Google buys YouTube for $1.65 billion

Post ImageThe ramifications of this deal will be felt for quite some time. CNET is reporting that Google has purchased video sharing site YouTube for $1.65 billion in stock. The deal has been rumored for some time, but I didn’t think it would actually go through:

“This is one of many investments that Google will be making to put video at the heart of a user’s online experience,” said Google CEO Eric Schmidt on a conference call after the deal was announced. “When we looked at the marketplace and saw what was going on, we saw a clear winner in the social networking side of video, and that’s what drove us to start the conversations with YouTube.”

You can listen to an audio interview with Eric Schmidt and YouTube CEO Chad Hurley here.

Also today, YouTube announced some major distribution deals with the big record labels. All of a sudden, the threat of a lawsuit looks much less likely, doesn’t it? I wonder what the MySpace people will think of this deal. I’m sure they are a little scared now that YouTube has Google’s backing.

So the deal is done, Google is now king of video. Still, I can’t help but wonder if a simple, exclusive ad-deal with YouTube would have been a better investment for Google? I guess time will tell.

Read: CNET

White and Nerdy

Post ImageWeird Al has done it again! If you haven’t seen the video for his new song, “White and Nerdy”, you must. It’s really that good! Well as long as you understand the jokes I suppose. You can watch it on YouTube.

Most of Weird Al’s stuff makes me laugh, but this one especially. I’m definitely not a trekkie or anything, but I still think he covered all the “nerd” bases, except possibly being a cultish Mac lover. Where was that one Al? Other than that, great song and video 🙂

Read: YouTube

Lonelygirl15 dances with Tucker Carlson!

Post ImageI was just watching The Tonight Show, and Jay Leno did a segment called “videos we found on YouTube”. Of course, he showed one of lonelygirl15’s videos (not sure who I am talking about? read this NYTimes article…it will bring you up to speed). And right after that, she came out on to the stage! She basically confessed everything we already knew (well if you have read the article linked above anyway). Then she said she wasn’t so lonely anymore, and Tucker Carlson (who Jay had made fun of earlier for getting kicked off “Dancing with the stars”) came on stage and they danced! It was pretty funny. Even though I really don’t like Tucker Carlson.

Lonelygirl15 is actually aspiring actress Jessica Rose (and she’s 19, not 15). Apparently she’s pretty amazed with the attention she is getting. There’s lots of commenters out there who just keep calling her “fake” and are angry that they were led on. I say, does it matter? Her and her three buddies have done something pretty amazing! I can’t wait to see what else is created now that they have “broken new ground” in a sense. You can’t be mad at them for being creative!

Here is lonelygirl15’s page on YouTube. I can’t seem to find a clip from tonight’s show, but by the time you read this, it’ll probably be up on YouTube somewhere.

Zune – it's what I want for Christmas!

Post ImageMicrosoft officially launched the Zune today with a press release, and a bunch of photos. All of the specifications are pretty much what Engadget and others have been reporting for weeks, but the one big surprise is the color lineup: white, black, and brown. Yes brown. Engadget has some more details:

They also finally let slip the screen res — an unsurprising QVGA — and some better news on the codec front: the Zune supports h.264, MP3, AAC and WMA. As for ballyhoo, wireless Zune-to-Zune sharing is where the real action is at, and it works pretty much like we’ve been hearing: you can share a full-length track with a friend, and they’ve got three times to listen to it over a three day period, after which they can flag the song for purchase on the Zune Marketplace — unless they’re an unlimited “Zune Pass” subscriber, of course. You can also share playlists and pictures with your buddies, along with what we suppose are “unprotected” homemade recordings.

You might remember that I got the Creative Zen Touch for Christmas two years ago, and it has worked great for me ever since. I still use it every day. But two years is a long time in the world of technology! A brand new Zune, with it’s color screen (my Zen is just blue), video, and wireless capabilities (among other things) might be in order don’t you think?

The white one would match my Xbox 360 quite nicely!

Read: Engadget

Revealing The Hidden Terror: Snakes on a Plane!

Post ImageIf you haven’t had the pleasure of talking to me in person for a while, you might not know just how excited I am for the upcoming movie Snakes on a Plane, which opens Friday (though I have tickets for the Thursday screening). I mean there’s snakes, a plane, fear-stricken passengers, and one extremely badass FBI agent, better know as Samuel L. Jackson. Just check out the summary:

On board a flight over the Pacific Ocean, an assassin, bent on killing a passenger who’s a witness in protective custody, lets loose a crate full of deadly snakes.

