Liberties Report for July 12, 2014

On Data Retention in the UK, a rebellious ISP that fights for its customers, and self-censorship.

I’ve been experimenting with a new format for a while for people who prefer video or podcast audio rather than text. Thoughts?

Rick Falkvinge

Rick is the founder of the first Pirate Party and a low-altitude motorcycle pilot. He works as Head of Privacy at the no-log VPN provider Private Internet Access; with his other 40 hours, he's developing an enterprise grade bitcoin wallet and HR system for activism.

Discussion

  1. Jan

    I like the production. Doesn’t work natively in my RSS reader, I need to open a new window to use it. I would like to see something like this spun off into a separate RSS feed that I could pipe into my “vlogs” folder.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Wouldn’t you be able to do that from its YouTube feed? (It’s a separate channel.)

      1. Jan

        Yes that’s true, I hadn’t thought of that. The one hitch I see with this is that if I subscribe to both places I’ll end up with the same content in two different places. Possible solution could be a dedicated tag for video entries that may be used for filtering? I see the tags “civil liberties” and “headlines” already attached to the post.

        For those interested, the URL for the [RSS][1] feed. Youtube doesn’t make these easy to find.

        [1]: https://gdata.youtube.com/feeds/base/users/UC1HrjCEY3nxF30rkrtLbbnA/uploads

  2. Biotronic

    I harbor an intense hatred for video in place of text. It is a waste of time[0], bandwidth and attention[1]. In addition, it absolutely sucks for searching and skimming. Add to that I have a slight hearing problem and people insist on putting music on top of their talking.

    Now, if this format can reach more people, I’m all for it. But for myself, I hate it and am not willing to waste my time watching videos to get information that could much more efficiently be conveyed by text. If I can get text alongside the video, it’s fine.

    [0]: I can read 600-1000 words per minute. Can you speak that fast (intelligibly)?
    [1]: I cannot listen to music while watching a video with talking. Also, context-switching involving video (to check sources, read something else interesting, pretend to work, or answer an IM) involve a tremendous amount of work to pick up the thread, where a text lets me read a few words of the preceding sentence or paragraph.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      I absolutely agree with you, as far as myself is concerned. I think it’s practically impolite to present me with something in video format, as I have to watch all of it in real time before being able to determine whether it was worth the time.

      This as opposed to text, where I can skim the entire material quickly to determine whether it’s worth closer inspection.

      HOWEVER, with that said, I’ve also learned that many work the exact opposite way, and a text-only reporting (which I’ve been doing for the past eight years) don’t reach them at all.

      The transcript of the report is posted along the video, to cater to those who prefer text.

      Thanks for your comments!

      Cheers,
      Rick

      1. Caleb Lanik

        I’m very much the same as you and Biotronic. I much prefer to read text than watch a video, particularly with anything that is news or philosophy related rather than entertainment. That said, as you pointed out, many people have precisely the opposite view, and so it’s good that you are branching out into alternative mediums. Would you be willing to set up an RSS feed with just the transcripts available, or simply include it when posting videos here in future?

        1. Rick Falkvinge

          I could absolutely do that, thanks for the suggestion!

          Cheers,
          Rick

    2. Wayne Borean

      Agreed. I far prefer to read, than to watch video (or listen to a podcast).

      Which doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place for video or podcast. I like video. Heck, NetFlix is fantastic. So is YouTube. And I like music, and audio books.

      But for non-fiction, the written word works better for me.

      Wayne

    3. dawog

      Ditto! I much prefer text.

  3. Thoughts

    First thought: could you please put the transcript up here, as you so kindly did on the youtube page?

    You were very expressive on the video, which was good for holding interest, but I noticed you got briefly tongue-twisted on a couple of phrases, so I was wondering whether you narrated this in one ‘take’ of recording. If so, then it’s impressive and can help establish your trustworthiness to some people, as with speaking live, but when you cut in with helpful full-screen visuals that becomes unclear to a viewer anyway.
    I’ve seen some people who do this sort of format tend to record what they are talking about in chunks with a good breather between each paragraph or passage of speech. It takes more time, but can be far more comfortable. Of course, if getting stuck on some phonemes was just down to accent, that’s completely understandable.

    Some links to any articles you read for research would be nice too, but I’m sure most of your readers/watchers know how to use Startpage anyway.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      I haven’t planned to post all episodes here – I might, I might not. I haven’t decided yet. But I’ll take your wish to heart and post the transcript here too. That’s not any extra work (it’s the teleprompter raw text, actually, so it’s already written).

      The video is recorded in one take. This was my third take, actually; I had fumbled irrecoverably on two takes before. I’m trying to have each episode last exactly seven minutes for predictability, which is a sweet spot where I picture people will take time out of their week to actually watch it.

      After the video is recorded against a greenscreen, I load it into KdenLive (free-software version of Premiere, sort of) and add all the different layers. That’s where the greenscreen is replaced by the studio and window view, and the video screens and overlays are added. So those come _after_ recording the video in my production workflow (even if I have planned what and when they are before shooting).

