Mozilla Experiments with Recording from the Browser

The fine folks at Mozilla Labs announced a pre-alpha add on for Firefox that enables recording audio and video directly from the browser.

We’ve experimented with audio recording in the browser as part of the Jetpack prototype earlier, and want to revisit the idea. There have been great strides on video playback recently, but there’s still some work to be done before users can create multimedia content for the web, on the web.

There are ways to do this already but they all require proprietary technologies like Flash and Java. What the Rainbow extension could do as it matures is suggest ways that creating media become standard features in the browser. I really like that idea, of a browser directly supporting the creation of peer media creation, not just access and sharing.

The add on only works with the Mac version of the current nightly build series. The developers are working hard to expand support to Windows, Linux and 64-bit systems. Currently Rainbow encodes Vorbis and Theora using the Ogg container though future plans include adding support for WebM/VP-8 as well as streaming.

Cloud, meet Rainbow, Mozilla Labs (via Slashdot)

feeds | grep links > Mozilla Concept Smart Phone, Progress in Fennec Nightlies, and Other Non-Mozilla Links

Once again, crushed for time so only offering up some links without comment. Going to see the favorite angry liberal of mine and my wife’s, Lewis Black, later this evening after a nice dinner out in the heart of DC.

Media Literacy via Video Games

Cory at BoingBoing linked to a fun and fascination New York Times piece about the Quest to Learn school in New York City. The curriculum is experimental, both in how it deviates from traditional schooling and that it explores media literacy via hands on experimentation with video games. What me most in reading through Sara Corbett’s wonderful write up was that learning didn’t take place solely through play or creation but a good and liberal mixture of the two.

Quest to Learn is organized specifically around the idea that digital games are central to the lives of today’s children and also increasingly, as their speed and capability grow, powerful tools for intellectual exploration.

It has been a while since I’ve seen something new in the space of teaching media literacy. Teaching how to utilize not just video game play and design for problem solving but bending ubiquitous internet access to the task is the best way to deflect criticisms like those leveled, rightly or wrongly, in Nick Carr’s book, “The Shallows”. Like every other disruption to how we learn and think, the key isn’t to reject the present but to learn how it makes us different than prior generations.

Let’s also be honest. Commercial culture isn’t going to relent on the internet and digital media of all sorts because some academics are concerned about what we might lose in the exchange. Urging people, especially kids, to eschew the tools being used to persuade them to buy, buy, buy will only handicap them. The teachers in the article don’t seem as concerned about this, focusing more on how interactive learning and the play it encourages can height the effects of education. That is as it should be and resonates with constructionist thinking, a la Papert. Of course, if this engenders a fluency which nourishes an evolved, digital immune system, all the better.

Read Corbett’s article and decide for yourself.

Learning by Playing: Video Games in the Classroom, New York Times (via BoingBoing)

Explaining the Purpose Motive

Daniel Pink has definitely been making the rounds to promote his new book, “Drive“. Don’t get me wrong, it sounds like a fascinating read judging by the same speech I’ve heard him give on a couple of podcasts. The speech is an excerpt or distillation from the book and ultimately arrives at open source projects to help illustrate some of his points about non-monetary incentives and motivations other than profit. The underlying idea is not necessarily new, I think it harkens right back to Yochai Benkler’s exploration of peer production in Coase’s Penguin.

The most entertaining presentation of Pink’s talk, though, has to be this RSA Animate video I found via Neal Gorenflo at  Shareable.

This reminds me of the practice of visual note taking, the mixture of cartooning with traditional note taking to make a lecture more immediately memorable and accessible. Even if you’ve heard this speech from Pink before, I think it is worth the ten minutes to see this fun and illustrative take on it.

Parody Hitler Rant about Takedowns Taken Down, Begs Fighting Back

I had been withholding comment on the flurry of takedowns against remixes of the Hitler-ranting bunker scene from the film, The Downfall. I would be surprised if any of you reading this haven’t seen at least one of these remixes. The scene is pretty recognizable, starting with Hitler ranting at his assembled staff only to dismiss most of them followed by a raise to a fervor pitch cut with scenes from the concerned staff out in the hall still able to hear every spittle flecked syllable.

Over the past few months, it has become de rigeur to add subtitles tying the dictator’s incredulity to some inanity in the info sphere that defied common sense.  Many of the remixes are apt, matching the emotional tone of the scene to some notional commentator’s outrage over some event or maneuver perceived to be utterly brain dead.

At first the takedowns seemed like yet another case of a rights holder’s cluelessness. The story took a turn into a surprising metastory when Constantin Films issued a takedown for the remix commenting on the takedowns themselves. This latest video to be targeted was created by EFF’s Brad Templeton.

As I understand the nature of parody as relates to fair use, use of material for that purpose has to target the material used or the creator. Much of the remixes probably don’t technically qualify as fair use though I doubt anyone would argue that a four minute clip could in anyway substitute for the original work. Templeton’s work probably has the best chance for fitting the definition of parody with regards to the source material, in no small part thanks to the work of Constantin Films.

I suspect the meme may now take a turn fully against the over reaching rights holder. In his blog post to which I linked, where Templeton still embeds the video but from a competitor, Vimeo, he starts to hint at some of the limitations of YouTube’s Content ID filter. The implication is that since the same clip is used for all these memetic mashups, the fingerprint is similar enough, if not the same, to actually make the filter’s work much easier. This may also mark its weakness to people determined to protest the takedowns.

Cory has a post on Boing Boing that puts Content ID to an empirical test of these limits. Scott Smitelli experimented with a different video but the results about what did and did not foil the filter should hold for the clip from The Downfall.

I suspect we may see some videos that maybe don’t entirely make sense, having been tweaked, but drive the point home that rights holders tread on fair use at their own risk where users are merely sharing the fruits of their experiments in media literacy.

Draft Chapters of Dan Gillmor’s “Mediactive”

“Mediactive”, as Xeni shares on Boing Boing, sounds very much like a book I can get behind. I applaud Dan for, knowingly or not, taking a page from the unbook model. He’s specifically looking for feedback on these chapters as he goes into what sounds like final edits.

The goal of the book is to improve media literacy and seems informed by the right pressures, that we are increasingly awash in all kinds of rich media. I find this to be an unsung cause for balanced copyright, that as we use remix to comprehend our world and communicate with others, we need to be able to do so without fearing of tripping infringement claims.