Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Why your phone needs to be your cable company too...

To continue from yesterday's post, ever wonder why you can't have unlimited data with your mobile phone? Or why it's not at a reasonable rate? If you're in the states, unlimited date simply faded away - did it ever exist in Canada?

So along with the networks going over the top and streaming services being the new networks/studios, we see that Bell Media is now getting their streaming service up and running. Bell... you know, the former phone company.... who charges a premium for all that delicious content data that you'd now like streamed to, say, your phone. Yep. Those data charges on top of your streaming charges are starting to make cable tv seem downright affordable...

Read about Project Latte - really? We're aligning with Starbuck's now? Of course, the link to GMO connection does seem apropos...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Interesting times we live in....

I know, where have I been... busy...

Anyway here's news that Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon and David E Kelley are partnering for a .... wait for it.... TELEVISION series - limited to be sure, but ON TV! The move of A-listers to "television" continues. BUT is it really television anymore? I say it isn't really the television we grew up on or what we think of it traditionally. Here's just some of the evidence:

1. they're all on board for the project but no NETWORK has yet signed on. Networks are not necessary to television anymore. Network television is what television has always been seen as - the low level, bastard child of film.

2. It's all about premium cable and streaming. Who would have thought 2 or 3 years ago - hell even a year ago - that Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon would be the big players of CONTENT on television???

3. Kelley isn't even affiliated with a network nor does he have an over-all deal from a studio. What this really looks like is that CAA - the talent agency that reps all three of these big wigs - is really the power behind brokering this deal. It seems obvious that someone at CAA had the bright idea of getting these three together... Let's keep it all in the family as it were...

Yes. It's a brave new world out there in tv land... Exciting times, my friends, exciting times...

Read the entire Hollywood Reporter coverage for the deets. I'm not making this shit up....

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Twitter Fail? More Like People Fail...

Yes. I'm still alive.

A quick post on Twitter and the Boston Marathon bombing and manhunt. First, taking a look back at my previous posts, I really am obsessed with Twitter, aren't I? It seems to be the thing most likely to get me blogging.

The subject of today's blog is all the buzz on the Internet about Twitter's role in the events of this past week. Twitter became a site of public convergence, for information, solidarity, and mourning in the wake of the bombings at the Boston Marathon. The images were chilling for me because I was in Boston last year for a conference, staying at the Copley Place Marriott and walking through the streets all set up for the marathon. We walked past the finish line, saw the med tents. I recognized all those streets. Granted, we left before the marathon started last year, but I still remember seeing all the runners at our hotel and out on the streets getting in those last training runs. As a very amateur runner, I fantasized about coming back some day to run in the iconic marathon myself...

Twitter and other social media became a way for the police to issue warnings to people and to gather information. I follow CNN and other news sites, and avidly followed their coverage.

And then, we had the manhunt over the last two days. As it turns out, I had some drama of my own unfolding, and I wasn't able to closely follow the minute-by-minute unfolding of events this time around. I saw some reactions from friends and celebrities and a few of the CNN updates, but really didn't get to put anything together until I watched the news conference on television at 9:30pm EST.

This morning, I saw a blog post - which I saw tweeted about, that explored the coverage on Twitter that falsely accused two young men of the heinous events at the Marathon and the killing of the MIT officer.

So, is this Twitter's failure or Tweeter's failure?

I would say that it's much more a failure on the part of those who use Twitter. The first thing that jumped out at me in watching the Marathon coverage was how quickly and how much the story changed as the day went on. And that's brings us to the first rule of journalism - and really, the first rule of any research: VERIFY. And then check the source of the verification. When I watch or read anything, I store that information away. I don't believe or disbelieve it. I wait for further evidence. I think about the source. Will this source have the access to accurate information? Will this source have an agenda of its/their own that will colour the information? Can I peel away this bias myself to get at what's really going on here?

Now it's possible that I have a unique perspective because I'm "old" or because I research for a living, but I can't believe that we can't hold people to a higher standard. I can't believe that we have to concede that people are stupid enough to believe that a tweet from some random guy is going to be accurate because the guy happens to star on a television show. Most people have played the telephone game at a party. You tell someone a secret and it gets whispered around the room until it gets back to you. By the time it gets back to you it's generally morphed into something hilarious. Random people making conjectures on twitter based on breaking news is the social media equivalent of the telephone game. It's not accurate news. It is interesting to watch the story develop.

Really important information on Twitter did seem to get out. Where families should check to be re-united. When blood donations were needed and when so many people had responded that they didn't need any more - which was shockingly soon after the call for blood went out. Where donations could be sent - and when it was a scam - that Tweeter got shut down within about an hour of first appearing. When the police needed people to stay in their homes and when it was safe to venture back out again.

