Category: Prognostication

New Publishing Paradigm?

I’m impatiently waiting to see what Apple is going to announce tomorrow. The rumor mill has been speculating for months (actually, years) about a tablet, and the anticipation is killing me.  I posted a short video last month of what a digital version of a magazine might look like on said device, and I think it has the potential to really change publishing.

The NYT is starting up a digital reader division, and according to the LA Times, the grey lady has a team in Cupertino working on a large screen version of the paper. Several other publishing companies have also gotten a heads-up, and though they may have a head start over smaller companies, that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.

Being small makes one nimble, and I’m guessing that the first issues of tablet-based digital media won’t hit the market for at least a few months. That should be plenty of time for indie concerns to get their digital on.

The tablet also presents an opportunity for many web-based outlets to transition to other forms of digital media. Talking Points Memo, which is already less of a blog and more of an electronic daily, is one concern that could benefit from this. TPM has the essential pieces in place – video, photos and text plus a strongly branded identity – all they would need to do is assemble it into a daily/weekly digital package.

Many other websites and blogs could start up a digi-zine without much of a hassle. Depending on how Apple plans on pricing tablet-based digital media, it could greatly improve the bottom line for many an independent publisher.

I’m guessing that the tablet OS will use SproutCore, which is an open source Java Script framework, in tandem with native HTML 5 video for digital files.  Apple has already used SproutCore in their MobileMe web applications, and since Flash on a Mac has been so buggy and insecure, it makes sense that they would adopt another platform for their newest device. One that “just works”.

I’ve got a strong interest in journalism and publishing. Working on newspapers is what first got me interested in the design field. As a freelance designer, my strength has always been more in interface and user-experience design than coding. I’ve done some programming in Flash and Director, but unfortunately, I’m more of a right-brained person. That said, I really, really want to design digital media for the tablet.

Any publishers want to take me on?

Future Tablet Interface?

This is for all the Mac geeks and all the print journalists worried about the future. If you’re in the print industry, best to quickly familiarize yourself with all existing media types, their limitations, etc.

Future publications will be a mixture of text/audio/video/live feeds. If you’re still thinking of radio, CDs, TV, DVDs, Cable, and print as being distinct and separate media, stop it now.

Future media forms will be a conglomeration of all previous media forms plus the special sauce, interconnectivity.

Any hypothetical gadget that running this would have to pull the information off of a wireless network, so typical downloads are likely to be measured in megabytes at first. Streaming video/audio available for longer clips and/or live events, possibly at a premium.

This would be great as a virtual “ticket” to a concert, where the viewer gets a rich and immersive experience without having to actually be there. How many Mac fans would pay $1 to buy a media rich “issue/episode/ticket” for the next Steve Jobs’ keynote? How many fans would spend the night in line for a performance, and still pay one dollar for a “ticket/issue/episode” to watch/read as they’re waiting??

I’ve got a lot more to say about this and how I think it should be packaged. Stay tuned.

Predict-O-Matic: The Other White Veep

My latest invention, the Predict-O-Matic, says that McCain will pick Joe Lieberman as his VP running-mate. I imagine Lieberman will also announce that he’s switching political parties at the GOP Convention. This will shore up McCain’s support amongst “Rapture Republicans”, the right wing of the GOP who believe that the apocalypse is coming really, really soon.

Called Christian Zionists, these American evangelicals have forged an alliance with Jewish conservatives in recent years, so a McCain/Lieberman ticket makes a lot of sense politically…if you believe the world is coming to an end…or just want to cynically exploit that belief for political gain… Rove, I’m looking in your direction.

McCain said he’d announce his pick on his 72nd birthday, Aug. 29th, so I’ll only have to sweat this for a week…

Fall TV Season rumors

An unnamed source in La-La Land emailed me recently about upcoming TV shows greenlighted for the fall ’08 season. No word on which networks picked these up. Spoiler: it’s heavy on reality programs.

Win My Ovaries! – A fun new show where sterile couples compete for the chance to impregnate a surrogate mom before a live studio audience.

Celebrity Nose Pickers – A fun new show where TMZ camera crews follow the hottest stars around and get footage of them picking their noses! Gross!

Fair! and! Balanced! News! with hosts Karl Rove, Jeff Gannon and Matt Drudge – A serious new show where conservative white guys tell you what they think you should think about the news.

World’s Greatest Nosebleeds – A fun new show hosted by Geraldo Rivera where actual viewers send in their footage of nosebleeds, and win prizes!

Stripper Mom Makeovers – A fun new show where stripper moms get tips from pimps on how to up their game! Special appearance by Snoop Dogg.

Celebrity Nanny 911 with Dina Lohan, Kathy Hilton and Lynne Spears – A fun new reality show where celebrity moms show parents in crisis how to deal with their children with love, discipline and Christian parenting.

I Want to Be a Reality TV Star! – A fun new show where average people compete for the chance to be a contestant on a reality TV show!

