Video Chat Portal, Seesmic Gets Celebs including Spielberg

I fooled around with the social video site Seesmic–you might think of it as a video chat portal–some time ago, and I found it boring. But now that the likes of Steven Spielberg, Karen Allen and Harrison Ford are posting video clips there too, maybe I should take another look?

And here’s a thread you can view (without signing on to Seesmic) from a UK Guardian Journalist who dialogged via video with Steven, Karen, Harrison & more: Spielberg Pops Up on Seesmic

I caught wind of this from a TechCrunch post: Don’t Screw Your Partners Over A Marketing Promotion which explains more background and some related technical issues. Most interesting to me, they refer to the appearance of these celebrities as a “promotion” without explaining that deal. Jemima Kiss, the UK journalist says “the guys behind the project” are the Picture Production Company. However, The Industry Standard’s coverage of this says, “Seesmic’s founder Loic Le Meur claims that he didn’t even know it was going to happen until right before the videos went up.”

Still, it’s clear that these celebrities are not just posting. For one thing, they all have the same background (gold curtains) on their videos so they apparently all went somewhere together and recorded their posts. These are hardly the casual, usually at-home kind of chats most Seesmic users post. Just the same, I view this development as an interesting new kind of access to some very interesting creative, innovative people, as well as more evidence of how important “The Video Web” is becoming to more and more people, including top-level leaders in the entertainment industry.

Anyone out there using Seesmic regularly and care to comment?

YouTube Video Quality & Flip Video Illustrate Latest Dynamics on The Video Web

One issue we’ve been dealing with that I think many people struggle with is how to get better quality video on YouTube. Here’s the most useful insights I’ve seen to date on this subject:

>> Read: “Hi-Res YouTube Hacks”

Some of you know that I’m impressed with the amazingly simple, little video camera called The Flip. Here’s why another thoughtful person thinks The Flip is important and perhaps indicates meaningful web video trends pointing toward our future:

>> Read: “Video Flips for the Future”

And while we are illustrating what’s cool about the rapidly expanding world of video on the web, here’s my son’s newest favorite short video, which clearly would not have been possible without “the video web” both in terms of production as well as distribution. Pretty cool, eh? Enjoy!


People in Order

Enhancements to the Video Web: The Mini-Camcorder Du Jour & Intelligent Video Conversations

A couple of quick blog bites (vs sound bites) from the NYTimes website which indicate continually brighter days ahead for what I affectionately call The Video Web:

First of all, my fave tech writer David Pogue not only reviewed my Christmas present (see posts and demo video below), The Flip Ultra, but his latest “State of the Art” column, “Camcorder Brings Zen to the Shoot” pretty much nails it. It also informed me–and I had no idea about this–that the Flip is now garnering a rich 17% of all US camcorder sales and “has been the best-selling camcorder on Amazon.com since the day of its debut. For Pogue’s finely articulated perspective, click here.

The other item is what appears to be a new feature on the NYT website, which is Bloggingheads.tv “diavlogs.” Language-wise this is a double-derivative term. I’ll bet most people don’t even know that the term “blog” is derived from “web log” let alone that a “vlog” is a video blog. Just the same I welcome this combination that creates a new kind of conversation. (kind of rolls off the tongue) I’ve been thinking and occasionally saying that the use of webcams and the ease of the current state of video conferencing should be put to more use. Little did I know that this kind of video dialog, oh OK, diavlog was being so widely distributed. And then imagine my delight when I found at least these two commentators talking about the Barak Obama race speech being more articulate and interesting than most of those duds on cable TV news shows. Right on. It was also nice to see the NYTimes editing down and providing a solid 4-minute excerpt of what appears to be an almost hour-long original conversation on BloggingHeads.TV At least the whole thing is there for you if you want it.

Click here to watch the NYTimes-BloggingHeads edit: “Obama’s Grandmother” which asks the scintillating question: “Is everyone missing the whole point?”

I have to add that the intelligence of this BloggingHeads conversation is in stark contrast to my experience experimenting with the Seesmic.com video “conversation” website which is mentioned in the Davos post below. That turned out to be an interesting attempt from a technological point-of-view, but extremely boring overall. Even Seesmic’s specially produced (and apparently funded) posts were disappointing (to say the least). Sorry. I liked their bushy-eyed enthusiasm, but there’s good web video and a lot that is not so good. Like everything else…

Quality Video Programming is On Now

On my less optimistic days, I feel like we’ve gone from “nothing on” crappy TV programming, to “too much on” kitchen sink internet video programming. But fortunately those days are few because of how much uplifting and inspiring stuff is out there.

Recently, rather than bottom feeding, I’ve been top feeding with some of the best online video programming anywhere.

Tonight I was browsing some great Talks at Google on YouTube (from obvious Google execs, to fascinating authors, to presidential candidates). And earlier this weekend, I caught a link (on an Amazon author blog no less) to yet another amazing one of the extraordinarily inspiring TED talks. Truly great stuff. These are also available via iTunes and, for me, has made having a video iPod worthwhile.

