The Coachella festival always signals the start of Spring proper for me, I of course look forward to hearing some of my favourite bands play live, as well as seeing what advances YouTube / Google make in their coverage.
As far as the YouTube interface goes, I preferred last year’s version - with the Social Media shout-outs appearing to the right of the main video. I also felt the who’s playing and who’s on next was better done last year too. As per last year - shout-outs were evenly split between Twitter and Facebook, with Google+ messages barely 1 in 50.
What really stood out this year though was the ’Rebroadcast’ service YouTube provided - where they looped the live footage 2-3 times after each night. This is how I watched most of the acts - and it enabled me to dive right in and see who I wanted to see and skip those who did not spark my interest.
YouTube / Google are still fairly poor at the Video highlights / edit thing and the so-called ’Highlight Reels’ are attrocious. The BBC is far better at the editing thing - and providing full and set highlights per artist.
Obvious trend this year was the dominance of what the American’s like to call ’EDM’. In terms of legendary performances though, there were very few of these - Major Lazer put on a spirited show, but it’s really only dance music acts like Basement Jaxx and Groove Armada who know how to put on a proper show for this genre of music. However good James Blake’s music is, I’m not sure how well it works in a lively festival setting - I tend to agree with Glastonbury die-hards in that you need a proper spirited ’band’ mechanic for a live performance to really work - and on that basis, the standout highlight for me was Janelle Monáe. Of Monsters and Men, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Grimes, Bat for Lashes, La Roux, Metric and Poliça were pretty good too...
I caught whole or partial sets by the following artists:
We’re very proud of our relationship and collaboration with founding Filmutea members Robert and Gemma, whom we’ve been working with for the past 5 years. The intention was always to create the very best Film-Makers Resource - providing everything you might need to create motion picture magic.
The core of the site has long been the Jobs Boards, Classifieds, Events and Community - which help film makers network in order to find the cast, crew and equipment they need to produce their films.
Affino’s new funding platform is the icing on the cake really - allowing film-makers to secure the capital required - through crowdfunding. The Funding Platform works along similar lines to Kickstarter - where members of the public can sponsor the production at different levels - each of which is usually recognised by some degree of reward or acknowledgment. Funding is enabled via PayPal transactions, and there are extensive settings and workflow profiles to handle the various projects posted. Typically the company that provides such a service (Filmutea in this instance) takes some form of commission - either a fixed rate or percentage of total collected.
For us at Comrz this is the perfect showcase for Affino’s full Social Commerce capabilties. In our opinion, this is one of the most rounded / complete professional networks on the Web, and the business model is incredibly strong - both for the service provider and service consumers. Currently Filmutea is targeted at Spain, and has 43,000 members; 19,000 Job Offers; nearly 6,000 Film Courses listed, and has its first major production under its belt.
If you are making films in Spain, this is your perfect launchpad. We look forward to seeing Filmutea expand into more territories in the next year or two. For anyone interested in creating a profitable professional social network, this is an excellent benchmark for how to do it.
I’m an avid follower of the world’s leading music festivals - specifically how they are broadcast and ’packaged’ for the digital audience. I’ve kept tabs on the BBC’s and YouTube’s coverage of music festivals over the last few years, and reported back on how each has evolved their offering - benchmark events have been Glastonbury in the UK and Coachella in the US. In this Olympic year, there is no Glastonbury, so we will use BBC 1’s Big Weekend extravaganza - the 2012 Hackney Weekend Music Festival as the UK benchmark.
Where the BBC always excels is in the depth and breadth of its broadcast coverage, and in its archiving. For this year’s Coachella there was really just a smattering of play-back videos from the 3 days of live music, and no full sets. The BBC though has video highlights for pretty much every featured artist, including full sets for the festival headliners.
Watching live though was a different story, as YouTube’s Coachella coverage had better broadcast quality and a much superior interface - with full interaction! For Coachella, fans were able to connect via Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and do comments and shout-outs during the performances - on a live update feed - obviously comments are enabled for most content on YouTube. YouTube also cleverly includes the hashtag #coachellalive on all the updates posted - for maximum exposure. Moreover YouTube’s Coachella screen had a really clever rolling ’What’s On’ panel with dynamic thumbnails - which allowed you to mouse-over for live previews of each stage!
