Category Archives: Ideas

Introduction to Copyright and Fair Use

I can has copyright?

What is copyright and what constitutes fair use? Do I need to register a copyright for my creative work to be protected? How long is a work copyrighted, and when does it enter the public domain? Are there advantages to using creative commons licensing or copyright?

In a recent course I took at the Brooklyn Brainery, our class took these questions head on to discuss the need to protect creative work and limit the exploits of copyright trolls. Sometimes referred to as intellectual property, copyright is a kind of property right (and a Constitutional Right in the US) which protects the use of creative work. Of course creative work is unique compared to other kind of property, so copyright is created whenever it’s “fixed in a tangible form of expression” by its creators, whether it’s a written novel or a music recording. Copyright gives its owners the exclusive right to reproduce the work, derivative works, and public performances of it.

There’s a careful legal balance between protecting the intellectual property rights of their owners and promoting the free expression which is guaranteed as a constitutional right.  For example, in the music recording industry many musicians don’t profit from sales of their recordings after they cede to their labels/distributors ownership to copyright for their work, sometimes waiting years to regain the copyright to their own songs. Likewise the creators of mash-ups and remixes such as Girl Talk make a legal balancing act necessary to avoid infringing on copyrights while using elements of old recordings to create something new.

While media law is a continuously evolving field and largely a matter of interpretation for the judges, over time some precedence has emerged that provides some legal framework. As we learned in our class for general purposes, here’s the four requirements you need to meet for Fair Use of copyrighted works: Continue reading Introduction to Copyright and Fair Use

Instagram by the Numbers: measuring my photo sharing via mobile

In its short history, Instagram has become very popular is crowded market of competing mobile photo apps, or at least has become my favorite among them since I started using it in October 2010.  For those not already familiar with this iPhone app, Instagram has been installed by over 1 million users who use the app to snap pics, apply creative filters to add visual interest, and easily share their photos across multiple social networks (ie Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Foursquare).  Users can follow photos by their friends using a timeline inside the app, which doesn’t have a web interface but rather exists as a social network of sorts confined within the app itself (and accessible to services using its API).
Matt Hurst's Instagram infographic
Of course the concept behind Instagram isn’t new; long before this app I’ve been been sharing mobile photos on TwitPic, showcasing my photography on Tumblr, and sharing thousands of pictures on Facebook, Flickr, and many other photo sites. Although it’s not immediately apparent how useful the service might be as a branding or communications tool, it has caught on in popularity from a consumer-generated media standpoint.  At least in my own experience Instagram offers immediate gratification and feedback that makes it addictive, with the added value of offering perspectives across a variety of social networking sites.

Matt Hurst's Top 5 followers on Instagram Matt Hurst's favorite Instagram users Matt Hurst's "likes" on instagram
Matt Hurst started using Instagram on October 24th, 2010 MattHurst's instagram infographic

Outside of Instagram, here’s a few more ways to measure the impact of mobile on photo sharing:

  • The iPhone is the most popular camera on Flickr overall, and I’ve uploaded more than 5% of my 8194 photos on Flickr from pictures taken using my iPhone camera.
  • Photos are the most used app on Facebook, and they’re rumored to be working on a mobile photo app
  • At least 2 million photos are posted to Twitter each day on average, and doubtlessly more buzz comes from image driven Tumblr posts and photoblogs

Most recently with the announcement of Twitter’s new photo sharing functions, as well as their deeper integration with Apple products, photography continues its push into mobile platforms and remains a key driving force behind social media into the foreseeable future.

Extra credit: check for updated stats about how I’m using Instagram, and see a gallery of my favorite photos in my Photography portfolio. And of course you can look for my photos by following MattHurst on Instagram

May’s 11

Lauren Reid and Matt Hurst pose for a photo with Pee Wee Herman
Every month I share a list of 7 things shaping my perspective in life. It’s been a couple months since my last update, so I’m going to include a few extra for this edition.