Here’s the latest TED talk that blew my mind. If you’ve ever wondered the meaning of all the left-brain, right-brain talk this will clear it up and uplift you as well, at least it did me:

By the way, if you’re interested in getting a full taste of the TED conference, I highly recommend the DVD, The Future We Will Create: Inside the World of TED. It’s a kind of greatest hits, behind the scenes look at the 2006 TED conference. Also, inspiring and uplifting.

See there’s lots of good stuff to watch. 😉

Live from Davos via The Video Web


I’m presuming that most of you know about the World Economic Forum held in Davos each year and attracting a virtual planetary A-list who’s who… from heads of state to Bill Gates & Rupert Murdock to celebs etc. etc.

As the video web expands, live person-to-person coverage is becoming quite interesting; and perhaps the best of that batch is Loïc Le Meur, the French self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur and blogger.” Here’s a taste of “live from Davos” via the video web featuring Emma Thompson, Bill Gates and more…

Btw, Le Meur’s latest start up is Seesmic.com “the dashboard for your videos” and an online video “conversation” platform that’s still in alpha (testing, limited user base, etc.) Click here for a review/demo by BBC News’ Dot.Life

Oh yeah… And then there’s “The Davos Question” on YouTube:

And (drum roll) a darn good (IMHO) answer by “rock star” Bono :

It looks like the video web’s conversations are heating up! 😉

My First Pocket Camera Video is on YouTube

I mentioned that I got a Flip mini-video camera for Christmas:

My favorite new gizmo is The Flip (Ultra), a pocket-sized, web-ready video digi-cam. No tape, just 60 mins of MPEG-4 video in Flash memory and a flip-up USB port.

This camera is about the size of a pack of cigarettes. It’s easy to use and for what it is, it works quite well.

So, I took it out for a drive… my buddy Keith Bailey had a photography show open at a restaurant in San Francisco last week. I shot the following while in attendance, in a very noisy atmosphere, in some instances with virtually no light… and the results are not bad. I edited it in about 1 and 1/2 hours with iMovie and “borrowed” some music from a friend, Gary Malkin (his collaboration with Tito La Rosa will be for sale soon.)

Anyway, here’s my quick first effort at pocket-cam event videography. It’s about 3 minutes. Please let me know what you think:

My Virtual CES Report

No, I didn’t go to CES (the consumer electronics mega-convention) in Las Vegas, but here are a few tidbits from the web that I’ve found worthy:

Scoble‘s doing Qik videos direct from his cell phone including this interview with the guys from YouTube:

And CNET picked this astoundingly innovative and open source BugLabs platform as its CES Awards winner for “emerging technologies.” I even like their video. Cool.

Johnny Chung Lee: My New Procrasteering, Low-Cost Electronic Whiteboard-Inventing Hero


After I discovered the YouTube video on 3-D virtual reality using Nintendo Wii hardware posted below by Johnny (Chung) Lee, I started digging deeper.

First, I discovered the YouTube video posted below about building a low-cost electronic whiteboard using the same Nintendo Wii hardware and custom software that he is giving away. Way cool!

Now, I’ve learned that Johnny has named his blog after a term I’ve never heard before and which I presume he invented, “procrastineering” which he says means “giving into productive distractions.” I can totally relate. I presume he means like me blogging right now instead of working, right? Johnny’s blog is http://procrastineering.blogspot.com/

And then (yes, there’s more), I found out that way back in 2000, he invented a $14 steadicam for videographers replacing that expensive piece of equipment that every semi-serious video camera person needs these days, but many cannot afford. He’ll even put one together for you and sell it for about $54 including shipping!

This guy’s so cool that he’s even put out a call for Mac developers to help him develop a Mac version of the Wiimote Whiteboard.

Johnny, I’m officially your fan. We even have the same “JL” initials. 😉 Great stuff.

The Rapid Demise & Eminent Death of Music DRM


Digital Rights Management (or DRM) has been a controversial subject against which I have pontificated for years, starting with the whole Napster thing in 2000. Ironically, in that article, I slammed Edgar Bronfman Jr. who is quoted prominently in this new Businessweek article about Sony BMG being “The last major label (to) throw in the towel on digital rights management…” Thanks for the link to this article goes to the TechCrunch postmortem, “Ding, Dong, The Music DRM Witch is Dead.”

I have to admit that the death of DRM is coming even more quickly than I expected, but we can all be glad that she is dying (and, I guess, that Bronfman is waking up).

If you really want to understand this subject, I highly recommend Free Culture: The Nature and Future of Creativity by the wise and articulate Lawrence Lessig.

Nintendo Wii Hack Creates 3-D Virtual Reality Head-tracking: Whoa!

I don’t usually cover do-it-yourself techno-hacks, but as far as I’m concerned this is one of the kinds of things that YouTube was invented for. Specifically, here’s an amazingly creative computer guy (a Ph.D. student actually) who has figured out a way to create a true 3-D virtual reality experience by doing a customization (a.k.a. a “hack”) of the Nintendo Wii.

What’s equally impressive, at least to me, is that in less than 5-minutes on the video clip below, he not only explains how to do this yourself, but he educates us mortals about the difference between a simulated or flat 3-D image and the much more real virtual reality style head-tracking that he has managed to implement. I love not only what he’s done but the fact that he can use internet video to share it (and to share it so clearly) with the world. (Thanks, Johnny.) Enjoy.