Here is yet another in my recent spate of webcast interviews. The latest one I have for you is done by the great Leo Laporte on his show Triangulation. If you look at the list of previous shows, I’m in some really good company in Leo’s studio.
The most interesting thing I saw at PhotoPlus Expo was being shown at the Samsung booth. They were showing off their new lines of what I’m calling (for now) Smart Cameras. The Galaxy NX is a mirrorless camera with interchangeable lenses and a full Android operating system (Photos). While I did not love the form factor (yet), I see this as an essential key to the development of cameras. In a couple years, I assume any thriving camera maker will need to have this.
Yes, really. DSLR users now have cameras with more computing power than some of the desktop computers sitting in my storage room. But they have an interface from 1985. It’s limited to what can be done with menus and submenus. The photo below is about as sophisticated as it gets with most DSLRs.
dpBestflow image by Richard Harrington
Furthermore, DSLRs can’t accept Apps. So you’re stuck with the functionality that Nikon and Canon make at the factory, code into multiple languages, and burn onto the camera’s firmware. There’s no way for innovative users to customize their cameras in useful ways. I can’t even tell my D700 I want 2-stop bracketing for HDR. Jesus. Dumb camera.
Samsung has shown the way with these new Android-based cameras. You can do pretty much anything on them that can be done on an Android tablet. Yes that means you can play Temple Run, or email, or check your calendar or surf the web.
Of course, the advantage here is not that the camera allows you to do the same non-photo stuff your smartphone allows. The advantage is that you can customize your camera, run photo apps , and publish or upload to web (or your own online storage space) immediately. This part is going to be revolutionary when it becomes mainstream in real cameras.
This will reduce the friction from photo publishing and distribution by 100-fold, for those who want to use a good camera. It will allow in-camera tagging by GPS location, event name, people pictured, and more. You’ll be able to review photos much more easily, and immediately send to web.
We’ll also get auto tagging. Your Smartphone knows who you are meeting with, and the names of events you attend. Why not tag these in-camera? My calendar knew that I was at the Fotoweek Opening Night party last night. If the camera can see that I’m within the time-space coordinates of 7:30-11:00pm and a 100 yard radius of 16th and M, it can make a really good guess that the photos should be tagged with the event name.
And we’ll be getting even more and better device apps. Tom Hogarty has already demonstrated Lightroom running on an iPad (33 minute mark). They will probably make an Android version too. So you could have Lightroom running in your camera, seamlessly integrating with your home catalog.
And, as we have seen, the real development in device-OS development lies in the ability of independent developers to come up with great ideas, make the apps, release them and change the world. The stuff I’ve outlined above are just the obvious ideas.
Yes, for many people, the Smartphone will be the only camera they ever need. But the popularity of photography as a dedicated art form – and not just a memory-keeping activity – is increasing. Many people really want to have a camera, not just a phone that shoots pictures. But they want all the capabilities of the phone in the camera. Smart Cameras will enable this. They are enabling this right now.
I hope we see a lot of other manufacturers running to the creation of Smart Cameras. I’d like a robust marketplace. And I’d like to see how the Nikon engineers integrate a touch screen into a machine with the wonderful ergonomics that they currently build.
Smart Cameras. Going to be big.
I’m peeling this post off of a discussion I’m having on Facebook with Leora Kornfeld, who writes about Disintermediation as a Harvard Research Associate. I think this message is an important one for all independent creators to be thinking about as all content-based industries are changing around us.
Here is David Byrne’s Oped in The Guardian. In it, he argues that new media consolidation on the internet is squeezing the economic sustainability out of music broadcast.
And here’s my take on it:
I think he has a point about the economics of the new aggregators. It’s a little ironic to see a reference to the good old days of the record company fairness, since they were the posterboys of IP robber baronism.
Now, it’s the tech aggregators turn. It may be an even less fair arrangement, due to a confluence of factors. The end result will probably depend on whether the winner-take-all model topples, or whether it stands.
Also it’s probably more accurate to say that the new model is sucking the economic sustainability out of the middle and bottom rungs of a professional art form. Whether that translates to the “life” or not is a different question.
Of course, both of the above questions are linked. Do new disintermediation models spring up to get around the reintermediation™ of Amazon and Pandora? Jeff Goldblum would say that life will find a way.
You’ll see many people in the tech world shrug and say, “Get used to it.” But this ignores the fact that there is no one single natural order of things. The rules (laws) governing business practices set the playing field. And those rules are set by governments.
When radio was new technology, for instance, payola was outlawed. This law was instrumental in the development of music businesses in the radio age. Without these laws, the record companies would have had an even tighter stranglehold on the entire industry and could have required even more onerous contractual terms.
Monopolies deform the marketplace, generally to the detriment all outside stakeholders. Disintermediation is undermining the power of the existing content oligarchies, but reintermediation is apparently on track to bring an even greater concentration of wealth and power into fewer hands.
