Silicon Valley Pioneers Question Today’s Dysfunctional Internet

Testifying before Congress, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg listed all the ways his company has erred, from fake news to hate speech and data privacy — and then apologized for not taking “a broad enough view of our responsibility.” He isn’t the only Silicon Valley leader to take stock of the state of the Internet and worry about its future. Facebook’s first president, Sean Parker, has warned about what social media is “doing to our children’s brains,” calling it a “dangerous form of psychological manipulation.” Continue reading Silicon Valley Pioneers Question Today’s Dysfunctional Internet

Silicon Valley Takes Closer Look at Downsides of Tech Usage

Silicon Valley tech companies are taking a second, serious look at some of the harm that digital technology can cause. First is the so-called productivity paradox, which reveals that the integrati0n of digital technology in the work place has not resulted in big gains in output per worker, as had been expected. In fact, digital technology can actually be a drag on productivity. The companies are also looking at the harmful impact of digital technology on children, and the potential for addictions. Continue reading Silicon Valley Takes Closer Look at Downsides of Tech Usage

Screening Room Files Eight Anti-Piracy Patent Applications

Napster co-founder Sean Parker has been working on Screening Room, a controversial project that would bring Hollywood blockbusters into homes on the day of their release, for $50 per movie. J.J. Abrams, Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg are shareholders, but industry skeptics are worried that Screening Room will provide pirates with easy pickings. But now Parker’s Screening Room Media has submitted eight patent applications addressing piracy, including a so-called P2P polluter. Continue reading Screening Room Files Eight Anti-Piracy Patent Applications

Tumblr Explores a New Direction with Video Chat App Cabana

In a first for Yahoo-owned Tumblr, the blogging platform is launching a group video chat app it has named Cabana. The new app — available now on iOS and coming to Android next month — enables video chat for up to six users who can also stream YouTube video content while chatting. Blogging remains the company’s primary focus, but Cabana represents the first communication app it has developed. Tumblr is “not pivoting, but definitely exploring a new direction here,” said founder/CEO David Karp. “The idea is similar to Houseparty, the app from the company behind former live-streaming darling Meerkat,” notes Recode, and “similar to Airtime, Sean Parker’s chat startup that was revived a year ago.” Continue reading Tumblr Explores a New Direction with Video Chat App Cabana

Facebook Amps Up Visuals with Group Video Chat and Masks

After adding a new camera to its messaging app Messenger, Facebook is now enabling group video chatting, with support for up to six different users at the same time. The move fits in with Facebook’s strategy of emphasizing videos and photos, and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg’s statement on the company’s November earnings call that, “soon, we believe a camera will be the main way we share.” That may be good for Messenger users, but a challenge to several video-messaging apps just receiving venture capital infusions. Continue reading Facebook Amps Up Visuals with Group Video Chat and Masks

Studios Consider Options for Early Movie Release to the Home

Apple is reportedly in conversations with numerous Hollywood studios for earlier access to movies. The goal would be to offer a higher priced home video rental of movies shortly after they are released in cinemas, a move that has been vigorously resisted by motion picture theater owners, who have occasionally and en masse boycotted movies given an early home release. 21st Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal Pictures have all confirmed they are looking into this kind of early release. Continue reading Studios Consider Options for Early Movie Release to the Home

Sean Parker’s Airtime Returns as an App for Virtual Viewing

Napster co-founder Sean Parker has relaunched a product that first debuted in 2012 and was almost an immediate flop. Airtime is now an app, for Android and iOS, that lets users gather in a “room” to chat, text and watch YouTube and Vimeo videos together or listen to songs and podcasts from Spotify and SoundCloud. Parker, also an early investor in Facebook, says he created — and now recreated — Airtime to offer an alternative to the “certain loneliness” of the “fast superficial interactions” that form the basis of Facebook. Continue reading Sean Parker’s Airtime Returns as an App for Virtual Viewing

Many Exhibitors and Studios Remain Wary of Screening Room

The first quarter of 2016 has brought some upbeat news to the movie industry, including the hits “Deadpool” and “Zootopia” which created a 12 percent uptick in box office compared to the same quarter last year. More long-term problems — stagnant attendance and the lure of Internet content — still threaten the bottom line. But what many exhibitors are really worried about is Screening Room, the brainchild of Napster co-founder Sean Parker, which offers first-run movies at home, at the same time they debut in theaters. Continue reading Many Exhibitors and Studios Remain Wary of Screening Room

Screening Room Proposes Bold Day-and-Date Release Model

Last year, the motion picture box office surpassed $11 billion for the first time in history. But that hasn’t kept distributors and exhibitors from guarding the traditional 90-day window between theatrical release and home entertainment. When major studios attempted to shrink that window five years ago, theater owners fought back. Now, Screening Room, a startup backed by entrepreneur and former Facebook/Napster executive Sean Parker, as well as some Hollywood heavyweights, is trying again — and may succeed by offering anti-piracy tech and revenue sharing. Continue reading Screening Room Proposes Bold Day-and-Date Release Model

Napster Documentary: The Music, the Battle, the Revolution

“Downloaded” is a new documentary that examines the rise and fall of music file-sharing service Napster. The film tells the story of Napster co-founders Shawn Fanning and Sean Parker while providing details of the service’s launch in 1998 through its eventual 2011 acquisition by Rhapsody. It examines the downloading generation, resulting changes to the music industry, piracy and legal arguments, and the impact of services such as Spotify and iTunes. Continue reading Napster Documentary: The Music, the Battle, the Revolution