And with much cussing and violence, I fully expect Samuel L. Jackson to save the day. You just can’t go wrong with a title like Snakes on a Plane!

Another interesting aspect of the movie is the huge community of fans who have created “fan media” for the movie – fake trailers, posters, websites, fake scripts, etc. There’s really an amazing amount of stuff available. You can find links to some of it as well as some good background on the movie and the community at Wikipedia.

Which brings me to the point of this post – to show you fan media created by myself and Andrew! We went to the Edmonton International Airport yesterday, to interview people about the hidden terror; the terror the media doesn’t want you to know about. Snakes on a Plane. What we found was shocking – no one was aware of this growing terror! Among those we talked to were a security screener and a baggage person, and it was clear from our conversations that there is no plan in place to fight the snakes. The ban on liquids is good, but what we really need is a ban on snakes!

Watch the video at YouTube!

The video turned out to be a little longer than I had hoped it would at seventeen minutes, but I wasn’t sure what else to cut. It has its funny moments, especially in the latter half, so if you have some time to spare, check it out! We find out if people are afraid of snakes, if they trust Samuel L. Jackson, and if they are planning to see the movie. It was fun to make!

Read: YouTube

Podcasting is not more popular than blogging

Post ImageI want podcasting to be as popular as anyone else does (hey, my business depends on it) but at the same time, I am not naive enough to think that podcasting is more popular than blogging. That’s precisely how Podcasting News interpreted some recent Nielsen/NetRatings data however:

Nielsen//NetRatings announced today that 6.6 percent of the U.S. adult online population, or 9.2 million Web users, have recently downloaded an audio podcast. 4.0 percent, or 5.6 million Web users, have recently downloaded a video podcast. These figures put the podcasting population on a par with those who publish blogs, 4.8 percent, and online daters, 3.9 percent.

The key word there is “publish” – not people who have read a blog, but people who actually create one. You can’t compare listeners for podcasting to creators for blogs and call it a fair comparison! When the number of people creating podcasts gets to be the same as for blogs, there might be a story.

You’ve really got to think about what you’re reading these days.

Read: Podcasting News

Rocketboom without Amanda?

Post ImageWow, I’m as shocked as everyone else is that Amanda Congdon is leaving the incredibly popular Rocketboom. I am going to guess that a significant portion of Rocketboom’s audience will now leave, to follow Amanda wherever she goes. I certainly didn’t watch for the map! You can see her farewell video at Amanda UnBoomed.

Mathew Ingram posted a response from Rocketboom co-founder Andrew Baron this afternoon. Apparently Amanda wanted to move to Los Angeles, but Andrew wanted to figure out how it would affect the show first.

“We wanted her to get to L.A. to pursue her personal opportunities as soon as possible, but her demand to move this week without waiting any longer, without a justification, and without an adequate proposal for a plan for how the show itself would work, we were unable to uproot Rocketboom from NYC at this time.”

So the big task for Andrew and the rest of Rocketboom now is to find a suitable replacement to keep the show interesting. I don’t think Amanda will have any problems landing on her feet somewhere else. Actually, Scoble posted an informal offer on his blog, only to retract it later, saying he felt bad for taking advantage of the situation. Om Malik didn’t hold back though, saying PodTech should hire her right away!

Read: Amanda UnBoomed

Podcasting or Text?

Post Image“Why listen to a podcast when you can get ten times the content when you read?” That’s the question Peter Davis recently asked, and I’d like to attempt to answer it. Scoble chimed in with his response, essentially saying with communication, you should use the right tool for the job. Maybe that’s text, but in other cases, it might be audio or video.

Here’s why I think you should listen to or watch a podcast, even if you can get ten times the content when you read:

