privacy – Antenna Responses to Media and Culture Thu, 30 Mar 2017 23:48:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What Are You Missing? Apr 29-May 12 Sun, 13 May 2012 15:17:17 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry news items you might have missed recently:

1. Happy Mother’s Day! Nielsen reports that among American moms, half have smartphones, and they love Facebook and Pinterest (Twitter, not so much). For the general US population, mobile data access is a big area of growth, while check-in apps are still mostly niche. In India, women use their phones more for talking and texting, whereas men do more web browsing.

2. “More video is uploaded to YouTube in one month than the 3 major US networks created in 60 years,” tweets a YouTube exec, with 60 hours of video uploaded every minute. Now there’s word that YouTube could add a premium subscription service. But with YouTube getting so vast, some are finding smaller competitors offer a better platform, especially for mobile sharing.

3. Ebay and Wal-Mart are looking to develop their own search engines to battle against Google’s dominance, right as a Google report insists that search engines have First Amendment rights, which would mean Google could pick and choose which content and in what order to load up for a search reply. But Google isn’t allowed to violate internet privacy the way it apparently did by hacking into Safari to track users. Microsoft might also be cheating by making Internet Explorer the only browser that will work right on the upcoming Windows RT system.

4. While the documentary has a storied history in Canada, filmmakers are having a hard time finding funding for documentaries today thanks to federal cuts. If they can dig up an extra $20,000 or so from someplace, those filmmakers can get their films into the DocuWeeks program, which will still be a conduit to Oscar nominations, over Michael Moore’s objections.

5. News out of the National Association of Theatre Owners CinemaCon convention included 20th Century Fox planning to end 35mm film distribution next year, which will have complex consequences. Plus all manner of new theatrical magic is on its way, including lasers. A few theater chains are reporting a surge in attendance right now, while the AMC chain might be looking to sell to China.

6. Overall home entertainment spending is up for the first time in awhile, though that’s mostly thanks to digital streaming and Blu-ray, and not DVDs and rental stores, of course. Blu-ray might decline too once people realize they’ll now have to sit through two government warnings before getting to the movie.

7. Microsoft has invested in the Nook, which is now worth more than Barnes & Noble itself. B&N is trying to find ways to reconcile physical and online book sales without killing off the former, as possibilities for survival and the future design of physical books are up for speculation.

8. April was a bad month for video game sales, and while EA did well last year, investors didn’t like its weak outlook for this year. EA has big development plans, though its big investment in social gaming company Playfish hasn’t paid off yet, as a CityVille competitor has flopped.

9. Rovio had a huge year in 2011, thanks of course to Angry Birds and its one billion downloads, and the company is hoping to replicate that success with the new Amazing Alex. Zynga is also trying to recapture magic with a Farmville sequel. Zynga’s acquisition of Draw Something’s company doesn’t seem to be working out, but its cloud technology is apparently to be envied.

10. Some of the finer News for TV Majors posts from the past few weeks: Renewals/Cancellations/ Pickups, Request for Family Programming, Dish Ad Skipper, Aereo Warning, HBO No, TV Everywhere Trademark Fight, Dish Dropping AMC?, Just Cancel, Kutcher Ad Pulled, Online & TV Ad Buys, Nielsen on Viewing, Bloomberg Wins, Hulu Authentication Coming?, BSkyB Defending Itself, Murdoch Criticism, TV & Diversity.


Accessing the Cinematic Cloud Tue, 31 Jan 2012 19:07:11 +0000 The demise of Blockbuster Video has become a kind of shorthand for describing what might be called the end of the video store era. Video stores, we are told, can no longer compete with the many different forms of digital delivery, whether streaming videos or digital downloads. But as I informally survey my students, colleagues, and other avid consumers of movies, much less Hollywood trade publications, there is still quite a bit of uncertainty about what comes next. Part of this challenge entails the difficulty of finding, accessing, and paying for movies on digital platforms. For this reason, I have been fascinated by some recent discussion in film industry blogs and trade publications that sought to compare the experience of paying for digital access to a movie to the early experience of using an ATM, a metaphor that seems to offer quite a bit of potential for describing how we will be buying and watching movies and television shows in the near future.

