It’s been a long 8 years.

Bush’s time in the Oval Office aside, the last 8 years has seen a boom online (termed clumsily as 2.0). Truly though, the internet has really come alive in terms of social networks and new media services since Bush made himself comfortable in the White House.

Rory at the BBC has posted a really interesting blog, looking at how the landscape today differs from Bush’s inauguration all those years ago.

Coolest of all?  CNN following up their election night hologram, by asking people in DC to take a photo at 12pm (EST), and email their photos in.  Then they’re going to use “Microsoft Photosynth to create what could be an extraordinary 3D image.” This is a fantastic citizen journalist stunt, where ‘old’ media mobilises people on the ground to create something totally awesome.

More info on CNN here.

More info on Photosynth here.

*Disclaimer* Microsoft is an Edelman client.


Now appearing in 3D

Chris Nuttall at the FT wrote an interesting piece the other day, looking at a number of 3D technologies that are being shown at this year’s CES.

Further indication that 2009 is set to be the year of 3D comes via Contagious today –  Pepsi and DreamWorks have collaborated on a 3D advert, to be aired during the infamous SuperBowl ad-breaks.

They’re distributing 125million free 3D spectacles so the yanks can enjoy the ad, which in a nod to collaborative money- saving will also feature a trailer for a new DreamWorks movie.

James Cameron has been talking about 3D movies as a solution to attract audiences to flagging cinemas for seemingly years now, though early trials left audiences feeling nauseous, I believe.  Last year I was lucky enough to attend a screening of U2 in 3D at the Imax.  The 3D experience was effective, stunning, awe-inspring; however, I’m yet to be convinced that it is anything other than novelty.  I can’t help but think that the ‘awe-inspring’ effect distances a cinema audience – as the artifice of the movie is heightened – rather than fully immersing the spectator within the action and emotion of the movie.

Hopefully I’ll be proved wrong.  It would seem that 3D TV for the home and mobile is gaining pace (Chris includes an interesting stat in his article following Quixel research into consumer demand for 3D), and the allure of 3D gaming should be obvious to even the most devout non-gamers.

It certainly will be interesting to see how the 3D story evolves this year.

*digs out retro red and green specs*

Google to turn UK operator?

Ofcom’s auction off of the most desirable band of UHF spectrum is starting to cause a stir.  As we switch from analogue to digital, media pundits are speculating as to whether companies like Microsoft and Google will snap up the soon-to-be-free broadcast spectrum.  Why?  This spectrum has a much longer wavelength which means better penetration of walls meaning excellent coverage as well as high speed wireless.


In the US, Google placed a bid on the spectrum but also lobbied the FCC hard to ensure that the spectrum, once won, would be be left open to any non disruptive device (mobile, PDA, laptop, handheld games devices) and that all devices using the network should be open to third party software.  For Verizon, who won the auction in the US, this meant that they couldn’t lock devices into their network or protect them against any third party software, securing Google a medium for its ad revenues.


An article in this weekend’s Observer, Media and Business James Robinson wonders if Google, using the Google phone, could turn operator:


Crucially, the chunk of analogue space being sold is high frequency, meaning a high-quality signal that can reach a wider area easily. The spectrum currently used by mobile phone companies is weaker, meaning more base stations need to be built to ensure customers receive a good service. They are expensive to construct and difficult to roll out, often meeting resistance from planners. The new spectrum in effect provides a ready-made network, requiring few modifications or additional capital expenditure, and that could allow a new entrant to establish a national presence within a few years.

That has prompted interest from some of the world’s most valuable companies, including Google, which is placing huge resources behind its new Google phone. Senior industry sources confirm it is considering a bid. Google’s new handset, which will compete with Apple’s iPhone, will give users access to services such as Google Earth, which could be adapted to provide customers with information on everything from road maps to where to find local shops and restaurants. It would be cheaper to sign a deal with an existing mobile provider, as Apple has done, piggybacking on its network and sharing profits. But buying a licence outright would allow Google to keep all the revenue, give it greater control over marketing, and could even allow it to drop monthly rental charges for the device.

