Category API’s

Grouper and sharing / organizing personal media

Just read Cringley’s piece about Grouper, its surprisingly thin. The purchase is about a research — Lynton made that clear in his statement – but with no brand its going to be hard to extend it beyond r&d, something Cringley seems to think is eary. Also wasnt grouper all about p2p and sharing of personal media? Thats what the client / media player is all about. The media have respun this as another video sharing site — but Felsner’s and Samuels vision started in a very different place. Will be interesting to see what Sony really bought and where they go with this. Sony really needs to drive and open up innovation on the software layer – from walkmans to phones to psp’s to connected cameras and playstations — offering users a means to share and manage personal media is a big opportunity that Sony have thus far failed to deliver on.

Why cant I tag movie clips as I film them on my camera? There should be a simple scroll wheel interface into a user defined set of keywords that I could select and tag as I capture media. The relative cost of capturing, or acquiring media continues to drop at an astounding pace — but this has shifted the cost of media from storage, processing etc. to organization and presentation.  Grouper anyone? Another example — have you tried openlcr? Openlcr is a web based interface to offer software services for cordless phones — ringtones, weather, upload contacts etc.  Its abismal — useless, and expensive to boot.   Why arent CE companies adapting to software based innovation? I think the problem is generally grounded in the history of the consumer electronics business. Most of the traditional businesses grew through innovating of specific hardware based functionality. CE devices were traditionally all about making thousands of minute pieces of hardware work in tandem. Yet CE as an industry is getting pressured from the edge by both the low cost manufacturing base, the realities of solid state and the advent of software based innovation, in essentially dumb devices.

Given that the Grouper purchase was made by Sony Pictures its likely they too bought the video sharing meme and wont capitalize on the rest of the opportunity, but there could be much more here than just another video storage / sharing site.

Machinima, Halo, Google Earth and what film could look like by 2010

Machinima is starting to get more and more interesting as a media form.    See this wonderful intereview with Malcolm Maclaren — a walk in the park with punks impresario.    Or this commmentary on net neutrality — or this parody of the bouncing ball / Sony commercial.    Now take a look at the preview of Halo 3 — and then play around with Google Earth and sketch up for a bit.    The lines between what we know of as media, content, mapping and gaming are going to get completely blurred.

Sharing that OPML

I am playing around with Dave Winer’s OPML sharing platform and loving it. You can see my OPML file listed or more interestingly you can see other people who have subscriptions like mine (you have to log in to see the match vs. mine, would like an option for this to be public). Its great for feed discovery since people have a reason to use real names, and others can discover them (if you have tried finding friends on you will know why this matters).

Finding or doing something like this has been a personal lazy web project for a while. For a while I would ask people I knew to share OPML’s with me. I tried to manage each persons OPML in a separate folder. Newsgators and Netnewswire did a marginal job of making this data accessible. The folders were present but there was no automatic updating of the OPML (so they were locked in a point in time), there was no easy way to compare my RSS feeds to my friends and there was no attention navigation option (like NetNewsWire has started offering) to give me a sense of whats important to the people whose feeds I am reading (finally, maybe all the attention chatter can be put to use for end users). I ended up having to do a lot of pruning and integration myself, getting rid of the folders, taking other OPML files and grabbing a handful of interesting feeds and leaving it at that.

Winer’s OPML sharing platform open the world up for much richer and more interesting options. Sharing is easy, as is navigation. Its fun to browse through users feeds. I find it a lot more compelling than a lot of the feed search engines out there. Matching the data with identity is the difference. Also interesting to see how little mainstream data is present in the OPML files. Dave’s own list (user ID#3) is one of the few exceptions — I suspect that given all the work he has done re: RSS he is over indexed on tracking media sites for RSS feeds.

Very interested to see how this evolves. This feels to me just like did at the start. All of the gentle ways that Josh introduced happenstance into navigating tags I hope Dave will offer to navigate feeds. And I want to be able to match this with my reader so I can navigate not only the meta data but the actual articles. Likewise I wish I could plug my podcast feed list into this (the one that is trapped, happily so, but still trapped, in iTunes). And I hope that search navigation options really open up. I hope people will be able to build off this, would be wonderful if it became a platform. There are less than 2500 people sharing files as of now, going to be fascinating to see how it evolves as the dataset grows. OPML is another building block for wiring the flow of lateral data on the web. Finding ways to share and mix OPML files is part of the next stage of evolution of RSS.

Scraping data and API’s

Scrapperwas wondering how easy it would be to build a generic approach to opening up API’s on web sites who didnt formally publish them and then last night I saw this post about scrAPI’s. Great stuff — would like to be able to cut and paste data sources and mix them together myself. I find myself doing manually today too often (eg: the other night I was cutting and pasting rotten tomatoes reviews vs. a movie database). So many mashup’s today and based on geo location data — its like my one year old who has six or seven words, most everything is at some point “hot”. Latitude and longitude are just the easiest and first data source to be mined — things are going to get a lot more interesting as the data sources become increasingly diverse. I am interested in Thor Muller’s coming posts on the business and legal issues regarding scpAPIng.