I’m Back

I can’t help it.

It’s been a couple of years since I’ve blogged here, and I put up a generic page indicating that I was closing the PunditGuy blog permanently.

But I can’t help it.

Donald Trump is the likely Republican Party nominee for the President of the United States.

Hillary Clinton will be the nominee for the Democrats.

How can I keep from blogging all of the twists and turns, drama, violence, chaos, lies, backroom deals, shenanigans, smoked filled rooms, and contested conventions?

It’s not possible for me to sit silent through what is likely to be an election cycle this country hasn’t seen in a hundred years. Two hundred years!

So, yeah, I’m back in the saddle, and I can’t wait to witness history!

Is Blogging Dead (To You)?

I’m beginning to think it is for me.

I know, just because I’m doing less of something doesn’t mean it’s dead. Not in the least. There are tens of thousands of blogs which are updated regularly and read by gobs of people. I’ve just been wondering about how much traditional blogging has been hit by services like Twitter and social media like Facebook? A couple of years ago, the term “micro-blogging” became a part of the online vernacular but is that really something most people are conscientiously doing when they tweet or update their status? And how many of those people would have started a blog if it weren’t for Pownce, FriendFeed, and the myriad of other sites that exist today.

As is evidenced by this blog, I’m definitely doing more of the “status updating” these days.

How about you? If you’re like me and you started a blog four or more years ago and now you tweet and do Facebook, does your blog still “do it for you” like it use to?

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Bloggers, Blogging, Social Media, Technology, Twitter, Facebook

Blogging Primer

I listened this afternoon to Joe Wikert, VP and Executive Publisher in the Professional/Trade division at Wiley. Joe talked about blogging and the value of publishers getting into the habit. It was a good talk. For those of us who already have blogs there wasn’t a lot that was new, but for the bulk of the audience, I’m sure the info he passed along was the first they’ve ever heard on the subject. Wikert through around words like ‘feeds’ and ‘RSS’ with ease, and I’m wondering how many people actually new what he was talking about. That’s the problem with people like us who live in the blogosphere – we think everyone knows what these things are.

I presented today on digital rights and the issues publishers face. I had a lot of information for the time allowed. And then the audience mixed in questions during the talk, and before I knew it, my time was up. Problem is, the subject itself can easily take up an entire two day seminar. Hopefully, my audience heard something they could take away and use.

Who Am I and What Am I Doing Here?

Welcome to Original Expression, a blog about the book publishing industry, ePublishing, and my 14 years of experience in each. As time goes on the format here will evolve. At the onset I expect to write about topics like copyright licensing, book sales and marketing, publishing models, industry transitions, etc. So, that’s where we’ll start, but expect diversions from time to time.

My name is Bill Nienhuis and (as stated previously), I’ve been working with book publishers for over 14 years. I’ve spent a great deal of time licensing content from them to place inside electronic products made by the company I work for. More than this though, I’ve helped publishers make technology decisions. This is no simple feat. I’ll get into that more as time goes on.

I’m going to have an open comments policy on this blog, for now. I ran another quite popular blog for the last 2 years and I know how comment sections can get out of hand quickly. I’m not to worried about this here though. If they work out, then great. If not, poof – they’ll go away.

I hope you’ll like what you read here and want to come back often.

Tsunami Videos

The following article was published in the Wall Street Journal and covered the news surrounding my participation in the video blogging of the huge Tsunami that hit southeast Asia in December of 2005. If you’re looking for the videos, scroll down to the bottom and click the link.

Video Blogs Break Out With Tsunami Scenes

January 3, 2005;

When twenty-one-year-old Jordan Golson launched his Web diary, or blog, in early December, his conservative views on news and politics weren’t exactly in demand, attracting about 10 surfers a day. But by last Thursday, he was struggling to keep his site named “Cheese and Crackers” up and running as it racked up 640,000 hits.

The difference: tsunami videos.

Mr. Golson’s site — at jlgolson.blogspot.com — is just one of dozens of locations on the Internet hosting amateur videos of the Indian Ocean disaster. Many have been deluged with visitors eager to see more of the gripping footage than TV offers, or to watch videos over and over again on their own time. Some of these “video blogs,” like Mr. Golson’s, are pre-existing text blogs, which typically include commentary and views on current events.

Others have just sprung up in the last week. WaveofDestruction.org, created by an Australian blogger to host tsunami videos, logged 682,366 unique visitors from last Wednesday through Sunday morning, and has more than 25 amateur videos of the impact so far.

“The ease of putting something online is pretty much instant,” says Geoffrey Huntley, the founder of Wave of Destruction. “At a media company, I’m sure there are channels you have to go through — copyright, legal, editorial, etc. Blogging is instant.”

Even before the tsunami, media watchers had predicted that 2005 would be a big year for video blogging, also known as vlogging. Jay Rosen, chair of the Department of Journalism at New York University and a media blogger himself, says the unique videos of the waves hitting shore could be a “breakthrough” event for the Web.

