January 30, 2009

Boxee Unboxed

Boxee, the much-hyped "social media center," opened its alpha download to Linux and Mac users on January 8. A private version of boxee alpha became available last fall and today it has been downloaded by over 100,000 users. Boxee is an open source application that allows users to play media and share recommendations with friends through the boxee interface or through automatic Twitter updates. Boxee plays media from local and network sources, but its real innovation is a slick interface that allows users to stream video from a popular sites including Hulu, Joost, CBS, ABC, CNN, MTV, YouTube, and even Netflix.

Boxee has been in development since early 2007 and it recently secured $4 million in funding to expand. Boxee is based on XBMC, the open source Xbox product that allows users to turn game consoles into home media centers. Boxee CEO Avenr Ronen saw a need to bring digital media to TV screens and thought XBMC was the perfect platform. Ronen explained in a July interview with CNET blogger Don Reisinger: "We believe it's the best damn media center you can get your hands on today." I've been playing around with boxee for the past week and I have to agree with Ronen.

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January 29, 2009

Time to boogie!

The woman that brought us I Love Bees and The Lost Ring is asking you to tap into your "top secret Choreopowers". That's right, the always-innovative Jane McGonigal is now behind Top Secret Dance-Off (TSDO), a MMO game based on a Ning social network.

McGonigal, along with Kiyash Monsef, embarked in this endeavor with no sponsorship or team of developers, she sees it as "something I think will be a fun adventure that helps you develop a real superpower". Its grassroots feel is certainly part of the projects appeal, well that, and the fact these guys just LOVE to dance. Already some 200 people have signed up in the month since TSDO begun its playtesting phase.

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January 28, 2009

Global Media and Niche Audiences: Introducing Dramafever.com

On of the fascinating results of the increasing speed and accessibility of the present media landscape is that as the global reach of media content broadens, companies are becoming aware of increasingly fragmented, niched, and narrow audience segments. Such as the case with a new online VOD platform, dramafever.com, a hulu-esque service dedicated to providing high-quality streams of television content from East Asia to US audiences with small commercial interruptions from sponsoring advertisers. What makes this site a particularly interesting case to follow, beyond the explicitly transnational dynamic of the media content and audience (though due to licensing, dramafever.com can currently only provide content to users in the US), is the site's ability and willingness to engage in the fandom as well as the history of the circulation of Asian drama content itself in relation to IP.

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January 27, 2009

The Future of Entertainment is... Paper?

Man, I hate hearing about an awesome conference just after the thing's wrapped up. So it is this week with PaperCamp, which went down in London on January 17th. Here's the description of the event from its own webpage:

What is PaperCamp?
A get-together for a day to talk about, fiddle with, make and explore what's possible with paper based on a blog post (http://magicalnihilism.wordpress.com/2008/10/29/papercamp/) where a lot of people seemed enthusiastic about the idea. PaperCamp is a 'fringe' event to BookCamp, in London's Kings Cross on the 17th January.

What will happen at PaperCamp?
Well, as it's a '___Camp'-type thing, that's largely up to you... we'll have a room, and a grid of timeslots for you to fill with talks, activities, discussions of your making. However, to frame that a little, the original thought behind PaperCamp was 'hacking paper and it's new possibiities'. We do have one thing organised - a 'keynote' if you like from Aaron Straup Cope from a little site called Flickr and more importantly, http://www.aaronland.info/papernet/.

Whether that's looking at material possibilities of paper itself, connecting paper to the internet and vice-versa with things like 2d-barcodes, RFIDs or exotic things like printing with conductive inks... it's about the fact that paper hasn't gone away in the digital age - it's become more useful, more abundant and in some cases gone and got itself bionic superpowers...

As I say - it's up to you what you want to make of it, please bring to the event half-formed thoughts, ideas, projects you've done or anything you would like get others exposed to, or even hacking on. These can take the form of straight-forward talks, or, things you want other people's brains and hands to help with... please bring them... along with Paper, pens, RFIDs, soldering irons, Heidelberg Lithos or any other equipment or materials you will need. We will just provide chairs, tables and a projector...

Even just reading that description, my mind is officially blown – and that's nothing compared to reading Jeremy Keith's liveblogging of the event.

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