Posts Tagged ‘internet’

A Web Video Creators Manifesto

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

I’ve been hanging out in a community of exceptional people who are all involved in the creation of web video content. Some of their shows are comedies, some dramas, some SF – covering a wide range of genres and audiences but all independently crafted works of narrative using video to tell the tale. The makers of these works are entrepreneurial writers, directors and actors who also wear the hats of many other professional crafts as they produce and self-distribute some astonishing content.

We gather on a semi-regular basis to drink beer and bond but on a daily basis we are connected online within a continuously shifting conversation about what we do, how we do it and why we do it. It is a very supportive, inclusive and generous community of creators and I am privileged to count myself amongst their number.

As a grass roots organization our group of 300 and more share a common desire to be responsible for the creation of our stories without having to ask for permission from the usual gatekeepers of the established entertainment industry. I’ve worked in film and television for over 30 years and know full well how the business works.

Here in Canada it would be kind to describe most of the established structures of funding, production and distribution as dysfunctional. To be frank, it’s really fucked up. There are a few companies and individuals who have proven themselves very adept at navigating the waters of bureaucracy and bullshit but for most independent artists it is a stormy sea of slimy turds upon which waters none would desire to cast their bread. That’s what’s so sweet about the advent of democratizing tools and disruptive technology that has been churning through the media industries as well as the world of political discourse and action. We don’t have to sail the sea of poo.

In 1993 I gave a keynote address at an industry function focused on television programming for children. I pointed out the changes that were occurring with the internet and how it would transform the world these industry players lived and worked within. They were less than impressed – few even knew what email was let alone a web browser – as I assured them the very nature of television production, how it was created, who was creating it and how it would be watched, was destined to become something entirely different – and they had better start shifting gears on their rickety old jalopy of an industry because we were entering the age when individuals could and would be considered as studios and broadcasters unto themselves. A handful of people at the back of the room got it. Most everybody else thought I was fucking nuts. Screw them. I knew what I was talking about.

In 1997 I wrote up a short paper called What Is A Broadcaster? in an attempt to generate some kind of conversation about this. Insert sound of crickets chirping. Jesus.

In 1999 I had a colleague, whom I thought was very intelligent and forward thinking, declare loudly at a business luncheon that “the web is dead”. They just couldn’t – and still can’t – wrap their heads around the idea that the very nature of the web and the tools we can use with it is changing our culture, the business of culture and the politics of culture.

It’s all rather quaint now as we see an endless supply of video content being created for and distributed through the interwebs – and yet the major players in traditional media persist in their delusion that ultimately the web will become just another means to do business in the same old way.

Fuck off.

So what’s all this stuff about a Manifesto?

Well, the group I was telling you about – we’re based in Toronto but there are many others like us around the country – we’re actually getting ourselves organized into a professional organization that represents our needs, our concerns and our voice in this fantastically exploding world of independent web video production. It’s way past due and we’ve been meaning to be more organized than we have been but frankly we’re actually all kind of busy – making shit. Making our own shit. Good shit too. Better than poo.

Myself and others have put our heads together and crafted this manifesto – or declaration of intent, if you will – as a means to announce our arrival and our intention to continue upon this path. It ain’t no Declaration Of Independence Of Cyberspace – and it is very politely Canadian in tone (I would have added a lot of “Fuck you greedy sphincter-lipped bastards up the arse with a fistful of flaming weasels!” – but that’s just a difference in writing styles really) Do we really need to organize? I think so. We need our grassroots group of web video storytellers to stand together and represent the needs of our creative tribe. There are a number of extant professional organizations and guilds with whom we are already associated and look forward to continuing those relationships as we pursue our calling to be independent creators of web content – but they do not speak for us. They represent other interests that are oft times contradictory to our own. And that’s okay. That’s their gig.

This is ours.

March 19, 2012

We are Independent Web Video Creators, a newly founded group which represents the interests of creative professionals who craft and distribute video content across the world wide web.