The BBC interface did not really makes the most of social media, and it was noway near as easy to organise your viewing schedule. I also noted that for last year’s Carlisle Big Weekend, the BBC was much better at posting up setlists on the artist overviews. Currently the write-ups are mostly sans setlists, which is something we kind of expected after last year!
It’s a tale of two very different approaches - as for live and direct coverage, YouTube’s system was most obviously superior, but in terms of being able to really ’catch’ the music - in terms of ’on demand access’ - then the BBC comes up trumps, as you can view after the fact - most of what you missed, which was not the case for
In yet another example of its failure to get a grip on Internet reality, the music industry - Germany’s GEMA Association this time round, has somehow managed to win a court case in Hamburg - where YouTube has been held to be fully accountable for its users’ uploads - at the point of upload.
The only model that can work for Social Media (User-Contributed-Content) - is post first, then screen and remove when copyright or other issue are reported; trying to screen everything at the point of entry just is not feasible or workable in any sense. YouTube is currently one of, if not THE most important Music discovery and promotion vehicles. The number of tracks / artists that YouTube has introduced me to is innumerable - and the amount of revenues I alone have contributed to said artists in singles / albums downloads surely pays for the odd track that is posted without permission from the copyright holder. The copyright holder can of course initiate removal requests for copyrighted material - which until now has been allowed to be actioned within 24 hours. The current system is fair and just, and most importantly is one that should work for all concerned - bar ignorant and greedy music industry types.
These Germans obviously don’t see the benefit of music promotion, which is possibly why so few German acts make it into the global mainstream. As a counter example, Sweden’s relatively tiny pop industry is immensely powerful in comparison to size of population - whilst Germany is the largest music marketplace in Europe, but contributes very few Internationally successful acts.
I have never been one to deny companies or artists a means of revenue - of course artists deserve to get paid for their work - but the process that GEMA is trying to introduce will ruin things for everyone - including their members. There’s lots of very successful record labels running their own YouTube Channels - and making ’reasonable’ revenues from them - a lot of labels are partly responsible for copyright infringed material - by failing to adequately service the latent need for their new music - like in any market, where there is demand, there needs to be supply - and people will generally orientate towards a quality product at the right price point.
The music industry has long felt the need to exert ’
Last year I blogged about catching the year’s first big music festival courtesy of YouTube - who broadcast live form the 5 stages over the 3 days. I raved about the really clever interface - how they included hashtags into their live updates - and how slickly the whole thing worked, including the uninterrupted streaming broadcast itself.
This year the layout of the interface was even better - with the current and upcoming bands listed in the centre, and the updates off to the right. It was interesting to see the addition of the ’Login with Google+’ option - although I never saw a Google+ originated post - they were about 70% Twitter Updates, with 30% Facebook - I even logged on myself to post updates during the Azealia Banks and Miike Snow sets.
I did not really start watching properly until the Saturday - and thus caught a mix of highlights and full live gigs by the following artists:
The Big Pink
Dr Dre & Snoop Dogg + Eminem, Fiddy, Warren G, Wiz Khalifa et al.
Florence & The Machine
Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds
Swedish House Mafia
I would have loved to have seen, but missed these:
I always compare YouTube’s coverage of this with the BBC’s coverage of its main music festivals. I think the actual live streaming and the social experience is better by YouTube, but overall the BBC still leads - as they provide so much better supporting materials - and actually post up much more of the video highlights - only 76 Videos are listed on YouTube’s Coachella Page - and these are individual tracks, whilst for the BBC there is normally an extended highlights (circa 30 mins.) plus a couple of individual great moments from nearly all the featured performers - a number of the videos on Coachella Live are not even the best moments from those sets.
On my somewhat dodgy Talk Talk connection, I was astounded to get a totally seamless experience over the whole event - did not drop out once - and switching between the 3 live feed options was butter smooth!
After months of planning, preparation, design, implementation and population, the Savvy Friends experience is finally ready for the world. It’s been a largely enjoyable journey (great people involved), with constantly evolving procedural challenges, requirements for new channels of revenue and new business models.
What is actually launched now is in effect Phase 3 of the site - 3 generations of design templates and functional improvements have led to the current version running on the latest Affino release. All of this should give the site plenty of scope for flexibility and onward development and evolution.
