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Eat like Snake October 15, 2006

Posted by rajAT in burger, Burger King, eat like snake.

This Burger King commerical got some 1100 diggs and 110 comments at digg.com. Power of new media. Instanly the guys get to know how the world is seeing their big idea.

Well I got this special link with Burger King because only King Uncle serves vegetable burger in Uncle Sam’s land. And you can understand and appreciate the pain of being a vegetarian in USA. It was such a relief when I get to know this. And their vegetable burger is also awesome. So whenever we were hitch hiking or driving in new england I will mark burger king joints before embarking on our journey.
This is for the Burger King. 🙂


Futures of Entertainment October 14, 2006

Posted by rajAT in Uncategorized.
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The Comparative Media Studies Program has announced an exciting forthcoming conference, The Futures of Entertainment, to be held at MIT on Nov. 17 and 18. The event is designed to bring together leading thinkers from across the entertainment industry to speak about core issues around media convergence, transmedia storytelling, user-generated content, and participatory culture. Speakers confirmed so far include The Long Tail’s Chris Anderson, Flickr’s Caterina Fake, DC Comic’s Paul Levitz, Warner Brother’s Diane Nelson, Big Spaceship’s Michael Lebowitz, social networking researcher danah boyd, television scholar Jason Mittell, and many others, including representatives from MTV, Cartoon Network, Bioware, and other leading companies in this space.

Here’s a more detailed description of the themes for the scheduled panels:

Television Futures

New distribution methods, new revenue strategies and changing modes of audience engagement are transforming how television works. Off- and post-broadcast markets make ‘old’ television valuable as a continuing source of income and suggest new ways to reach viewers. Digital video recorders threaten the 30-second commercial but offer the possibility of more detailed information about audience members. Some television producers may reach out to consumers directly rather than going through the networks and networks are using online distribution to generate buzz about new shows before they reach the air. Creative responses to these challenges are re-writing how we understand what was once just the box in the corner.

User-Generated Content

Media culture is becoming more participatory, rewriting the relations between media producers and consumers. New tools and distribution platforms, a changing cultural ethos, and innovative corporate approaches to user-generated content are turning viewers into active participants. Innovation may occur at the grassroots level yet influence decisions made within corporate media. Yet, are media companies ready for the grassroots creativity they are unleashing? What challenges does greater user-participation pose to both producers and audiences? What corporate policies enable or retard the growth of user-generated content?

Transmedia Properties

The cultural logic of convergence lends itself to a flow of narratives, characters, and worlds across media platforms. Moving beyond older models based on liscensed ancillary products, transmedia extensions are now seen as expanding the opportunities for storytelling, enabling new kinds of entertainment experiences, building up secondary characters or backstory. Transmedia extension may also create alternative openings for different market segments and enable more extensive contact with brands. The great potential of transmediation is to deepen audience engagement, but this requires greater awareness of the specific benefits of working within different platforms. How are media companies organizing the development of transmedia properties? How are storytellers taking advantage of the “expanded canvas” such an approach offers? How do transmedia strategies impact the new integration between brands and entertainment properties? What new expectations do transmedia properties place on consumers?

Fan Cultures

Once seen as marginal or niche consumers, Fan communities look more ‘mainstream’ than ever before. Some have argued that the practices of web 2.0 are really those of fan culture without the stigma. Courted, encouraged, engaged and acknowledged, fans are more and more frequently being recognized as trendsetters, viral marketers, and grassroots intermediaries. Fan affinity is being seized as a form of grassroots marketing, representing the bleeding edge of brand and property commitment. The sophistication of fan-created products rivals the professional products they honor, sometimes keeping defunct properties alive long after their shelf life might otherwise have expired. How is the increasing importance of fan behavior re-writing the media landscape? What kinds of accountability should media companies have to their most committed consumers? What kinds of value do fans create through their activities? What are the sources of tension that still exist between media producers, advertisers, and fans?

Not the Real World Anymore

Virtual spaces are more than sites for emulating the real world. They are becoming platforms for thought experiments — some of which involve fantasies we would not like to enact in the real world, others involve possibilities that we may want to test market before putting into practice. Much more than simulacra of Real Life or a 3D version of text-based Internet communities, online worlds represent new sites for considering questions of community and connectivity. Marked by user- creativity, online worlds balance, sometimes precariously, the rights of users with the rights of sponsoring organizations. As we move closer to the cyberpunk vision of a wholly parallel ‘metaverse’, questions of power, community, and property are coming to the fore.

