Feb 282009
 

Unearthly Adelaide and McClaren Vale 21

“so please don’t forget to support artists like myself who have never had a fair chance in the record industry” guess who…

I have talked endlessly of the best ways for corporations or brands to engage with communities inside social media and it is always fascinating to watch the first baby steps of ‘old school’ celebs or real talent (mixing metaphors) dip their first toes in. But there is also an uneasy feeling watching those ‘media enhanced’ celebs of yesteryear showing their human (everyday?) side and here are a few I stumbled across in the last week or so. Good ones, regular and keeping the punters interested with little morsels cast over the side, ugly ones (just why bother!) and bad ones (they don’t quite get it do they?).

One of the best ways for talent to engage with an audience is to carry them along through their normal daily ‘glitzy’ activities. We see this happening more obviously on twitter. Following Stephen Fry as he travels the world getting fit, making films or eating at nice restaurants. Or Richard Branson’s appearances at Virgin terminals around the globe and many more (lots on Laurel Papworth’s post Famous Twits 50 Celebrities-on-Twitter. It is even more profound for fans when they talk back and give the sense that they read ‘some’ of the many thousands of responses expectantly flying into the usual vacuum. I do wonder though whether this entry into social web by celebs is more to do with a sense that their ‘celeb’ status is decreasing – as the attention for eyeballs is democratised and top YouTubers, Flickerers, Tweeters and MySpace/FB stars mean there is much less time spent on ‘them’. So it becomes a little of, lets go down to their level? Perhaps.

One artist I have mentioned before who is trying to engage across many ‘richer’ social media channels is Imogen Heap. She has kept at it as well with a regular vlog about her new studio fit-out and 4th album. She has at least done 500+ updates on twitter, plus music/travel writing blog, social networks and so on. Here is her latest vlog (which incidentally talks about the ridiculous YouTube/Warners fiasco – them taking down fan videos with her songs on) and more positively about her ‘tweeting’ and charity twestival project.

“On a less fun note…what I actually wanted to say re: youtube videos with my music in, is that it’s been a right nightmare trying to sort out why it’s been happening coz it’s NOTHING to do with me! Total cock up, like I said. My camp is (enjoying) slapping wrists as we speak and trying to sort this mess out. I am not guilty on all counts.. so those of you blaming and bad mouthing me (you know who you are) QUIT IT! I’m one of the good guys, OK?”

It is hard for artists and celebs to bring thousands of adoring fans into their world, so like the L Word Fanisode (I wrote about many moons ago) (where the fans helped write episodes of a high quality soapy) Imogen is bringing her muso fans into the mix, literally by allowing them to add ‘music tracks’ to her raw vocals – a sort of remix but affording much more creativity on the part of the co-creative audience. (BTW re: the quotes above and below – nice to see unfettered personality here vs the measured tones of the older school celebs, who still think they are on Letterman or Parky?). Remember this is for the water charity run via Twestival FM.

“Due to legal crap and crossed wires the song never ended up being in the movie. So… rather than it go to waste.. and just sit around, I thought, for a bit of fun some of you might like to throw some music at it so it lives. A bit like that game where you draw the head on the paper, fold it over and give it to the next person to draw the body. So I’ve drawn the head. You’re turn!”

To explain the mix thing simply. Imogen has provided…

  • isolated vocal tracks that together sound like CLICK HERE TO LISTEN. Pretty dry, incomplete and using basic tracking software any style of music can be integrated
  • So a little fun while writing this blog and few minutes later – some apple loop quickies, here is a ‘world music’y’ one CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
  • and one more ‘orchestral’ sounding CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
  • and where would we be without something a little techno CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
  • I will actually do a proper version which involves playing tracks in! and even add some machinima (like the one I did to Speeding Cars at the bottom – but that’s another hat and another blog 🙂

Looking at other celebs joining in the social media fray it is worth comparing those with a real passion to communicate and share vs those just pushing product or perpetuating an existing image. Below we see the much more famous (perhaps) Annie Lennox doing what Imogen does but without the trappings of Imogen’s ‘work in progress’ narrative arc and Annie strangely comes across as a  ‘fish-out-of-water’? – nervous, not quite sure how to talk to a broader audience? I must say just sitting and talking straight at camera, regardless of who you are, exposes your human frailties – and perhaps that is what is going on here. Celebrities who were cast up by old school scarcity of distribution now trying to show to the world they are indeed real? Annie brings the music biz ‘implosion”, jokingly (but many a true word said in jest) front and center, quoting from this YouTube…

