YOUTUBE FILM: Life In A Day set to be a global blockbuster

FILM director Ridley Scott of Gladiator and Blade Runner fame is currently in the process of producing a documentary film called "Life In A Day". With the help of Oscar-winning director Kevin MacDonald, "Life In A Day" will feature a series of carefully selected and edited YouTube videos that people were encouraged to submit on 24 July 2010.

The brief was to film a day of your life and is framed as a historic cinematic experiment documenting what it’s like to be alive on that one day – 24 July. The idea is to document a single day on Earth seen through the eyes of thousands worldwide and submit these to YouTube.

Life In A Day

The Life In A Day channel on YouTube has received more than 18 million views to date.

The "Life In A Day" channel on YouTube has received over 18 million views to date and describes the brief as follows:

“Life In A Day is a historic global experiment to create the world's largest user-generated feature film: a documentary, shot in a single day, by you. On July 24, you have 24 hours to capture a glimpse of your life on camera. The most compelling and distinctive footage will be edited into an experimental documentary film, executive produced by Ridley Scott and directed by Kevin MacDonald.”

Since the launch of this idea, thousands of people from around the world have documented an aspect of their day and have submitted these videos to YouTube. The only criteria involved was that each video was something personal and was filmed on the same day.

YouTube logoRecorded footage could range from someone’s journey to work to a walk in the countryside, but MacDonald did try to encourage participants to consider three important questions: “what do you fear most in your life today, what do you love, and what makes you laugh?”

Ridley Scotts explains that his idea for Life in a Day can be traced back to his childhood when he bunked a day of school and documented his actions, thoughts and feelings. He began to understand that different people around the world attach different value and meaning to events and experiences that we all share, such as the sun rising and setting each day.

Participants were therefore also encouraged to film what they had in their pockets on the day and explain the significance of what they were carrying.

Director Kevin MacDonald explains his vision for the film: “It would be like a kind of time capsule, which people in the future could look at that and say, ‘oh my God, that’s what it was like.’ A portrait of the world in a day … It is going to be something unusual and something I think will have social value to it. It’s going to be a unique kind of documentary,” says MacDonald.

YouTube submissions are now closed, but updates of the film’s progress will be available at: over the next few months. The final production of Life In A Day is scheduled to premiere in January 2011. Those whose footage is included in the final film will be credited as “co-directors” and twenty lucky participants will be selected to attend the film’s world premiere at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

This is largest, global cinematic experiment ever undertaken and is bound to be a great success. Be sure to follow their progress on YouTube.

YouTube has had an interesting development since its birth in 2005. It has gone from being a simple video sharing website featuring a few great sporting moments to a platform for creating Hollywood movies. It can be vigorously argued that, in just five years, YouTube has reshaped the way we use the Internet.

LINK: The Brief But Impactful History of YouTube
UPDATE: Ridley Scott’s Life in a Day movie receives 80 000 submissions
UPDATE 2: SA filmmaker makes YouTube’s ‘Life in a Day’ cut

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GOOGLE SEARCH reveals which tourist sites in South Africa are most popular with international visitors

WITH the Fifa World Cup fast approaching, football fever is taking over. People around the world are using the Internet not only to learn about the tournament, but also to decide on which tourist sites they will be visiting.

It's no secret that the tourism sector will be one of the biggest beneficiaries of the tournament - with international visitors to South Africa indulging in the country’s natural beauty and appreciating its historical sites. Last year the South African public voted on the country’s most popular tourist sites for Google's Street View Trikes campaign that ran in conjunction with SA Tourism - as reported on our Africa Blog.

This month's Zeitgeist shows the countries that are demonstrating the most interest in visiting these South African sites, and reveals that three of the top five coincide with those countries buying the most tickets for the World Cup.

These rankings are included in the tables below, which show the country's top tourist sites, source markets and top ticket buying countries:

Most globally popular tourist sites in South Africa in 2010

  1. Kruger National Park
  2. The Garden Route
  3. Wild Coast
  4. Robben Island
  5. Cape Peninsula
  6. Blyde River Canyon
  7. Cape Winelands
  8. Durban Beachfront
  9. Mandela House
  10. Apartheid Museum

Top countries searching for ‘South Africa tourism’ in 2010

  1. India
  2. United Kingdom
  3. United States
  4. Germany
  5. Zimbabwe

Top World Cup ticket buying countries

  1. United States
  2. United Kingdom
  3. Germany
  4. Australia
  5. Brazil

Zeitgeist Explained
Google reveals the Internet "Zeitgeist" (German for "the spirit of the times") through an exploration of the billions of search queries they receive each year. They also have several tools that give insight into global, regional, past and present search trends. Google Zeitgeist tools can never be used to identify individual users because they rely on anonymised, aggregated counts of how often certain search queries occur over time. These tools are available year-round for you to play with, explore, and learn from. You can create your own lists and rankings on

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CRIME WATCH: Pmb suburb uses the web to protect its community

I WAS just a baby in a cot when my parents experienced their first and only break-in in Eshowe. Things didn’t end well for the intruder, who got a severe beating from my dad with a hockey stick before fleeing from the scene.

