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The Internet says no to SOPA and PIPA

Yesterday, a large portion of the Internet rose up against two horrible bills making their way through Congress. These bills, SOPA in the House and Protect IP Act or PIPA in the Senate, would fundamentally change the nature of the Internet in misguided attempts at stamping out copyright infringement. Many websites voluntarily went dark for the day to show the public what things could well look like if these bills become law. Wikipedia, Craig’s List, Google, the Internet Archive, Reddit, Tumblr all participated, educating users and encouraging them to contact their congress people. Physical protests happened in San Francisco and New York where many lolcat fans, entrepreneurs, reddit users and first time activists turned out to lodge their opposition.

I grabbed my Z1U and ran down to City Hall here in San Francisco to catch up with the happenings. Several notable Internet people showed and spoke out about SOPA/PIPA including Craig Newmark, Caterina Fake, Ron Conway, MC Hammer, Brewster Kahle, and Elizabeth Stark. I recorded some of the soapbox action and grabbed some interviews asking two questions.

The first question, What is the worst part of SOPA and PIPA to you?

The second question, How will SOPA and PIPA affect your organization?

Interviewees: Jonathan Nelson, Sam Stoller, Caterina Fake, Tantek Çelik, Adina Levine, Seth Schoen, Rick Prelinger, Jen O’Neal, Jessica, Anders Nelson and Kim Dowd.

Dead Drop in Former NSA Spy Station

While in Berlin, I had met up with @tbx for a dead drop install. Documented in photos and this video.

Dead Drop Installed at Abandoned U.S. Spy Station in Berlin from ekai on Vimeo.

MakerBot TV Launches!

I’m proud to announce the birth of MakerBot.TV, a new online web video series that I co-produced covering all things awesome in the world of MakerBot.

I spent most of July and August working out of MakerBot’s Brooklyn Headquarters (the BotCave) to concept, staff and launch this new series. Working with long-time pal Bre Pettis, MakerBot’s cofounder, CEO and former video superstar himself, we set to work on coming up with a new 12 to 14 episode weekly series that would appeal to current MakerBot owners and non-owners alike.

The show has to be entertaining, informative, tell great stories and appeal to a wide audience. The first thing we did was set about finding the perfect person to bring in full-time as MakerBot’s Video Superstar. This was not an easy search as the role demanded not just a great on-screen presence, but someone who can think creatively, quickly, knows online video production, is a great editor and isn’t freaked out by deadlines. After almost a month of searching, we hired Annelise Jeske.

MakerBot.TV just launched, the new weekly online video series I co-produced about all things MakerBot.

Annelise is perfect for the role. She’s got a cool sense about things, is very creative, driven, and didn’t freak out when I threw Final Cut X at her and said “you’ll be using this.” Once Annelise was on board, she and I set to work to concept out the various segments, branding, music and story ideas.

MakerBot’s 3D printers aren’t just a product, they’re a lifestyle. While still arguably in the early adopter and hobbyist days, these robots are part of an ecosystem that is exploding with creative use and potential. To own a MakerBot Thing-o-Matic isn’t to just own a machine that makes replacement parts for your home. It’s about being part of something much bigger. It’s about being part of a fast growing segment of humans who are using shared ideas, designs, software and hardware to build upon the greatness of others. Call it the DIY movement, the maker movement, whatever. It’s about solving problems, learning, creating and ultimately sharing knowledge with others like you.

MakerBot has spawned a growing community of people who share their 3D designs on an open website called Thingiverse. If you design a bicycle mobile phone mount or coat hook, you can share those designs on Thingiverse and others will build upon them to improve or make variants of them. This is exciting stuff, because that means as a new MakerBot owner, you have access to thousands of products that you can print out at any time. There’s new models posted all the time, so we’re doing a regular segment called Thingiverse Roundup that focuses on cool stuff found here.

MakerBot TV launches!

Annelise has experience doing stop motion animation, so we quickly decided that the opening sequence and segment IDs should be animated using printed models and letters. We saw Tony Buser‘s Bob the Bobblehead robot appear in the office one day and knew we needed to incorporate him into the show.

As a result of Bre’s appearance on the Colbert Report, MakerBot has been scanning the heads of friendly hackers, thinkers, writers, artists and musicians with a high resolution 3D scanner. These scans can be printed out to render a perfect plastic bust thus giving us our Notables segment.

There’s so much more to come. I’m really happy with our debut episode, which features much head scanning when the organizers and artists from the AfroPunk Festival stopped by MakerBot’s workshop. Angelo Moore from the band Fishbone and Reggie Watts are two of the artists who are featured. An excellent model of Yoda and a multi-piece Sword of Omens are featured in the Thingiverse Roundup segments. Future episodes will focus on interesting creators, artists and events in the ever expanding universe of affordable 3D printing.

My role was primarily getting MakerBot TV off the ground. It’s in Annelise’s very capable hands now. The show has tremendous momentum, support from the whole MakerBot staff and a universe of stories that have yet to be told. I’m proud of what we’ve produced and very excited at what’s to come. Please tune in, subscribe and tell your friends. It’s going to be an awesome ride!

Hiring MakerBot Online Video Superstar

I’m spending the next 6 weeks in Brooklyn helping to launch a new video series for MakerBot Industries, makers of your friendly, low cost, desktop 3d printer. We’re looking to a hire a kick ass Online Video Superstar to be the face of this new series and to ultimately take over the daily production aspects of the show. If your passionate about robots, video production and DIY culture, this might just be your dream job. Please apply as we’re looking to hire for this position immediately.

Flying High Above the Black Rock Desert

I was out with some friends camping in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada over the Fourth of July weekend. Since the area is large, flat, desolate and mostly dry, my pal Paul was able to fly out a plane and join us. I mounted a Contour HD video camera to the landing gear of the plane to produce this fun little video.

