(Internet) FICOD 09 high and low points


I guess it is time to summarize and make a balance of the high and low points of the FICOD 09 (International Internet Content Conference held in Madrid, Spain between November 17/19) which had about 8,000 participants converting it in one of the biggest of the world. Sincerely, I couldn’t care less about its size but I do care a lot about the quality and for that reason I will try to put the spot light in the high points and in the low points of it as well.

By far, Bernardo Hernandez (Google Worldwide Marketing Director) and Kevin Spacey were the shinning stars of the constellation. Mr. Spacey showed how there is a combination of great art, comprehension of current times and embracing the challenges rather than fighting them as a “mad dogs” in the way to its final rest (another post already dedicated to him). Bernardo, the “golden boy” of the Internet in Spain gave a brilliant presentation with facts, numbers, perspectives and above all enthusiasm inherent to Google’s Internet dominance. Some of the numbers are really amazing: in the last 25 years, the processor’s capacity have increased 3,500 while the price reduction for RAM memory reduced 45,000 times and the storage price (HD) also has decreased nothing less than 3.6 million times! That said, he made a point to show and prove that the main distinction Internet poses regarding previous technological advances is its blind blowing speed: it took just 50 million users in the Internet and 3 years to reach an global advertising spending of 1 billion dollars while the same number of users such as radio and TV took 37 and 15 years respectively. Ten years ago Google didn’t exist; today it is the power which rivals Microsoft.

Bernardo Hernández

To watch his presentation in English, click here. Also in the bright side, I would like to name the courageous and passionate Rodolfo Carpentier and Carlos Blanco, Spanish internet incubators who did not spare anybody when blaming the “great” Venture Capital for Internet development in Spain of being simply amateurs (in the bad sense of the world) negligent and ignorant of the opportunities the often miss to the rest of Europe and the USA.

Going to the dark side of the Conference and confronting bravely the backwards corporative reps of EGEDA (Spain’s Film Producers Association) and SGAE (authors collection agency for Spain and Latin America) we had Javier Sánchez (founder of the pioneering ADN STREAM).

All the authors collection’s agencies reps, the defeated music industry representatives portrayed everywhere as the example of what not to do (poor things!); the unfortunate invitation of the MPA (Motion Picture Association of America) who told the audience in a pathetic way that his past was the Agriculture but if it was to defend America’s (money interests) he would do fine the same in this conference. Really embarrassing! the Minister of (in) Culture who read a discourse clearly studied by many assessors this time in order to not commit her usual gaffes but yet could not refrain herself to transmit an aggressive and “read to fight the copyright’s war” expression out of every word spoken thru her angry mouth. Specially if we see in context: she was preceded by Ana Gómez, USA representative and special guest who has spoken not a word about repression or law enforcement but on the contrary listed all the efforts the U.S. is putting in improving infrastructure to the maximum extent. And the Minister of (in) Culture was followed by the Minister of Industry and Commerce of Spain (host and main sponsor of the event) who was more moderate in attitudes and postures but missed a great opportunity to make government policy announcements that would make a real difference in the general offset of the meeting. The Prime Minister Zapatero should also have found a space to come to the opening in his agenda and show Spain and the world that the deep recession is really embraced as an opportunity to change the archaic economic models which undermine the future of the country for generations to go.

As always, Spain has its charm, is warm in the heart and classicist and stoic towards the new. I love the country, I feel at home in the streets of Madrid, Barcelona or Seville. It’s my home! Accents and body languages change but the essence, for good and for bad remains. The self-condescendence, the inferiority complex towards the neighbours (in Europe of course) and towards the American counterparts but also the aristocratic, feudal mentality (now translated to digital times) of refusal to change attitudes, to democratize the work relationships and spaces and to embrace the “foreigner and different” as the US do in difficult or in expansion times: doesn’t matter where you come from, the Americans analyze what you have to offer. No matter what you have to offer, Spaniards (and Europeans in general) look who you are and “what are your real intention$”. That is a mentally that will keep Europe always behind if not changed. It is time to understand the all digital business is global and all “nationalisms” are the borders of the fearful minds of renewal. They won’t defend you from a hypothetic “invasion” but instead, it will crush you in isolation.

