Category Archives: Media

GoPro ski jump video

What’s especially cool about this video is the effort they’ve put into removing the mount from the shot. Notice how the view moves ever so slightly up when he’s sliding down and there’s only sky behind him. After the jump the view moves down again. All the way through, they could’ve just kept cropping the top of the helmet where mount is. Think it adds an eery unrealness to the shot. Nice.

The Geek Atlas on Google Maps


The Geek Atlas – 128 Places Where Science & Technology Come Alive by John Graham-Cumming is by far my favourite non-fiction book to be published last year. As the title suggests, it’s full of geeky places to visit and it offers great insight into the science behind different concepts.

This is a prime example of ‘I should have googled it first’.

I was planning a trip to do with my parents around Easter and I started looking on the pages of The Geek Atlas for inspiration. As I was going through it, I started placing a pins on a Google map so I could see their relation to each other. I.e. how best to plan our route around England. Soon I had so many pins on the map that I decided to do the rest of the book as well. I looked up each site in the book and placed a pin for it.

Little did I know, although I should have, that John had already made a map like this. His can be found here.

I didn’t want my efforts to go to waste so I’m still publishing mine on my site. At least that way I can update it with more info and photos if I happen to visit the sites.

Another thing I found when doing this is that there’s an iPhone app version of the book with clickable long/lats to help you easily find the places you’re looking for. The app is available on the App Store.

The book itself is of course available at any good Amazon bookstore near you: US/UK.

Price of Bits

End of last week Amazon pulled all of Macmillans books off their website and the Kindle store to try and bully the book publisher to let them sell ebooks at a lower price of $9.99. Moments later, they caved and all the books were back, some with higher prices.

Macmillan’s argument was that they should be able to sell bits – as in ones and zeros – at the same price as they sell hardbacks.

Amazon’s argument, I presume, was that they – both Amazon and Macmillan – can make more money by selling the ebook version at a lower price. Shifting physical goods costs money, shifting bits across the Internet doesn’t.

There are three loser in the case when Amazon makes a decision to sell bits for cheaper:

1. The company who prints the book and later has to collect unsold copies of books and pulp them.

2. Climate chance deniers are angry at less trees being torn down.

3. And book publishers autonomy suffers.

Of course, Macmillan only cares about the latter. They want to feel like they’re in charge. They don’t want the bookstore to have the control over what they themselves used to be able to control.

As a bystander, it looks a lot like when Tesco/Asda/Sainsbury’s dictate milk producers at what price they’ll need to sell them milk. Undercutting their actual cost-of-production prices thus making it necessary for governments and the EU to subsidise farming.

Only that… the difference here is that book publisher don’t write books, they publish them. Writers write books. And at no point in this argument between Macmillan and Amazon is anyone asking ‘what do the authors think of this’. Why? Because they’ve been messed about for long enough and they don’t have a voice when it comes to Big Business.

Sure, the top 10 authors make a fair bit of money. The rest don’t. If John Graham-Cumming makes $1.30 per copy of The Geek Atlas sold, all you can think of is to ask where does the rest disappear. It’s the same thing with artists and bands, they make about 6 per cent of the selling price of a CD or a song. No wonder why piracy is rife. Or was, until some figured out that people want easy access to music and that can be paid for with advertising and gigs.

Interestingly, John also says in his tweet that he makes $1.96 per sold ebook. For maths illiterates amongst my readers, whom there are none, that’s more than the hard copy.

(I’m only using him as an example as I knew the numbers. You should run and buy his book, it’s great. I’ve bought a copy for myself and two to give as gifts. By the way, that link is an affiliate link, if you use it, I’ll make a bit of money. In fact, I’ll probably make more than John does from that purchase. That’s how strange the whole setup is.)

OK. I’ve been rambling on a bit without a clear goal.

Why can’t Macmillan allow Amazon to set the price? I’ve got a hunch that, they, Amazon, know far better what sells and at what price than anyone in the room.

They are scared and insulted. That’s probably why.

Selling bits

There is a lot that has to be said for perceived value of a product. Just ask people reading newspapers; paper copy of the same news is valued at £1, digital copy is valued at zero pounds.

When watching the iPad announcement, I made an argument that the average price for an iPad app is going to be more than the average price of an iPhone app. Let’s pull couple of numbers out of the hat: average price of indie software for Apple platforms:

Macintosh: $20
iPad: $5 (for apps that are made to work on just that platform)
iPhone: $1

My reasoning behind this is that it’s easier for a consumer to justify paying more for a product that runs on a faster, larger device. Perceived value.

