Links of the Day, March 30, 2009

Job Market

More states see jobless rates top 10 percent - Michigan, South Carolina and Oregon currently have the highest jobless rates in the country, while the lowest one is in Wyoming. Not only is this a sobering reminder that we're not out of the recession woods yet, but it points out the reality that you may have to consider moving in order to pursue your career goals if you're in one of the areas hardest-hit.

The Five T's of the Workplace: An analysis of the ideal jobs for members of the creative class, which are, according to Creative, Talent, Tolerance, Technology, Territorial Assets, and Tension. The last one may not be one you'd expect to hear, especially in a vision of a "utopian" work environment, but it makes sense: A certain amount of tension is necessary as a motivator, to get people to deliver on time and to excel. It's only when the tension gets out of hand and becomes stressful that the workplace becomes undesirable. 


Funimation has cut a deal with Studio Gonzo for releasing its product in the U.S. – and it's telling that the above link extensively mentions streaming video and barely mentions DVDs. Japanese studios are probably going to be cutting more of these deals with American companies in the future, which will definitely serve to shore up the future of some of these stateside outfits. Funimation is also doing the right thing by extensively positioning itself as an online content provider, unlike some of its competitors, who may find themselves playing catch-up in the future.

Video Games

Sony says it's planning a big announcement for tomorrow, and rumors are flying the PS3 price cut may finally become a reality. If that's what it truly is, than it's been a long time coming, and it's the surest guarantee that they'll stay competitive in the industry as a whole. Sony has affirmed its commitment to gaming recently, so the price cut is a logical conclusion. (The other possiblity is a major overhaul of the PSP – our dark horse candidate for the content of the annoucement is the long-speculated-on PSP Phone, or some other major enhancement). 

Electronic Arts is serious about building its new Dante's Inferno game into a multimedia franchise. The company has commissioned an animated DVD that will be released at the same time as the game itself. Synergy is always the way to go in marketing a product nowadays, so Electronic Arts is on the right track with this one – and we all know that they're kind of in need of a new hit right now.

Are Video Games The New Literature? A British newspaper poses the question, pondering if Charles Dickens would be writing cut scenes for gaming if he were around today. We've often put forth the idea around here that geeks are the new literati, and The Guardian's article seems to bear that idea out. Today's games are very often well-written, compelling stories, and it's entirely possible that the person who may have sought a career in TV scriptwriting before might go for gaming instead. 


Skype, already a player in computer communications, has entered the phone software wars in a big way: they're launching an iPhone service tomorrow and a Blackberry one in May. The company already started targeting business. Smart move on Skype's part – the company originally started as a way for people to talk phone-style over desktop computers for no additional charge. With people increasingly moving away from desktops, this brings their service to the new, more mobile media and helps ensure their long-term future.

Netbooks continue to get more sophisticated: The next version of the EeePC will feature a DVD drive, which will probably tempt more people to get into the small-and-ultraportable technologyLack of removable media has been one of the few drawbacks of netbooks up until this point, so look for those other netbook manufacturers to do the same – and for these machines to increasingly penetrate the American mainstream. We may all have to think small when designing computing in the future.

Talks are continuing between Hulu and ABC to run Disney/ABC content on the NBC-owned streaming video network. Hulu is increasingly positioning itself as an alternative – or, rather, a supplement - to over-the-air television, and is even running ads featuring Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane on Fox's "Animation Domination" programming block. They are probably the streaming media company with the best odds of breaking out and becoming part of the American mainstream (with their ambition, Hulu-only exclusive content is a strong possiblity), so if you want to get in on the ground floor of a company on its way up, this is it.


The Huffington Post is doing its part to give work to investigative journalists who may have been left high and dry by the newspaper downturn: The political blog is bankrolling a venture in which journalists will be paid to investigate the economy. Other news outlets will then be able to run the piece after it appears on the post. What's interesting is this seems to be a move toward turning this blog into a true cyberpaper, and this may be the direction where journalism in general is going – toward political blogs with paid content. (AOL, by the way, is going a similar route, hiring sports journalists who lost their jobs to the industry collapse for its FanHouse site).

Why Hollywood's business model has to change: It's not just publishing which is finding itself stumbling in the age of new media. The traditional Hollywood distribution model is in trouble because of declining revenues from TV advertising and DVD sales thanks to Internet downloads – even Steven Spielberg is having trouble getting funding for his next round of movies. Like publishing, entertainment is going to have to learn to adopt to new methods of media if it is to survive – Hulu, mentioned above, may be one key to long-term success, if it becomes either a fully ad-supported or ad-free-by-subscription servce. But if you go into this industry expecting things to be as they were even five years ago, don't.

– Bonnie