Columbot – A fun new drama where a quirky robot juggles his job as a private detective and a demanding software update daemon at home.

Servant Swap or Trade My Maid (TBD) – A fun new show where average families exchange domestic help for a week while our hidden cameras film the hilarious results!

I Was a Teenage Werewolf – Starring Zac Effron, this fresh new drama follows high school varsity football captain Ruff Woolverton as he comes to terms with dating, making friends and finding victims at Springdale High.

Mom v. Dad – A fun new game show where children pit their parents against one another in a series of challenges to see who will ultimately win their love.

Oh Canada! – A fun new show where an American family moves to our neighbor to the north and experiences their zany customs and culture!

Who Wants to Eat Dinner? – A fun new reality show where actual hungry people compete for the chance to eat for the first time in days. In front of a live studio audience. Fun!

Duck and Cover Up

It seems like only recently has the mainstream media started to wake up and realize how deep into the backcountry of Bush’s sphincter they have travelled during the past seven years.

Many of the MSM old guard, the “complicit enablers“, if you will, have spoken publicly in recent days – no doubt prompted by chatter about shocking details from Scott McClellan’s book, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and What’s Wrong with Washington.

Gibson, Couric, Williams, Blitzer, Harry Smith at CBS, and Jessica Yellin, CNN (and formerly MSNBC) have all conceded something that the public figured out a long time ago: that the media have been drinking the Bush Administration’s Kool-Aid.

The media’s credibility sustained a serious hit in April, when the New York Times disclosed that the Pentagon has for years enlisted retired military officials to serve as military analysts in mainstream media outlets as part of a concerted propaganda campaign to sell war to the American people. (Something I posited on this blog back in July 2005)

Glenn Greenwald points out in Salon that online media also trivialize the news by playing the ratings game, and he cites a recent study (PDF) by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and U.S. News and World Report in the same post which finds that the majority of Americans polled like news, they just hate the way that it is presented.

More importantly, the 83% of the respondents agreed that “large corporations have too much influence over what the news media reports” and 76% agreed that “Most journalists don’t make an effort to get the whole story”.

Hey! Journalists! Editors! Publishing types! Mainstream American media is having a huge credibility crisis and you’re partially to blame. Do not try to gloss over it with a few smugly dismissive comments, like the kind Gibson uttered in his appearance on Today (linked above). The role of a journalist is to get to the truth, not make polite parlor talk, asshole.

Journalists have been beyond negligent in covering the consequences of Bush Administration’s disastrous gamesmanship (aka the win-at-all-costs strategery). Stories about profiteering in Iraq, Katrina, the outing of a CIA officer, and Bush’s bumbling ineptitude in conducting the WOT have all been there, dangling like low fruit with no takers. Why?

The media has confused patriotism with blind allegiance. It has hyped trivialities, disagreements and human mistakes into a twenty-four hour miasma of vanity, greed and ignorance. And more of the same isn’t going to make it better.

This is advice from my patented Media Rehab program for “complicit enablers”:

  • Stop quoting spinmeisters and political operatives masquerading as anonymous sources.
  • Strive for transparency. Acknowledge your sources and your allegiances.
  • Dig deep into public policy and make sense of it for your readers. Don’t obfuscate.
  • Get your reporters off of “disaster watch”.
  • Stop chasing viewers with blinky graphics and big hair. Wow us with your smarts.
  • and ‘fess up to any past involvement in government-based efforts to mislead the public.

Start the Media Rehab program now or risk future irrelevance.

Election Update

More and more, this election is between those who wish to restore the middle class and those who wish to restore the Middle Ages.

Also, an interesting little disagreement between Faux News and Paul Begala revealed over at the Huffington Post.

Mac-nostication

Today is mac geek Xmas. The day Steve Jobs comes down the chimney in a black mock-turtleneck and gives a Keynote presentation as the rowdy audience oohs and ahhs. Needless to say, this isn’t standard practice at most computer companies.

For years, friends and I have tried to predict what’s up Apple’s sleeve, and this year, imaginations have been working overtime. I thought I’d jot down a few of my predictions (ok, a poorly disguised wish list) of what’s coming a few hours from now:

Likely:
* iLife update – better content management for all those media files
* iWork update – speadsheet program
* Leopard features, ship date announcement
* Announcements about next gen AirPort (tied in w/ iTV, iPhone?)
* iTV – this could be big…a wireless hub that plays audio/video/game content, not just from a hard drive or laptop, but also from the Internets. There will probably be announcements about refinements to FrontRow software as well. One terabyte hard drive?

Possible:
* Beatles-branded iPod
* Mobile OS – OS X in a scaled-down form for portable devices
* Cellphone – I’d love to see one that does real-time video calls and features a Bluetooth headset, a touchscreen, and syncs w/ Address Book, Mail, iChat and iCal. iSight built in. WSJ reports Cingular is the carrier.

