South Park creators fill niche left by closing of South Park pirate site, AllSP.com

March 25, 2008

South ParkSouth Park creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, have done what no other content creators have been able to do online, until now. They launched a site where fans of South Park can legally watch every episode of the show, so long as they are in the US. International fans will have to wait a few months, according the the press release put out earlier today by Comedy Central.

What’s really amazing about this, besides the great content, is that Trey and Matt (we are that close) were able to get all the complex legal and business model issues worked out with Viacom and put the show online. No other content creator has even come close to getting their full catalouge on the web, especially not for content that remains current and popular. Of course fans can watch any content they want online using various web and P2P sites, but this is the first time creators have launched a site that really competes with the free alternatives.

I hate using canned quotes but this one, direct from the press release, is on the money:

When asked about the launch of the new site, Stone and Parker said, “We got really sick of having to download our own show illegally all the time so we gave ourselves a legal alternative.”

To date, the web’s premier, and only, source of full length episodes of South Park has been AllSP.com, which mysteriously went dark earlier this week. A message posted on the site says

SP
We are currently changing hosts, we will be back soon.

The US law no longer allows us to link to South Park episodes,
therefore we are moving our servers to our home city.
Good News, we have aquired a server in Malaysia, we should be up and running again in a day!

Click the logo above or here to browse episodes (episodes will not play until after we have moved).

The administrator for AllSP.com did not respond to numerous emails but I’m going to go ahead and assume that the reason they are down is because some savvy lawyers over at Comedy Central got in touch with AllSP.com’s host and started causing trouble. Be sure to check out the similarities between AllSP.com and SouthParkStudios.com, it cant be a coincidence.


Business Week refutes FT.com’s Apple story, quotes “people in a position to know”

March 20, 2008

Yesterday I posted a story from the FT that basically says Apple and the labels are talking about an unlimited download subscription for people who buy and iPod or iPhone. Angry about being scooped Bussiness Week posted a story saying the Financial Times has either been speaking with Snoop Dog or smoking his stuff, cause the Apple story was bull. Where is their evidence you ask?

Reports that Apple is discussing an “all-you-can-eat” subscription music service with major record labels are overblown, say people in a position to know.

Thats right they are refuting the Financial Times story by paraphrasing an HR Block tag line. They got people? Wait you say, surely Business Weeks has more evidence then that, they must have a quote, a named source, something more substantial. Here it is, the smoking gun:

[The Apple unlimited subscription] would use that premium to create a pool of revenue, a portion of which would be divided among the major music labels, the newspaper said.

Trouble is, no such talks are under way, according to people familiar with Apple’s plans. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment. Insiders at major music labels were similarly dismissive.

So lets review, “people in a position to know” told Business Week’s Arik Hesseldahl that nothing was going on between Apple and the labels and this version of the story was corroborated by “people familiar with Apple’s plans”. The PR Flacks at Apple and the labels hung-up everytime Arik called them and he took it as evidence that the Financial times was wrong.

Now I’m not saying that the FT story was some great piece of reporting or that I necessarily believe all of it, but Business Week needs raise its game a bit. When a venerable news weekly with ungodly sums of money and decades worth of reporting experience sitting on its bench runs with poorly researched crap with no credible citations or sources, its no better then a blog. I dont want major weeklies running with innuendo, rumor and hearsay. Thats what I’m here for. I want them to give me some facts with names of real people attached to them, so I can poke holes and look for flaws or fallacies. There is a reason bloggers are not journalist and its really important that the journalist remember that.


Flagging music industry seeks reincarnation as iPod upsell

March 19, 2008

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The once haughty recorded music industry has finally collapsed under the weight of its own greed and inefficiency. We can officially call the industry dead, not when the companies are shuttered (because a number of them will survive), but when their main business model is radically different. According to an article in todays Financial Times the music industry is edging ever closer to signing a deal with Apple Computers which may do just that.

