prof. e.

Mass Communication, [multi]media, methodology and much, much more!

Archive for September, 2011

Amazon’s Kindle is on “Fire”

Posted by prof e on September 29, 2011

Amazon just announced its new color media tablet called the Fire…which, at $199, is cheaper than the Nook Color by Barnes & Nobel and much cheaper than the Apple iPad. According to reports, the Android-powered tablet has a 7-inch touchscreen powered by Google’s Android OS. The Fire will be able to access Amazon’s app store where users can download books, music, movies and apps.

Analysts doubt that the Fire will dethrone the iPad which current has more than 70% of the tablet market share. However, other tablet makers will most certainly feel the squeeze from this new entry. Unlike the iPad, the Fire does not have a camera (still or video) and is intended for consumption, not creation. While later models may add features, the current product is aiming for a different audience than those who are in the market for an iPad.

The Fire also has a new browser called Amazon Silk. Web surfing will be faster because of Amazon’s decision to incorporate its “Cloud” of EC2 servers to enhance the browser’s performance. This decision may speed up browsing, but already has some industry experts expressing concerns about privacy.

The Kindle Fire is expected to be available in mid November…just in time for the Christmas shopping season. And for those of you who want your media content experience when you want it, where you want it, and on a screen larger than your smart phone, the Fire may be something to consider.

UPDATE 10.3.11: Here’s a chart comparing e-Book readers.

Posted in applications, interactive media, new media | 52 Comments »

Sony Playing Hardball with new ToS

Posted by prof e on September 21, 2011

Do you enjoy using your PS3 to play online? Well, if you want to continue you’ll have to agree to waive your right to participate in any future class-action lawsuit against Sony if they should, say…for instance, compromise your account data by sloppy network security. The new Terms of Service (ToS) agreement that was released this week are designed to protect Sony…and only Sony. You, on the other hand, are at the mercy of a corporate power that has a pretty shoddy track record when it comes to protecting consumer data. You can read more about it here.

From Section 15 of the new terms and conditions:

If you have a Dispute with any Sony Entity or any of a Sony Entity’s officers, directors, employees and agents that cannot be resolved through negotiation within the time frame described in the “Notice of Dispute” clause below. Other than those matters listed in the Exclusions from Arbitration clause, you and the Sony Entity that you have a Dispute with agree to seek resolution of the Dispute only through arbitration of that Dispute in accordance with the terms of this Section 15, and not litigate any Dispute in court. Arbitration means that the Dispute will be resolved by a neutral arbitrator instead of in a court by a judge or jury.

There is an opt out…but it is pretty low-tech. If, within 30 days of signing the new ToS, you send a snail-mail letter to Sony’s legal department in California you can reject the dispute resolution clause. But seriously, how many PS3 users are going to read the new ToS, and how many of them are going to go to the trouble of writing and mailing a letter to Sony?

Posted in interactive media, media industry, new media | 38 Comments »

The power of moving images

Posted by prof e on September 14, 2011

Did you happen to see the video of bystanders lifting a burning BMW off of an injured motorcyclist? If you didn’t, watch it on Youtube here. I love seeing how, in just a matter of seconds, people jump in to do the right thing despite potential danger to themselves. A joint effort by construction workers and university students (including a young woman) resulted in a life saved from what would most certainly have been a tragic death. Watch the young woman get down on her belly to look at the victim pinned under the car. It was her announcement that he was alive that spurred the second effort. Before that they just thought they were trying to free a dead body.

There another angle to this story. If someone hadn’t pointed his cell phone camera at the accident from a nearby office building, we probably wouldn’t be celebrating this wonderful act of heroism that restores our faith in humanity. Sure, it would have been written up in local papers, including eyewitness testimony about the unfolding events…but it wouldn’t have been seen and appreciated by the millions of people worldwide who have now seen the video. An ordinary citizen, in the right place at the right time with a cell phone video camera, captured a few seconds of footage that we’re all talking about today. This is citizen journalism and eyewitness reporting at its best.

Years ago a person pointed his video  camcorder at a police action on the side of a California highway. The beating of Rodney King was videotaped and shared across the nation and around the world. After LAPD officers on trial for police brutality were acquitted, riots broke out in LA resulting in “53 deaths, 2,383 injuries, more than 7,000 fires, damages to 3,100 businesses, and nearly $1 billion in financial losses” (Wikipedia).

Both are examples of the power of documentary evidence of an event that might otherwise have passed with little or no attention. One highlights positive actions and the other destructive actions…and both make important contributions to a just and free society.

Posted in journalism, new media, tv, video | 46 Comments »

Happy birthday email!

Posted by prof e on September 4, 2011

You may be surprised to learn that it has been 29 years (and a few days) since email was copyrighted by then 16-year-old V. A. Shiva. While the growth of SMS (text messaging) and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have taken some of the traffic that might otherwise have gone to email, Shiva is confident that email will continue to be a significant form of electronic communication for some time.

Current estimates are that approximately 300 billion email messages are sent daily, and about 90% of those are spam. Fortunately for us spam filters delete most of the unwanted email messages before we have to deal with them.

For more information about the history of email and current statistics about users, see the article and info-graphic here.

Posted in interactive media, new media, websites | 29 Comments »