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Archive for February, 2007

Ofcom shows broadband users some much needed love

February 14th, 2007

The U.K. regulator Ofcom's new ISP regulations have come into force Wednesday facilitating broadband users easier switching of service providers.

Today signifies the end of a horrific period for those of us that dared to switch broadband providers in the UK.

New rules have come into force that change the way all UK broadband providers manage the customer switching process.

Basically, the new rules mean broadband providers must stop charging, and generally making it very difficult, for customers to switch suppliers.

Ofcom has promised heavy fines for those that step out of line.

Full details on BBC news, here, and via Ofcom, here.

Warning! Techie bit follows:

The main issue has focused on Migration Authorisation Codes (Mac), which are issued to customers by the supplier they wish to leave, and allow the new provider to identify the customer’s broadband line.  Well at least in some cases, not all providers use Mac codes, which changes as of today.

Now broadband service providers must use the Mac system and supply these codes, free of charge, within five days of being requested to do so.

Hurrah!

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Viacom paves way for blog TV

February 13th, 2007

US media company Viacom has today announced plans to make its video content, including MTV shows and trailers from Paramount movie studios, available to the public for re-publishing on their blogs and personal websites.

The move follows Viacom’s recent demands to remove more than 100,000 of its video clips from YouTube. This is a cunning step towards making it less reliant on sites such as YouTube and Google Video to reach online consumers.

Viacom’s decision is intriguing in light of recent steps by online publishers such as Trinity Mirror and News Corp to add video functionality to their own websites. There is clearly a massive appetite for online video among internet users across the globe, and as a media owner, Viacom is in a perfect position to grow its online network by offering them content that it knows they want.

At present, the practice of embedding YouTube content etc into personal blogs is widespread, but the prospect of individuals being able to launch their own blog TV through syndicated video feeds such as Viacom’s, is an exciting one.

I may be jumping 10 steps ahead, but it’s something that I can see happening in the not too distant future.

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Funding free information – The Wikipedia conundrum

February 12th, 2007

The Wikipedia scare story has been doing the rounds for a few days now, but if you missed it, a quick overview is included below.

Speaking at the recent LIFT 07 conference, Florence Devouard, chairwoman of the Wikimedia Foundation (that owns Wikipedia) made a call for (financial) support and said “We currently have money in the bank for three-four months, but I don’t worry for the future.”

Many people decided to ignore the last part of the quote and blogged about more dramatic angles, such as ‘Wikipedia to close’, ‘Wikipedia looks for buyers’, ‘WikiDoom’…okay, not the last one, but you get the idea.

Bruno Giussani has the full story here, and Jemima Kiss sums it up here.

Wikipedia’s growing costs show why it needs support:

  • Bandwidth costs have increased from $5000 per month in 2005 to between $60-$100,000 per month this year.
  • The site has 350 servers and hardware costs are projected to be $1m for 2007.

According to Wikipedia, advertising is not an option, because contributors in the US and Europe are against commercialising the site, and after all, that is kind of the point – but this leaves the site dependant on donations.

Surely that’s not sustainable? Let’s face it Wikipedia will continue to grow, and I’m sure the donations will also continue, but not at the same rate.

The site raised $1m for 2005 and needs to raise $5m this year, but donations currently add up to $30-40,000 per month, or more accurately – they don’t add up.

A new strategy needs to be found, and I’m sure the Wikimedia people have plans in place, but can the site really stay free from commercialisation?

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YouTube to go mobile in the UK

February 9th, 2007

Vodafone has today secured a deal with YouTube, which will provide its UK customers with a mobile version of the video-sharing website.

The service is due to launch later in the year, and will provide access to a limited number of video clips through the Vodafone Live! WAP portal.

The exclusivity of the deal seems flakey – according to a report on the Times website, Vodafone will have a “period” of exclusivity of “some months”, suggesting that YouTube will seek to partner with other mobile networks.

However, the sticking point is likely to be pricing, which Vodafone is said to still be deciding on. If it’s free online and a far better user experience, it will be interesting to see how much customers will pay for YouTube on the move.

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All Apple needs is love…

February 6th, 2007

And you can bet we’re going to be hearing a lot more from The Beatles online. (Apologies for the headline).

Yes, it’s true, that 30-year logo battle between Apple Inc, (Steve Jobs) and Apple Corps (The Beatles) has been settled. It appears both parties have agreed they’ve been missing the point since hostilities got serious again over the launch of the iPod, and they are finally taking advantage of the massive collaboration opportunity that has been slapping them in the face ever since.

If you look at the lost revenue caused by The Beatles refusal to allow their music to be downloaded online, and furthermore, the boycott of Apple’s iTunes library, it’s not difficult to see the benefit of these two great brands working together. 

To be exact, the new ‘super’ Apple, or ‘Big Apple’ (again, apologies) is going to try and recoup some of that lost time by blitzing us with every Beatles download imaginable, in the hope of focusing their considerable brand powers on the serious business of making money, and lots of it.

Expect to see a Beatles’ Love album on iTunes for Valentine’s Day.

For the full background and details on the new alliance, MediaGuardian has it covered, here.

And for the short version of the agreement, basically, Apple Inc (of iPod fame) owns all “apple” related trademarks, but will license back to the Beatles permission for Apple Corps’ use. Each side is paying its own legal costs, which will be covered by download revenue in about the time it has taken you read this post.

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Trailer to Web 2.0…

February 5th, 2007

The social media revolution has happened so quickly, that it’s easy to forget how much the Web has developed over the past 10 years.

We are lucky to have been a part of it. For a nostalgic look back, check out this video created by Dr Michael Wesch, assistant professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University. It’s currently number one in the Viral Video Chart.

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Humans cause global warming…and tagging is reorganising the Web

February 2nd, 2007

It appears the Ministry of Astoundingly Obvious Statements has been at work.

Exhibit one - The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has today confirmed that Global climate change is “very likely” to have a human cause.  

I know it’s a bit off-topic for this blog, but it’s big news, so I had to share. More info here.

Onto something a little less obvious. The Pew Internet & American Life project has released a new study on the effects of tagging on advanced Internet searches.

The figures aren’t that impressive, but the effect is important.

According to the report, 28% of US internet users have tagged or categorised content online such as photos, or blog posts, and on a typical day online, 7% of internet users say they tag or categorise online content.

This means tags are reorganising information, or as the report overview states: ‘Just as the internet allows users to create and share their own media, it is also enabling them to organise digital material in their own way, rather than relying on pre-existing formats of classifying information.’

It’s good to have this data clarified, but isn’t this report just confirming what we already know?

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