More information is forthcoming but for some provisional information and to register for the event, check out this website.


Kinks in VC Industry October 9, 2006

Posted by rajAT in entrepreneur, startup, vc, venture capital.

The high-risk, high-return venture capital business may have turned into all risk and no return.

“The traditional venture model seems to us to be broken,” Steve Dow, a general partner at Sevin Rosen Funds, said in an interview.

Sevin Rosen, a 25-year-old firm that is among the most respected in the industry, was in the process of closing its 10th fund and had received commitments from investors for $250 million to $300 million, Mr. Dow said. But in a letter sent to those investors yesterday, Sevin Rosen said it had decided to abort that process.

Explaining its decision, Sevin Rosen, which has offices in Dallas and Silicon Valley, said that too much money had flooded the venture business and too many companies were being given financing in every conceivable sector.

But excess of capital is only part of the problem, the firm said. In its letter, it bemoaned what it described as “a terribly weak exit environment,” a reference to the dearth of initial public offerings and to a market for acquisitions at valuations that it considers too low to deliver the kind of returns that venture investors expect.

Fred Wilson at A VC says that all this doesn’t mean that the “venture capital model” is broken. It means that we have to adapt to the changing nature of the technology business.

The big trends they saw when they raised the money for Union Square Ventures are following –

1 – commodization of the core infrastructure of the technology business
2 – community powered development environments – ie open source
3 – software delivered as a service over the internet
4 – a movement toward lightweight web services – ie web 2.0
5 – the globalization of technology development and consumption.

He suggested changes that VC model should be tweaked in the following ways.

  1. We’ve got to raise smaller funds.
  2. We’ve got to do less “hard tech” and more “soft tech”
  3. We’ve got to figure out how to make great returns on $100mm to $250mm exits
  4. We’ve got to limit our IPOs to our very best companies.

I actually think that many firms have already made many of these changes as part of the brutal restructuring of the venture capital business in the 2001-2003 time period and are much better off because of it.

I am not sure that model has already got tweaked becasue old VC ways are still continuing.

  • VCs still raise big funds. Couple of VC have raised billion dollar funds.
  • Pure idea plays get copied very fast. Look at the video uploading websites that have cropped up. And VCs are not very comfortable with this.
  • Exit strategy is M&A. IPOs are a pipe dream.

And all this is so true if we see in Indian context. Here entrepreneurs doesn’t need big money to start and that put them out of the radar of all the VCs.

Good news is that now lot more people are talking about the change in VC industry and so lets hope it will happen soon.

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Who wants to own content October 6, 2006

Posted by rajAT in media2.0, web2.0.

Jeff has an interesting post sometime back where he emphasized that content and distribution both cann’t differentiate a media house from other or even protect it.

Distribution is not king.

Content is not king.

Conversation is the kingdom.

The war is over and the army that wasn’t even fighting — the army of all of us, the ones who weren’t in charge, the ones without the arms — won. The big guys who owned the big guns still don’t know it. But they lost.

In our media 2.0, web 2.0, post-media, post-scarcity, small-is-the-new-big, open-source, gift-economy world of the empowered and connected individual, the value is no longer in maintaining an exclusive hold on things. The value is no longer in owning content or distribution.

The value is in relationships. The value is in trust.

BBC which gets widely quoted as the future media house who gets this new emerging media landscape with their various innovative ways is a tiny minscule.

The Guardian’s Mark Sweney blogs it:

The good news is that the BBC turned out to be the most commonly referenced big brand [in blogs].The bad news is that just 0.3% of the millions of blog posts analysed referred to the BBC.

What does this all mean? It means that what the BBC does, creating programmes, is just a tiny ‘atom’ in the new media world and how on earth can you grow that 0.3%?

The likes of YouTube and blogs equal cheap forms of production of content.

You can’t ‘own’ all the relationships audiences have in the web world so the best plan is to ‘atomise’ content, disintegrate, to ‘explode’ into places where they are.

