Archive for September, 2006|Monthly archive page


American’s may be treated the same as other people by the Bush administration soon:

From The LA times:

“BURIED IN THE complex Senate compromise on detainee treatment is a real shocker, reaching far beyond the legal struggles about foreign terrorist suspects in the Guantanamo Bay fortress. The compromise legislation, which is racing toward the White House, authorizes the president to seize American citizens as enemy combatants, even if they have never left the United States. And once thrown into military prison, they cannot expect a trial by their peers or any other of the normal protections of the Bill of Rights”

Thursday, September 28, 2006 at 2:19 PM EDT,1,138419,print.story


The Future of the Newspaper?

In response to

The Future of the Newspaper is as a 2.0 Platform

I am all for the future of the web. My professional future is all about the web; creating a more interactive information space.

But newspapers are physical objects, they are not just passive carriers of information.

You cannot skim the web like you can a large page of newsprint.

You cannot read on a laptop as easily as you can a a newspaper. A study I was involved with about 2 years ago found that people move, or change their position while reading, noticeably more when reading form paper media than from a laptop. It was quite a casual study of people reading in Starbucks, carried out over a month, but revealing. Have a look at the way people read next time you enjoy a cup.

Of course, eBooks will bridge the gap to a degree, but it will still lack the expanse that a paper offers, the real estate.

It all comes down to the quality of reading. Today we can zoom through the web with – among other things, our Hyperwords Firefox extension – but nothing beats reading a long, in-depth opinion piece in the International Herald Tribune on paper with good lighting. It is so much more suited for deep reading.

An exciting potential is of course when we have eInk of a quality resembling newsprint with foldable, large paper – as seen in countless Sci-Fi movies. This is one area I think Hollywood has got it right 🙂

TV format? What TV format?

The television industry doesn’t seem to have understood the nature of Moore’s law. Simply stated it means that the effort of the entire history of computing will be doubled over the next year and a half.

A friend of mine just tested the latest Mac Pro desktop machine. It’s an amazing performer and playing with a timed test in Doom, he found that you could run the game at maximum settings at maximum resolution and get more frames per second than the previous generation could get on more pedestrian settings.

Which is nice if you are a gamer. But here is the eye-opener: For motion on a screen the size of a television human eyes loose the individual frames that make up the video image at around 12 frames per second and the image becomes more fluid at around 25 frames per second. This is why film and tv frame rates operate at around this frame rate, it’s the lowest number of frames needed to produce a temporally coherent image.

But what about the high end? Studies have shown that above 60 frames per second we can’t really tell the difference between different frame rates. At 75 frames a second though, tests with film have shown, the image somehow locks in synch with the brain and a much clearer, deeper image is perceived.

Video images have several dimensions of fidelity or clarity: the amount of pixels on the screen, the color depth and contrast of these pixels and how often they change – the frame rate or temporal resolution.

High definition television is sold under two sizes and two varieties: 720 or 1080 pixels/lines of vertical resolution and interlaced (where the tv screen only updates every other line of pixels at a time to save processing and data rates) or progressive (which is like film, the whole screen is replaced at once).

The frame rate of high definition is currently 24, 25 with 60 frames per second in development.

Pushing an image of 1080 lines worth of image completely refreshed 60 times a second requires a tremendous amount of storage, transmission and processing power.

But only with the equipment we have today. And many types of video won’t benefit from such a huge and smooth image.

So here is the question: Why can’t the industry make this much more flexible? Why can’t video cameras record at a screen size and frame rate that the manufacturer can build and sell and that the consumer prefers? Pocket cameras have these options as well, but why not all kinds of video cameras, including professional models?

And as a related question, why can’t display manufacturers build as powerful or cheap displays as they want, and consumers can choose what they feel is right?

Sure, some norms will develop, then change. But in a digital world, why assume standards have to be dictated to a whole range of users, why not keep it as loose as the development of games?

Maybe something like a QuickTime wrapper for broadcast? Your equipment chooses from available signals and shows you the best it possibly can?

There are many translations and re-codings in a digital network anyway, it’s time to loose the idea of ‘broadcast’ entirely and work on developing smarter interoperabilities for an increasing number of capture and display devices. NTSC is dead, the same image on your mobile phone or 3,000p at 75fps on your plasma is the future. And then that future is obsolete by the time you are done watching the movie, it’s time for the wholly liquid image.


In response to Guy said:

“Been reading this week how the Athenians didn’t really have a positive concept of liberty until the Spartans tried to take democracy away from them. It had always been “freedom from…” various types of outside interference. I think our generation and the ones below are getting that way too. We never had to fight for our freedom in any meaningful way so we regard unfreedom as a disturbance. Maybe one of the benefits of technology will be give us the sense of positive engagment with freedom that conflicts use to supply!”