I have a book coming out at the end of this month! If you once enjoyed this blog, you will likely find The Encyclopedia of Misinformation a delight. It was influenced greatly by blog culture of early '00s.
There were 6864 entries found with "s":
Netflix and Ch-Ch-Chilly
How have decades of mass media and technology changed us? I return to my hometown to find answers.
Oh good, the login to the CMS I wrote in 2001 still works!
Just a note -- I have been doing a series on Medium about art authenticity in the age of the copy. Here are all the links in one place:
Part 1: This Is Not a Vermeer TM
Can anyone own a masterpiece? Five very dissimilar people share a common desire: To own a Vermeer.
Part 2: Uber for Art Forgeries
So you want to own a masterpiece? It's easy! In part two in this series about artistic authenticity, we explore how to score that painting you have always wanted.
Part 3: Forgeries Gone Wild!
How widespread is art forgery? Experts say it's wildly rampant. Is it time to reconsider the economy of images?
Part 4: The End of Authentication
Woo-hoo! You just discovered a Vermeer in your aunts basement. But who will verify if it is real? Maybe no one.
Part 5: The Artist, the Thief, the Forger, and Her Lover
How did the Mona Lisa become famous? The biggest art heist of all time connects the forger and the thief.
If you're looking for something new from me, I've started a new site called VIEWSOURCE, where I write about one piece of video every day.
We're now two episodes into The Newsroom, HBO's newest entry in chatter-inducing Sunday programming. Reviews of the show have been brutal, but asking a media critic to judge this show is like asking a cannibal how his gallbladder tastes. Outside of media circles (amongst the vegans, to continue this overwrought metaphor), the show seems somewhat more widely appreciated.
This phenomena fascinates me. We seem to have some sort of uncanny valley relationship to art. If we are extremely close to it -- if the subject matter is about us -- then it is very likely that we find the similarity ugly, a disfigured clone of ourselves. The entertainment landscape is littered with examples of subcultures (professions, geographies, lifestyles) disagreeing with how they are portrayed by mainstream art.1 It makes you wonder: When does a subculture actually ever like art about itself?2
The anxiety in appreciating art about oneself probably involves some deep Lacanian mirror stage shit. Or maybe it's dormroom pop psych: We are apprehensive about the shortcuts that art must take. We don't enjoy having our subcultures portrayed because it reduces ideas down to sketches, people down to characters. Local significance loses to storyline, depth loses to drama.
So duh, of course we media people hate The Newsroom. It's characters don't act like our colleagues, it's fantasies aren't our realities. So what? Part of me wants to say, fuck it, that's our problem, not Sorkin's. But other times, I'm like, wait, that's fucking bullshit.
I want to talk about the part that's bullshit.
I worked in newsrooms for over 10 years, most of the time at websites attached to TV stations or networks. I've seen, and usually participated in, the creation of news around executions in Texas, riots in Seattle, hurricanes in Florida, and psychotic killing sprees in Virginia.
What I offer here is not an artistic or moral assessment of The Newsroom. Despite having nuanced qualitative opinions about the show3, that's not what we'll be discussing here. Let's temporarily ignore the finer ethical and aesthetic points, which are usually finessed as blustery diatribes, and instead focus on what's believable.
What's bullshit, and what's not?
That eruption from Will McAvoy in the first scene. Yeah, this is kinda bullshit. It's easy to imagine an Olbermann-like figure doing this (actually, that's all he did), but it's pretty unimaginable for a Brian Williams or a Katie Couric. Or maybe our hero is supposed to be more like Dylan Rattigan or Rachel Maddow? Actually, who knows! The way this show blurs the monolithic network anchor with the opinionated cable host is precisely the kind of fake construction that feels like bullshit. Or as the greatest news anchor of our time would say, a great moment of truthiness.
Not knowing you have a blog. Complete bullshit. This portrait of social media ignorance would have been accurate 10 years ago, but television executives started to freak out about the internet a while ago. They've spent an immense amount of time catching up, so now they're better at Twitter than you.
Walking into a newsroom and yelling "Punjab" to the Southeast Asian character that you know isn't named Punjab. This would never happen, even if your name is Sean Hannity. Bullshit.
Calling out someone as a "sorority girl." Sensing we would deem this bullshit, Sorkin set out to prove it's not.
Dating people you work with. Not bullshit. The only professionals who fuck each other more are actors.
Arguing with people you date while you're working. Not bullshit. The only professionals who argue with each other more are politicians.
The speech from an Executive Producer about fearing Halliburton and the lawsuit it would bring. Bullshit. I don't know a reporter who wouldn't love to catch Halliburton, Scientology, or whatever big scary corporate entity you name. The mere fact that Time-Warner-owned HBO aired this scene seems to completely undermine any truth it is seeking to reveal.
Hiring a new Executive Producer without telling the anchor. I would say this is bullshit, but I've recently heard a story similar to this. Judgement: perhaps not bullshit.
Running to your agent when the President of News hires an Executive Producer over the top of you. Yeah, they're prima donnas, so this could happen. Not necessarily bullshit.
The ongoing debate between popularity and quality. This would never be said aloud. However, it subliminally infuses every newsroom decision. Pseudo-bullshit.
Forgetting the name of your hot blonde assistant. If this show is actually modelled on Olbermann, then this is bullshit. He'd never forget that.
Having a President of News who is drunk "most of the time" at work. Being a heavy drinker can still be romanticized within some media circles (especially if you hang out with bloggers), but being regularly drunk at work would simply not be permitted any more, at any level. Drink up, that's bullshit.
Quoting Don Quixote. Bullshit.
Quoting Man of La Mancha. Epic bullshit, fa la la la la.
Vacationing in Saint Lucia with Erin Andrews. Questionable bullshit.
Figuring out the oil spill that quickly. This is probably the single most annoying thing in the first episodes. If you remember the evolution of the oil spill story, it took weeks for scientists to figure out what our Happy Band of Googlers sleuthed out in a few hours. Complete media fantasy bullshit.
An executive producer threatening an anchor with a fake on-air graphic seconds before going live. Reminiscent of both Broadcast News and Network, this nifty dramatic effect was as much bullshit then as it is now.
Not knowing where your control room is. Crazy bullshit.
FOX News hiring someone with three Mohammeds in his name. Pass.
Sending an email that accidentally goes to 178,000 people. Yep, bullshit. Of course email groups like that exist, but they were introduced to corporations 10 years ago, not last year. So not only does everyone know how they work, but we all also know that not everyone has access to email all those lists. A reply-all snafu would have been less bullshitty.
A fluff newsreader with a PhD in Economics from Duke and an adjunct professor at Columbia. Sure, this is supposed to be Erin Burnett, but still bullshit! She's barely old enough to have a PhD.
The Three I's. That kind of bullshit would actually happen, so it's not bullshit.
Minutes after delivering the sanctimonious Three I's, commenting on a reporters legs. B-------.