The article discusses a deal the two sides are trying to hammer out to shift the labels economics from collecting money based on the number of songs/CD’s that are sold to collecting money based on the number of iPod’s or iPhone’s thats are sold. Its a complex deal that the article emphasizes may not get done, however for the labels to even consider it highlights how very desperate they’ve become. This deal would certainly spell the end of the traditional record labels as their status as added value intermediaries (ie important middlemen) fades even further. Also read a related article which is a bit of a counter-point to the first article albeit with little new information.


Walking Pier 39 with MapJack. Going where no cars have gone before.

March 18, 2008

I know its research tuesday and I will post a few interesting reads from McGonigal and SSRN a little later on but for now more MapJack goodness.

You thought you were alone walking along San Fran’s Pier 39 on a sunny day about year ago. Did you notice someone with a weird camera pack? Well apparently they noticed you. True to its marketing statements MapJack has mapped a number of pedestrian only walk-ways and judging by peoples faces their camera rig must have really stood out.

What others have done with NASA budgets and Star Wars-like equipment, we’ve done on a shoestring budget, along with a few trips to Radio Shack.

This is by far one of the coolest privacy invading uses of technology I’ve seen in a while. I cant wait till they map central park, so many “quickies” in the park to be captured for the world to see, so little time.

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MapJack is Street View with better pictures

March 18, 2008

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I love Google’s Street View. Its an awesome application that allows you to virtually roam city streets and get snapshots of neighborhoods, sometimes even your neighbors. However the images are often blurry and the interface isnt the most intuitive. There are lots of weird effects in the pictures, which have become a form of entertainment in their own right.


Enter MapJack. A new site with provides all the voyeristic goodness of Google’s Street View except with much clearer images and superior interface. Although the site currently only has 3 city’s mapped, the clarity and depth of their mapping won me over. They have mapped more of San Fran then Google. Acccording to the site, they map cities “on foot, by car, and by boat.” They say thier mapping doesnt simply stop curbside they also “include walking areas such as Parks, Universities and famous walking streets.” And as everyone who’s traveled knowns, the most interesting sites rarely occur on main street.


PEJ: News generates more heat but less light, more voices but fewer conversations and bigger audiences but and smaller purses

March 17, 2008

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The Project for Excellence in Journalism released its encyclopedic omnibus study of news coverage across media in 2007. The study is a huge amalgam of information about the state of the news media and its future prospects, with 13 chapters covering everything from ethnic to online news. I continue to wade through the volumes of information offered by the PEJ report, but the exec summary helpfully offers these somewhat counter-intuitive trends:

  1. News is shifting from being a product — today’s newspaper, Web site or newscast — to becoming a service — how can you help me, even empower me?
  2. A news organization and a news Web site are no longer final destinations.
  3. The prospects for user-created content, once thought possibly central to the next era of journalism, for now appear more limited, even among “citizen” sites and blogs.
  4. Increasingly, the newsroom is perceived as the more innovative and experimental part of the news industry.
  5. The agenda of the American news media continues to narrow, not broaden.
  6. Madison Avenue, rather than pushing change, appears to be having trouble keeping up with it.

Based on these trends the builders of online news sites, be they ethnic centered blogs or major corporate affairs, can no longer build their model on the hope of simply informing users. Information is a commodity and the evolution of news must be away from generic information and towards a service which leverages information in some meaningful way. Creating a service, something that users care about , is not easy to do and is based on a skill set not native to newsrooms.


BitTorrent News via Torrent Freak

March 17, 2008

demonoid.jpgThe good folks at Torrent Freak caught my attention this morning with news of the possible resurrection of Demonoid, of one my favorite BitTorrent trackers, for stats. They have been tracking the fate of Demonoid since it was taken offline last year. The site seems to have gained a new host in the Ukraine and its torrents are working again. Ernesto of Torrent Freak speculates that it could come back online in the next few weeks. In other BitTorrent news the fall of Torernt.is, an Icelandic BitTorrent tracker which accounted for 50% of Icelands internet traffic seems to be nearly complete. I really do love that 10% of the population and 50% of the Internet traffic on the island nation was accounted for on one site.