Web

Good Reads feels like a place to be alone, so I started a new group

I have been a member of Good Reads for a long time, and I just can't seem to wrap my head around it. 

I cannot get into the groups.  I have tried, but the conversations are rarely interesting.  If you know a good group, please invite me.

I cannot get into the stream... The site feels disjointed.  I rate and review books I read, but it doesn't seem to be more than that. 

I want Good Reads to be a place I can go to talk about books.  Maybe I am using this site wrong.  I have looked through many tutorials, but none of them have helped me.

So, in hopes of making Good Reads work the way I want it to, I started a Project: Shadow Book Club.  I hope you join.  I will give this a year to take off, and I will post there even if I am just talking to myself.

I am reading Kaiju Rising, and made that the first book of the month.  It is a collection of short stories about giant monsters destroying cities, but it is so much more.  I have really been enjoying the book, and I look forward to discussing it with you.

I also set up a poll for to select the book of the month for October.  You can vote on the four books I added or suggest one of your own.

Lets get this book fandom doing what it should: discussion and sharing.

Remembering Branch

I loaded up Think Up, and saw this:

I created a group on @Branch to discuss my work in “Dragons of Night”. Ask to join or watch to follow along: http://t.co/XdybBl7Z

Hmm.  A year ago, I announced with a lot of excitement that I started a group on Branch...  I was sure it was going to be the next big thing, but I was wrong.

What happened to Branch?

The site is still up, but I haven't used it in forever... in fact, I haven't really heard anyone mention it in quite some time.  So what happened?

Branch had built a powerful collaboration tool.  I was using it as a place to discuss ideas with the inner circle, but then the Branch developers freaked out.  I am not sure exactly why, but they pivoted the company away from everything that made them special, and took out all of the group collaboration features (here is there announcement).

Eventually, they launched a You Bundle-like group app (does anyone remember You Bundle either?) that didn't have any of the tools that made Branch special.

What made Branch special?

It was a conversation aggregation tool that allowed people to bring in content from multiple sources to discuss them in a neatly ordered threaded conversation that could easily Branch out into subtopics while keeping it all easy to read and follow.

Branch was the best tool that I have ever used to foster discussion.  The Group feature meant that you didn't have to be invited into the conversation, you could read along or participate in the topic.

When these features were removed, the service lost its distinctiveness and became little more than a public email thread. 

The Lesson we need to learn from Branch

I understand the necessity of a business to pivot.  I am in the midst of one for my business right now.  However, if the pivot removes those things that make your product (whatever it may be) less useful or differentiated from its competitors, then it will only damage your business.

When we change course, we have to consider what it is we do well and that our audience enjoys.  Double down on those attributes and find a way to strengthen them.

If we are not building on our strengths, then we are building in weaknesses.

Reclaiming Blogging and Navel Gazing

“Reclaim Blogging”: Why I’m giving up Twitter and Facebook, I started thinking about my own experience with blogging and social media. 

I gave up "news" blogging a while back because it took more time then just tweeting the links or talking about the stories on one of our podcasts.  I feel like that was the right decision.  I think my time is better spent working on original fiction.  That at the very least makes me happier.

Then Google+ came on the scene, and I find myself posting over their a lot of the things I used to post on my personal blog.

Navel Gazing

A lot of bloggers are thinking about this stuff right now, and you all are probably tired of all the navel gazing, but it is an important topic.

Most of the bloggers and podcasters I know got into this field to have conversation.  We like to talk to you all and work together to figure out what we should and could do to solve various problems.  This is were social networks become a big part of the problem and the solution.

I write a post on dashPunk, and I get some comments.  I post a new episode of a podcast, and I get some email.  I post to Google+, and the comments flood in.  The temptation to post their is great, and I wonder if I should or shouldn't.

Social Blogging

I want to post on the social networks, but Hugh is right, it is too easy.  When I post to my blog, take time to fully form ideas and post something that says exactly what I want to say.  Often, on social networking sites, I post off the top of my head or what is on my heart at the moment.

Jeff Jarvis says that Twitter is for getting things off of your chest, and maybe that is what these networks are for.

Perhaps, I should post notions, and first thoughts on these networks, and more fully formed ideas on my blog.  That at least sounds like a plan.

What do you all think?  What is the balance and what do you what to see where?