The ATM metaphor seems to originate with a comment made by Lori McPherson, the executive vice president of global product management for Walt Disney Studios, during a panel at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January 2012. In her discussion of how consumers might grasp the idea of cloud storage, McPherson remarked that “The exciting thing for content in the cloud is any consumer who has used an ATM machine should intuitively understand what it is now.” McPherson, of course, is arguing that our familiarity with interfaces that enable us to conduct transactions also allow us to grasp how accessing movies and TV shows online might work. We know that we can go to virtually any ATM and obtain cash and conduct many other basic transactions.

Screenwriter John August expanded on this metaphor in a blog post that, in many ways, helped me to rethink some of my own assumptions about digital delivery. As August points out, this early experimental stage of cloud distribution might be compared to the first generation of ATMs, which introduced a number of “bugs” that banks and software writers needed to work out. August points out that initially some ATMs would take your card while others wouldn’t, and some demanded longer PINs than others, initially making it difficult to adjust for some consumers. I would add that we should also consider the degree to which consumers had to be “taught” to accept the practice of conducting transactions without the presence of a banker. Users had to be assured that an ATM transaction was as “real” as one completed by a person, which is probably why so many ATM networks were anthropomorphized (my bank featured Tillie the Teller). The issues of cloud ownership continue to be perplexing for many consumers who want the tangibility of physical media. But eventually consumers adjusted as ATM interfaces became more standardized, and Tillie was retired (and her bank has been swallowed up twice by even bigger banks).

August raises some other interesting complications. First, is the fact that money is “fungible.” All $20 bills are essentially equivalent, but movies are not identical, and one network or delivery service may have the movie you want, while other services don’t. As digital catalogs remain incomplete, I think this will be an ongoing problem. The backlash against Netflix over the last year has been due in large part because their streaming catalog features only a limited portion of our cinematic history and excludes most new releases. August describes this term as an industry need for differentiation. Each piece of hardware (or interface) needs to offer features that differentiate it from its competitors.

August goes on to argue that the ATM metaphor can help us to understand the ongoing struggle between the consumer’s desire for standardization and the industry’s need for differentiation and uses this conflict to illustrate why some early forms of digital delivery, including UltraViolet, seem likely to fail. As August implies, the confusion about digital copies leads consumers to feel uncertain about digital lockers and other unstable platforms like UltraViolet. These points all seem relevant to me, but I think that August’s exploration of the ATM metaphor could be taken even further, especially in light of some of the current complaints about banking. First, it’s not quite true that our ATM cards work “anywhere.” When my family was traveling abroad, some of our ATM cards didn’t work in Spain, forcing us to use others. Although there may have been other factors at play, it’s worth considering whether and how geography will matter in these new forms of cloud storage and distribution. More crucially, banks charge fees if you go outside of your “network” and, in at least one instance, sought to charge users a monthly fee just for using a debit card. Once we have paid for movies that are on the cloud, how will ownership of those movies be defined? Finally, what sorts of information are we providing to the media industries when we make these online rentals and purchases?

Mark Andrejevic’s recent Antenna post, in which he discusses the new regimes of privacy in the era of digital delivery, answers at least some of these questions. As Andrejevic points out, companies are allowed to collect vast amounts of data on these online purchases, and our digital trails–through tweets, Facebook updates, Netflix reviews, and purchases–often mean that consumers are doing much of the work of data compilation for these companies, practices that August associates with the term “targeted messaging.” Andrejevic acknowledges that users are, for the most part, voluntarily sacrificing their privacy.

