “Everything is media awaiting mediation, and is hence malleable ad infinitum.”
  • We are effacing and playing God with biomedia
  • Paradoxically, the code was/is closed, however, since we have uncovered it, the code is now open sourced for anyone to take it and play with it according to their agenda.  Biomedia becomes a question of WHAT will we do with our bodies???  This question ultimately begets the proceeding question of bioethics.  

Questions:

  1. Enriquez tries to tie in his argument about how crucial this coding will be for the rise and fall of countries.  Do you think Juan Enriquez’s points at the end of his presentation about countries’ levels of  production and their economic problems are valid?
  2. What are your thoughts on Kurzweil’s notion of singularity and the exponential synthesis of technology and biology?  Do you think that we will continue to see more medical and technical developments that push the limits of biomedical technology?  Do you feel that we will eventually be able to manipulate the code so that we will be able to live forever?
  3. Do you think we are hindered in our exploratory process of biomedical and biomedia development by ethical laws and boundaries that make the experimentation much longer?
  4. How do you feel about biomedia and trying to live forever?  Do you think we can AI will be able to experience human emotions or just be extremely rationale and productive?

Music/Video Mashups: What’s at Stake?

I apologize for the late post last week, here it was again in case you missed it>

One person’s copyright infringement is another person’s creative expression.” – Michela Ledwidge

Yesterday, when disco and hip-hop DJs of New York City were sampling different songs and weaving them together using different parts, instrumentals, vocal clips, and more, they originally had to acquire the vinyl record through legally purchasing it… unless someone was generous enough to give them the records that he or she did not want (Hunsicker, 2010).  Now a days, one can easily circumvent the economic laws of copyright and even purchasing property with the internet.  Peer-to-peer sharing and other video sites such as Youtube make viral proliferation of content and information easy as 1-2-3.  That being the case, copyright dilemmas have continued to grow in this digital age where consumers users are fighting back against the few, elite hegemonic powers and authorities who control so much of today’s intellectual and artistic content/property.

Furthermore, the economic system of music and online videos have greatly been affected by the popularity of music, file, and other video sharing websites.  This phenomenon has changed the way in which consumers people legally buy or illegally distribute music and other video content on the internet.  Besides, everyone is becoming their own DJ or mashup artist given the customizable playlists, sampling technologies, and other ways of individually tailoring someone else’s music to suit your own desires.  Hunsicker further asserts, “Not only is music more convenient to listen to, it also feels more personal, your own mix that you can be proud of.  With the right equipment, everyone can be a DJ.”

With regards to more or less music, artists like Girl Talk, DJ Danger Mouse, DJ Shadow, and many others have found Grey areas or ways to navigate outside the legal confines of copyright laws.  While there are those who would argue that these artists have infringed heavily upon copyright laws, others would defend them arguing that the very proprietary laws which protect certain artists, stifle other artists from re-appropriating it into something new.  Hunsicker proposes a comprise between copyrights and mashup artists:

What a mash-up artist is doing is taking DJing to a whole new level, they are creating entire new tracks, using pieces of a whole to create new songs.  There is an argument for a fair amount of creativity here, but the artist did not create each of the clips.  This is where there needs to be a compromise!  Laws need to be revised, so that a certain percentage of the royalties could be paid to the record companies, not in full, and so that the mash-up artist may be motivated to pay while still receiving individual benefits for his songs.

Okay, so what’s the big deal one might ask? What’s at stake?

“Basically, the music industry is slipping towards anarchy , and the record companies are trying to keep control of their revenue streams,” said Professor Sam Howard-Spink, professor of music copyright law at Steinhart School of Media, Culture, and Communications at New York University.  It has been widely accredited that the artist Girl Talk, a.k.a. Gregg Gillis, is a famous mash-up artist who uses an average of 21 music clips per song. If he paid, the cost would average $260,000 per song and $4.2 million per album according to “RiP: A Remix Manifesto.”

