recognizing Arthur C. Clarke’s third law

I spy for you and me

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Rock WerchterFans who attended Rock Werchter, the Belgian music festival that ended Sunday, were being tracked by Bluetooth scanners as they enjoyed the music of  Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, Fleet Foxes, Metallica, Oasis and numerous other bands.

Researchers from the University of Ghent set up a network of 36 Bluetooth scanners at the festival site as well as on a few surrounding roads and bus stops that noted each of the 80,000 daily attendees as he or she came within 30 meters (approximately 100 feet).

The resulting data is the first time a large crowd has been tracked in a live situation, according to the researchers. They added that privacy wasn’t a concern since they only tracked MAC addresses (the unique identifier assigned by the manufacturer) and therefore cannot be linked to an individual user.

Some fans who attended the UK’s Download Festival last month encountered a different unexpected Bluetooth application. Local police and the Leicestershire Drug and Alcohol Action Team asked if they wanted to opt in to receive free informational animated messages. Among those that were sent out were friendly advisories on alcohol and drug use.

(Title lyric from the Dead Kennedys.)


Written by chris

July 6, 2009 at 9:55 pm

I got a silver machine, it flies sideways through time

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On Demand BooksIt won’t appeal to Kindle fans, but I’m pleased to see that another Espresso Book Machine has found a home, this latest time in the Northshire Bookstore of Manchester Center, Vermont.

On Demand Books, the company behind the EBM, now has nearly 2 million book titles from major publishers available for secure and licensed publishing on demand, in addition to many books that are in the public domain. The machines also can handle memoirs, poetry collections, novels, cookbooks, and other books written by the customer who brings them in.

“The idea is that soon we’ll be able to print out any book that’s ever been printed,’’ said Northshire Books manager Chris Morrow. “That could really change people’s image of the small bookstore.’’

Morrow added that the success of self-publishing was a pleasant surprise. Northshore charges these customers a $49 setup fee plus 5 to 9 cents per page (depending on length). The store also maintains a network of professionals who provide editorial and design services.

(Title lyric from Hawkwind.)

Written by chris

July 6, 2009 at 9:53 pm

It’s always more fun to share with everyone

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gerd_leonhardGerd Leonhard went public with Futerati, a Twitter-API-based site that brings together the eclectic assortment of people that inspire his thinking. Basically, Gerd has curated his extensive personal collection of tweeps into six categories: futurists, thought leaders authors, activists, startups, and others.

A brief comment explains why each person is included, and of course it offers their latest tweets and a link for clicking through to that person’s Twitter profile for more information and ease of following.

“One of the most important realizations that has recently transpired via my Twitter pipeline is how much I am gaining from the ever increasing Sharism i.e. by what others are sharing with me,” Gerd explains, adding that Futerati is a way of paying it forward.

(Title lyric from Jack Johnson.)

Written by chris

July 6, 2009 at 8:31 am

Posted in Culture, Internet, Twitter

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It’s an art to live with pain

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jackson_billiejeanApplication developers 9astronauts have created Billie Tweets, an art project they refer to as “a Twitter tribute to Michael Jackson.” Basically it plays the incomparable Billie Jean video, featuring Michael Jackson at the height of his powers, accompanied by a waterfall of random tweets that have each word of the lyrics highlighted in order, kinda like Twitter karaoke. The effect is oddly hypnotic.

(Title lyric from Pearl Jam.)

Written by chris

July 5, 2009 at 10:56 pm

The stars belong to everyone

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moby-waitforme-cover-webMoby sent an email to Bob Lefsetz regarding his new album Wait for Me [lala link]. In it, the recording artist shared the news that his album would be No. 1 in Europe if it weren’t for Michael Jackson. But then he said it was funny that the best-selling iTunes track is Shot in the Back of the Head.

To quote Moby’s email: “Why is that funny? Because it’s the track we’ve been giving away for free for the last 2 months and that we’re still giving away for free.” (Here, among other places.)

Having an official video by David Lynch certainly helped, but the iTunes sales are an excellent example of the famous bottled water analogy: even when something is available free, people will pay to get it in a manner that suits how they wish to acquire and use it.

(Title lyric by Brown, Henderson and DeSylva via Frank Sinatra.)

Written by chris

July 5, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Posted in copyright, marketing, music

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We played our songs and felt the London sky

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PlaceboThe iTunes Festival is underway in the UK, marking the third anniversary of this month-long music event. Among the artists performing throughout July at Camden’s Roundhouse are Oasis, Snow Patrol, Franz Ferdinand, Kasabian, the Saturdays, Flo Rida, Bat For Lashes, Jack Peñate, Paolo Nutini, Noisettes, Peter Bjorn and John, Bloc Party, Simple Minds, Madeleine Peyroux and many more.

And did I mention tickets were free? There are also free weekly downloads: this week it’s Placebo’s For What It’s Worth from here (valid in the UK only).

Each performance will be recorded and available to download on iTunes, so it’s not like Apple will lose money on the project. But that doesn’t devalue the fact that this is a laudable and innovative way to reach music fans.

(Title lyric by David Bowie.)

Written by chris

July 4, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Posted in marketing, music

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Don’t name your boat Titanic II

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DeweytrumanSome pundits, many of them traditional reporters, wrote about Michael Jackson’s death pitted new media against old media. Others said the reporters had a lot to learn from each other. But if they’re going to continue and be successful, I don’t think there should be any clear difference between them. Bloggers, Tweeters and their ilk need to work on improving their credibility. Those in print, radio and TV should improve their understanding of emerging media – not just its tools, but also its culture.

As for the mercifully few curmudgeons who are jumping on the bloggers who got it wrong, as though those errors prove we can’t trust digital media, I suggest they look up how many reputable newspapers reassured readers that all of the Titanic’s passengers were rescued.

(Title lyric from Beautiful South.)

Written by chris

July 4, 2009 at 2:03 am

Posted in Culture, Internet, Print

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