      I’ll consider links, but it would add significant extra work unless I save up on everything interesting I come across – I cross-reference a ton of material every time I express myself like this, and I can’t always remember where I saw something. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

      Cheers,
      Rick

  4. Max Pont

    Interesting first try. Feels like the inspiration comes from talk shows at Russia Today. If successful you can get followers and viral spread on Facebook, Twitter and similar places.

    Feedback: try to make it look like a high budget 60 minutes style production. Instead of preaching yourself, intersect with short interviews of people you know will say what you want said, show bulleted lists with huge fonts, clearly mention your references, film text references with movement and a moving red circling, insert video clips from other news sources (yes I know, IPR problems).

    PS. I also hate videos as they consume my time, and I can’t watch them in the office.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Thanks for your thoughts! Yes, I’ll be mixing in other people as soon as I’ve got this part of the workflow nailed down (there’s a sofa in the studio, after all…)

      Cheers,
      Rick

  5. Cephalon

    Great idea! I think audio is the best format because you can do other things while listening, unlike when reading text. And it doesn’t drain your battery as video does.

    Oh, and tell Zacqary he needs to familiarize himself with austrian economics. His article on basic income was embarassing…

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Thanks! And I’ve been trying to keep the format so that you can just listen to it and don’t have to watch at the same time, giving people a choice between video and just audio. Perhaps I should also publish a standalone MP3 of each episode?

      Cheers,
      Rick

      1. Cephalon

        For me, a standalone mp3 would be perfect. Just make sure the file can be played directly through a rss feed reader. I’ve noticed a substantial fallout of listeners when you have to visit the website just to click play. Just a tip.

        Best of luck with this and I look forward to listening in :)

  6. David

    I think it looks very good. A lot of people like prefer the video-format more that readin text. To be able to get a new group interested of these important topics the video-format is good.

    Keep on rockin’!

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Thanks for your thoughts and kind words!

      Cheers,
      Rick

  7. maria

    A great way to reach out to new people! :)
    Good balance between humour and seriousness.

    1: Hard to hear what is said in the intro and outro. Switch volume level of the music and the voice.

    2: The overall volume is to loud. When you rise your voice, the volume meter hits bottom and distorts the sound. When you talk normally the sound quality, and your voice, is pleasant and easy to listen to.

    3: Your body hides a part of the screen behind you. Move a bit to the right?

    4: Put the transcript here on the blog too. Bellow the video?

    (5: Speako. The screen and transcript say 90%. You say 9%.
    “…and that 9% of their targets…”)

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Hi Maria, thanks for the feedback!

      1 – thanks, I will do that.

      2 – This is a hard point. I want the sound meter to hit rock bottom so that people have the “expected” level of volume from a clip, but at the same time, I want the ability to raise my voice on a few occasions. This time, I chose to go with disting for that. Not sure what the most accessible way is.

      3 – That’s intentional. The screen is not for important information but just for emphasis and making the studio a bit more alive.

      4 – That’s a thought, if I’m going to post all episodes here. Don’t know that yet.

      5 – Hmm, I’ll take that with me. I’m fairly sure I said “ninety”, but the last part of the word may have been too silent.

      Cheers,
      Rick

      1. maria

        Glad to help :)

        Normal: Never distort. Voice and music in the lower half of the volume spectrum. Screaming, very loud music and explosions in the high part.

        Loud: Increase the volume of the entire clip without distorting.

        Compressed: If you want even higher volume, then you need to compress the sound. Which is difficult. Because it will sound bad, but appear to sound good. Like putting a BD on a VHS without anyone noticing.

        In the clip you use all 3 volume levels at the same time.
        You speak normal, then raise your voice louder than explosions.
        The intro music is loud.
        The K.O.S-stamp is compressed.

        Choose one sound level. And have it on all the clips.
        Go normal, unless you have good reasons not to.

        If you want the sound meter to hit rock bottom, because people expect it to.
        First go normal, then go loud.

  8. Alex

    Re: Thoughts?

    I feel it’s simply not worth the effort.

    I’ll take text with graphs, pictures and statistics in any form over video anyday, also doesn’t take as much time to get it all up, and skimming is possible.

    If you should stick to it though, IMHO do less green screening, to me it looks fake, and I’d prefer watching you in your “natural habitat”, than in front of a green screen.

    Also, thanks for your work!

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      I agree that I prefer text, but judging from where people in general get their information, many don’t.

      In my experience, if it looks expensive, people will find it more believable. May sound cynical, but that’s a synonym for “results oriented”.

      I did screw up the greenscreening a bit in this episode. Specifically, I was standing too close to the greenscreen, which generated too sharp shadows on it instead of having a uniformly lit background which was easily masked out. Therefore, there was a bit of flutter in the intro sequence as the nuances weren’t easy to pick out. Mistake learned.

      Cheers,
      Rick

  9. Thomas_V

    Text for me as usual please. Can’t skim video very well :-)

  10. Arg pirat

    Det här är jättebra eftersom PPs partiledning inte gör jobbet. Någon måste lyfta dessa frågor. Om du nu försöker nå en bredare publik bör du tänka på att anpassa paketeringen. Det här är inte avsett för hard-core nördar och välinformerade aktivister utan den breda allmänheten.

