Monthly Archive for June, 2008

Omnisio: Video Annotations with Slideshow Syncing (It’s Awesome!)

<div><a href='http://www.omnisio.com'>Share and annotate your videos</a> with Omnisio!</div> <p>
Here’s my test of Omnisio using a popular presentation of mine…

Keeping tabs on the online video sharing scene, I came across a new video sharing service called Omnisio. Dabbling with it for a while, I found plenty of reasons to be excited…

Essentially, Omnisio does two things:
1) Share compilations of videos complete with on-screen annotations
2) Synchronize video with slideshows, side-by-side

You can upload and import videos, create playlists (what they call compilations) and add your own on-screen annotations (so can viewers). Another feature includes syncing together a video with a relevant presentation. This solves a major issue for me, in showing videos of my talks yet having the clarity of the slides by the side.

Omnisio: Syncing Video with Presentation Slideshow

For a better view of the this on Omnisio, I’ve put together one of my popular presentations from Nov 2006 entitled The Rise of Us, which is about how organizations work on the social web.

As mentioned earlier, Omnisio plays well with various online video and presentation services, allowing you to import media from Youtube, Google Video, Blip.tv as well as Slideshare.net. Since I use these services, a mere import later and I got my synced video + presentation combo done in less than 15mins. That’s awesome!

Do mouse around the video as there are plenty of interaction points. You can add on-screen comments at any time, or jump to particular slides (which jumps the video timeline accordingly). If the user annotations irritate you, you can filter them off from the right overlay menu (i.e. show owner’s or guests’ comments only). Youtube recently added video annotations too, but so far, only Omnisio lets viewers plug their annotations as well (if you allow them).

On some of the Omnisio videos, user annotations were all over the place (which is quite funny). If you think seeing a plethora of user comments spewed all over the video is seems mindless, you can thank the crazy 2chan subculture for that. Specifically, it probably originated from “Nico Nico Douga“, an extremely popular Japanese video mashup service known for the user annotation madness meme. It’s collaborative art to me actually…

Posterous: Blog via email, complete with media attachments

Kenneth Pinto recently tipped us off about Posterous. I’ve heard of it before, but I passed it off as just a gateway from email-to-blog (which most blog platforms support).

Boy was I wrong.

The magic of Posterous lies in how it handles media attachments in your “blog” email. As Kenneth puts it:

  • Post one photo, and Posterous resizes it to fit the blog.
  • Post a bunch of photos, Posterous creates a mini gallery.
  • Post a document, spreadsheet or pdf, Posterous embeds it in the post using Scribd’s iPaper (don’t worry what this is, the process is entirely invisible – you just email the attachment).
  • Post a YouTube URL, Posterous automatically embed the video.
  • Post an mp3 file, Posterous creates an embedded mp3 player in the post for the file.

All this just by clicking Send.

According to their FAQ, it’s automatically display file formats including Microsoft Word (.doc), Powerpoint (.ppt), Adobe PDFs, Images (.jpg, .gif, .png) and Audio (.mp3).

Since you manage everything through email, there’s a lot of potential for this for mobile users since email is still more ubiquitous than web access.

What’s even better is that for folks who don’t care for blogs, they don’t even need to register. Posterous tracks posts based your email address and knows which blog address to assign them! Also, subscribing to blogs within Posterous is easy enough that they don’t even need to know what RSS is.

My Wishlist for Posterous:
1. Videos be automatically processed using Youtube API
2. Google Map links be turned into map embeds

Siva has been kicking the tires around Posterous, so take a peek at his blog.

theorycast.43 :: Assembling the EVO LCD Arm


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Trebor Scholz’s Cautionary Note on Social Media (via Howard Rheingold)


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As seen on Howard Rheingold’s vlog:

Whenever people refer me to pseudo-critics of social media (i.e. Andrew Keen), I refer them to Fred Turner or to Trebor Scholz, who actually know something about what they are criticizing. I recommend Scholz’ paper, What The MySpace Generation Need To Know About Working For Free for those who want to learn more.

