“House Of Cards” proved that great, exclusive content can create loyal customers. While Facebook isn’t about to produce TV shows, it tells me that it plans to ramp up production of its Facebook Live original programming starting with a talk with Star Trek celebrities today at 5:15 p.m. PST. Comedian Andy Samberg will interview film director JJ Abrams and classic cast member and social media maven George Takei.
Randi Zuckerberg, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s sister, started Facebook Live in 2010. A website and Facebook app powered by Livestream, Facebook Live streams talks and offers an archive of past video clips. Users can discuss the videos in real time with other users and ask questions. Facebook Live moderators then pick from submitted questions, name-check the people who ask them, and pose them to the celebrities.
It featured Randi’s interviews with celebrities, as well as instructional talks on Facebook’s products and marketing tools. Later it would host Facebook’s election coverage, including Barack Obama’s town hall talk at Facebook headquarters in 2011. Over the years, Oprah Winfrey, Vin Diesel, Madonna, astronaut Ron Garan, and Israeli President Shimon Peres all came on the air.
For the last six months, though, Facebook Live has been pretty quiet. Since Bravo’s Andy Cohen interviewed Rihanna in November, the only video it’s added was from the Facebook Home launch event. While fascinating to tech insiders, there wasn’t much wide appeal.
But now, the social network is putting Facebook Live back in gear. A Facebook spokesperson for the project tells me “Facebook Live is something we’ll be utilizing more.” While more shoots haven’t been lined up, they should come at a brisker pace.
Why invest in original programming? “The purpose of Facebook Live is to give fans an opportunity to interact with public figures and give the public figures a global platform to present how they are using Facebook [or are engaged in conversations happening on Facebook] in an authentic way,” is the rather dry answer I got from the spokesperson.
But digging a bit deeper, Facebook Live accomplishes several strategic goals for the team at 1 Hacker Way. First, it can turn fans of the stars that Live brings on air into more frequent Facebook users. On the flip side, it can turn celebrities into more hard-core Facebook content creators. Facebook wants to be the place where people follow their favorite public figures, but it needs them posting frequently.
Most importantly, though, it demonstrates Facebook’s potential as a live events discussion platform. Becoming the second screen to important global events can generate tons of time-on-site and engagement. This has historically been Twitter’s domain thanks to its unfiltered, real-time feed, but Facebook wants a piece of the pie.
If you have a great time chatting with other Star Trek fans today, maybe you’ll choose Facebook to discuss the next Star Trek TV show premiere rather than on its 140-character competitor. With the potential to promote them to a billion people, Facebook shouldn’t have much trouble getting the world’s VIPs into the revamped Facebook Live studio.
Pour one out for the Gold Guy tonight, my fellow gamers. A sage pillar of the industry has fallen.
Just 154 days after acquiring LucasArts as part of their larger, $4B acquisition of Lucasfilm, Disney has dissolved the classic video game development company.
Beginning today, Disney will continue to license out the LucasArts properties (namely Star Wars), but has ceased the development of all internal projects. Some projects (such as the incredible looking Star Wars 1313) may find new homes with other development houses, but their status is currently up in the air.
While the move was not unforeseen (the company’s last few games haven’t been very successful, and rumors of projects being shuttered have trickled in since the acquisition), that doesn’t make today’s news any less disheartening. A part of my childhood — a part of an entire generation of gamer’s collective childhood, really — goes down with LucasArts.
To the 150 people reportedly laid off today, and to everyone who had a part in the LucasArts legacy, we thank you.
Thank you for bringing us into the world of Guybrush Threepwood and Monkey Island.
Thank you for Maniac Mansion and Day Of The Tentacle, two games which helped to prove that video games could be funny, and somehow remain funny to this very day.
Thank you for Grim Fandango and Full Throttle. While we may never get the sequels that we’ve been collectively clamoring for for well over a decade, these games helped to introduce the gaming world to project lead Tim Schafer and opened the doors for his company, Double Fine Productions (the folks behind Psychonauts, Brütal Legend, and one of the biggest Kickstarters of all time)
Thank you for The Dig, a game that got me through a particularly terrible flu in the third grade and re-sparked my then waning interest in computers.
Thank you for bringing Sam and Max into the digital world. Though they live on at Telltale Games (which, like Double Fine, is a team founded by LucasArts alum), LucasArts was the first company to see Sam and Max’s potential as more than just a lil’ indie comic book.
Thank you for Star Wars: Battlefront (co-developed with Pandemic Studios, also since shuttered), The Force Unleashed, the X-Wing series, for your part in Knights Of The Old Republic, and for countless other memories.
LucasArts had its hits and it had its misses, but their legacy extends beyond any one game, brand, or series. Their games defined genres, and much of the talent they nurtured throughout the 90s has gone on to define the entire industry.