The digital multiplex opens up any number of possibilities for distribution and storage models. As John Calkins of Sony observes, these delvery systems may provide a new home for special features and interactive media. But I think we are well served by thinking about the intersections between digital delivery of movies and ATMs, about the fantasies of personalization, convenience, and ubiquitous access, as well as the real costs of these new delivery models.


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What Are You Missing? November 7-20 Sun, 21 Nov 2010 15:53:38 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry stories you might have missed recently:

1. Call of Duty: Black Ops crushed sales records both in the U.S. and overseas, marking it as the biggest entertainment launch in history. The Kinect has sold pretty well thus far, though Microsoft is looking beyond sales and toward the value of targeted advertising via the system. Also looking beyond game sales, James DeRosa wants game packagers to be more cognizant of environmental impact, Tetris may have value in post-traumatic stress disorder therapy, and Nintendo wants to trademark a phrase (“It’s on like Donkey Kong”).

2. A number of stories related to free speech and social media this fortnight: the National Labor Relations Board ruled that you’re allowed to complain about your boss on your Facebook Wall (oh, it’s on like Donkey Kong™); the Air Force has told troops to be very careful with their use of location-sharing services; a British man who joked on Twitter about bombing an airport has been fined, though Twitter fans are mostly on his side; and a Chinese woman has been sent to a labor camp because of a tweet that the government condemned for disturbing social order (there’s probably a Kanye West Twitter reference to be made here, but the story is really too awful to accommodate that).

3. Some striking Facebook stats: the social media service is used every day by more than 250 million people, one study says as much as one-fourth of internet page views are of Facebook, the company is worth $41 billion, and Facebook is now the third largest internet business, behind Google and Amazon and just ahead of EBay, with the addition of email possibly pushing it even higher. And while some still question Facebook’s current revenue generation, its ad-targeting potential should make Google worry about maintaining its #1 spot (and thus its awesome raises) in the future.

4. Contrary to its usual aversion to launching anything original, Hollywood is trying out a few new things: Atlanta, untested novelists, Bollywoodflying coach. (Fittingly, this is the shortest entry ever in WAYM history.)

5. Though it’s apparently been around since May, some are just now noticing that Disney has launched an online movie site, part of a broader move Disney and the other movie studios are making toward digital distribution. Domino effects of digital distribution are already evident, from Technicolor closing a film printing plant to AMC starting an in-theater restaurant service. Meanwhile, the Weinstein Company is fighting to drag the MPAA ratings system into the 21st Century.

6. Amazon has launched a online scheme to help new screenwriters develop films, but some say a glance at the fine print of the deal reveals that this is actually an insult to aspiring filmmakers. The Oscar short list for Best Documentary Feature has insulted a few worthy films left out, while the nominated creators of Restrepo have made a powerful documentary short about one of the film’s subjects who just received the Medal of Honor. Powerfully worthy of awards and medals in characterizing how Iran’s cultural repression is insulting to humanity is Jafar Panahi’s defense of filmmaking and art.

7. is left with only question marks, Reddit has gone officially political, Firefox is blowing out six birthday candles, Tumblr is growing fast (though it’s been sidetracked by a showdown with 4Chan), and YouTube is receiving 35 hours of video uploads every minute. But 23% of American households don’t give a crap about any of that, because they don’t visit these sites or anything else on the internet, and unfortunately, the digital divide keeps growing.

8. Lime Wire, shut down for piracy, now has a pirate version running, so the RIAA is going after that one too (but not Girl Talk, so that won’t be on like Donkey Kong). Contrarily, Robbert van Ooijen claims that piracy is good for innovation, plus it’s apparent that the RIAA is good for Cracked humor. There’s an overzealous anti-piracy bill in Congress, though it has stalled for now, while one law professor says we should be more afraid of Apple than anything else when it comes to internet freedom.