Where is the line drawn between mashups/remixing and stealing?  For many, the answer seems to lie in giving credit to the original.  Still, many would go further and ask for some sense of monetary compensation for using the original.  Obviously, being sued by someone for copyright infringement is the greatest risk at stake.  But then, how do artists like Girl Talk or DJ Danger Mouse find “legal loopholes” or ‘getting away’ with creating some of the most successful and acclaimed mashups to date?  According to a blog article from GENYU.NET, “This success does not go unnoticed by the music business—mash-ups are so popular online that the music industry has become more selective with their legal attacks, looking for a way to harness this genre without the legal complications.”

More artists are recognizing the potential in releasing their music or videos to the public for marketing purposes to create mashup contests.  This is an amazing way in which the public can participate in remixing/mashing up the artist’s original work and being recognized for it with a monetary prize or other awards.  For example, K-OS, a critically acclaimed Canadian hip-hop artist, released his last album to the public creating a remix contest.  He then released the remixed album containing the best remixes for sale on iTunes and throughout other music distributors sites.

Be careful Youtube (Google)?

>Lastly, since 2007 Viacom has accused Youtube (Now Google) of profiting from thousands of videos in a whopping 1 billion dollar lawsuit.  The impending future implications that the resulting lawsuit could have for not only Youtube but for copyright and mashup culture in general are vital.  Greg Sandoval, writing for CNET News online states,

“There’s a lot at stake, including the $1 billion damage amount Viacom seeks. Depending on how the dispute is decided, it could mean content-sharing on the Web will be far more restricted than now. On the other hand, for film studios, music labels, and other content creators, a Viacom loss could mean protecting copyright online becomes much more expensive and labor-intensive.”

In a bitter legal war, both Google and YouTube will have until April 30th to file motions for a summary judgment (basically the judge reviews the evidence on both sides and determines whether the case has enough merit to go to trial or not).  After that, then they would likely set a trial date for later this year.

Then why do it?

Because we live in an society enveloped by various juxtapositions of power and control that are constantly challenged such as the  rich vs. poor; open source vs. close source; creative commons vs. copyright; pay vs. pirate; etc.  DJ Danger Mouse exclaimed about the Grey Album (2004), a highly acclaimed mashup of The Beatles White Album and Jay Z’s Black album acapellas:

“A lot of people just assume I took some Beatles and, you know, threw some Jay-Z on top of it or mixed it up or looped it around, but it’s really a deconstruction. It’s not an easy thing to do. I was obsessed with the whole project, that’s all I was trying to do, see if I could do this. Once I got into it, I didn’t think about anything but finishing it. I stuck to those two because I thought it would be more challenging and more fun and more of a statement to what you could do with sample alone. It is an art form. It is music. You can do different things, it doesn’t have to be just what some people call stealing. It can be a lot more than that…This wasn’t supposed to happen… I just sent out a few tracks (and) now online stores are selling it and people are downloading it all over the place.” Burton denied being the agent provocateur, saying it “was not my intent to break copyright laws. It was my intent to make an art project.”

In a day called “Grey Tuesday” coordinated on February 24, 2004, Downhill Battle, an activist group, posted copies of Danger Mouse’s The Grey Album for free download on various participating websites in protest of EMI’s, a record company that ordered cease and desist of the mashup album.

Here’s this week’s mashup that I put together. Enjoy >

Thanks to/References:

A Few Good Men (1992); And Justice for All (1979); The Matrix (1999); Braveheart (1995); Lawrence Lessig; Training Day (2001); and Copyright Criminals (2009), Outkast+Queen Mashup from VillexHermannixValo.  Hopefully, my own mashup falls under the Fair Use Doctrine under educational use/criticism/teaching purposes.



Music/Video Mash Ups: Although flittering with Copyright’s shackles, do they promote/cause change or are they just l’art pour l’art?

