• Jan. 22, 2004 | 12:15 PM ETWEB VIDEO: COMING OF AGE?In several of my earlier posts on music (like this one, this one, and this one) I've linked to artists who have put videos online for fans. I think that's pretty cool, and I notice that it's becoming more widespread.I also think it's a trend that goes beyond music. A while back, in response to a piece by Matt Labash on how lame the "Rock the Vote" candidate videos were, I made my own. I didn't even use a real video camera -- I used the video-recording feature on my digital still camera. (For a link to the video, and the context, go here.) My candidate video wasn't great, especially because I limited myself to five minutes to script and shoot the whole thing, but it has now been viewed over 180,000 times. That seems like a lot for something that was basically free to produce. With bandwidth prices coming down, and with broadband Internet service becoming more widespread, I think we'll see a lot more of that sort of thing.Videographers are already doing it. Evan Coyne Maloney is doing Michael Moore-style documentary video and putting it on the web. (The style is Moore's -- the slant is, well, a bit different.) My wife put trailers for her film about teenage satanic killers, Six, on the Web. The response to the trailers has inspired her to plan her next project with the Web in mind. As she shoots the larger documentary, she's going to turn chunks of it into five-minute freestanding Web documentaries on small, specific topics along the way. And, for something completely different, there's Grouchymedia, a military guy who does military-themed music videos for the web. (His Bomb Saddam was a prewar Web hit, but he hasn't stopped since.)I hope that we'll see a lot more people doing interesting things with Web video, and I've been evangelizing for it. In particular, I'm interested in the prospects of ordinary people doing reporting and interviewing for the web. Here's a post I've written with advice on getting started, and here's some advice from Web god Doc Searls.I think that one person with a decent digital camera and a server could do a good job covering the news -- especially local news in a particular community -- in a way that Big Media outfits often don't. If this sort of thing appeals to you, give it a try, and let me know how it works out. I think it's the wave of the future.
• Jan. 21, 2004 | 10:23 AM ETTHE CHANGING SPACE PROGRAMUPI correspondents Frank Sietzen and Keith Cowing have an interesting piece on the development of the Bush Administration's new space policy. They report:Yet this was about more than hardware choices. As Steve Hadley, the deputy national security adviser -- who chaired the regular meetings of the space mission planners -- had remarked, the rationale for the human exploration of space was "existential."And that's not such a bad idea. But here's the really interesting -- and promising -- part:The commercial industry could be a different story, however. Space companies might be able to supply small communications satellites orbiting the moon, for example, keeping landing parties in touch with Earth, even if they traveled to the moon's far side. In fact, the issue of how to leverage commercial space entrepreneurs or companies -- even universities -- into a new attempt at moon landings was taken seriously.I've been lukewarm on the Bush plan, but this story makes me feel a lot better. If the space program is to go anywhere over the long term, it has to have a strong commercial component. Meanwhile this report suggests that there's a geopolitical angle:One unspoken motivation may have been China's milestone launch in October of its first piloted spaceflight in earth orbit and its announced plan to go to the moon.
"I think the new initiative is driven by a desire to beat the Chinese to the moon," said John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a defense and space policy research group.Er, well, we actually did that already. But I suppose that since it happened before many voters were born, getting back to the Moon before the Chinese get there for the first time still counts. I'd like to see us go back -- but only as a stepping stone to doing more, and bigger, things in space. If it's just flags-and-footprints again, I'd rather stay home. It sounds like Bush feels the same way.• Jan. 19, 2004 | 10:40 AM ETMore on music
Last week's interview with Audra Coldiron of Audra and The Antidote led to requests for more musical recommendations, especially in terms of bands you might not have heard on pop radio. Well, it just so happens that I have a few more suggestions.One album that I've been listening to a lot lately is Ken Layne and the Corvids' new CD, Fought Down. Layne has played with the likes of Mojo Nixon, Country Dick Montana, and a host of others, and his band, The Corvids, also features well known journalist/blogger/raconteur Matt Welch. But that's not why it's good. It's good because it sounds the way Exile on Main Street would sound if it were recorded in the 21st Century, by guys who weren't already millionaires but who really liked to sing and play. Follow the link to hear samples, and see (er, hear) for yourself.Another one that's good is the Mr. T Experience's new release, Yesterday Rules. (Note that the actual Mr. T does not appear on the album. Personally, I consider that a plus.) What really makes this is the songwriting, though the performances are terrific as well. You can read a blog review, from Michele Catalano, here.I'm not sure if I've mentioned them here before, but I'm also a big fan of Cecilia Noel and the Wild Clams. It's Los Angeles salsoul, and you can stream some songs and video here. I've tried to hear the Wild Clams when I've been to L.A., but I've never been able to synchronize my travels with their performance schedule -- so, sadly, the Web performance video is the best I've been able to do. But hey, it's pretty cool. And if you've got Flash, you can hear a lot more of her tunes by clicking on the first link.There's a lot of good music out there that's not getting as much attention as it deserves. Take some time to look around; you don't have to wait to hear songs on the radio anymore.
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