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Parkour: a new expression

If you don’t know about the latest in urban transportation then go to Parkour. It is about art and physics, about the power of the Net and about the new world. Parkour, or “free running”, captures the imagination and it is fascinating to watch. But without the Internet this new-age movement would not be getting as much attention as it does.

I think this new physical expression deserves all the embrace that it is currently receiving, and I love that the fact that the online world has helped to expose these new artists and athletes. What is even cooler is that we even have a local Parkour chapter right here in South Africa.

I downloaded an episode of Jeremy Clarkson’s Top Gear off the Net the other day and in that episode a race between two Parkour dudes and a new Peugeot car was featured. The two teams had to get across the built-up concrete jungle of a city in Liverpool and the Parkour athletes won. You got to see this with your own eyes – it was stunning.

Sébastien FoucanParkour has its origins in France, developed by two men, Sébastien Foucan and his friend David Belle. These are great sportsmen who have inspired a new way of living, and of expression. And the world has taken note. My bet is that Hollywood will soon be bringing us a Parkour movie, just like that brought us a snowboarding movie, and skateboarding film, and a surfer story.

Parkour is heavily influenced by Asian philosophy – it is about becoming “fluid like water”. Free running’s ambassador is Sébastien Foucan. He says “Nobody ever invents anything – you’re inspired and sometimes you can improve!” He believes in the concept of “No violence, no competition, no groups, no chiefs.” Life is made of obstacles and challenges, and to overcome them is to progress.

If you become skilled at Parkour you gain something for the rest of life. Foucan created and named many of the signature Parkour moves, including The Art of Displacement, Tic Tac, Precision Leap, 360 Leap, Cat Leap, Wall Jump, Reverse and Flowing Leap. Foucan sounds like an amazing human being. For example, he met the French minister of sport to discuss raising awareness of Parkour and he initiated the installation of an indoor practice facility.

Foucan says that the most important advice about Parkour is to learn to follow your own path, your intuition, to make your progress step by step. He says that one link alone is nothing – humanity must be made up of a large chain. If you discover something positive while doing Parkour, you should pass it on to others! Lastly, he reminds us that we must not forget to have a sense of fun, which is central to Parkour.

According to the Parkour website, “Parkour isn’t a fashion phenomenon; it’s an evolution of the mind.” And on the lighter side of all this high-tech physical expression, consider our local footskating artists. Now that is Parkour West Rand style.

  • Ronnie Apteker is one of the founders of Internet Solutions, the country’s largest corporate Internet service provider. He is also a movie producer, an author of two books and sometimes a stand up comedian.

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Posted in the category: Insight

IP TV becoming reality

Apple iTunes online music video storeThese days, people are spending as much time in front of a computer as a television, and in some cases, er, places, even more. The television networks out there have honed in on this, and in these online times, it is no longer optional to embrace the Internet as a broadcast alternative – it is fast becoming a new reality.If someone approached me about investing in a television broadcast infrastructure I would be very nervous about building something new from the ground up. I think the current television networks out there are going to be looking at the Internet more and more vigorously in the new next few years. As high-speed broadband Internet access continues to be rolled out, it won’t be long before IP based television is something that is commonplace.

Television as we know it may soon be all on demand and the idea of a schedule may cease to exist. After all, we can only watch one programme at a time so why then do we need a schedule. We would rather have a menu (like in a restaurant) that we can chose what we want, rather than have a set instalment every day (like in an office canteen).

But enough with this detour into future infrastructures, let’s have a look at what is happening at the present with respect to some of the most popular television shows. These days a lot of top rated shows are available for download from the iTunes online store – you can buy the latest episodes of Lost, for example, for around 2 dollars.

My young footskating friend Thomas Ferreira is doing this all the time, and he is not alone. The newest generation of techno savvy consumer is getting their TV content from the Net just as much as from the airwaves. And speaking of the footskaters, check out what they have been up to by going to at Footskating.com

 

Where were we? Oh yes, content is king. Take the hit show Desperate Housewives. The Disney Corporation, which produces this show, recently announced that is was putting the show online for free. Now Toyota, for example, spends millions to advertise on this TV show. They would not be happy if eyeballs were going to be lost from the airwaves to the Net. Toyota could have pulled the plug on its Disney deal but instead it rolled out a host of new ads for the online version of the show. Its thinking is that the online viewers are more likely to be die-hard fans.

The entertainment world is changing and with it there is a shift evident in the way advertisers will spend their money. Some production companies are even making programmes exclusively for the Web, which represents a fascinating new world. The Internet may become the premier channel.

A couple of weeks ago we discussed a possible change in AOL’s business model: to do away with the subscription cost and capitalize on the revenue that a big group of eyeballs are worth. IP TV is gonna be all about eyeballs and I would keep my eye on sites such as MySpace, AOL (if it gets its strategy right) and the like. IP TV is coming soon – to a PC near you.

  • Ronnie Apteker is one of the founders of Internet Solutions, the country’s largest corporate Internet service provider. He is also a movie producer, an author of two books and sometimes a stand up comedian.

