Four short links: 10 Mar 2009

  1. Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation Sets Up Its Own BitTorrent Tracker — the money shot is not that they’re using the same code as Pirate Bay, it’s “By using BitTorrent we can reach our audience with full quality media files. Experience from our early tests show that if we’re the best provider of our own content we also gain control of it.”. Finally, a broadcaster realizing that they have to jump into the conversation with customers even though they don’t know how it ends. (via BoingBoing)
  2. Sita Sings The Blues Released — release of the movie that was mired in copyright strife, now freed under Creative Commons Attribute And No Damn DRM licensing. It still is copyright-entangled: some of the songs in the movie are restricted and if you want to reuse the songs in your reuse of the movie then you’ll have to wrangle with the copyright overlords.
  3. Crisis of Credit Explained in Infographics — a great 10m movie explaining the whole disaster from cash to crash, with an infographic-meets-Flash-game feel to it. This is the future of educational films. I’ve embedded it below. (via Flowing Data)
  4. Cowpox Smallpox — very clear essay from Maciej Ceglowski about how the economic dramas and the climate dramas challenge our democracy in the same way. You might know Maciej from Argentina on two steaks a day or Dabblers and Blowhards. Complexity as a result of feedback loops caught my eye, as that’s part of the talk I gave at Webstock, “Better Stronger Failures”: “Feedback loops in the financial world are even worse, since the entities being modeled are aware of their behavior – and aware of the models being used to study them. Investors form strategies based not just on market conditions, but on their perceptions of others’ perceptions of market conditions, and so on in a hall of mirrors effect. Any algorithm that can reliably predict the behavior of a financial market will be used by participants in that market to earn money, altering the system in a way that leaves you right back where you started. In this sense our ability to model economics will always be worse than our understanding of the weather, since we don’t have to worry about a raindrop anticipating that it will hit the ground before it even forms, and taking steps to change the outcome.”

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

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  • Nat,

    Aside: someone is Germany is apparently agitated about something (re the comment spam :-).

    On topic:

    You wrote that such vids are the future of educational films. To an extent, yes, I think so. I think the one you link there has some good moments and some weak parts but it’s an interesting literary form, isn’t it?

    My question to you is why you focus on “educational films” or, more broadly:

    Don’t you think that something along these lines is going to be part of a new literacy?

    Consider, for example, how a video such as that one could be very, very quickly and intuitively made on a (hypothetical) multi-touch display. There’s a verbal soundtrack there. There’s a small set of icons getting moved around the screen. You could make a less slick yet similarly effective video very quickly if you could digitally (in the sense of with your fingers) slide around the icons to set them up for the key frames and let the computer do the in-betweening. Sort of a next-generation “power point”.

    This kind of thing looks to me like it will have, in coming years, rapidly crashing costs of production until, soon enough, it’s a pretty democratized medium.

    From that perspective there’s an interesting moment in the vid you link to where spacial relations and arrows in icons depict trading relations. Talking of how the failure in financials impacts the 401K of the homeowner the arrows form a loop – a cycle – and the voice-over comments on the feedback loop.

    That’s “interesting” (in my book) because how else besides a 2d drawing can you efficiently convey that feedback loop – and how else besides animating the construction of the loop can you make it something people can “read” a bit like a paragraph, starting with one part of the idea, then adding parts, until the idea is complete.

    You can’t do that very easily with words and when you do do it, the words are hard for others to parse (case in point, this entire comment). In a lot of interesting cases, adding animation and 2d, even over a limited vocabulary of icons and arrows and such – gives rise to elegant expression.

    I wonder if you wouldn’t consider that perhaps we’re not just looking at the future of educational videos, we’re looking at (a significant part of) the future of democratized literacy itself.