The organization of this network. This is one of the more perplexing elements of the show. ACN is apparently a 24-hour cable news outlet, but this show gets the network treatment. Cable newsrooms are much more fluid than this show suggests, with more interaction of programming and personnel between shows.
Hiding under a bed while your date fucks his ex-girlfriend. I have less expertise on this matter, so I'll let you call this one.
Correlating quality with verisimilitude is always a dicey proposition4. But when a show places itself into history with real news events, and within a professional industry whose mandate is exposing truth, The Newsroom must be aware that it has put itself under the lens of realism's scrutiny.
The Newsroom rubs so close to reality that it makes you wonder how Will McAvoy would feel about it. After a long walk, some nifty orchestration, and a verbose conclusion, he'd enter his closing judgement into the chryon: It's bullshit.
1 For example, I lived in Fargo when the movie Fargo came out. To this day, the city has an extremely antagonistic relationship toward their portrayal as noble unsavages with snowboots.
2 The answer? Lawyers always love seeing themselves.
3 It's bullshit.
4 Didn't those dragons in Game of Thrones grow up just a little too quickly?
I'm Being Followed: How Google -- and 104 Other Companies -- Are Tracking Me on the Web. Just read it. It's great.
Compare: Gawker's story about Horse_ebooks and Shortformblog's story about reply girls. Once again, spammers are ahead of the curve in predicting the future of the internets: The Pseudo-Algorithmic Human!
This is from a couple months ago, but I just found it now, and it's amazing:
In a recent episode of the WTF podcast, Bill Lawrence (the creator of Scrubs, Cougar Town, and Spin City) talks about how he hates the name of his show Cougar Town so much that he considered changing it this season. One of the main reasons he didn't is that DVRs aren't equipped to understand a name change, so the show would essentially lose any audience that had a season pass in TiVo.
Anyway, it got me thinking: Has there ever been a successful show that changed its name?
The weird personal thing for me about this clip of Chris Cornell performing "I Will Always Love You" is that I found it playing around with the YouTube app on my GoogleTV.
Remember Valleyschwag, the site that sent you a monthly package of promotional material from hot startups? The idea is back with Startup Threads Monthly, which sends you a monthly t-shirt from a startup. So far, it has included Boxee, Twilio, Reddit, and BreadPig.
Rick says a bunch of interesting things in his new column about whether you need to a be highly networked individual to succeed online. I especially relish how he ties geography into the conversation, alluding to a midwestern startup.
And many, many more hyper-social New Yorkers and San Franciscans make successful startups than antisocial Midwesterners. Or even antisocial New Yorkers. These are things you can control. You can move to San Francisco. Better yet, you can move to New York. You can go to meetups. You can go to conferences. You can email investors. You can go to classes at General Assembly. It's in your control. Or, you can stay at home in the Midwest, reading TechCrunch and talking about how it's all rigged and an insiders game.
This will frustrate my friends in Minneapolis -- those dozens of startups trying to compete at CoCo and other places. They're trying to create their own scene right now. Creative acts are becoming increasingly dependent on groups of people. Being part of a "scene" in music was undeniably important in the '80s and '90s, but now it's become as true for fashion, technology, theater, and nearly all creative arts.
It's an interesting dilemma building a company in the midwest: Your success is as much a factor of your peers' success -- the community's success -- as it is the brilliance and execution of your idea.
A creepy sci-fi flick set in the past:
This is why they made the internet:
I keep just describing it as a "website for teenage girls," because I like to think it's not too niche, and I don't want to alienate anyone by saying it's for alternative girls or artsy girls or anything. At the same time, I mean, we don't speak for every girl, but we try to encourage girls to speak for themselves. Mostly we just try to avoid being condescending or making anyone feel like there's something wrong with them that they should be worrying about if they're not already. Or like we're teaching anyone how to be cool. I want people to know that they're already cool. Whatever they're into, that is enough.
Opposing visions of the gamification of the web from this morning:
Joseph Puopolo on Techcrunch:
Gamification has become one of the hottest buzz words in the industry and is probably in the process of taking over a website or user experience near you.
I surveyed the community services I frequent -- Metafilter, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Flickr, Mlkshk, Mixel. These services do present goals to their users and they have crafted a user experience that nudges them towards those goals -- but they do it without points, ranks and the other mechanisms and patterns advertised in the Techcrunch post above.... At some point people are going to wake up to the fact that the gamification industry is a scam.
For sure, "visualizing success" is a major component of social sites, but there are still scant examples of successful sites with more game-like components like leaderboards and badges, despite the rampant startup growth.
I was surprised to find out last night that Dan Wilson co-wrote Adele's "Someone Like You." If you're from the Upper Midwest, you immediately thought of Trip Shakespeare. Outside of that, the name might not sound familiar, though you definitely know "Closing Time," the 1998 omnipresent hit from his band Semisonic. According to a profile in today's Star-Tribune, Rick Rubin brought him in to write with Adele.
Wilson said the session commenced with Adele playing some YouTube clips of rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson, her latest favorite. "Then I went to the piano and she played guitar and we launched into writing. It was very natural and low-key.
"She told me she had this terrible big breakup and it was all she could think about. She had the first four or five lines [of lyrics] and a melody, and she sang the verse."
Wilson then played the song on piano, embellishing it with big, classical chords. "She said, 'That's way more inspiring.' Things started to move quickly, and by mid-afternoon, we started recording."
Take THAT, science.
New research shows that online dating sites promising "matching algorithms" don't work: The Dubious Science of Online Dating. In other news, I just helped launch the new blog for How About We, a dating site that tosses out algorithms in favor of proposing date ideas.
Mr. Morris has a grinning, laid-back persona, with an approach not dissimilar to Hunter S. Thompson's gonzo journalism. In person Mr. Morris, son of the filmmaker Errol Morris, is bookish and intense, speaking with a fastidious attention to word choice.
From an interview on ReadWriteWeb with Dens, this bit about the future of Foursquare:
The challenge isn't really that dissimilar than some of the growing pains and hazing that Twitter went through. For a long time, Twitter was "oh, it's just people tweeting what they had for lunch, or that they're going to the movies." That wasn't interesting for a lot of people.
Then they hit a moment that was a little bit of critical mass and a little bit of clarity, where people started using it to break news and share headlines and spread information. And that's when it started clicking for a lot of people.
It is reminiscent of Fred Wilson's post from a couple months ago, Mocked and Misunderstood, where he posits that the most ridiculed services could be the most successful. It's an over-simplification (hello, ChatRoulette), but there's definitely something to this.
A reason to read the Stanford Law Review: Famous for Fifteen People. It involves a lawsuit against Facebook over whether broadcasting your Likes via Sponsored Stories is equivalent to a celebrity endorsement. The plaintiffs argue they are indeed famous to their friends. They lost, but the ruling has broad implications for the right to privacy, the legal notion of "newsworthiness," and what it means to be a public figure.
When you read things like Anatomy of a Tear-Jerker, which uses psychomusicology to explain the popularity of Adele, do you end up liking the artist more or less?