We are connected directly to our audience via the screens through which we deliver our content. As creators we retain the rights to our work and govern its reach across the web. As artisans we engage with all disciplines to craft our stories. As storytellers we are in constant conversation with our audience, we establish communities and continue to build upon our creations.

We do not seek nor do we require permission to make or share our work.

The old structures of the media industry fail to serve our needs and we reject any filters or gatekeepers of old media which would stand between us and our audience. As independent web video creators and storytellers we share the vision of our work with our audience, using the democratic tools of the internet to create a richer, collaborative two-way experience.

We acknowledge the hard won protections of all players in traditional media (producers, writers, performers, musicians and more) contained in various agreements which are staunchly defended, and rightly so, by all concerned. We do not seek to unravel, negate or destroy those agreements. Instead, we are media professionals seeking to have the needs of this new generation of digital creators addressed with fresh minds and the clear understanding that creating for the web is a new industry unto itself, not an extension of the status quo, with a need for new working relationships and collaborations amongst all parties.

We do not intend to be confrontational with any established group. We are neither foe nor adversary to old media. However, we are firm in our resolve that these are changing times in a rapidly changing world where the rules of engagement must also change – and for the better to all concerned.

We seek to govern our own fate. We are committed to real long term growth as a professional industry. We embrace new business models and new ideas.

Independent Web Video Creators are organizing throughout the world to share knowledge, experience, skills and resources. We gather online and in the real world to represent our needs and shape our emerging industry. To those who also embrace new ideas of narrative and distribution, to those who are creating a new relationship between artist and audience, and to those who are explorers and innovators in the growing marketplace of online storytelling – we encourage you to join with us to shape and build our world.

The web is not just another distribution channel for broadcast signals. It is a conversation between everyone and it is an extension of our nervous systems. We seek to create and share and prosper in this new age of screen culture and interconnected thought.

We are Independent Web Video Creators.

* * *

I’ll write more on this – and link to the shows my colleagues are making.


P. S. And now here’s a metaphoric image of me (not me) pointing the way to the future.

Internet Rising

Thursday, December 1st, 2011

Internet Rising is an utterly awesome documentary which describes itself as

a digi-documentary investigating the evolving relationships between the Internet and collective consciousness of humanity. It provokes many questions about ancient and modern paradoxes of life, its pleasures and pains… and the gray area contrasts in between – but most of all it is meant to be an inspiring conversation starter; a launchpad for future remixes of a collective search for some meaning/mindfulness. It is also spiced with a bit of humorous satire to give our *overloaded* BIG DATA _information_ dump() brains a little break from the daily race :)

Watch it. Pass it on.

R.E.M.ix “It’s The End Of TV As We Know It”

Monday, September 26th, 2011

eG8 Alt Press Conference

Monday, May 30th, 2011

A follow up to my previous post on the eG8 – here’s the impromptu press conference held by those attendees (Lawrence Lessig, Susan Crawford, Jeff Jarvis at al) putting their spin on the Sarkozy government/business G8 slant on their proposed ownership and control of the interwebs.

Short strokes: “Yo, Nikki – the net is infinitely more than just a handy platform from whence you greedy geezers can continue to shill your lies and sell your shit. So go fuck yourself.”

But I paraphrase – let the better minds speak:

[EN] La société civile s’en va t’en guerre à l’ e-G8 from OWNI on Vimeo.

Lessig is great – so’s Jarvis – but be sure to catch Jérémie Zimmermann around 18:15 where he really nails what is going on with all this eG8 bullshit.


P.S. Found this over at BoingBoing posted by Cory Doctorow. Thanks!

John Perry Barlow At The eG8

Friday, May 27th, 2011


John Perry Barlow, the author of the Declaration Of Independence Of Cyberspace, was at the recent eG8 conference where he spoke very eloquently about the bullshit efforts of governments and corporations to own and control the internet. French President Sarkozy bluntly described the internet as “a new territory waiting to be conquered”.

Yeah – you little weasel – that worked out real well for you and yours in Africa, didn’t it? Fucker.