Was it wrong that a missing Brown student was accused of being one of the suspects? Yes. Was that yet another horrible thing for his family to have to endure on top of his being missing in the first place? Yes. Was the twitter-verse quick to condemn this? Yes it was.

In balance, I think Twitter is still getting it right and serves a useful function in times of likes these. I have other thoughts on how Twitter has grown - or decayed - as a social medium, but I'll save those for another day. For now, I think it's important to remember that Twitter can be a powerful information tool, but it's only as effective as those who use it.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Why I Love Twitter

I recently tweeted that if I could work for any social media company it would be Twitter. Really, given my love for social media, I’d likely work for almost anyone, but Twitter easily tops the list. Why? Because they actually have integrity and some pretty smart lawyers and geeks running it. What’s my evidence? That is the subject of my blog today.

In case you missed it, NBC’s coverage of the Olympics has been getting a lot of negative reactions. Guy Adams, a journalist for The Independent, took to twitter to criticize the network’s lame coverage. However, when he tweeted the email address of an NBC exec, his twitter account was suspended. Twitter immediately came under attack because they have partnered with NBC for the Olympics and the suspension was seen as strong-arming from their business partner. Subsequently, Twitter released this statement: The statement itself is well worth reading. It is well-crafted and clear. It is written by Alex Macgillivray, General Counsel for Twitter.

The upshot of the statement is that they were simply following their own protocols for suspending an account. This blog ( criticizes them for never apologizing to Adams or journalists in general for damaging their trust in freedom of speech on Twitter... It also accuses twitter (badly) for “fudging” their own rules. Unlike Twitter’s blog post, I don’t really recommend the one on BuzzFeed by Mark Buchanan.

I will include the last paragraph of Buchanan’s blog here. Maybe it’s just bad writing or I’m missing his point, but he seems to be missing the point- at least as I read the tone of his article.

Here’s the paragraph:
“Quite simply, Twitter never wants to be responsible for pro-actively monitoring content. That's why it requires reports for every violation. That's why it keeps emphasizing it was following the rules. That's why it's apologizing. It wants the precedent that this has set — monitoring a tweet and then acting upon a violation — to be erased, because it wants never to have that responsibility on its hands, no matter who asks, whether it's a celebrity or corporate partner, or perhaps more crucially, the government. So as far as Twitter is concerned, potentially screwing up that precious arrangement is really the only thing it did wrong. And it's real sorry about that.”

Twitter has been very steadfast in refusing to release tweets which have been subpoenaed. They have repeatedly stated that all tweets belong to the originator, not themselves. Along with refusing to “monitor content”, these are important precedents that Twitter is setting – all of which will result in more freedom for the majority of users on the Internet. Governments would like nothing more than to download responsibility for monitoring and policing the Internet to ISP providers and anyone else they can rope into doing it, so they don’t have to, including the likes of Twitter, YouTube, Google, and so on.

So yes. Twitter did suspend Adams’ account until they could investigate because there had been a complaint. And they re-instated him as soon as they did investigate. All according to their current policy. A policy which walks the tightrope between protecting privacy and allowing free speech. 

And that's why I love Twitter. So far, they are getting it a lot more right than anybody else.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Twitter Survey

This blog is woefully out of date - so here's the story behind the survey...
I'm currently pursuing a PhD in Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario. I will be presenting the paper (see below) at an Ethnographic Conference in Victoria, BC on June 1, 2012. (

I'm looking for celebrities to share their experience with Twitter in the context of the Entertainment Industry.

Your identity will be kept strictly confidential unless you specify explicitly otherwise. The information/statistics gathered from the survey will be used for this paper only.

Here is the proposal for the paper:


Tweet Like You Mean It: Hollywood is Counting

          The Entertainment industry has long used ethnographic research, in the form of Nielsen ratings to gage audience preferences. In today’s economically challenged environment, studios and networks more than ever want concrete, qualitative data to insure that someone will be watching what they are producing. To this end, the industry is turning increasingly to social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, to gauge audience preferences. Studios have embraced the ability to count likes, hits, and followers to confirm audience approval and likely participation. The public knows when a Nielsen box is installed in their home, but they may not realize that they are being subjected to this kind of surveillance on social media. This paper will touch briefly on Hollywood’s embrace of social media as an ethnographic tool and the possible legal, ethical, and practical ramifications of this type of scrutiny.

The survey can be found here:

Your participation is greatly appreciated!

Monday, August 1, 2011

Leverage - "The Carnival Job"

This is a review that I wrote for another site. They did not want to post it as is, so it is posted in what I consider to be a very different form elsewhere. Having written it, I also wanted the satisfaction of posting it... So... I hope you caught the episode because it was great!