Video Discovery Now More Fun

I’ve had the pleasure of beta testing a couple new video services that launched this week. Both make Internet video discovery, viewing, collecting and sharing a lot more fun.

Showyou: Watch videos from your friends

Today, Showyou hits the app store for iPhone and iPad. Showyou is an app that helps you discover videos that your friends and followers on social networks are sharing. That in itself isn’t anything new, the magic is the user experience. On an iPad, you can easily just kick back and glide across a matrix of nothing but videos from your social networks, currently Twitter, Facebook and Vodpod. When you’ve watched a video you like, you can share it with other Showyou users or comment on it within Showyou or on Twitter and Facebook where you may have first found it. There’s also a send “thanks” button, which is sort of similar to “liking” a video by notifying the originator that they’re awesome.

The creators of Showyou is Remixation, the same fine people behind Vodpod, the video collection & sharing service that up until now, was all web and widget based (see mine to the right of this post). One other really cool thing about Showyou is that if you have an Apple TV, you can send the videos that you find straight to your TV over AirPlay. This essentially turns your iPhone/iPad into a very pleasing remote control (who the hell needs 90 buttons anyway?)

On Monday, VHX launched their public beta. VHX is also a video discovery, viewing, collecting and sharing service but fundamentally different in a few ways from Showyou. VHX is all about the lean-back uninterrupted experience in your web browser (for now). As soon as you log into VHX, a video starts playing. So does the next one and the next one and so on. VHX creates a full-screen, TV like experience in your browser from videos shared by you and your friends. You can add videos to your VHX queue with bookmarklets. You see something you like while trolling the net, simply share it or save it for later viewing. Right now, only YouTube and Vimeo videos are supported, but expect that to change as VHX evolves through their beta. VHX comes from the creative minds of Jamie Wilkinson, formerly of Know Your Meme and Rocketboom and Casey Pugh, formerly of Vimeo and Boxee.

A Look Back at the Early Days of Twitter

Today’s the fifth birthday of Twitter, a service that has fundamentally changed the way humans communicate on this planet. The power of Twitter to help foment revolution, change regimes and amplify insane celebrity voices is well documented by now. Living in San Francisco, the epicenter of much Internet innovation, I’ve been lucky to witness and participate in the rise (and fall) of dozens of Internet-based services.

At the end of 2006, I was working for a web video company called PodTech, along with my Geek Entertainment TV cofounder, Irina Slutsky. One of the shows I was tasked to produce was called LunchMeet, a web series where we interview founders of tech startups and get them to do a product demo for us. For episode 11, we visited Twitter’s first San Francisco office on December 1st, 2006. Twitter was barely a 9 month old toddler at the time. Jack Dorsey, Biz Stone and Evan Williams sat down with us for about 10 minutes to give us the history, vision and idea around Twitter. Jack then gave me an on camera demo (skip to 9:05) of what the product looked like back then. It’s pretty telling on a lot of levels. SMS and IM were very much an integral part of the platform, there were no rounded corners, the term ‘firehose’ didn’t exist and @Jack had a mere 90 followers at the time.

Enjoy the trip back in time and please excuse my amateur on-camera performance. I’ve always been more comfortable behind the camera. Happy birthday Twitter! –@ekai

Signs from the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear

I was in Washington, DC this weekend to check out Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear that took place down on the Mall. Since my initial mission was thwarted, I ran around and grabbed video footage of as many creative signs as a could. Here’s the resulting montage.

Viral Videos in the Redwoods

Last weekend, I hosted a viral video night with meme master Jamie Wilkinson at the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur. I’ve long wanted to do an event at this magical, redwood enclosed, roadside oasis. The Library is a destination I’ve often visited since moving to the west coast 13 years ago. In recent years, their small outdoor stage has been host to some high profile performers, including Neil Young, Animal Collective, The xx, Laurie Anderson, Henry Rollins & Jello Biafra to name a few. I felt it quite an honor when Magnus Toren, long time friend and director of the Library, invited me to put together an “Internet video night.”

Over the course of 3 hours, Jamie and I took the audience on a show and tell tour of some popular Internet videos that have become memes. I presented first and focused on 4 videos which each have spawned a whole slew of remixes, mashups, animations, reinterpretations and songs. Jamie then presented a series of videos of kids doing embarrassing things on the Internet followed by what happens when kids feed the trolls. The evening was well received and I know we’ll do more of these in the future. Here’s the 4 original videos I focused on with links to each of the remix/mashup/song videos that I followed with.

Double Rainbow Guy

01 Oh My God! song
02 Auto-Tune song
03 2001: A Space Odyssey remix
04 Ft. Boyard remix
05 Taco Bell/KFC inspired
06 Hungry Bear’s Cagefight
07 Hungry Bear’s Wild Turkeys

Insane Clown Posse – Miracles

01 Saturday Night Live parody
02 Juggalo News
03 Magnetism Explained
04 Glad Plugin mashup
05 Fuckin’ magnets, fuckin’ rainbows

Epic Beard Man

01 Critical commentary
02 Animated reinterpretation
03 Epic Beard Man in Mortal Kombat
04 Epic Beard Man’s Punchout for Nintendo
05 Epic Beard Man Tased at A’s Game

Amber Lamps

01 Hey There, Amber Lamps
02 Amber Lamps Song Tribute
03 Animated, Techno Amber Lamps
04 Black Betty, Amber Lamps

Meet Robohamster

I got this robotic hamster for Christmas. I had a real hamster when I was a kid, but now I prefer simulated pets. No cages to clean, less poop and only needs 1 AAA battery!

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