After a couple of late-night phone calls, my father and a friend were on the scene. They found the family motorbike wheeled halfway down the road and several household goods concealed in bushes along the street.

The next day the police reported that the intruder was in hospital — firmly clutching onto my mother’s pink purse, which he claimed to be his own. A court case followed and my father dropped all charges after learning of the criminal’s unfortunate background.

One might regard it as a mistake to let any criminal off the hook, but our house has never been targeted by criminals since. Perhaps that can be attributed to word of mouth on the intruder’s part.

The unique thing about living in a small town is the strong community watch that naturally develops. Everyone knows everyone, and most residents feel an inclination to watch out for one another’s safety. This is obviously more difficult in larger cities, but one area in Pietermaritzburg has been getting involved in preventing crime as part of a voluntary, web-based initiative.

Lincoln Meade Community Watch

The Lincoln Meade Community Watch website, which operates 24/7.

The Lincoln Meade Community Watch
Innovative methods to stop neighbourhood crime are part of the mandate adopted by the Lincoln Meade Community Watch, which is known for radically reducing crime in the southern suburbs of Pietermaritzburg. Part of its success is attributed to an interactive website used to record criminal activity and disseminate this information quickly to the neighbourhood and police.

Lincoln Meade Features
The website allows users to register by providing a working e-mail address to ensure they can receive instant alerts daily, weekly or monthly. While the site allows users to set privacy levels, it is recommended that users share all their information so that residents in the same street can create a group list and quickly notify each other in the event of an emergency.

Streets and zones
The community watch area is divided into zones and streets. When members sign up they are assigned accordingly. The community watch then scouts the area looking to recruit zone and street leaders who are in charge of co-ordinating among neighbours. In the event of an incident occurring, one can simply log into the system and locate the closest registered residents and contact them. They in turn can be the eyes and ears until help arrives.

Members can also offer their time to patrol the streets and can use the system to log their patrol times as well as locate other patrols nearby. They can either join patrols or invite others to join theirs. The system accrues all patrol hours spent and the watch leaders ensure that all patrol contributions are recognised.

News and events
The site allows for news and events to be added on a regular basis. The three administrators who run the site can (at their discretion) e-mail the news to the database or simply leave it on the website. This has proven useful as some residents do not have Internet access. They do, however, have access to e-mail and can stay informed about the latest happenings. Events are logged and e-mailed in the same way using the online calendar.

Incidents reports
This has proven to be the most popular part of the system. Incident reports allow the administrators to feed crime incidents into the system as they happen. These are e-mailed to every member so that residents can stay informed and alert about any crime occurring around them. This includes descriptions of the incident type, property stolen and suspect descriptions. Photographs of previously convicted suspects can also be attached for future identification.

“It is really fantastic to see how many people actually keep this information with them, says Wayne Janneker, chairman of the community watch. “The watch receives calls every now and then of reports of vehicles or suspects matching the incident description. In turn this information is passed around very quickly with further arrests being made.”

SMS database
Additional functionality of the community watch includes an SMS database containing contact information about all residents and patrol member groups. Should there be an alert, such as a robbery in progress, an SMS is sent to residents warning them to be on the lookout.

Simultaneously an operation centre is established that picks up incoming information and liaises with the SA Police Service. A two-way radio network has also been put in place for patrollers to quickly pass on info while on patrol.

For tracking purposes, the system allows for SA Police Service Criminal Administration System (CAS) numbers to be added to incidents so it can later be referenced should there be further information provided.

This assists the SAPS and the watch by linking pieces of information together. A brief synopsis of the latest incidents reported is visible on the homepage.

Suspicious vehicles are also listed on the site. Users are able to download a printer-friendly version of such lists to keep with them in their cars or near their doors. If a vehicle is spotted they can contact relevant members. CAS numbers are also assigned to vehicle reports so that residents can inform the SAPS immediately and ensure a swift response.

“The system’s setup has been a vital link in our chain to combat crime,” says Janneker. "We constantly receive compliments from residents thanking us for continuous feedback" 

Future growth
The system currently allows for advertising so that the watch can raise funds to continue its efforts. Membership now consists of over 200 residents and has been building a strong community of crime stoppers over the last three years.

“Our plan for future growth is to get our neighbouring suburbs on to the same system and to release a mobile version of the website for cellphones,” says Janneker.

— Original article supplied.

Do you have a similar web service in your area?

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GOOGLE WAVE: The clash of the computer titans is on. Google has taken on Microsoft by announcing that it's launching its own operating system — free of charge. The war between the two software giants is likely to change the world of the Internet forever

Alistair Fairweather

IF business is war then two of the world’s biggest companies have finally stopped skirmishing on their borders and brought out the heavy artillery. On July 7, Google fired the first shell by announcing that they will begin offering their own operating system in mid 2010.

