Second screen

It's not that we need a second screen, it's that we have an inadequate first screen.

If we're watching a great movie, we're engrossed, swept away. We're not even thinking about the phone in the pocket or purse. We're not wondering what's happening on Facebook or Pinterest. We're not even thinking about that.

That's the point, isn't it?

"Binge viewing"? It's called "watching"

House of Cards promotional photo

When Netflix published the entire first season of the Americanized “House of Cards”, it was considered a radical act. Netflix has recognized how people recently have been “indulging” in “binge viewing” of old TV series, opiners said.

At the root of this phrase is a Puritanical attitude that television is supposed to be watched piecemeal, in dribs and drabs. You’re not supposed to watch an entire season at once, you heathen! You’re indulging! You’re binge viewing!

What nonsense.

Consider that Americans have watched on average 34 hours of television a week. In that context, how is spending a third of that watching a 13-part series “binging”?

Charles Dickens originally published his novels as serials. One chapter at a time was (written and) released. Only later were these assembled into novels. So if you spend the weekend reading A Tale of Two Cities, are you “binge reading”?

Let’s get over ourselves. Watching a lot of television is not new or extraordinary. For better or worse, it’s normal. What’s new is the ability to spend all that time on one series, instead of a dozen. Binging? Hardly. If there’s any binging happening, it’s Netflix’s bulk publishing of the entire series in one fell swoop. But I wouldn't call that binging either. I'd call it good business.

For the record, I think the new series is one of the best things on “television” – though it’s technically not television now, is it? (I also highly recommend the original UK miniseries, which is thoroughly entertaining, with that British flavor of perverse and devious darkness.)

Now please excuse me while I “binge” for several hours on my computer.

Video professionals, just get a (new) life already! (Apple isn't looking at you.)

That's the message coming from Apple fanboys and apologists, going by the blogs out there, regarding the limitations of Apple's "update" to Final Cut Pro. Pick just about any thread on the Creative Cow forums and you'll see masses of discontent, frustration, anger, resignation ... and not one iota of joy.

Brian Charles:

In a final death blow, Apple has removed the link to the Pro Apps updater. Excellent news for those who recently purchased Studio 3....

Marvin Holdman:

Still a bit miffed at the fact that they expect me to "know" that their "upgrade" won't open FCS3 projects. Still say this product should NOT be named Final Cut anything, it is NOT Final Cut.

and Peter Blumenstock:

Just got my refund email as well.
Basically a standard email as seen elsewhere, with the exception that it noted that it took them longer to respond because "we have been experiencing higher than expected volumes...".
Anyone here who is angry should make the step and ask for a refund. Not that Apple would care but at least you have stood up.

Russell Lasson:

I think that things are going to get better, I just don't know if they'll get better fast enough for pro users to stay on the bandwagon. I also don't know if Apple's way of making things better is the same as what the pros think would make it better. We'll see.

Ken Nicholson points up that for many of us this is deja vu all over again. (10 years ago, Autodesk, who bought Discreet*, killed off the popular and growing Edit* non-linear editor. For many of us, that's when we first moved to Final Cut. Apple at the time was hiring up hot software talent from competitors to make FCP into a rocking professional system. We dared hope. Silly us.)

[D]id we bring the Discreet edit* disease here?

I feel so guilty. I apologize for EOLing FCP. I'm infected....

Seriously, this really is an EOL for Final Cut. Just the simple fact of not being able to import projects from V7 is enough to brand it with the death tag. Now we have to keep our current version online for who knows how long whether we migrate (I will NEVER say upgrade in regards to the new software) or not. This is it for everything we've done with FCP (all the FCS apps for that matter) to date. Don't misplace those install disks folks...

We had a good 10-year run. We've been here before. Meanwhile, Avid has been around all this time. Hello, Avid, remember me?

"Professional editors should...."

In today's column, David Pogue tells us essentially to shut up and just reinvent how professional video is done:

The Bottom Line: Apple has followed the typical Apple sequence: (1) throw out something that’s popular and comfortable but increasingly ancient, (2) replace it with something that’s slick and modern and forward-looking and incomplete, (3) spend another year finishing it up, restoring missing pieces.

On journalists' & pundits' attitudes about new media: It's the privilege, stupid!

Plaque for Common Sense

For years now we've seen people entrenched in, married to, paid by or validated by old media attack new media, "those bloggers," Twitter, Facebook … the Internet in general. It's been fading lately as publishers especially have started to embrace and integrate new media into their publishing strategies. But there are still holdouts, many of whom seem not just ignorant but willfully ignorant.