The two sides of the same coin


Lula, the self acclaimed “new third world leader” has warmly received against the will of the majority of the Brazilian people who has literacy enough to understand what and where Iran is, his “comrade” from Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

“If Iran is an important actor in this discord, then it is important that someone sits with Iran, talks with Iran and tries to establish a balancing point, so that society returns to a certain normality in the Middle East,” said Lula according the NYT and all the international press.

So, finally, we can see how an ignorant, arrogant and definitely an opportunist low politician as Lula (yes, he sure is low and dirty with a legendary history of treason amongst his native “comrades) drops the mask of being “the guy”, acclaimed by the ingenuity of Obama in a G-20 Summit and shows that he has no limits to his ambitions of being a “world leader”.

Brazilians Protesting the Visit

The visit of Iran’s dictator is an embarrassment to millions of Brazilian women, homosexuals, Brazilian Jewish and all democrats in general but a chance to show that in the dirty game of power at any cost, Lula wins by far. By being a hypocrite, unscrupulous “comrade” who embraces one of the most sanguinary and disgusting person who ever lived? Hopefully, this will help to show the real nature of the beast.

Obama, please be careful before saying that anyone is “the guy” once again. Everybody, be aware that “the guy” has long knives as another Austrian popular politician who dominated Germany did have back in the 30’s and is no saint at all.

Lula, the pacifier! It’s laughable coming from the man who cannot pacify the favelas (slums) of Rio de Janeiro.

PS: A person carrying the Rainbow Flag inside the conference hall where the Iranian dictator is staying has been arrested by the Brazilian Federal Police. The Jewish community has been barred from the press conferences. Supposedly due to the lack of security to the dictator, the conference was called off at 23:17 GMT. The Brazilian Presidency denied it but Lula reaffirmed the support for “pacific use” of nuclear energy by Iran.

The greatness of humility


Kevin Spacey has given a magisterial speech in the generally shameful FICOD 09 which touched and moved tremendously people who are not just for the quick buck and the ever lasting ancillary rights (70 years after death of the author). If for nothing more, the fortune spent on the event is paid out by his conference, wisdom and lesson of humility. Humility which in the Romanic languages is usually confused with humiliation! Congratulations Kevin Spacey!

KEVIN SPACEY

Mr. Spacey has made an outright plea for the “lucky ones” to allow space for the new generations to raise the ladder (better said: the elevator) and be allowed to show their capacity. He has recalled how Jack Lemmon has helped his way up and how they shared the same values regarding the “talent elevator”. The real good ones don’t need to oppress to get their way in the podium of greatness.

Many topics where raised during his intervention and he showed an open-minded posture regarding the digital revolution. “Those who feel and can see the future is embracing it”, he said. It seems clear that Mr. Spacey has seen a long time ago as far as producing a film with a plot centred on nothing less than “Facebook”. He couldn’t be clearer about it when he related to the music industry which embraced the repression model: “if you don’t give people what they need, when they need and how they need at affordable conditions, they will find their ways and get it for free”.

For the complete English conference click
Kevin Spacey

Chapeau Kevin!

Internet Content and Power


I had spent all night editing a short video and went to bed around 7:30 am. Less than 15 minutes later the sound of an SMS, just few minutes after another and another. The phone rings. I wanted to throw it against the wall. Anyway, I pick it up: “don’t you know yet?” Please, I’m dead for sleep let me sleep! “Atocha (Madrid’s Train Station) was attacked and thousands are wounded and dead.”

I freeze and jump out of bed. Television on. All channels broadcast live the horrific scenes of most violent and catastrophic terrorist attack in Europe after World War II. I knew and millions of other Spanish did too, that we had started to pay the price for the stupidity of the Aznar government and its support for the Iraq war. They soon get the official version blaming the “other side”: it was ETA (Basque terrorist group). Those who had BBC, CNN or the Internet were able to get the real versions of the facts and relay them via SMS to friends and relatives. At the end of March 11, 2004 throughout the country nobody believed the lies issued from the national media, driven by the Government of Spain (Aznar y cia.).

For who was in Spain during those days, I’m not saying anything new. For those who saw it from outside, I’ll never be able to express what it means to be in a supposedly democratic country where all information was manipulated so that the ruling party would win the elections which were to take place 2 days later.

Without Internet or mobile phones, maybe the official version would have passed as truth (which the terrorists would be from ETA) and the right’s liars who send the country to a war until today unsolved would remain in power.

