Why Periscope Wins

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periscope app

Unless you live under an analog rock you probably know about Meerkat and Periscope — two buzz-worthy live videocasting apps currently taking mobile by storm. While both have similarly sized user bases, the latter is owned by Twitter and will eventually emerge as the clear market leader.

Meerkat doesn’t have a chance for one simple reason: celebrities. While a tweet notification from a star used to release endorphins, nothing compares to a message from Periscope that says your fave VIP is currently online, in video and ready to talk about some random shit.

I’ve been using both apps for a few weeks and while the software are evenly matched, Periscope pinged me when @maryjblige, @reggiewatts, @theharryshearer and other interesting celebs are a realtime click away.

While live streaming has been around since the early 90s with the likes of White Pine’s CUSeeMe, again the game-changer here is an unprecedented level of spontaneity between celebs and their fans.

Periscope hasn’t reached mainstream levels yet; indeed the live video streaming market is puny by most social media standards. By the time the market gets to a healthy, monetizable size there will be a winner-takes-all leader and it will be Twitter.

I Call, You Answer: The Smartphone’s Achilles Heel

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smashing phone things

Too busy smashing your call to answer.

Without question the smartphone will go down in history as a watershed moment in human (or transhumanist) evolution. But for all its magic — 4G speeds, always-on access to the world’s information and an app for just about anything — the modern smartphone still has a serious flaw that dates back to the early days of the plain old telephone service (POTS): unsolicited phone calls.

You can have your arms full with groceries, a colicky baby or be in the process of dismantling a Jihadist bomb, it doesn’t matter. When your phone rings you are expected to answer at the beck and call of the caller. Mind you, it’s not their fault — they have no means of being able to tell if you are available to talk, regardless of how advanced the iPhone, Samsung or HTC model. Further, since the advent of the telephone by Alexander Graham Bell in 1876, we’ve been trained to drop everything, trip over furniture, drop colicky babies and get to that precious but ephemeral technology lest it disappear into a pre-Caller ID world with no means of finding the caller.

Phone call

I’m not here so text me.

Naturally, Millennials aka “digital natives” have responded to this atavistic practice by developing their own etiquette where it’s proper to text first, call later (with permission). Or leave short voice messages via the same text messaging tools: WhatsApp, Facebook, Skype, Line and so on. Additionally, many of these services have a feature POTS sorely lacks: status notification. If traditional phone services could simply show you are away/DND/available or desperately lonely, problem would be solved.

Regardless of whether traditional telcos solve this problem with their native networks, it’ll soon be extinct as older users catch up to their younger counterparts through instant messaging/voip and finally figure out why their kids never call. — MG

RIP: Gigaom

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gigaom

Site closes, everybody loses.

As widely reported, venerable/pioneering tech blog Gigaom is shutting down. In a humbling but short on details post, the site management reports they “recently became unable to pay its creditors in full at this time.”

If there is an antonym to schadenfreude, this situation is it. Gigaom is practically the grand daddy to tech journalism and its closure will be felt. It would be good at some point, for the company to explain what didn’t work (and lessons learned for those of us in the game).

Live blogging: Apple Watch Keynote Today

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As always there’s lot of speculation over what exactly will Apple reveal today: the pricing model for the new Watch, a new and bigger MacBook, iPad pro, a Steve Jobs hologram?

Follow the live blog below (especially if you’re on a non-Mac PC or experiencing sluggish bandwidth) and I’ll keep you in the loop on the breaking “news.”



A Tale Of Two Snoops

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Snoop Lion in Toronto

A film review of “Reincarnated”

In the world of rock, the suggestion “it’s better to burn out, than fade away” has been debunked so thoroughly that the prospect seeing 70 year-old Sir Mick  Jagger strut onstage fills stadiums. And the irony of their classic lyric “hope I die before I get old,” isn’t stopping The Who from reliving their mod years in the upcoming Quadrophrenia tour despite being well past their self-imposed expiry date. Hip hop, on the other hand, continues to be a young man’s game where longevity is often undermined by homicide, incarceration, insolvency or a generation gap that sidelines pioneers like Grand Master Flash and Rakim.

Against this background Reincarnated, the new documentary on Snoop Dogg, is a fascinating in-depth account of what happens when a famous OG (original gangsta) really becomes an middle-aged OG. Directed by Vice Magazine global editor Andy Capper (The Vice Guide To Liberia), the film chronicles a month-long pilgrimage to Jamaica by the 40 year old star where he records a reggae album and ends up reborn as Snoop Lion,  the Rastafarian.

When Snoop Lion first debuted as a reggae artist at Toronto’s Hoxton club in August during the Caribana festival, critics suspected his intentions were as real as his hastily braided “locks.” Claiming to be the reincarnation of Bob Marley diminished his credibility even further; Snoop was already 10 years-old when the reggae legend died in 1981. As such, the faux patois in lead-off single La La La, triggered snide references  to Snoop Lyin’ across social networks.

Through its translucent honesty and depth, however, Reincarnated reveals a rapper who clearly has gone through a transformation book-ended by the same factors that also shaped the music legend Bob Marley: poverty, violence, collaboration and ultimately global stardom. Between visits to hidden marijuana fields in Jamaica’s Blue Mountains and rough Kingston neighborhoods to a rarely seen Nyabinghi Rasta ceremony where Snoop is given the Ethiopian name, Berhane (“The Light”), Reincarnated is perhaps the most insightful account of an artist grappling with mid-life angst since Metallica’s Some Kind Of Monster. And true to character, Snoop tackles his existential struggle with humour, aplomb, self-reflection and weed. Lots and lots of weed. Indeed, one of the funniest scenes involves the aforementioned trip to the Blue Mountains where, after inhaling some of the purest ganja anywhere, Daz the ever-blazed cousin, is literally knocked off his feet, fuzzingly announcing to the camera “I’m smoking a blunt in the jungle!”  A more serious scene also involves Daz, chilling alongside a freestyling Snoop in a SUV, receives a call informing him that his young nephew has passed. The spectre of death is aptly recurs throughout the otherwise upbeat film.

Throughout Reincarnated there are telling instances of a recording process where Snoop and wunderkind producer Diplo develop songs supported by a team of engineers, singers and musicians including the joyfully sagacious Bunny Wailer (who renamed the Dogg to Lion) and venerable ex-Police drummer, Stewart Copeland.  Previews of several fresh sounding reggae tracks are heard including Ashtrays and Heartbreaks — a poignant song for deceased friends and family. In one scene, Snoop confesses a need to record “softer” music for various reasons including an admission “my songs are too hard. I know Obama wants me to come to the White House, but what the fuck can I perform?”

Whether this career and spiritual shift for a long established gangsta brand is successful hardly matters. The documentary is likely to become a rap/reggae/pothead classic, adding to enduring relevance of hip hop’s favorite uncle. Bless up, Ras Lion. — MG

Jero: An Old Japanese Guy In A Young Rapper’s Body

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If you haven’t heard of him already, you’re probably not Japanese. American-born singer Jero is the biggest thing in Japan, offering a cool take on the “old school” singing genre Enko but with an interesting hip hop twist as you’ll see below:

It’s always cool to see self-identity transcend race and break new ground. And while this young brother may be Japan’s Charley Pride, gotta give it up to the quirky country for being….well…quirky. — MG