Malcolm Gladwell's weak dismissal of "weak ties"

Gladwell's New Yorker article was the buzz on Twitter. One excerpt:

The evangelists of social media don’t understand this distinction; they seem to believe that a Facebook friend is the same as a real friend and that signing up for a donor registry in Silicon Valley today is activism in the same sense as sitting at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro in 1960.

…proving that old media journalists are as adept as anyone in the straw-man rhetorical technique.

Gladwell's main argument seems to cling to the notion that things like the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s could not have happened in new media. The thing is he seems to think that this is a notion that all of us "evangelists of social media" cling to. His is a rant against ghosts and phantoms to make a point, not an investigative exercise.

I love Gladwell's books, especially Blink. But this column is more an expression of his attitude towards social media rather than an insight into social media. It's a tract for dismissal, not a lesson towards understanding.

In a Guardian article on Gladwell's thoughts, journalist Tim Adams, who, by the way, describes us all as "insects":

The twitterers have responded to his provocation by swarming on to blogs and websites to protect their uniting belief: that the future belongs to them.

…does end up revealing a truth behind Gladwell's views:

The New Yorker, for which Gladwell is a stellar correspondent, sees itself as the spiritual home of a kind of reading and writing and engagement that could seem threatened by the attention overload and surface concerns of online skimming. I spoke to Gladwell a while back about his use of computers: he never spent much time on the internet, he said: "I run out of things to look up really quickly."

So Gladwell in fact doesn't even know much about social media, doesn't have a use for them, and doesn't even find the internet of much use. Obviously he's not interested in what other people might have to say. Why would he? He has his saying machines (The New Yorker, his books, his occasional appearances on television). What could anyone possibly offer to a man on top of the literary heap?

So why would Gladwell even bother to take on a subject of which, he admits, he knows little? Because he's a writer for The New Yorker, and that in itself makes his views relevant? I not only like Gladwell, I love The New Yorker (as a subscriber for years). But his taking on social media strikes me as hubris at best, enabled by the blindness of privilege.

Sookie, the empowered

There are two vampire phenomena happening right now in entertainment: the Twilight saga, with the popular books becoming popular movies, and the True Blood Series, with the increasingly popular books adapted into an HBO series. Both have a young female heroine who is romantically involved with a vampire. Both are set in present day America.

There the similarities end.

One is set in the Pacific northwest. One is set in the parishes outside of New Orleans. One seems intended for teens. The other very much for adults. But the real difference is in the women at their respective centers.

Carmen Siering writes in Ms. Magazine that Bella, the heroine of Twilight, fails as a feminist hero.

[N]ear the end of the film, Bella must choose between her two suitors. And yet when this big, empowering moment arrives, Bella offers an explanation for her choice that lets her off the hook. Melissa Rosenberg’s script doesn’t have Bella spell things out quite as clearly as Meyer’s narration in the book. Here we have Bella talking in circles about her love for Jacob and what might have been. In the book, Meyer makes it clear that Bella places the blame for her choice on something outside her control….

…[B]y placing the blame for choosing Edward over Jacob on the insane, irrational world in which she lives instead of on her own needs and desires, Bella abdicates responsibility for that choice, making it no choice at all. If the foundation of feminism is being able to choose, as Meyer insists, and one chooses not to choose, then what sort of feminism is that? It may seem romantic to be swept away by forces outside your control, but it’s not empowering.

I'm not a big Twilight expert. I've seen the first movie. The second lurks in a dark corner somewhere in the house, hiding from me. The third, well, I'm not keen enough to compel me to go to the theater and watch all the commercials.

But I do know True Blood.

Let's look at Sookie. Where Bella may seem to "abdicate her responsibility", Sookie refuses to let go of her own. In fact, she won't have others meddling in her business, not without at least confronting them. In the very first episode of the show, we see her pick up a chain from a truck bed and use it to confront a couple of ne'er-do-wells — not out of a misplaced sense of macho or foolishness (though it does feel foolish at the time), but in order to protect someone she's just met and hardly knows. She can't just stand by while someone gets victimized. It's striking how the chain in her hand becomes an extension of herself. Oh, she's scared. But she won't back down — not unless he has to, not unless she's outmatched. And even then, she'll keep the words coming. She's never cowed.

Sookie owns her destiny. She owns her choices in life. When Bill asks, "What are you?" and Sookie responds, "My name is Sookie, and I'm a waitress," she's not being self-deprecating, she's stating the facts. And interestingly, we never sense that she's diminishing her life by not pursuing the usual "success" tracks of college or power career like real estate or movie star. She's too self-aware, too in charge of her own life to feel that.

