Apple Declares War on Free Web Content

It’s hit me what I really can’t stand about the new Apple iPad.  It’s been mentioned by most of the reviews of this new tablet device, but I don’t think people are really getting the scope of what Apple is up to.  The iPad, like the iPhone and iPod Touch before it, does not support Flash.  You know, Flash, perhaps the single greatest technical innovation on the Web since the invention of the Web itself.  Flash is what brought us nearly universal moving images on the Internet. Flash brought us YouTube.  Flash has created almost every single good game you have ever played in your browser.  Flash is responsible for the greatest explosion of animation talent in the history of the art form.  There is not another single piece of browser software that has brought so much to the web browsing experience as the little Flash player that’s installed on nearly every computer on the planet.  Here’s a blog entry by one of the Adobe Photoshop developers that explains why Flash is so great.

But Apple does not allow Flash on its iPad, iPod Touch, or iPhone.  Won’t allow it to run.  That’s why you get a broken plugin icon whenever you encounter a web page with Flash in it.  The company says silly things about Flash being too slow, or Flash hogging CPU cycles.  Complete horse radish.  Apple doesn’t want you to have Flash because Apple wants you to buy apps in its App Store instead.  That’s what this is all about.

So, essentially, Apple is fighting for a closed and walled-up Internet where all your cool moving images and games come straight out of their App Store and nowhere else.  When you behave this way with a small-screened device like an iPhone or iPod Touch it’s one thing.  But when you blow the whole thing up onto a big fat glorious iPad screen it’s another thing entirely.  Now it really shows up as a flagrant attempt to disable every creative piece of Web work that any artist, animator, filmmaker or game designer has ever done and force people to accept your little library of 140,000 little applications, most of which cost good money.

Try visiting this web site on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch.  See all our games and movies in the drop-down menus?  Not a single one will work.  Not one.  Because of dear old super-genius Steve Jobs.  Mr. Dingbat gets up in front of reporters at the public iPad unveiling and says idiotic things about having ‘the Web in your hands.’  He presents his new iPad device as a Web browser.  It can’t be a Web browser if it disables half the Web.  It simply defies logic.

This is really all anyone should need to know about Apple and its devices.  They are building little cash registers that limit your view of the Web and lead you to one final destination: the App Store.  They are trying to make you pay for the World Wide Web.  Great technology.  Very dark plan.  I’m on Flash’s side.  Go Flash!  Apple, you suck.

YouTube Launches Open-Source Application for Citizen Journalism

CitizenTubeYouTube has built an open-source application called YouTube Direct that allows news organizations to request and accept uploaded videos from citizen journalists anywhere in the world.  The idea is to give news organizations the ability to put out a call for videos on a specific news story and then review the direct uploads to select the ones they want to broadcast on their web sites or even over the air.  The video creators get to keep their videos on YouTube for access just like any other video on the site.  There’s more information available in their Citizen Tube information area.

The camera in the hands of the average citizen has proven to be an extraordinarily powerful tool for news-gathering over the past few years.  Instances of police abuse, natural disasters, and political turmoil have been captured by cell phone cameras all over the world.  This seems like a very smart move by YouTube that could have a profound effect on the news.  I can see this as a major benefit to smaller start-up news organizations that mostly rely on the web.

It remains to be seen, however, if YouTube makes this widely available to small sites and creative outlets, or if they stick to a larger scale more corporate membership.  That would be disappointing, but it would still broaden the availability of citizen journalism.

Publishers Doomed by Predatory Book Pricing? So what?

John Grisham on NBC’s Today Show discusses his new book, writing novels versus short stories, and so-called predatory book pricing by large retailers like Walmart, Target and  I like Grisham in this interview.  He’s a good interview and he seems sharp.  He talks about how it’s much more difficult to fix a problem in the middle of writing a novel than to do so with a short story.  So he advises writers to ‘not have a problem.’  The trick is to thoroughly outline your entire novel before you even start to write it so that you know every single thing that happens along the way.  Pretty sound advice in most cases.  Not all.  Some of the greatest novels in the world were written by writers who had absolutely no idea where the novel was going from page one.  It depends on what kind of book you’re writing.  I think his advice is perfectly good for most books that are intended for sale in a grocery store.  Certainly.  But writers should never listen to famous writers.  They’re full of crap.  You write what makes you sweat and drink lots of coffee late into the night and bang your fingers on your keyboard until they hurt.  Or not.  Whatever.  I hate outlines.  Especially in word processors.  Awful things.  They destroy good minds and belong mostly in PowerPoint presentations for corporate managers.  I’m not sure what the hell Grisham is talking about quite frankly.  But then again, I’m not selling thrillers in the grocery store either.