It seemed as though Die Antwoord would probably disappear after their last album, but they have mysteriously resurrected themselves in high fashion. In addition to that thrilling appearance on Letterman a couple nights ago, they've found their way into the Alexander Wang campaign:
For those of you who like their David Carr served with a dash of sentimentality (like a Replacements ballad!), here ya go:
You can follow someone on Twitter, friend them on Facebook, quote or be quoted by them in a newspaper article, but until you taste their bread, you don't really know them.
So which of you will be the first to publish their Pinterest as a book?
[Peretti] is a career-long SEO guy whose entire news sense is based on what people are already searching for, or what they might be sharing on Facebook tomorrow tomorrow. The first half of that equation -- the SEO half -- is inherently opposed to breaking news. If something hasn't yet been reported, then no-one is searching for it.
That's not true, and the best example of which is Kottke's subtle parody of HuffPo on Superbowl Sunday.
Sasha thinks that MIA not should have apologized for flipping the bird. I guess, sure? But that seems a particularly red shade of herring. As someone wrote on my Facebook wall when I asked "What exactly was she trying to say by flipping you off?":
That at the last instant, after making the song, being in the video, going through gigantic rehearsals, meeting with execs from the NFL and NBC, and Madonna's handlers, she felt she had to do something, anything in reaction to the massive, moneyed, orchestrated alternate really bubble she'd already bought into a thousand times over leading up to that moment.
Or it's pure ego, and she wanted the attention.
Early last year, I told Elizabeth Spiers that Felix Salmon had made a bet with John Carney: she would be fired from The Observer within a year. It didn't happen; Felix lost the bet, in somewhat grumpy prose.
All the interesting hires, the chatter about new properties, the return of the old tagline, the blog launches, the print format switch -- for the first time in a long time, The Observer has been fun to watch. I choose that infinitive carefully, because this is what Felix overlooked in the media parlor game: watching beats reading any day.
We already proved that we could have a trailer for anything when Charlie O'Donnell created a trailer for a venture fund:
But Esquire goes even further, with trailer for a magazine article:
So, two questions:
1) Who exactly is MIA flipping off? It's you, right?
2) What exactly is she trying to say with this?
Lana Del Rey is exactly what I was hoping to inspire when I took on the male rock establishment almost twenty years ago with my debut record, Exile In Guyville.
In other SNL music act news, I think Bon Iver is the new Michael McDonald.
Why L.A.'s Start-up Scene Beats All Others. The uber-argument in this one is that talent is easier to find, but there's also this bit:
There wasn't initially easy access to venture capital in L.A. and entrepreneurs had no choice but to build profitable business models from the start.
The exactly opposite could also be argued -- that for L.A. to succeed it needs greater access to venture capital. But there's the start to some ideas in there.
The Death of the Cyberflaneur argues that the web once seemed a place for the anonymously strolling (not trolling) flaneur:
Transcending its original playful identity, it's no longer a place for strolling -- it's a place for getting things done. Hardly anyone "surfs" the Web anymore. The popularity of the "app paradigm," whereby dedicated mobile and tablet applications help us accomplish what we want without ever opening the browser or visiting the rest of the Internet, has made cyberflanerie less likely.
It then goes on to blame Facebook for much of this problem.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) Will Wright Is Back. Whah! “If we had that much situational awareness about you and at the same time we were building this very high-level map of the world, and I don’t just mean where Starbuck’s is, but all sorts of things like historical footnotes and people you might want to meet. I started thinking about games that we can build that would allow us to triangulate you in that space and build that deep situational awareness.” And maybe it includes a TV component! (His 2007 SXSW keynote is still my all-time favorite.)
2) Just.Me. Looks interesting, love the name.
3) Denton’s Memo. Okay, this commenting system (Pow-Wow) could be the real deal. However, I doubt that the product itself will be that revolutionary — I mean, how much can we do with comments? But the power will be in pairing it with an editorial agenda. Imagine if something like Reddit or Metafilter were more programmed, had the power of a media enterprise around it.
5) VYou 2.0. VYou comes out of Beta on Monday.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) North Koreans weeping hysterically over the death of Kim Jong-il. THEY ALL DESERVE OSCARS. (This video will be a pervasive meme in 5… 4…)
2) WHERETHEFUCKSHOULDIGOFORDRINKS. (dot-com)
3) Distrust That Particular Flavor. William Gibson has a book of non-fiction coming out next month.
4) Rob Delaney’s new Comedy Central Show Using Twitter. Also, the design of those new FastCo pages!
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) The Spielberg Face. Once you’ve seen it, you can never not see it.
3) WhoSay Strikes Deal With AP. The future is celebrities owning and distributing their own gossip.
4) Ebert’s Best Films of 2011. Someone kept Drive on their list!
5) Jack Shafer: Are you reading the best magazine in America? I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that Bloomberg Businessweek is my favorite magazine right now. (Also, props to Reuters for hiring Shafer and letting him write so glowingly about their primary competitor.)
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) 25 Most Viral People. (On the internet.)
3) CNN: A Social Media Addict Tries to Disconnect. Day 1: “I land at Antigua’s airport, where I’m greeted by warm sunshine, a long customs line and a man playing Bob Marley’s ‘Three Little Birds’ on a tin drum. All of these observations are ones I ache to tweet.” Hrrrrm.
4) The Death of Television. From Evan Shapiro of IFC, who is probably the smartest tv exec I’ve ever worked with.
5) SAY Media. For most of 2011, Aol was the most interesting company on the digital media scene — every week was a new product launch, a new purchase, a new scandal, a new reorg. For 2012, SAY Media could take its place. For several years, people in the industry have heard various rumors of a “blog rollup.” It’s never happened because most of the time these companies stall after buying one or two properties. But SAY Media is really giving it a go. Sure, xoJane hasn’t performed that well, and the mishap with Rookie didn’t help, but by most accounts Dogster is doing well, and snagging Frommer with its purchase of Read Write Web is tantalizing. (And the reported $5M price tag indicates they’re being tactical and might not burn out.) Now there’s rumors of an IPO, plus some chatter about a revved up CMS. You never would have guessed that the merger of a blog platform and a video ad network would lead to anything, but prepare to hear endless stories about it in 2012.
1) VC Memes. Well. Done.
3) Biz Insider Launched an Advertising Vertical Last Week. Servicey.
5) P.R. Stunts in a Digital Era. “A lot of brands are seeing the value in a P.R. rep who has an online persona that can be used to magnify the brand message.” Some boner actually said that.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) Klosterman on Tebow. The interesting thing here is that it seems to start as another analysis of hater culture, but then it does a few back-flips and turn-arounds and, oh christ, it's about faith!
2) WeedMaps Acquires Marijuana.com For $4.2 Million. You missed this breaking news over Thanksgiving.
4) Pitchfork's Top Music Videos of 2011. Best year for the medium since the .90s? Sure, let's try out that idea.
5) Did You Read? This. Is. Amazing.
