Thursday, March 13, 2008

Music Conference Begins

Call me a glutton for punishment...the Interactive Conference concluded on Tuesday, but I was back at the Convention Center on Wed. for the opening of the Music portion. Two panels peaked my interest. The Best Online Resources for Musicians included a power panel of social media execs, folks from MySpace, SonicBids, YouTube, Bebo,, and iLike. Brad King, who teaches at Northern Kentucky University was the moderator. This is fascinating to me, both from a teaching perspective, and because many of my friends are musicians looking to use these tools to advance their careers.

Brad King plays talk show host and takes questions from the audience.

The SonicBids person (Panos Panay) was particularly eloquent in saying that its not just the music business that musicians must understand, it is also the online business. In a new band, he recommended that someone in the group be designated as in charge of learning all there is to know about online options.

The panel discussed the concept of "life streaming," which is not the same as live streaming. It's about engaging the social media community to promote your band, your fans can do it for you, if you just give them the tools.

And, I thought it was quite important that the panel discussed the positive opportunities that this environment now provides, downplaying all the negativity about free music. There's more than one track that a musical act can take now. Getting signed by a giant label was very lucrative, but only available to a few. Now musicians can take their careers down a variety of tracks. It reminds me of how in Austin, people can be working musicians, because there's an infrastructure here that supports it. Some of them may never be massively famous, some of them don't even want that, but they can pursue their passion for music as a career. Now, those opportunities are broader.

The next panel featured Rob Glaser of RealNetworks, who also owns Rhapsody, the digital music service, interviewed by Tamara Conniff of Billboard. RealNetworks has been around since 1994, pioneers in the music player and streaming environment. I think the most interesting aspect of this presentation was his description of the three models for digital music and his prediction that they will coexist.
  • Free Streaming with advertising
  • Subscription
  • Pay
My take, however, is that he missed some of the opportunity described by the previous panel. When talking about the need some people have to express themselves via their music libraries of book collections, the new way to do that will be via a social networking site, like Facebook or a music delivery site like, that allows you to create an identity via the pop culture in which you engage. It an be fluctuating and dynamic, but all your friends can see with what you are most currently engaging. So, I think he missed the social aspect of the engagement.

Then, it was out to hear some music. I'll be moving my music experiences to my personal blog at, so be sure to drop by if you are interested my rock adventures.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Closing Thought: Flawed McGonigal

You may want to catch up on the Dr. Jane McGonigal talk before reading this.

I want to start by saying I hold a great deal of respect for Dr. McGonigal, her passion, and her drive. However, I believe her premise as stated at SXSW contains fundamental flaws.

She believes that ARG's should exist to provide a gaming environment over our life that creates a sense of happiness (read accomplishment or self-actualization) by allowing us to 'know the rules.' We get points for doing the designed tasks and achievements. Basically, she contends that life is unfair, many of us are 'bad' at it, and that by having gaming rules overlaid upon our life all this will change. Game designers can design you into happiness.

That's great if you're a designer.

However, I hope people will think twice, three times, and more about handing over their sense of worth to any designer, no matter how talented and benevolent. No one knows what you want more than yourself. Generalized metrics can help point our way, but surrendering our sense of self to an automated construct that restricts our ability to customize individual modes and measurements of success isn't one step removed from tyranny, it is tyranny.

And dismissing corporations as only the money people that allow designers to create whatever they want is foolishness. I think we can confidently accept that the company funding the project also gets a say in the rules and thus gets to make the rules we must then play by.

So if you want to make life a game, you better first make damn sure you like the process of design that creates the game. If it isn't democratic and wholly responsive to the voice of the gamers, count me out. I can make up my own rules and live up to them just fine.

I'll be quite happy doing so.


Podcasts of SXSWi panels and keynotes are now available, so y'all can hear ones you may have missed.

Wrap Up and Kudos

Pictured above, Dee and Jon chat live during Jane McGonigal's session. Read the full transcript.

Although this is likely not the final post, I'd like to do my wrap up by thanking all the students who worked so hard during this exercise. They gave up part of their Spring Break to participate, and I hope they all found it enriching. This was really the best of both worlds, a fun experience where a good bit of learning occurred. There was networking, confirmation of knowledge, introduction to new topics... good times.

I am deeply impressed with the professionalism and creativity in which this project was approached. We were able to cover the conference with unique breadth and depth, from a students' perspective. Using computer, basic digital camera, and/or handheld low-end camcorder, we have been able to create a vast amount of interesting and engaging content, over 120 posts!

I'd say it's been a success, and I hope to be able to continue again next year. Thanks to SXSW for providing the access and for being super accommodating. I'm still reeling from it all!

Student Blog Producers:
Cooper Cherry
Theresa Fore
Philip Hadley
Dee Kapila
Jac Malloy
Fazia Rizvi
Marc Speir
Anna Tauzin
Michael Trice
Chris Troutman
Sunday Udoetok
Jon Zmikly

Thanks for all your hard work! Enjoy the rest of Spring Break. Stay tuned to this blog. In a few days, I'll have Behind the Blog: The Movie.

Considerations for Scalable Web Ventures

I went to this panel, frankly, because Kevin Rose, founder of Digg, was on it. I've been a fan since his TechTV days. But, he was just the moderator of this panel. He was supported by Joe Stump, his lead architect from Digg. Other panelists were Chris Lea from Media Temple, Cal Henderson from Flickr (official title is Badass MC), and Matt Mullenweg from WordPress.

This is not really my area, but I like to attend a few of these developer/networking panels, just for the exposure to the issues. In a nutshell, they discussed what happens when your traffic do you handle it and the new features that are being deployed in Web 2.0? They talked about things like load balances and the limits of open source. They talked about MySQL databases and storage issues. They also discussed a few organizational issues - like organize a strong team and do good documentation of code.

Cal from Flickr was particularly funny, as he frequently noted that at Flickr, they serve a good amount of photos (understatement). And, I'm going to steal his answer to the person who asked where he could find more resources on this topic....Ummm...Google.

Lunch Break on Tuesday

Dee, Jac, and Chris grab a bite before heading into the final stretch on Tuesday.

Tuesday Morning

On the last day of the Interactive, I am beginning to feel a bit wistful about the conclusion. I'm exhausted, yet sad to see it go. I must make the most of it! The first two sessions of the day, that I attended with former student and current employee Jordan Viator, were some of the best of the week.

