Social Play

I’ve just finished up a chapter in my PhD about social play. Most of it is about online interaction, but quite a bit is about how to bring strangers together to make connections in public spaces.

Serendipitously, Iain just posted this clip thanks to Knotty’s. If you don’t get why social networks work, watch this:

Sprint’s Now Machine Data Overload

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In keeping with the seemingly American obsession that more data one has the better (especially on TV), Sprint have launched a viral campaign called the Now Machine Widget.

Kottke says, “I don’t know what this is or how it works or why Sprint is involved, but man is it fun to just let the data just wash over you.” It’s kind of fascinating, but also a totally overblown data overload and the kind of thing that would be unusable in any practical sense. (I often wonder how traders manage to spread their attention across so many screens. My guess is it is an illusion and that they can’t – it just stops them having to bring different windows to the front.)

The design of the Now Machine was by Mike Kellogg for Goodby, Sliverstein & Partners.

(Via Kottke via Airbag).

Is your cellphone company evil?

Mine certainly is.

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No Evil is a great viral microsite for Net 10 that plays on the idea that cellphone companies are a bunch of money-grabbing evil madmen. Virgin have tried this tack before but now they’re part of the problem it seems.

The videos are very well-made and entertainingly written (the evil villains are good) and it neatly rides on the back of Google’s ‘Do No Evil’ philosophy.

A simple idea well-executed. Nice.

Anyone know the agency behind this?

UPDATE: I just noticed the video was playing automatically, which was irritating, so now it’s a link. I tried all sorts with the embed code but couldn’t turn it off.

[tags]net10, no-evil, viral, microsite[/tags]

MTV vs YouTube

I’ve been catching up with my blog reading and thought Todd Dominey’s point about MTV trailing YouTube was worth a re-blog as it hooks into what I wrote previously about Apple’s iTV news. Todd’s full post has this to say:

A thought occurred to me watching the opening of the 2006 VMAs on MTV, which included a live rendition of the now famous treadmill video by OK Go. There was a time when MTV could have been responsible for popularizing the video (and the band as well), when the focus of MTV was music. Today however, the tail is wagging the dog, and it’s YouTube that’s breaking music videos. And MTV, once the leader in music video, is left with sloppy seconds. How times change.

If you haven’t seen the video, here it is:

You can watch the live MTV version here.

Warner Bros. to distribute via BitTorrent

I can’t believe I missed this story last week, but Warner Bros. have finally started to get their head around the idea that BitTorrents are the most efficient way to distribute large files online and have announced they’ll start seeding their movies when released onto DVD. So, only about three years too late and after trying to shut down most BitTorrent servers for ages.

From Yahoo’s story:

“If we can convert 5, 10, 15 percent of the peer-to-peer users that have been obtaining our product from illegitimate sources to becoming legitimate buyers of our product, that has the potential of a huge impact on our industry and our economics,” said Kevin Tsujihara, president of the Warner Bros. Home Entertainment Group.

It’s exactly what lots of people have been banging on about for some time. I would have loved to have listened into the conversations at Warner Bros. about this because I imagine there are some very smart people there and some old-guard dunderheads who wrangled over this for a while. There’s not much mention of how they plan to avoid piracy or whether they have given up on this to a certain degree. But here’s the whiff of compromise:

The studio also will sell permanent copies of films and TV shows online that can be burned to a backup DVD, although the copy will only play on the computer used to download the film and not on standard DVD players.

That’s pretty lame. It fails to recognise the increasing trend of people networking their computers/media centres with their AV set-ups or use the computer as an entertainment ‘pip’e into the house before then deciding where they can play it. It’s like buying a DVD and being told you can only play it in the bedroom, but not in your lounge. And in what way is that a guard against piracy? Anyone really interested in large scale DVD burning style piracy will go a different route (and almost certainly any DRM will be cracked in no time).

The lawyers obviously got their “marketing point” into the story too:

Studios believe that offering reasonably priced legal alternatives will be preferable to downloading files that could contain viruses or poor quality copies of films.

This is always the “scary internet” tactics that copyright lawyers use. It’s akin to telling people smoking is bad for them – people who do it know the risks. In general files I’ve seen tend to be excellent – they’re simply rips from a DVD and quality certainly isn’t an issue (which is why the studios are so paranoid about digital files in the first place).

Ultimately its good to see a major studio take a step in the right direction (and entertaining to see BitTorrent’s Web site suddenly go all glossy and corporate – even the .org site is all pseudo Web 2.0 styled) – when did that happen? I must have been sleeping…)

The article does make a common factual error though:

Last year, BitTorrent agreed to remove links to pirated versions of movies from its Web site.

I’m reasonably certain that BitTorrent never had any illegal versions of movies on its Web site, that’s the whole point, a torrent file is just checksum information, not the actual data file itself. That’s why it’s been so hard for the MPAA to get a handle on a roving swarm. Smells like lawyer talk to me.

Jenna Jameson in new Adidas spot by Tronic

New from Tronic Studio is an Adidas viral spot starring porn star adult entertainer, Jenna Jameson.

From Vivian at Tronic:

Jenna Jameson flexes her muscles as never before as a mallet wheeling, white clad, arcade obsessed femme-fatale in this viral spot for Adidas. Conceived, directed and animated by NYC creative collective Tronic this spot gives a whole new meaning to being hit over the head.

It’s a pretty decent ad, nicely surreal and of course including long lingering shots of Jameson. So in that respect, probably perfect for the web audience of teenage boys. On the other hand, it’s an interesting move by Adidas to have Jameson endorsing their products – she has a pretty amusing set of titles in her filmography.

Maybe I’ve got used to the conservatism in Australia – here in Germany people seem much more relaxed about sex after all.