By far, most ebooks (that are NOT in public domain and many of the ones that are) are DRM protected, therefore can only be viewed on the device they were bought for and cannot be lent to friend. Yes, you can only read a book on the paper it was printed on (pretty good DRM) but no-one is going to tell you not to lend it to your friend.

As I’m limited in this way when buying a book, I don’t think I should be paying as much for an ebook as I pay for a hardcopy. I value the art that has gone into writing the book as much, but as a product, an ebook offers a lower value* because of the limitations it imposes on me.

So, what changed. I’m pretty sure Amazon is quite anxious of what Apple is going to do with their iBook Store. Biggest reason for them to worry about is whether Apple is actually going to pull Amazon’s Kindle app for the iPhone of of the App Store and thus no longer be able tosell books for that device. I think this would be classed as anticompetitive behaviour and it wouldn’t go down well with the courts, from Apples point of view. Amazon would win, but everyone would suffer. I also think that we’re close to seeing whether Apple still thinks it’s in the hardware business rather than starting to show signs of wanting to make money with software and content.

Amazon, on the other hand, should concentrate on it’s ‘we’re a bookstore’ business. Not to forget about Kindle completely but to make sure they stay competitive in the ebooks market. I have no doubt they wouldn’t, this case with Macmillan just shows it. They’re not selling quite that many Kindle’s that they could stop selling lots of books to read on them.

Book publishers, like record companies, will need to find ways of staying relevant as more and more books are being published with out them. They need to find and nurture talent.

Most of all, this is an interesting time for authors. There’s a million ways for a book to be published. It used to be that the hardest part was to get noticed by a publisher, now, if you can get noticed by your audience, you can actually make it. I predict that with in a few months, there’s going to be iPhone OS (for both iPhone and iPad) developers who have a plug’n play – or plug’n publish – solution for you to sell your book on these devices. In my previous post I mentioned iSites, that allows you to publish your social media content and blog through an app. It’s trivial to do this for a book. Just wait and be ready.

Ending note

This was a bit of a brain dump. So many companies have vested interests and legacy to hold on to that it really annoys me when I feel that progress is being stifled or slowed down. The paradigm has changed a long time ago but many still feel like holding on to the past. Everybody needs to really think ‘what business am I in’ and not try to have foot in the door to other contradicting areas. I guess I need to keep that in mind myself as well. What am I good at, get better at it and do it.

* Must be said that in many cases, especially for textbooks and manuals, an ebook can offer more value with it’s lower footprint and the fact that I can read it on-screen with the work I’m doing.

Photographic Heroes

It doesn’t really matter that digital is – not the future but – the present of photography. I don’t think any of my photographer friends use film in their professional practice but probably all of them use it once in a while for other, ‘personal’ stuff. Photographing on film, especially with medium and large format cameras, is very different from photographing with DSLR. Photographing is a process that is effected by the tools and methods used.

Just about a year ago, Polaroid announced that they won’t be making Polaroid film much longer and in June this year production was stopped. This was obviously a great blow to many but most of all to those who’s style depends on the use of it.

Now, a group of Dutch heroes have bought the equipment that was used to make Polaroid and not only are they re-starting it’s production but are also researching into modern ways of assembling the film cartridge.

The Impossible mission is NOT to re-build Polaroid Integral film but (with the help of strategic partners) to develop a new product with new characteristics, consisting of new optimised components, produced with a streamlined modern setup. An innovative and fresh analog material, sold under a new brand name that perfectly will match the global re-positioning of Integral Films.

Impossible b.v. Be sure to check it out. They have a more info on the project as well as really cool Polaroids of machinery used to make it.

–kristian

If Any More Prove Was Needed…

… That Microsoft doesn’t excel at making adverts for their products, watch this ad.

Something to notice is that Songsmith – the product it advertices – doesn’t run on a Mac.

They also haven’t realized that when other companies use real people as actors they’re actually ‘real’ people – actors. Maybe MS should send their engineers and product managers back behind their desk to do their real jobs.

–kristian

New Page – The Reading List

About a year ago, I started reading books. Or not really reading as I listen to them, which is why I started. I can’t concentrate on reading a book. If I have the luxury to sit still for more than a minute there are more important things to do than read.

I mostly choose factual books over fictional. Is there anything better than driving/cleaning/cooking/sleeping and learning something at the same time? Don’t try, there isn’t. To share what I’m ‘reading’ I decided to open up a new page: The Reading List. Books are not in any particular order and I’m not putting up every book I go through, just the ones I really like. Links are to Amazon UK, mostly for the reason that you can find more info and reviews there.

–kristian