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Independent Webradio will die next Year

The media conglomerates, evil Record Industries and Institutions for "artists rights" (GEMA and GVL) are at it again. Next year new laws are getting into action in germany that will kill most independent webradios right out and those that are left have to follow strict rules and have to make a ton of money on each and every listener. Up to now if you want to run a webradio you pay a minimum of 25 euros per month to the GEMA and can then almost do whatever you want (no on demand and no choosing by the viewer but the rest is up to you). The new laws put into effect in January require you to pay 750 euros minimum one time installment fee. At least 750 Euros per Year to the GVL another 0,06 Euros per song and listener. A not specified "copying" fee (because you have to copy the music from a CD to your Harddrive). That highers the entry bar - but not enough they seem to think - to really kill the last amateur webradio the following restrictions apply:
No on demand ONLY live shows
No more then two songs of the same artist in the same hour no more then 2 songs from the same album
No preview of the Programm (so people can not anticipate a song for recording!)
No skipping of individual titles (oh this sucks lets play next song)
No remixing/makiing something new out of copyrighted titles and material
No playing of white label or unauthorized recordings
No commercial use of copyrighted material
No program loop that is rerunning in less then 3 hours.

If you think that is all you are wrong the real killers are about to come:

Putting measures into place to prohibit recording of the program (how you do this noone knows as there is no software or hardware that can help here!)

Making sure all DRM mechanisms are transmitted with the song. Again how you want to do this espcapes anyone

And the real killer:

If you want to broadcast internationally you need another license for a price not specified but believed to be TEN TIMES as much as the original "germany only" license. Again there is no way in the world you can restrict viewers bound to specific country in the internet. The internet is international and when you do a webradio you do it because someone in the world might be interested and not your neigboor (he probably already listens to your stuff because you have your home stereo tuned up loud enough)

Now this effectually kills all legal webradios in germany. I have no idea what the reason behind this is other then pure greed and an attempt to control the anarchistic internet. One thing I can tell you: It will outlaw more people who just enjoy music. It will spur new technology that will try to hide the sender (encryption P2P, streamswarming!). The one thing it does for sure is turning away even more people from the big record companies and paint their image even more black then it already is.

I therefore encourage anyone doing a webradio show to continue in an act of civil disobedience and reject these laws and enactments that are against humanity and our right to enjoy life.

More information in german at Telepolis


Synthetic Artificial Life comes to life

Not intelligent yet - researchers at the Rockefeller University have made a synthetic cell structure that can "eat" and produce -> for now glowy green jellyfish light gel. It might be groovy but again – as with all new tech – the downside is that another research group has put together some chemicals and created the first synthetic polio virus.

More info found here at the BBC

Cell processor use part II

Well in my last article about the use of the upcoming Cellprocessor that is a joint development from IBM and Sony for the upcoming Sony Playstation III I was completely ignoring the fact that Apple might use this processor to beef up the G5 workstations. Somehow I personally have the impression that Sony and Apple are not good partners in the corporate world and that they rather would see each other drown then help them. A very informed but also speculative article in Macwelt (in german) talks about such a beast and the possibilities that could lead to a joint venture of the three giants against microsoft namely IBM Sony Apple. I do really not see this happen but would be the most happy person on earth if in fact it would become reality. A G5 with multiple Cells (best would be as user add on for later upgrading -> up to twelfe please) would surely be a renderbeast. Realtime raytracing would have no limit and make things possible that I thought would be still years off. What I do see as a problem as Macwelt lays out is the memory bandwdth that the G5 does not have and is only realizable with a heavy investment of proprietary Rambus RAM - which would make a workstation much to expensive for Apple to sell - maybe they all work out some magic we will see - but I don´t believe it until its under my desk.

