"Tivo-ifies the web" Paul Kedrosky

WTF happened to Smashing Telly?

Smashing Telly as a personal curated video project is now closed. However, I will be launching a collaborative version soon.

In the interim, check out Oobject which is a kind of online Wunderkammer comprising visual lists of man-made objects. A mainstream version of Bernd and Hilla Becher’s Typologies, if you like. Oobject may look like yet another, crappy, weird things site, but delve in, I’ve put an unhealthy amount of effort into it.

In the spirit of the global takeover of content by the headline and listicle I also plan to do one last post on Smashing Telly with a big list of my favorite factual TV programs and clips (since Smashing Telly focused on these).

Stay Tuned.


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TV is moving to the Web in the Wrong Way.

UK’s Channel 4 is to put its entire back catalog online for free

That’s the good news. The bad news is that this will presumably only apply within the UK.

Increasingly the dream of on-demand, online TV of the type that I tried to make available here from scraps that required sifting through endless search results is becoming a reality.

But there is one thing that is fucking it up royally – regionalization. The same moronic, antediluvian thinking that means that you can’t watch a DVD you bought in one country, in another is being applied to nearly all legitimate TV on the web. Its a disaster, something that doesn’t apply for music or text and is ruining something that could be great.

The usual excuse for this not being possible is the impossibility of handling things like the payments of residuals to actors. Like the music industry, the people who deal with this feel very threatened by the Internet and are actively trying to hold up progress.

The sad thing is that people won’t notice. You can’t miss something you never knew. But imagine if people in the UK could watch Hulu or people in the US could watch the Channel 4 in the same way that they can read the BBC online.


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Sorry for light posting

packed up and ready to go
Me, Justine and baby Spike are moving from NY to Geneva for a bit (talk about a difference). Meanwhile, I’m in San Francisco for a few weeks – damn it’s nice here! (Although Spike managed to find a dead rat at the playground in swanky Russian Hill).

In the interim, if you haven’t checked out one of my other sites which are based on our visual aggregation engine called curations, have a look:

Oobject is a site all about technology, it has technology news, but without the crap. I.E. just things that are decently designed. The real focus, however, is on lists of things in a particular topic that are interesting. The idea being to take the most moronic thing on the web – top 10 lists, and do them really well.

Then there are 3 curated sites (I pick out the best 500 or so websites in a particular topic, based upon whether the people that run them have a keen eye) and then run the visual aggregator over them and pick out the most interesting items each day:

Cribcandy (household design), Popgloss (fashion design) and Yokiddo (kids stuff)

Like lists, this could be awful, but the aim is to do the aggregation thing well, and with pictures. (Yokiddo, I have to confess is not good enough, so I’m going to redo it or ditch it).

Lastly there is Wists which is an online visual bookmarking application – like delicious but with thumbnails of a particular portion of a page.

If you like watching grass grow, have a look at my physics notes in the right side bar of my blog, under ‘notes’ : This is what really keeps me awake at night.

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The Ascent of Money

ascent of money

When three bodies spin around each other, their movements can be approximated if there is a dominant one such as is the case with the Sun, the Earth and Mars. If this status quo is disrupted, no super-computer can accurately predict the movement of three spheres revolving around each other under a simple force like gravity, a fact, whose implications, few people seem to register.

The economy has many more than three moving parts and the status quo has been disrupted, becoming temporarily unpredictable. No esoteric hedge fund model on earth will guarantee consistent short term gain until the system settles down, and you do not need to know anything about economics to be certain of this. It doesn’t make sense to look at wobbles, only past trajectories.

Although historians and academics as often perceived as quixotic theorists who are naive to the machinations of the real world, this is a period when the only reference point is the long term, where the strategists trump the tacticians and where short term speculation is largely pointless even if there are colossal opportunities based upon secular trends, because there is proven unpredictability coupled with massive social and political dangers.

This is a period when the people that smoke pipes and wear cardigans, draw modest salaries that are guaranteed for life and reside in collegiate ivory towers are suddenly in a relatively envious position and get listened to, perhaps for no other reason that people are fickle and don’t listen to ‘losers’.

Nevertheless, they should be the ones listened to for a bit. You shouldn’t be reading the newspaper every day (they won’t be around for much longer anyway), or watching the stomach churning lurches in the stock market, perhaps you shouldn’t even be looking at the weekly snapshot of the Economist magazine, but you probably should be reading the canny, non-hysterical analysis of someone like Niall Ferguson.

We’ve previously linked to clips of Harvard historian, Niall Ferguson’s excellent series to accompany his latest book, ‘The Ascent of Money’, which will sell much more owing to the descent of the latter. PBS have now put the whole series online.


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Schadenfreude week: GoldMan Sachs Holiday Party 1990

Forget DJ Tiesto and $200 cocktails, this is what a Goldman Sachs Investment Research holiday party looked like after the last recession. Outrageous decadent fun?

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Schadenfreude Week: ING Party

DJ Tiesto tweaks his knobs at an ING Bank Party last year. This year’s event will feature The Birdy Song and some old geezer’s melancholic saw playing routine.

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Donald Duck, The Spirit of 43

A piece of US propaganda that argues against consumerism. In the spirit of 43, Donald Duck is caught between good and evil. The good is represented by a frugal Scot with a ‘Lassie Come Home’ accent and the evil is represented by a zoot-suited, big spender.

After the end of the War, in overshoot reaction to Communism, this view of good and evil was perhaps reversed, to the extent that consumerism was seen a part of the ‘non-negotiable’ American way of life, and with the consequences that are now apparent.

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Stuart Kauffman: Reinventing the Sacred

Stuart Kauffman, biologist and complexity theorist, gives a talk about his latest book: Reinventing the Sacred. If you wanted to invent a religion that was much more interesting than outmoded simplistic ones like, oh, Judaism or Christianity etc. then Kauffman’s ideas would be a much better starting point.

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There is no Theory of God

A nice little animated film that explains the difference between science and superstition, showing, among other things, that the difference in the colloquial use of the word theory and the scientific use, leads people to dismiss scientific theories which have enough supporting evidence (such as evolution or spherical earth) that they are facts, in colloquial terms. In other words, colloquial theory = scientific hypothesis and scientific theory = colloquial fact.

Perhaps we should turn the argument around – there is no theory of God. In fact, based on the evidence, there is not even a true theory of the supposed historical figure, Jesus. Both are hypotheses, unsupported by evidence.

Running time: 10 mins.

Via Laurence Moran

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Einstein’s Biggest Blunder

The theory of Relativity might be more usefully called the theory of the constancy of the speed of light. So what if the speed of light wasn’t constant?

There is a general ground swell in physics towards exploring meta-laws which might govern the laws of physics themselves. These therefore might exist in different forms in different universes or at different times, within one universe. The heretical idea that the speed of light might vary, is part of this trend and has some serious proponents, who are interviewed in this Equinox special.

Running time: 50 mins.

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