posted on June 9th, 2010 on Digital Media, New York, Policy & Politics by Administrator
The greatest city in the world is hiring a Chief Digital Officer! Katherine Oliver, head of NYC Media and part of the search, calls NYC an “urban digital sandbox” and I couldn’t agree more – with the city already opening up data, a Mayor who knows a thing or two about media/technology and an incredibly innovative tech scene there’s so much opportunity that unquestionably the toughest part of the job would be prioritizing. As a New Yorker and a nerd I just can’t resist a bit of shoot-from-the-hip ideation and good old-fashioned nitpicking – here are five quick thoughts:
1. Create a New York City app store. This could include both the city’s own apps (like 311) but also ones produced by third parties such as the apps that came out of NYC Big Apps, those using public data like Sense Networks’ Cabsense and any others that may be useful to residents and visitors alike. The city could consider a certification program that distinguishes between NYC-produced, made-in-NYC and endorsed-by-NYC. Great opportunity to pioneer how municipal apps are presented and could be a scalable model for Apple/Android/etc.
2. NYC Fitness Leaderboard. Why wait for the marathon? We New Yorkers walk circles around most other cities every day and many of us increasingly track our weight/steps/health through connected technology. The city could partner with Fitbit, Withings, Garmin and Nike+ to create a (summer-long?) challenge to get New Yorkers up and out there and on the record. Mayor Bloomberg can challenge other cities to see if they can keep up!
3. Foursquare. Sure, it’s blindingly obvious but from what I’ve seen no other city is officially using it yet and there’s so much to do. And if they refuse to partner Mayor Bloomberg can award Dennis and Naveen a “jury duty” badge…
4. Wholesale Facebook Fix. For starters, why is some guy named Christian Belland using http://www.facebook.com/Newyorkcity? Some NYC departments are already doing a great job on the platform – go Education! go Parks! go DoITT! – but overall there are some big misses. In addition to Mr. Belland’s namesquatting there is also a New York City listing whose “founded” info is “First Settled by Euros in 1624″ and which lists NYC’s products as “Taxis, greek coffee cups”(sic). Sure, the coffee cup line is a good one and maybe most of the 496,486 fans realize that it’s unofficial but perhaps there ought to be an official and comprehensive counterbalance. Facebook is a bit of a glaring omission on the Stay Connected section of NYC.gov site (which includes Twitter, YouTube and Flickr) so hopefully this is in the works.
5. Twitter Best Practices. I really enjoy the 311NYC tweets but I like their list of who they follow even more – it serves as an index to all of the city’s Twitter accounts. It’s a model that should be followed on the rest of the city’s Twitter pages and in the “Favorite Pages” section of all NYC Facebook pages.
Without question I’m merely scratching the surface here – simply opening the city’s data will likely be a decade-long process – but doing that and extending the city’s digital reach with other innovations will yield incredible value for the city’s businesses, residents, visitors and for the government itself. As a New Yorker I can hardly wait.
posted on June 7th, 2010 on Digital Media, Policy & Politics by Administrator
Many tech types assume that video is doomed to follow music into the no-longer-making-money-from-content-better-go-on-tour-and-sell-t-shirts industry, apparently thinking that piracy and new distribution channels will so devalue the product that it will be nearly impossible to monetize. Bill Gurley posted a few weeks back a long-necessary 101 on affiliate fees that clearly illustrated a rather robust value chain that wasn’t going to be upended by new distribution anytime soon but the story is much bigger than those fundamental economics. While we are without question in the early stages of some degree of “creative destruction” of the existing video business there are several, actually fairly diverse, reasons why video isn’t screwed. Somewhat in a particular order:
1. I won’t watch my favorite movie as many times as I listen to my favorite song. Yes, I know: obvious use case differentiation here. But it’s worth remembering that the time spent jumping through whatever increasingly sophisticated hoops are necessary to download a video illegally isn’t going to be amortized nearly as well as the average illegal song download.
2. The labels didn’t control the pipes but the video suppliers do. That difference, and the attendant ability to monitor and moderate traffic on those pipes, puts MSOs in a wholly different position. It’s one thing to empty out a store when the night watchman is asleep and quite another when the owner is standing at the entrance with a loaded gun. Fan of net neutrality? So am I but I wouldn’t be surprised if the price of a deal on net neutrality legislation were to involve some kind of exception specifically targeting infringing traffic.