It’s worth listening through the over-chewed garbage coming out of the mouths of the other participants as they spew nonsensical propaganda about the “creation industry” for Barlow’s response, where he cuts them off at the knees.

Listen to Barlow and learn – because the internet, the technological extension of your nervous system that connects you with other human beings around the world, is under siege by the corrupt powers who believe they are entitled to own and control you.

Have a nice day.


P.S. I found this stuff over at Roger Davies excellent blog.

P.P.S. Also scrounged from Davies’ blog is this short interview with Jeff Jarvis on his reaction to the eG8. Jarvis is always worth reading and listening to – like this excellent write up of the eG8 from his own blog.

eG8 – Jeff Jarvis – CUNY Professor in Journalism from OWNI on Vimeo.

P.P.S.S.-etc. And from Susan Crawford, via her Twitter feed, comes this excellent post by Alex Howard which pretty much sums up the whole eG8 clusterfuck.


Keynote – e-G8 from lessig on Vimeo.

A Word About TekSavvy – My ISP

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

You can file this under the blatant and shameless plug department but I just wanted to take a moment to mention TekSavvy, my ISP whom I went to after getting completely fed up with the bullshit of Rogers.

They have never let me down and have always provided the best service I could ever hope for. Their support staff are always helpful and extraordinarily patient. Their rates are low, their bandwidth is high and they continue to be strong proponents of Net Neutrality and competitive broadband access.

Bell, courtesy of the assholes in Ottawa CRTC, is allowed to throttle some of the traffic of companies like TekSavvy who resell the bandwidth they purchase wholesale from the telcos.

Despite this TekSavvy continues to provide me with exemplary speeds.

The CRTC rulings go beyond mere throttling and may endanger the very existence of independent competition to the big telcos. This is an onerous situation and will, hopefully, get resolved either through legal action, or a response from parliament to reverse the CRTC decision or perhaps at some distant time from now when the CRTC finally manages to get its pointy little head out of its fat pimply ass.

The decisions being handed down by the CRTC serve to maintain a dysfunctional monopoly and clearly illustrate the principle recently cited by Clay Shirky: “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.”

In continuing to push back at the status quo of shitty overpriced monopolies like Bell, Telus and Rogers, independent ISPs like TekSavvy are doing the job of the CRTC – actually working for the rights of Canadian citizens.

This all sounds like a public handjob, I know, but I am very thankful to have TekSavvy as my ISP and just decided they needed to be acknowledged. If you are looking for an alternative to your current internet servce provider check out TekSavvy.


Full Disclosure: I did not get paid to make this endorsement but I do owe them money.

P.S. Here’s some posts from Michael Geist (along with some great comments) that cover this same territory:

Canadian ISPs Fall Short In Meeting Net Neutrality Requirements

CRTC Traffic Management Rules Apply To Wireless Too

Liberals Call for Better Internet and Wireless Competition, Net Neutrality

• And this from Elliot Noss at Tucows

The Rhyme Of History

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

This is all about AT&T’s forgotten plot to hijack the U.S. airwaves – back in 1922.

Old time radio

In a brilliant post on Ars Technica by Matthew Lasar a faded remnant from almost 90 years past is revealed to remind us how little changes as we march toward our collective futures.

In 1920, nobody knew how to make money from this new technology. In fact, one magazine held a contest for the best essay on how to”monetize” radio, as we would say in contemporary jargon. It might amuse Ars readers to learn that pretty much everybody agreed that commercials represented the worst possible option. “The quickest way to kill broadcasting would be to use it for direct advertising,” warned then Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover. “If a speech by the President is to be used as the meat in a sandwich of two patent medicine advertisements there will be no radio left.” RCA Vice President David Sarnoff agreed. Soon he would propose a “super power” system in which a few high powered transmitters would broadcast radio fare to the whole country, the content subsidized by the sales on radio receivers.

But AT&T had another idea—a network of almost 40 radio stations strung together via the telco’s long distance lines. They would broadcast to local areas wirelessly and share content via AT&T’s long routes.

