25 August 02005

Second year web site charts

August is the 'silly season' for news and also the anniversary of this site launching in earnest. Last year I posted some 'charts' for the most accessed pages and the most common search terms that led people to this site. Here is the hit parade for this year (based on statistics from the last six months).

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24 August 02005

Browse interface for BBC Creative Archive clips

Last week the BBC made available the first video content under the terms of the Creative Archive initiative. The footage includes material covering natural history, wildlife, science, locations. I heard there was a hundred hours of footage, though it's hard to check this; the clips appear to vary in length from under 30 seconds to 10 or 15 minutes.

The positioning of this material as video resources for VJs makes sense for at least two reasons. First it emphasises the re-mix, re-purposing scope and ambitions of the Creative Archive. Second, more prosaically and practically, it gets round the problem that little or none of the footage is the kind anyone would just sit down and watch (the Tomorrow's World clip is almost comical in the way the audio drops out — sometimes mid-sentence — presumably when some uncleared music is mixed in with the voice-track).

I may be proved wrong here, but I suspect the BBC will be hoping to discourage anyone drawing direct comparisons between use of this video material and the recent runaway figures for downloads of Beethoven symphonies. The Creative Archive is a very different proposition from music downloads, and the 'public value' test in a year's time will no doubt reflect that — including the different uses to which the material is put. Obviously this trial is just a start, and there has been correspondingly little fanfare about it: the blog coverage is fairly neutral so far, mostly just noting the existence of the new material.

The element of the trial that gives me pause is not the material, the formats or the (UK only) licence, but the user interface for browsing and finding clips.

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21 August 02005

Werner Herzog film season and conference

Coming up in London this September is a season of all Werner Herzog's feature films, around a third of his documentaries, plus the two Les Blank documentaries about Herzog. The latter form part of a weekend conference on Herzog's work, which also includes the UK premiere of the director's most recent film The Wild Blue Yonder. Herzog has been invited to be interviewed before this screening.

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11 August 02005

Bigmouth Strikes Again — Five Eight article

My article on word-of-mouth recommendations among music fans and playlist sharing is the cover feature in the August issue of Five Eight music business magazine. Here's the introduction (written by Five Eight editor, Eamonn Forde):

Word of mouth is a term passed around the marketing playground everyday. But in a culture where the marketplace is increasingly connected, it is time to ask how these powerful and very personal phenomena can be understood and exploited. Word of mouth springs from communities — increasingly more powerful because of online and mobile — where trust is key. How can the music industry effectively work in and, crucially, with these communities and build a relationship of trust and effective recommendation systems, particularly through playlisting?

To read the full article, you need to subscribe to Five Eight.

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10 August 02005

Blog of Forced Entertainment new show re-starts

As performance company Forced Entertainment have re-started 'R&D' on their next project, the blog documenting this workpreviously mentioned here — has also got under way again.

8 August 02005

iPod death leads to music buying paralysis

Two weeks ago the hard disk on my iPod packed up, rendering it even more useless than if the battery had failed (as is more common). It's a second generation iPod, bought in April 02003, just a few weeks before the third generation (cheaper, bigger) was announced, which made me sick as the proverbial talking zygodactyl. Having been caught out once, I naturally paused before rushing out to buy a new one.

And when I paused I realised that the smart thing to do is to save my money for as long as possible. I assume a lot of iPod users have fairly big music collections — though the stats suggest I'm at the top end even of this group. I have just under 2,000 albums and buy CDs fairly regularly, if less frequently than I used to (see details). According to last week's IFPI report, the average person in the UK bought 2.9 albums last year, more than the average in any other country. For that to be true, it must be that for every consumer like me, there are about thirty who buy no albums at all.

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3 August 02005

Aggregation of data across social networks

A few days ago Marc Canter sketched the idea of a technology to interconnect social networks together, via a post on the Pho list, and it caught my eye. "Instead of a giant centralized social network with 1,000,000 members, we'd prefer to see 1,000,000 social nets with 10-25-150 members each", he wrote, referencing work done by his company Broadband Mechanics.

That got me thinking, and this posting is an attempt to capture some of the thoughts triggered by that vision — even if some of them are tangential to what Marc is trying to build.

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