Curation v Creation

From Entertainment Design

Steven Rosenbaum at Mashable wrote an interesting post claiming that curation is just as important as creation.  I have thought about this for a while, and I need your imput.

Defining our terms

  • Creation is the production of making original content.
  • Curation is coming through original content and promoting the best content to readers.

Is Curation important?

YES!  I read through thousands of stories a day, some from curation sites to find topics to share on dashPunk.  There is an enormous amount of content out there and some curation is important to filter through the noise so the average reader who doesn't have the time to read through the mountains to posts can still find information that is important to them.

For example.  Many Scifi blogs focus on rumors and hype, and frankly, that bores me more than Battle for LA.  I like to know what is going on, but the rumor cycle is crazy.  That is why we rarely write about rumors, and generally only post about rumors we hope are either true or false.

We also avoid posting most hype stories.  I am suffering from hype fatigue.  Yes, yes, your thing is the next greatest thing ever just like everyone else's is the next greatest thing ever.  The hype is almost always a lie. 

I feel like curation is one of the most important things I do, so in that, I agree.

What is the best form of Curation?

Some people claim it is Twitter.  I am not sure about that.  Until I started using Flipboard, most links in my twitter stream just flew by unchecked, and since I only check Twitter a couple times a day, many still do.

I think blogs are still the best place for curation, because I not only get the links, but I get analysis that I trust (or not, depending on the blog) and I find a lot more of the stories that interest me.

Maybe I am old fashioned by I like stories to sit unread until I go through them rather than floating by.

What do you want?

What are you looking for?  Original content, curation?  If curation, where do you want it, blogs, Twitter, FaceBook?

Netflix to make Original Programming

affiliate linkThe folk at Netflix decided that is a good idea for them to make their own content by signing House of Cards to an amazing 2 season deal (check out Deadline for more).

I'm not sure this is a good idea.  YouTube and Hulu have done the same type of thing lately, and it all just makes me sigh.

Content platforms should be Platforms, not producers.  There is an inherent conflict of interest when your business is about both, making content and distributing it.  They will naturally push their original content more than the content of others...

I would love to see them take the idea of being a platform to the next stage instead.  Provide tools for independent producers to submit their content easily, and curate that content, to keep the quality of your offering up to your standards.

Am I making to much out of this?  Let me know what you think.

Vidding is Free Speech

By jonathan mcintoshVidding is the art and craft of remixing video and music to produce an original work.  I keep getting asked, is this free speech or not?

I am not a lawyer

Legality is (unfortunately) in the eye of the copyright holders.  Some rights holders would rather maintain a stranglehold on their properties than allow free promotion of their works.  I think a better question than "are vids legal" is "should vids be legal?"

They paved paradise...

Vidding to me is a natural expression of fandom and  a proper use of a fan's fair use rights.

Copyright is intended to maintain the profitability of a creative work for those who poured their blood, sweat, and tears into making it.  I have no problem with a creative person making money off the fruit of their labors, but entertainment designers need to think about how and why they make money, and if the answer is licensing fees, they need to find a new job.

Fan Love = Money

Let me take a moment to talk directly to my fellow entertainment designers.

Hey guys and gals, I know some of you already know this but we need to bring some peer pressure on those who don't.  If you want to make money, you need people to like you, even better if you can make them fall in love.

I know, love a scary thing, and relationships are hard.  You have to develop listening skills, and actually care how your actions affect others.  The risk is worth the rewards. 

As your relationship with your fans grows, they will start participating in the media.  They will make art, filk, and fanfiction.  If they really love you, they will take the time to make a vid.  I know it is scary to have someone other than you edit your work, but they will then share it with others who have never heard of you.

Love is risky.  It is hard to put yourself out there, without risk, there are no rewards.  If you make it hard for people to love you, they will walk away, leaving you cold and alone and eventually walking the streets wondering why no one dares to care for you anymore.  You will end up spending all you time and money on ad agencies who, let's face it, are little more than the dating sites for media.

Don't make it hard to love you.  Relax, take it easy, and you'll find your relationships worth wild.

Vidding as fair use

If you are not making money off your vids, or reproducing copyrighted content verbatim, they no one should be able to argue that you have made a copy.