REVIEW: Leverage: “The Carnival Job”
Rating: 4 stars

Airdate: July 31, 2011, 9/8c on TNT

          “The Carnival Job” has lots of twists and turns to keep everyone guessing and on their toes – both on the team and in the audience. Like last week, this episode begins with a legal issue – which may be the perfect hook for me! This week they get the legal issue more correct than they did last week. A company can claim anything you work on while at work belongs to them – in this case a computer chip -  if you are employed under a work-for-hire contract. But the writers on this episode, M. Scott Veach and Paul Guyot, quickly shift our expectations about how the issue is going to play out when Connell (Erik Jensen), this week’s mark, actually steals the computer chip at issue for himself.
          The episode puts us a bit off kilter right at the outset by having Hardison (Aldis Hodge) run the interview with the client with Nate (Timothy Hutton) instead of Sophie (Gina Bellman). It makes sense, of course, because Jeffrey Thorne (John San Nicolas) is trying to retrieve the computer chip he designed. The team prefers to go after bad guys, so as the story unfolds and it appears Connell has a hard luck story himself, Sophie points out “That’s not greed we’re looking at, that’s grief.” Eliot says “I thought we were supposed to hate the guys that we take down?” Nate clarifies it’s “Not a requirement. A Perk. Usually.” As so often happens, Nate, Sophie, and Eliot find something in Connell’s story to relate to.
          Eliot ends up guarding Molly (Lea Zawada), Connell’s daughter, as his cover. She turns out to be wise beyond her years, but also bitter and lonely because of her father’s withdrawal after her mother’s death. Christian Kane turns in a wonderful performance as Eliot is not quite sure what to make of her, but quickly forms a bond with her – no doubt seeing himself in her prickly exterior. For her part, Zawada does a terrific job hitting all the marks as hurt daughter, smart kid, and scared hostage.
          As with every episode, there is a lot of humor in the episode. Sophie and Nate as over the top house designers/architects are hysterical. I love it when they play off each other, seemingly goading each other into increasingly outrageous behaviour. The other running gag in the episode is Hardison’s new invention, the Parker 2000, which he made to help Parker (Beth Riesgraf) and even based it on her. Parker is convinced he made it to replace her.
          The plot gets a little predictable when Molly gets kidnapped – at the Carnival – and the team suddenly switches teams to help Connell get his daughter back from the Russians who were supposed to buy the computer chip. And so it becomes “The Carnival Job.” I pretty much pegged Daria (Anna Lieberman) the Eastern European nanny as being up to no good the second she suddenly appeared from seemingly nowhere.
          What really saves this episode from a predictable ending, however, is the masterful direction of Frank Oz. I’ve long been a fan of his directing, so I was excited from the moment I saw his directing credit. The scene that focuses on Eliot talking to Molly and trying to get an idea of where she is, is fantastic as Oz just keeps the camera circling Eliot at high speed. It reflects Molly’s terror and disorients us and reflects Eliot’s desperate attempts to be looking everywhere at once for her.
          I’m always happiest when we have a spectacular Eliot fight scene and the one in the hall of mirrors may be the best one yet. Again, hats off to Oz for this beautifully shot sequence – with mirror everywhere! And hats off to Kane for doing a good portion of the scene with his eyes closed! Maybe he was cheating, but they sure looked closed to me! It’s a beautifully choreographed and executed fight. I’m also pretty sure Kane doesn’t cheat the shot in which he bursts a balloon with his back to it by tossing a dart over his shoulder. But I would like to know how many takes it took!

We have a week’s hiatus and then Leverage returns with two episodes.

Tune in to Leverage Sundays at 9/8c on TNT.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Sunset Is Upon Me

So, I've neglected this blog something fierce over the last few months. My only excuse is that I've been trying to squeeze in and soak up as much LA as possible before I ride off into the sunset in a little less than two weeks.

So why now? I want to put down a few thoughts - over the next couple of weeks - about my time here and where the adventure goes from here.

Someone asked me recently "Why social media?" What's the interest for me there? And it's an interest that's as much about the law as it is about social media in general.

I think the answer for me, is that it's like the wild, wild west. It's still a relatively new frontier which makes it exciting and unpredictable. Anyone who knows me, knows I've always been a cowboy - right down to the love of horses and a good bottle of whiskey.

So, I like the excitement. I like that it lets everyone into the mix. It helps to level the playing field and it's kind of fun to watch the big guns struggle to keep up when they aren't that much bigger than the little guy. It's a way for everyone to have their say and get involved - to really make a difference.

And the law is exciting because of that lack of hard and fast boundaries. And that includes that nebulous boundary that is created by the invasiveness or pervasiveness of the Internet. It's a global phenomenon, so it requires global thinking in a new way.

Coming to terms with all that is one of the adventures that I can see keeping me busy and excited... and on the road, checking out those new frontiers...