“My album the Annie Lennox collection is coming out on the 9th March, so please don’t forget to support artists like myself who have never had a fair chance in the record industry, and as its all imploding now I am really begging you to buy my album and keep me in luxury and comfort. Thankyou”

Even Francis Ford Coppola has joined in recently. Here he is, camera attached to one arm, showing us around his house and talking about his new film Tetro. Not sure of the reasoning behind it beyond the likely scenario of a younger relative saying “it would be cool if you did a vlog dad/uncle/grandad etc – it’s what all the trendy celebs are doing”

David Lynch is creating an episodic series on YouTube which is far more engaging than some of his feature films 🙂 The David Lynch Daily Weather Report sees him giving 30 second enthralling insights into the state of the sky and temperature (celcius and farenheit!) in LA. In this excerpt he takes it even further and tells us that it really is him on Twitter…remarkable stuff.

There are lots more examples no doubt (you will tell me in comments of course!) and I really wonder if we are indeed deep inside the transition now from distribution scarcity = celebrity to distribution plenty = 15 days of fame? As more and more ‘normal’ folk (those with talent who wouldn’t have been given the time of day by traditional A&R, TV or film studios) rise up to the surface – we can expect enlightened talent to meet them coming from the other direction. As media form and channels equalise a twitter star may one day be the equivalent of Shakespeare, known for writing 140 character tweets that make millions laugh and cry – in fact I do that, but for very different reasons 🙂

ADDITION: Hattip to Tanja (missglamourpuss) for the link to this video looking at the case of Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails) who beyond just dipping his toes in social media decided to seriously burn all bridges with the Music Biz hand that used to feed him (with the morsels they had left!). The speaker here exploring what he did (not rocket science: Connect with Fans, give them a Reason to Buy – sales 101) is Michael Masnick (Editor/President & CEO, Techdirt Blog/Floor64 and more from Wikipedia below.

“In May 2007, Reznor made a post on the official Nine Inch Nails website condemning Universal Music Group—the parent company of the band’s record label, Interscope Records—for their pricing and distribution plans for Nine Inch Nails’ 2007 album Year Zero. He labeled the company’s retail pricing of Year Zero in Australia as “ABSURD”,concluding that “as a reward for being a ‘true fan’ you get ripped off”. Reznor went on to say that as “the climate grows more and more desperate for record labels, their answer to their mostly self-inflicted wounds seems to be to screw the consumer over even more.” Reznor’s post, specifically his criticism of the recording industry at large, elicited considerable media attention. In September 2007, Reznor continued his attack on Universal Music Group at a concert in Australia, urging fans there to “steal” his music online instead of purchasing it legally. Reznor went on to encourage the crowd to “steal and steal and steal some more and give it to all your friends and keep on stealin’.” Wikipedia

Oh and as promised a quick machinima I did to Imogen‘s ‘quaint’ track, Speeding Cars

Jun 232008
 

For those folk who fancy a trip down to Monash University Law Chambers on Wednesday 25 June and who want to see where ‘Underbelly’ meets Social Virtual Worlds and Online Games well we have just the seminar for you. My opening talk’s title “The Sex, the Violence and the Dirty Money: The Truth about Social Virtual Worlds” constructed several months ago now seems a little OTT, wonders how he will live up to the promise…oh yes just cite every mainstream ‘heritage media’ article about the evils of online games and social virtual worlds and voila. Of course I will be talking about some of the benefits too. I might also use this lovely video I picked up from a side exhibition in Seoul last week from APEC Education Foundation Series which points out the evils of the internet (sorry, safe use of) – this particular one entitled ‘Copyright Infringement’ is ‘so swank’…btw I will be putting up my Seoul talk at the trilateral Broadband Summit in a day or so.

Seminar (PDF available from here)
Wednesday 25 June 2008, 4 – 6.30 pm
Monash Centre for Regulatory Studies, Monash University Law Chambers
472 Bourke Street Melbourne
Key Speakers
Gary Hayes, Director LAMP @ AFTRS and Head of Virtual World Development, TPF
Dan Hunter, New York Law School, Melbourne University Law
Melissa deZwart, Senior Lecturer, Monash Law
David Lindsay, Senior Lecturer, Monash Law

Businesses, and communities of users are increasingly operating in virtual worlds, such as Second Life. But doing business in virtual worlds raises many complex, novel legal issues. Already, potentially landmark cases have come before US courts. This seminar features well-known experts and legal academics in this rapidly-emerging area. It will be an indispensable introduction to virtual worlds, as well as an overview and analysis of significant legal issues.

