Monday, January 30, 2006
Museums of the Pacific Islands Region Online
If you are using the Firefox or Opera browser (not MS-IE) you can select "View > Page Style > Projection" from the pull down menus to see the slides from the presentation or workshop.
I was asked at the workshop how appropriate web adverting was for a museum web site. So I put it to the test with ads on my notes. I had to block a few get-rich-quick schemes, but then I got reasonable ads for reasonable museum things. If you see any inappropriate ads, let me know.
Video downloads with advertising
My first attempt is a short clip of a Bollywood style dance spectacular recorded using a camera phone in India:
The video is very low quality, not helped by conversion to Quicktime. There is a nasty buzz at the end just before the ad comes on (this wasn't in the original video). The ads don't seem to be hard coded in the video, but downloaded and change (much like Google Adsense ads on web pages).
As I did with Google AdSense, I signed up for the service to see how it works (not expecting to make much money out of it. Revver has a signup process similar to other on-line ecommerce services. They use PayPal for payments. You then upload a video file in just about any format, supplying some descriptive material with it.
The web upload worked smoothly for the very small 70kbyte 3GP (camera phone video) file I used. There are specialized upload programs you can download from Revver to speed up the process for larger videos. The problem I had, similar to that experienced with Google Books, was working out the exact status of my uploaded file. Thinking the upload had not worked I tried several times and ended up with multiple copies. As with Google Books, after a week or so I got a mail message to say my file was ready to go online (there seems to be some human checking in the process initially).
The major problem I had was with blocking inappropriate advertisements. As with Google AdSense, you can block specific advertisers from advertising with your content. Unlike AdSense, there are also some generic categories you can block, such as adult material and fast food. However, as many times as I clicked the boxes to block these, Revver seemed to ignore my entries and record no restrictions. But so far the only ad is an inoffensive one for t-shirts.
Unlike AdSense, which only allows advertisements on your own web site, Revver provides their own web site for the content and you can also distribute the videos by email.
Exactly how acceptable the ads are and how much revenue is generated, is yet to be seen. If this format works, it could be used for an Internet based DIY TV service.
Apple Quicktime includes slideshow and SMIL miltimedia. If these are supported by Revver, it should be possible to produce very entertaining and educational material which is very bandwidth efficient.
Hard Making Money with Google
Found the book "Make Easy Money with Google" by Eric Giguere at the local library. I wouldn't agree that making money using Google's AdSense advertising program is easy, but apart from that the book gives a reasonable introduction.
Guguere suggests you can make between $20 and $60 a month, which is in line with what I have found.
Google provide a good introduction via their help files, but if you don't have the patience for that, this book is a big help. It also provides a quick and pragmatic introduction to how to create a web site.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Documentary on Business Culture in China
The documentary looks at US businessman teaming up with a Hong Kong partner to invest in mainland Chinese businesses. It is both educational and entertaining, but isn't too flattering towards US understanding of other cultures. It very much matched my experience in 2003 when I was the guest of the Beijing Olympic Committee with web experts from around the world.
Just to make this relevant, Nick mentioned the documentary is being sold to US business schools as educational material. So how would you turn such material into a more online friendly format? One answer might be metadata.
Friday, January 20, 2006
India: the EU of Asia
The first thing that struck me were the number of people everywhere. Looking out of an aircraft window at Australia's busiest airport you might see no one, or perhaps one or two people. In India there are dozens of people around each aircraft. At first they just seem to be just standing there, but they are all doing something (or waiting to do something). In Canberra if working from my inner city home office, I might see a dozen people in a day. In India, in a rural village, I might see that many people go past the window in a few minutes. This takes some getting used to and the crowds in the markets can be overwhelming, until you get used to the fact that these people are just going about their normal business and you have less personal space than other places.
India: the EU of Asia
Rather than a country, think of India as the European Union in Asia, with Indian states the size of European countries. People from across India share a common currency, heritage and legal system. But they look different, have different religions, speak different languages and each think their own state is the best place. At the Kala Academy I attended a performance of traditional dance and singing from the Nagaland, in the extreme north east of India. To me they didn't look or sound like "Indians" but like Native North Americans ("Red Indians").
Like Europe, the borders of India are in flux. There are disputed territories with traditional home lands crossing the recognized borders. During my visit Goa celebrated "Liberation Day", when on 19 December 1961, the Indian military occupied what was a Portuguese territory. The day after the Nagaland performance, the newspaper reported clashes between Nagaland separatists and the Myanmarese army, with several people killed.
Exactly who is an Indian is also flexible. Indian newspapers and billboards have prominent advertisements for bank accounts for NRIs: non-resident Indians. These are Indian citizens living and working abroad. Along with those of Indian descent who are not citizens, these people are a valuable source of income and business contacts for the country. In a narrow Indian village lane you can run into people visiting their relatives from around the world.
Indian citizens move around India with the freedom European citizens move between countries of Europe. They take with them their own tastes and are catered to by the locals for food and entertainment (the two main categories of catering are "Veg" and "Non Veg"). The result of all this is that an Indian is a global citizen without having to leave home. Someone from the USA, and to a lesser extent Australia, could spend their whole life in the one culture in their own country. An Indian will be exposed to multiple cultures, languages and countries on their doorstep.
They are poor but not stupid
The average income in India is very low. But there is a general thrust for knowledge and desperate scramble for educational qualifications as a way to higher income. Like China, engineers and teachers are held in very high regard. If I tell someone in Australia I am a Director of the Australian Computer Society and Visiting Fellow in the College of Engineering and Computer Science at the The Australian National University I get looks of bewilderment and some grudging respect from my IT industry colleagues. In China and India it earns the sort of veneration reserved for saints and pop stars.
India is a case study in the application of appropriate technology. Watching a house or a road being built with hundreds of laborers it is tempting to say "why don't they just get a bulldozer and a cement truck?". But ask the people organizing the work and they will explain the relative costs of labor and machinery and how in many cases large machines will not fit down narrow Indian streets.
Outside a traditional performance by an Indian Navy Band I saw military guards with primitive batons and well used submachine guns. It would be easy to dismiss this as a third world country with a rag tag third world military. But also on display was the shield of the Indian Navy Information Warfare squadron. They fly locally made aircraft of German design, fitted with advanced electronics to monitor signals from India's enemies (and friends). These aircraft have the same Israeli radar as Australia's most advanced Maritime Patrol Aircraft.
India is full of IT and engineering entrepreneurs. I saw a two door battery electric car made in Bangalore. But not all Indian engineer enterprises are a success. The story of the "Konkan Railway Skybus", vaulting high over a regional city is almost straight out of an episode of the Simpsons. After considerable expense the monorail seems to have been abandoned due to an accident on a test run.
Goa: India Lite
My trip was confined to one state of India: Goa and to a village there. This provided a relatively gentle introduction to the country (as does Bangalore). Goa's main airport is in open countryside, so you are not immediately confronted by city and crowds. This contrasts with Mumbai, were slums crowd up against the airport boundary, and as soon as you leave the terminal you are confronted by a wall of people and the smell of rotting material.