So long, LucasArts, and thanks for all the SCUMM.
Read the original post: Disney Shuts Down LucasArts Just 154 Days After Acquiring It
The Microsoft Research team is building an epic map of the universe using data and photographs collected from the many telescopes around the world, including NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. They call it The WorldWide Telescope.
There are roughly 300 billion stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, and about the same number of galaxies in our universe (give or take a couple). With the WorldWide Telescope, scientists and developers have pieced together a detailed 3D view of the universe that lets a user do a fly by of any planet, star or galaxy known to man. You can even view the entire universe in a single frame, which makes us all seem insanely insignificant.
But the WorldWide Telescope is more than just a neat exploration tool for astronomy and physics nerds. Program Director Dan Fay hopes NASA can use it as a research tool and that students from the elementary to graduate levels can use it as an educational resource. The Microsoft Research team has made it simple to manipulate data on a touch surface or desktop. With the touch of a couple of buttons and pinch to zoom, you’re off and flying through the universe. The team plans to bring this magic to mobile devices soon.
Microsoft has also released an API to allow developers to build custom tours and lessons. I was fortunate enough to be given a tour of the nebula of the Milky Way Galaxy, and admittedly it was beautiful. The lessons can be as simple as a fly by of every planet in our solar system, or as complicated as analyzing photographs of the deepest known space objects. The map also lets you look at any part of the sky in a number of light wavelengths, including infrared and X-ray.
After the demo, I took a tour of a scale model of the James Webb Space Telescope, which is due to launch in 2018. The telescope is about 100 times more powerful than Hubble and about seven times as big. It includes a 21-foot reflective mirror and a slew of instruments to study the sky.
NASA hopes to look through dust clouds surrounding the formation of stars using the onboard infrared instruments to finally see how stars are born and to look far enough through the universe that they will get a better sense of how all of this madness is shaped. It will also be able to detect water vapor in atmospheres outside our solar system, and where there is water, there’s a significant chance at life.
(mind = blown).
Read the rest here: Microsoft’s WorldWide Telescope Maps The Universe With NASA’s Data
Google announced today that it is kicking off A-Pop Star Week on March 8. The event will include Google+ Hangouts with C-, J-, and K-Pop singers (if you haven’t guessed already, the letters stand for Chinese, Japanese and Korean) including Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, 2PM, flumpool, and Wang Leehom, all of whom are now taking questions on their linked YouTube promotional videos. An event calendar is up on YouTube’s new Asian Pop Channel, which collects top 20 music videos and new releases.
Questions can also be submitted on Google+ using hashtags that will be revealed closer to the event date. If there is a particular performer you are just dying to virtually meet, each participating star will be selecting five participants for their Hangout.
This is the latest in a roster of eventswith celebrities and public figures that Google is hosting as it seeks to promote Google+ Hangouts as an alternative to Skype and other online video chat services. Last week, President Obama participated in a 40-minute group interview with several bloggers on Google+ following the State of the Union, while Vice President Biden’s “Fireside Hangout” in January was laced with quotes that were almost as good, if not quite as juicy, as the bon mots delivered by The Onion’s ‘Diamond’ Joe Biden on Reddit. On the entertainment side, Hangout participants have included Steven Spielberg and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as well as the arguably more influential duo of Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson.
Here is A-Pop Star Week’s roster:
3/8 Shinee (K-Pop)
3/9 Wang Lee Hom (C-Pop)
3/10 Super Junior (K-Pop)
3/11 Kyary Pamyu Pamyu (J-Pop)
3/12 flumpool (J-Pop)
3/13 2PM (K-Pop)
3/14 Mayday (C-Pop)
Photo of Kyary Pamyu Pamyu from her official Google+ account
Continued here: Hangout With The A-List During Google’s Asian Pop Star Week
In an effort to show the rest of the corporate world how “cool” and “spontaneous” their jobs are, hipster office workers around the globe have been making “Harlem Shake” tribute videos this week. Perhaps because we spend the most time online, the startup community is the dryest kindling to make viral video fire: In addition to Facebook, Google, Groupon, Path and Intel, yes Intel, have succumbed to the meme.
Fuck, even Huffington Post/Aol beat us to the chase. And, when the Harlem Shake randomly came on in the background of a three-way TechCrunch “performance review” yesterday, I realized
that I was old that, late to the game or not, we had to do one. Voila!
Writer Ryan Lawler reprised his star role the Crunchie Monkey and of course our developers got in on the
mandatory fun. If you’re wondering where co-editor Eric Eldon is, he’s in the conference room behind us having a meeting with Aol. And this, in a nutshell, is why his performance review was better than mine.