Atocha (Madrid) and Memorial to the Victims


Mr. Zapatero was the first major beneficiary of the mobilizing power of the Internet and mobile communications. Obama, without taking away his merits, was a minor phenomenon in regard to a total electoral overthrow. A quarter of the Spanish population went to the streets screaming: « Before the vote, we demand the truth”. In proportion, that would mean 75 millions Americans and/or 15 millions French. Obama was elected by just over 69 millions votes.

I remember those days and it made me cringe to see the sad millionaire spectacle that the Ministry of Industry and Commerce of Spain just sponsor (FICOD 09) where almost 100% of the speakers, shamelessly advocate some form of censorship of Internet content. These gentlemen (government officials) would not be sitting in their chairs without the key role that mobile telecommunications and Internet and played between 11 and 14 March 2004.

There is much to say about the policies of the current government of Spain. For now I will focus on intellectual fiasco (albeit palatial proportions) that just ended in the capital of the Kingdom.

However, do not forget President of Government, the same people that have put him in his chair can remove it. Just to give it away to technocrats even more unable than those currently occupying such positions.

Spanish Minister for (in) Culture, Mozart and Copyright


It’s really amazing to see the quantity of stupidity, arrogance inherent to power can produce in the world. Well, considering that we are all with a fresh memory from the Bush’s era, nothing is absurd anymore and even “leftists” brag their wisdom to the world as if we were all followers, ignorant followers of the leadership.

Last week, the Minister of (in) Culture of Spain, responsible to guard, protect and improve more than 1,000 years of human kind culture stored in the country (to say the least) has declared publicly to the RTVE (State Radio and Broadcasting Corporation) according to the report of the prominent newspaper EL PAIS that Mozart “has lived in financial misery because he didn’t receive copyright’s royalties” and if he had had them, he and his family would have had a better life”. Ms. González-Sinde’s (in) culture is notorious in Spain and wherever she has stepped in to spread her wisdom”. Nevertheless, she has at her disposal advisers to avoid her gaffes.

Mozart wasn’t ever poor. That we all (except her, maybe) know. But yet, he was the precursor of copyright infringement. The article of the respectful and cultivated journalist and commentator Enric González helps us to bring the real facts to light.

Mozart poor home

Mozart's poor birth home

The obsession to defend copyright and repression at any rate the (in) culture Minister has made her oversee the fact that Mozart “pirated” Miserere Dei, Deus from Gregorio Allegri.

In short, the situation was that music piece was only interpreted inside the Vatican and the music’s scores remained property of the Pope and with only two copies more: one in the hands of the King of Portugal and the other with a Franciscan Priest (musician). Sadly enough, a nasty, non-law-abiding 14 year old kid named Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart visited the Vatican in 1770 and listened to the oeuvre d’art. His brains functioned with 64 bits processing capacity and back home, he wrote the music scores. A few days later, he returned to the Vatican, listened once again and made the necessary corrections.

Mozart Illegal Downloader

Mozart Nasty Kid

That was copyright infringement Ms. Minister of (in) Culture of Spain. What would you do with that nasty kid if you had the power to do anything at all? Jail him? Order lobotomy? What a great benefit to humanity you would have caused preserving the right, the divine right to preserve that work only for Your Holiness’s ears!!!! Shame on you! Jail the Spanish kids, censor, and cut the country back to the times of dial-up connections as you also already defended. You are the culture; you are the progress of sciences and knowledge for humanity.

“Do what I say but do not do what I do”. That seems to be the conclusion to end up with once we learn that she, her assistants or whoever in the Ministry has copied almost word by word her own biography from from Wikipedia without mentioning it (neither the authors of the wiki). Again: shame on you! And again, do the country a favour: step down!

Certainly there are brilliant kids out there who you call criminals and many of them will make and be part of history, while you will remain a mediocre screenwriter and if lucky something like Antonio Salieri (the envious bloodsucker from “Amadeus”, the film, not reality, pay attention to that once more!!!): but yet portrayed as a vicious, poisonous person defending the industry not the artists.