Mashup culture continues to expand in our increasing digital age of Web 2.o.  These videos, music videos, or songs are becoming more popular because of how they can be easily distributed throughout the web.  What these newly recycled creations of taking the old and making something unique has the ability to empower individuals to not just consume media but to actively participate in entirely new and amazing ways depending on the technical know-how and how media-production savvy a person is.  There are so many tools available to cut, copy, splice, mash, blend, synergize, and recreate today.  What I’d like to try to uncover more of and unravel are a mix of the inherent copyright dangers that one faces, how one can circumvent these, and if one’s mashup makes more than just a statement.  In a wonderful online article from the NYTimes written by Michiko Kakutani, he references, artist and computer scientist Jaron Lanier, about Texts without Contexts.  He writes, “Lanier, 49, astutely points out in his new book, You Are Not a Gadget, of how online collectivism, social networking and popular software designs are changing the way people think and process information, a question of what becomes of originality and imagination in a world that prizes “metaness” and regards the mash-up as “more important than the sources who were mashed.”  Kakutani also mentioned in his article another Google phenomenon called – Google Wave – have you heard about it???

Here’s my next quasi-political mash-up using other mash-ups to get across my travelogue message of mashups political statements and if mashups in general can affect copyright changes with regards to some of the sites listed below.  Much respect and thanks for DJ Spooky.

How do we change culture?

“Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do — all of us — though not all of us know it yet. Reality cannot be copyrighted.” – David Shields in Reality Hunger

“Artists no longer work in the bub­ble of a record­ing stu­dio. The stu­dio is the net­work.” … “The 20th cen­tury was the era of mass pro­duc­tion. The 21st cen­tury is the era of mass cus­tomiza­tion,” -DJ Spooky

“audience is as antique a term as record, the one archaically passive, the other archaically physical. The record, not the remix, is the anomaly today. The remix is the very nature of the digital.” - William Gibson (2005) Wired.com

Fair Use & Copyright- The risks to recycling and reappropiating> mashup

Fair use is the right, in some circumstances, to quote copyrighted material without asking permission or paying for it. Fair use enables the creation of new culture, and keeps current copyright holders from being private censors.

Can we make more than just a statement through mash-up videos/music remixes?

- www.politicalremixvideo.com >> Political Remix Video (PRV) is a genre of transformative guerilla media production whereby creators critique power structures, deconstruct social myths and challenge dominate media messages through re-cutting and re-framing fragments of mainstream media and the popular culture.

- www.rebelliouspixels.com>> Hi my name is Jonathan McIntosh. I’m a video remix artist, a photographer, a new media teacher, a consultant and an activist. I’ve also worked on numerous media and social justice related projects in the United States and around the world. In my spare time I help co-edit the blog Political Remix Video and I’m a member of the Open Video Alliance. I also do some freelance work building and customizing WordPress websites– mostly for non-profit organizations.

- www.barelypolitical.com >> Barely Political is the leading political satire site on the web. Here’s some history: Barely Political launched in June 2007 with the debut video “I’ve Got a Crush on Obama” featuring Obama Girl. That quickly made us one of the most talked about and blogged about political satire sites online. Since launching, Barely Political videos have been seen over 150 million times worldwide, and featured on shows including Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show and The Colbert Report. President Barack Obama called Barely Political videos an “example of the fertile imagination of the Internet,” and he’s really important.

- http://opensourcecinema.org/ >> Open Source Cinema lets you create your own videos online, remix media that you have on your computer, as well as remix other people’s media from places like YouTube and Flickr. You can also connect with others by sending personal messages, commenting on remixes, or even joining projects that others have created.

To the class:

Also, if the class would be interested, we could maybe try to enter this competition and make our own media mashup: “Sunlight Labs Offering $5K for Best Government Data Mashups”


The Art of the Mashup/Remix Culture

What I would like to try to focus on is how has mash-ups/remixes helped to democratize participation with music and media? And how has it changed DJ culture?

I don’t appreciate the embedded quality here, but you can go to the original destination to view it which I’d prefer.  http://blip.tv/file/3381808

Special thanks to Dan and Mushon :)

So what do you think for the Fourth & Final Frontier??? (Not Star Trek V)

For your listening pleasure while you consider my options …courtesy of RJD2.(Click on and open in a new tab > Final Frontier )