It’s amazing how much can be achieved with small teams - the Core of Savvy Friends - Simon, Warren, Yamit, David, James and Charlotte have put together all the design, content, media and refined detail touches. All of Comrz was involved too, but we’re still just talking about a dozen or so individuals all together.
The attention to detail on the site is at a level we at Comrz have never before experienced - from the choice of the uniquely stylised fonts - Neue Helvetica and Plantin - down to the placement of the tiniest element - spacing, dimensions, proportions, use of integral social media - and a very refined approach to social interaction - everything has been carefully considered and layed out in optimal fashion.
Ronan is the perfect ambassador for wine and for Savvy Friends - he conducted the wine tasting with affable charm and passion - keeping proceedings clear and unpretentious - yet peppered with thoughtful background vignettes. There were 3 wines as part of the formal tasting - all excellent, and of course available via the Savvy Friends Wine Store. Some were particularly enamoured with the Vouvray Les Argiles, which was excellent, but my personal favourite was the Côtes du Rhône, Clos du Caillou. All the wines were quite superb, and I also
We people want to be involved in everything today - we want our say, we want our opinions to be heard and shared, and we want to be able to express ourselves artistically through clever parodies, skits and remixes of popular social media.
There’s a brilliant, brief TED talk (below) by YouTube’s Trends Manager - Kevin Allocca - where he tries to identify how out of millions of hours of video - phenomena ’Nyan Cats’, ’Double Rainbow’ and ’Rebecca Black’s Friday’ managed to stand out. Of course there are a myriad of causal factors there, but the obvious one is that of a shared experience and the ease of interaction and parody. Universally, we now live in the age of parody - as best exemplified by long-running animated shows ’The Simpsons’ and ’South Park’ where nothing is holy any more - everyhing is deconstructed, ridiculed and parodied - and the people love it!
A great part of the success of the aforementioned trio is the ease with which people could relate to them and parody them. Pretty much every decent pop song gets ’covered’ in a million different ways within weeks of hitting the tops of the charts - punk versions, skiffle band folk versions, multi-tracked-acapellas, 2Cellos version, the ubiquitous dubstep remix etc. etc.
Twitter and Facebook’s ubiquity in the ease of commenting, liking, re-tweeting and sharing is what makes them work, and what looks like a sound basis for new site Pinterest. Yet there are still forces out there that think that they can totally ’tailor’ a user’s experience - limit the amount of input, interaction and participation, and still create a successful marketplace - I’m not so sure any more.
By nature we humans are usually highly suspicious, increasingly cynical and often lonely and lacking in confidence in various aspects of our lives - we need regular interaction, recognition, support and approval - much as Abrahm Maslow identified all the way back in 1943. Much has been written about key influencers in human motivations, and one thing is for sure - and that is that complex communities of personal interactions are what best influence behaviour. Everything has to happen within a context and within the subjectivity of a person’s activities, interests and tastes - yet the undeniable truth is that we are all
It seems MySpace is still very much in catch-up mode, as its latest offering does not really offer up anything close to the scene-changer that MySpace so desperately needs. I remember the older MySpace Player quite fondly - with its animated EQ bars and customisable colours; since then we have seen Spotify, Soundcloud, Tomahawk, Last.fm and even YouTube stealing a march on MySpace’s former lead in the online music promo sector.
As a Music Player, it probably owes most to Spotify - in terms of its overall look and feel / usability, and recommended similar artists, playlists and ’radio’ functions. Spotify though is much further ahead with all its really clever apps and integrations.
With Justin Timberlake’s involvement in MySpace, I had high hopes that they would do something radical to try to take a leading stake in the music industry again. This Music Player is just an also-ran though, it really does not do anything better than what’s already out there, and there’s no cool function or even tiny detail touch which makes you sit up and take notice.
I’m not saying that MySpace is wholly doomed yet, but they have to do a lot better than this to make themselves relevant and worthy of our attentions once more. In the past I used to check in regularly with MySpace to listen to various artists’ latest tracks - particularly new and up-and-coming artists. Nowadays, most artists make use of Tumblr or just upload a static image to YouTube to accompany their latest promo singles. I do regular record reviews, and the number of artists who use MySpace as a primary resource is dwindling fast, these days, music artists are more likely to lead on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. It used to be the case that new music artists broke though on MySpace - a la Lily Allen, nowdays though it’s YouTube a la Justin Bieber!
