Monthly Archives: December 2004

My old boss collecting screenshots of companies that care

Rajiv Pant, my former boss at Knight Ridder, is collecting screenshots of companies that have made an effort to help with relief efforts in Asia. If you have any, let him know.

I’m blown away by these companies. Amazon, Apple, Ebay and more.

Additionally, I’m blown away by what a blog can do when focused on a mission. Check it out.

One last thing, local blogger Scrappleface has collected over $5,000 from his readers so far.

The BitTorrent Effect

For all too many I know, it doesn’t exist unless it’s mentioned in Wired. Hopefully this will peak their attention since some software engineer talking excitedly about what’s coming down the pike isn’t as effective (errr…).

…Like many geeks in the ’90s, Cohen coded for a parade of dotcoms that went bust without a product ever seeing daylight. He decided his next project would be something he wrote for himself in his own way, and gave away free. “You get so tired of having your work die,” he says. “I just wanted to make something that people would actually use.”

…You could think of BitTorrent as Napster redux – another rumble in the endless copyright wars. But BitTorrent is something deeper and more subtle. It’s a technology that is changing the landscape of broadcast media.

“All hell’s about to break loose,” says Brad Burnham, a venture capitalist with Union Square Ventures in Manhattan, which studies the impact of new technology on traditional media. BitTorrent does not require the wires or airwaves that the cable and network giants have spent billions constructing and buying. And it pounds the final nail into the coffin of must-see, appointment television. BitTorrent transforms the Internet into the world’s largest TiVo.

One example of how the world has already changed: Gary Lerhaupt, a graduate student in computer science at Stanford, became fascinated with Outfoxed, the documentary critical of Fox News, and thought more people should see it. So he convinced the film’s producer to let him put a chunk of it on his Web site for free, as a 500-Mbyte torrent. Within two months, nearly 1,500 people downloaded it. That’s almost 750 gigs of traffic, a heck of a wallop. But to get the ball rolling, Lerhaupt’s site needed to serve up only 5 gigs. After that, the peers took over and hosted it themselves. His bill for that bandwidth? $4. There are drinks at Starbucks that cost more. “It’s amazing – I’m a movie distributor,” he says. “If I had my own content, I’d be a TV station.”

During the last century, movie and TV companies had to be massive to afford distribution. Those economies of scale aren’t needed anymore. Will the future of broadcasting need networks, or even channels?

“Blogs reduced the newspaper to the post. In TV, it’ll go from the network to the show,” says Jeff Jarvis, president of the Internet strategy company Advance.net and founder of Entertainment Weekly. (Advance.net is owned by Advance Magazine Group, which also owns Wired’s parent company, Cond? Nast.) Burnham goes one step further. He thinks TV-viewing habits are becoming even more atomized. People won’t watch entire shows; they’ll just watch the parts they care about.

Evidence that Burnham’s prediction is coming true came a few weeks before the US presidential election in November, when Jon Stewart – host of Comedy Central’s irreverent The Daily Show – made a now-famous appearance on CNN’s Crossfire. Stewart attacked the hosts, Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson, calling them political puppets. “What you do is partisan hackery,” he said, just before he called Carlson “a dick.” Amusing enough, but what happened next was more remarkable. Delighted fans immediately ripped the segment and posted it online as a torrent. Word of Stewart’s smackdown spread rapidly through the blogs, and within a day at least 4,000 servers were hosting the clip. One host reported having, at any given time, more than a hundred peers swapping and downloading the file. No one knows exactly how many people got the clip through BitTorrent, but this kind of traffic on the very first day suggests a number in the hundreds of thousands – and probably much higher. Another 2.3 million people streamed it from iFilm.com over the next few weeks. By contrast, CNN’s audience for Crossfire was only 867,000. Three times as many people saw Stewart’s appearance online as on CNN itself.

…Cohen knows the havoc he has wrought. In November, he spoke at a Los Angeles awards show and conference organized by Billboard, the weekly paper of the music business. After hobnobbing with “content people” from the record and movie industries, he realized that “the content people have no clue. I mean, no clue. The cost of bandwidth is going down to nothing. And the size of hard drives is getting so big, and they’re so cheap, that pretty soon you’ll have every song you own on one hard drive. The content distribution industry is going to evaporate.” Cohen said as much at the conference’s panel discussion on file-sharing. The audience sat in a stunned silence, their mouths agape at Cohen’s audacity.

Wired: The BitTorrent Effect: 01/04

You’ll definately want to read this profile of BitTorrent and it’s creator.

Over 60,000 now, and CNN must have been listening to the blogosphere

The scope of this is just too much to comprehend. I have friends with family in the affected regions of India. They are OK and were just out of danger.

As an aside, it looks like CNN has gotten the message. Their TV news is now matching the coverage of their online wing.

Something people don’t always know – a news company can have entirely different staffs for online operations vs. their other outlets.

This Xmas season

This Xmas season, it’s severely cold here, and snowy across the middle of the US. I will make my yearly plea that we all go out of our way to think of those in need. The homeless can make efficient use of just about anything. Don’t just collect those bags of stuff for your tax write-off; give where the need is heaviest. I know it’s a down economy, and we’re all challenged ? but I see more of Shakespeare?s homeless this year, than I can ever help:

Poor naked wretches, wheresoe’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm!
How shall your houseless heads, and unfed sides,
Your loop’d and window?d raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these?

Conservatives can try to make Scrooge into a hero, insulting the legacy of Dickens. If you have a heart, you know better than that. Dig out that old stuff in your closet, make someone warm tomorrow, and for the Xmas holiday. You there ? I know you’ve got that can of black olives in the back of your pantry. And you … you?ve got a can of chili you didn?t especially like sitting there. Give it someone who might truly enjoy it, instead of tossing it out when you do your spring cleaning.

The homeless, in general, do not bite. Walk up and talk to them, look them in the eye. Let them know someone cares. You may be surprised, even delighted. If you see one as you’re leaving your favorite restaurant, offer your ‘doggie bag.’ Going to McDonalds? Spend a couple of bucks and buy them a “Happy Meal” or better. To paraphrase Bob Marley, mankind *is* our business. You can?t do much about Iraq, but you can feed and clothe that homeless vet, can?t you?

To give you a different and personal spin, try this on for size. I can never forget that my father and his siblings were once ragged orphans, abandoned by their father and grandparents upon their mother’s death. If you don’t give, you might not be able to read writings from someone like myself in the future. You read me, thanks to the charity of private individuals. Individuals who gave a damn, who wanted to make a difference.

And did.

The cold of winter *is* when want is most keenly felt. Do not forget the needy this season.

Thank you.

dangerousmeta: 12/23/04

I quoted the whole post, which is wrong copyright wise, but Garret probably won’t mind. This is too important and he’d understand.

I can relate to his message – in the future you just might not have people like myself either, who grew up with Salvation Army provided Christmases amd spent time sleeping on the Frankford El because I had no where to go.

I said this before in the context of the election, but I’ll say it again in the context of life – if you have the resources, you have the responsibility to do something.

In Philly, we have Project H.O.M.E.. A terrific service that will help homeless with temporary relief, and long term, to help them beat their personal struggle with poverty.

One thing I do is keep a phone number on me at all times, their Street Outeach number (215) 232-1984. Call it if you find someone who is homeless. They will drive to your location and attempt to help him or her out. Better yet (and I need to do this myself) volunteer to be a driver by calling the same number. They always need help.