It’s nice to see a familiar face on an Internet celebrity’s blog. If you recall, I participated in Trebor’s graduate seminars last year and took in various readings on how electronic networks change the way we live. I saw an iterative pattern, from the telegraph to the social web, towards how we coordinate ourselves throughout history. The only real change to me though, is complexity.

I believe that as networks get more complex, motivations and agendas become more implicit. With that, I picked up Trebor’s perspectives on the dark side of the social web, especially since most of what we hear online seemed one-sided towards the excitement of online social networking (is the proper term “in-selling“?).

It’s easy to get lost in the crowd when the mob is blindsided by the various pleasures of socializing, from the simple action of adding friends on Facebook, to more deliberate action of joining in a video lipdub. Thing is, do we question the larger agenda? Who gains the most out of this implicit labor? Does it matter if users know? Are we becoming intellectual lemmings?

One of Trebor’s key arguments (which I share) is the idea of social networks being locked-in (what I call a walled garden), where users might not realize how time and labor invested on such platforms might not be exportable. As such, greater use would mean less likelihood of one leaving the network, essentially being trapped. Our collective action in such networks turns into free creative labor for the site owners, from which is used to attract even more users (i.e. network effect).

There has been effort on the opposing end to liberate our personal identity (including our media) across networks, such as the Data Portability initiative, which a few major companies have agreed to partake in. It remains to be seen how generous social networks like Facebook and MySpace will be, in risking their already enormous population of captive users.

Dailylinks: Tons of links I’ve liked (and sorted) in June…

T-shirt: Out of Office Reply
Bought this kawaii office t-shirt for $10 at Woot Shirt

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Kevin’s “Mat Rock Band” Birthday Bash! (4hrs of Pre-Recorded Video)


Video quality sucks in the beginning, but gets better at the end. Live stream settings got messed up by accident.

Last night we did a 4hr Rock Band marathon and streamed it live via uStream.tv.

I had set up two cameras: one on the Rock Band video game, the other on us performing. Friends dropped in and made song requests, which was real fun.

Unfortunately, the video stream setting mucked up without my knowledge, plunging the entire video performance into nothing more than watching a bunch of artards playing Iron Maiden in a giant fishbowl. And to think we had massive FIOS bandwidth… as my friend would say “whole life wasted™”.

Note to self: Watch the client side video stream, not the production side damn it!

You're Invited: Kevin's "Rock Band" Birthday Bash!Thai Birthday DinnerThai Birthday DinnerThai Birthday DinnerNigori Sake @ King & I restaurantBirthday Coffee Cakes from DiCamillo Bakery

Big thanks to Renhao, Daniel and Jerrick of Tech65, Stephen Kastner, and BradMays for rawkin’ it out with us. Sorry if I missed out on the rest who came by… we were busy ruining the Internets with our horrific renditions of 80s classics!

I’ll update this post with the pre-recorded live video as soon as uStream.tv is done processing it. Stay tuned!

EduPunk: Do you fight for your right to ed-u-cate?

Comic: WTH is EduPunk?

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Steampunk Media Ecosystems: On Robert Darnton’s “The Library in the New Age”…

The Arbre de Cracovie
L’arbre de Cracovie,” c. 1742. The Tree of Cracow as depicted in a satirical print. The figure of Truth, on the far left, pulls on a rope to make the tree go “crack” every time something false takes place beneath it. According to the caption, the falsehoods include an innkeeper who claims he does not water down his wine, a merchant who sells goods for no more than what they are worth, a truthful horse dealer, an unbiased poet, etc. Courtesy of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France (BNF), 96A 74336.

Our Special Collections librarian, Karen Spencer, recently forwarded the following essay by Robert Darnton entitled “The Library in the New Age” (12th June 2008). The essay stopped me in my tracks and set me investigating…

Robert Darnton’s Earlier Work
Whenever I come across something new to me, I tend to search for the environment that subject resides in. In the case of Robert Darnton, I found his earlier works particularly stimulating. As hinted above, Darnton had also written “An Early Information Society: News and the Media in 18th Century Paris” (Feb 2000), where he juxtaposed the workings of Silicon Valley millennials with the organic communication circuits of forbidden best-sellers of pre-revolutionary France (as seen below, in a beautiful schematic model no less!). Doesn’t it feel steampunk-ish when compared alongside the emerging media ecosystem?