Future of Corporate Blogs
The first session on the Future of Corporate Blogs, was fascinating in that it had panelist representation from some of the places with the most experience in this area. Mario Sundar, the Community Evangelist (yes, that's his title) at LinkedIn and Lionel Menchaca of Dell had the most interesting things to reveal. They spoke about the usage of comments and the difficulties in measuring success. The key to both was in the ways they articulate the power of the community. You need to be where they are, instead of trying to force the community to you, whether it be a blog, or Facebook, or Twitter or something else. And, they felt you needed to send employees in to these communities to engage. Wow, how different is that from a few years ago, when companies were concerned about employees wasting time in these spaces.

Menchaca from Dell said that the keys to success are listening, analyzing, and then taking action. He said a couple of times that he felt "blessed" to have the support at the top of his organization from Michael Dell, but that the culture throughout the organization must embrace the value of these activities. If you don't affect the culture, your job is only half complete. Another thing that I found interesting was his mantra "Get it off email," basically saying that these email threads are not as effective as going to a community in another forum.

LinkedIn articulated three goals: user education; product demos; and feature benefits.

Some additional resources can be found at

Peas in a Pod: Advertising, Monetization, and Social Media

I liked this one because it had the guy from Ask a Ninja on it, Kent Nichols. He keeps it real. The other panelists were Tim Kendall from Facebook, Ellen McGirt from Fast Company, and Seth Goldstein from Socialmedia Networks. There was a bit of disagreement, because the Facebook and Socialmedia guys were all about getting users to organically engage with products and services that would be displayed as advertising, a word-of-mouth strategy, just online. Ninja has short pre-rolls on their online videos, and they have mega page views, so it's working for them. But, their strategy is unique in that they can mention products in the pre-roll, usually funny, by the Ninja. It's part of the entertainment. It's not that easy for everyone, and only certain products would want to be associated like that. Ninja grosses about $100k/month in advertising, licensing, and merchandise. Not bad...

Goldstein from Socialmedia said to always provide context for users and allow them to easily invite friends to do things (in a not too spammy sort of way). The apps are the big driver on Facebook, and opening up the development and the sharing of revenue is the key to their strategy.

An example of good and bad context: feeding TechCrunch articles to your page vs. seeing how your friends were reading and commenting on specific TechCrunch articles.

One takeaway: for social media, metrics are hard. OK, they've always been hard. I'm still amazed that online advertisers are still fixated on click throughs. That is a much higher expectation than we have for any other form of advertising. And, anyway, read Convergence Culture. It's not even about exposure, it's about association and usually in The Long Tail.

Someone used the term "peerfluence," sorry I can't attribute, but that's a term to mean being influenced to do something based on what others you trust or know have done. That seems to be what these sites are banking on, and how they execute on this will define success.

An audience member asked about whether or not this was the "Amway-itization" of social media, the use of what the were calling "social ads." I had never heard it put that way before, but I think it is valid. Do I really want to be constantly barraged by what my friends are doing and how awesome it all is? Panelists agreed, and responded that these strategies work best for things like music and movies, things people already share, not so much with consumer products, like toothpaste. Those guys need to figure out something else. Try Convergence Culture... But, they said that social ads have about 2-4 times higher click through rates than regular ads.

And one final interesting comment, and this was alluded by Mark Z. Kendall said that in 2007 Facebook's strategy was about deep engagement with the platform. In 2008, it's all about seamless integration across the Web (can you say Open Social?).

Ninja at the Web Awards on Sunday night.

Perfect Timing!!

Hi Everyone

Hope you are enjoying your Spring Break. I happened to be watching PBS last Thursday and won't you believe it - Chris Anderson of Wired and Michael Arrington of TechCrunch were both on Charlie Rose. Talk about perfect timing!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Cell phone rings, evil guy laughs

I'm attending my last panel of the day-Can Wii learn?-Wiimotes in e-learning and I just wanted to state two things:

1. Not a single cell phone has gone off during a panel I've been in today and I have been super impressed. Then BAM, one just went off, and of course the owner couldn't find it and it was rumaggey chaos.

2. They guy sitting directly behind me has an evil super villain laugh. And it is one of those brilliant ones that gets progressively louder. I wish y'all could hear it.

Just thought you'd like to know!!

ps. This is a cool panel and they're talking about some really interesting hacker-type stuff. I'll have a full report later.

This may be my final interactive post

The future of Internet radio?!

Is it the same ol' same ol'?

Or are we living in the long-Tail?

Or simply the best damn radio station in the here

These Internet radio guys argue about radio as much as terrestrial radio people do.
The online music market is so massive that it affords itself to have many different operating platforms.

Monetization. Is the pricing structure to pay artists for their music correct or does it still need to be tweeked? The ability of small independent Internet radio operators will be determined on the outcome how this question is answered. One issue facing online radio is the ability to monetize online advertising. All the effort of creating national ad campaigns is going into online interactive content. Audio ads are not the focus.

Quarterlife: Making Television History

Quarterlife: Never seen it, have no idea what it's about. But, it made history and that's why I'm here. Here's the story of a man named Marshall Herskovitz who, among other things, changed the flow of media content. Instead of the typical "go to the web to supplement TV content," Herskovitz moved his show from the web to television. For once, TV execs knew they were in uncharted waters and gave him much more creative control and freedom. "It was entirely our show," he said. He was able to make this happen partly through mega-expensive ad campaigns and using the work of quarterlife's loyal community.

Some points he made during the QA portion:
  • The progression of mediums is changing. You really have to start on the web. Don't start on TV. It's changing very quickly, but we haven't yet figured out how to get advertisers to spend the kind of money they spend on the web. It's coming soon though!
  • For his next season, he plans to hire writers that visit the site. People are adding content all the time with stories and screenplays
  • Is trying a new release pattern (not twice a week for 8 minutes a pop)
  • Online audience is so fragmented and unpredictable that there are things that would work on the internet that would never work on TV
  • Regardless of future television shows or internet programs, the social networking aspect will stay
From a TV background, it is really interesting to see how the process of television content is changing. He initially created this show to attract a niche audience. It's also important to see his evolution from television to film to the Internet. Now it seems like instead of being a "last resort" for your content when trying to enter the professional film making or television scene. It's really a starting point today.

Omar who shot the Lacy video!

The Statesman reporter who got Sarah Lacy's post-interview tantrum showed up at my latest panel.

He shot that with his own handheld camera. Did the editing on the spot. Re-edited after posting to youtube because Lacy dropped an f-bomb. Then re-posted the whole thing to Austin360 from his own youtube spot. Johnny on the Spot all the damn way. That's a journalist.

The panel itself was an interesting, if downbeat, examination of what newspapers can do to remain relevant. Newspapers have created some coooooooool apps for the web.

More on that later!