Along the way, these companies will work to bend the rules in their own favor. So I don’t think that stakeholders outside the new oligarchy should simply “get used to it.” Our laws are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges of the digital age. And we should not leave the law-writing only to those with the highest concentration of wealth and power. History teaches us that they will try to increase their power by tilting the playing field.
It’s possible that these companies will be prevented from becoming true monopolies through some market-based limiting factor, such as hubris, incompetence or outside competition. But it’s also possible that they win the winner-take-all game.
In that case, as with the monopolies of the last century, it may fall to governments to limit the power of these companies. It’s important for independent creators to stay informed and to advocate for their own best interests.
Late breaking news: Facebook has delayed the implementation of the new policy. Send your comments to Facebook today. Link at the bottom of this post.
You can find the proposed document here.
Facebook has asked for comments. They can be posted here.
Here’s the most important language (strikethrough indicates language that is being removed. Bold text is used to indicate the new additions).
You can use your privacy settings to limit how your name and profile picture may be associated with commercial, sponsored, or related content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us. You give us permission to use your name, and profile picture, content, and information in connection with commercial, sponsored, or related that content (such as a brand you like) served or enhanced by us, subject to the limits you place. This means, for example, that you permit a business or other entity to pay us to display your name and/or profile picture with your content or information, without any compensation to you. If you have selected a specific audience for your content or information, we will respect your choice when we use it.
The Section-by-Section Summary of Updates takes pains to claim that Facebook has the right to collect and make use of data that it finds “when you are using Fcebook or when Facebook is running.” This probably gives Facebook a license to collect, use, share and sell most of your web browsing (unless you are running software to block cookies) and much of what your mobile phone is gathering, such as your location, phone calls, etc.
They are already collecting a lot of this information. The screenshot below is from my Facebook feed a few hours after I did a search for a hotel in Reston on a totally unrelated site. Facebook is already collecting, using and selling this kind of information. They are now asking for irrevokable permission to continue, and to add your photos to the mix.
I’ll be deleting the mobile application off my phone because I’m uncomfortable with the amount of data it gives to the company. I’ll have to think about any additional action depending on how the company responds to the comments.
In response, we have put out an open call for a meaningful right to terminate social media contracts. We believe that the right to sublicense your photos and identity should be something you can revoke, if the company’s practices become objectionable.
Over the next few months, ASMP will be working with other organizations to advocate for this basic contractual right. If you are interested in lending your name or your organization’s name to the effort, you can contact me here.
Here’s a link to the complete papers, which are available for free download and distribution.
We’re starting to see some interesting new technologies for adding connected intelligence to images published on the web. It’s now possible to attach information and other links to images that can show metadata, display information from other websites, and provide clickable services like E-commerce. It’s also possible to make these Smart Web Images scalable and zoomable. These images can even be aware of the device they are being presented on, and change form as they go from computer screen to a tablet to a phone.
In many cases, this is being done without the need for any kind of plug-in installation in your web browser, which makes the content vastly more accessible than plug-in-powered functionality. I believe that this is typically done with HTML5-compliant tools, many of which were originally meant for streaming videos. Because they are embedded objects – often as an iframe – they can hold their links even when displayed in a service like Facebook.
I first became aware of this approach with Piqsure, which allows for deep zoom of a large image, floating watermarks and connected metadata.
I also discovered another implementation recently through the IPTC Yahoo group. ImageSnippets allows you to create structured metadata for an file, including links to dbPedia and other databases. The service also has the ability to harvest the metadata it knows about a file and embed the information in the file’s headers, helping to prevent orphan works.
Yesterday I saw Stipple, which looks like a pretty mature implementation of the technology. It allows you to tag regions of a photo with links and metadata. Judging from their web page, their main effort right now is to create a platform for E-commerce for images linked on Facebook. This could be a great idea if Facebook does not shut them down.
(Note to photographers, or anyone who wants to retain control of their images or identity. The Stipple ToS is pretty bad. It very clearly allows them to resell or reuse your images in any way they see fit, without your control or the option of termination, and you agree specifically to indemnify them and their licensees forever for any lawsuit regarding the images. I’d like to see that part changed, but they are clearly following Instagram’s lead.)
Instagram made a big deal of backpedaling through the PR storm it created with the proposed Terms of Service (TOS) changes. They claim to be really sorry, and that they have learned their lesson and will respect their users’ wishes better in the future.
Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you.
Note that this includes minor children.
If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.
Oh, and you agree to indemnify them in case of breach of privacy. (That means you agree to pay their legal team in the event one of your subjects sues for being included in a viagra advertisement).
(Item 4 in Rights)
And this part in Indemnification:
Note that this language seems to grant a license to the actual photograph, and not just the copy uploaded to Instagram. If they could find a high-res version somewhere, they may have the rights to that also.
The only opt-out is to delete your account.
The changes take effect January 16, 2013. So, what does one do? Well, I don’t see much option except to delete the account. And if your tween or teen child has an instagram account (and many of them do), you’ll want to think about blocking that.
Instagram claims the rights to any photos uploaded after January 16th in perpetuity, regardless of whether you delete your account later.
(Cnet article here.)
This is breathtakingly horrible.