    Tyvärr skjuter du dig hela tiden i foten genom att överdriva, spetsa till formuleringar, slira på sanningen och vara oseriös. En övertygande argumentation bygger på att presentera fakta för lyssnaren på ett sätt som gör att denne inte känner sig manipulerad och att denne sen kan dra sina egna slutsatser: Typ: 2+2+2+2. Sen kan lyssnaren själv dra slutsatsen 8. Men när du argumenterar gör du det ofta som 2 + 2 …… = 10!!!! (med alla utropstecken).

    Att du plockar upp referenser och påstående ur minnet från något du läste för fem år sedan håller inte. Risken är överhängande att du i din iver att vinna debatten kommer ihåg fel eller har förvrängt det i huvudet. Sen faller det platt till marken när folk beslår dig med faktafel. Det är bara att gå tillbaks och titta på alla dina gamla bloggposter. Det är ofta kommentarerna påpekar att du har missat något eller gjort faktafel. Det kan möjligen funka i en interaktiv miljö som en blogg, men om du spelar in 10 minuter video går det inte att i efterhand gå in och redigera om vad du sa.

    Många av dina fakta och påståenden är viktiga att lyfta fram, men då ska man presentera input som den är, med nyanser och kvalifikationer. Inte: “det är alltid så att 10X” utan “källan A säger att det ofta är 8X, givet att Y”.

    Och ska man argumenta för väldigt kontroversiella frågor som religionsfrihet och barnporr bör man göra det med ett dämpat tonläge. Det är svårt nog som det är att få folk att ta till sig argument som stör deras världsbild,.

    En person som domderar och är koleriskt arg blir automatiskt mindre trovärdig och stöter bort de som inte redan är övertygade. Ska man säga kontroversiella saker ska man göra det med ett leende och lugn trovärdig röst. Ungefär som om det vore en självklarhet och som om ingen skulle kunna tycka något annat. Titta på hur exempelvis Jimmie Åkesson säger stötande saker med ett jovaliskt leende.

    Detta är en tragedi. Du skulle kunna bli en samhällsdebattör i världsklass om du inte höll på med en massa pajaserier hela tiden.

    1. Rick Falkvinge

      Thanks, these are good points – I’m taking them to heart. And for the record, I did fact check all statements, I just didn’t record links to the sources as I did so.

      My model here is trying to be entertaining to watch by adding a lot of humor to a serious subject. You’re right that I should not come across as angry; nobody wants to watch that.

      Thanks for your feedback!

      Cheers,
      Rick

  11. PirateJ

    I love seeing you in camera Rick. It was actually your video interview with London Real that prompted me to discover this website, Swarmwise, and the Pirate Party. I don’t think including video has any downside (except the effort of production). Including video will help to dominate the conversation in video only forums (such as youtube) or even facebook newsfeeds where text only info will likely be skipped over.

  12. John

    Enjoyed it , but still prefer text.

  13. RS

    Good effort, but I vastly prefer text. So much easier to skim it to see if I want to read the whole thing, so much easier to find some part of it later, and so much quicker to consume the same volume of information!

    But I suppose you have a varied audience and it helps to try catering to both.

    Say, if you write a transcript in preparation, you could just publish that underneath the video.

  14. Scary Devil Monastery

    Very interesting.

    I’d like to see some more reference – source citations for the 0,002% number, for instance (or possibly just a link), and i believe i recognized in the background the actual data trail that german politician whatshisname published in order to show just how intrusive the data retention directive really is.

    Obviously this was a short news bite, but with some more time you can do what you do so well normally – tell a tale which culminates in the actual effect and has people following it.

    Irony is absolutely the way to go – as some notables (stephen fry, John oliver on his net neutrality video, and rowan atkinson on his freedom of speech piece) have demonstrated, irony – pointing out the hazards of a dull, dull bureaucratic regulation can only be done while people are interested.

    It’s sad, actually. All of the aforementioned examples make liberal use of comedy in order to point out that the emperor isn’t naked anymore – you suddenly are. That’s what people remember and spread. Politics have become dull and across the western world what criticism there is is struggling to sell the danger of the five-syllabic words to sheeple with the attention span of concussed goldfish.

    “If you want to do something evil put it inside something boring”
    – John Oliver on “Net Neutrality”

  15. Ano Nymous

    “Dear FBI… Thank you -Burglars”
    If the note story is true, it needs sources and should not be parodied with such an obviously useless note. It makes the entire section about self-censorship being a main goal of the surveillance lose credibility.

    On the other hand, if it IS true, doesn’t that give the theory that Snowden is an NSA fake credibility, since self-censorship wouldn’t work unless people actually know that the surveillance systems exists? I’m not sure what to believe in that matter.

  16. Pies

    I would very much welcome an audio podcast, but I’d like the audio to be better produced. I didn’t like the mix (too much base on voice, music too loud) in the intro, and I certainly don’t like the echo on your voice, I like the radio type of voice, deep inside my ear.

    You should probably also work on sounding more natural, but I imagine that comes with experience.

    Anyhow, I like the idea of a podcast and I encourage you to keep at it :) Please publish an RSS with audio-only version, so that people can subscribe.

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