3. Apple would prefer that content owners get paid. First, they built iTunes into an incredible machine for getting users to pay for content. Then, by barring Flash they’ve kept multitudes of free content off of the 100MM iOS devices sold thus far. And now, just hours ago, Steve Jobs made it clear: in Google’s (ad-supported) world content owners suffer, in Apple’s (premium world) they prosper. This is by no means the end of free content but it’s a seismic shift and clearly strategic for Apple.
4. Bandwidth caps. Practically speaking, AT&T’s move away from all-you-can-eat bandwidth impacted only one type of content: video. Look for revenue-sharing, unmetered deals to be cut between the carriers and the sports leagues/networks/studios to keep the consumer sell simple. Will there be unmetered tiers for torrents? Hmm, uh, no. The Pirate Bay should probably not sit around waiting on a call from AT&T BD…
5. Video ads are the most effective ads of all time and we’re used to seeing them. Beyond affiliate, rental and download rev you can actually make money off of ads too? Damn, I’m beginning to think I should get out the camera…
6. Video has release windows and users are used to them. This alone isn’t enough to save either TV or Movies but it’s worth pointing out that music was largely binary: it was available and you had it in your collection or you didn’t. Video users can typically rely on a timeline of availability with diminishing costs of viewership/ownership as the content ages. Even if these windows continue to conflate it provides a better environment for steering users into legitimate channels. Live events, of course, continue to exist on their own plane.
7. Long before digital, music had a “mixed tape” culture. It’s a subtle thing but music users didn’t need to be trained to “steal”, many were already doing it.
8. Music artists are heroes to their fans, movie studios are not. You expect Les Grossman to sue you; he will sue you and he’ll enjoy it. Contrast that to all the hand-wringing about musicians having to sue their fans.
9. There are already loads of options out there for legal video. Will they deter everyone? No, but they’ll deter many.
So, what did I forget? I’ll hold off on a discussion on the OTT space for another post but will close with what I think is pretty instructive, Steve Burke from Comcast doesn’t actually think they’re competing with Google TV: “It’s likely to be more devices, more things in more devices, but at the end of the day, it’s clearly in a program company’s interests to have a cable company or a satellite company or a telephone company paying them affiliate fees for their programming…”
posted on April 22nd, 2010 on Kids Media, New York, Policy & Politics by Administrator
I’ve just attended a rally in support of New York’s Charter Schools. The event spurring the rally was a “hearing” by New York State Senator Bill Perkins the name of which seems noble enough: Public Hearing: Is our Democratic vision of public education being fulfilled? A decade later: A look at the growing charter school industry. Unfortunately this seemingly neutral hearing is undermined by Perkins’ actual position. He’s already introduced legislation to limit charter schools and is an ally of (and recipient of campaign donations from) the New York branch of the UFT. His legislation would place New York even lower in meeting the funding criteria in Race to the Top, the federal school reform initiative.
If you’re new to the charter school debate here are three things to keep in mind:
It’s about choice. If parents don’t want to send their kids to charter schools they’ll stop entering the lotteries to send their kids there. The teachers unions have been operating a monopoly and, as monopolists are inclined to do, oppose choice.
Charter schools are public schools. They are funded the same way as public schools, they’re just operated independently.
Charter schools’ results are truly amazing. There are a lot of studies and I’ve included links below to sites that point to many of them. For a quick example check out the column David Brooks wrote on Harlem Children’s Zone’s results last year.
There’s actually an aspect to Perkins own education that mystified many parents in the crowd. While Perkins waves the “democracy” banner, he’s actually the product of a full-ride merit scholarship to Collegiate. As someone who benefitted so dramatically from school choice in its least scalable form, how can he oppose expanding options to so many working families? Is it that he has calculated that he can get more votes from the teachers union and disappointed parents on the losing end of the charter school lotteries? Sounds cynical but some of the actions of the charter school opponents are so egregious that I wouldn’t be surprised.
posted on April 20th, 2010 on Digital Media, Kids Media, Policy & Politics by Administrator
Background: While I’ve spent much of my career in kids/educational media, only in the last couple of years have I become more immersed in the study of/become an advocate of policies that support what is typically labeled “Education Reform”. There are many bloggers out there with a greater command of ER issues than me and I’m certainly not going to duplicate their efforts here. Instead I’ll be adding a “media-centric” personal perspective on education and largely threading it through a topic where I can give unique advice: the lessons learned in my career bridging traditional and digital media.