Just enough Net news.
Online Hollywood Ready For Prime Time?
Network first launched, you might recall, the top creative types there
talked a lot about TV-like "shows," saying that the Web was going to evolve
just like TV. In this space, we wrote
about plans by Lorne Michaels' of Saturday Night Live fame to develop
a fancy online variety show for MSN.
almost a year and a half, and most of that kind of talk has fizzled at
MSN. But the concept of Web shows isn't dead. DoubleScoop met last week
with Jaime Levy, cofounder and CEO of Electronic
Hollywood, which, paradoxically, is in New York. Levy bills Electronic
Hollywood as "a production studio for the Internet, producing technology
driven entertainment in the form of cartoons, games, and interactive advertising,"
employing "cutting edge interfaces that make the user's experience more
compelling and dynamic... we are trying to raise the quality of entertainment
on the Web."
Levy's investor has
invested start-up capital in this company, and the two told DoubleScoop
that the idea of Web-based "shows" is very much alive, kept on life support
by the kind of promise of fast connections offered by WebTV and other broadband
Levy's investor thinks
that MSN and other now-defunct narrative Web sites, like The
Spot, were out too early, when the technology wasn't ready to handle
the form. Levy factors in other ideas: "Previous attempts at online entertainment
have sometimes failed because of either poor marketing or lack of compelling
content. They just didn't know how to create exciting online entertainment."
think that the real Hollywood has caught up to the idea now and will invest
in such programming. So Levy says Electronic Hollywood will "create branded
programming that's fun and has edgy humor... I am hopeful that Hollywood
will look to the Internet for inspiration." She views the Internet as "an
excellent distribution medium for content developed to try out new concepts
for storytelling -- whether it be online games or cartoons," which major
entertainment companies will invest in or license for distribution for
television or film. According to Levy's investor, "the idea of creating entertainment
programming online wasn't ready until the medium matured a little further."
Levy's investor noted that Steve Jobs' Pixar,
the animation company that produced Toy Story, is experimenting
with this kind of concept. But, interestingly, Jobs himself told
DoubleScoop recently that he didn't think this kind of thing was economically
We should see
who's right soon, if Electronic Hollywood takes off. Levy, who met her investor
at a computer art show in 1992, was a creative director at the now-defunct
Word.com and has an interesting track
record. But right now, there are a lot more misfires in this area, like
Asylum and The Hub. If you go
to The Hub's site, there's a brief post which states that "The Hub is no
longer available" and refers users to Entertainment Asylum. But that site
also laid off a large chunk of staff recently. Karin Mihkels, PR manager
for Entertainment Asylum, explains: "This was actually part of a larger
AOL re-organization. We're relying more on the available infrastructure
within AOL rather than duplicating staffing."
Irish Roots On the Web
Not long ago,
DoubleScoop was attending a concert by the wonderful Irish singer Susan
McKeown. She remarked that she'd recently journeyed to the small town
of Mullagh in County Galway where she'd been brought up. Her purpose was
to trace her ancestors back a few generations. Villagers were surprised,
she said, because "generally it is older Irish-Americans who are coming
to seek their ancestors and not young Irish people."
Sherry Irvine, the coauthor of a new book
called Going to Ireland: A Genealogical Researcher's Guide, clients
of genealogical services in Ireland are "predominantly American, but there
are many Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and that there is growing
interest amongst the thousands of Scots and English with Irish connections."
Irvine herself is "only a bit Irish in background." Excerpts
from the book are available online.
is regularly updated. Bruce Batchelor, publisher and CEO at Trafford
Publishing, tells me about "on-demand publishing," a service for promoting
and retailing books for self-publishing authors and organizations. "What
makes this unique," he explains, "is the ability to offer frequent updates
and revisions -- the books are actually manufactured as each order comes
in. The author pays a fee which covers creation of a digital master file,
some publicity work, and administrative/legal aspects. Because of the world-wide
access for book buyers through the Internet and Internet search engines
to locate and buy niche publications, coupled with print-on-demand technology
(which allows entire books to be stored digitally and produced in a run
of one) this process is now possible."
also offers other niche titles, like B.C. government technical manuals
and 1984: The Ultimate Van Halen Trivia Book. Batchelor claims that
about 80 percent of its sales are online. "We actually developed the concept
before Amazon -- but they legitimized online transactions. They paved the
way. We also offer our books through them."
Indeed, a lot
of people of Irish descent from all over the world are tracing their genealogy
online now, without having to make the pilgrimage to that musty town hall
of fabled repute. Irvine believes that "using resources on the Net is definitely
going to save you time, allowing you to better use the time when you get
there." There are dozens
of genealogical sites, many of which specialize in Irish family trees.
For those planning a genealogical trip, you might want to know about the
Irish Genealogical Congress
-- one of took place last September and another, the fourth, is to take
place in 2001.
A lot of these
sites, like the Irish Family
History Foundation, rely on sources including "church records of baptisms,
marriages, and burials (the starting dates of which vary from parish to
parish), civil records of births, marriages and deaths, major sources relating
to property (tithe records from circa 1830, valuation records from circa
1850) and census returns." The History Foundation page has had nearly 200,000
visitors since January 1 and is quite au courant -- recognizing that because
of "the advent of computers, genealogy in Ireland has come of age" and
claiming to have computerized "millions of genealogical records" at its
"network of research centres in Ireland." It says that "many of the church
records computerised at Irish Family History Foundation Centres are not
available in public repositories or through other genealogy outlets."
sources it has computerized include "gravestone inscriptions" and "17th-century
property, pre-1600 annals, and Government records." This is a fee-for service
proposition, with varying levels of service and prices.