  • The Right Tool For The Job
    Like Scoble, I think that sometimes audio or video is better suited to the job than text. I’ll just cite his example too – I’d much rather watch a short video about Halo 3 than read an essay on it. It really depends on what you’re trying to communicate.
  • Mobility
    Can you read an email or the newspaper while you’re driving your car? I certainly can’t. But I can listen to a podcast. Do you carry all your books and magazines with you everywhere? Probably not, but I’ll bet you carry an MP3 player! There are a lot of scenarios where podcasting on the go works and text simply doesn’t.
  • Show Some Emotion!
    Try to write a really emotional blog post. Or a post that is sarcastic. It’s not as easy as you’d like to believe! Most times, your emotion or sarcasm will be misinterpreted. Audio and video allow you to convey emotion, sarcasm, and other things using tone of voice and body language. Sometimes it’s not what you say, but how you say it.
  • Ease of Creation
    You’re probably thinking I’m nuts, saying that it’s easier to create a podcast than write a blog post, but in some cases it’s true. The tools to create a podcast will soon be as easy to use as blogging tools, and when that happens, the creation time really depends simply on the content. Most people can talk a heck of a lot faster than they can type, and with regards to video, a picture really is worth a thousand words! Sometimes it might be easier to get your message across in a podcast. Heck, I should be podcasting this post!
  • Multitasking!
    I’ve always got some sort of background noise going on, as it helps me concentrate. Sometimes I just block it out, while other times I’ll sort of half listen and if I hear something interesting, I’ll pay attention. The idea here is that I can play a podcast in the background and continue working, and if something being said catches my interest, I might pay a little more attention. Can’t do that with text. I’ve called this multitasking, but you can think of it as passive podcasting consumption!

Don’t be fooled by the comments on Peter’s post and elsewhere – this discussion is about more than just those who listen in the car and those who don’t. Podcasting is an extremely viable communications technology, for a wide variety of scenarios.

To be clear, I’m not saying one should always use podcasting. The most important of the reasons above is to use the right tool for the job. Developers are told this all the time – use the right programming language for the task at hand! Same holds true with communication. If you can communicate something better using text, go for it. If some sound or a short video is better, maybe podcasting will work for you.

Peter is correct in stating that podcasting is not as efficient at delivering information as text is. However, if you consider the amount of overlap that exists in text (look at Google News for a news story, or the hundreds of blog posts on a given topic) it might start to even out. At least for the time being, podcasting does not suffer from the same “echo chamber” as text does.

Now hopefully I’ve offered some good reasons for why you might use podcasting over text. There are many more reasons that podcasting is great, but they go beyond a comparison with text, so I’ll save them for another post. There’s still a long way to go to make podcasting incredibly useful, but it definitely has some inherent properties that make it pretty attractive.

Read: Peter Davis

Podtrac Survey Results

Post ImageI am happy to see a large number of podcasting surveys and research efforts lately. The latest comes from Podtrac, who claims to have developed the largest podcasting demographics database in the world, with over 55,000 detailed demographic profiles. Some of the findings:

  • 56% of podcast audiences listen to and view podcasts on their computer, compared with 46% on a mobile device.
  • A huge majority, 88%, listen to or view podcast episodes in their entirety.
  • 76% of podcast users are also online shoppers.
  • 41% of U.S. online adults were aware of the term “podcasting” at the end of Q1 2006, compared with just 32% at the end of Q4 2005.

The results are more or less the same as some other similar surveys. Perhaps the only one that seems low is the number that listen/watch on their computers. I think the true number is actually quite a bit higher. I also wonder about the 88% who listen to an entire episode – I am willing to bet that will go down over time.

Read: Podcasting News

NHL's low tech screws Oilers

Post ImageThe Edmonton Oilers just lost the game tonight to Minnesota in the shootout. We should have won though, as we scored a goal in the second period that was reviewed by the local goal judge who said it was no goal. After reviewing the overhead camera angle, any moron could see it was a goal, the puck crossed the line. Apparently the goal judge in Minnesota didn’t wait for Toronto to review the goal like he was supposed to, and it cost us a very valuable point in the race to make the playoffs. Completely unacceptable. All the league did was apologize.

I have the solution though. Since the league apparently cannot employ anyone who can view a simple goddamn television screen, let’s get rid of the video and opportunity for human errors. This low tech is costing teams valuable points. Let’s put little sensors, RFID or something, in each puck and on every net. The sensors would automatically detect when a puck crosses the line. This would also allow us to get rid of the red light people, no need for them when the sensors can do the work. I am sure there would be a few errors, but with some testing and tweaking, I am confident it would be MUCH lower than the error rate with humans involved. How much could it possibly cost? A few cents per puck? Almost nothing.

The current system is clearly not working. The only other option would be to have EVERY review go to the main office in Toronto, to get rid of all local video reviewing. I hope the goal judge in Minnesota is fired. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again. This is the year 2006, let’s get with the times NHL! Spend some money to go high tech.