9. Warner Music Group keeps losing money, but CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. is optimistic about future possibilities, which might include a bid for EMI. EMI milked the Beatles cash cow via iTunes, which didn’t draw the internet love Apple wanted but did draw big sales and reinforced iTunes’ dominance to the consternation of some, who want iTunes to fix its problems already.

10. Good News for TV Majors links from the past two weeks: Profanity Up, Conan Coverage, NewTeeVee Live, Google Assures Nets, AMC Ends Rubicon, Conservative & Liberal TV, NBC Midseason Schedule, Private Practice’s Rape Storyline, Terriers Plea, Olbermann & O’Reilly Respond to Koppel, Over-the-Top Issues, Retrans Reform Hearing, Fox Midseason Schedule, Good TVeets (now on Twitter!).


What Are You Missing? May 9-May 23 Sun, 23 May 2010 18:58:19 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry stories you might have missed recently:

1. The Cannes Film Festival’s major award winners were just announced, with Apichatpong “Joe” Weerasethakul’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives taking the Palme d’Or (and thus you can add Thailand to this chart of past Palme d’Or winners by country). Mike D’Angelo says Cannes got that right, a critics’ poll on the best and worst films had Uncle Boonme in second place, and indieWire’s film report card gave it a B+. Overall, the Cannes lineup has been judged merely so-so and distribution deals were slow to develop. The usual glamour was there, though, and there was plenty of off-screen news, from Woody Allen’s presser to Jean-Luc Godard’s refusal to explain his impenetrable Film Socialisme to protests over the film Outside the Law to outrage at Jafar Panahi’s imprisonment. With some questioning whether anyone cares about Cannes anymore, David Poland asked at the start of the festival if Cannes still matters; Eugene Hernandez answered yes, and at least on indieWIRE’s list of fifty leading festivals, Cannes is still #1.

2. Ted Hope offers 38 ways the American film industry is failing cinema (Brian Newman responds to one), plus some added reflections and thoughts on the value of cinema. A profile of indie producer Michael London explains how he’s dealing with new industry realities, and Guillermo del Toro proposes short films as an industry savior, while Mynette Louie says microbudget filmmaking is decidedly not a savior. African cinema could use a savior, as theaters are dwindling, but at least Nigerian cinema (Nollywood) is thriving, and African filmmaking was relatively well-represented at Cannes.

3. In Hollywood news, Bob Kerrey is expected to head up the MPAA, Marc Cuban is suing Paramount for millions over fraudulent accounting, and NPR featured a story on just such creative Hollywood accounting in connection with Gone in 60 Seconds. Elsewhere, Britain’s Hammer Studios plans to develop swankier horror films (figuratively and literally: Hilary Swank will be in one) and, inevitably, a 3D horror film. The latter will annoy Francis Ford Coppola, but James Cameron will say told you so. And in an attempt to foster U.S. box office success, the Indian film Kites will be distributed in two versions, one a traditional Bollywood romantic drama with extended dance sequences and the other a Brett Ratner recut that basically drops all the Bollywood bits (*sigh*).

4. A court ruled against file-sharing service LimeWire for copyright infringement, and PirateBay was briefly sidelined by court injunctions, but defiantly carries on. Nintendo is going after illegal game copiers and The Hurt Locker’s producers are going after illegal downloaders. One of those producers, Nicholas Chartier, is quite outspoken against illegal downloaders, which isn’t going over so well with some. Chartier should have a chat with British actor Peter Serafinowicz, who says he even steals movies he’s in. Steve Safran thinks maybe the only way to out-pirate the pirates is to get first-run films into our homes sooner.