Can Wii learn? -Using Wiimotes in e-learning.

Hi All, I'm listening and blogging so please excuse my choppiness.

The panel opened with a brief description of the Wiimote and its components.

They moved on to talk about the 4 e-educator's challenges/needs:

The panelists discussed that in a good learning game design, those 4 behaviors are not difficult to achieve. Most game designers are able to seek those behaviors through emmersive play in a game. The went on to talk about the concept of "flow state".

"flow state"--when you enter that state you are intrinsically motivated, no external reward necessary-you are there because you want to be there. The panelists talked about how bullets on a slide in a power point with some narration just doesn't motivate students to want to be there. One of the panelists, a game designer, just stated that
"Halo designers aim for 30 minutes of flow state at a time. In e-learning, I aim for about 10 minutes, because these are adults and the learning environment is a bit different."

They discussed second life and how their companies have bought islands, but they are not yet sure if this will be successful. The talked about how the 2nd life space is flawed and results in cognitive overload. They are trying to work on some stuff and 2nd life does have lots of promise but it goes back to immersion. So they feel the highest opportunity is in using the Wiimote and that their companies should devote their resources to that.

They talked about how a Wiimote can simulate resistance and the possibilities of this is architecture, math, physics, chemistry programs.

Question from audience: should e-learning be fun?
Pittman: why not? its as simple as this: if something is fun, more people will want to do it.

"We recognize that some people just want the information and might not want such involved immersion."

Lots of people are hooking the Wiimote up to the internet and using it instead of the mouse in places like Secondlife, using it as lazer pointer.

The panelists are discussing all the amazing things you can do with a Wiimote and how all of this can be brilliantly applied to learning.

Go to to see the multiple uses.

Why Wii?
1. the Wii has some cache as a game console right now, more than the other two competing consoles and ppl want to get in there cause its cool
2. theres a lot of functionality packed into it and if theres not there are ports built into the bottom
3. lot of openness, Wiimote uses blue tooth, standard infrared, the infrastructure exists for you to hack with it.
4. Relatively cheap.

PITTMAN: At first I thought and kept becoming increasingly convinced that Wiimotes had no place in math but then Nintendo invented a game called big brain academy and I'm being proven wrong.

Sitting with the Cool Kids

Here's my teaser for a longer post on McGonigal.

She's passionate about the subject of games, but I have to admit that the idea of turning self-actualization over to an outside designer as opposed to taking direct action for my own self-actualization freaks me out. Something very 1984 about it no matter how benevolent you paint the happiness quotient.

Either way, I'm emailing her to have lunch next week in San Fran. So here I am with her and the cool kids in the front before the speech:

But my later post may focus on the glory that emanates from Sunni Brown:

She drew this during the keynote!

Think my wife should be jealous?

MASH Notes

After the Mexican Manifesto, I attended the panel MASH Notes: A Military Surgeon's Videoblog from Iraq.
A United States Navy trauma surgeon shares his experience caring for combat casualties in Ramadi, Iraq during a seven month stretch of the Iraq War. He describes the challenges in caring for critically wounded American troops, Iraqi civilians and security forces, and enemy combatants in an austere environment with limited resources and personnel. All the while he is able document his combat experiences and communicate with his family and friends back in the States with a videoblog maintained throughout his deployment.

The speaker was Carlos V.R. Brown M.D., currently the Trauma Medical Director for Brackenridge Medical Center, and local Austinite. Previously he worked at an LA trauma center and was in Iraq from August 2006 to March 2007.

He'd been deployed before, but always as either a single or engaged person. Never before had he had to deal with being deployed and leaving behind a wife and three small kids. His brother, who works for Google and YouTube, suggested he set up a blog as a way to deal with the situation. The blog allowed him to communicate with his family and, as a side effect, forced him document his experience. He talked about how the blog changed his experience in Iraq.

This was very, very well presented. He's probably done this for some medical conferences as well.

First, he gave the audience a bit of a background, which was useful since most of us had not read his blog. He was deployed to a Level II medical facility Ramadi, Iraq, which is equipped to handle resuscitation, surgery, blood and transfusions, and critical-care holding. (Level III facilities are more like full hospitals, Level IV is a hospital in Germany and Level V is Walter Reed and Bethesda back in the U.S.) His presentation included images and videos from his blog, T*R*A*P*P*E*R 'L*O*S, M.D..

The experience of trauma surgery in a war zone like Iraq is very different, for many reasons. For example, causalities could come in on tanks, not ambulances and instead of getting 24 injuries in one day, as with the L.A. trauma center, in Iraq they could get 50 in fifteen minutes. In fact, they might even know when they were getting a lot of causalities if they heard an explosion that seemed louder or closer than usual. He also dealt with enormous injuries and much more severe trauma than at a U.S. based trauma center, with people sharing the same uniform as himself. He showed some very graphic images of wounds.

He mentioned that he would not have taken these videos and pictures had he not setup the blog. Now he's really glad he did since it really documented his experience. The original purpose, however, was to share his experience back home through the blog and stay in touch with his family.

He did sometime have a hard time figuring out what he could and couldn't put on the blog. To help him decide he put up only things he felt he could share with his kids. (Keep in mind that you might have different ideas about what your kids can handle.) The military knew of his blog and allowed it, and the pictures he took of injuries fell under informed consent. (Medical professionals do this all the time in order to help teach the next generation of physicians.)

He wanted to give some operative footage on the blog because it highlighted how surgery in a facility like his was so very different from how it would be done in the states. For example, having to use manual tools (a hammer and chisel to break open the sternum) rather than the tools used back in the states because of the lack of electrical power. Also, often multiple people would be operating on the same person at once. The surgeons did their own cleanup.
One of the ironies was that he was using a high tech blog to communicate, but didn't have a lot of the basics (like a blood bank) needed for the kind of surgery done. It was a very different professional experience and he was able to share that.

To deal with the situation he read, and worked out. He had a Netflix account and they deliver straight to the base! He was able to catch up with favorite shows like Arrested development and The Sopranos. But overall, the video blog was critical to maintaining his sanity while he was there. He spent the bulk of his extra time on preparing his blog. To do that he used an Internet cafe across the street. The picture is amazing, since most folks aren't used to blogging with computers covered in sand!

His "mustache contest" got the most comments of any entry in the blog. Some celebrities stopped by the facility, including a well known photographer who was kind enough to share some of his photos. His best friend John Spong came out to Iraq report on it for Texas Monthly.