  • Application – Instagram. Instagram has become my preferred way to share photos on Twitter, Facebook, and to make posts on my photo blog Speaking in Megapixels. It’s fun and easy using it to turn cameraphone pics into memorable photos. I find myself increasingly posting Instagram in place of Twitpic to share instant memories over the internet.
  • Blog – Geekosystem. Imagine a blog that brings together the best links from Reddit + Tech blogs + general geeky ideas in a single source.
  • Colleague – Jake Brus. I worked with Jake as a student at American University, and was impressed by his knowledge of branding and creative writing style. A midwesterner educated in DC, Jake is a pragmatic problem solver and great collaborator of projects in the classroom. And since graduating he’s started writing a blog about Place Branding which is recommended reading for anyone who wants to learn about the subject.
  • Music – Harry Nilsson. Probably the best pop musician in the 1960s-70s since forgotten, whose soaring harmonies I can’t help but sing along to myself.  He’s the consummate musicians-musician, and his exploits have since made him the subject of the documentary “Who is Harry Nilsson (and why is everybody talking about him)?”  After watching the film, it’s easy to understand why.
  • Social Network – Empire Avenue. The stock exchange game lets you buy and sell stocks of individuals on social networks, increasing their values based on social media activity. While it’s not meant to act as an social currency like competing influence ratings metrics (Klout comes to mind), it makes for addictive gameplay that effectively functions as a social network in its own right, complete with personal profiles and public comments.
  • Television – The Office. This season we wished farewell to Michael Scott, wrapping up years of plot lines into satisfying conclusion. Nostalgia for the “World’s Best Boss” was hi, and even Ricky Gervais couldn’t resist making a cameo for the character he made famous. No one knows who will play the next boss at Dunder Mufflin, but I’ll be watching along with everyone else.
  • Word Game: Words with Friends. Yes it’s just Scrabble, but by opening up to my network of friends through my iPhone changes they way we can play. Just look up “matthurst” if you want to play a game with me!

Extra credit after the jump: Continue reading May’s 11

Foursquare by the Numbers: Measuring my social life by location

Heatmap of MattHurst's checkins on Foursquare Since Foursquare was created in March 2009 its social network which connects people and places into an addictive public game has motivated millions to continue checking-in. Whether your friends use the social network to unlock badges for brands and special events, compete on the leaderboard, and of course become “the mayor” of their favorite venues. Location-based social networks like Foursquare have created new opportunities for friends to connect IRL (or allegedly to stalk each other), while opening individuals to new connections more like they do online.

Of course Foursquare was hardly the first location-based social media; by the time I signed-up in March 2009 I had already been checking-in for nearly a year, using networks like Brightkite and Loopt. Indeed the founders of Foursquare were well ahead of the competition, having set up the SMS-based location network Dodgeball years earlier which had been bought by Google, only to revisit their idea with smartphone technology. By mixing game elements and unlockable rewards, not to mention the right timing to take advantage of the burgeoning social media scene, Foursquare has created a unique application that has proved popular by 2010 and beyond.

In the process of the gameplay and deals that attract users and brands to use the service, one of the byproduct of using Foursquare is the data that’s created about individuals who use the service. Here’s some perspective on how I’ve used Foursquare over the past 2 years:

Thumbnail of Foursquare infographic - click to enlarge
click image to enlarge the Foursquare Infographic
  • I was the 3,820th user to register on Foursquare, making me an early adopter of the location-based network that now tops 8 million members.
  • My first check-in was on March 17, 2009 at Breadsoda in Washington D.C., and have checked-in another 669 days since
  • In my first two years I’ve checked-in over 3000 times (3241 as of April 15, 2011) at 723 different venues.
  • I’m currently mayor of 7 venues, and have earned as many as 13 mayorship at any one time, earning me the Supermayor badge
  • So far I’ve unlocked 61 badges so far: 38 official Foursquare badges, and 23 more branded by their promoted partners

Of course Foursquare is much more than a means to broadcast your location, although the network has that reputation since many early adopters (myself included) had their service configured to tweet their check-ins automatically. However I’ve found Foursquare is best experienced not just as social media, but as a tool to connect people with places. Their service aids the discovery of new places to visit by using the suggestions and tips of friends, and on several occasions has helped result in the social media serendipity that has connected me with new friends and enabled impromptu rendezvous with friends who check-in right around the corner.

Continue reading Foursquare by the Numbers: Measuring my social life by location

February’s 8

I started 2011 fresh by listing the things I could live without from 2010, but have found many more worthwhile ideas to share over the last month.

Application – IntoNow. I’ve been trying a half-dozen TV check-in apps, to share the shows I’m watching with friends and to chat with other viewers, but they’re all are kind of the same. This app stands out by becoming the Shazaam for TV and Movies, recording an audio-fingerprint which instantly recognizes the show I’m watching with a single push of the button (even if it’s a live broadcast!). So it fits into the lean-back experience of TV viewing, almost like you’re not using an app at all.

Blog – The Atlantic. As a long-time reader of the magazine, I’m surprised I hadn’t been reading their blogs earlier, especially since their editors seem to have fully embraced the medium. My favorites include Alexis Madrigal for literary tech analysis (rather than reporting/punditry) and a handful of contributors behind their Culture blog.