Robert Darnton's An Early Information Society: Schematic model of a communication circuitThe Emerging Media Ecosystem

On “The Library in the New Age”
From being a pioneer in the field of the history of the book, Darnton moved into the realm of electronic publishing. As the head of the Harvard University library, Darnton helped advocate for open access at the University, and became the founder of the Gutenberg-e program. This essay appeared in New York Review of Books and discusses “what it means to be a library in the digital age”…

A quote for the information scientist in you…

Information has never been stable. That may be a truism, but it bears pondering. It could serve as a corrective to the belief that the speedup in technological change has catapulted us into a new age, in which information has spun completely out of control. I would argue that the new information technology should force us to rethink the notion of information itself. It should not be understood as if it took the form of hard facts or nuggets of reality ready to be quarried out of newspapers, archives, and libraries, but rather as messages that are constantly being reshaped in the process of transmission. Instead of firmly fixed documents, we must deal with multiple, mutable texts. By studying them skeptically on our computer screens, we can learn how to read our daily newspaper more effectively—and even how to appreciate old books.

An of course a quote for the more tactile reader…

Books also give off special smells. According to a recent survey of French students, 43 percent consider smell to be one of the most important qualities of printed books—so important that they resist buying odorless electronic books. CaféScribe, a French on-line publisher, is trying to counteract that reaction by giving its customers a sticker that will give off a fusty, bookish smell when it is attached to their computers.

As you can see, this is a mere sampling of what Robert’s elaborate essay discusses, which is really a reflection of the history and science of information, the digital era (e.g. eBooks, blogs) and the evolving importance of libraries.

Do read his wonderful essay, “The Library in the New Age“. and if you are interested, “An Early Information Society: News and the Media in Eighteenth-Century Paris” which appeared in The American Historical Review (Feb 2000).

Hail the size of golfballs @ UB North Campus

Amazing hail in BuffaloGolf ball sized hail

Date: 16th June 2008 // Time: 2.15pm // Duration: 15 to 20mins

As reported by Liz and photographed by me, we observed hail the size of golf balls storming down on UB North Campus. Everyone at the Teaching & Learning Center gathered by the windows to watch as the hail got heavier and bigger over time. At the end of it, trees had some of the leaves shredded, while some cars had dents on their bonnets. Rumor has it that other parts of Buffalo were heavier hit, with windshields cracking. Freak weather.

theorycast.42 :: When SmartMobs Go Wrong…


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While having our Saturday brunch at The Washington Market in downtown Buffalo, Shady, Ken Fujiuchi and I chat about how the ease of participation online has subsequently given rise to collective action (e.g. Smartmobs), which has mostly been seen as either efficient or entertaining.

In recent history, the same could also be said of antagonistic forms of collective action, where greater forms of anarchy online spills over into the real world mostly in the form of psychological attacks. For instance, see CNN: From flash mob to lynch mob and Anti-Tibetian attacks on Chinese student: Grace Wang.

Though this current scenario could be argued in various ways, I offered the pretext of Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” (1993) as a way to understand why some cultures seem to challenged by practices of online democracy. Dubbed as Internet hate machines by some, such discourse could possibly be located around Anonymous (group meme) and 4chan (English version of Japanese 2chan) as examples. For a reality check, Shady mentioned how even in the pre-Internet days, such collective participation and its follies have been observed in places such as town hall meetings.

How do we reduce or even resolve frictional, unethical powers on the Internet?
While we’d like to hope that a Darwinian approach would naturally have online societies “sort themselves out”, some civilizations have been concerned that they might not survive this phase and have taken steps to manage it, such as through legitimate forms of Internet regulation (e.g. China). We discuss its immediate environment and challenges involved.