After lots of pictures, videos and text, he started getting a bit creative. He put some of his pictures and videos to music, and did some special stuff for his kids to celebrate birthdays, Halloween. It made it easier for his kids to see, via photos, that he got a birthday cake on his birthday. He did video for his blog with Star Trek theme and him in a costume for his kids. The blog allowed him to participate in family events like Thanksgiving or Christmas. His voice broke talking about the pictures of Christmas.

He still keeps in touch with the people he worked with in Iraq. The only thing he didn't post was pictures of those who had died in his area during his time there, but he did show us during the presentation. He then opened for questions.

My sister is a pediatrician at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston. She'd had a chance to tour medical facilities and nearby areas in Kashmir after the earthquake in 2005. She shared her photos with my family at Thanksgiving and it was absolutely fascinating, but almost 2 years later. It's the kind of thing that would be excellent for a blog, so I was curious about whether Dr. Brown's blog had an effect on other physicians or interested them in doing the same and asked him during the Q&A. He said that, at presentations at medical conferences, there was a lot of interest but that generally they just didn't know how, so he'd be giving them advice on how to get setup and started.

All in all, a very nifty presentation.

Jane McGonigal's Keynote

I defer you to Dee's post about the content of Jane's aw3some speech and my thoughts on that. Thus, all I have here is a youtube clip from the premier of her latest ARG trailer. Enjoy!

Here it is---Jane McGonigal dances to Soulja Boy!

I apologize for my uh "skillz" in the shooting movies category. I know it makes all you RTF kids jealous.

Piracy as Marketing! Finish Them!!!

How Piracy Will Save the Music Industry in a nutshell… sort of.

Jason Schwartz of Angelsoft records.

He described a clandestine Fight Club type group called “The Scene” who are responsible for the best quality and first released pirated content.

These are people who are deeply embedded within the entertainment system.

According to Schwarts, the Scene is comprised of multiple release groups that focus on specific media and genres. Each release group is five people who don’t know each other. Very secret. Assembly line type systems.

First person- content; steals the original physical or digital content

Second- ripper

Third- encoder

Fourth- packer

The ultimate goal is to work faster than the other groups.

They encode NFO files.

These include info about the release and “brand” of the release group. 

Why? It’s a game

1.  who can release first among the groups

2.  beat the record companies

3.  prestige- geek prestige

4.  access to top sites


The pirated material disseminates like this:

The scene> to top sites (holy grail of content)>private bit torrent sites (invite only)>public bit torrent>peer to peer networks.

What Schwartz proposes, is that record companies willing release their material into the piracy loop. He says they should release just as high quality material as The Scene.

He then states that the record companies should add a “ChipIn” file to take donations. He referenced Radiohead’s pay what you want experiment.

He said that the ID3 tags should be well taken care of. In the comments section of the ID3 tag add the donation info.

He also suggest labels should spend time on the album art and embed the album art in the mp3s and add the donation info to album art.

Labels should then:

Upload to torrent sites

Speed the torrent

Strip out the IPs from the tag

Map out the IPs. 

From the mapped out IPs the labels can plan more strategic tours and then when booking venues, labels can point to local area listener data.

Randy Saaf is the CEO of MediaDefender Inc.

He was not very popular.

His group is trying to reach the people who will not buy records. His approach is to push advertising on the Peer to Peer networks. He does this by substituting the album art with a brand logo.

He says that to advertisers, downloaders are a great demographic: young and tech savvy.

“It’s a win-win situation.” Downloader gets content- record company gets paid- advertiser gets demographic exposure.

His group is also responsible for pushing out the fake files. They flood the networks with these fake file and then allow the advertiser backed files to get to the top.

“Advertising in album art and flooding fake files” was not popular among the audience.

People were much more responsive to Schwartz’s idea of forward thinking in piracy.

Saaf- $.99 is a fair price point

Schwartz- “I don’t think $.99 is a fair price point

Audience agrees.

The Q&A got a bit tense as lawyers and over zealous reporters hit Saaf hard and heavy.

Schwartz went into a “piracy as boycott” theory. He suggested solving this by involving a monthly fee for downloading and applying an Economy of Attention model for revenue dispersement in which the artists/labels would get a percentage of revenue based on their downloads.

Schwartz also encouraged the idea of labels providing music blogs with free MP3s and permission to post for download on the sites.

The panel ended on a downer as an artists’ lawyer “from D.C.” who showed much annoyance while waiting in line, attempted to hijack the panel, tout her own opinions, plug her music panel for Wednesday and to the panelists’ annoyance, never ask a question.




Gmail Chat Transcript between Jon and Dee @ Jane McGonigal Keynote!

me: Jane McGonigal chat
Jonathan: YES!!
me: So what do you think of her so far?
Jonathan: So, happiness is the new capital?
me: Is that sarcasm?
Jonathan: I really think her ideas are innovative
me: Because she's awesome
Hahah okay good
I really love that she is talking about how happiness is defined
Jonathan: yes, it's really neat to think that gaming is kind of changing how people use new media like this
me: Yes and I think its fascinating that she is talking about creating a space that enhances reality instead of the other way around
which is usually how its viewed
Jonathan: taking gaming into life
me: and she talks about what games give people that real life doesn't
Jonathan: it's also interesting to see that she's not only focused on happiness per se, but on all human emotion
me: she just admitted that she personally doesn't get certain things out of real life
but does in games
Jonathan: right, so we are kind of living vicariously through these games? do you think that might be a little harmful?
me: well yes i think there are always risks of losing touch with reality
but i think because gaming is relatively new
that's a concern
they said the same thing about tv
they're still saying it about the internet
heck they said it about the beatles and rock music sort of in the same vein
Jonathan: well, she's mentioning how people are using gaming to create community where they may not otherwise be able to
me: there! she just said she's not an alarmist and is not critical of kids playing these games for hours and hours and hours
"we are witnessing what amounts to no less than a global mass exodus to virtual worlds..."
Jonathan: so it's really just the same as finding friends through the internet with common interests
me: yes and then it creates an online economy and basically, just life
on your terms
Jonathan: I think it really allows people with an opportunity to learn how to learn things they can't find in schools, regular life, etc
me: an MMO player spends an average of 16 hrs per week
she just said
yeah that's a good point, its filling in the gaps
Jonathan: right
me: Oh that's awesome how she again said lets take what we love about gaming and bring it into the new world so we're not escaping all the time
"for many gamers today, in terms of perceived quality of life, virtuality is beating reality"
"i look at it as a moral and ethical obligation to take the lives of people who are missing out on adventures and give them an adventure"
Sent at 2:25 PM on Tuesday
Jonathan: Yay for technology