Colleague – Alhan Keser. I worked with Alhan at Blue Fountain Media, and he impressed me immediately not only for his understaning of SEO and social media (what he hired me for), but for his insight into a consumer’s behavior as they use the web. He effortlessly combines thoughtful web design with online marketing tactics, to create successful websites that build business for his clients. It’s a rare talent in the business to wear both hats. Fortunately Alhan is more than a talented co-worker, but he’s also a nice guy that I’m glad to count among friends.
Continue reading February’s 8

Music by the numbers: Measuring my Listening Habits online

Music is a powerful means of self-expression and a deeply personal part of our lives, influencing individual attitudes and motivating our behavior on a daily basis. The pervasive influence of music in culture is well documented, and I’ve already written about it before on this blog. There are any number of ways we analyze the impact of these art forms, especially when media make their annual “Best of” and “top artist” lists each year. Since any kind of social change should be measured, I was curious: could I measure the impact of musical art on my own life much like I measure other influential media?

Fortunately I already have one data set to pull from: for the last 5 years I’ve been tracking my listening habits through, a social network that tracks playback by music lovers so that we can compare music tastes. By keeping track of the songs I play through my computer (and more recently on my iPod), the network generates peer recommendations and Top 10 lists. graph visualizing music played by artists in 2010
Visualizing data my top artists in during 2010

Over the last 5 years using, here’s what I’ve learned through tracking my own listening habits: Continue reading Music by the numbers: Measuring my Listening Habits online

7 Trends I Won’t Miss in 2011, and a Resolution for the New Year

Matt Hurst and Lauren Reid pose for their holiday card from NYC in December 2010

It’s that time of year again, when we put into perspective our goals over the last year and look forward to renewing our efforts in the year ahead. While some media outlets and blogs might be content to share lists of top ideas and their favorites things (something my blog does each month), this year I feel compelled to share my hopes for the year ahead by reviewing trends from 2010 I would look forward to leaving behind. Here are the 7 Trends I won’t miss in 2011:

  1. Oversharing
    We all have a friend who uses every opportunity to promote themselves, seemingly with no limit to the minutia of their everyday life (I may be guilty of this more than once). But while you may think that your minor inconvenience is an outrage whose solution is only a Twitter-rant away, the rest of us see it as crying over spilled milk. Oversharing was at its end in 2009, so I hope this comes to an close in 2011.
  2. Food Trucks
    Sure they bring much needed affordable options and variety to an otherwise staid lunch scene in NYC, but mobile food vendors carry some strong negatives as well. Many trucks try to occupy the same spots each day and are about as mobile as a trailer home, which detracts local competition while crowding the sidewalks. Meanwhile their constant use turns would-be vendors into portable smokestacks contributing their greenhouse gases in return for any savings on food.
  3. Tea Partiers
    2009’s insurgent protectors turned into the populist political organizers that dominated the news by turning over control of congress in the 2010 elections. In 2011 these conservative ideologues will have put put their protests into actionable legislative efforts, which will undoubtedly involve negotiation and compromise on core principles, although I have my own doubts their party will continue much longer after the elections.
  4. Continue reading 7 Trends I Won’t Miss in 2011, and a Resolution for the New Year

December’s 7

Matthew Hurst's before and after from Movember 2010

It’s better to give than to receive, so each month I share a list of 7 worthwhile ideas currently influencing my perspective as my gift to you. As 2010 comes to a close, I’m reflecting on the year that was with a certain nostalgia, so I’m checking my list twice to find out which ideas are especially nice, or at least 12 worth sharing this December:

Blog: Gizmodo.  In addition to being my favorite geeky outlet for tech news over the past few years, Gizmodo is probably the best blog to read when picking out your gifts this holiday season.  And since we know that consumers are willing to spend more on electronics and tech this year, Gizmodo’s sharp analysis (and new rating system) are more important than ever.

Colleague: Ishmael Vasquez.  As a co-worker of mine at Blue Fountain Media earlier this year, I was able to experience first-hand Ishmael’s creativity and ability to use social media strategically as an online marketing professional.  He’s also a productivity master who is a pleasure to work together with, in addition to being able to put work and life into their propper perspective.  Personally I’m proud to call Ishmael a good friend of mine, especially since he’s one of the nicest people I’ve met in NYC (and fortunately, he’s pretty humble to boot).

Game: Angry Birds.  If you’ve played you know already, but for the uninitiated Angry Birds is an instant classic on par with Pac Man for the smartphone generation. The original is already on its way to becoming one of the best selling games of all time, spurring Halloween Costumes and fan Meetups alike in the process, and already has season sequels that are best sellers in the iOS and Android markets.  I think it’s an addictively fun game that will be around for awhile longer.