Bling bling babyThe warhead — called Chrome OS — is aimed straight at the heart of Microsoft who have built their entire business around operating systems since the 70s, first with MS DOS and then the globally-dominating Windows series.

But while Microsoft have always charged for their software, Google plan to give theirs away free of charge. What’s more, Google are starting from a completely fresh perspective — one with the potential to undermine Microsoft’s entire business model and loosen their foothold on the software market.

If the name "Chrome" sounds familiar, that’s because it’s also the name of Google’s web browser. And this isn’t just a case of lazy naming. By evolving Chrome into an operating system, Google are planning to turn the entire software world on its head and make browsing the centre of computing.

An Introduction to Google Wave
There is a full 1 hour 20min presentation on YouTube which Philc7753 has kindly and painstakingly edited down for our short attention spans


Hang on, isn’t an operating system a lot more complicated that a browser? Doesn’t a browser need an operating system to, well, operate? That’s the whole genius of the plan. Google are betting that the centre of influence in computing is moving out of personal computers and into the massive computing power of the Internet, known as the "cloud".

That means that in future, computers will be dumber and cheaper. They will rely on the enormous banks of computers that power the Internet to do much of their thinking for them.

This is already happening. One of the fastest growing sectors in computing is netbooks — smaller, cheaper, less powerful portable computers with speedy connections to the Internet that focus on tasks like e-mail and browsing the net.

The wave is coming...Currently, Microsoft is tussling with free operating systems such as Linux for ownership of this market, and Google wants its own share of the pie. So what? There’s nothing particularly revolutionary about a free operating system. They have been around for longer than Microsoft have been in existence, let alone Google. And some of them are backed by huge companies such as IBM and SAP.

Yet none of those other companies is as heavily invested in cloud computing as Google. And it’s cloud computing that poses the greatest risk to Microsoft’s dominance.

Microsoft’s bread and butter has always been its desktop applications —  programs such as Word, Outlook and PowerPoint. Operating systems are like plumbing — expensive but necessary — and Microsoft have lost money on them for years. This was justified because they knew that by owning the platform they would be able earn it all back on desktop applications.

Google Docs, on the other hand, is nearly as good as Microsoft’s Office but is free and requires no hard-drive space and much less power (and therefore can run on a cheaper computer). It’s a true “cloud” application  — its platform is the Internet.

So Google have, in effect, pulled Microsoft’s own trick on them but in reverse, and for free. And given how quickly Microsoft are losing market share in the browser market (it’s now just above 50%), they have real cause for concern. If Chrome OS takes off, Google will start to hurt more than Microsoft’s pride.

That’s still a big "if" though. For all their mistakes Microsoft are still the top dog of software. Despite the current media hyperbole about Chrome OS, Windows still commands 90% of the market share in operating systems. Even if Chrome lives up to the hype, it will still take years to get a foothold. Only one thing is certain about this battle — peace talks are unlikely to begin anytime soon.

We’re in for a long slog and I don’t think anyone can accurately predict a winner. What we can be sure of is that the conflict will change software (and the Internet) forever.

- Alistair Fairweather writes for The Witness
newspaper in Kwa-Zula Natal, South Africa

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NEW YORK — Arjun Basu writes short stories. Very short stories.

"The marriage didn’t survive the honeymoon. They acknowledged the majesty of their mistake. But they remained together. Because of the gifts." - Twister story by Arjun Basu (@arjunbsau)

“I’m doing 140-character stories on Twitter,” said Basu, one of scores of authors and poets downsizing their literary talents to the limited format of the hot micro-blogging service.

“I call them Twisters because everything on Twitter has a stupid name,” the 42-year-old Basu told AFP at the 140 Characters Conference - a two-day talkfest devoted to all things Twitter held in New York.

“Each story has a beginning, a middle and an end,” said Basu. “I started with one story. I had an image in my head and I just did it, and I slowly built-up a following.” Basu began writing his Twisters last year.

“They went out hunting. They killed some large mammals. Later they saw the animals butchered. And one by one they ordered salads that evening,” reads the tale in one of Basu’s Twisters.

Haiku, which lends itself to the 140-character format, is another popular literary form on Twitter and the search term #haiku occasionally rises into Twitter’s list of “Trending Topics” - the 10 most popular topics on the site.

“And in the middle / of the rising city heat / the fountain is dry,” reads a Haiku from a Twitter user and poet with more than 3 800 followers who goes by the handle of @LadyParadis.

Websites have also popped up collecting the best of Twitter Haiku — known variously as Twaiku or TwiHaiku — and many users take part weekly in what is called Haiku Thursday.

Basu, who works in the magazine industry, said he has been surprised at the reception his byte-sized stories have received. “Things that I couldn’t have imagined,” he said.

“Some people have been using my stories in classes — English as a second language, creative writing,” he said.

— Sapa-AFP.

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