{ at this point Jon realizes that he needs to plug in his computer because he is almost out of battery life, and he dashes off}

me: cool where did you find an outlet?
can you see the stage?
Jonathan: (I just had to move to an outlet - laptop was dying)
I really like what she's talking about gaming that actually allows you to help people, like giving people wishes, turning the world into a game
I can barely see the stage [smile] that's fine though
me: that's amazing
that game she just talked about
with the gps
and being in places in the world while playing and interaction online with other users
Jonathan: yes, it seems like it's making things that would be previously impossible into reality
me: and having interaction with people online and they tell you how to help people in the area you're in
oooh check out these kill slides! [from Jane McGonigal’s powerpoint presentation]
games kill boredom
games kill alienation
games kill anxiety
games kill depression
Jonathan: don't you think that this may be just hiding the problem instead of actually solving the underlying problem though?
Sent at 2:32 PM on Tuesday
Jonathan: She's saying they are used as a part of life, and not really as an escape
me: YEAH
Jonathan: so I think it's justified

[Jon and I sidetrack here as Jane expounds on some definitions]

me: have you been to the screen burn room yet?
Jonathan: no I have not, I'm not sure what that is, can you tell me more?
Sent at 2:34 PM on Tuesday
me: ok apparently we have a room here
somewhere in the conference
where its basically an arcade
of cool developing videogames
cindy said its awesome and we should go
they close at 6
so i might skip a panel to go check it out or leave one early or something
Sent at 2:36 PM on Tuesday
me: sorry its called the screenburn arcade
Jonathan: Ohh right, I really want to make a point of going there
I saw it Sunday
I haven't been in there though
we'll go after this!
me: yeah and i want to see the legos too\
and the interactive playpen
and shoot some video in there and take some pics
by the way, that Jane is a looker
Sent at 2:39 PM on Tuesday
Jonathan: Adapt, react, re-adapt, apt
me: hahaha yes she's super cute
i like what she's saying about failing
the game environment allowing people to fail without fear
and how gamers have developed that SKILL
and it would be useful in the real world
i was just arguing that with someone the other day
about how being a gamer you learn to filter out all kinds of distractions and that too, is a skill
i love this chick!
Jonathan: haha that is really interesting to think about, I guess I haven't really thought of that before
me: its also a bad thing for me sometimes though because i totally filter out things i maybe shouldn't
i like that she is talking about the community of gaming
all the other panels i've been to, they are very adamant about separating communities within genres and worse, genders
Jonathan: Another interesting technique gaming developers are using is open-authorship. It's a really innovative technique. As they develop this openness, users feel like they play a larger role in creating the gaming experience and being more actively involved in the process. It also helps with a sense of being part of a larger thing
kind of like the whole being greater than the sum of each part, but it;'s more than that
me: yeah its really wholistic
which is it ha i am listening and typing at the same time this is rad
Jonathan: you are asking the wrong person
me: good thing neither of us taught mc1313
Jonathan: WOW are you listening to this neurotransmitter?
me: she has a theory for a game that involves people she hates
so she can destroy them with her brain
that's awesome
not theory, idea rather
it reminds me of when i played oregon trail in elementary school and named the characters after my friends that I was mad at and then one of them would get dysentery and I’d be like HA serves you right!
Jonathan: this neurotransmitter stuff is very interesting - it hooks up to your brain that can tell if you're angry
whilst you are playing a game
me: yeah that's amazing
and all that stuff she was saying about gps gaming too
gps seems to be a recurring theme in her keynote
gps gaming rather
'okay here's her important stuff slides
1. soon enough, most of us will be in the happiness business
Jonathan: heh
I'll get the next one
me: 2. games designers have a huge head start
oh oops
you got the next two
Jonathan: good job, I couldn't see the screen anyway
me: ok ill get them
you can do the commentary
3. alternate realities signal the desire, need and opportunity for all of us to redesign reality for higher quality of life
Jonathan: this can really improve our realities, since a lot of times, like we talked about earlier, our lives often have gaps that need to be filled
ask her a quesiton
me: her email is for all reading our blog that want to contact her
my question i want to know is so dumb
i want to stalk her after the speech so i can ask her
Jonathan: haha I think you should ask it
the question just asked is "Does gaming prevent war?"
me: yeah I should
Jonathan: while the military has been creating games to help with their skills and stuff, but she doesn't think this is the best direction for turning gaming into reality...but it lets people do things they may not actually do
me: that's interesting that she is talking about where the line is blurred…what kind of realities are we talking about and where is the line ethically and artistically?
Jonathan: She thinks games might actually prevent wars and physical violence
me: i do
i know there are times i wanna smack somebody but i'll play mortal kombat instead. And then im zennnn. Plus I’ve solved lots of arguments by playing smash brothers against someone. I always win.
Jonathan: Next quesiton "To what extent does gaming/blogging substitute things from your life?"
me: interesting she is talking about how it worries her when gamers replace reality with gaming
some people have opted out of reality
that's fascinating
Jonathan: right
so far a lot of ARGs are narrative driven and less interactive with actual people
she is addressing this statement now
me: yeah
Jonathan: She's giving an example of how people just jumped out of a car and did the Soulja boy dance
I'm not sure how she answered that question

[At this point, the audience convinces Jane to end her keynote with a solja boy dance. We have footage of this hilarious moment…to come}