5. You probably haven’t missed much of Facebook’s privacy mess, considering it even made the cover of Time. But here’s a condensation of the fallout (yes, this is a condensation; there was a lot of it): Some are responding in defense of Facebook or saying who cares or at least defending the value of publicness in some measure; writing thoughtful essays about the issues involved; demanding that Facebook as a company itself be more public and transparent; creeping us out with infographics; mocking those who don’t seem to realize that their very personal info is public (the folks featured there really need to use some privacy scan tools); working on Facebook alternatives; proposing a bill of privacy rights for social media; and calling for us to delete our Facebook accounts on May 31 or at least stay away from them on June 6. So far, Facebook has only promised to simply its privacy settings. As if the privacy backlash wasn’t enough for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to account for already, this fortnight also saw user data from Facebook and other social networks sent to advertisers without user permission; Zuckerberg embarrassed by old IMs, sparking demands for him to speak up about his current beliefs (while others say the attacks on Zuckerberg have gotten out of hand); Zuckerberg accused of securities fraud; and info leaked about Aaron Sorkin’s Facebook movie The Social Network in which Zuckerberg doesn’t come off so well (the phrase “sex maniac” certainly caught my eye). But wait, there’s more: Pakistan banned Facebook because of the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day movement. You know you’re having problems when both Pakistan and the ACLU are mad at you. Any good news for Facebook? Nike likes it.

6. Twitter has high hopes for its new advertising system, others are intrigued by the future possibilities of using Twitter for precise opinion polling, and Twitter reworked its trending topics algorithm to make it less Biebery, but Adam Ostrow said there’s more work to be done. Similarly, David Carr is frustrated by hit-generating, Google-luring headlines online. Vaguely related (I just had to fit it in somewhere): Harry McCracken has a great analysis of the word “fanboy” as a tech world put-down.

7. YouTube has turned five years old (a birthday which Conan O’Brien celebrated by picking out his favorite clips), and touts that its viewership now exceeds that of prime-time network TV. But Simon Dumenco claims that the latest YouTube sensation, Greyson Chance, owes more to TV than YouTube for his virality, while says it beats YouTube in time spent on the site.  Across its next five years, YouTube is hoping to foster more professional and profitable content. They might want to work on more professional corporate communication, too.

8. April saw yet another plunge in video game sales, while a report suggests game companies could pick up sales by better serving older and disabled gamers. Looking for more money itself, EA Sports announced a plan to charge gamers to play used games online. Given that nearly half of gamer money spent reportedly goes to used and online games, it sounds like a shrewd move. Meanwhile, MySpace hopes that online gaming will help turn things around for them, movie studios are turning to online gaming to generate greater audience involvement, and you can help fund Indie Game: The Movie. Thinking beyond money, game companies are going green and are also being called on to support fair labor practices.

9. Last week was the worst for album sales since 1991, and last year, a mere 2% of the albums released accounted for 91% of sales. In terms of online distribution, Leor Galil is frustrated that iTunes gets so many exclusive releases, so he might be happy with the news that Google looks ready to take on iTunes, and he should also check out Mashable’s list of seven sites for discovering new music.

10. The best News for TV Majors links of the fortnight: Law & Order Acting, TV=Art, Introducing Google TV, Upfronts Summaries: NBC, Fox, ABC, CBS, The CW, Sitcom Trends, Boycott Call, Content Power Ratings, Finale Advice, Lost Music, Mad Men & Women, Activities During Ads, FCC Waiver for Movie Studios


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What Are You Missing, April 25-May 8 Sun, 09 May 2010 13:59:19 +0000 Ten (or more) media industry stories you might have missed recently.

1. The Supreme Court will consider if the sale of violent video games to children should be outlawed, thus deciding if video games are more like movies or more like pornography. Millions of Boy Scouts await the ruling with great interest. This debate is playing out elsewhere: Rob Fahey says concern in the UK about video game effects has died down in recent years (replaced, of course, by concern over social media effects), while in Australia, gamemakers are frustrated that the highest age rating is 15+, and they feel that without the addition of an 18+ rating, they have to censor their content for adult gamers.