  1. “How to Videos” Phenomenon. I would want to explore the realm of instructional videos online and how they have changed the way we want to find out things.  Do we call someone to explain it to us over the phone?  Do we pay for someone to do it for us?  Or do we watch an instructional video on youtube.com or howcast.com.
  2. The different ways that we incorporate media for different methods of transportation (cars, bikes, walking, flying) – Intellidrive (a strategic vision for the future to link communication between cars to create a better and safer transportation network), Google Maps, integrating phones, televisions, video games in cars; GPS; and trying to come up with a new way to make a method of transportation more efficient.
  3. Mash-up Culture. Delving more into the mash-up/remix phenomenon in music and media.  Exploring the possibilities of blending media, video, and music in DJing.  Serato Scratch Live’s Video is one way to add to the dimension of club experience bringing a visual kaleidoscopic that can be manipulated by the DJ to add to his set.
  4. Speaking of networks… LoKast Application for iPhone -  A disposable social network that links you to people within a 300ft. perimeter where you can chat, share, and see what people are listening to.   Eliot Van Buskirk of Wired.com adds, “When they walk away from each other, the network essentially disappears — poof — which is why NearVerse calls this “the first disposable social network.”
  5. Flavors.me. - Facebook, MySpace, Twitter log, Flickr, (sorry Google Buzz), all on a different and unique interface.  Let’s see if this takes off.  Seems pretty cool.

6.   Spotify - Imagine iTunes, but instead of paying for downloads you could “instantly stream that same music for free without  via your computer or, increasingly, your mobile phone?  The big difference is that Spotify gives you instant, legal access to millions of tracks without any charge,” exclaims Chris Salmon (2009).  The catch is that there’s two versions.  The free version is supported by paid advertisements every 20-25 min.  If you don’t want to hear the advertisements, then you can opt to pay $10 a month for a premium membership.  Right now it’s only available in the UK, but there’s speculation that it might be available soon.

7.   Square -   A device that plugs into your iPhone headphone jack which allows you to swipe your credit card and pay if you    don’t have cash.  I would want to investigate how this carries the potential to change the way we use are phones for financial transactions.

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Let me know which seems most appealing.  Thanks.

Travelogue 3 Conclusion: It’s up to YOU to develop Living Stories

LIVING STORIES: What is it?

These past several weeks I decided to investigate Google’s experimental interface for experiencing news online called – Living Stories.  From December of 2009 – February 2010, it experimented by utilizing the help of The NYTimes and The Washington Post to find out if people preferred and enjoyed this new way of experiencing online news.  Since the experiment, there has been a growing optimism with the future of possibilities of how it could change the nature and interface of online news.

Watch the video to understand what exactly is Living Stories:

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Open Sourcing Living Stories:  What happened to it?

Around the time that I started to research it, Google went ahead and announced that they were open sourcing it to the public in hopes that people would find their own unique ways to develop and implement it.  So, my focus revolved around the question of, Who and what were developing the newly open sourced Living Stories???” This question lead me to dig around the website, Google Blog, online articles, and the discussion forum in hopes to find out who were some people besides Google’s guinea pigs (The NYTimes and The Washington Post: two of the most heralded newspapers in the US) that were trying to cultivate the program on their own…

According to Google, Living Stories was preferred over reading traditional news formats by 75 % of the people surveyed.  It was considered a success and so with that, Google released it to the public on February 17th, as an open source code.  Therefore, I set out to find out more about the silent success of this amazing new concept for online news.  Here is a recapitulation of my focal points for investigation:

“There are times when silence has the loudest voice” – Leroy Brownlow

  • My research and journey will be to figure out what I’m able to on where the project is going since its release to the public.  I have already contacted some owners of the experiment from Google that were in charge of Living Stories and even some people at the New York Times and the Washington Post to see what they are continuing to do with the format.
  • In addition, I will try to seek out some developers who are working with it to see what they have been able to do with it.
  • Lastly, I will also attempt to contact various news agencies and inquire about whether or not they would implement such a format to their online site.

What was I able to find out it… It’s hibernating for now

After sending out several emails to some leads that I garnered perusing around the discussion forum for Living Stories, I was able to get a hold and interview Neha Singh, software engineer for Google and another person, using a pseudonym  Eugene, at Nature Publishing Group who is attempting to develop it further for an online scientific articles like those of Naturenews.

