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Here are a few articles, links and videos that caught my eye this week:

The shape of documentaries to come may be revealed by Prison Valley, which won the second FRANCE24-Radio France International Web Documentary Award last week. From France 24’s article about the new media doc by David Dufresne and Philippe Brault:

Created by David Dufresne and Philippe Brault, the striking multimedia production takes viewers to the heart of Canon City, “a distant place that is home to 36,000 souls and 13 prisons.”

Produced by the French company Upian and distributed by, Prison Valley, is an interactive journey into the prison industry in the United States. Released in April, the web documentary is the result of months of investigative work by two French journalists, Dufresne and Brault, and the distillation of thousands of photographs, hours of audio and video, and an eye-watering number of statistics.

Prison Valley invites users to check into a room at the motel with a personal Facebook or Twitter account, and then continue the journalists’ journey into the valley. The work pushes users to delve beyond the chronological film, asking them to take part in online debates and exchange emails with people who appear in the documentary.

You can check out Prison Valley here.

Vanity Fair has published its 2010 New Establishment.

At Venturebeat, word that YouTube has finally reached profitability through its strategy of monetizing and revenue-sharing user-generated uploads of copyrighted materials:

Ads are served on more than 2 billion video views on YouTube every week, Google told The Times. One-third of those videos were uploaded without the content owner’s permission. Those content owners have chosen to make money from the ads served on those videos, rather than taking the videos down.

And it’s the word-perfect definition of an everybody-wins situation: The uploader gets to keep the video online, the content owner gets a chunk of the ad revenue, YouTube is saved from the hassle of having to delete its content and also profits from the revenue split. Oh, and viewers get to see more content than they would otherwise.

Also at Venturebeat: the shape of publishing to come in their discussion of Neal Stephenson’s new Mongoliad. The serialized novel will be released by Stephenson’s own new start-up, Subutai. From Anthony Ha’s piece:

The company, based in Seattle and San Francisco, has developed what it calls the PULP platform for creating digital novels. The core of the experience is still a text novel, but authors can add additional material like background articles, images, music, and video. There are also social features that allow readers to create their own profiles, earn badges for activity on the site or in the application, and interact with other readers….

Stephenson isn’t writing the book alone. There’s a team led by a writer Mark Teppo; it also includes Greg Bear, author of Blood Music and other science fiction novels. Stephenson compared the experience to writing a TV show, and not just because it’s a team of writers. The Mongoliad will have an ending, but there’s room for sequels and other stories set in the world, so it’s kind of like season one of a show.

Harmony Korine’s new short, Act Da Fool, premieres at the site of fashion designer Proenza Schouler.

“There are filmmakers and there are film slaves,” writes writer and production assistant Mark Leslie. On his Film Slave blog he posts as “chronicle of an industry on the verge of collapse and one assistant’s journey into its inner workings.”

There is a hilarious new reality show, Put Him in Camp Bucca, on Iraq television. From the New York Times At War blog:

An Iraqi reality television program broadcast during Ramadan has been planting fake bombs in celebrities’ cars, having an Iraqi army checkpoint find them and terrifying the celebrities into thinking that they are headed for maximum security prison.

The show “Put Him in [Camp] Bucca” has drawn numerous protests but has stayed on air throughout the fasting month, broadcasting its “stings” on well-known Iraqi personalities.

All of them were ensnared by being invited to the headquarters of the private television station Al Baghdadia to be interviewed, but en route to the station a fake bomb would be planted in their car while they were being searched by Iraqi soldiers, who were in on the deception.

The unwitting celebrities are then secretly filmed, Candid-Camera-style, as they reacted with shock, disbelief and anger as fake checkpoint guards shout abuse at them: “Why do you want to blow us up?” “You are a terrorist.” “How much did they pay you to do it? You will be executed.”

At the Workbook Project, Mark Harris details the WordPress tools he’s using to manage the story world of his The Lost Children.

Seth Godin’s decision to self-publish his own books going forward has sparked a lot of commentary on the uselessness of publishers. At TechCrunch, an opposing viewpoint.

At his Truly Free Film blog, Ted Hope kicks off a spirited discussion about “The Hard Truth: Filmmaking is Not a Job.” An excerpt:

I state all of this now because filmmakers of different sorts have also stated to me that they don’t want to do certain things when they are not getting paid for it. Unfortunately I think that means, at least in terms of today, that their movies will not be getting made. Well, maybe not so for those few true geniuses out there, but what are the rest of us to do? Stop making movies? I have watched movies not happen because of small budget discrepancies. I have made errors seeking too much money for my films, and witnessed their death as a result.

I am not endorsing the practice of exploiting people for their labor. Yet, I support people making the choice of using their labor, albeit not at it’s proper value, to deliver the culture they want.

More links, this time about underground film, at Bad Lit.

Finally, a clever op-ed by William Gibson in the New York Times about Google and our emerging self-perpetuating panoptical world. An excerpt:

Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon prison design is a perennial metaphor in discussions of digital surveillance and data mining, but it doesn’t really suit an entity like Google. Bentham’s all-seeing eye looks down from a central viewpoint, the gaze of a Victorian warder. In Google, we are at once the surveilled and the individual retinal cells of the surveillant, however many millions of us, constantly if unconsciously participatory. We are part of a post-geographical, post-national super-state, one that handily says no to China. Or yes, depending on profit considerations and strategy. But we do not participate in Google on that level. We’re citizens, but without rights.

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