me: cindy and i are going to try to get the video of the end when she does it on stange
Jonathan: lol
me: kerri is obsessed with that song
she knows the dance
i hate it
Jonathan: oh i really despise it as well
it is so nasty
me: cindy and i just talked about how cool she is and how we'd like to have an alternate reality game where we're her
Jonathan: lol
me: hahaha yes it is nasty
Jonathan: i just literally laughed out loud
me: i can't help but feel all WOMEN POWER!! listening to her
Jonathan: and the girl next to me gave me a "look"
me: hahaha oh goodness
me: see i knew that lost ring thing they showed was what Kristen had for news last week in class
me: ohh i love this question
Jonathan: you would
please tell us what this question is?
me: how do you reconcile the fact that you're creating a game like the lost ring which is sponsored by a huge corporation-mcdonalds with the fact that you're in the happiness business as you say.
Jonathan: ohh that is a good one
me: yes and i like that she talks about the purpose of the art and not who pays the bills
Jonathan: right, and if it gets out there to a mass audience, all the better
me: that those partnerships are necessary for artists in today's 'ecosystem' so that they can make and we can be subjected to----this art.
yeah im all about mcdonald's paying for my gaming stuff
just subsidize the cost for me a lil puhleeze (woop woop chris Anderson)
i like that she's both an academic and a gamer
Jonathan: The most powerful thing about art is that once you've had an experience with it, it changes your perspective and allows you to see life in a different way. It's like you're changed forever. I think this is true, especially when you're able to "go" different places and experience new sports and things through gaming
me: yeah that's really a great way to experience and i don't think most people have respect for it, reality is overrated.
Jonathan: While it may not be the same as "real life" you are still learning a lot
me: okay i totally did not understand this last question
so you down for the burn room or screenburn room after this?
Jonathan: yes
me: excellente!!
me: i have 15% left on my laptop.
Jonathan: ain't nothing to it but to do it!
me: girlfriend needs an outlet soon
Jonathan: ohh, I'm at 37% now
Sent at 3:07 PM on Tuesday
me: what?
what's happening?
what did that guy just ask?
Jonathan: no idea
me: lolz
Jonathan: I think a lot of this panel can be summed up with what she just said."The whole world shouldn't be a game, but gaming provides a type of engagement that is better than disengagement"
me: yes
excellent quote
she's very thoughtful
Jonathan: too bad she's married
me: lolz
Jonathan: she's too cool for me anyway
ohh, I bet you really like this question
me: yes!
haha no she loves you
she’s all about you, i can tell
Jonathan: lol thanks
TWIN sister!?
me: hey shes got a twin!
Jonathan: well, maybe she's free
me: you're still in the game my man
Jonathan: nice (in a kevin malone tone)
okay, time for Soulja boy
Sent at 3:13 PM on Tuesday

Jonathan is offline. Messages you send will be delivered when Jonathan comes online.

Jane McGonigal rules

You heard it here first. Videos to come of her general awesomeness and also, a chat transcript between the infamous Jon Zmikly and I as we watched Jane's keynote. Stay tuned!!
Edit: Thoughts after her Keynote

I still maintain that Jane is awesome and her keynote was great but there are a couple of points I didn't really subscribe to.

First of all, I am into what Jane considers "escapist" gaming and I think her talk about being in the happiness business was much more closely related to this type of gaming than the type Jane works on. I'm not saying reality based games don't fall into her definition of happiness, but she discussed scientific research and the results of this research pointed towards gaming as it is usually defined. I also didn't like when she discussed women in gaming and talked about how designers should design specifically for women (this is a recurring theme at the conference) because I think that is alienating a huge set of women who DO play these games and who DO excel at them. I think she failed to express the real problem and that is that there are not a lot of women developers in the industry today, and those that are, don't seem to realize that women like a lot of the same types of games that men do but because a lot of these games created gender biases around their players from the start, they are considered primarily male territory and women wanting to enter see lots of obstacles they are unsure how to overcome. I'm thinking of the LAN parties I've been to and the backlash I've gotten from attending and attempting to play certain types of games. It is important for women in the business to stop subscribing to and selling the research that finds that women cannot play certain types of games because it is a gross generalization. That really upset me and I expected better from her, to be honest.

I loved when she talked about how happiness is the new capital and that gaming is the ultimate happiness engine. Her enthusiasm and passion are infectious and she is definitely a rarity in the industry.

Filmmakers on Demand

Video on demand (VOD) as a distribution model for content. TiVo has already done that, by allowing a linear platform to shift the content to another time frame. How can that time shifting of content such as VODs be done to monetize the content being created by users. It is in the early stage to determine how this is going to happen.

The platforms to deliver VODs will probably see a growth within the next five years. The ways to watch films and re-watch films is a growth industry. It is a long-tail business model for the independent films shown at various festivals that don't get picked up by major distributors. Smaller distributors pick them up and market them on iMovie, cable, VODs and DVD. 

Every film is different on how it will be supported on different platforms. But, genre driven content (documentaries) seem to do well on all channels or platforms. 

Programmers within the VOD network are still learning and crafting the content for viewers, unlike programmers that are in the linear television business. That my not be bad news, it leaves the VOD programmers unencumbered in the structure they must follow to create programming. It is such a new media format that it does not restrict programmers to a template or set of predetermined formulas to follow. The newness allows for experimentation on what genres of independent or user generated content works best on a particular platform or channel.

Less than 15% of a film's gross income comes from the theatrical release. The money is in the ancillary products like hats, t-shirts, lunch pales, VOD and DVD sales. 

It was also discussed why you can't simply search a video and watch it on you television. The main reason this type of convergence has not yet happened, technologically it could, is there are currently no business models in place to make it profitable. Network television is not willing to make it possible for a large captured amount of eyeballs to be diluted into a fewer smaller set of eyeballs. Large amounts of captured eyeballs watching programming is what advertisers are looking for in television content. 

It is estimated that by 2012 the sales of DVDs will be equaled by the sales of VODs. 

A quick story on how much people like to have a physical hard copy of book, CD or DVD in their hand as opposed to a digital copy. When Ken Burns released his 12 tape PBS series The War on VHS it sold around 600,000 copies. About a year after its release a viewer wrote to say that on tape 8 there was a glitch in the tape. They sent him a new copy and a month later he wrote back saying the same thing was happening. After a little investigation they determined there was a literal drop out of audio on the master. Over half a million copies sold and only one person had actually watched enough of the discs to realize there was a problem. People just wanted a physical hard copy of the series on their shelves.

Mexican Manifesto

The Mexican Manifesto was an interesting panel, though sparsely attended by SXSW standards. Too bad for those who didn't attend, since they served shots of tequila at the end of the panel. No kidding.
The Usability and Accessibility for the Web International Seminar, organized by the State Government of Nuevo Le-n and the Universidad de Monterrey, was held in July 26 2007. At the conclusion of the two-day conference, the organizers issued the first Manifesto on Usability and Accessibility for Mexican Government Websites. With input from conference participants and experts of UA web 2007, the Manifesto was signed by 23 Mexican states and 3 municipalities. The Manifesto states that , 'It is the duty of the creators and administrators of new technologies to improve people's quality of life. As administrators, our objective is to create and maintain websites that are both useful and easy to use for the widest possible audience: usable and accessible websites. We believe that government, academia and the private sector should work together to achieve this objective.' In this session we will look at the 10 point commitment contained within the Manifesto, meet the people who led the development of the document and learn more about the barriers and successes of implementing the Manifesto.
Panelists: Sharron Rush (Exec Director,, Marta Sylvia del Rio (Dir of Graduate Studies in Design and Engineering, Universidad de Monterrey and Javier Hernandez (Director of Projects for Internet, Gobierno del Estado de Nuevo Leon, a Mexican government portal for the State of Nuevo Leon)

I've met Sharron Rush before, when Knowbility had only been around for a short time and I was hoping they could hire me. (The money wasn't there at the time unfortunately, but it was great to get to talk to her.) It's gratifying to see how much they've been able to accomplish. I highly recommend taking their accessibility courses from Access U.