Fifteen things that intrigue me right now:
1) You Say You Want a Devolution? Here's an interesting thesis from Kurt Anderson in Vanity Fair: While there have been massive technological changes in the past 20 years, everything looks the same. That is, he suggests, if you looked at a random snapshot from 1991, the people and buildings and cultural objects would mostly look the same as today. So? Well, that certainly isn't true if you looked at 1931 to 1951 or 1951 to 1971. This is one of the broad cultural essays that "seems right" though I'm not sure why.
2) The .xxx top-level domain went live yesterday. You will know it when you see it.
3) Who's Afraid Of Lana Del Rey? I'm glad someone wrote this, but isn't the artifice of "authenticity" itself the bugbear to be slayed?
4) Fast Co Design. Fast Company has a design blog that tries "to bridge the fuzzy border between design and business."
5) New Walker Website. Waaaay back in the day, The Walker was one of the earliest organizations (and for sure, the first museum) to take up blogging, but the effort seemed to only get partial internal support. Last week, a site redesign revisited the idea of museum as a locus for content generation (or "idea hub"). Congrats, Schmelzer, nice work. (See also: The Atlantic and Artlog discuss the redesign.)
6) The Bitter Email Exchange between David Denby and Scott Rudin over the Review Embargo of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Rudin missed such a great opportunity to use a scathing Subject line!
7) Aaron Sorkin's New Project: Newsroom. People who say they aren't excited for this are lying.
9) The Utne Reader to Leave Minneapolis. Sad. I used to have an office across the street from these guys in Loring Park.
10) JimRomenesko.com. Hello there, old timer!
12) Richard Lawson in Atlantic Wire. How fast did this become the best writing online? In just weeks, we've received thought pieces like When Fans Attack and movie reviews that read like the best of the New Yorker (so: Anthony Lane not David Denby), while still satisfying us in that off-hand impulsive bloggy way. (See also, this post on Gawker that isn't at all about Lawson but somehow the commenters turned it into a rally cry.)
13) The Trailer to Shame.
Five things that intrigue me right now, which may or may not be “the future of content”:
1) Willie Nelson covered Coldplay’s “The Scientist” for a Chipotle commercial. All those proper nouns in the same sentence!
2) Serious Business. That’s Alex Blagg’s new “intertainment firm.” (Oh how soon they become what they parody!) His partners include a former UTA agent. Their first video is Drive-Thru, an 84% funny parody of Drive that is an Arby’s commercial.
4) A supercut of all the product placements in Lady Gaga videos. It has only 946 views. Let’s make this famous!
5) The Greatest Movie Ever Sold box office totals. Remember that Morgan Spurlock movie from this summer? The amount of money it made wouldn’t even buy you a decent apartment in Manhattan. At the box office, at least — it made millions in product placements.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
3) Man or Muppet. The most fantastic moment in the new muppets movie.
5) Rap Genius. Most people know about this already, but quickly: Its a wikipedia for hip-hop, but with the crowd supplying the meaning of lyrics. The interface is clever: line-by-line lyrics that you can click on and define. For instance, heres Kreayshawns Gucci Gucci which kindly explains that Chickenhead is old slang for a girl, sometimes an MC, who sleeps with a group of (usually popular/prolific) male rappers/emcees to get on their good side/get a boost up in their popularity and sales. See also: Rap Map.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) Minneapolis Is A Startup Powerhouse! Sure, why not?
2) Lets Not Party Like Its 1999. All party reporting should be like Ricks.
3) Marc Maron Podcast. I finally listened to this over Thanksgiving. So good.
5) YouTube Innovation. For the first couple years after landing into Googles lap, YouTube had essentially zero new product innovation, perhaps because they were busy fighting off lawsuits. But in the past year, numerous interface, design, and product changes have made it a surprising place of innovation perhaps the most innovative department in all of Google. One very small example: You can subscribe to feeds of videos that appear on your favorite websites, such as Hipster Runoff, Kottke, TMZ, and Cute Overload.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
2) The Bipolar Reactions that Lana Del Rey Elicits. Watch the video and then look at those comments!
3) Slaughterhouse 90210 Entries Like This One. She’s still got it.
5) Social Media Pillows. There ya go, the beginning and end of the Fimoculous Holiday Shopping Guide.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) This Appealing Headline. “The Atlantic’s online ad revenue exceeds print”
2) This sentence in Vanessa’s profile of Arianna Huffington. “It’s a feat — Huffington’s characteristic gift — to aggregate childbirth, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Tiger Moms, a cow, Nancy Reagan, and unconditional love into one surprisingly intimate, seamless skein, and it makes spending time with Huffington a pleasure, even if interviews with her can be stultifying.” (Also, this accompanying graphic.)
3) UC Davis Pepper Spraying from Multiple Angles. Like if Time Code were a documentary.
4) eBay buys Hunch. This one’s about as obvious as it comes. I know nothing of the back story, but I’m sure Amazon had a chance and passed because Bezos doesn’t overpay for anything. While I hope Hunch still seeks a consumer-facing solution, I’m pretty sure it will end up being integrated into eBay and slowly disappear.
5) Startup Angel Funding Rap. Check please!
Five things that intrigue me right now:
2) How I Ended Up Leaving Poynter. Jim’s highly-detailed account doesn’t make Poynter look worse, but they sure don’t look any better.
3) Betabeat’s Most Poachable Players in Tech. The best thing about this is not knowing most of these people.
4) Sylo. I love when people do creative things with their VYou accounts.
5) Gawker Redesign Second Thoughts. Appropos of nothing, I sometimes wonder what would have happened if Denton had gone in a different design direction. If, as he said, he believed so much that the traditional reverse-chronological order of blogs was broken, why didn’t he go with a information-dense gridded design (like Vulture and The Verge) instead of the two-pane iPad-inspired layout? That also seemed to have been Steve Jobs’ feedback. (Btw, traffic across Gawker Media right now is even lower than when he lost the bet.)
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) Reddit IAmA. Most people are pretty familiar with this amazing series on Reddit, but it’s interesting that content programming this precise and defined has emerged organically out of a user-generated platform.
2) Grantland’s YouTube Hall of Fame. On the opposite end of the spectrum is this highly programmed concept which is a goldmine of YouTube esoterica.
3) Video Beast. This will probably lose a million bucks per quarter, but it will be fun to watch while it lasts.
4) RecordSetter.com book. Can an open source version of record-making outseat the Guinness Book? I think so!
5) The Top 10 Reasons Lists Are Popular With Journalists. “There’s this form of nostalgia tied to them, but I actually think of them in terms of the future.” Someone said that.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) Match the DeLillo to The Cover. 10 for 10.
2) Kabletown. Ive heard NBC employees including executives actually refer to Comcast as Kabletown, even at work. Ill be surprised if this will be allowed to continue forever.
5) The Verge. The Verge is the tighest merger of magazine thinking and blog culture that weve ever seen. Its also proof that even crowded spaces can be broken into with the right execution.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) This Nick Denton Quote. "The problem is the boring people online -- they're incredibly difficult to get rid of, because theyre often really nice."
3) Nymwars. Once it gets an official name, you know trouble is brewing.