I think that is so true even in the Indian context. I had a conversation with the New Media Head at Indiatimes some 8-9 months back. I asked him what is Indiatimes doing with the emerging trends like – Citizen Journalism, Blogs etc. He beamed with pride and said that we have already started a blogging platform where we invite Indiatimes users to blog. And a team of editors picks the best post and put them on the home page of Times of India also. I was quite impressed. He then went on and said that they have built a very vibrant though small community over there. At that time I thought that Indiatimes has got a winner as in people would surely like to get their post on front page of the leading news website in India. But that doesn’t happen.

Its been 8-9 months and I haven’t met a single blogger in various blogging events around the country who said that he blogs at Indiatimes.

Then the blog aggregators that I visit like Desipundit also never have linked even a single post from Indiatimes. Something is really going on.

Is this blogging hasn’t picked up in India or what ?

We all know that blogging has really picked up in India 🙂 but the anwer to that puzzle is that now no more a big media house can own this landscape. Blogs will crop up everywhere and will not be the forte of one single entity.

It was such a pleasure to hear Mr. Ajit Balakrishnan, Founder and CEO of Rediff.com, a nasdaq listed indian portal, that he doesn’t understand user generated content at all.

Goliaths are so last century :).

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W3C Workshop on the Mobile Web in Developing Countries October 4, 2006

Posted by rajAT in bangalore, digital divide, india, mobile, w3c.

The “W3C Workshop on the Mobile Web in Developing Countries” aims to understand specific challenges of mobile Web access within Developing Countries, in terms of their needs, blocking factors, and potential usages.The aim of this workshop is to gather experts in Mobile Web technologies and experts in Developing Countries and on the Digital Divide so that challenges and issues are clearly identified and tackled appropriately in a near future with the help of standardization bodies like W3C and its Mobile Web Initiative.

The goal of the workshop is to provide input to the W3C Mobile Web Initiative to identify which areas would be most important to focus on to help bridge the digital divide. The following topics are of particular interest:

  • Analysis of the potential demand for data service / mobile web access in Developing Countries
  • Key applications to leverage the development/use of mobile web in Developing Countries
  • Regional differences in Asia/Africa/Central Europe/Middle East/South America/…
  • Analysis of Mobile Web usage in Developing Countries
  • Real-world projects relying on Mobile Web access in Developing Countries
  • Usage of Mobile Web technologies in emergency responses in rural areas
  • Analysis on the way the Mobile Web could improve people lives in Developing Countries (education, healthcare,…)
  • Challenges to make the Mobile Web really useful (not just usable)
  • Analysis of the main value added of the Mobile Web vs. a mobile phone (voice only) vs. a computer in an Internet cafe? :
    • Are cheap PC a competing platform to web-enabled phones ?
    • can a web-enabled phone play the same role in Developing Countries as the PC at home in Western Countries ?
  • Role of voice and multimodal technologies/applications
  • Technical challenges to have web-enabled phone being the alone/primary way to access the Web
    • Content authoring from a mobile phone ?

Date – 5/6 December 2006

Venue – Bangalore, India

All girl team wins Yahoo Hack Day October 2, 2006

Posted by rajAT in Uncategorized.

Yahoo opened its corporate headquarters to hordes of hackers, press and others on Friday and Saturday for its open Hack Day. After 24 hours of hacking (with a break for a private Beck concert in the Yahoo courtyard the first evening), 54 projects were demo’d to the crowd of about 400 people. Over 3,000 pictures from the event (tagged “HackDay06″) are on Flickr here.

A handful of teams were awarded prizes in categories ranging from “Too

Useful” and “Best Schtick” to “Overall Winner”. The overall winner, determined by a quick huddle of judges after the demos (David Filo, Jeff Weiner, Ash Patel, Bradley Horowitz, Chad Dickerson, David Hornik, Peter Fenton, Gina Trapani, Salim Ismail and me) was a hardware/software combination device stashed inside a woman’s handbag.

The winning project, called Blogging In Motion, combined a camera, a handbag, a pedometer and the Flickr API to create a device that takes a picture after every few steps and then automatically blogs those pictures. The device was created by Diana Eng, Emily Albinski and Audrey Roy, pictured to the right along with the device.

[Via Techcrunch]

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