There's no sense of victim mind in this character who has every right to feel the victim. (I'll spare the spoilers that would be required to rattle off the reasons.) She is empowered. How? Why? I feel that it's because that's how she was raised by her "Gran." It never occurs to her to play victim to the fates.

Yes, Sookie can be foolish and naive at times. But I chalk that up to her innocence and youth, not her sex.

Battlestar Galactica returns with Cylons galore

Warning: Spoilers!

If you've been like me, wondering where the hell Battlestar Galactica has been going, the return of the show this weekend has (will) probably answer(ed), and with some excitement and a few huge revelations.

Yes, I'm going to talk about them here. That's why the spoiler warning above.

Revelation 1:

The planet (presumably Earth, though we have seen no real objective proof -- no half-buried Statue of Liberty....

..."Earth" was nuked some 2,000 years ago.

Personally, I think the show would have been better served if they had left us on the cliffhanger last year just arriving at Earth. Then there would have been a lot of anticipation.

--Then, with this revelation of the nuked planet, we would have been rocked and in more emotional tune with the characters (which turns out to be very important with the suicide-themed plot points in the episode).

Still, this starts to fill in the metastory about what happened to put into motion the events we've been following in this series.

Revelation 2:

They find Cylon Centurions.

But they aren't any model known by any of the Cylons we know. Similar, but different.

That's huge in itself, but then we learn....

Revelation 3:

All of the human remains they find all over the planet are in fact not human: they are Cylon.


I'm still trying to digest just what that might mean. How are Cylons and humans different? (That's been a running question throughout the show.) Are the current seven Cylons of the Cylon civilization (if you could call it that) really from this "Earth" and not developed by the Colonial Cylons themselves?

How does this fit with the first Colony-Cylon war, when young Adama found the proto-hybrid project?

Revelation 4:

The other Four Cylons are from this "Earth".

Chief flashes back to before. He's walking through a kind of farmers' market when there's a bright flash – a nuke. As the blast wave hits, we flash back to present. Chief is rocked. On the wall next to him is a charred silhouette (which will resonate with any dedicated Ray Bradbury fans): his own remains.

They ask the question themselves: How did they die 2,000 years ago and find themselves living light-years away in the Colonies? Why don't they remember? What does this mean?

But this isn't even the topper.

Revelation 5:

Starbuck finds her crashed Viper ... with her charred corpse. Dog tags seem to confirm it's her.

And it totally freaks out Leoben, who throughout the series has seemed pretty un-freak-out-able. Why does Leoben run away?

It was a bit too easy how Starbuck ends up not telling Apollo what happened. It might have worked had the series left us hanging with hope in Earth's orbit, and then kicked off this half-season with the then-would-be-truly-shocking revelation that Earth was a charred wasteland. Then Duella's suicide and Adama's near-attempt would fit; we would feel the acute disappointment along with the characters.

But as it is, we had months to digest the wasted Earth, and that left us fairly removed emotionally from that shock.

But overall this episode was jam-packed with revelations. And it left us with even more questions.

Only a handful of episodes left. I eagerly await them.

Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog ends today (kind of)

Have you seen it yet? This is not something to miss! Personally I love the music, but the real charm is the humor. Neil Patrick Harris is the perfect comic hero/villain.

If you've not heard of this show, it's a little ditty by Firefly and Buffy creator Joss Whedon and cohorts, created as something to do while the writer's strike stalled all production in Hollywood.

Once upon a time, all the writers in the forest got very mad with the Forest Kings and declared a work-stoppage. The forest creatures were all sad; the mushrooms did not dance, the elderberries gave no juice for the festival wines, and the Teamsters were kinda pissed. (They were very polite about it, though.) During this work-stoppage, many writers tried to form partnerships for outside funding to create new work that circumvented the Forest King system.

Frustrated with the lack of movement on that front, I finally decided to do something very ambitious, very exciting, very mid-life-crisisy. Aided only by everyone I had worked with, was related to or had ever met, I single-handedly created this unique little epic. A supervillain musical, of which, as we all know, there are far too few.

The idea was to make it on the fly, on the cheap – but to make it. To turn out a really thrilling, professionalish piece of entertainment specifically for the internet. To show how much could be done with very little. To show the world there is another way. To give the public (and in particular you guys) something for all your support and patience. And to make a lot of silly jokes. Actually, that sentence probably should have come first.

(Of course, it will be available for paid download after today, but why not see it for free while you can?)


Dr. Horrible is available on DVD! See it on your television!