I have always said that for MySpace to succeed, they need to focus on the music-discoverability angle, which now has been largely taken over by sites like Last.fm and even Spotify, as I mentioned previously. MySpace has to come to market with something cleverer and slicker than what already exists - they need to be moving ahead, not toeing the line. If you compare the MySpace Music Player to Tomahawk for instance, MySpace is several steps off the pace, even though its presentation is more elegant. I have already
I’ve been playing around with the Tomahawk Social Media Player desktop app for about a week now - since brother Markus introduced me to it - it exists in both PC and Mac flavours, with the latter being slightly more seamless an experience at the moment. This is definitely NOT a replacement for Spotify, more of a useful addition to it - as the largest library of quality music media comes from Spotify itself (requires Premium account).
Out of the box, Tomahawk does not do much more than play back files you already have on your desktop or network. To really get it working, you need to configure a number of ’Resolvers’ which include the following:
Spotify (Requires Premium Account,as well as specially downloaded extension from Tomahawk site)
For Spotify Premium account holders (Windows Users) you need to download a separate Spotify Resolver from the Tomahawk site. All these Resolvers are only semi-official, so chances are some of them could get blocked at some stage in the future, but essentially the system allows you to search by all these resources and play back the various sound files on the Tomahawk Player.
It’s currently a little clunky and unrefined in its user experience and does certain things more awkwardly than one would have deemed necessary. There are separate searches for instance for ’Super Collection’ (Online Resources) and ’My Collection’ (Your own local or networked music files) - why these are not combined into a single uber search is kind of strange. Also, the Search results themselves are no way near as clear and concise as those on Spotify. In many ways, this seems very much a beta release - when compared to the slick experience of Spotify and new online apps like Pinterest.
There’s nothing particularly genius about the search either - as it does not retrieve all those oddly named YouTube files which you can find yourself on YouTube. Some of the results are bizarre ’near matches’ which appear midway through the results listsings rather than at the bottom - they should really be arranged by some sort of ’suitability’ algorithm.
Creative minds now have a ’Twitter’-like format of their own in the superb Moodboards / Pinboards utility which is ’Pinterest’. At the very top level it has similarities to Twitter - but instead of posting 140 character monologues and updates - or largely retweeting everyone else’s content. For Pinterest you ’Pin’ images to Topic-designated ’Boards’ by way of a Bookmarking button which you enable on your browser. Obviously a minority pin all the fantastic images, and the majority re-purpose and re-appropriate them via ’Repinning’. You can subscribe to the various Pinterest Users and their boards, much like you would ’Follow’ a Twitter account, although there is a little more granularity here on the topic level.
It’s not just pictures though, but videos also which can be ’Pinned’ to boards. You simply navigate to a web page, hit your browser ’Pin It’ button and select which image you wish to ’harvest’. Pinterest then does some very clever embedding to slot said image or video reference onto one of your ’Boards’.
When you start up your account - you are presented with 5 empty generic boards which you can start to fill up with original or repinned content - you can of course change the Topic / Subject matter for your Boards at any time, and you can even allow collaborations with colleagues, family members and friends - so you can pin collectively.
The uses of Pinterest are manifold - back in my Advertising days, we would have killed for this - for use as a Creative Moodboard. But it is so much more - a visual swatch or shopping list, a kind of ideas mindmap in purely picture form - oh yes - you can ’Like’ and ’Comment’ on each others ’Pins’ too. There is also a retail solution of sorts called ’Gifts’ which lists Pins (Pictures) with Prices - and then obviously links through to the relevant source eCommerce Catalogue Items.
Warner Bros started off this stupidity by increasing their initial 28 day retail to rental window to 56 days. Now Disney is considering a 28-day rental window of its own. On the same day that the Bridesmaids movie announces record online rentals / on-demand views - approaching 5 million views in four months.
Do these movie studios not realise that the majority of people now watch rentals, and ongoingly, fewer and fewer DVDs and even movie downloads will be sold - as for most people, seeing a movie once is enough. The occasional film comes along where repeated viewing is enjoyable - but this is typically an exception, as once you’ve seen ’The Usual Suspects’ the twist does not have the same impact the second time around.