2. paidContent has a striking chart of the decline of music sales, but Glenn Peoples at Billboard says this is similar to a dip in the 1980s and, like then, sales will rise again with innovation. Gordon Smith says it’s the internet, not radio, at fault for music’s decline; We All Make Music considers the challenges musicians have with promoting themselves over the net; and fans debate whether the indie band Grizzly Bear writing an ad for a commercial is selling out or just doing what has to be done.

3. New York Magazine’s Logan Hill observes that the internet is taking music videos in audacious new directions, and Vulture provides a list of 14 music video directors to watch. A number of music videos grabbed attention this fortnight: Christina Aguilera released a Lady Gaga-esque video for “Not Myself Tonight”; Miley Cyrus got dirrty in “Can’t Be Tamed”, and M.I.A. got people talking and even yanked from YouTube with “Born Free”.

4. Mashable showcases a social media stats video that contains some grabbers, like that if Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest country in the world. Given what Facebook has been doing to its privacy settings in recent years (which Matt McKeon puts in a striking image form), I don’t want to live in that country. Tim Jones looks at how deceptive Facebook’s interfaces are, and while Jeff Jarvis says Facebook actually has an opportunity to turn around the privacy outrage by actually listening to it, Ryan Singel calls for the creation of an alternative to Facebook.

5. Christopher Mims says Twitter is the future of news, but it’s looking like a lot of people will go uninformed in the future, then, as a study says 87% of Americans are aware of Twitter, but only 7% use it. Teens in particular say they hate it and the celebrities who use it. 17-year-old Arya Zarifi says in the latter article, “It’s something for adults who feel like it makes them hip or something.” Arya, I use Twitter; I don’t feel like it makes me hip or something. However, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off being played out on Twitter, now that’s hip. Or something.

6. Apple didn’t come off so well this fortnight. There was the lost iPhone debacle, Apple’s shutdown of the Lala music service, which the AV Club says makes it that much more likely that iTunes “will one day control all the music in the world,” and the Ellen incident. What also got techie keyboards tapping was Steve Jobs’ dismissal of Flash. Dan Rayburn accuses Jobs of being disingenuous, while Christina Warren says it’s not Apple but HTML5 which is dooming Flash, with Scribd’s ditching of Flash for HTML5 as an example.

7. In Hollywood news, Kevin Maher explains Hollywood’s 1980s remake obsession (at least we don’t have to worry about any more Rambos); Matt Zoller Seitz stirred up a lot of dust with his anti-comic book movie position; and studios are ramping up cross-promotional efforts. In indie news, Anthony Kaufman wonders where the under-30 audience for indie cinema is, Michael Cieply looks at the process of rebuilding indie cinema, and Peter Knegt found six cases where indie documentary distribution has gone right, but Michael Moore fears for the future of documentary with a recent federal court ruling. In film criticism is dead news, Pete Hammond says theaters and studios can’t survive without critics.

8. Movie Gallery is shuttering its doors, while Bloomberg’s Tiffany Kary says it appears bond holders expect Blockbuster will go that way too, but one man thinks he can save Blockbuster. Redbox rentals are shooting up, and Chuck Tryon responds to a Redbox publicity piece about the  labor involved in keep Redboxes running.

9. Megan McArdle considers the theory that file-sharing is killing the entertainment industry, while Nate Anderson reports on a study that says file-sharers are the industry’s biggest customers and also points to India as the most consumer-friendly copyright country. The US has dropped further down on that list with the FCC ruling that lets the MPAA enforce the blockage of copying capabilities for first-run video-on-demand movies. Cory Doctorow says this is a ridiculous decision that opens to door for corporate control over all of our electronic devices in the future; David Poland is not so outraged.

10. The best News for TV Majors links of the fortnight: FCC Internet Control; Lost Ending; TV Future; CBS & CNN; Soap Lessons; Dramas Dominate; Economist Series; MSNBC Following FNC Lesson; FlowTV Conference; Gender Imbalance; Sets Statistics; Reclaiming the Multi-Cam; Sports on Cable.


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