Group: Movember. Participating alongside my co-workers and mustachioed peers I was able to raise over $130 toward mens health issues while raising awareness about testicular and prostate cancer.  My mustache was a regular source of curiousity and discussion in my workplace, and an interview on Anthony’s blog as well as a point of pride for this folliclely-challenged young man.

Social Network: Facebook.  500 million strong and growing, in spite of numerous threats to leave the site due to privacy concerns.  The company continues to make smart acquisitions that build talent and leverage their position as the largest network to create innovative software that improves how we interact with our friends online and IRL.

Theory: Cord-cutting. Since moving to NYC in 2009 I’ve lived without cable TV, on a media diet of Netflix, Hulu, and over-the-air DTV via rabbit-ears antenna. Anecdotally I know lots more techies interested in changing their media consumption habits, mostly for cost cutting reasons, although despite what you read in the news it’s yet to become a widespread phenomenon.

Company/Agency: Blue Fountain Media.  This online marketing agency and website design company is a leader in creating results-driven websites that build businesses online.  This time last year BFM was willing to take a chance on me, and helped develop my skills as a social media manager into a full fledged SEO specialist. I was proud to call them my employer in 2010, and would easily refer them as the best in the business.

Continue reading December’s 7

Public Communication & Privacy on the Internet

Online Privacy described in a Venn Diagram
Infographic by Buriednexttoyou (via Flickr)

If your friends are like mine you’ve heard them complain all year-long that we’ve lost our private lives, sacrificing anonymity in the interest of advertising data.  Since the beginning of 2010 we’ve heard public figures and friends alike suggest it’s time to quit social media.  Culminating with the FTC’s policy recommendations about internet privacy, 2010 has been another marque year for privacy advocates.

Yet the internet has opened up new windows of insight into each others’ lives, connecting us closer with our friends and sometimes revealing new aspects of our personality between friends.  Often these ideas are shared in public channels, opening individuals to new connections, although others prefer to keep there information between friends alone.  For years there has been a backlash to protect privacy on the internet, but is an open medium paid for with advertising dollars ever truly private? Continue reading Public Communication & Privacy on the Internet

November’s 7

Matthew Hurst looking towards the Capitol along Pennsylvania Ave in DCEach month I share 7 ideas that have impacted my life over the last month.  In October I attended Oktoberfest in NYC, marched through Times Square with hundreds of others dressed like zombies, and returned to DC during the Rally to Restore Sanity.  Here’s a few notes of consequence in my life:

Blog: Wonkette has been a guilty-pleasure of mine the past two election cycles, with its tongue planted firmly in cheek.  This former-Gawker blog whose irreverent, sarcastic humor has a decidedly inside-the-beltway appeal yet still makes me LOL.

Film: 500 days of Summer. At times this film is reminiscent of the best French New Wave, almost like a sequel to 400 Blows if the protagonist grows up and moves to Los Angeles.

Meme: Rent is 2 Damn High. Jimmy McMillan stole the show at the NY governor’s debate, riding a wave of memorable one-liners that introduced this candidate to voters in every state of the union. While the candidate may have lost his election bid with less than 1% of the vote, his single-minded focus brought attention to a serious issue (housing costs) in an election dominated by Tea Parties.

Music: Charlotte Gainsbourg. On top of being an accomplished artist already, Charlotte had the good sense to reach out to Beck to produce her second solo effort. The result is claustrophobic imagery and jangled beats that build the atmosphere around story of it’s titular IRM and illness. Consider this Beck channeling Nico and Velvet Underground, making it a strong contender for Album of the Year in my book.

Social Network: Twitter. Most of Twitter’s users might not call it a social network, but that began to change this last month with a redesign that gave users an immersive experience interacting on-site with their own social graph.  Or at least Twitter has given us a new reason to use their microblog by adding insights between friends, finally giving me a reason to use their service on rather than any number of external tools.

Theory: Measured Life. Without realizing it, I create a mountain of data everyday; from energy usage and water consumption to daily check-ins on Foursquare.  Even though my day job is very much about measurement, I’ve only begun to leverage the insight new tools have to improve my life.  Call it Better Living Through Measurement, and I’ll be writing more about this soon.

TV Show: Community. I’ve been a fan if Dan Harmon since his Channel 101 days, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see his rapier wit on Network television.  For the uninitiated, this sitcom depicts a study group of misfits at a local college, who play out some common sitcom themes.  Needless to say, I LOL watching this show.

Continue reading November’s 7