Making friends with Hollywood
Monday, April 29, 2002 by Dave Winer.
From the land of unrehearsed news, this morning a bunch of new weblogs showed up, from Macromedia marketing, to get the word out about a new product they announced today, Dreamweaver MX.
A quote from Matt Brown at Macromedia: "The idea is that we can get information back to the community more rapidly than a lot of other channels. We do a lot of that anyway, but we do that mostly on a 1-1 basis or spread through a lot of other venues. This way we can bring in the important info to one place and get that out to people."
One word of feedback: Bravo!
Can there be any doubt that the world of weblogs is growing at a fantastic pace?
Yesterday, I discovered a new weblog from Sheila Lennon, a columnist at the Providence Journal. It's a great blog, covering technical news, with lots of pointers and comments.
At UserLand we're hosting weblogs for members of the .NET community, for people inside Microsoft, as well as for independent developers using .NET. Same with the Java community, and Web services developers working in all popular scripting languages, operating systems and environments. Something is bootstrapping here, every day there's a surprising development.
Today Macromedia joined the fray. I hope they keep updating and do more to make their tools relevant to people who create and run weblogs. They'll find that we left room for Dreamweaver and their server-side tools. The more we use the Web to connect products to the people who use them, the quicker we'll be able to move, with less confusion.
At the same time, there's another industry we'd like to welcome to the world of weblogs.
Every day there's news of more attempts by the entertainment industry to shut down the computer industry, using the US Senate as a lever. Of course I abhor this, computers are here to stay, to think or act otherwise is counter-productive. Computers change the way we all do business. Computers also changed the entertainment industry (that's not big news), so we look to AOL, a product of our industry, one that now owns a big chunk of Hollywood, to make sense of the mess at the intersection between our industries.
Yesterday I sent a letter to Steve Case at AOL, outlining an opportunity to use the Web to market their entertainment products, much the way Macromedia is using their new weblogs to inform and learn from Web developers. The idea was initially outlined in a white paper I wrote with the help of Adam Curry early in 2001. It's still a relevant idea, and I hope the entertainment industry will give it serious consideration. Here's how it goes.
When I started talking with Adam late in Y2K, he wanted me to think about high quality video on the Internet, and I totally didn't want to hear about it. Like a lot of people, I had tried it, and found it unsatisfying and frankly, exhausting.
I thought that video on the Internet was a loser for three reasons, that build on each other:
1. When I click on a link to view some video, I have to wait.
2. The wait is longer than the video. (In other words I have to wait two minutes for ten seconds of video.)
3. The quality is horrible.
All three effects are bad, but the first is the worst. The Internet lifestyle is frenetic. There's no time to wait. The remaining two negatives only make video less attractive, but the first is the killer.
But Adam persisted and showed me that if I was willing to change my point of view, it could work, without any waiting and with very high quality.
What if, in the middle of the night, while I'm not using my computer, it downloads huge video and audio stuff to my local hard drive. Then when I arrive in the morning there are fresh bits, news clips, movie trailers, a song of the day, whatever, provided by all kinds of content providers, from big TV networks like CNN and MSNBC, to a Dutch school where kids are taking a film class using inexpensive video recorders and Macs.
Let's see what happens with 1, 2 and 3 in this scenario.
1. When I click on a link to view some video, it starts playing immediately, because it is already on my local disk.
2. The wait is zero.
3. The quality is limited by the size of my local disk, not by the capacity of my connection.
So here's the conundrum. How does your computer know which things to download?
For that we turn to The New York Times, an authority we trust, of course not to the exclusion of all other sources. Their integrity is something we depend on.
The Times runs regular movie reviews. This is the starting point, the chicken that begets the egg. Just link a movie trailer to every review, through the XML feeds we're already distributing. With the click-wait problem gone, resolution can improve. Voila, the Internet is a multimedia environment that can happen today, even if the people have relatively slow net connections.
From there, I'm sure there will be more ways to connect.
Can you imagine that someday, perhaps very soon, we will use the Internet this way?
We already get movie reviews from the Times, thanks to the deal we announced earlier this month. How much of a leap is it to link from the movie review to a trailer that's already resident on my hard drive, to eliminate the click-wait, and work around the slow deployment of broadband?
This is an example where the entertainment industry and the computer industry can and should collaborate.