That may not be as risky, or as expensive, as it sounds. Google’s search engine is funded almost entirely by advertising, and applying the same business model to its phone could generate enough revenue to fund this plan. A Google handset with no contract would be hugely popular, placing it in the hands of millions of consumers and creating a valuable new captive audience for advertisers.


Given the current economic climes and the memories of the cost of 3G licences still fresh in telcos minds, next year’s bidding will certainly be interesting.  Who will have the cash to place the winning bid?

How Sony escaped a product recall disaster

Product recall is a costly decision. By publicly admitting that something is at fault could potentially damage a company’s reputation, devalue the consumer’s trusts in the products, and it’s financially costly to handle. 


With this in mind, full credit should be given to Sony for delicately handling the global recall of their latest video game release, LittleBigPlanet, following concerns that it may offend some Muslims. In doing so, it has regained the trusts from of current Sony followers, but also caught the attention of new audiences. 


LittleBigPlanet wasn’t something I was familiar with but Sackboy (the main character) started showing up on numerous national and trade publications, including Financial Times and The Guardian starting strings of conversation.  Now, I’m looking at the gaming site and wondering if I might want a copy when it’s launched. 


The creators, Media Molecule, were alerted to the problem when a Muslim gamer was trialling a beta version of the game.  He pointed out that two phrases from the background music track were from Islam’s most holy text and, by mixing this with music, could cause offense. 


A software patch was developed to remove the music but following further discussion with Sony, the company has “decided to do a global recall to ensure that there was no possible way anyone may be offended by the music in the game”.


As Darren Waters from BBC has suggested, this is “a blow to Sony on the eve of what was expected to be a triumphant release of LittleBigPlanet.”


On the flip side, this has also brought the company and the game into the limelight and potentially a wider mix of audience.  It’s perfect timing for Christmas too, with its re-release planned for 3 November in the UK and 29 October in the US.


This incident demonstrates that brands have to be careful in how they manage their reputations with the public.  Sony and Media Molecule ‘listened’ to its gamers and took on board the suggestion of developing a software patch to remove the offending source. They then made a public announcement on how it plans to rectify the issue and acted swiftly to minimise the damage. 


However, this raises an interesting question on if and how a product should be recalled.  Back in June 2007, Sony offended the Church of England after setting scenes in a violent video game inside Manchester Cathedral.  So why wasn’t that withdrawn?


Disclaimer: Edelman’s consumer arm, JCPR, represented Sony Playstation in the UK between 1998 and 2006.


We’ve moved. to flash new offices in Victoria; those of you who know Edelman will probably know this already. However, the change of scene is injecting a but of gumption into us and we’re refreshing various assets.

We’ve got new offices, a new UK website for the company,  and some fresh-blood in the DERT team. So I thought it high-time to kick our little blog around a bit, change the look and welcome a raft of new posters. 

You’ll see plenty from them in the coming months,  all bright-eyed and full of wit. Feel free to jump all over their posts; let us know what you think…

Right on! Reading the Fine Print: Terms of Service

Jackson West has penned a great explanation of the ToS materials on YouTube. Where’s the best place to store your digital video content? How safe is it? Do you retain ownership or are sites positioning their intentions to ensure they can wrest control of it in the future?

The rule of thumb – if you’re in to making money from your UGC, use sites like YouTube as a site to distribute your free stuff, not the Oscar-winning film noir that’s going to make you the big bucks.  

From NewTeeVee:

As online media becomes more professional, it becomes critical to start examining the fine print. Traditionally, entertainers had agents and lawyers to do this for them — and take a hefty cut in the process. In this do-it-yourself, jack-of-all-trades business, though, it behooves you to cultivate an appreciation for legalese. Specifically, get to know the terms of service on a site before you start uploading your videos.

For starters, the safest place to put your online video content in terms of defending your rights to it down the road is on a site you maintain. You set the terms of what, when and how people view your work, can go crazy with advertising and sponsorship, aren’t bound by anyone’s concept of obscenity and stand a much better chance of keeping your work up in the wake of a nastygram.

But the second you put a video on a video publishing platform, you’re agreeing to all the fine print. While these are usually boilerplate arrangements, and abuses of content are largely in the hypothetical stage at this point, it’s a good idea to be wary, or at least shrewd. (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, nor have I played one on TV — if you have serious questions, hire one, there’s lots of ‘em.)