Online Content Production: the law of silence


While pushing forward the endeavour of gathering information from all sources to follow the series of articles relating to State provided subsidies, I have tumbled against a wall made out of tough steel and concrete: silence. If was my purpose to question policy makers, directors of audiovisual institutions, institutes of cinematography as well as filmmakers, directors, producers, distributors, actors, etc .etc.

The task would not be easy to start; I suspected that already, but with rare exceptions I was rebuffed as if I were a thief or at least a poisonous threat to the status quo of their jobs and life earnings. Without going further naming names, Cultural Authorities of different European States and Latin American countries, after reading (or not) this small blog, simply denied flatly to give any sort of interview by email, phone or whatever means offered. The position is that the law is the law and questioning these laws is unlawful. Waving the flag of the law as if those had no relation whatsoever to the reality and fairness to the people. I have to remind these ladies and gentlemen that once upon a time, slavery was also lawful and it was unlawful to question it. Would anyone dare to do it now?

Few producers came forward (some of them bravely offering to make their names and positions public) but yet, the absolutely majority simply would not discuss the issues of digital distribution, subsidies for online production and the new reality of content production for the Internet (broadband) era. No interest for pretty obvious reasons.

But why all the fear and self imposed law of silence? What evil can be brought upon humanity to talk about what is already reality, a given fact?

In order to clarify the situation, to open a call for all the interested parts to answer questions the society itself is posing and the public authorities and the others refusing to answer, I’ve decided to make public the questions I sent to them. Four simple questions that remain without answers:

1) Considering that the numbers of online viewers of audiovisual contents multiply, at least, ten times the number of movie theatres audiences in each and every country, is it fair to have the State (which should represent the interests of the people) subsidise film productions with a non-negotiable condition that the films shall be presented and released in movie theatres?

2) Why do you insist to impose criteria that are not up-to-date with the public’s interests ignoring their own culture consumption habits?

3) While audiovisual works available for free to all users are ignored by the public authorities and denied subsidies while audiovisual works intended for theatre or TV releases which constitute under all lights the construction of private propriety (copyright and commercial exploitation) with public funds- continues to be hailed by the state cultural authorities as the only valid option. Don’t you plan to revaluate this unfair situation and leverage to the real world situation of the cultural consumers of your respective countries introducing a fair system of public subsidies?

4) The public has the right to decide when, how and which cultural product wish to use. And in fact, they have done it already. Don’t you consider that the public funds spent in cultural production must reflect the public demand? And given that situation, leverage the social players in fairness, namely the creators/authors/producers of online content?

It is absolutely comprehensible that people will ignore reality as far as they see it possible in order to keep their own status and privileges. My question is: until when will possible to remain in denial?

Empowered kids: a whole new picture


Just a quick look at the new picture in the making in Uruguay since a couple of years and now in full course of action. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative has implemented with the support of the left wing government of Uruguay the first worldwide experience of covering the whole population of children in the public elementary school with one laptop each.

When we consider the effects that this action can produce to the new generation, it is simply mind blowing. First of all, it tears apart the main blockage to equality in a society which is access to information restricted to who can afford it. It makes me curious to check what will be the scores of these students compared with the previous generations and compared also with the kids who have no access to these tools.

Since Mr. Nicholas Negroponte presented the programme, I have to say that my first reaction was pretty cold given the usual lack of initiatives of all governments regarding to education and mainly if these efforts are targeted towards the lower social classes. However, Mr. Vázquez (Uruguay’s President) took it seriously and the country mobilized towards the goal and they have accomplished the first objective: saturation of the young population with ownership of the small, cheap but effective first laptop with total connectivity, built-in multimedia applications, running XO operating system.

This video can give a first impression of the early consequences of these brave and absolutely necessary step towards a truly knowledge based society.

These kids will be able to truly turn the country’s reality upside down in less than a decade. Children are competitive by nature; we all were there once upon a time. Considering that they will be empowered to reach virtually all sorts of information and form themselves (with teachers consequently having to readjust their roles or be surpassed by the pupils), it is not far fetched to foresee these kids forming a massive pool of creation. They are already manipulating photos, making small video clips, forming networks. They become active actors of their own lives and the questioning of power of knowledge will need to be revaluated. How will adults impose criteria over younger generations if they don’t have the same knowledge as they do?

No matter what comes along, the main point is that the tools are given and that is the right sort of subsidy a state has the duty to provide to its people: access to knowledge and freedom to be creative.