Eugene told me that, “We’re looking at experimenting with it to show both science news and the human stories behind important scientific discoveries published in the journal”.  He was enthusiastic about working to develop the code despite running into a couple minor problems with content manager timing out, but for the most part, was hoping to develop a time line interface of historical articles with the same topic.

Mr. Singh was pretty helpful in taking the time to answer my questions, but could not divulge any information that would lead me to developers or other people who might be working on the code.  He also couldn’t provide me any contacts from the NYTimes or the Washington Post without their permission.  All he could tell me was mostly the same information that he had written on the official Google Blog nor could he answer (which I assumed) some harder questions like – Was this a political move to develop better relations with news companies and the general public by open sourcing it? He could not comment.

Another lingering question was whether or not Google’s decision to open source the code for Living Stories was planned from the beginning or was it something that was considered after the experiment was over.  After verifying the Living Stories blog post from December when it originally started and the answer that I received from Neha, I learned that Google’s intentions from the start were to open source it after the experiment finished.

Paul Bradshaw, of the online journalism blog, on his report of Google’s Living stories.  Bradshaw asks two very important questions that I thought were worthy of including>>
  • How much of the construction of the page is done automatically, and how much requires someone to input and connect data?

This question addresses the extent and ingenuity behind the code itself.  The code creates an interface that allows for an updated version of the stories to continue to funnel down the page with several key features to choose from along the sides e.g “most popular”.  However, from talking to Eugene, he did mention that the content manager kept timing out.  So I would presume that the construction of the page is formatted somewhat automatically, but also needing someone to input and connect further stories of course.  From what I did find out about some of its features, it is capable of filtering out information that you (as a reader) have previously read and highlighting what information is new.

  • How does this address the advertising problem?

Of course, advertising is very important for publishers.  There were no advertisements on Living Stories as of yet, but publishers who adopt it could potentially post advertisements alongside the articles.  While Google announced its revenue sharing project with publishers with Fast Flip, it should be able to equally implement advertisements for revenue purposes with Living Stories “if” publishers decide to appropriate it. 

Conclusions and a lingering curiosity:

I was holding out a little longer because I was hoping to get a response from a contact at the NYTimes.  Unfortunately, he didn’t respond to my email, but if he replies in the next couple of days I’ll post an update on Living Stories. I believe that this experimental new format for online news raises some interesting questions about the simple but profound reality that it is open source.  Moreover, the silence does speak volumes based off of the fact that it was a success according to Google and their pervading optimism.  Although I wasn’t able to find out much with how people are developing the code, I would be remiss if I did not believe that we have seen the last of Living Stories. I really want to know what the NYTimes and The Washington Post are doing with it.

For one thing, profit is the driving force behind businesses and so I wonder how using the free open source Living Stories format would compare with something like the Times Reader 2.0 where the reader pays a weekly subscription of $3.45?

Google’s Living Stories is in a Coma at the Moment

While I have tried to seek out people who are currently trying to develop Google’s code of Living Stories I was able to interview Neha Singh, software engineer for Google and another person, we will call him Eugene, at Nature Publishing Group who is attempting to develop it further.  There is a huge silence surrounding this code if in fact it was such a success that Google found it to be.  Digging around the forum and discussion group, I was able to find Eugene and inquire about how he is working on the code:

Eugene pointed me to some scientific news stories for an online journal at Naturenews.  “We’re looking at experimenting with it to show both science news and the human stories behind important scientific discoveries published in the journal,” said Eugene.  He went on to comment about the code itself and the problems that he encountered with it.  Apparently, installing and getting the code running was pretty straightforward, however, the content manager kept timing out a lot.  “I do like the possibility of applying the system to stories that have already happened though I guess they’re not “living” any more. Living Stories is a good way to browse any sort of narrative, see the people involved, browse relevant media etc.  The default content manager makes this as difficult as possible, unfortunately – to put in dates from say 1950, so you have to do a lot of clicking on a popup date widget, you can’t just type in the year.”  It was interesting to hear how Eugene was trying to use it almost like a historical and categorical reference tool along the lines of what libraries use.  This reminds me of the historical overview that wikipedia has on many topics.  The difference would be that you would have a historical time line of scholarly articles using the Living Stories interface.