Let’s take a look at the critical section of YouTube’s terms of use, since that’s the biggest gorilla in the room.

For clarity, you retain all of your ownership rights in your User Submissions.

This is good. It basically means that beyond the following rights you’re granting to YouTube, you’re not ceding any rights to ownership of the materials.

However, by submitting User Submissions to YouTube, you hereby grant YouTube a worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license to use, reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works of, display, and perform the User Submissions in connection with the YouTube Website and YouTube’s (and its successors’ and affiliates’) business including without limitation for promoting and redistributing part or all of the YouTube Website (and derivative works thereof) in any media formats and through any media channels.

There’s always a “however,” isn’t there? Basically, this is saying that you are giving YouTube the rights to display your content, make backup copies on servers, give its business partners (such as Google and Apple) rights under these terms and deliver the video via different channels. It’s that last part that could, theoretically be abused — for instance, for a “America’s Funniest YouTube Videos” airing on ABC Sundays at seven or available on DVD at your local Blockbuster.

You also hereby grant each user of the YouTube Website a non-exclusive license to access your User Submissions through the Website, and to use, reproduce, distribute, display and perform such User Submissions as permitted through the functionality of the Website and under these Terms of Service.

Here’s where YouTube makes sure that you can’t go after people embedding content you’ve uploaded to YouTube. Earlier in the document, YouTube makes it clear that if third-party sites slather YouTube-hosted videos with ads, they will go after you. Basically, if you figure out how to make money off videos submitted to YouTube before they do, expect a letter from the legal team (or maybe an acquisition offer, who knows).

The above licenses granted by you in User Videos terminate within a commercially reasonable time after you remove or delete your User Videos from the YouTube Service.

Here’s the critical juncture. At any point, you can choose to opt out of these terms simply by deleting your videos. So if you do see yourself punching your own groin on ABC or on DVD packaging, it’s time to start threatening to take down your content unless you get a piece of the action (if that sounds like extortion, welcome to showbiz, baby).

You understand and agree, however, that YouTube may retain, but not display, distribute, or perform, server copies of User Submissions that have been removed or deleted.

Admittedly, this sounds a tad creepy — the first thought that came to my mind was, “Wow, so that’s what happens to all the porn that’s presumably still being uploaded but never displayed on the site.” Seriously though, this simply means that YouTube’s not going to go through every redundant backup of source material looking for your clip to make sure traces no longer exist, and maybe save them some re-encoding time if you relent and post your video again.

The above licenses granted by you in User Comments are perpetual and irrevocable.

Long story short — don’t write the great American novel in the comments. What it may have in over-the-top postmodern statement, it will lack in terms of your ability to sell exclusive rights down the road.

Of course, that’s just the meat of the matter for content creators (here’s a bullet guide to the rest). You’ll find similar, but not exactly the same, language on most other sites where you can post video. Blip.tv has the courtesy of only granting itself non-commercial rights to re-display your content off site (as well as offering the choice of Creative Commons or public domain licensing of your work).

The other thing to note is that YouTube, and most other sites, reserves the right to change its terms at any point without notfication. By leaving your work on the site, and continuing to upload work, you automatically agree to those changes in its terms. And of course, it also reserves the right to delete you and your videos from the system for all sorts of violations, real or perceived, or none at all.

None of these terms, from YouTube or most other sites, are particularly heinous. But if you are looking at producing online video as a business, you might not want to rely on YouTube or any other site as a primary vehicle for delivering your content, but rather a convenient place to further distribute and promote work you’re making freely available from your own site already.

DERTy Link #5: Photosynth (stunning)

Presented at TED in March 2007, Photosynth is one of the most incredible demonstrations we’ve seen, not just for the visual capabilities but the innovative use of photo social networks like flickr.

Seadragon is compelling enough, but using the catalogued images from photo sites to build a composite of a famous landmark (they use Notre Dame here) is utter genius. It’s a great example of how meta-tagging can be used to enormous success; the possibilities a pretty infinate

Watch it all, it’s well worth it.