Last year, video bloggers already showed their muscle by rapidly distributing a clip of singer Ashlee Simpson caught lip synching on “Saturday Night Live,” and another of the Daily Show’s Jon Stewart clashing with the hosts of CNN’s “Crossfire.” According to Andreas Wacker, founder of blogsnow.com, a site that ranks blogs, the Crossfire video was downloaded by more people on the Internet than saw it on TV. “When the Internet wants to see something, it sees it,” he says.

Even so, the genre is still in its infancy — and like much on the Web, its protocols are still evolving.

To obtain the videos, many bloggers linked to TV Web sites, pulled them from Internet bulletin boards or snatched them from each other, in a chaotic rush to make the unedited scenes available to curious surfers. There’s a big premium for dramatic videos showing the moment the waves hit land.

Some TV networks, in turn, were alerted to amateur videos first by bloggers.

A tourist in Thailand tries to help two others escape the tsunami in an amateur video found on a blog.

Bloggers don’t charge for access, but they haven’t been paying for copyrighted footage, either. And bloggers seldom ask each other for permission. “The law really hasn’t caught up,” says Mr. Golson. “The rule of thumb is you can take stuff as long as you say where you got it from,” and as long as you don’t sell it, he adds.

The story of one particularly vivid video, labeled “Tsunami hitting Phuket Beach” by Mr. Golson, is a case in point.

The video, which shows an elderly couple overpowered by a wave, was filmed at the Kamala Beach Hotel near Phuket on Sunday morning by a 31-year-old factory worker from Sweden named Tommy Lorentsen.

Reached in Thailand, Mr. Lorentsen said he salvaged the tape from his camera after it was soaked and gave a copy to Fredrik Bornesand, a Stockholm police detective who appears in the footage trying to rescue the couple. Mr. Bornesand handed a CD of the clip to journalists with Norway’s Dagbladet newspaper who then uploaded to their Web site on Monday.

“It wasn’t too steady a shot, but we thought it would be good to show what happened,” says Det. Bornesand.

The Phuket video has since been one of the most widely aired on television networks, but only after bloggers spread the word. Mr. Golson heard about it from other bloggers and posted it on his site on Tuesday at 3:45 p.m. in Boston.

Dagbladet editor Oliver Orskaug says once the clip began circulating on Web blogs and forums “suddenly the networks were calling from Japan, Spain and France and everywhere to buy the video.” He says within 12 hours he sold rights to CNN, ABC News, and others for a total of about $20,000. Mr. Orskaug was not surprised bloggers grabbed the video without paying. “That’s the Internet. We expect that would happen,” he says.

The networks typically seem to ignore competition from news blogs that post videos, although that may change as video-blogging expands. Bill Wheatley, Vice President of NBC News, says during the last six months the network has begun adding a digital watermark to its video “so electronically we can determine if it’s our video.” He says the marking is mostly to know if other TV stations are using its video, rather than keeping tabs on the Internet. “But the day may come when we may need to deal with that,” he says.

Beyond copyright issues, videoblogs are facing another challenge brought on by their sudden popularity: too little bandwidth, or the amount of data they are able to transmit over a period of time.

For Mr. Golson, the rush came when the Drudge Report, a popular online news site, posted a link to his tsunami videos on Tuesday afternoon, just half an hour after he’d posted the films. Later that night, *Apple Computer* Inc., which hosted his site, took them down. The video files were so large, and so many people had tried to see them, that Mr. Golson exceeded the limits Apple set on his account for the amount of data his site was allowed to send. But offers to help store the files poured in from other bloggers, and Mr. Golson spent the rest of the week shuffling video files between about 20 different computers — or “mirror” sites — that are now sharing the load.

Another blogger, known as “Pundit Guy,” wasn’t so lucky; the rush on the tsunami videos on his site cost him $1,000 in additional fees when his service provider charged him for the extra activity bandwidth fees, according to his Web site, www.punditguy.com.

Blogsnow’s Mr. Wacker says the Internet has handled other popular videos in a similarly ad hoc fashion, in which bloggers put out a call for help storing big, popular files when their own servers crash. But new file sharing programs are likely to make distribution more efficient, and will make video blogging more commonplace.

The tsunami films may be a break-out moment for video blogs, but observers say its still unclear where the phenomenon is headed. Jeff Jarvis, a blogger at buzzmachine.com and the creator of Entertainment Weekly magazine, predicts video blogging will evolve into “the new definition of a TV show,” especially as bloggers start to add their own content and commentary to news footage.

He thinks producing a professional-looking TV-like program would cost little, and suggests that advertisers, who are now just starting to experiment with blog ads, could jump at the chance to run commercials targeted to specific interest groups. “It’s going to take a while to get decent video content, and to get a critical mass coming in to discover that content,” says Mr. Jarvis. Most bloggers see posting the videos as a pastime and a public service, with exposure on the Web as recompense.

Kevin Aylward, who runs Wizbangblog.org, says blogs fulfilled an important role in letting people experience the tragedy. “When you see it, and you see how it’s happening to just ordinary people, it brings home the enormity of it. That is the fascination with the videos.”

Tsunami Videos