philip lelyveld The world of entertainment technology


Why It’s EDM’s Fault Outkast Flopped

What we saw in full force Friday night was a generational disconnect, mixed with a mismatch of expectations.

A large portion of your average, mainstream festival-goer of 2014 heads out their front door with a different expectation than their counterparts in the past. Festivals today with any sort of electronic tilt have implicitly promised stratospheric production values, insane light shows, and flawless control of crowd energy: in summary, an opportunity to lose your fucking mind. You can plop down hundreds of dollars without knowing a single artist and still know you’re going to have a blast. The needle has slowly shifted away from “music,” towards “party.”

Which is why many forms of music outside of the electronic sphere now just can’t hang with even a GTA or a Deniz Koyu at a major festival. The bar for energy and excitement has been set too high, and the mainstream interest at attending music festivals, driven by the proliferation of EDM mega-fests, has brought in a wide swath of people who simply aren’t what readers of a site like this would consider music fans.

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NBCUniversal Makes Digital Programming Push

saturday_night_lineNBCUniversal is making a big push into digital programming with the launch of a slate of online-first series.

“Much of the uncaptured value in the online world can be unlocked with smart collaborations between creators and clients,” said Jeff Wachtel, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment president and chief content officer. “This year, we’re making a big push to building that bridge.”

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Ourscreen lets you call the shots at selected cinemas

[Philip Lelyveld comment: In the US we have, in the UK they have Ourscreen.]

ourscreenOurscreen is a concept ported over from the US where groups of people can arrange to see a film at their local cinema that's not on the regular listing. It functions in a similar way to Groupon, in that a showing can be booked but is only confirmed once a certain number of people buy in. The number is based on an estimate you give, which also affects the ticket price. So if you think you can draw a good crowd, you'll benefit from cheaper tickets, but the threshold to confirm your booking will be higher.

In case you're worried about finding enough friends to pile in with, screenings can also be organised as private or public viewings -- although this does also open your perfect cinema experience up to the uncertainty of sharing with (possibly loud) strangers. The website currently has around 200 films to choose from, ranging from new releases such as The Borderlands, to cult classics like Groundhog Day andThe Evil Dead, but there are hopes that many more will join the roster soon.

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Google targeting Project Ara modular phone for January 2015

Asa phone

[Philip Lelyveld comment; first reaction - swapping out and adding components is how PCs used to be and helped birth the hacker community.  Second reaction - fricking awesome idea.]

Eremenko told an audience of around 200 people at the Computer History Museum here that the general public won't have to wait long for their first shot at the Project Ara "gray phone." It's scheduled to go on sale in January 2015 for around $50.

Ara's endoskeleton, the chassis that will hold the modular components together, will last for "five to six years," said Eremenko. The components will stay attached to the frame via electro-permanent magnets, and they will use the UniPro standard for communication between modules.

Between now and January, however, Eremenko and the two other full-time Project Ara team members at Google have a lot of work to do. They collaborate with a broad range of partners, from academic experts at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Carnegie Mellon, to business partners such as 3D Systems, a 3D printing company that's building a massive 3D printer so components can be easily fabricated.

The idea could revolutionize phone sales. Instead of having to buy a new phone to get the latest hardware, you might simply be able to buy a new version of the component you want to replace. The modularity would let you replace parts you don't want with ones that you do.

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[Philip Lelyveld note: if it is anything like their previous book, this should be an interesting and insightful read.]

Last Friday, M.I.T.’s Initiative on the Digital Economy hosted a conference, in the basement of the Times building, on “The Second Machine Age,” a book by a pair of M.I.T. business-school professors, Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee. In the book, the authors argue that knowledge workers—people who analyze information for a living—will gradually be replaced by smart machines and that inequality could deepen as a result. (Their previous work had a better title: “Race Against the Machine.”)

Think of the world of work as divided between “power systems” and “control systems,” Brynjolfsson suggested. The power systems (people, forklifts, airplanes) help move things around; the control systems (plant managers, business plans, engineering diagrams) explain where it needs to move. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the engines, factories, and other technologies of the industrial revolution automated and enhanced the world’s power systems. After a period of dislocation, workers successfully adapted: they took over the control systems, becoming engineers and managers. But now machines are taking over the control systems, too, and it isn’t clear what workers can do next.

(The company behind SCHAFT, the top-performing robot so far, was recently acquired by Google.) “We need to adapt our economy and society to keep up with this accelerating technology,” Brynjolfsson said.

One woman cited a suggestion from Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s book: create prizes to reward innovation that complements human intelligence rather than replacing it.

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Stratasys launches world’s first multi-material colour 3D printer in the UK [Video]

Revealed at the Solidworks World 2014 convention in San Diego in January, the Stratasys Objet500 Connex3 Colour Multi-material 3D Printer uses coloured plastic in the traditional inkjet colours of cyan, magenta, and yellow. It is the only 3D Printer that enables colour 3D printing with virtually unlimited combinations of rigid, flexible and transparent materials, as well as digital resources, in a single print run.

The 3D printer makes possible functionally complex models with desirable mechanical properties such as tensile strength, elongation before breaking, and multiple hardness values.

