Brightcove to TiVo: Screencasting just got epic

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/05/10

Another paradigm shifting announcement yesterday in the world of web video. Online video service Brightcove inked a deal with TiVo to bring Brightcove video to TiVo’s.

From the article —

“If it’s on Brightcove, you’ll be able to watch it on your TV using TiVo,” Jeremy Alliare, Brightcove’s CEO, said in a statement.

Now, if you are unfamiliar with Jeremy, he’s the guy that created Cold Fusion, Adobe’s (formerly Macromedia’s) easy to use server scripting language and was Macromedia’ former CTO.

What this might mean for eLearning is that, if you put a video on Brightcove, depending on the details, you may also be able to distribute it to TiVo.

If this is true, mark the day — screencasting just got epic.

Thanks to Prismix (a flex blog) for calling this one out.

Tidal Shifts Once Again: Warner Bros. to sell movies via BitTorrent

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/05/09

This Reuters story on Yahoo News this AM confirms that “Warner Bros. to sell movies via BitTorrent“. This is easily the most commercial use of BitTorrent to date and, with one fell swoop, pushes it into the mainstream.

What this means for eLearning is that BitTorrent is about to move from being an edge technology to distribute media — particularly video.

If, as Dave Winer suggests and rumor has it, that next version OS’s from MS and Apple have BitTorrent baked in — I would venture to say that it will transpearantly become the defacto large file distribution standard — for anything semi-popular anyway.

With this tipping point clearly approaching, it’s time to start thinking about builiding BitTorrent into our eLearning and conetne management web applications.

Cox on “Don’t Make Me Think” CMS litmus test

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/11/14

A couple of weeks ago, Jon Cox, of Xaraya fame, picked up on this post comparing Sharepoint to increasingly robust open source technologies (like Xaraya).

Jon noted that he did not think that Xaraya would pass the “Don’t Make Me Think” (DMMT) litmus test I referenced.

It was great to continue the conversation through comments to his post — I was able to clarify what I was saying and make a connection with folks I greatly respect and admire.

My main point there is — I think Xaraya can pass the DMMT test because developers/implementers can configure the various public and editorial facing interfaces into just about any presentational look and feel they want — which is not the case with the current version Sharepoint (though, I get the impression that this is going to change in upcoming versions).

This makes Xaraya much more powerful in my book — because usable interfaces can be slapped onto it when necessary.

Cox’s point is well taken though —

Xaraya is not very DMMT out of the box for the site implementer — it takes time to get your head around the way the system works — which makes sense for developers (where much power is possible, much training is usually required) — but this should never be the case when we are talking about the end users like anonymous site visitors or editorial contributors.

If software lived in meatspace

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/10/24

Great post on Signal vs Noise over at 37signals the other day proposing that “If software was physical you’d have to look away”.

It’s not only funny, but thought provoking as well (always a powerful combination in my book).

The idea came to mind again yesterday as I was talking with a friend who is a tech leader at a large healthcare organization in the Seattle area.

We were on the topic of content management systems (or knowledge management systems, if you prefer) and why the big expensive enterprise ones, like Microsoft’s Sharepoint products, result in so much suckage.

In reflecting on our discussion, I realized there are several ways to make the case — here are a few for instances —

For Instance 1: I can talk about how these types of systems don’t follow baseline “Don’t Make Me Think” usability principles — which works really well if the folks you are talking with are aware of Steve Krug’s work (and better still if they agree with it).

Even if they haven’t heard of “Don’t Make Me Think”, I’ve found that I usually sound smarter than I am (often the case — ha ha ha) because the title is funny and my sound bite description of Krug’s thesis often gels with folksy conventional wisdom — even if you don’t spend your free time studying human interaction and user interface design best practices.

(For the record, my soundbite synopsis of Krug’s thesis goes like this — “We think people use computers with much thoughtfulness, like many of us tech folks do — but, the research is showing they don’t — most folks actually go to a screen and just start clicking on stuff — often getting confused really fast and then giving up, or, alternately, settling into a process of smoldering frustration if they can’t accomplish the task at hand” — my colleague Christian Watson has posted this great picture of this point from the back cover of the book in his review of the second edition)

For Instance 2: I can describe how inflexible a Sharepoint system is when compared to some of the open source solutions that are quickly reshaping this business space.

For those of you that don’t know, there are a lot of free tools out there that are hands down kicking Sharepoint’s ass — examples include Xaraya (customer facing implementation of which can be seen via these sites from Sacred Heart Medical Center of Spokane, WA and The Schwab Foundation), Drupal, WordPress, Moveable Type, Mambo, Writeboard, etc.

For example — I can make most of the open source tools look like this or this or this (if it makes usability sense) but I can only make the Sharepoint site look like an ugly stepsister of this even if it is, to put it politely, not optimal for my users.

For Instance 3 (The Closer): I could take the 37signals cue and just say, “If Sharepoint existed in meatspace, you’d have to look away”.

The folks with good visualization skills would immediately feel nauseated, say “Yep — you’re right” and we’d all be moving on to the next topic.

This third method, in my book, is a noteworthy and cost effective method of rapid systems prototyping — ha ha ha

Most content management systems (CMS’s) fail because nobody wants to be an editor

Posted by bryanzug - 2005/10/04

Was having a conversation with a collegue today on why content management systems (CMS’s), or knowledge management systems (KMS’s), if you prefer, often fail.

I relayed a core idea I picked up last year from an article by Jeffrey Veen of Adaptive Path, titled “Why Content Management Fails”.

The nutshell that really struck a chord with me was that these projects often fail because no one wants to be an editor.

Content management is not a technology problem. If you’re having trouble managing the content on your Web site, it’s because you have an editorial process problem. Your public-facing Web site is a publication. Treat it like one. If you’re not in the business of producing publications, you won’t be able to do better by plugging in a technology and crossing your fingers. Rather, solve the problem with people.

Would really recommend reading the entire article if this idea resonates with you.