• Shades of 'Fatal Attraction'
    In a few days, my new Persol sunglasses will arrive. They are merely obscenely expensive -- as opposed to immorally expensive -- because I shopped for them very hard. It was an expedition across the Internet, touching down in five countries on three continents and focusing on at least five of the brand's 100-plus styles. Let's just say it was an experience that will never leave me. No. Really...never. Because everyplace I go on the World Wide Web, the sunglasses are following me.
  • Beyond Your Wildest Streams, Part IV: 'Better Than Movies'
    Somehow HBO and AMC -- and now other cable channels -- have exorcised the Demons of Closure. They subscribe to a narrative arc, not a fever chart, and permit audiences to view television in chapters that may not themselves be discrete, unified tales with a beginning, middle or an end. Which is why those shows have more than created a new Golden Age of television. They have created an altogether new form, vastly superior to everything that came before.
  • Beyond Your Wildest Streams, Part III: Creeping Social(media)ism
    Not only is FunnyorDie a media company that sells advertising against socially generated page views, it is a production company/studio that makes comedies for cable -- but with a major differentiating benefit. "When we go to sell a TV show," says CEO Dick Glover, "we're not just selling a production company, We're selling all the assets of our company -- which includes 8 million Twitter followers, number one comedy brand on Twitter; which includes 5.6 mm Facebook likes, Tumblr Followers, Google+ followers etc etc etc." Social media are not merely an advantage on streaming media; they are its oxygen.
  • Beyond Your Wildest Streams, Part II: Data Is The New Czar
    Streaming video doesn't depend on cigar-chomping tyrants, taste-sensing dowsers or even the volumes of Simmons demographic indexes that for so long were the tools plumbing the consumer mind. Turns out that Reed Hastings' magical algorithm is handy not just for predicting what movies in its acquisitions library you are most likely to enjoy, it can deduce what new production might be just the ticket, too. Amazon Studios also has the benefit of collaborative filtering -- it not only crunches the numbers to deduce demand, it crowdsources both content and feedback at every stage of development.
  • Beyond Your Wildest Streams (Part 1 of 4)
    HOLLYWOOD -- Now there was a telling moment. On the red carpet at the Oscars, a network-broadcast celebration of movies, there was ABC host Robin Roberts asking Kevin Spacey about "House of Cards." Which is neither broadcast or a movie. It's streaming video. Mind you, "House of Cards" is significantly more interesting than the others (at least until the next vice president of the United States shoves a reporter in front of a moving train}, but can we agree that from the ruins of the media economy a future is beginning to take shape?