The obvious resonance with the lobbying, shenanigans, patent wars and foot-dragging by the current rogue’s gallery of telcos, cable companies and industry associations is more than merely amusing; it shines a light on the consistent behaviour of large powerful monopolies who are, and will always be, more interested in maintaining their positions of control and profit than any publicly supported effort to craft a world that betters everyones lives. As Lasar points out in his article, we cannot easily judge how any of our possible alternate futures could have evolved were things handled differently:

What are we to make of this short-lived technological gambit? It would be easy to celebrate AT&T’s demise in this area, and counterfactual history is always a tricky game. But it seems to us that an opportunity was lost here. The Bell System’s withdrawal from broadcasting left both radio and television in the hands of one technological institution, the licensed broadcast station. The owners of these entities quickly morphed into a powerful political lobby, constantly standing in the way of competing platforms, such as cable television, satellite radio, Low Power FM, and white space broadband.

- but we can readily presume, regardless of who emerged as the victor of any such scenario, the subsequently entrenched powers exercising their political and monetary clout will rarely, if ever, have the best interests of the world at heart. Quite the contrary, as is being amply demonstrated in our current day and age of disruptive technologies, they will grasp and cling at every possible vantage to themselves even as it destroys everything and everyone around them – including themselves.

As Kevin Kelly points out in his recent post on his Technium blog, Clay Shirky nailed it when he said: “Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” Kelly then directs us to a very good blog read from Shirky that fits with all of this: The Collapse Of Complex Business Models. As with all things Shirky, it’s concise and pithy and essential. He looks to find the way up through the falling debris of collapse which threatens to crush us and it’s a good perspective to have – but I think we also need to address how we as human beings, both individually and as institutions, continue to behave in grotesquely avaricious and irrationally self-destructive ways.

Mark Twain liked to say: “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

I think it’s time we changed the tune, danced a new dance, and kicked those old fuckers off the floor.

Rock on.

UPDATE: I just stumbled upon Susan Crawford’s blog post today comparing the current cable companies monopolies with J. P. Morgan’s control over the U.S. railways in the late 1800′s. Terrific stuff and totally resonant with all my incoherent babbling.

UPDATE PART DEUX: Seem to have stumbled across a minor geeky meme with all this stuff. PC Mag has a post today on the FCC battle against the telcos to regulate broadband – with quotes from Ms. Crawford – and it’s all in context with the same stuff I’ve been yammering on about. Cool.

“Lux Arumque” – Eric Whitacre’s Virtual Choir

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

This will likely be the most beautiful thing you will see and hear all day. Please share it with your friends.

I’m a sucker for choral music and when I found this over on Kevin Kelly‘s blog The Technium I just had to share it with you. It’s a virtual choir assembled by Eric Whitacre, comprised of 185 voices from 12 countries.

Here’s what Kelly had to say:

Many critics of web technology complain that there is nothing special enabled by social media which you could not do with traditional media. Yes, you could make a choir of 200, but it would probably not sing like this. Take a look at this virtual choir. It brings 185 voices, all recorded independently at home, and then combined into a virtual choir. Each voice (available on the side of the video) is expert, each face unique; combined they are heavenly. Could you do a choir of 1,000? Yes!

Whitacre gave his singers these instructions and this was the result:

The visual presentation at first blush may appear to be a tad corny but this deserves to be watched full screen in HD – go here to do just that. All those rapt faces, singing alone and together at the same time – if ever there was an expression of the larger gifts the web is bringing to us, this is it.


Isaac Asimov – 1988 – On The Internet

Sunday, March 7th, 2010

Isaac Asimov talks to Bill Moyers in 1988 about the implications of everyone having access to computers that are linked to everyone else – and how this access to information will revolutionize how we all learn. Brilliant stuff.

He’s one smart dude – and probably the only person in the world who could sport such outrageous whiskerage.


Canada – E.U. Trade Agreement Seeks To Fuck Canadian Democracy

Monday, January 18th, 2010

Yeah – you read that headline correctly. Cory Doctorow posted an item on BoingBoing about Michael Geist’s reaction to a leaked negotiating document for CETA, the Canada – E.U. Trade Agreement.