Laura's unofficial sci-fi geek Lords of Kobol lineage DVD collection

Some items are must-haves for any science fiction fan (and aren't all geeks and geekettes to some extent sci-fi fans?). We already know that Battlestar Galactica is the best show on television. Now we can celebrate not just this fabulous show in high-definition video, but those shows and movies that led to its creation (according to me -- Ron Moore may have different ideas).

Let's start at the top:

  1. Battlestar Galactica - Season One [HD DVD]

    If you've stumbled across the show broadcast in HDTV on the UHD cable channel, you know that Galactica is really something else when you can see all the detail.

    Price: $69.95

  2. Blade Runner (Five-Disc Complete Collector's Edition) [Blu-ray]

    Caprica Six, meet your cinematic ancestors -- the angry existentialist Ray, the touchy Leon, the cheerfully desperate Pris and the ass-kicking Zora. And, of course, Rachel. (I couldn't be offering a spoiler on this 1977 movie, could I?) You have to wonder if we'd have Battlestar Galactica if we didn't have Blade Runner. Remastered, re-edited by Ridley Scott, this is the definitive edition.

    Price: $27.95 for the 5-disc Blu-ray set, $66.95 for the Blade Runner (Five-Disc Ultimate Collector's Edition) (aka the special edition with dead tree material added)

  3. Firefly - The Complete Series

    The mood of Galactica wouldn't be possible if it weren't for Firefly, which aired a few years before. This sci-fi classic series was ill-treated by the television, but lives on in gorgeous DVD video that upconverts very nicely, thank you.

    If you haven't seen Firefly, you're in for a treat. These characters you will love -- they will be your friends for life. I swear!

    Price: $39.99

  4. Cowboy Bebop Remix, Volume 1

    You couldn't have Firefly without Cowboy Bebop. This anime series manages to surprise you. And the music is pretty cool, too.

    Price: $17.49

    Happy Holidays, Space Cowboy!

This is part of a larger holiday geeky gift guide I posted on BlogHer.

Ron Paul gets disruptive

I can't say I'm a Ron Paul supporter, but this New York Times "analysis" by Julie Bosman of a Ron Paul television ad caught my eye as being a bit off the mark. Consider this:

The advertisement has a low-budget, unpolished feel, but that is unlikely to bother many of Mr. Paul’s supporters, who tend to be extremely devoted.

Let's pause right there. Ms. Bosman's assumption that only "devoted" supporters would appreciate a low-budget television ad strikes me as nuts, or at least naïve. I don't know anybody who likes the premasticated schmaltz sausages that pass for political commercials these days. They tell us nothing, really -- and are, in fact, some of the most tedious and boring crap (excuse me) on televison. If prescription drugs and iPods were sold like this, Pfizer and Apple would be out of business.

The advertisement accomplishes what the Paul campaign said was its modest goal: to introduce Mr. Paul to voters in that state, where he is emerging as a potential spoiler in the Republican primary.

Hmmm. Is he a "spoiler"? Considering that Paul raised $4 million online in 24 hours, he's already looking more viable than some of the other "contenders" out there, like -- what's his name? That actor guy that all the talk shows were buzzing about. The guy with the hang-dog expression. Oh yeah, he was too boring to remember.

For those of us paying attention, Clayton Christensen introduced the idea of the "disruptive" technology. Transistor radios, for example, hit the market by storm in 1965. Nobody saw it coming, except the Japanese. They were "competing against non-competition." Nobody was selling radios to teenagers -- or portable radios to anybody. Suddenly the Japanese were market players in consumer technology.

Disruptively financed Ron Paul is certainly starting to disrupt the political dialogue:

The war on terror and the growth of big government have had a dangerous side effect: the loss of privacy rights for the American people. Both parties have put their pet schemes ahead of our rights. Not me. As president, I won’t stand for it. No national ID card, no invasion of privacy.

This guy is running for president? Nobody else anywhere in the presidential race is "selling" this. He's competing against non-competition. That makes his increasing numbers ... disruptive ... to the status quo.

Hat tip to Seth, who's not endorsing Paul, but merely notes:

When you're trying to sell something new, particularly in a business to business setting, there are always people like Julie Bosman. They are the defenders of the status quo.

They have an important job to do: to point out to everyone the risks of change. To identify potential spoilers.

In the 1990s, Ross Perot competed against non-competition, and totally disrupted the presidential election. Call him a spoiler, but I don't think it's an accident that Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress took up his message and balanced the budget. Four years ago, Howard Dean was the disruptive candidate with online power.



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