We were given headsets for this panel. Because of the bilingual nature of the panel, there would be live translation of the panelists. Unfortunately the headsets didn't work out, so the translator used a microphone at the front of the room. It worked out just fine.

Last July, Sharron was invited to the University of Mexico, Monterrey to participate in an initiative called Usability and Accessibility for the Web. She felt that it was such a unique and exciting endeavor that they should present about it at SXSW.

Unlike the U.S. and Section 508 of the American with Disabilities Act, there is no legislation on accessibility in Mexico. Still, the state government of Nuevo Leon was very concerned about the issue, so they approached a citizen watchdog council in an attempt to improve the quality of information and access to government business through the portal. The resulting group was made up of specialists, non-specialists, technologists, government representatives, etc.

Through their efforts, a lot of things were put in place. First, a statement of ten points to meet with regards to usability and accessibility was drafted and then shared with other state governments, encouraging them to commit to the effort.

The ten points:
1. To ensure the democratic access to government information and services by everyone, including users with disabilities, by embracing W3C recommendations
2. To facilitate the creation, archival and management of information with systems that are accessible
3. To ensure that information and services are easy to find, discover and use, following best practices in web design and development
4. To ensure the transparency of public information, and specifically information on the use of public resources
5. To facilitate and promote citizen participation in governmental decisions, as well as collaboration between governments
6. To promote the convergence of systems in the national, state and local levels so that users can navigate between them without barriers
7. To take full advantage of information technologies to better serve citizens
8. To make content easy for everyone to understand by following Lenguaje Ciudadano (plain language) recommendations.
9. To promote the ideals and concepts expressed in this manifesto
10. To continuously improve the methodologies referred to in this document

Twenty-three of thirty-two state governments have signed on so far. It was published in the newspapers so all could see the commitment. (Check out the original ad in Spanish in this downloadable PDF.) That's a pretty incredible level of commitment. But they didn't want to project to be just a lot of good intentions; they wanted to follow through. Since the governments that signed on also turn over through elections, they formed a non-profit organization to see the mission through - the Usability and Accessibility Web (UAWeb).

In order to achieve the goals of increased web usability and accessibility, the people making the web sites needed training in these areas. UAWeb provides that training, and it's not limited to just the government agencies that were initially concerned with improvement. Corporations are also getting involved, and programs in these areas have been incorporated into undergraduate and graduate programs that deal with technology. Other universities from other countries have approached them about doing similar things.

Accessibility raining is an extremely important part of achieving the goal of an accessible web. Hernandez pointed out that, on the Nuevo Leon portal site, over 90 agencies must be coordinated, in order to update the site. There are close to 250 people who have access to constantly update information in the portal. An accessibility problem might be fixed at one point, only to be reintroduced when information is updated. Designers and developers must all be trained in order to avoid this sort of thing. (Cool note: Many of the laws are available on the site in mp3 format.)

The involvement of university curricula is just one of the things that makes this effort unique in the world. Another is the fact that they drafted the initial document to address both usability and accessibility at the same time. They wanted the two to remain linked, an approach I think is invaluable to making this sort of thing succeed. I'd love to see that happen at Texas State.

Also unique is the fact that there is one standard across the country, in plain language (citizen language as it was referred to) so that it could be understood by the average person. As the former University Webmaster for Texas State, I had to be aware of not only Federal rules (The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Section 508 of the Workforce Investment Act), but also State rules regarding accessibility (Section 2054.454 of the Texas Government Code and Title 1, Rule §213.37 (a) of the Texas Administrative Code). On top of that Tina Schulz, the Director of the Office of Disability Services at Texas State, and myself, wrote the University's own Web Accessibility Guidelines.

None of these is really in "plain language" either, though Tina and I did try to make our guidelines a little friendlier to the folks who were developing web sites with HTML.

They wrapped up the session by answering a few questions, then pulled out the Don Julio Tequila for everyone:

Some Guy Interviews Mark Cuban at SXSW

Fazia I had a seat next to me at the panel that included the Mark Cuban interview.  Some guy named Michael Eisner did the interview and it was very interesting. Of course, I've said that about all the panels. Someone said after the interview that the Eisner guy had worked at Disney for awhile, I guess that's why he did the entire interview using a Mickey Mouse voice.

Funny thing is Mark Cuban started the panel off by referring to the Lacy interview with The Zuck and how NOT to do an interview. With a great response from the crowd. It is now being referred to as "The Lacy" interview in many SXSW circles. 

Eisner discussed the Internet as the new distributing stream of content. He also stressed the importance of content as being the key to what will drive the Internet within the next five years. Most panels have stressed the importance of content and its ultimate power of rising above the others. He states that the big move to Internet content has not yet "hit," but whe it does it will produce both primary and secondary viewing. 

In Eisner's opinion 99% of the user generated content available online is awful and 1% is great.  But, that even the worst content available is trying to tell a story and that is what will translate to viewers. Young 20-30 year-old professionals are doing interesting work at creating user generated content. and that is where he is looking for the next generation of storytellers. He says if you are in the Internet business to go to where the new young people are at trying to get recognized and honing their craft.

He did mention that the new distribution stream of content over the Internet would not eliminate television or any other medium. As with any other functional displacement of a medium, a new course will be found. 

He mentioned the release of a new book in which his company did a series of related stories to the book on YouTube. The series ran 52 straight days and concluded with the release date f the book. And talked about other projects such as Prom Queen and The All for Nots. The All For Nots online series even developed a band that will be playing at SXSW at Club de Ville.

One story Eisner did share about his one time attempt as an interviewer. He was replacing Charlie Rose talking with John Travolta and was told to go to a break at :32. In what he described as an eternity he realized he was only at :16 and had no questions left to ask of Travolta.

All-in-all it was a good interview. Cuban did a good job of playing devil's advocate to some of  Eisner's points with no disrespect.

Thick as Thieves

This was an interesting panel dealing with fair use and copyright issues of content on the Internet. It's been a topic that has been brought up briefly in almost every panel I've been to so far.

The panel existed of a copyright attorney, a Warner Brothers representative and a guy named m dot Strange, no seriously, his name plate said dot Strange.

One key point talked about in avoiding copyright infringement is the transformation of the original work. The copyright attorney did say that in parody cases of infringement, if you make the judge laugh at the content you have produced, odd are you have won the case. 