Similar to the still “secret” negotiations of ACTA, the E.U. is seeking to impose copyright reforms that include term extension, DMCA legislation, resale rights, and ISP liability.

Geist writes:

Having viewed the document, I can report that it goes downhill from there, promoting the key message that Canadian laws are inadequate, while liberally quoting a report from the Canadian IP Council and discredited counterfeiting data.

The document states that the trade negotiations are a “unique opportunity [for Canada] to upgrade its IPR regime despite local anti-IPR lobbying.” It includes an assessment of recent copyright reform efforts, noting that two bills have died due to “political instability.” The document adds that the copyright reform process was revived in 2009 with the national copyright consultation, but notes dismissively it may have been a “tactic to confuse.”

I am so fucking sick of this trade negotiation bullshit where corporations bypass the will of citizens, dictating social policy outside of any legislative process and shitting down our throats. It’s not just business and it’s not just Canada. This kind of crap is going on all over the place.

In Italy the Berlusconi government is proposing a mandatory license for the right to upload video to the internet. As it says in the Standard:

“The decree subjects the transmission of images on the Web to rules typical of television and requires prior ministerial authorization, with an incredible limitation on the way the Internet currently functions,” opposition Democratic Party lawmaker Paolo Gentiloni told the press conference.

Article 4 of the decree specifies that the dissemination over the Internet “of moving pictures, whether or not accompanied by sound,” requires ministerial authorization. Critics say it will therefore apply to the Web sites of newspapers, to IPTV and to mobile TV, obliging them to take on the same status as television broadcasters.

“Italy joins the club of the censors, together with China, Iran and North Korea,” said Gentiloni’s party colleague Vincenzo Vita…

“It’s the Berlusconi method: Kill your potential enemies while they are small. That’s why anyone doing Web TV — even from their attic at home — must get ministerial approval and fulfill a host of other bureaucratic obligations,” Gilioli wrote. He said the government was also keen to restrict the uncontrollable circulation of information over the Internet to preserve its monopoly over television news.

Business and government don’t like it when the citizens can speak to each other and hear other voices than those which have been approved.

Fuck them.

Internet Growth Chart

I can only hope the net is growing fast enough and becoming pervasive enough that it will be impossible to regulate like this without causing massive unrest and the public dismemberment of the greedy cretins responsible. But that doesn’t mean they won’t stop trying.

In the early days of radio the airwaves were public. Supposedly they still are but they are held in trust by governments who auction off the rights to the highest bidders. They call it spectrum management – also known as theft and control. In the very early days of radio anybody could be a broadcaster if they could get their hands on the gear. It was chaotic and anarchic and a shit load of fun. Imagine what the world would be like today if those airwaves hadn’t been hijacked by government and big business. It’s too easy to say it needed regulation or (with the benefit of hindsight) that the cultural treasures from those days (including news, music, comedies, dramas and their attendant advertising and propoganda) would have been lost. I’d like to think the airwaves would have evolved in a manner similar to the growth of the web – with innovations being introduced to help manage the chaos and new economic opportunities arising from it all. We’ll never know.

The web benefits from the rapid and ongoing acceleration of technological development. It is self-healing and does not require regulation to control it – it needs regulation to keep it free. If we’re lucky the web will grow in size and ubiquity to such a scale that it is no longer feasible – technically, culturally and politically – to wrestle it into a locked box.

Of course, stranger shit has happened in this world – if we let it happen.

No matter what kind of fancy sauce the politicians and lobbyists smear all over their pious reasons for wanting to control the net – and you – it will always smell and taste like bullshit. Trust your senses.

2010 marks the beginning of a crusade against the public use of the net. This decade will define what the net becomes – or is allowed to become. The outcome of these forces which seek to control your eyes, ears and minds will define how free you will be. This is no exaggeration.

Get angry. Get loud. Tell everybody. Be heard.

The net doesn’t just belong to you – it is you.

Defend yourself.