4) ASOS iPad App. This is the end game of the merger of editorial and commerce. Amazing experience and content integrated almost perfectly into a purchase environment. (There are mens and womens issues.)
5) Uproxx. I suspect most of us wouldn't know about it if Cajun Boy weren't writing there, but Uproxx is the latest in the growing genre of web culture blogs. And judging from posts like Alison Bries GIF-Able Moments and Thirteen Movie Poster Cliches, it could be the best.
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) Jotly. So good. I almost dont want to tell you its a parody.
2) NYT on Reality Weekly. The amazing thing here is that no one thought of it before. It will be huge.
3) Don Draper at 84. I hope he looks more convincing than DiCaprio as J. Edgar.
4) Foursquare Badges Level Up. Smart. Its the little things.
5) Minneapolis, Mark Mallman. The amazing bit here is at 2:15 where Mark turns the city into a spaceship. (Also, Minneapolis people really like Minneapolis things, dont they? Its nearly as bad as Portland.)
(#Fun! I will try this for a week.)
Five things that intrigue me right now:
1) The Atlantic Cities. Urban affairs microsite, yeah!
2) OKFocus. An agency-type-thing from Ryder Ripps. This is the other internet.
3) ScoutMob. The deals app that everyone suddenly seems to be using. Seriously, ask the person next to you I bet theyre using it.
4) Pinterest. Everyone knows how fast this is growing, but its fun to wonder how Tumblr might react.
5) EW Viewer & TV Guide Watchlist. Sure, Umami and GetGlue have a head start, but it's good to see that the magazines arent just sitting around waiting for social tv to eat their lunch. Everyone seems to acknowledge this is going to eventually be a huge industry. My guess is that some futuristic AppleTV/Twitter integration takes the market, but maybe someone else can get a mindshare first.
(#Flashback! This is what blogging used to be. Yeah, I'm not sure if it's any better either.)2 hours ago
I thought it would be funny.
So I walked into Fimoculous on Christmas and started blogging anonymously, without telling Rex, the owner, beforehand. Which -- you guessed it -- means that pretty much everything posted here since then is by me, not him. (How: I spent time as a house-guest here about a year ago, and the keys were still under the mat.)
Just after I started, I learned that Rex had recently been in a kerfuffle in which someone accused him of saying "anonymous blogging is bad," and that he was later characterized as saying "blogging is dead." Even better. My Operation: Goldilocks was evolving into A Scanner Darkly -- turning against itself, or at least appearing to. It seemed like a good opportunity to indirectly engage both of these issues.
Is blogging dead? I don't want it to be, which is another reason I tried to revivify this blog, which was about 10 years old and staggering around like a zombie. In my opinion, there should be room in our online discourse for blogs like this one -- offering a consistent, often thoughtful perspective, collecting and observing things of interest to its readers. But being consistent, thoughtful, and observant requires effort and time, and it requires the same of its audience.
And that, I think, is why blogging, for the most part, appears to be moribund: Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Reddit, etc., are media that have evolved such that there is no expectation of prolonged engagement with pieces of content on the part of their writers or readers. Consider the recent widespread use of the shorthand "tl;dr" (too long; didn't read). This dismissive assessment is commonly interpreted as fair, expected criticism of the author, not the reader who offers it because he couldn't be bothered to read the content simply because it was long, regardless of its undiscovered merits. The media that are replacing "traditional" blogging value brevity above all, so much of the incentive to write anything that is both long and thoughtful diminishes (since few will bother to read it), and the self-motivation required to do so will only increase over time.
It's funny to be talking about blogging -- which for its entire lifespan has been dismissed broadly for being superficial and narcissistic -- as being a besieged outpost of well-developed, thoughtful writing, but I think that's exactly what's happening. It's no one's "fault" -- it's just the natural evolution of popular content production and consumption towards the most frictionless state: from books to periodicals to personal websites to blogs to Twitter to the Like button. When a medium comes along that's easier than clicking the Like button -- maybe thinking you Like something -- you can be sure everyone will speculate about and then bemoan its death before moving on.
But, even blogging isn't dead yet. There are some people out there who are still committed to the form, even if it seems no one else is, regularly posting smart, thought-provoking analyses and observations of their respective interests. A few that come immediately to mind:
- Joanne McNeil at Tomorrow Museum
- The brilliant Danah Boyd, whose research and insight into social media and youth culture is unmatched
- Geoff Manaugh at BLDGBLOG, who is at once reportorial and speculative
- The visionary architect Lebbeus Woods
- Errol Morris and his "too long," multi-part monographs, some of which are probably the best things ever published originally on the web
And there are others who take the time to put together coherent, original posts:
- Star Wars Modern, where I'm not always sure what's happening, but I appreciate the effort involved
- Nav at Scrawled in Wax, usually correlating academic concepts of post-modernism with pop culture
- Amy at Amy's Robot, who has been writing witty, thoughtful posts on pop culture and politics for NINE YEARS. Collaborators (like me) have come and gone at that site, but Amy is still there. Someone oughta be reading her.
A confession before I continue: for every one of those sites I mentioned, I have often found myself getting the gist of a post, thinking "that's a good insight," and then skimming the rest of it. Does that matter?
Continuing, let me also mention some more widely read sites that I think demonstrate originality and effort:
- John Del Signore at Gothamist, whose humor brings color to stories without obscuring them
- The Big Picture photo blog, started by a developer at the Boston Globe who is now launching a similar project for the Atlantic
- Yeah, what the hell -- I'm leaving it on this list: even Boing Boing can be pretty good sometimes, when it's not being a caricature of itself...
- Maybe you have your own suggestions to share in the comments
And lastly, if you miss Fimoculous now that it's zombified, just replace that section of your brain with Pop Loser, which I've been ripping off mercilessly for the last month and which strikes me as the blog that is the spiritual inheritor of this one.
Will any of these blogs still live in 5 years? Will new ones rise to take their place? So far, trends appear to indicate no: aggregation, automation, voting up, "liking," etc., seem to be resulting in a hivemind where thoughtfulness is replaced with promulgation and sameness. Maybe we need a "link aggregator in reverse" that shows the links of interest to you that everyone else like you hasn't Liked yet.
Thanks for reading, or skimming. And thanks, especially, to Rex. See you next time.
Update: Rex offers his take, on Tumblr.
While we are on the subject, here are some other blogs you may find worth reading:
Over at the NYT's "Ethicist" column, Randy Cohen is out, and Ariel Kaminer is in. But I don't think any ethical considerations are raised by a person taking over the writing of something that is so closely associated with someone else. [via romenesko]
Amy's Robot issues a cri de coeur to the Academy: Save Natalie from the Best Actress Curse!
Hm? Yes, I'm still plugging away over here on the old clickety-clackety. Stay tuned. It won't be long now.
Google engineers grew suspicious of Bing results and set up a sting operation, which shows that Bing has been stealing results from Google. And they didn't even provide a via link, which is what you should do when stealing links from someone.
