The Financial Times has announced a new Chief Technical Officer (CTO) as the Pearson-owned publication looks to continue its digital growth.
John O’Donovan joins the FT from the Press Association (PA), where he served as Director of Architecture and Development since November 2010. Prior to this, he worked in a series of technical roles at the BBC, including Chief Architect and Head of Interactive Technology for iPlayer, where he was instrumental in building the BBC’s streaming service throughout its developmental stage prior to its 2007 launch.
O’Donovan will be working on how the FT can improve its use of data, as well as content management solutions and general technology strategy.
The Financial Times recently launched an all-new iPad Web app, sticking to its policy of non-native iOS apps due to the lack of data Apple makes available, as well as the 30% cut Apple takes from in-app revenues. And it’s also worth noting that mobile now accounts for almost a third of all FT.com traffic, so ‘digital’ is playing an increasingly bigger part in the FT’s future strategy.
While O’Donovan joins the FT with significant experience at the BBC, previous CTO Michael Fleshman actually left the FT recently to join BBC Worldwide as Senior Vice President for Consumer Digital Technology.
For some of us, hanging out with our parents is something best relegated to off-work hours and holidays. But Kenneth Lerer and Ben Lerer have had some big successes working together at Lerer Ventures, the New York City venture capital firm whose portfolio includes BuzzFeed, Warby Parker, Everlane, FancyHands, and many others.
So when we had the chance to talk with Ken and Ben backstage at Disrupt NYC 2013 this morning, we asked how exactly they make the family dynamic work so well in a business setting. According to them, a big key has been that Lerer Ventures is not the only thing they’ve got going on — Ben is also very consumed with running Thrillist and e-commerce arm JackThreads, and Ken has had a number of other ventures throughout the years such as Huffington Post in addition to his investing work. Ben said:
“A big reason that it works so well is that a lot of the emotion and sort of the drama that comes with business that could maybe make it stressful and put strain on the relationship doesn’t necessarily exist because this isn’t the only thing that we’re working on. When we started the fund, dad still had HuffPo, and I’m obviously full-time running Thrillist and JackThreads. So I have other things in my life that I can stress out about and freak out about, and it allows me to really just take the good of the Lerer Ventures stuff and it’s not as emotionally charged as running my other business. So it takes some pressure off of the relationship.”
Another key, Ken added, was that it’s not just a family business.
“Don’t underestimate the value of having Eric Hippeau and Jordan Cooper as partners, because I think if it was just the two of us it might not be perfect, but with the four of us, it’s pretty perfect.”
We also talked to the Lerers about the importance of beautiful design when it comes to startup success, and how being vocal about politics — Kenneth is a prominent supporter of President Obama and a staunch anti-NRA advocate — affects their business deals. Check it all out in the video embedded above.
Go here to read the rest: Kenneth And Ben Lerer Talk Good Design, Strong Politics, And Mixing Work And Family [TCTV]
Defiance, a science fiction television series that launched alongside a massively multiplayer online video game earlier this month, is an experiment in cross-media storytelling.
The promise is that by launching the property across two separate mediums, audiences will be able to engage and experience the narrative from two distinct, unique perspectives, thereby increasing their engagement and commitment to the franchise.
The scope and ambition of Defiance are huge. Both the online shooter and episodic series were planned and created simultaneously, offering both sides a wealth of opportunities to weave the two together in new and unexpected ways.
It differs from the traditional creative process, where a franchise finds success and creates an impressive following in one medium, before then being spun out as a new experience in another.
Take Scott Pilgrim. The original graphic novels, created by Bryan Lee O’Malley, was published in black and white between August 2004 and July 2010. A movie, entitled Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, was released in 2010 as a direct representation. The graphic novels were incredibly popular and triggered a video game developed by Ubisoft Montreal for Xbox Live Arcade and the PlayStation Network.
All three interpretations follow roughly the same storyline and premise. The problem is that while it’s possible for creators to expand on the source material, there are inherent limitations. The original interpretation exists, and more often than not creates a precedent by which fans know and relate to the show.
Lord of the Rings, for instance, is a well-loved series of novels known for its rich lore, mythology and characters. The movies and various video games that have followed have always had to stay true to these anchors; there’s no way of rewriting what happened at Helm’s Deep, at least not without upsetting a few fans, or creating a new race out of thin air, for example.
The way in which the public consumes media is changing though. Television shows are broadcast globally and social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook allow millions of fans to communicate and debate with one another in real-time. There’s a chance here to move away from a passive, never-changing form of content.
Video games, on the other hand, offer an increasingly immersive and social experience. Players revisited Halo 4 for its episodic co-operative series Spartan Ops, which developer 343 Industries divided into a ten week “season” between November 2012 and February 2013.
Telltale Games took The Walking Dead franchise and explored human morality, testing players with ever more difficult decisions and tenuous relationships. It was commended for its compelling narrative and won dozens of industry awards.
