Pirate LogoThe Pirate's Dilemma


AIDG’s Catherine Lainé, live from Haiti

Boing Boing posted a great interview with my friend Cat Lainé, Haitian-America tech activist who runs the amazing non-profit AIDG with her husband Peter Haas. Both Cat and Pete are on the ground in Haiti right now. As Cat explains the situation in Port Au Prince is beyond dire, as we’ve all seen and heard by now. Cat’s brother, who lives in Port-Au-Prince, is not yet accounted for.

I don’t know many people more resilient than Cat and Pete, and it’s pretty amazing to hear Cat explain how the Internet, cellphones and social networking is helping people on the ground in real and meaningful ways. If you can, please donate, details are below. AIDG does incredible work at the best of times, and in the worst of times, they are vital. They are also looking for volunteer engineers – details below:

Got this update from Cat this morning:

We have established an operations center in Cap-Haïtien with our partner SOIL to serve as a hub for coordinating volunteer efforts and supplies coming into the country, especially those coming in through the port of Cap-Haïtien and the Dominican Republic (one of the few open routes into Haiti these days). Our presence in the north, away from the destruction zone, has allowed our communication and logistic abilities to continue relatively intact, which has been extremely useful in coordinating efforts on the ground with other partners and aid groups.

As an immediate priority, we are recruiting and mobilizing teams of engineers and other technical experts to directly support relief efforts of key partners. As I write this, we are preparing to send our first teams of engineers into Haiti to support the medical response efforts of Partners in Health, an organization that, as we previously noted, is having a significant impact here. We are particularly interested at this moment in placing French or Creole speaking civil and structural engineers. If you are, or know, an engineer that might be interested in volunteering in Haiti, please send a resume or CV to helphaiti@aidg.org.

AIDG will also be helping to coordinate the distribution of a large number of cookstoves in affected areas. Even before this week’s disaster, AIDG was in discussions with several leading stove groups (including Prakti Design, WorldStove, and Trees Water People), and in fact had been planning to host these groups at a conference in Cap-Haïtien next week to strengthen our collaboration in Haiti. Our focus has obviously shifted in the past couple days, and the group is now mobilizing very quickly to bring in as many stoves as possible, while at the same time developing local manufacturing capacity.

Aside from these immediate response priorities, we are also already hard at work developing a longer term strategy for supporting reconstruction efforts in Haiti, including a collaboration with our friends Architecture for Humanity to promote the development of low cost earthquake resistant housing. More details on this will follow in the coming weeks.

As you can imagine, we have all available hands on deck right now to support the response in Haiti. But WE NEED YOUR HELP to make sure we have the resources to continue these efforts. These next weeks are critical for us and for Haiti, and we are asking you to make a donation, whatever you can, to support our work here. Every dollar helps, and every dollar will have an immediate and direct impact in the wake of this tragedy.

You can make a secure donation online here:


Or if you’d like to mail us a check, you can send it to the following address:

AIDG P.O. Box 104 Weston, MA 02493

We can’t thank you enough for all of your support.


The AIDG Team Cap-Haïtien, Haiti

Walt Disney’s Creative Organization Chart

walt disney flow chart

@Issue (via Josh Spear and Jeff Staple) points to this chart Walt Disney Studios released in 1943, explaining how the company made movies. I love how the entire organization is built around the story rather than chain of command, (though as the chart says, this isn’t about authority). Seems like a much better way to create something great and acknowledges hierarchy often takes a back seat in the creative process, something totally at odds with silo thinking that dominates the studio system today.

As @issue points out, maybe this is a model other businesses should look at. In ideas based economies, we’re making processes, not products. What you really stand for and the way you tell that story is becoming more important to every type of organization. If that story really drives what you do, it makes sense that it’s creation be the central focus of everybody there and you build work flow around it. And if your story isn’t at the core of what you’re doing, you might be doing it wrong…

Big version of the chart here.

It’s Graffiti Markup Language Week!

GML = Graffiti Markup Language from Evan Roth on Vimeo.