Remote/wish list:
* True-video iPod, or some kind of iPod/PDA hybrid. Wireless, w/ touch screen. Syncs to all productivity apps. Plays games, video, audio w/ internet access.
* Upgrade to the MacPro line (towers) using new Q6600 quad-core chips (octo-core?)
* New Apple displays, leveraging iTV capabilities. HDTV?

Wireless access is going to be a big theme at Macworld this year. Jobs will emphasize the inter-operability of various devices (iPod, iTV, phone) via his digital hub strategy.

In tandem will be moves to improve and refine Apple’s wireless architecture to accomodate multiple devices accessing the network simultaneously. I’ve heard the terms X2 and X4 floating around the rumor sites; is Apple developing separate networks for data and a/v content?

Why Do Politicians Hate Democracy?

How does one write about the potential for systemic voter fraud without sounding like a conspiracy theorist? As much as I’m personally encouraged by the ‘throw the bums out’ mood of the voters (if the polls are accurate), in the pit of my stomach, I feel another ‘suprise’ Republican victory coming on…

Along with the HBO Documentary Hacking Democracy, a few reports have come out recently describing problems in both Florida and Texas with electronic machines repeatedly “slipping out of synch”, resulting in erroneous votes for Republican candidates. Only Republican candidates.

Now more info comes out about Sequoia Machines, and their inexplicable ability to let people vote multiple times merely by pushing a little yellow button on the back of the machine. Argh.

A saddening and maddening article in ArsTechnica, Primary and early e-voting problems point to gathering storm, is the best overview I’ve found of the rampant problems with all types of electronic voting machines, not just those made by craptacular Diebold. If only this exercise in electoral integrity had started ten years ago…

Voter obstruction in the political campaigns is nothing new, it’s well known that in the sixties, Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist was challenging minority voters as part of Operation Eagle Eye, an organized effort run by a group of GOP lawyers:

In 1964, at the Bethune Precinct, (which was 40 percent Hispanic and 90 percent Democratic) Rehnquist and Operation Eagle Eye activists challenged every Black and Mexican voter’s ability to read the Constitution of the United States in the English language (then a requirement.)

Though the technology may have changed, members of the GOP are still trying to keep American citizens from voting for the other guy the old fashioned way, through intimidation and misinformation. For those with a perverted world view, it’s apparently the American way.

Fortunately, there are groups who see American democracy as more than a convenient background prop. The Election Transparency Project, Move On’s Repair the Vote campaign and Black Box Voting are just a few examples. If you believe in the democratic system, and the ideal of one person, one vote, insist on clean and fair elections. If you see attempts at voter intimidation or misdirection at the polls, try to document it, or get the names of the people involved. And for your own sake, demand a paper ballot if at all possible. Don’t let companies like Diebold and cynical politicians gut our democracy.

Republicans Play Chicken (Little)

Conservative pundits and politicians alike have been channeling their inner fortune teller this week. Much of it revolves around speculation, fantasy and fearmongering related to the Democrats’ possible actions after taking both houses of Congress on Election Day. Apparently, if Pelosi becomes Speaker of the House, the planet may stop turning.

So I thought I would offer you my informed opinion about what we can expect following a democratic sweep:

The Day After the Election – Feminists and homosexuals across the country organize parties where they will feast on infant blood and guacamole.

One Week After the Election – In front of a Washington D.C. used car dealership, Ann Coulter will self-immolate following a long depression over her faltering career. In her suicide note, she will blame the liberal media for hurting her feelings.

November 9th – With Ann Coulter gone, Cannibalistic Humaniod Underground Dwellers will now feel free to rise up from the sewers and start feeding on the population of YOUR church!

November 12th – Pressured by Democrats and the newly formed CHUD party, the US will pull all troops out of Iraq. The Eye of Mordor, previously in Baghdad, will re-appear atop a church spire in Liberty, VA.

November 21st – North Korea builds the first nuclear-powered karaoke machine.

December 25th – Santa decides not to give presents to godless Americans

The Week of January 9th – Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton will quickly propose a law requiring men to wear high-heeled shoes and lipstick in the workplace.

January 21st – Socialized medicine is turned into law. All citizens must give 75% of their salary in exchange for a Q-Tip.

February 2007 – Marriage as we know it will end. Chaos ensues as thousands of Christian brides roam the country in an even increasing state of insanity — many will be eaten by CHUDs. The population of the United States halves to 150 million people as Planned Parenthood starts to offer services via drive-in clinics.

March 2007 – Homosexuals will finally succeed in taking over the fashion industry. Wrangler surrenders.

May 2007 – Islamic Jihadists, helped by Howard Dean, will take the state of Massachusetts, then raise taxes to offset the creation of a technologically advanced, dual purpose mega-factory that will turn human stem cells into replicant clones of Barbara Streisand…or a spicy hummus.

Citizens! Patriots! The future hangs in the balance! Our way of life is at stake! When you’re voting on Election Day, remember that catchy new GOP campaign slogan: “If the Democrats win, the puppy dies.”

And then vote for the other guy.