But what mainly interests me in this interview is the discussion about ‘predatory pricing’ by the giant retailers.  Apparently, if you listen to publishers, this spells doom for publishing and book selling as we know it.  When asked what he thinks about his latest book being available for nine dollars at Target, Grisham says:

It’s shortsighted. Short term, they know what they are doing, I think. But if a book is worth $10 then suddenly the whole industry is going to change. You are going to lose publishers and book stores, and though I’ll probably be alright, aspiring authors are going to find it difficult to get published.

Yeah? So what.  So we lose publishers and book stores.  Who cares?  The key in Grisham’s statement is where he says, ‘…and though I’ll probably be alright.’ He means writers will be alright.  The big scary fact of the matter is that we simply don’t give a tiny damn whether or not a publisher prints a book or an author does.  Publishers read, accept, edit, design, print and promote books.  At least they used to.  I don’t care what anyone tells you, but we do not need the editors.  Writers can do that.  You write the book and you edit it and you’re done with it.  Readers are getting used to reading writers without editors.  That’s why blogs are so popular.  No editors.  If you have an editor poking around in a blog, trust me, it’s not a blog.  It’s a corporate front-end.  A writer can also design and print a book.  And sell it.  Writers are publishers.  No reader cares about Penguin.  They care about the guy holding the gun.  The guy holding the gun is put there by the writer.  Writers will make guys, guns and gals forever.  It’s what they do and it’s what readers want.

I don’t care if the guy with the gun says, ‘I’ve been looking for you for a long time, Mr. Peabody.  Smile, because it’s the last thing you’ll ever do.’  Or if he says, ‘I’ve been looking for you.  Smile.  It’s your last.’

The writer can pick.  The editor can go watch Kitchen Nightmares.

There is absolutely no excuse for a writer to work hard on a story, hammering it into existence from nothing, polishing it and making it exactly what he or she wants it to be… and then sit around to wait for some agent or publisher to get back via the U.S. mail so that said writer can be allowed to move on and send out yet another plea for acceptance.  This is old technology.  Twentieth century.  It’s gone.  In this century a writer writes and edits and publishes and sells.  His book can sell in Target for nine dollars or three dollars.  Magnificent.  Literature available to people who don’t make lots of money.  What a novel idea!  If you’re griping about Target selling books for nine dollars, you must not be buying books.  Go watch His Girl Friday and pretend that typewriters still make newspapers.

And you know something else?  The guy with the gun doesn’t care.  He’ll always be there.  He’s not going anywhere.  All the publishers and book stores could burn and all the editors could go to their early graves, and you know what?  The guy with the gun is still gonna getcha.  He’s going to find you wherever you go.  He’s alive.

Enormous Whale Swimming Through Internet

BlueWhaleThere’s a huge blue whale swimming the internet.  It’s monstrous.  Life-size.  This is no laughing matter.  You should see this thing.  It’s gigantic and blue.  The mouth alone could swallow you whole.  You could probably live inside this creature for a few weeks at least.

Want to see it?  The ginormous blue whale is right here.

The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society had something to do with perpetrating this gargantuan act of underwater mammal-watching.

Marvel Makes a Create Your Own Comic Tool


Marvel Comics has a Create Your Own Comic tool that lets you put together either a simple 3-panel strip or an entire 22-page comic book.  You don’t actually draw anything, but you choose layouts, backgrounds, characters and objects.  You can re-size everything and layer objects on top of each other.  It’s great for trying one’s hand at designing a layout that tells a story effectively.  So write your comic book and start designing!