I’m still very much a mixed-media man - consuming both digital and traditional format media - I still buy vinyl for DJ’ing, but for daily listening - which happens to involve my iMac or iPhone - I’m finding it more instantly gratifying and convenient to buy downloads vs CDs - I really only buy CDs now when what I want is not available as a download, or else there’s additional material contained in CD format - oh, one more thing - some CD’s are still cheaper than their download equivalents, so where it makes best sense really, but increasingly with a preference for digital (no waiting around).
For movies and television though, my 27" PC / iMac is now my regular TV, and I use a mix of terrestrial on-demand services (iPlayer, ITV Player etc.), Netflix and iTunes to satisfy my viewing needs. I also buy a smattering of DVDs- such as recent TV series, as they are far more expensive on iTunes (for a lower quality) and too recent for Netflix. Which brings me onto Netflix - which is undoubtedly a really great system, but somewhat worryingly has introduced hardly any new material since I signed on a month ago. As Betamax vs VHS has shown, as well as the various console wars, it’s the system with the best / most content that wins out, not necessarily the best quality of experience.
A long time ago I coined a phrase for this current generation of youth - ’The Now Generation’ as in they never had to save up or wait for anything, nor do they want to. In marketing you always have a limited window of opportunity - based on a customer’s proclivity and propensity to consume a particular
Wikipedia and Reddit were blacked out today in an attempt to highlight to Internet Users - the serious likely impact of this legislation on the basic rights of freedom of the typical netizen.
These 2 new bills - Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and Protect IP Act (PIPA) - are in the process of passing through the House of Representatives and the Senate respectively. They would end up giving Copyright Owners way too much power in shutting down and commercially crippling any site/s they choose to target - fairly or unfairly. Copyright Owners already have the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) to effect similar actions - in enforcing take-down notices, and there are already numerous cases where the DMCA legislation has been abused - even though it does require a degree of due process.
SOPA and PIPA are far too broad and far reaching in their applications, and would end up a weapon of censorship and restriction - closing down and curtailing the open and organic nature of the Internet. The legislation requires no court order to force a take-down notice, and can be so broadly applied that any vague 3rd party reference to another allegdly suspect site can result in an injunction against the referring party.
The problem with the Internet at large is that so many of the daily services we use are based / legislated from the USA - Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia - what with Social Content Contribution - any one of these could easily end up with potentially disputed copyrighted material and be forced to shut down.
UK citizens should be far more worried than most, as has been seen by the recent extradition case of Richard O’Dwyer - a UK citizen who has actually broken no UK or European laws with his UK-based links website - but is still being extradited to the US for summary judgment and punishment.
I’m certainly not a fan of piracy, but totally understand why it happens, and this draconionan legislation will not be the cure. The vast majority of media companies are overly greedy and totally out of touch with reality - and are almost as much a part of the problem as the pirates.
I can buy a pretty decent gaming app on the Apple App Store for just 69 pence - a venture which has taken several months to produce and contains sound and vision, and creative flare, and typically involves a significantly sized project team. Yet for a new sound file - ’single&
(Note - SBTRKT was missing from previous end of year listing)
11 Musical Trends for 2012
Some artists will move away entirely from Album releases; Rihanna is currently the most successful singles artist (47.5 million downloads since 2005), and I believe several artists will move to just releasing singles and then compilations of singles rather than proper albums
YouTube will continue to grow in relevance as a music discovery resource - it is after all the new MTV
Artists will embrace more technology in their music delivery - in a similar vein to Björk’s Biophilia - expect to see more interactive albums and artist / album apps
We will see more apps - in both internet and tablet-based form - to allow even easier music production / collaboration and remixing, along with simpler, fully-integrated music publishing and distribution platforms
2012 will also see more entrants into the group sharing / interaction category of music - along the same lines as Turntable.fm
A leading electronic musician will employ Kinect-type technology into their core music-making and performance activities
There will arise at least one new significant music-sharing platform, with a very innovative means of revenue generation / sharing which holds enormous appeal for both musicians and fans
Spotify will strengthen its position as the leading music streaming platform - with yet further apps and integrations
Music unit prices - i.e. median album and single prices will be streamlined further in 2012
We will see even more free-to-download mix-tape type albums - DatPiff could become a household name!