A copy is an identical, frame by frame reproduction of a work without alteration.  A derivative is reproducing a work with alterations, and so not as you are not reproducing a work in its entirety, I cannot see how anyone could see that new work as a product that violates copyright.

If I make a 5 minute video from a 90 minute movie, how is that a copy of the movie?

But what about the music?

I am not sure I want to go down this rabbit hole at this moment in time, but I think music is something very different from video.

If no one ever hears a song, it will never be heard.  That may be the dumbest sentence I have ever typed, but I think it makes an important point.

While I believe musicians should make money off their work, I am not convinced that a musician has a right to a fee for non-comercial uses of their music.  If I use music in a product I am making money from, then, if that music is fundamental to the enjoyment of the work, like a film score, then yes, the musician deserves a fee.  However, if I use music in a non-comercial, commentary, or introductory way, then... well... that play is fair use.

I suppose I would apply these rules:

  1. If I make money from your music, you should too.
  2. If I am not making money off your music, I owe you nothing.

The best way I can see vidders making money off their vids is to affiliate link to the original music or video content.  Then everyone wins!!

The Internet is for free speech

 Sometimes, I must admit, I get a little nostalgic.  When I saw this video, it made me remember those early days of the internet, and how much has and hasn't changed.

(Thanks to Motherboard for sharing the video)

I remember the first time I got online via Prodigy at my friend Aaron's house.  It was magical.  I was talking to people all over the world from that house in Frederick, MD.  It seems like some of the magic has gone out of the internet in the intervening years, and some old ideas are cropping back up.

Are iOS and Android the new AOL?

Before I dig into this, I have to say, I love my iPad.  It has changed the way I work, play, and read, but I have a few concerns about the future.

As an entertainment designer, I spend an increasing chunk of my time thinking about how to improve the delivery of my fiction and this site.  Brian and I have talked about making an App available on iOS and Android, and have looked into ways to raise the funds to hire a developer... but why?

I read most of my content of the web via Flipboard and Reeder now.  That is a very new thing.  Grant it, they pull in stories from my Twitter, Facebook, and Google Reader accounts, so why don't I use those sites directly anymore?

It is just easier (and prettier) to load up my Apps.  I am a little scared that we are seeing the the re-AOL-ing of the internet.

In the early years, access to the internet was metered, and the way the average users (I'm not talking about geeks like us), accessed content was through AOL, MSN, or other ISP portal.  Content had to be made specially for these services, wich took resource away from content.

I remember writing java script, dhtml, and other sometimes unique scripts so those early sites would work well with these portasl.  Pages had to be coded specifically for Internet Explorer and Netscape.  Some tags worked on one and not the other and it was a nightmare.  I spent most of my time coding and not working on content.

Now, Chrome is going the way of Internet Explorer, away from standards, and we are looking for a way to code specialized versions of our content for the iPad and Android.  Deja vu.

Google fan boys will probably take exception with my comparison of Chrome to IE, but that is what they did specifically with the new HTML 5 <video> tag.  It allowed you to add a type and codec so the browser would know what to play.  Google decided to make the video tag default to a video format they own rather than allow the tag to work as intended.  That is outside of the web standard, and a bad move.

Content should be Free

That is free as in speech.  With all of these new form factors emerging, they should comply to web standards so content creators can make their content once and display it on everything.

Apple and Google should both offer WYSIWYG app kits to allow content creators to make apps with ease.  It should be an option.  If I have the money and interest to hire a developer and start the expensive and time consuming process of developing an app, then so be it, but if having an app continues down the path of being a necessity, they are pushing smaller content creators out of the market before they get a chance to prove themselves.

Everything's great if you are NewsCorp and can work with Apple to make a native app to display your content, but that is something that will not be available to the vast majority of publishers.

Open the Systems

The power of the internet is that it allows anyone who wants to speak out to be heard.  But I receive more emails every week from people bemoaning that fact that we don't have an iPad app yet.  As an avid iPad User, I understand where they are coming from.  I just don't want to see us return to the limited options we had back in the days of the old AOL.

What do you think?  Am I blowing this whole thing out of proportion?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Welcome to the New dashPunk

Over the last few months we have been hard at work improving what we are doing here at dashPunk, and we hope you love the new site as much as we do.