Machinima vs. VJ art

The PR releases went high about 2-3 years ago when the first larger machinima film "red vs. blue" hit the ethers that form the internet. A slashdot article had fired the name machinima into the head of lots of geeks and they liked it a lot - as geek what where they supposed to think? All genres that interest a "normal" geek where put into one -> 3D film, Game engines, fast graphic cards, war technics and geeky humor. I watched it and stopped after 1 minute... It was boring as hell - the story line was so predictable that I can tell you the whole film with just watching the first minute. I have never given machinima a chance again (I did look at some other machinima films just to be even more dissapointed). Yet the machinima world has done something the VJ has not achieved -> primetime news, lots of magazin coverage and a one to onehundred PR campaign that propelled the name machinima into the heads of lots of people (starting with said slahdot article). What all has begun so well is now falling down like a star that is sucked into a black hole. There have been hundrets of machinima festivals and prizes for best machinima films - but it all seemed self propelled marketing events to "establish" the genre - a genre that lacked one thing: CONTENT. The gamers that now felt like george lucas who probably never read a book without beeing forced to do so now tried to put together up to 90! minute films. I just can imagine all the people falling asleep over them. Of course there might still be some cool nice shorts made in machinima style out there but I have not found them nor does one piece stand out in any way.
Why the title to this entry you might think? Well I can say that I am utterly HAPPY that the VJ world defies all marketing campaigns to get into the public mind to FAST to FAR. I mean no one would mind if the public perception of our profession would be better then it is now - but I think a new genre - or a genre that wants to be center point in the public media view needs to mature and trust me when I say that the vj scene has to mature for at least another five years. Its getting better we are talking and all but what is still missing is the killer content away from the usual blink blink. Content that really enriches a night - content that talks - content that can hold up to contemporary art - contemporary film - these are the things that people will judge against any new media that tries to entertain or teach. This is what started the coming downfall of the machinima movement which personally was really excited about. The lack of quality thought out content. Now it will be much much harder to convince the general large public that this genre has the power to entertain them like a movie does. Since the general public still has not much heard about the VJ scene we are here for a slow healthy growth where we the artists can grow with the perception.
Now that said it could all come different with recent pushs of big corporations into our internal afair trying to judge good visuals when they are still all bad. If they succeed with this strategy the VJ scene will be in big trouble to get out of the image of moving wallpaper for all the years to come - just because some profit hungry VJs sold their soul. Watch what will happen to the machinima movement in the coming month to see what I am talking about - there are more similarities than some might think.

PS: machinima was actually "invented" by a company unlike the vj scene which has grown over hundrets of years so the PR push with them seems to be loosely connected to the "inventing" company. corporate evil destroys beautiful artist tool -> point still stands.


Swarmstreaming - Bittorrent for Linear Media

The inventors of swarming - the underlaying concept of Bittorrent a form of distributed file sharing (in its good sense) - have been at it again. This time they look at how you could use the randomized swarming technic to get a mediafile to play even if it has not downloaded yet completely. Swarmstreaming might be what I have been waiting for. Peercast seems to be quite dead lately. The last release left only a promise for distributed media content streaming. Now with the advent of Swarmstreaming things might change. If this new technology is holding what is promised then we will be able to stream video content over a shared distribution network. In our community alone are at least 15 DSL connection - with that we are able to stream a very very good quality TV stream.
Now someone has to make this whitepaper into a working applications. Good to know that a lot of people actually care about shared streaming content distribution.
Read all all about the whitepaper here


New AVIT^C3 Brochure


After long long nights we have finally got the conference together completely. We are very excited about the AVIT coming up and think that we have managed to get a good all around schedule where there is something of interest for everyone. We are even more happy that our schedule fits in so nicely with the whole Chaos Communication Congress Fahrplan and that a lot of workshops blend in between the vj and hacker world (f.e.pure data workshop and a full palette of media centered lectures). Anyway here is the new almost final schedule. There will be only one more update with specific timings for the showcases and last corrections but the current one reflects everything what will go on at the conference. I hope you all like as we do and come and enjoy the conference with us.

AVIT C3 Brochure Version 0.93


Netti has her own Blog

Today two new blog have been born. Two people - One I love One I respect. Check out the blog of Cassandra the Trojan princess and the blog of Punkrawker the great punk writer.

