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Archive for January 22nd, 2007

Video abundance, Metacafe envisioning quality in it (DLD07 conference)

Posted by Annplugged on January 22, 2007

Metacafe is a video portal, however the mission is more than that: Eyal Hertzog, co-founder of Metacafe, nurtures the “vision to become the highest-quality video destination site on the Internet” At the moment they have 500.000.000 video views per month, and 20.000 new downloads every day. Ant there are numerous uploads as well. No wonder, after all, producers get 5 USD/ CPM (a thousand views) if the total number of views go over 20.000 (Are you a producer? Just log in, and see how much you have earned).
How come YouTube seems to be unresponsive? Can they really be that comfortable in the stregthening competition? Lots of national video sites are mushrooming suddenly. Not only is GooTube lagging behind in building communities, and financially rewarding producers, it is also painfully low-performer regarding technology: video ranking is awful, search results are many times unsuable, if you watch a tween peaks spot, say 4/4 you are not offered 4/5 as the next bit, simply the technology is not behind that.

But back to Metacafe, and its future:
Eyal is saying that they definitely expect growth. That is, continue to grow. They are talking to a lot of people in the industry (there have been rumors on Microsoft’s intentions for a Metacafe buy-up, which must have been encouraged by such industry talks). But, according to Eyal, “they wish to grow as an independent company.” They just started the rewarding program 3 months ago (paying for the UGC) and it is thrilling, “there is a huge growth.”

I guess the future is also about developing what metacafe has been unable to offer so far. OK, they are popular and international. But are they also in national languages? Not yet? Can they offer vertically specializing channels like cooking programs, natural films etc. ? Not yet. As Eyal points out, they should have a reply to the needs he calls the ‘interests, tastes, and soap,’ which is the next step once the site has become popular and international, and localized at the same time (localized is the future). So there is ample space to spear ahead into for all video platforms.

Update: on Jan 27 when Chad Hurley announced to start revenue sharing on YoTube.

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Posted in Emerging markets, Metacafé, YouTube | 4 Comments »

Aenne Burda Award is now going to…

Posted by Annplugged on January 22, 2007

…Flickr site co-founder, Caterina Fake.

Practically Marissa Mayer (the first lady awarded with the award) has said these few words so far. She will speak more tomorrow.

Posted in DLD07 | Leave a Comment »

Social networking panel discussion at DLD07: Facebook, Xing, aSmallWorld, and Mr Oetker

Posted by Annplugged on January 22, 2007

That was a very interesting bit about social networking sites, and I would like to give credit to the moderator also (Oliver Samwer), as such multifaceted conversations depend a lot on the quality of moderation. I think, this time it was pretty good. Instead of giving a summary on the panel discussion, the full video shot of which is available on Digital Life Design conference page I will only pick the thoughts on social networking sites I found most interesting.

All kinds of social networking sites, and changing
Probably the most important conclusion of the panel speakers was that there can be several types of social networking sites, serving different purposes, like specializing in different age groups, contents (note: potentially lucrative investment in energy/ green networking!), etc. One lady of the audience asked the panel how these sites are catering for the changing behavioral patterns, needs, interests of individual users? She cited Facebook and Linkedin as an example. If you are finished with student lifestyle and start working, will switch from Facebook student site to Linkedin professional site? I have found this a really exciting question. What will happen to ex-myspace users when they get over the ‘any moment in my life is worth being recorded’ period? Will myspace grow up with them or will the older ones find their new networking sites?

Facebook vs. MySpace
While MySpace is investing heavily in being ‘Cool!’ and also in technology, and the focus is on monetizing the site with all kinds of solutions, Facebook is concentrating more on offering an increasing number of useful functions, plus remaining a tightly-knit community where people actually meet in real life and only after then do they establish a new connection in the network. As for making money with Facebook, they are more into branding, as the way they see young students really find it important to express themselves though brands (Matt Cohler is VP Strategy & Business Operations at Facebook, and the DLD page forgot to mention that Matt resembles Agent Cooper in TweenPeaks (maybe the association was strengthened by the black suit image too)).

Protecting the network profile
Erik Wachtmeister is the founder of social networking aSmallWorld (150.000 members from 150 countries), where currently 6 webmasters decide on what is considered inappropriate behavior on aSmallWorld i.e. what to get rid of (yes, sth like ‘police’). He cited Orkut as an example of a social networking site that developed organically but changed direction so much that it actually got taken over by Brazilian teenagers communicating in Portuguese rather than English – instead of remaining a Silicon Valley community place. So putting together his words, it sounded like the 6 webmasters also ensure that aSmall World is not barbarically taken over and transformed into a chaotic monster pen. Matt Cohler from Facework said that they prefer to have the sub-communities of the whole network establish their own social norms. He also added that a million PVs per day makes it impossible to use human editors on the site (they have some technology for flagging).

Will Mr Oetker invest in any of these sites?
I think Dr Arend Oetker gave a reasonable reply, although being challenged in front of a bunch of digital-minded and tech-savvy people. His answer was ‘No’ and I suppose the reaction among the audience may have been ‘He does not know what he is missing out on.’ Mr Oetker was saying that he would rather “stick to his roots and his knowledge base, although the site representatives sounded intriguing.” I think it is a wise reaction, and not a flat refusal. He added “if you wanted to diversify, you would have to have partners, and very few partners, and only such ones that you can really trust. Try to choose different characters for partners and show respect for each other.” So he gave his personal advice, and I think it is sth to be appreciated (also to accept the challenge of DLD). The conclusion is that if he was approached with the idea of diversifying into social networking media he should be approached through one of his trusted partners. 🙂 The question is which of his trusted partners can be approached in a different way (different from Mr Oetker’s), which of them has more expertise in marketing, media, is more risk-taking etc. If none of them, other investors are needed. That’s all.