11 New Artists for 2012
(Note that I consider Frank Ocean, Skrillex and The Weeknd to be significantly active in previous years and thus not properly eligible as ’New’ in 2012, the same could be said
I’ve been waiting a while now for the arrival of Netflix on these shores, so was it worth the wait?
When I received the initial email invitation, it’s poor quality made me unsure as to whether this was some sort of phishing effort. This was not helped by the very basic Netflix holding page presented to UK users.
In any case, I had been waiting a while for this so I dipped my toes into the 30 day free trial. You have to enter you credit card details during registration, which will likely put off some users, but I triangulated the security certificate to be sure. Once registered, you get presented with a very elegant browsing interface, not a million miles from the one for iTunes films, but much the superior in my opininon - especially how it pops up detail information when you hover over the film / programme image.
I caught up with ’Gone Baby Gone’ - a film I had not got around to watching yet, but had always wanted to see. The whole experience from browsing, to selecting and watching is truly slick, simple and elegant. For those worried about signing up via Facebook - for everything you watch, you get the option to not share to Facebook - so that you can continue to watch trashy TV and movies without exposing your viewing choices to friends and family.
Currently, the only thing that really counts against Neflix at the moment is the rather slim selection of video available. Like many other users, I expected there to be a lot more US TV Series. Also - you don’t get the very latest films or TV - it’s mostly a series or two behind. But great if you want to catch up with films and TV you missed when they were initially releases - a couple or so years ago.
The £5.99 all-inclusive monthly fee is the perfect price point as far as I’m concerned - Netflix just needs to work on signing more studio deals and providing a larger selection.
In terms of overall experience, this is currently my favourite way of watching video online - I’m of course interested to see what Apple, Amazon (LoveFilm), YouTube and the BBC do in response to this.
I wrote a blog not so long ago about the poor state of online video, and how poorly it compared to the more traditional model of Blockbuster - which is unfortunately fast waning. There is no online service yet though which is able to deliver as wide a video libary, as quickly as Blockbuster.
We had big plans for developing Affino this year and moved it ahead in almost every way. We reached the 12th version of Affino 6, of which 7 were launched during the year. We worked through 1,408 improvement projects both large and small, some taking months others mere minutes.
Every single aspect of Affino saw improvement during the course of the year and is now faster, easier and more pleasing on the eye.
We started the year with three priorities:
To make affino:
During the course of the year though that a big part of Affino’s usability came down to speed and it simply wasn’t fast or reliable enough on a consistent basis. So we added in three more priorities:
To also make Affino:
We saw great strides across all areas, and really nailed the last three.
This post covers the key highlights for each of our priorities and for the major Affino application areas.
Nothing is more important to the success of a product than to make it as usable as possible. This allows people to do and achieve the maximum in the minimum timeframe. Which means better looking sites, higher conversion rates and more engaging communities.
We have removed hundreds of usability issues from Affino during the year. Each time a support request arises we’ve looked into the issue and seen if we can either remove it or make it so easy that a user never has to ask the question again. In most cases we’ve succeeded and now users are able to do most tasks instantly.
The Control Centre has had a big makeover, and has now mostly been upgraded to use pure native browser technologies (i.e. no Flash). This means it is now faster and more consistent. We’ve also looked into many of the major modules such as Store Management, Campaigns and the Media Library and completely re-worked them to be far more effective.
A big focus was to make the Affino user interfaces more consistent and modern. All the interfaces have had a makeover and are now considerably easier to use, and all have a consistent ‘Affino Style’ presentation.
We’ve also added lots of smarts to the user interface with sticky elements that are always on the screen, clearer buttons
My personal input of course, but for me - Music- and TV-wise it’s been a vintage year, pretty good for literature too, not so good for film though. There were a few trends in music with several artists self-publishing their albums and making them free to download - including my top rated ’The Weeknd’ (x2) which I was relatively late to latch onto, thanks to FACT Magazine for the introduction. Björk famously released interactive apps for each of her album tracks - I kind of agree a little with Pitchfork on this one - melody was sacrificed to art and science - her best in a while, but not nearly her best.
