Tag Archives: google

Viacom’s schizophrenic relationship with youtube

From the youtube blog:

For years, Viacom continuously and secretly uploaded its content to YouTube, even while publicly complaining about its presence there. It hired no fewer than 18 different marketing agencies to upload its content to the site. It deliberately “roughed up” the videos to make them look stolen or leaked. It opened YouTube accounts using phony email addresses. It even sent employees to Kinko’s to upload clips from computers that couldn’t be traced to Viacom. And in an effort to promote its own shows, as a matter of company policy Viacom routinely left up clips from shows that had been uploaded to YouTube by ordinary users. Executives as high up as the president of Comedy Central and the head of MTV Networks felt “very strongly” that clips from shows like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report should remain on YouTube.

Viacom’s efforts to disguise its promotional use of YouTube worked so well that even its own employees could not keep track of everything it was posting or leaving up on the site. As a result, on countless occasions Viacom demanded the removal of clips that it had uploaded to YouTube, only to return later to sheepishly ask for their reinstatement. In fact, some of the very clips that Viacom is suing us over were actually uploaded by Viacom itself.

This is so absurd you’d be hard to come up with a better “who’s on first” plan yourself.

My own thoughts Google Chrome OS

When google decided to create their own web browser a year ago, I was both sceptical and annoyed.  Did the world really need another web browser?  Couldn’t they just put that effort into Firefox?  What I hadn’t realized at the time was that Google was about to push the boundaries of what a web application is, and their is no way they could pull that off without some control of the browser.

Google has this really cool tech called GWT.  It basically lets you write a rich web application in Java and compile it into a AJAX application.  Javascript as machine code.  The cross browser stuff is in the compiler, so you don’t need to think about it when you write you application in Java.  If your whole business is writing really complex applications for the web, something like GWT is really a necessity.

If you want to see how far GWT can take you, check out Google Wave.  Real time key by key synchronization across the web to multiple users at once.  This isn’t the web we are used to, it’s something a bit different.  Once you start trying to use Wave for real, with a couple of people, you find out that your browser is totally overwhelmed by that much javascript.  Run it in Chrome, and life is a lot better.  Things load faster and are responsive in the way you expect a desktop application to be.  Seeing Google Wave in Chrome makes you start to realize the the idea of desktop on the web isn’t such a crazy idea.

The pundits have largely been missing the point.  While browser as operating system has been a concept since the late 90s (which was skillfully retarded by Microsoft by bundling a web browser that could never support that level of complexity), things are different now.  Over the last 5 years google has been slowly rolling out a set of applications, free to use, that already moved a lot of people fully to the web.  It’s hard to find someone without a gmail account at this point, and most of them are using it as their primary and only email.  Google docs is really nice, and I found that far more useful to collaborate on all my interactions with the outside world than the old “email a word doc” model. 

I get that a lot of people fear the cloud, and point to Microsoft’s fiasco with with Danger as a reason to distrust the cloud.  But Google isn’t Microsoft.  And more importantly, you know what happened before, people lost data.  Never in the history of computing up until the Danger computers crashed did people loose irreplaceable data on a computer.  Much like the fear of flying overwhelming people in a way that the much great risk of driving to the local store to get Milk doesn’t.  People with just the wrong amount of knowledge make very odd risk assessments.

The thing I’m most thrilled about is that Chrome OS is going to help us keep an open web, as least based on everything I’ve seen now.  It’s Linux, and the entire stack is going to be open.  That means it’s not going to support all the rich internet application alternatives being pushed by Microsoft and others.  Chrome OS is going to drive a lot more open standards on the web than any set of committee meetings ever would.  And that’s good for all us, regardless on whether or not we’re using Chrome OS to access the web.

iTunes will not be the savior of the news media

I was listening to Fresh Air last night on the author of new book on google.  It started with a nice lay person description of a lot of what Google has been working on, and how the company evolved into the worlds biggest advertising firm.  When the laundry list of Google properties got to Google News, the interviewy made the following statement:

On the other hand, there is evidence that it can be done, and
Apple’s iTunes is a classic piece of evidence in this regard. I mean,
the idea that music – I mean, just think about five years ago, the
music companies were suing their customers on college campuses for what
they called illegally downloading their music. And it was illegal, by
the way. You know, they were breaking the law to do that, but it was so
commonplace that no one thought it was against the law to do it.

Apple comes along and they said we’ll charge you only $.99 and you can
pick the music you want. You could listen to a little segment of it
before you buy it, and you could buy individual songs. You don’t have
to get stuck with buying an entire CD for X many more dollars. And it
took off like gangbusters, and it’s been a great success for Apple and
something the customers who were used to free music have accepted. So
there are some models that suggest it can be done, but it won’t be

When looking for a general purpose solution to the fall off of newspapers, there are 3 models that are always put out there which “prove” that paywalls will work: The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and iTunes.  And they are all wrong, and present an over simplification.  The issue is, none of these things apply generally to the local newspaper model.  Clay Shirky does a better job of explaining why than I, but I will take a stab at the iTunes front.

When you buy (if you buy) music, you are buying a durable good.  It’s something that in 2 years, you’ll still probably be listening to, and yes, in this disposable age, that’s considered durable :).  It’s something you listen to dozens if not hundreds of times.  For this pattern, $0.99 seems like a fair trade off.  But even for that low low price, studies show that the people that buy the most music, as the ones that download the most first.  You can charge for music because it’s not ephemeral.  News paper articles aren’t like this.  When was the last time you reread a news article from your local paper 10 times.

I heard a great statement recently when listening to The Media Project, which looked at the Titanic.  This issue with the Titanic wasn’t that it was too big, or going too fast, or not enough life boats.  The issue was that 15 years prior the wright brothers invented the airplane.  Even if the Titanic hadn’t sunk, the company would have gone out of business in a decade anyway, because they were in the wrong line of business.

What this means for local news is sort of scary, but as Clay Shirky is found of saying: “A revolution doesn’t go from point A to B… it goes from point A to chaos, then after a long time someone figures out what B is.”

What’s with all this Java complaining about AppEngine

I’ve seen all manner of people in the twitter verse complaining that Google’s AppEngine Java support is a subset of Java, and how that “breaks a decade of compatibility”.


I mean, really, seriously?!?

I’ve got to have 3 JVMs installed on my system to use ~ 5 java applications in total.  So I’m not buying the compatibility complaint, as “best practice” in the java world is to ship your own copy of the vm. 

And I definitely sympathize with the Google folks that really don’t want to be running millions of idle 2 GB memory footprint VMs.  It is basically free after all, so what’s up with all the complaining.  And, honestly, if it gets Java folks rethinking if they really need 5000 classes floating around at all times, I think that’s doing the world a favor. 🙂