Xing vs. Linkedin?

“Lars Hinrichs is co-founder and Managing Director of Xing, formally known as OpenBC… With his broad spectrum of activities and high level memberships in various organizations, e.g. the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), Lars has an excellent network of contacts worldwide. The idea of enabling networking between his contacts has inspired him to build up openBC.” (excerpt from the official DLD site). So as you can see it is sth like Linkedin based on business connections. Its business model is not based upon featuring targeted ads for users: its only source of income is subscriptions. Personally I do not believe in subscription fee, I expect to have some changes in the system (like headhunters being heavily charged in Linkedin). Lars encouraged everyone with a viable digital idea and a strong sense of entrepreneurship to stick to their ideas and go ahead with realization. He says there is money out there, they are only waiting for you to ask for it.

Let it be. And let that lucrative green social networking site be launched, truly crossing the borders, financed by giant corporate networks showing their responsibility.

Posted in DLD07, Social network | Leave a Comment »

Hacking session at DLD07: Pablos Holman

Posted by Annplugged on January 22, 2007

If you are interested in hacking, unlocking, peeping etc., and you wish to encourage kids to be more daring in experimenting with the ever increasing number of digital devices surrounding them, then you should definitely check out Pablos Holman’s sparking ideas from ‘Hackers Inc.’ or Komposite.com (pablos@komposite.com)
Fun is guaranteed.
He talked about the usual hacks of remote controlling your hotel TV set with your laptop, and checking what others are doing on their laptops in the hotel if you are bored. There was a few words about the MySpace friend-making machine (embedded java script), the project called ‘samy is my hero’, using keys (physical) keys to get through unnecessary obstacles, like doors, gates, building a sharkwhatever, and a lot of other hairraising things (other whatevers).

But who is Pablos Holman?

“Pablos is a futurist, IT security expert, and a notorious hacker… At Komposite, he consults on bizarre invention and design projects that assimilate new technologies. Previously, Pablos created thigh holsters for cell phones at Tsaya; helped build the world’s smallest PC at OQO; spaceships at Blue Origin; and AI agent systems at Xigo. He is a member of The Shmoo Group of information security professionals, and helped create the Hackerbot, a WiFi-seeking robot.” (DLD07)

Watch his presentation on the video page of DLD07.

Posted in DLD07 | Leave a Comment »

Digital Creators at DLD07 conference: Image Metrics

Posted by Annplugged on January 22, 2007

In the Digital Creators program set, first we listened to the presentation from Image Metrics. Awesome! Especially in light of the short film on Gollum (one of the extras on Two Towers) I watched two days ago: here you can see Andy Serkis, the Gollum actor all covered in markers, prosthetics etc. The schizophrenic Gollum scene is showing Andy’s face, and Gollum’s face is precisely copying the actor’s facial movements.
Now what Image Metrics is doing is something like this: actually copying the most subtle facial movements of actors/ actresses, but within 20 minutes, but without any markers, and even tracking and transferring the eye movements (which is particularly important as obviously eyes cannot be tagged with markers). So Image Metrics offers performance driven animation: no stage, no hassle, no markers, no prosthetics, can be taken to any kind of characters (e.g. on a teddy bear too). They have a staggering tool which is capable of automatically transferring live or recorded facial movements, characterized by the New York Times as the ‘new technology that captures the soul.” As Andy Wood from the California-based company was saying “this tool provides a level of subtlety and realism that no other methods can.”
For a few moments, Marylin Monroe also came to live (facial movements ‘stolen’ new texts given into her mouth, and based on the store of facial movements, new pieces made…. christ, you can so easily make controversial obituaries, non-existent family scenes to fill in emotional gaps).
There is also live action capture, they work also in video games (just think of Zidane: in game face cretion technology e.g. soccer game, footballers getting angry with the referee, or with each other), they can also track the profiles of faces, this method can also be used in medical fields, like instantenously comparing two x-ray photos for ostheoporosis etc. etc.

The only thing that bothered me in Andy Wood’s keynote was the videoshot used as an Image Metrics ad, a frame for the keynote, a mantra, a hypnotizing-shouting scene of a digital black warrior whose ‘face’ acted by two different actors in turns (one black and one white) who is yelling in a dictator-style ‘I have seen the future …. and the future is Image Metrics.’ To be honest, I did not find it funny, I think it was threatening, which should not be – after all enough people will find this method threatening in itself, you do not need to raise fear gripping the butterflies in the belly, and squeezing them.

Great technology, though. Truly revolutionizing, luring creative people.
The other digital creator invited as a speaker was Luc Besson (yes, the Luc Besson) but I suggest watching the interview with him on the DLD aggregator. He is nice, friendly, no sign of a ‘big face’ he could have featured.

Posted in DLD07 | 1 Comment »

What is your badge number at DLD07 conference?

Posted by Annplugged on January 22, 2007

Stephanie Czerny, Marcel Reichart, the DLD hosts are welcoming us on the second day. There is a smooth wave of jazz music before the speech begins, so if you did not get much sleep last night, you need to wake up wihtout the music. 🙂
The back of the

The badges we are wearing are in fact part of a huger picture (depicting a delicately woven network), cut up in small puzzle pieces, mine is 778 out 999. What is yours? If you wish, put it down in the comments.

Posted in DLD07, Social network | Leave a Comment »