My tastes are famously eclectic and veer between Drowned in Sound, Popjustice, FACT-style dance electronica, Pitchfork, Q, MixMag, DJ, IDJ and Resident Advisor - possibly with a rather keen emphasis on the electronic / dance varieties. There’s not too much guitar-based music here, but plenty of pop and electronic and a smattering of Hip Hop and R&B:
2011 Albums of the Year - Top 30
House of Balloons; The Weeknd [Trip Hop / R&B] - Chill Wave R&B-infused Hip Hop with great production and melodies
Thursday; The Weeknd [Trip Hop / R&B] - More of the same...
Nostalgia, Ultra; Frank Ocean [R&B / Hip Hop] - A kind of soulful chilled out largely sung hip hop
Glass Swords; Rustie [Dubstep / Electronica] - Modern, eclectic, mostly instrumental dancefloor electronica with roots in Dubstep
Electronic Dream; Araabmuzik [Electronica / House] - A great mish-mash of contemporary club sounds with a chilled-out edge
Oh Land; Oh Land [Pop / Electropop] - Lush, delicate melodic electronic pop
Vanbot; Vanbot [Pop / Electropop] - Bright and melodic electronic pop - like Robyn’s little sister
On A Mission; Katy B [Dubstep / UK Funky] - Slick, melodic vocal UK dancefloor-inspired grooves
21; Adele [Bluesy Pop / Soul] - The finest mainstream pop release for nigh on 2 decades - heartwrenchingly soulful
Ritual Union; Little Dragon [Electropop] - Really cool, slightly quirky electronic pop
Perfectionist; Natalia Kills [Pop / Electropop] - Almost the perfect pop debut, chock-full of catchy hooks, with superb production
Mirrorwriting; Jamie Woon [Digi-Soul / Dubstep] - More consistent and affecting for me than James Blake’s debut - lushly soulful
Ceremonials; Florence and The Machine [Indie Pop] -
We’ve heard it several times now - that with the growth of Social Messaging - email is on its way out! However, for me if anything - email is on the way up! I have various Social Media subscriptions which all come to my inbox - from Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube etc. - all my receipts, including those from the various Apple stores - as well as all my key bills and statements, these are all now notified electronically via email!
I really don’t understand what these Social Media types propose is going to happen to all that content! As far as I’m concerned, there are lots of different kinds of communications platforms - each for very specific purposes. If you need to send smallish attachments, then email is still a decent format, if you need to send something larger, then any kind of message with a Dropbox URL in it will do. There’s lots of clever ’Messenger’ type services now, like Apple’s ’iMessage’ - which provides free Blackberry style text messages to its customers.
On a daily basis, I make use of iMessage / SMS, Forums, Message Boards, Group Chat, Comments and Ratings, Skype and Google Talk. For me the biggest significance has been in the Disqus-type comments systems, very much like Affino’s Comments and Ratings - this means that the discussion element is very much aligned to the content, whereas with Forums - they are usually divorced from the content, and very quick to go off-topic.
As far as the statistics go, the number of email messages being sent is still on the way up globally. Messaging / iMessaging / SMS is simply just replacing other forms of communication - like the more traditional phone call, as they are more cost effective and more expedient. You don’t expect the person on the end of the line to available 24/7 - so sending an SMS is far better than leaving a voicemail - that said, many people do both!
A lot of people used to do proper blogs, then they got bored / lazy and switched to tweets, now they’re even lazier and just do comments and re-tweets. It would be interesting to know the proportion of original to recycled / regurgitated content in the twittersphere.
Of course people like Mark Zuckerberg have vested interests in their platforms, and will make broad sweeping statement to push home a point, much like Steve Jobs used to do in his heyday. For sake of
The new Irish Books Direct website, is the epitome of a modern family business; it’s also a great example of proper Social Commerce. Affino and Comrz have always been great enablers, but nothing is achieved without a sound business vision and the right people behind it.
Alasdair Verschoyle has long been involved in book retail and distribution, and always had the goal of one day creating a community-centric book store focused on his Irish roots, and underlined by a passion for championing and sharing Irish Literature, Authors and Culture.
The idea was to hand-pick a broad spectrum of quality Irish books, published both locally and abroad, which would appeal to Irish Nationals at home, as well as ex-pat Irish and their descendants around the world. The key point of difference is not just in this particular selection of books, but in the use of Affino’s numerous community tools to create a proper global sharing community for everyone interested in Irish Culture.
