- This is going to be really interesting. Stay tuned for some big developments (will elaborate later).
- Told you so.
Archive for January, 2007
Last year I made some observations about the role the pornography industry has played in the establishment of emerging technologies. I won’t go into detail here, so here’s the link to the original post if interested.
I couldn’t help but think back to that little gem when, browsing the NY Times this morning, I found a great article entitled: In Raw World of Sex Movies, High Definition Could Be a View Too Real. The upshot of the article is that, despite leading early adoption of that technology, producers are fast reaching the conclusion that HD-porn really isn’t that great an idea.
You could probably take all you need to know from the article by reading a single quote, taken from one Ms ‘Stormy Daniels‘:
I’m not 100% sure why anyone would want to see their porn in HD
Good point, and one which leads to some interesting questions.
Since Sony still stands by their policy not to mass-produce pornographic movies (the policy that prompted the adult entertainment industry to adopt HD over Blu-ray in the first place), many have speculated that this would lead to HD dominating in the same way that VHS killed Betamax in the early 80’s. Personally I think a better question is whether either format is really that much of an improvement (in terms of viewer enjoyment) on the status quo.
If you look at the big new media technologies of the 20th Century, they’ve all given us something new that we really wanted: 8mm let us take movies home; VHS let us make home movies without having to use a film lab; ditto the Polaroid’s impact on photography, and to a greater extent the digital camera; the Walkman let us listen on the move; and the mobile phone meant that lonely people didn’t have to stay at home all night waiting for the phone to ring (now they can do that anywhere). What previously un-fulfilled need is either new DVD format really meeting?
A good question to ask with any new toy, I suppose: Just because it’s bigger, faster, louder, brighter – does that make it better? Sometimes, but not always. In the meantime I think I’ll stick with my regular old DVD player till my box-set of the Star Wars trilogy turns to dust. Or I do.
I’ve been contacted a few times this week regarding recent references I’ve made to The Venice Project – mostly people wondering what what on Earth I was talking about. There’s so much more to this than I can (read: ‘have time to’) say now, but here’s the low-down.
Remember Kazaa? Well, the two guys who set up Kazaa went on to set up Skype. Anyone who doesn’t know what Skype is should stop reading now, go to http://www.skype.com, follow the install instructions and come back later. My Skype ID is stuart_g_parker – feel free to drop in any time.
You’re back? Excellent. Anyhoo, having sold Skype to eBay for about a gazillion dollars, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis returned to the big idea they’d had all along – an Internet TV platform based on P2P technology and delivering near-TV resolution images. The working title for this was ‘The Venice Project’, casually applied after the initial kick-off meeting for the venture, which was held in a hotel room in Venice. Now preparing for launch, the service will henceforth be known as ‘Joost‘.
I was fortunate to be included as a Beta tester quite early on, and from what I’ve seen this is going to be phenomenal. Seriously. Imagine SKY Digital with no subscription fees or ‘rain fade’. Imagine free-to-air TV with more and better choices and nowhere near as much advertising (and what ads there are are actually relevant to you). Imagine really fast, realiable Video On Demand. Actually, don’t imagine it – go to Joost.com and sign up. It’s not open to the public right now, but they are gradually expanding the pool of Beta testers so odds are you’ll get an invite soon.
If you really can’t wait, drop me a line. I still have a few invites left, and may be persuaded to part with one. For the rest of you, here are a few screenshots of the Joost interface to tide you over.
It looks like Sealand is up for sale again. This time the front-runner is Pirate Bay, the world’s biggest Torrent search engine and arch enemy of the MPAA. With an asking price of around half a billion clams I’d be surprised if they manage to pull it off, but then again – anyone who says crime doesn’t pay has obviously never heard of online gambling.
I remember Wired ran a piece on Sealand years ago, during the halcyon days of the dotcom boom. Some genius figured that a former British navy platform 7 miles offshore would be an ideal place for hosting ‘sensitive’ data and applications. Now if you want my opinion, a cold, damp, windy, rusty and fire-damaged platform in the North Sea isn’t the ideal environment for storing millions of dollars’ worth of servers, routers etc. Be that as it may, HavenCo has been running a data centre there since 1999. I have to admit that I find it truly astonishing that they could actually sign up any customers. Here’s my take on how how a typical sales call would run…
Rep: Good morning sir, have I reached the offices of the Medellin cartel?
Rep: I have a great offer for you from HavenCo.com. Please may I speak with el Hefe?
<Minutes pass. Shouting and gunshots heard in the background, followed by roaring laughter>
Pablo: This is el Hefe. What you wan’?
Rep: Good morning Mr Escobar, this is Janice calling, from HavenCo.com. We have a great offer on right now, where we can safely store all of your sensitive commercial data – customer and supplier contact details, transaction data, and production and shipping information – all for the low monthly price of $19.99. PLUS, if you sign up right now we’ll throw in five email accounts and your very own personalised domain name for free!
Pablo: Who is this? DEA? CIA? Interpol? I don’ know you. You got wrong number. Prank caller, prank caller, prank caller! Don’ call here again!
Now it’s Pirate Bay’s turn and on this I’m even more sceptical. The Sealand vendors continue to assert that they are a sovereign state and can do whatever the hell they like. Problem is, all this confidence stems from a UK court decision in 1968, and sovereignty isn’t what it used to be – look at Iraq, Panama, Grenada, Afghanistan for examples.
It’ll probably be fun while it lasts, but if I could presume to offer some sage advice to any Pirate Bay investors who might be reading – demand dividends daily, and in cash.