JavaOne conference in San Francisco where Neil Young, legendary rocker and the provider of the soundtrack to my early 20's, is announcing a very cool project with Sun Microsystems. For the first time, Young's entire collection of published media will be available for purchase, beginning today with the first of five volumes.I'm here at the
Young's collected works after more than 40 years of making music and film would be a massive enough project - but the most interesting part of the announcement is that the media will be delivered on Blu-ray Disks that will check for updates when new content is available and download it to your local device.
See also our interview with Neil Young, done after his keynote presentation.
New media of all sorts will be added to the collection over time; Young encouraged the use of the PS3 gaming device as the optimal way to capture and enjoy the collection. You can see Young's website for the entire project here.
Young said on stage today that the sound quality in available technologies has never been good enough to publish his collected works. That's changed with Blu-ray, he says. He's also excited about the way Java allows for sophisticated navigation through a large collection of content. The content is navigated through a filing cabinet GUI containing photos, vidoes and music. When music is played the screen displays a vinyl record being played. More recent content plays on top of more contemporary delivery technology, like CDs. There's notes about songs and albums throughout the collection. It's a strikingly classy interface.
Neil Young famously sung that he'd never do product endorsements and some press asked if today would be the day he sold out. Arguably, that's not the case - launching a new collection of his own legacy of work can hardly be equated with singing for a Pepsi commercial. Young said in a later interview that he's been talking for 15 years about doing a project just like this.
At the JavaOne conference three years ago it was announced that the Java software environment would be included in all Blu-ray Disc players as a mandatory part of the Blu-ray standard. Java powers the interactive menus on Blu-ray disks.
While there's been a morning full of stunning Java demos and it's been presumed that Blu-ray has won the disk war against DVD - news from offsite is less cheery. Ars Technica is reporting that Blu-ray player sales dropped a whopping 40% between January and February. The format also carries some seriously annoying DRM with it.
Will the collected works of Neil Young, with live updates, push some Blu-ray sales? It might.
One of the highlights of the conference so far is the announcement that Java will now provide content owners and publishers free access to extensive user data in anonymous aggregate. The company is moving towards enabling data mining in a big way.
Stay tuned for an interview with Neil Young on a wide range of topics as my next post.
Disclosure: Sun is a client of my personal consultancy and paid my travel expenses to JavaOne. Despite that I feel a far closer connection to Neil Young than to Sun.