Podcasting - Revolution of Mobile Radio

I do not own an iPod - you know I still wait for the movie functionality that might never come (oh no do not point me to this iPodPhotoHack that allows you to "play" movies by turning the dial in 25fps fashion to some background music) and at current price I rather by two 250Gb harddrives then one 40GB that won´t even hold a tenth of an actual movie project. Because of my neglectance in all subjects surrounding the iPod I have also overlooked one cool development: Podcasting. Today I stumbled across an article in the USA today online publication that talks about this new phenomenon. What is it? A blend between an RSS feed, a radiostation and a shared playlist.
Basically you download a a software like ipodderx and subscribe to a couple of Podcast "radiostations" that you like. Now everytime a new version of the Radiofeed becomes available it will upload automatically onto your iPod. So its like Radio on demand surely a killer application for the audio producing crowd - it makes it easy to transform a blog to a radiostation especially usefull for bands or the like to do promotion with their own radio show.
For me now just an iPod with Video has to surface and Podcasting capable of doing video as well and I can transmit my own Television on demand... Oh dreams...

For a list of Podcasts you can go to sites like http://ipodder.org/ or http://podcast.net/


Cell Processor use?

There are some mysteries surrounding the cell processor that is a joint development by Sony and IBM and is based on the Power Platform (and the PowerPC platform probably even including some altivec like functions). Originally developed to be used in the new next year Playstation 3 game console it is shaping up to become the "all around" processor to be used in workstations and TV sets as well. What is the idea or strategy behind the Cell? The most important thing is that it can handle distributed processing. Meaning that it can theoretically gather all Cell processors in a network and use them all together to render a character or calculate some prime numbers. Problem and bottleneck is of course the lack of high speed networking capabilities in the Playstation3 or on the consumer market in general. There is speculation that Firewire 800 might be a candidate to get the interconnection speeds to make a distributed computing environment in a household feasible but it might still be way to slow. Regardless of the technical complications WHY would Sony and IBM choose to get this power to the masses? Speculation is rampant. For myself I think they will go after the "AVATAR EVERYWHERE". Meaning a realtime rendered avatar (that you can probably dress yourself and choose how he/she/it should look) that answers your phone reads your news and tells you your dates. Its something that has been mentioned in so many SciFi books and novels and Sony probably thinks they have to be out with that first. So maybe the avatar will get more and more features the more Cellprocessor capable devices you add to network? Like the answering machine, the TV set the Playstation and the Computer all have the cell processor and each takes care of their part? I have no idea if the market will accept such things. I guess they would be better off to offer very cheap home workstations where you can add on cell processors on the way back from the supermarket like you add sugar cubes to your tea.

Study Day: Filetrading helps Artists.

Another study that shows how wrong the current system seems to be regards audio (and visual?) artists. Apparently the artist seem not to be too concerned about their stuff beeing traded on filesharing networks. Contrary to the few big record labels they even feel the internet and filesharing helps them distribute their work and get the name out. Only 3% of all questioned artists said that the internet failed to protect their work. That completely discredits the record companies claim that the internet is hurting the artists.


Internet usage up TV viewing down

I try to track articles that foresee what I call "the decline of the braindead couch potato civilization". While the earlier articles on the matter "TV viewing down internet usage up" where all studies and statistics from the US – today came one in from good ol Europe. BBC is reporting that the adaption of broadband is up between 33% (Germany) to 120%(Italy) over the previous year. In the same study 40% of all broadband using households say that they are spending way less time in front of the TV.

"Year-on-year we are continuing to see a seismic shift in where, when and how Europe's population consume media for information and entertainment and this has big implications for TV, newspaper and radio," said Jupiter Research analyst Olivier Beauvillian.

That is 20 Million more people in Europe watching less TV.


21C3 Conference Fahrplan

The Chaos Computer Club today has put online the official fahrplan (timetable) for this years ChaosCommunicationCongress. In the timeline you will not only find all lectures and workshops for the "hacker" side of the conference but also the complete layout of the AVIT^C3 VJ conference. If you want to know if its worth coming to the conference you need to have a look at this.