Some of the new features are:

  • Our Improved Forum: We were blown away by the popularity of the forum when we originally added it to dashPunk.  The new forum offers a better post editor, making it easier for you, and modularity, so we can have as many or as few Forums as the site needs.  Flexibility is the key.
  • Our new galleries feature: I'm sure Brian will be playing with this a lot, and maybe some others of you.  Now, we can collect and share images with you all easier than ever!  You can see an example here.
  • Power to the pages!  Now, we can offer and organize the resources you all have been asking for.
  • New Home Page: the new home page will keep you up to date on all of the site updates, from new pages to posts and even new forum topics!
  • Power to the people!!

Some of you received an email from me letting you know that you have been upgraded to Contributor status on the site!  Membership has its privileges, and we will be promoting those of you who share the most with the community to contributor status so you can post to the blog and share with our many RSS subscribers, and more opportunities may open to you all in the near future.

Now it's time to make dashPunk the home of fandom it was always meant to be!

Community Issues

Community Management Twool
Image by 10ch via Flickr

I've talked for a while now on Fandom Today, about our dreams to build a community site for you all to talk to each other in the same way you talk to us via email, Twitter, and FaceBook.  For a long time we used Ning, but there new pricing model makes that impossible... (sigh)

For the last month we have been playing with BuddyPress with mixed results.  While it add most of the function you all have asked for, it does not allow us to set up a dedicated video upload section, and the Profile and Group Avatars are broken.  Over the last several days, BuddyPress has started causing random crashes on the site, so I disabled it until the next update.

We are thinking of adding VideoPress to the site for our vidders to continue adding videos to the site.

You all are what makes dashPunk worth the time, effort, and cost, so we want to make you as happy as we possibly can.

I am sorry for any inconvenience our recent issues have caused.  Let me know what features (or services) you would like us to have, and we will do our best to bring them to you as quickly as we can.

Passion = Life

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Dusting at dashPunk

spring cleaning
Image by striatic via Flickr

We are moving into a new era here at dashPunk, or to say that with a bit less drama: It is almost spring.  As we prepare for the April issue, I have a couple questions for you all:

Is your fandom a little dusty?

Do you have any area of fandom that you would like us to shine a little light on, or dust off for spring?

I have been reconnecting to my fannish roots, and falling in love with old loves all over again.  Have you looked as something with new eyes lately?  If so share your story with us.

The Best in SF

We are also preparing our first look at the best SF out there.  If you want to make sure your favorites make the list, send them in.

New Music

We are also building our first look at musicians and bands that everyone needs to know about this spring.  Send in your nominations.

Jump in!

Leave your comments here or email them to me.  I can't wait to see what is heating up out there.

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Do you want text, audio or video?

Sonia Simone over at Copyblogger asked an interesting question:

Is Writing Obsolete?

I have been asking the same question for a long time now.  I love to write and read, but as the amount of time I have dwindles, I find myself relying more and more on audio and video.

Blogs

I love text on blogs.  It is scanable and I can know right away if I want to read the rest, but there is something about unedited video that I find extremely compelling.

Some of my favorite blogs are little more than webcam videos of people talking about topics I find interesting.  They are personal, and the context clues the voice and face offers is matchless.

I've thought about doing more videos for dashPunk, but I am put off by the idea that no one would really want to watch me talk.

I like audio.  We post all of our podcasts to the site, and people spend more time than I thought they would listening through the site.

Books

My biggest problem writing lately is that I am not sure what the future of fiction should be.  I really enjoy writing novels.  I want them to be so much more.

I am working with an audio engineer to make full cast audio productions of my books., and I have thought about offering a version read my me.

Honestly, I would love to make a video series out of them, but I would have to find a filmmaker to help out.

What do you want?

Are you interested in Text, Audio, or Video?

Contributing to dashPunk just got easier!

dashpunk-ps_badgeI just upgraded dashPunk.com to WordPress 2.8 and the new features are astounding! The one this you should notice more than anything else is the speedier response time. Everything loads quicker, and the options for us to make navigation have increased. You should start seeing those improvements soon.

The most important change is that PressThis is now available to everyone!

Press This is a bookmarklet: a little app that runs in your browser and lets you grab bits of the web.

Use Press This to clip text, images and videos from any web page. Then edit and add more straight from Press This before you save it to dashPunk.

Just register, then Drag-and-drop the PressThis Link to your bookmarks bar or right click it and add it to your favorites for a posting shortcut from the sidebar on any page, and get started!