Back to Google’s representative – Neha Singh>>

Neha answered a lot of my questions, but couldn’t really answer the harder ones.  To my understanding, he has to be careful with what he divulges to the public.  For example here are a couple harder questions that were asked,

1.  How does Google benefit from this type of investiture?

Our interest is in helping journalism thrive in the digital era, because it’s important to society and an important source of the high-quality information our users turn to us to find. We’re doing the Living Stories project to learn about creating more engaging experiences for consumers of news online

2.  Because Google has been deemed by some as an aggregation thief of news, was the open sourcing of this, to some degree, a  political move in a way to win over the hearts of the publishers and people?

Cannot comment.

3.  What are those two news companies doing with it at this point since they were the two main guinea pigs for the experiment?  Are they continuing to develop it on their own?

They are currently evaluating how they want to proceed.

4.  Could you give me some contacts of people who I can talk to at the NYTimes or The Post to ask them some questions about it?

I would have to ask for their permission first. So it will take some time.

5.  Is there a list or a distribution list of developers that you released it to?

We just announced it on the Google open source blog.  You would have to solicit replies on the discussion forum.
Ok, it looks like I wasn’t able to get the harder answers out of him, but they do insinuate a sense that Google is trying to help out the traditional journalism’s journey to the online environment.  I’m kinda skeptical at such a benevolent approach without any financial incentive.  Maybe that’s why Google open sourced it in the first place.  I do wonder if Google was paid by the NYTimes and The Post for their help in creating such a format.  Yet, this wouldn’t be that plausible based on the fact that they open sourced it. 

One of the biggest questions that I tried to focus on was whether or not Google’s decision to open source the code for Living Stories was planned from the beginning or was it something that was considered after the experiment was over.  Mr. Singh had informed me that, “Open sourcing the code was the logical next stage of the experiment and was always planned. From the beginning, we had said that hosting the stories on Google Labs was temporary. We want to help interested news publishers cover stories this way on their own websites. The Times and Post had teams of reporters publishing through the Living Stories format for over two months, which helped us collect a lot of data and feedback, and improve the code.“  I confirmed his statement, by checking the Google News Blog, which had indicated back in December, when Google started the experiment, that they were going to release it to the public after the experiment was finished.  This could have a tremendous impact on the way people search for news online based on the topic.  Google News aggregates and filters the topical search, but it still takes you to the traditional news article that has stayed the same for quite sometime now.  The topic of the article would be the key ingredient rather than the publisher or article itself.  Moreover, “If you look at search behaviour, that’s often what people search for (and why Wikipedia is so popular), declares  Paul Bradshaw, of the online journalism blog, on his report of Google’s Living stories.  Bradshaw asks two very important questions that many are wondering (if you decide to peruse through the discussion forum of Google’s Living Stories).

  1. How much of the construction of the page is done automatically, and how much requires someone to input and connect data?
  2. How does this address the advertising problem?

What advertising problem you ask?  Well, d3vianted@gmail.com articulates this well in the discussion forum:

Publishers want to drive people to their sites in hopes of attaining ad impressions.  Thus the “free” content they are giving away is providing some source of income.  As more and more papers see a decline in readership and their sales decline, the money their make from their online products is becoming more and more important. Living Stories takes away any ability for the publisher to direct traffic to their sites (other than name recognition and the hopeful conversion of a curious reader) or provide any support for advertisers.  Publishers would be producing content with no ROI [return on investment] simply for the convenience Google’s users.

A counter solution to this payment for content problem has just been announced by Google’s competitor Bing.  Apparently Bing is trying to help UK newspapers better monetize their online news.  Here’s the article.

Lastly, it would have taken more time to generate the contacts at the NYTimes and The Washington Post to inquire where they are taking the project at this point.  Mr. Singh could only tell me that, “They are currently evaluating how they want to proceed.”  Even if this statement foreshadows the vague undertones that surround the future of this project, it does however, imply that Living Stories is something that we could see changing the way that we consume and experience news online in the future – however long this might be.