Foreign Policy photo feature: An exclusive look inside a booming multibillion-dollar, evangelical, global Thai cult. Lots and lots of meditators. [via]
This correction needs a correction: Appended by editors to Carr's "Skins" takedown: "...It is thus not the case that the youngsters cast in 'Kids,' the British film that was the model for 'Skins' and was rated NC-17, 'could not legally see it.'" Kids is American, not British.
NY Post says the anonymous author of the new political novel O is probably Mark Salter, the former aide to John McCain. NYT looks at the evidence. Maybe he should've tried harder to be anonymous: Kakutani hates the book, calling it "a thoroughly lackadaisical performance: trite, implausible and decidedly unfunny."
Perspective: Here are two consecutive posts from the Wired blog Threat Level:
- Egypt Shut Down Its Net With a Series of Phone Calls
- [US] Internet Kill Switch Legislation Back in Play
In such a case: Nothing but its own waste left to consume.
In this clip from the Today show in 1994, Bryant Gumbel and Katie Couric attempt to explain the internet to their viewers while simultaneously asking what it is. They hadn't figured out the @ sign just yet.
Airport bomber killed one of Russia's rising stars, a playwright named Anna Yablonskaya. PRI breaks your heart with the story. Terrorists break your heart with the bomb.
Regarding Photos of Bloggers, Alone, Illuminated by Computer Screens. But the link -- is it worth anything?
Facebook to allow HTTPS for all page views. This is to make it secure and private, like everyone wanted. Hm?
In 1945, Nabokov floated a theory about the evolution of butterflies that was not taken seriously at the time. But, he's just been proven correct.
NYT's new "Frugal Traveler," who should know better -- a lot better -- got scammed while trying to rent an apartment for his stay in London. Hint: If the email includes the word "wire," it's a scam.
NYC has hired Rachel Sterne as its first Chief Digital Officer. She is 27 and will be making $115,000. NYC's tech entrepreneurs are said to be happy with the choice -- she's one! First assignment: find the real nerds in this town.
Sacha Baron Cohen will (kinda sorta) be playing Saddam Hussein in a comic adaptation of Hussein's novel(!) Zabibah and the King.
Yesterday, Fortune revealed that Steve Jobs went to Switzerland for "unusual radiological treatment" last year. How did they know this? It turns out that an Apple board member told them -- off the record. But, says Fortune, that board member died, so the "off the record" arrangement no longer applies. This raises some questions -- is any journalist free to reveal everything you told them "off the record" once you die? And attribute it to you? Columbia Journalism Review explores the issue, and it's a thread on Quora. [via Romenesko]
So you liked True Grit. Now what? The Coen Brothers list their favorite Westerns, including one they haven't seen all of yet. (Some uncommon choices in there.) NPR's Bob Mondello put together a starter kit of essential Westerns, which has more common selections. Which ones would you add?
Slavoj Zizek has a new piece in the London Review of Books comparing the Wikileaks situation to The Dark Knight: "In one of the diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks Putin and Medvedev are compared to Batman and Robin. It's a useful analogy: isn't Julian Assange, WikiLeaks' organiser, a real-life counterpart to the Joker in Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight?" [summary on Biblioklept]
Links to Boing Boing are infrequent on Fimoc, but here's a great little piece on Palin's strange use of "blood libel" in her video today.
Update: And a good link from commenter Bret, featuring previous uses of the term in political contexts: The Term Blood Libel: More Common Than You Might Think
A rumor I heard about Murdoch's new tablet app, The Daily. (Wish I understood the logic of when I post something on my Tumblr, and when it goes here, and when I cross link from one to the other. There is no logic!)
I was having one of those "alternate history" moments this morning. Like, what would have happened if Adobe had not purchased Macromedia? (Would Flash be dying or could it have been purchased and refined by Apple?) Or what if Microsoft and Yahoo had merged three years ago?
Vaguely related: Hacker News randomly brought up a Paul Graham post called Microsoft Is Dead to the homepage today. It was written three years ago.
"President Obama has signaled that he will give the United States Commerce Department the authority over a proposed national cybersecurity measure that would involve giving each American a unique online identity." Sounds scary, right? But don't worry: such a system "would enhance security and reduce the need for people to memorize dozens of passwords online." Feel better?
Palin's camp says, "Those weren't crosshairs; they were surveyor's marks! And shame on you for suggesting otherwise!"
MG in TechCrunch: In The Age Of Realtime, Twitter Is Walter Cronkite. I have a quibble with this: I would like to take a poll and see -- how many people learned about the Arizona shooting through Twitter? My guess is a small percentage. I suspect that most people heard through breaking news alerts -- email, text, and apps. (After that, the second-most-common was probably word-of-mouth. And then probably tv and traditional news.)
Okay, you might say that alerts are part of the real-time web too, but that's Web 1.0. (Advice to all the new News 2.0 services: devise a strategy for notifications!) Twitter was full of hearsay (perhaps created by news orgs). However, Twitter was valuable in one regard: providing links to mainstream news outlets who were reporting on the story... in realtime.
NYT's profile of Girl Talk is a good read and has some fun anecdotes, but check out this online audio feature they put together to accompany it: musical mash-ups from the last 104 years. Mostly just excerpts, but you can find almost all of the full tracks on YouTube.
NYT finally files its obligatory piece on what ballerinas think of Black Swan. Despite the delay, the story is just what you'd expect.
Duke Nukem Forever, the Chinese Democracy of the video game world that has been in development since 1997, seems to have gotten a release date of May 31, 2011. Nonetheless, it seems some people will feel that this game isn't the "real" Duke Nukem Forever -- it's just something that was hacked together and rebranded as such (like Commodore/Amiga has been doing lately). [via Techdirt]
Michael Caine Impersonates Michael Caine
This is how I feel every day.
Battelle says, very simply, that the reason Facebook should go public is that it will end up being accountable about the issue of privacy. (Conversely, maybe that's the reason they never will hold an IPO?)
Huh. Wordpress.com shut down the blog Reblogging Julie, the super negative Julia Allison site that you forgot. Peter Feld writes: "If the U.S. State Department is serious about wanting to shut down Wikileaks, they obviously need to hire Julia Allison."
Frank Bruni on ephemeral/crowdsourced restaurants. The guy from Dovetail and other successful chefs can feel encumbered by their big places and out-sized expectations, so they go back to basics, with a twist or two (at least temporarily). Possibly related, but also more complicated: Grant Achatz of Alinea (America's best restaurant?) plans a new restaurant that will change every quarter, as part of his new year's resolution for 2011.
Doesn't it seem like you're hearing about Quora just as much as you were hearing about Twitter right before it exploded? There's a reason for that: interest in Quora is exploding, at least according to Dustin Curtis's inbox. He says in his post that the tipping point seems to have been December 26, when "something strange happened." He doesn't say what, but I think it may have been this widely linked-to TechCrunch post about why Flickr didn't build Instagram, which was sourced from a Quora thread. Related: Why did Yahoo/Google Answers and related efforts crash, but Formspring and Quora (and VYou?) start taking off? The "social" feel of them?