Program
4 pm Welcome
4.10 pm The Sex, the Violence and the Dirty Money: The Truth about Social Virtual Worlds
Gary Hayes
4.40 pm Property, Intellectual Property and Virtual Worlds: What Do Virtual Worlds Tell Us About Property?
Dan Hunter
5.10 pm Beyond the Terms of Service: Legal Issues in Regulating Virtual Worlds
Melissa deZwart
5.40 pm Copyright Protection of Buildings and Artistic Works in Virtual Worlds: Comparative Legal Analysis
David Lindsay
6.10 pm Questions & Discussion
6.30 pm Refreshments

Speaker profiles
Gary Hayes is the Director of the Australian Laboratory for Advanced Media Production
(LAMP), which is run through the Australian Film, TV and Radio School (AFTRS), based in Sydney. LAMP is rapidly emerging as Australia’s preeminent media R&D and production lab. Through AFTRS, he runs workshops in multi-user virtual environments (MUVE), exploring the potential of shared social online virtual spaces for collaborative production, creativity and education. Gary is also Head of Virtual Worlds with the UK-based Project Factory. In this capacity, he has produced and built both the Telstra and ABC Second Life presences, and is currently building and devising other commercial and game-like services for virtual worlds. From 1995-2004, as a Senior Producer and Development Manager for the BBC in London, Gary led the BBC’s development of the internet, interactive TV and emerging platforms. As a published music producer, composer and performer, he has had over 200 works performed live and on TV, film and radio. Gary has been an International Interactive Emmy juror for the past two years.

Dan Hunter is an expert in cyberspace and internet law, and artificial intelligence and cognitive science models of law. He holds a chair in law at the University of Melbourne, and will join the New York Law School faculty permanently in mid-2008. Dan regularly publishes on issues dealing with the intersection of computers and the law, including papers dealing with the regulation of virtual worlds and high technology aspects of intellectual property. He was one of the first scholars to examine the social significance of virtual worlds, co-founded the scholarly blog Terra Nova (terranova.blogs.com), and ran the 2006 State of Play/Terra Nova Conference at New York Law School, and the 2007 State of Play Conference in Singapore. Dan holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge on the nature of legal reasoning. He was a tenured faculty member at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, from 2000-2007, where he continues to teach as an adjunct faculty member. Prior to joining Wharton he taught on the law faculty at Cambridge University in
England.

Melissa deZwart is a Senior Lecturer and Director of Teaching in the Faculty of Law at Monash University, where she teaches Cyberlaw, Law of the Internet, Intellectual Property and the Internet, and Introduction to Legal Reasoning. Melissa is an expert in cyberlaw, e-commerce law, information technology law, technology contracts and copyright law, and is widely published in these areas. She is the co-ordinator of a Monash Arts/Law grant researching the law and regulation of virtual worlds, and has been instrumental in establishing the Monash presence in Second Life. In 2008, Melissa will introduce the graduate subject, Law of Virtual Worlds. Melissa has a PhD from Monash on the intersection of copyright and contract in the digital environment. Prior to joining the law faculty, she was the Legal Manager at CSIRO.

David Lindsay is a Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Law at Monash University teaching Intellectual Property Law, Copyright, Law of the Internet, Communications Law & Regulation and Trusts. He is the author of many articles and reports in the areas of intellectual property law, internet law, communications law and privacy law, and a wellknown speaker on these areas. David is a contributing author for Copyright and Designs (Butterworths, Sydney, 1996-) and the author of International Domain Name Law: ICANN and the UDRP (Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2007).

Apr 182008
 

Three more of my cross posts from the LAMP Watercooler I write/edit.

1 SOCIAL NETWORKING 101 FOR MORNING TV AUDIENCES

I just captured and uploaded to YouTube a TV show (yes they are still going!) this morning featuring Australia’s leading social network strategist and social network hostess with the mostess, Laurel Papworth – also occasional LAMP mentor and speaker!.