 

 

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Posted in the category: Technology

Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

I love flying. I’ve been a pilot for about 6 years now, and flying is not as hard as it sounds. And speaking of sounds, it is actually the radio that is overwhelming.

Yes, that’s the thing you have to listen to attentively, which uses a language that is intimidating to say the least. It certainly takes some getting use to, but once you learn the lingo it is very cool to listen to “air speak” when cruising up there in the blue yonder.

I have a portable radio as well which looks like a walkie talkie device. I can switch it on and listen to the air traffic control tower and get a feel for how busy the airport is and so on. And then, I discovered this site: Live Air Traffic Control.

You guessed it: you can tune into air traffic control over the Internet. This is way cool and quite amazing. You can log in to the world’s busiest airports and you can even listen in on the Lanseria tower, which is my base camp.

Check this site out and turn up your speakers – this is a must for any aviation enthusiast, student pilot, air traffic controllers flight simulator buff, airline operator and basically anyone intrigued by the world of flight.

ATC stands for Air Traffic Control, and this site is about bringing you live ATC radio traffic from airports around the world. MP3 audio streaming is the technology used to provide this fantastic detour and it works like a dream. There is an also an archive service which allows you to examine recorded ATC transmissions.

What is most exciting are the possibilities this opens up. I am sure if I surfed the web and googled a bit more I would find examples of new, on-the-edge services like LiveATC. Things like traffic reports, weather forecasts, crime watches, financial updates. The sky is the limit, excuse the pun. All of these services are conducive to online audio streaming.

The intriguing part about the ATC scenario is that you are not listening to a news anchor or an announcer, but rather to a pilot talking live to an air traffic controller. Now what if it was a harbour supervisor, or a taxi co-coordinator, or an ambulance dispatcher – you get the idea. The imagination can wander.

You must have guessed this next part as well. This is a free service.

There is no revenue model for this cool online service. Let’s therefore end by sharing a punt with you that is featured on the ATC site – they are looking for feeder sites. If you are a flying enthusiast, live within 30 kilometres from an airport and have a portable radio, then consider getting involved. You will need to have a permanent Internet connection, the cables needed to connect your comms radio to your PC’s sound card, and that’s about it really. The ATC site will provide the free open source software and they will get you up and running.

You’ve got to love this new world!

  • Ronnie Apteker is one of the founders of Internet Solutions, the country’s largest corporate Internet service provider. He is also a movie producer, an author of two books and sometimes a stand up comedian.

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Posted in the category: Insight

Targeted classified adverts coming soon to a PC near you

The big companies will hone in on us. Sites offering free online classifieds will also feature targeted paid-for adverts that are context-specific and highly compelling. Considering that the average user’s online time in the US has grown to more than 16 hours a week, the Internet advertising revolution is something one needs to consider when looking for where the smart money is.Internet advertising is where much of the online action is these days.

Take America Online (AOL), for example, which is looking to drop its subscription fees in an effort to retain its customer base. It used to have 26 million subscribers just 4 years ago. Now that figure is down to 18 million.

Turns out that critical mass is where it’s at. With broadband access and free e-mail in the form of Gmail and Hotmail and so on, AOL is having to review its business strategy. It needs to retain its user base – in short, the eyeballs translate into valuable advertising revenues.

As long as we have critical mass, we will always have adverts pushed down our throats. This much is for sure whether we are talking about the virtual or physical world. AOL is about to take a big gamble and it clearly is sending out a message that advertising revenues are paramount.

In the past year I have been looking into the cost of online advertising on some leading sites. It is pretty expensive. One thing is for sure, the hot spots on the Net are taken very seriously.

Classifieds space is one part of the advertising landscape that is being transformed in rather intriguing ways. It started with the famous Craigslist, and recently Microsoft’s Expo Live moved from its beta testing phase to a fully functioning site. And let’s not forget Google Base. We are seeing free classified ads serving as content alongside paid-for advertising! It’s like classified ads are being treated like a news article of a feature story.

“Networking classifieds” are going to be a big thing. It is estimated that the online classifieds space is going to grow at more than 10 percent each year, compounded, for the next five years. This domain is opportunity city.

The traditional classifieds outlets, namely newspaper companies, are definitely going to see a decline in their revenues. I don’t think they are going to disappear but they are under threat.

In this coming year, we will experience a lot more creativity in the way classifieds are presented on the Internet.

Big corporations will be looking and learning about who we are and what we do by examining our search behaviour when it comes to classifieds.

They will mine data in an effort to find out where we live, what sort of jobs we are looking for, what we like to eat and drive. And this will result in tailor-made targeted ads, coming soon to your PC.

The big companies will hone in on us. Sites offering free online classifieds will also feature targeted paid-for adverts that are context-specific and highly compelling. Considering that the average user’s online time in the US has grown to more than 16 hours a week, the Internet advertising revolution is something one needs to consider when looking for where the smart money is.

  • Ronnie Apteker is one of the founders of Internet Solutions, the country’s largest corporate Internet service provider. He is also a movie producer, an author of two books and sometimes a stand up comedian.

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Posted in the category: News

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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