Update: A Quora engineer provides the explanation and describes the impact on its servers, which were not prepared for the 10x load. The TechCrunch post(s) mentioned above contributed.
A few months ago, a writer at Vanity Fair called me to say the editors had just seen The Social Network, and there was a problem. Now they wanted a story that was "just like that internal story of Facebook." I rubbed my head for a while, but I couldn't think of anything even remotely like that, so we talked for a while about other ideas that might work instead. Now, months later, it appears that those Vanity Fair editors found their story, because this story about two people suing Arianna Huffington over the origins of HuffPo just dropped from the sky.
A few weeks ago, Elvis Mitchell dropped out/was canned as co-host of the new At The Movies. Now, his replacement has been named, just three weeks before the show premieres: "Roger Ebert announced Tuesday that he had chosen a young and relatively unknown Russian-born movie critic, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, to serve as a host of his new movie-review program, Ebert Presents At the Movies, which will have its premiere Jan. 21 on public television stations around the country." Read a few of his posts... The kid has to dial back his academic tone or it's going to be flat.
Remember that assassination of the Hamas guy in Dubai last year? GQ has a huge investigative piece that reveals, among other things, that the same team tried to kill him a few months earlier (with poison), but failed. Later they were successful, but the Dubai police were meticulous in their investigation, exploited the hit team's mistakes, and revealed all. (If you don't want to read the whole thing, Threat Level summarizes.)
Speaking of long sentences, how long would a sentence (or book) have to be to protect you from a bullet? Apparently longer than Freedom. (And even longer than The Instructions, believe it or not.) So, if you're in a bad neighborhood, leave the Kindle at home and maybe bring along Musil's two-volume The Man Without Qualities.
Writer and editor Ed Park, who is himself the author of a 16,000 word sentence, assembles (with the help of his readers) a list of other very long sentences, many of which are novel-length. Some whoppers there, sure, but it's a bit of wanking, isn't it?
James Franco is having a moment: Oscar buzz, Oscar hosting, soap opera appearances, a book or two. And he's doubling down: Reportedly, he's wrapping up talks to write(!) and direct(!!) As I Lay Dying and Blood Meridian. Is this for real or what? It's like Joaquin Phoenix in reverse.
January 1 was (and is every year) "Public Domain Day," the day that the copyright terms on works from given authors expire (according to year of death) and enter the public domain. Based on the copyright rules that were in place at the time they were created (and until 1978), these works should have entered the public domain on Saturday: Waiting for Godot, Lord of the Flies, The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley, Horton Hears a Who!, the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings, and the films On the Waterfront, Rear Window, Dial M for Murder, Seven Samurai and Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
BUT: the rules have changed over the years, and copyright on all those works has been extended. So here in the US, none of these have entered the public domain. In fact, no works at all will enter the public domain via expired copyright this year. Or for the next several years. Wait til Public Domain Day in 2019, though! [via Techdirt]
The WSJ asks a ton of famous and somewhat famous people for their new year's resolutions. The ones you (may) care about: Richard Meier, Ozzy Osbourne, Gary Shteyngart, Louis CK, David Chang, Cee Lo, Oprah, Slash, Murakami. Sean Lennon wants to finish Gravity's Rainbow. Billy Corgan takes a shot at Pavement and Sonic Youth for doing nostalgia shows. [via Grub Street, which extracts the chefs]
This new personal genome sequencer, branded "Ion Torrent", is the size of a desktop printer, takes just 2 hours to run, and costs only $50,000. Which means in a few years, the price will come down, everyone will have one, and it will interface with Facebook. Who's coming over for my sequencing party in 2013? Bring your pets.
As part of its extensive coverage of the awards season, Manohla Dargis takes a microscope to Christian Bale's performance in The Fighter, specifically a scene early in the film in which his character -- a boxer-turned-crackhead -- relives the zenith of his career, a fight with Sugar Ray Leonard. The article makes liberal use of hyperlinks, including one to the NYT's original capsule review of "High on Crack Street," the 1995 HBO documentary on crack addicts in Lowell, Mass., which (in real life) featured Bale's character, Dicky Eklund.
Tomorrow Museum: The Blog in 2011: More Pictures, More Words. "Some 1,600 word blog posts are better off paired down to epigrammatic tweets."
There's a new trailer for the next season of Big Love (premiering Jan 16). For the first three seasons, the theme song was from The Beach Boys, but last season they switched to Interpol. This time, it's a shoe-gazing band called Engineers.
Spencer Tweedy (Jeff Tweedy's 14-year-old son who is apparently friends with Tavi) got a homework assignment.
A few weeks ago, my algebra class was assigned a project called "Mathematic Karaoke," for which were told to pick a song, make it about numbers (and stuff), and record ourselves singing it.
He reworked Beyonce as "Single Digits (Put A Line On It)" and it's pretty great.
How can this possibly be real? Or not real? Amy Winehouse's high school diary was found in the trash, so naturally The Sun published it. The money shot: What will she do when she gets famous? "Live like the bombshell I really am. Get teeth fixed."
A new book will feature Marco Anelli's photos of everyone who sat with Marina Abramovic during "The Artist is Present" at MoMA this year. So that'll be a little of Bjork, a little of Franco, and a lot of that annoying crying dude (and the much less annoying girl in disguises). [via Gothamist]
Update: AOL's former chief marketing officer has joined the Quora thread. Two tidbits: (1) She claims that at one point, 50% of all CDs produced in the world had AOL logos, and (2) for a while, the conversion rate on the direct mail campaign was 10%. Amazing.
That didn't take long. Less than a month after a London Ignite hyper-real presentation on an imaginary 4Chan-motivated flash mob gone fatally wrong, a man was falsely accused of murder on Facebook and returned home to find an angry mob there.
A French photojournalist reports on his visit to a Foxconn factory in China where they make iPhones, etc. He didn't find what we consider to be child labor, but the working conditions in the factory/city don't sound too pleasant (13 hour shifts, 6-7 days per week). He has a pic of one girl who checks 28,000 printer cartridges per day (up 40% since last year). TUAW has a nice summary if you don't want to read the whole thing.
Here's the NYT's Stelter and Carter framing comparisons between Edward R. Murrow and Jon Stewart, based on Stewart's "activism" on behalf of the 9/11 healthcare bill. (Not surprisingly, the article draws on quote-machine Prof. Robert J. Thompson of Syracuse University to support its premise.)
Anyone else feel like Time's short intro essay to its "Person of the Year" gets more right about Zuck and Facebook than its (very long) profile/apologia does? Also, the top 5 list seems just right (in order): Zuckerberg, Tea Party, Assange, Hamid Karzai, Chilean Miners.
Biblioklept's Best Book Covers of 2010. Suitable for the List of Lists. See also this years' Penguin/RED project, which used snippets from the books' texts as design elements for the covers. T-shirts, please!
Apple has added support for the Cherokee language to the iPhone. It's expected this will help Cherokee kids communicate in the language, which will prolong its life. Language is politics.