Also featuring Aussie K (who has 102 000 MySpace Friends) they both talk with David and Kim (always playing dumb’ish) on the Channel 10 morning show on Thursday 17 April 2008 about how people can become social network ‘stars’, business orientated ‘netrepeneurs’ making money from niche communities and various techniques in starting out and public and private safeguards. Laurel’s blog post has more info. Here is the show in two seven minute chunks:

2 YOUR BODY AS GAME INTERFACE

I bought a Vuzix VR920 (3D slick glasses) the other day and can now experience World of Warcraft and Second Life amongst hundreds of other virtual worlds in 3D at 1024 resolution. This has an in built 3 axis gyro type control – so as you move your head the view changes naturally – what used to be $10s of thousands is now $350 US and things will get better quicker. But of course to move around and interact with objects you still have to use that clunky mouse and keyboard – so along comes Mitch Kapor of Linden Lab with his cheap and cheerful 3D motion detection camera – and to show how fast things are moving this was a 3 week project! Now we can all stand up and get some exercise while playing our favourite games (in 3D too!!)

More from CNET copied below:

While the Nintendo Wii has garnered attention from consumers and media alike for its innovative motion-based controls, Linden Lab is experimenting with a new way to interact with its Second Life virtual world with nothing more than a Webcam. Codenamed Segalen, the technology makes use of 3D Webcams, such as the ones from 3DVsystems, to track user’s body gestures to let them navigate and edit within the environment.

On Bossut’s blog he notes that the project has only been in “real” development for a little more than three weeks. Second Life users looking to get their hands on it will have to wait, however, the 3D cameras in use for the project are still not readily available to consumers.

Similar efforts to use Webcams for gaming include the XBOX 360 and its Live Vision camera as well as the Playstation’s EyeToy series, although neither had the 3D hardware capability that will give Kapor’s Handsfree 3D its extra dimension of spacial control.

3 DO YOU HAVE ENOUGH FRIENDS TO BE A CYBER CELEBRITY

An interesting insight into the most popular social networkers.

Went to a MySpace developers pre-launch party last night and had nice chats with the Australia MySpace crew and visiting US developer leads (see previous post) who are here to catalyse some really cool ‘widgets’ and apps for a still pretty dominant global Social Network. One thing they gave to us was a really cool top 10 list of celeb status, MySpace users based on the number of friends they have but as well as the stats a psychographic breakdown of these social network stars and an insight into why they are so popular. Without going into lots of detail on the background of these folk for now here is the top ten list, with their myspace.com page, age and how many friends they have!

Rank Username MySpace page Friend count Gender State Age
1 Hanny hanny 212 727 F WA 20
2 SophBox sophie_rox_ur_sox 203 768 F NSW 16
3 TanyaBitterSweet bit3_m3_whor3 135 551 F QLD
4 CrazyChick187 crazychick187 125 789 F VIC 29
5 Aussie K miss_tease 101 055 F VIC 20
6 Rach! chicksaxplayer 60 846 F WA 35
7 LunaTix luna_tix_88 47 186 M SA 20
8 CHeLsIA chlesiaroselambet 45 557 F QLD 35
9 ShaundaPrawn shaunny 43 802 M NSW 27
10 Dan (the heartbreak kid) dansharp89 40 996 M QLD 19

OK without going into great detail on the above stats either interesting thoughts. That most are female, obviously the better social networkers! The age is actually quite high for the MySpace demographic at around 24 for these top MySpace celebs. Finally given most of us are around the 100-1000 friends across individual networks those figures are actually suggesting that famous long tail shape, the curve with 20% really popular then tailing off to us normal folk – what do you think? Other notable stats about the Oz MySpace phenomenom:

  • 24.5% of Australian internet users uniquely visit MySpace
  • 4.3 million hours spent on MySpace during Jan 08
  • Three quarters of MySpace users are 18 and above, around 2.1 million adults
  • Nielsen online now report that half of the whole Australian population have social networking profiles, and in the next year another quarter said they will be signing onto one
  • Hitwise track social networking sites and MySpace is the most popular with 22.12% with YouTube at 18.25% and Facebook at 12.05%. The suggestion as to its popularity here is that it is linked to cultural interests across music, fashion, comedy, sport and film.
Nov 262007
 

At the Cross-Media Storytelling conference a few days ago I witnessed a strange event with one of the categories of speakers. There were three groups of speakers, forward thinking practitioners, catch-up heritage media representatives and theoretical, reflective academics. The last group had one or two useful observations wrapped up in PhD-like presentations but the two hundred strong continental European audience requested a little less complex rhetoric – I have talked about this problem before and upset a few in the process. But, that was not the strange element, it was that each academic, and I forcibly recall four in particular, were keen on de-constructing and putting forward the view that participation in and around web 2.0 is a myth. This ‘opinion’ would have been fine as a short two minute statement, but being academia they spent hours analysing it from many angles, backed each other up and of course gave many citations from esteemed writers and colleagues.