I cannot wait to see what you all find!

New Features and Improvements at the HQ

Ning video showing off the new features

The Project: Shadow HQ has been updated with some major improvements and a couple wonderful new features.

Improvements:

  • Video Player
  • Photo/Slideshow Player
  • Music Player

New Features: Chat:

The chat itself isn’t new but it has been redesigned.  The chat is now a persistent bar on the bottom of the window with the options to have audio notifications when people chat and the ability to pop out the chat in a new window so you can continue to chat when you are not in the HQ!

I hope you all enjoy the new features, if you have any requests for additional features and improvements, please let me know.

Free Movie Tickets for a year and a Free Trip to Hong Kong!

Fandango wants to thank you all for your support of dashPunk Media and your love of movies with three special offers! Get $20 off at FTD.com when you buy a ticket on Fandango! Promo code FLOWER.

Enter to win free movie tickets for a year!

Enter to win a trip to Hong Kong

I hope who ever wins the trip will send us some pics.  Follow the links for rules and restrictions on these contests.

Good luck, and thank you for your continues support!

Death Note: Streaming Online Anime

death_note_5 Are you looking for some anime to watch? Bob The Elementalist asks

I love anime but I don't know what I should watch. does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks to Emerian Rich for recommending Death Note!

Death Note is streaming online here on Hulu.

death_note_4 The entire first season is up with all 37 episodes in a non-dubbed format.  Death Note is about Light Yagami an ace student with great prospects but he's bored out of his mind. All that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god. Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil. But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer. With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal...or his life?

Netflix, Inc.For our Netflix users Death Note is available there.  They have the entire first season, all 9 discs!  Plus both live action movies

Read Emerian’s Review of Death Note Manga here

Get your copy:

Thanks for the recommendations!  Do you have any more recommendations or questions for anime to watch?  Please share them with us, would love to know.

The Best of dashPunk (Week of 1/9/09)

The Best of dashPunk (Week of 12/26/08)

Best of dashPunk (Week of 12/19/08)

With everything that happened in the last week, it is interesting to see what you all visited in the greatest numbers.  We have been making a lot of changes behind the scenes.  Most of the changes make it easier for us to post stories for you, but we have also been working to speed up the site, improve the site search, and improve the links between stories so you can find what you are most interested in.

Top Stories on dashPunk

Here are the posts and videos you all visited most:

  1. DVD Releases: December 16th, 2008 | dashPunk

  2. Free Streaming Star Trek | dashPunk

  3. Exploring: Hulk vs Wolverine 2009 Movie | dashPunk

  4. X-Men Origins Wolverine Trailer - Project: Shadow HQ

  5. How to: Stream Scifi TV Free and Legal | dashPunk

  6. Wolverine’s Origin Involves Gambit? | dashPunk

  7. Review: The Day the Earth Stood Still | dashPunk

  8. Speculative Fiction BOX Sets Limited Time Deals | dashPunk

  9. Grains Of War - Project: Shadow HQ

  10. The Guild Season 2 Starts November 25 | dashPunk

Top Search Terms

Here are the top search terms that brought people to the site:

  1. star trek stream
  2. star trek streaming
  3. legend of neil season 2
  4. the guild season 2
  5. gambit wolverine origins
  6. hellboy three
  7. kaori yuki
  8. russel tovey
  9. what is mythology
  10. coolest gift ever

Looking forward =>

That was last week, and we have a lot in the hopper for you for the coming weeks.  If you have any special requests, leaves us a comment, and we will do our best to bring you the stories and information you are looking for.

Everything’s Working Again

After a couple days scrambling around after the site crashed on Monday, I am proud to say that all of the dashPunk Media sites are up and running better than ever.

What happened?

An error in our caching software at Project: Shadow caused the sites to at first become unreachable, then the databases were corrupted.  I won’t bore you with all the details, but it took some time to diagnose the problem and work out a solution.

What did we do?

Since the sites were down, we postponed the podcast and all other work to focus our efforts.

We relocated dashPunk.com to its own grid of servers.  This marks the end of the technical relationship between Project: Shadow and dashPunk.

You should notice an improvement in the sites’ response time and performance.

I apologize for any inconvenience, but in the end, this was a growth pain.  The future looks bright.