But despite The Walking Dead’s numerous achievements in characterization and player immersion, it was still tied to the comic book series’ original material. The odd character appeared for a fleeting cameo in the video games, but because the original tale is already set in stone, it was difficult to have any meaningful crossovers.
Defiance is different though. By producing the two simultaneously, cable television channel Syfy and video game developer Trion Worlds have the chance to create something larger, more organic and ultimately more compelling. It’s too early to say whether or not they’ve succeeded, but the potential is clear to see.
Audiences love to be immersed and involved in entertainment. It is, after all, the reason why pantomime has endured as such a popular form of theatre.
How many times have you seen someone shout at the television screen, ‘don’t do that you idiot!’ or explained to the person next to them how, if they were in the same situation, they would have reacted differently and triggered a more positive outcome?
Cross-media releases could, in theory, be produced to give audience members real influence and impact.
Let’s say that the Gears of War franchise, featuring masochistic Marcus Fenix and his testosterone-fueled buddies, had a TV show. Much of the series’ premise revolves around Emergence Day, or the moment when the Locust horde (an alien race that used to live underground) rises to the surface.
Season one of the show could end with the remaining human forces backed against a wall, with no way out. The video game, on the other hand, would pit players as other soldiers, tasked with defending the city at all costs. If enough enemies are defeated in the alloted time, season two begins with Marcus and his chums escaping their nasty predicament and retaking their stronghold.
When a franchise is created simultaneously across multiple mediums, there’s also the option to use deeper and more complex narrative ideas.
A pivotal character may decide to turn on his companions, seemingly out of the blue. In the TV show such a plot twist might feel unjustified. But what if an ebook, published every week in conjunction with each episode, offered a first-person perspective from this character, revealing his motives and back story in a way that just wasn’t possible before?
A couple of projects have tried this, such as the .Hack series - which used a series of video games, manga comic books and anime TV shows to attract new fans predominantly in Japan, but also worldwide. Few have managed to hit the level and quality of storytelling that propels films to be Oscar-nominated and novels to be The New York Times bestsellers, however.
Creating truly cross-media experiences isn’t easy. It takes considerably more resources and a collective team that can explore new ideas but also agree and execute upon a single vision.
That could be a difficult transition, given the traditional leadership and ‘final say’ that has been enjoyed by directors in the media industry for many decades.
Scheduling could also be problematic. The time needed to write a books, develop a video game and shoot a TV show varies; George R.R Martin takes a number of years to write each instalment in the Game of Thrones series, for example, which would be tricky to coincide with an annual TV season.
The rewards for approaching media in this fashion are high, however, and the experiments in cross-media content will only increase as technology continues to develop.
Regardless of its success, Defiance is a turning point in modern storytelling. Ignoring that would be a grave mistake.
In a land where entrepreneurs are struggling desperately to integrate location into the worldwide photo-sharing phenomenon, Albumatic may have swooped in just in time.
Ventures like Color and others have tried and failed, and not for lack of funding, to let users enjoy location-based events by sharing photos with each other around that specific event. However, it turns out that sharing photos with strangers, whether you find yourself in the same location or not, doesn’t attract users as much as you’d think.
It’s not the photo-sharing that stops people, but more the “location” bit. Even Highlight, which has nothing to do with photos per se, hasn’t taken off as expected due to the fact that location has very little to do with relevance when it comes to social.
Albumatic takes a new approach, by letting users close-by join Albums and add to them, while users far away can join to watch, but not add. This gives a little more control to the user, and also allows people who aren’t right there next to you still enjoy the photo-sharing process.
Albumatic is in the process of raising $4.5 million in funding, according to a recent SEC filing.
All in all, it’s unclear if people really want or need a service like that, especially alongside our many media-sharing apps like Instagram, Vine, etc. However, if there is a demand for location-based photo-sharing, Albumatic seems to have it figured out.
See the article here: Fly Or Die: Albumatic
Less than a week after Google launched Chrome 25 replete with voice-recognition support via the new Web Speech API, an interesting little hack has emerged from the Rdio community that taps this very feature.
Talk Radio takes Siri-esque functionality and replicates it in your browser, letting you request music on Rdio simply by talking.
When you hit the spacebar, the app will ask for permission to access your microphone.
Of course, this is just a proof of concept, and Rdio regularly encourages the developer community to partake in such projects via its API, the idea being they could eventually lead to fully-fledged features, or niche third-party apps.
In addition to Google’s new Web Speech API, Talk Radio also taps The Echo Nest’s (see previous coverage) data-powered search function to arrive at the artist.
This isn’t the fist app to bring voice-search functionality to Rdio – we recently covered an iOS app called Vela Lite, which lets you search for music on Spotify and Rdio simply by saying a song, album or artist.
With the Talk Radio hack, however, this is more a show of technology and successfully demonstrates the all-new Chrome.
Feature Image Credit – Thinkstock
Read the original here: This neat hack takes voice-search to Rdio via Google Chrome’s new Web Speech API