Saturday I attended the second day of the Open Video Conference. I loved it, though there was too much to see and hear and not enough time to chat and participate. I heard a great talk about how archivists are creating useful digital archives to make video available, including an exciting project in the Netherlands that is very user-friendly. One of the Dutch fellows knows people whom I know through the internet, so I went up and introduced myself, and accurately told him his talk was excellent, or should I say prachtig, and bade him to say "hi" to an on-line friend in the Hague.
I heard another great talk in which video webloggers explained how the folks whom they instruct in vlogging need a one-stop linux/ubuntu solution as useful as iMovie is for Apple folks. I'm a PC user, who feels that linux is the future, but who likes both PCs and Apples. I must admit,though, that I find disappointing the way that Apple cultists defend even the DRM-laden practices of that company, which have set back sharing culture by years. I'm not *against* the Mac--it's a really cool platform in some ways, especially for some uses, and it's very plug 'n' play. A few synths are made for the Mac I wish I could get on PC. I could see owning a Mac without it disrupting my life. Yet I was appreciative when one of the speakers finally made the point that an open-source solution is necessary in light of the various Mac proprietary conventions and lack of interoperability. I was also grateful to the two vloggers who made the key point that ordinary people want simple solutions, not Hollywood quality software which is hard to use.
I love the freeware software Blender, because I admire so much the work that adventurous souls are doing with it. The Blender guy was really impressive on ways to use it even as a very versatile video editor.
Yet so often I feel that people keep trying to develop a pro-quality Blender for video, when the people who will be the citizen activist video makers just need something free that is the video equivalent of pivot stickfigure animator.
I was delighted to meet video guy Jay Dedman, with whom I had a great discussion about ways to bridge the broadband gap and get media to folks who don't have a high speed internet connection. This weblog probably illustrates that I am one of those people rather on the shy and distant side until I connect with a topic, whereupon I become a bitTorrent of ideas and words. I was at my most effusive,which shows me I was "into" the topic,but also makes the trial lawyer in me wonder if I'd be more persuasive in my positions if I did not speak so many words per minute. I am a firm believer in the trial lawyer's adage--"when you're winning, sit down". Still, I felt the discussion may bear fruit in new ways, if I follow through on some ideas. Interestigly, when I asked the archivers what steps they were taking to bridge the broadband divide, a good speaker from WNET cited merely Mr. Obama's broadband plan. Although I share her optimism the broadband will get back on track after the 8 years of lobbyist pandering prior to January to set the country from 5th to 22nd in broadband usage, I thought she missed the point that even when everyone can have broadband, many won't for affordability reasons. This digital gap is going to be something we must all bridge to keep the poor from getting even poorer.
At 6, they had a 'surprise speaker" appear by video link, Peter Sunde of the Pirate Bay. His recent conviction for software piracy has sparked the Pirate Party's rapid growth into the third largest political party and into 2 seats in the European parliament. Mr. Sunde was a good and likable speaker, sitting at his home computer, mug of beer at his side, speaking into a webcam of some kind to an audience of hundreds. Yet his platform--to abolish most or all patent laws, and to "reform" copyright to a 5 year term, is an extreme that I feel is not the way forward, as a more modest reform would be much better. I was disappointed that with one exception, every question he got was a complete softball. I feel that the way forward lies neither with the RIAA nor with Pirate Bay, and I think that framing the issue in these extremes is bad for the consumer and bad for business. I dislike very much the 1.92 million dollar verdict against a consumer with 24 copyrighted songs from Kazaa. This kind of punitive system over 40 dollars worth of downloads is absurd. The RIAA and the MPAA are setting back their own cause, but the other side does not advance the debate either by framing the debate solely in freedom of speech and FOSS terms. As in so many areas, I long for moderation--and sharing.
Saturday night they screened RIP: the Remix manifesto, a film by a Canadian fellow which points out the absurd situation on sampling, remixing and the record industry's own record of not paying for misappropriated culture and then insisting on keeping others from sampling. I liked the director and camera guy's presenation at the end. It's a really good movie. On the plane home this morning, I watched the lo-fi animation "Sita Sings the Blues". It's another really good film, done with a Creative Commons license by one animator a a few voice actors and a little grant and donated money. This, to me, is the way forward. We shold not appropriate the tired culture of the flailing recording industry--but create new sharing culture.
The irony, of course, is that the film encountered a major obstacle when the 'blues' songs in the soundtrack, dating from the late 1920s, had to be licensed. It's silly that a 1929 recording could still be under copyright. Copyright terms should expire in a few decades, not in 95 years or more. Why give a state monopoly to a song for ever? Let the mouse make new movies instead of hoarding its gold in the old ones.
I was so glad to fly home. My computer is up and running, I got a good nap, I talked to my great dad, and we saw 7 scissortail flycatchers sitting on a fence. It's almost time for Monday.