Not quite shark week, but almost as awesome:

This week has been declared by The Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab as Graffiti Markup Language Week, celebrating the projects developed with the use of a specialized XML protocol dedicated to capturing the motion data created by tagging. Allowing graffiti writers to share, study, and catalog their tags, the Graffiti Markup Language has led to the development of the Eyewriter tool for individuals with ALS and the graffiti analysis iPhone app DustTag.

via PSFK.

User Generated

Rob Jewitt, blogger at Remedial Thoughts and lecturer in Media & Cultural Studies at University of Sunderland, created this great slidecast summarizing the main points of The Pirate’s Dilemma. It’s closer to the material in the book than the presentations I’ve been doing of late, which have started to include a lot of new ideas too (I’ll be posting my new presentation The Pirate Solution up here shortly). There’s few things more useful to the creator of an idea than seeing someone else re-present that idea in a new way. Which brings me to the slidecast below by People’s Playground on the remix:


Is Avatar Pirate Proof?

Avatar Pirate Copy

After a strong opening weekend at the box office, Fox are hailing Dances With Thunder-Smurfs as Hollywood’s first pirate-proof movie. TorrentFreak points to a Fox press release quoting studio rep Eden Wright who says “piracy will play a much smaller role in stealing profits from [Avatar] due to the technological hurdles it imposes”.

Avatar’s weekend take at the box office seems to support this theory. According to Variety, it took $77 million domestically and $242.5 million worldwide, the fifth best film opening of all time. 3D accounted for 58% of the gross.

Having been blown away by Avatar in 3-D, it’s hard to imagine watching it in 2-D, let alone trying to get the same experience from a crappy pirate copy filmed on a camera phone. This didn’t stop 500,000 downloads of Avatar from p2p sites over the weekend as well, but as is the situation with music, it’s not clear whether downloads are helping or hindering the box office. Hollywood went bat-shit back in April when Wolverine was leaked online a month before release, only to see it top the box office and beat the tally of the next nine best performing films combined. In recent weeks the independent film Ink also saw illegal downloads help rather than hinder the film, with its creators even thanking pirates for their help. “We don’t know exactly where this will all lead” they wrote, “but the exposure is unquestionably a positive thing.”

If 3-D continues to up box office revenues despite the pirates, it’s good news for film makers everywhere, and there’s more. While the web is disrupting the movie business, it’s also allowing filmmakers to much create deeper connections with fans. As we’ve discussed here before, stretching the narrative of a film across the web using transmedia storytelling is creating all kinds of new revenue streams for franchises large and small, while creating experiences impossible for fans to only interact with via pirate copies.

Encouraging and incorporating user-generated content into a story is another pirate-beating strategy – one we haven’t seen widely used by the big studios yet, but one that has serious potential. If you create a universe fans feel comfortable playing in, they’ll defend it. J.K Rowling discovered this when she sued the author of The Harry Potter Lexicon in 2007. Many (myself included) initially thought the legions of fan creating Potter content of their own would revolt against her for going after one of their own – as the lexicon had been put together by one of the most prominent members of the HP fan community. But they didn’t. The fans chose to defend Rowling. As a general rule she’d been extremely supportive of fan-sites and fan-fiction, and the community recognized that. She ended up winning the legal battle and keeping her fans.

The triple-threat of new tech, transmedia and new forms of collaboration is good news for creative endeavors of all kinds. It’s never been simpler to create a copy of a movie, song or almost anything else. But it’s also easier than it’s ever been to build an experience that makes piracy a moot point. Great stories are as important as ever. But now the way we put those stories out there has to be just as creative as the story we’re telling.

This is a sampling sport

PBS is airing a new documentary entitled Copyright Criminals on Jan 19th. Despite the title, it looks like a pretty even-handed discussion on the myriad issues around sampling and remixing. Make it a priority.

via HypeBot.

Billboard + Doom = WIN

Billboard + Doom = WIN

All your Base are belong to us. More here. Via OhGizmo! (thanks Dan!)

The Story of Mr. Splashy Pants

If, like me, you need Reddit every morning like you need caffeine, you already know this story. But it’s worth a watch anyway.

Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian tells a great story and makes some good points about the internet. Not the first time these things have been said, but well put and expertly shoe-horned into four minutes.

via the one conference I haven’t spoken at yet but would really like to.

Jerm IX

jerm x

via Wooster Collective

E-mail It