Now. Is it currently fashionable in academia to take the opposing view to popular media, industry? Probably, it gets you noticed. Is it common for several similar ‘theories’ to pop-up in one conference, a sort of academic zeitgeist? Most importantly is there any truth in what was being said? I don’t have time to write a long article on this (I am travelling – hence some probable typos and bad grammar) but I threw together a little diagram to support MY simple viewpoint. This diagram grew out my frustration of this one dimensional view (that only those who post/upload content are valued participators) and also from a live, real time, question I asked the last speaker who had put the theory forward for a fourth time. So I tried to get him to clarify what he meant, I paraphrase the question…
Gary: “Am I participating in this conference by asking this question”,
Speaker: “Yes of course”
Gary: “Then why are those who comment, rate, share, recommend, mash-up not considered participants in online social networks?”
The speaker then went onto to say academics have to draw a line in the sand between involvement those who may change the title of a podcast they downloaded for example and those who submit truly original content. Afterwards I said why do you have to draw a line when we are talking about ‘degrees’ of participation? He said academics like defined lines and specificity to be able to hang theories on – yet none showed any kind of digram or quantification of those lines. So here is my ‘line’ in the sand stating that participation in society, politics, online social networks etc: is not either on or off it is a continuum of degrees of influence. It is an analog and not a digital 0 or 1 as the academics represented seem to propose.

Myth of Non-Participation

All the speakers on the other side of the participation fence (I was one amongst the web 3.0, cross-reality stuff, putting forward simple concepts of co-creative communities and participation) talked about over mediation, moderation and artificial constructs that gave the ‘users’ (yuck word) a perception of participation in which there was none. My diagram above takes a different view. Anyone and everyone can have significant influence in the social network. Whether you simply share a video (The Sharers) with a friend or create one from scratch (The Creators), makes a statement and you are influencing. You can also have significantly more influence by commenting (The Critics) than by creating sometimes. You make a video that has ambiguous socio-political stance and the first comment may actually draw attention to what it is actually saying. I know many of ‘The Critics’ who fall into this. The other thing I was trying to represent on the diagram was scale, numbers and level. So we obviously have more of ‘The Consumers’ (passive watchers/readers) than say ‘The Editors’ – those who will take content and ‘modify it’ before presenting it. Also the potential ‘level’ of influence of each group is indicated in the right triangle, and one would imagine a focused blog post or moving YouTube video would have more influence – but as I said before if enough people rate it highly the actual influence is generated by the community, not by the original piece.

A few of the academic presenters talked about the environment the perceived participation exists in. That something like a TV show that utilises video stories from its community is filtering and doesn’t really allow them to participate – but who said Broadcast TV is about participation in the first place – especially the example from 1993 given! Another one said that a social network run by a commercial company is controlling and is naturally inhibits due to complex, proprietary interfaces the natural course of participation. My simple answer is, if any ‘environment’ allows the community to communicate with each other freely and have at least some degree of co-creation then it is totally valid. Open source is one end of this spectrum, but even then open source is still a ‘tool’ created by a small group of people for much larger members of the community that use it. One thing I referred to in my talk relevant to perception of involvement is something I call ‘pushed interactivity’. This to me is the real problem with so-called interactive services, point and click, pots of content. I have many tens of posts on this topic in the archive on this blog (which is founded on personalization of course) and its relevance here is the word ‘resonance’. To me participation is about resonance, what you do changes in whatever way the environment or system you are participating in. Period. When you perform any action in society (online or real world) you are participating in it.

My blog time is up. Duty calls and I have real time, real life conversation interrupting. You can participate in this particular discussion by being The Critic (comment), The Sharer (forward it to your peers), The Editor (copy paste bits, nick the diagram, write a nice soundtrack to it and re-present it to the world) or become The Creator (by writing an original piece on this topic, vs a fashionable one). An interesting question – is this post a comment? An original creation? Sharing? An edit? Whatever it is I believe it is participation and have some small influence.

Posted by Gary Hayes © 2007

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