The Lord of the Rings is to Long video is a good case of parody and transformation. The creative content put into editing, writing and filming transformed the original into new content. 

However, as pointed out by the Warner Brothers rep, if someone is loading an entire episode of a show to YouTube in small clips they will asked that it be removed. But if a fan were to post favorite shots of an actor/actress to YouTube they would not have it removed. They regard this as fan usage of the product. Trying to sell the content in any way of course opens an entire new can of worms. 

As small independent filmmakers are concerned with using copyrighted material in films on a small budget Warner Brothers was willing to either eliminate licensing fees all together or other them at a lower price, more like a tiered pricing scale. Clips of a song or other movies within movies, depending on length used was key in deciding when to charge a nominal fee for licensing rights of simply look the other way. The other key point in all of this is non-commercial use. 

In Bambi Meets Godzilla instead of suing the creator the producers of Godzilla simply bougts the rigts to it and used it in a trailer for the movie in the late 60s.

About the DRMs (Digital Rights Managing) that are in place now the Warner Brothers rep said they are there to keep the honest people honest and the dishonest people working harder.

Successful, Independent Bloggers

I gave up standing in line for the Michael Eisner panel when it was obvious that they may have chosen too small a room. Instead, I headed over to the panel, Independent Success: Bloggers Who Made It:
What makes a blog a success? Not the famous giant "here's $100 million for your startup" kind of success, but a business that's big enough to let the founders do what they intended, remain independent and provide great editorial quality and strong communities online. Meet four publishers who've done just that in diverse topic areas: Tech, Autos, Design, Celebrities. We'll dig into why they're successful, pry secret tips out of them, hear about their failures along the way and try to use their experiences to build a recipe for guaranteed success. Or at least a way to improve the chances. These four have been at it for years (two of them for a decade now) so they've learned plenty of lessons.
Of all the advice given and observations made, I especially liked Fisher's comment that blogging forums are perhaps the least monetized and least respected aspects of blogs, but absolutely the most valuable to the blog in terms of knowing what people are looking for and where to take your blog. Related advice was to participate in your forums, poll them, do surveys and basically engage your forums.

In my opinion, these bloggers - having started out with something they were passionate about, then having added other bloggers to their site - are doing the next step in magazines. Take the basics of a magazine - a specific topic, provide great content by great writers and toss in the convergence factor.

Fehrehbacher noted that what makes blogs interesting, as opposed to traditional journalism, is that they tend to take a stand, or have a particular position and voice. That's reflected by the fact that the content producers tend to be people in the field the blog is covering. The challenges tend to be the editorial process, fact checking, etc.

I found this an especially good panel because they focused on audience questions to drive the discussion, rather than Powerpoint presentations or taking most of the hour talkign about their blogs. The audience obliged with some great questions about creating content, attracting good bloggers, getting advertisers.

I also liked the fact that there was some mention of the difficulty of work-life balance. These are small business owners after all. Even though they love it, it's hard to turn the switch off - they're always thinking about the blog and growing the business.

In the end, what Friedman enjoys most about the business is being an entrepreneur. Fisher commented that the reason he does it is because he's so passionate about what he's doing.

My dear Chris...a counter

I don't think they were at all saying that teachers are replacable. Infact, they applauded the audience member who very emotionally asked for the 10k it takes to develop a game to be used instead to increase the salary of 10 thousand teachers by 1k each (though that hardly rewards them what they're worth). The education system is not failing because teachers are underpaid. The panel was looking at why it is that learning is no longer engaging and motivating students and developers are arguing that perhaps videogames are the solution. The panel discussed at length the importance of teachers as facilitators in this new game-learning environment. They were more concerned about issues such as learning assessment and the importance of integrating the goals of curriculum into interface design.

The strongest point I think they had was adressing the differing levels of the various students in the classroom and the strength of videogames to detect skill level and increasingly challenging the student from their personal level upward. Another strength the panel mentioned is the ability to relearn a concept that was at first try, difficult to grasp. While classroom learning moves on at this point, videogames allow students to repeat skill sets they might need a bit more practice on.

I agree that videogames should not replace the current system completely. But I do thing it should be a substantial component in education, to engage students and make them comfy with technology.

More to come on this. Interesting stuff.

Mark Cuban VS Michael Eisner... FINISH HIM!

This may have been the most interesting panel I have attended so far.

Very genius to pair the old media mogul visionary Eisner with the young Net savvy cynic Cuban.

The pair’s dynamic was very entertaining.  

The interview began with Cuban making some jabs at the Zuckerberg/Lacy interview.

He garnered an audience chuckle.

Cuban asked Eisner about his new enterprises and three person empire Vuguru.

Eisner began to elaborate in grand visionary fashion about using broadband as a new distribution stream and how it won’t eliminate old technology.

The subject of financing for his new Web entertainment came up frequently, and at one point he solicited Cuban for financing. Cuban said they would talk. Product placement was a big thing. Chrysler. Verizon. And some type of fruit drink. I missed the brand. Sorry.

Eisners comments on funding:

“When it first started we actually got paid for our content, now they want to own all the content.”

“Yes we pay for content. No we don’t pay for content. Maybe we’ll pay for content.”- Distributors.

“There is no unique business model.”

Eisner touted user generated material as the new Hollywood (my words, not his). He said he is looking for “people with cameras trying to do something intelligent.”

Then something about “99% of it is awful and 1% is amazing.”

“My theory is to find the people who are doing interesting things on their own”

Eisner projected that in five years Web content shows will be directly broadcast over broadband to the Television.

“In five years content on the Internet will be as important as content on satellite and television.”

He elaborated that it will be primary content. Just distributed differently. Made for big screen and small screen.

Mainly, it will be distributed through a broadband format.

Cuban is anti-broadband content and challenged Eisner’s Web content future with some technical questions and points.

Mainly, that people spend more on big TVs than computers, the average entertainment user does not know how to view their broadband content on their TV, and there is no universal technology for doing so yet.

As Cuban gets down to the nuts and bolts of broadband content and the hurdles, Eisner replies “That’s why I am into content cause I don’t understand any of that.”

Eisner definitely showed his visionary qualities and possibly his visionary blindness to reality, where Cuban can’t get over the reality. The two make for a very interesting conversation. 

As Cuban, or someone from the audience, I cannot recall now, brought up Chris Anderson’s Free Market idea Eisner, like the media mogul he is, vehemently denied it with comments such as  “I just don’t buy it”, “You should move to Russia”, and “This is not a socialist system.”

Overall, this would have made for a very interesting keynote and the lucky hundred or so of us in the too small room all left very satisfied with our 11am choice.