For example, the printer is able to print 3D glasses using an "opaque Veroyellow" material for the frame, a rubber-like black "Tangoblackplus" material and a translucent yellow tint for the lenses, all in one print job with no assembly required.

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Half of New York’s Tech Workers Lack College Degrees, Report Says

Y-TECHJOBS1-master675Tech companies in the city employ about 140,000 people and as many as 150,000 others have tech jobs in other companies, the report estimates. About 44 percent of those jobs do not require a college degree, but on average, they pay about 45 percent more than the typical hourly wage in the city, according to the report.

Mr. Rasiej said that premium was partly because tech jobs paid better and partly because technology companies tended to pay more than companies in some other big industries in the city, such as health care and retailing.

Many of the tech jobs are with large banks and media companies that have relatively high pay scales.

Many of the most lucrative opportunities are in programming, a field where demand for talent outstrips the current supply, said Avi Flombaum, the dean of the Flatiron School, which trains people in software coding.

Mr. Flombaum, who dropped out of college several years ago to create programming for a hedge fund, said all but two of the 126 graduates of his 12-week course have found work. Their average starting pay, he said, was $82,000.

Some of the students at the Flatiron School did not attend or finish college and others are older adults looking to switch careers, Mr. Flombaum said. “There are more programming jobs than there are programmers right now,” he said.

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‘Airbnb For Retail’ Startup Storefront Raises $7.3M From Spark Capital, Expands To LA

[Philip Lelyveld note: could this be the new retail model - maintain commodity stock for your core business, and pop-up everything else to the highest vendor/bidder?]

pop-up-shop-e1397456994783Storefront launched as a platform to connect those who have shops or empty real estate in highly trafficked areas with merchants who wish to make their goods available without making major investments in opening up a store right away.

Just as Airbnb offers a marketplace for people to make their homes available for others to stay in, Storefront allows those who have retail space to rent it out to merchants on a temporary basis.

The platform offers everything from full retail stores that can be used as pop-up shops to shelf space in boutiques available on a temporary basis. Merchants can rent space on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis, based on how much time or space they want.

According to co-Founder and CEO Erik Eliason, those locations range from neighborhood shops to MTA subway stops in New York to W hotels and other unique spaces.

Koyfman pointed out that Storefront could also be used to enable artists to launch their own show without booking space in a gallery, or for an online or mobile company to launch new products and showcase them to consumers by finding spaces with lots of guaranteed foot traffic.

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2013 Internet Ad Revenues Soar To $42.8 Billion, Hitting Landmark High & Surpassing Broadcast Television For The First Time

[Philip Lelyveld comment: 10% of internet revenue comes from ads directly related to video content (video ads 7%, rich media interactive ads 3%).  This study shows that content creators and distributors are adapting, and not being cut out, of the new reality.]

U.S. interactive advertising revenues for 2013 hit an all-time high of $42.8 billion, according to the IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report for the full-year, exceeding broadcast television advertising* revenues ($40.1 billion), for the first time ever. This momentous figure marks an increase of 17 percent from 2012’s landmark revenues of $36.6 billion. The report, unveiled today by the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and prepared by PwC U.S., also reveals that fourth quarter revenues for 2013 came in at $12.1 billion, an increase of 17 percent from the $10.3 billion brought in during the same quarter in 2012. In addition, this total represents an uptick of 14 percent from 2013’s third quarter revenues at $10.6 billion.

revOther highlights include:

  • For the third year in a row, mobile achieved triple-digit growth year-over-year, rising to $7.1 billion during full year 2013, a 110 percent boost from the prior year total of $3.4 billion. Mobile accounted for 17 percent of 2013 revenues, whereas it was 9 percent of revenues in 2012.
  • Digital video, a component of display-related advertising, brought in $2.8 billion in full year 2013, up 19 percent over revenues of $2.3 billion in 2012. As a result, it also increased its share to become the fourth largest format, directly behind mobile.
  • Search revenues totaled $18.4 billion in 2013, up 9 percent from 2012, when search totaled $16.9 billion.
  • Display-related advertising revenues in 2013 totaled $12.8 billion or 30 percent of the year’s revenues, a rise of 7 percent over $12 billion in 2012.
  • Retail advertisers continue to represent the largest category of internet ad spending, responsible for 21 percent in 2013, followed by financial services and closely trailed by automotive which account for 13 and 12 percent of the year’s revenues respectively.

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Bitcoin Falls Below The $400 Mark, Down More Than 60% From Its All-Time High









Bitcoin reached another milestone today, with the cryptocurrency falling below the $400 per-coin mark. Bitcoin sold for over $1,100 inside of the last 52 weeks.

The price correction was driven by news from China, as it often has been. Fresh rumors of a government crackdown on the currency in the country, which could blunt demand and adoption, and therefore impair its value, sent the price of bitcoin down a quick 10 percent. It has since continued to slip.

According to Bitcoin Average, the average price of bitcoin is currently around $388, down from a 52-week high of roughly $1,132. Coinbase has the current price of bitcoin at around $394, down from a peak of $1,126.

As we’ve discussed ad nausem, bitcoin’s network is the key to its value. However, it could be that the network’s activity has not grown quickly enough to support declining speculative interest in bitcoin. That’s my best guess, at least.

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