The site contains video interviews with authors, and frequent blogs and special features - offering extended background information on key titles, their authors, their motivations, inspirations and reference points - all in all giving the site visitor a fully immersive experience of Irish Literature.
Alasdair is the visionary partriarch, and Lorna Lawless and Jenny Coughlan take care of the day-to-day management of the site. This is typical of Affino sites - just a core of 3 people doing amazing things with the software.
We worked with Alasdair to ensure that he ended up with the best possible logo and positioning statement to underline his vision. We then oversaw the design of the site and some custom template creation, but pretty much all the work was done by the team of 3.
Of course this is just phase 1 really, and we look forward to seeing many more innovations to come.
I was a little sad to see that Google TV failed to take off, as I really saw it as the perfect solution to my viewing requirements. I spend most days and several nights working on my 27" iMac, which has ended up as my proxy television set as well. I am so grateful to the various terrestrial TV on-demand services, best exemplified by the BBC’s iPlayer, but pretty much every major terrestrial Channel has one now:
I almost never watch anything live any more - I can schedule my TV viewing around my work, rather than the other way around.
In addition to the various ’on demand’ services, there is the fantastic ’TV Catchup’ service for UK viewers, which allows you to follow some live programming online should you wish. There are also the ’new money for old rope services’ - ’Blinkbox’ and ’YouView’ where the BBC amongst others charges the public again for watching repeats of programmes they paid for with their TV licence.
Apple’s iTunes Service is another resource I find very useful, as this is now my chief ’Video Rental’ as such; I also buy the occasional TV series from here, but it is typically cheaper to buy a whole series DVD on Amazon or eBay. This is not necessarily Apple’s fault, media companies are too greedy on the price-point, meaning that the majority of viewers tend to choose to watch a dodgy pirated torrent download rather than an over-priced but quality download from official sources (that is if the programme is available online through official sources at all!).
In the US, they have 3 great TV / video aggregators - that is to say proper cross-channel on-demand services - Amazon VOD, Hulu and Netflix. Hulu has long tried to make inroads into the UK, but the terrestrial broadcasters won’t licence their programmes to Hulu. We really need more competition here to shake up the domestic market a little bit.
Referencing the main picture, an interesting Hulu-related story is currently circulating on the net, since Fox Broadcasting introduced an 8 day delay on one-off programme purchasing / viewing. The summary is as follows: if you’re on a Hulu+ subscription you can pretty much watch what you want when you want. If you pay individually for programmes, Fox has introduced a mandatory 8
I followed the riots live across multiple resources for 3 of the 4 main days of rioting. I caught pretty much all the reportage and interviews, updates, aftermaths and expositions; and the following is my own personal POV roundup:
Welfare Dependence - The mix of people involved in the riots does not really underline this - rich kid brats, postmen, teaching assistants, Olympic ambassdors and real estate agents were all arrested and charged. Also, the age of arrested ranged from 11 to 50 and included several walks of life - many of them quite unexpected, and outside the presumed criminal / social underbelly
Social Exclusion - Talk of a social underclass / criminal underclass was not entirely justified as perpetrators came from a much wider social demographic; there was though a high proportion from low / no-income council estates
Lack of Parenting - Presiding judges noted that very few minors (under 18s) had their parent/s in tow for court hearings. Scandinavian studies have shown that single parent families can be equally competent in raising high achieving children, so it’s not necessarily lack of fathers as many say, just a lack of parenting full stop
Spending Cuts - The current government’s cutbacks, in order to tackle the mounting national debt / deficit, cannot really be substantiated as yet, as the spending cuts have not fully set in - largely opposition party politiciking
Weak Policing - I actually agree with a lot of commentators on this; I have watched a number of interviews with the perpetrators and almost all stated that they participated after they witnessed the non-action of the Tottenham Police ("The Police just stood by and did nothing!"). Had the Police weighed in heavier from the start, it is unlikely that the riots would have spread in the way that they did. Also, the lax / slow / poor response from the IPCC to the initial incident was the cause of the first flare-up
Racism - The original Mark Duggan shooting was not necessarily what sparked the initial Tottenham riots, it was how the Police and the IPCC in particular dealt with the family of the deceased and the initial peaceful gathering of demonstrators - had this been handled properly, it is far less likely that violence would have