Violent, mostly compelling trailer for the forthcoming game Homefront, which looks like a playable cross between The Siege and Red Dawn. Which is appropriate, since the trailer credits the game to "the writer of Red Dawn," John Milius.
Did you catch Reggie Watts on Conan the other night? Characteristic genre-bending mix of storytelling, beatboxing, and comedy, wrapped up as a very special holiday message. He's not doing Andy Kaufman -- he's evolving him.
Recently noticed: if you click on a link on the nytimes.com that goes to a print-ready page (like this one) it redirects you to the non-print-ready page. But if you click "print" from there, it works (obviously looking at the referrer). Crafty, that.
"BLOGS" as a category on Jeopardy. Sites mentioned included Gawker, Sartorialist, Treehugger, and Dilbert.
The definitive piece on quicksand, including an entire section on fetishes that I never would have considered.
Kevin Kelly asked me "What is your favorite magazine story of all time?" for this awesome list. It is exactly the kind of question that I should have an answer to, but don't. What's missing?
TRAILER IS OUT!
I was thinking this morning about how I can remember exactly where I was the first time I saw Napster. (One of the IT guys at work showed it to me. It was mesmerizing.) This got me thinking about other online apps/phenomena that I can recall seeing for the first time with precise clarity. Here's my list of I Know Exactly Where I Was When I First Saw...
- Google Maps
- Hot Or Not
- Bro Icing
- Netscape browser
- The Paris Hilton Sex Video
- 2 Girls, 1 Cup
And for whatever reason, some things not on this list:
- Chocolate Rain
- Any video with a cat
Your favorite Twitter account for the next five minutes: @tobangscarjo. That is, Things I Would Do To Bang Scarlett Johansson. Funnier than it should be, including: "Mumblecore marathon" and "Name my kid Courtney Love."
I don't know which part of this interview with Fred Wilson I like most (all of which is packed with accidents of success), but I'll pick this one:
How did you start blogging?
I was at a cocktail party at Nick Denton's house several years ago and the founders of Moveable Type were at the party. They convinced me to blog, so I went home, set up a blog and started blogging.
Soft Skull is doing a series of books called Deep Focus, which is similar to the awesome 33 1/3 series, except about films instead of albums. Jonathan Lethem is writing about John Carpenter's They Live and Christopher Sorrentino is writing on Death Wish.
We launched a new site today: SportsGrid. There's lots of data porn to ingest there, but imagine if you triangulated a player's performance metrics with their internet buzz with their salary. You could develop a new statistic -- their hype.
At Techcrunch Disrupt (going on right now in NYC), Michael Arrington interviews Charlie Rose (you read that right!)
This is pretty much how I felt for the first 30 years of my life. Still somewhat now.
Kill Screen Magazine. Has anyone seen this? It's a video game magazine from prominent writers who have written for the New Yorker, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, and The Onion.
Somehow their inside joke -- a bunch of Midwestern bros (members of Bon Iver, Solid Gold, Dosh, and Megafaun; rappers Dessa and P.O.S. from Doomtree) coming together to make fun of the idea of an "upper Midwestern indie rock supergroup" -- snowballed into something real. They actually started to get treated like an upper Midwestern indie rock supergroup. They were actually signed by an indie label, Jagjaguar.
And they say the mystery is dead.
"Don't know who Taylor Momsen is? Neither do I, beyond that she is the mean one on Gossip Girl." Did no one catch that David Carr confused Taylor Momsen with Leighton Meester in his lede?
The Chatroulette kid gets the New Yorker treatment. He likes SF more than NYC; he met Ashton and Demi, and Fred Wilson; it was originally called Head-To-Head; the name Chatroulette was indeed inspired by The Deer Hunter. The end.
Ever feel like it's just one thing after another? Mountains of information to sort through and just do something with? Like it'll never end? Then want to just try to bury it all deep inside until it catches up with you?
So did Peter Ramsdal except he's a mail carrier so that shit was all super literal and now he's in jail on mail hording charges. Just like in Seinfeld. No word on if he was wearing a puffy shirt.
LinkedIn turned 7 today but it feels like 37. The service is a great place to stalk SVPs of mid-size companies in flyover states but any sense of newness or excitement faded long ago. Reference checks are done by looking at mutual facebook friends, tumblr/twitter/(even ew)wordpress are the real online resumes employers check. Happy Birthday LinkedIn, both you and your user base look pretty good for middle age.
Michael says, "You know Dina was praying for it." He did not specify if he felt she was praying for the hit or for the plane to go down.
I was reading this Daily Intel post and first I'm like no...God has better things to do than shake up Michael Lohan. Then I saw that the Time Square bomber had been apprehended and realized no... no he does not. --SK
If you're not good enough, you might just not be good enough. Stop using the woman thing as a crutch and work on what needs to be done in order to break-through. I want to change the call to action from asking men to give us a chance to asking women to step it up and make sure you're making it known if you want to be in tech/business and will be successful in it.
-Eileen Burbidge --SK
There will be no blogging for the next few days while I'm in Cambridge for ROFLcon. (Haha, like I really blog anymore anyway.)
That NYT Mag profile of The National was one of the stranger things to pop up in recent years, but they are streaming the new album over there, so there's that.
My friend Melissa's awesome slideshow in Vulture: The Cheesiest Cheeseball Guitarists of All Time! On Vinnie Vincent:
Vinnie Vincent was such a guitar-soloing egomaniac, he got kicked out of the band known as the Vinnie Vincent Invasion. He was also fired from KISS. Three times. Once for "alleged unethical behavior": Hopeful fans have speculated that he was axed for wearing women's clothing, but really, both bands were probably tired of him (a) insisting on playing his guitar with a samurai sword and (b) repeating one extremely irritating chord for two and a half minutes (as he did on the song "Invasion"). Gotta hand it to the guy: he might not have been reliable, but he sure was consistent.
The new M.I.A. video that YouTube won't let you watch. (YouTube is the new MTV?)
how did you celebrate the 25th anniversary of New Coke?
and then felt smug because i guess such a foolish mistake would never happen now. -- FB
woke up on top of my iphone this morning. i am not alone.
i sometimes wonder if my iPhone resents the constant partial attention i give it. [insert ADD joke about moving on to another topic here. -- FB
which side were you on the battle of britpop?
the correct answer is: blur.
so when the gorillaz started doing their thing, i was on board, and fascinated by how they would keep up the pretense. last night's stephen colbert reveals the answer - which is to say they keep it up in a half-hearted way - but i do dig the song.
meanwhile why can't i find a video showing me animated groupies at a gorillaz show?
need to kill time before friday cocktails?
here look at these!
or, how about these!
you. are. welcome. -- FB
as a nod to our english brethren:
i have a whole thing about how HIMYM is the new SATC, but i haven't had enough coffee to explain it. however, i was at a party the other night and someone told me:
"It gets more right than Seinfeld, more right than Friends, more right than Sex & The City. It's awesome."
I could tell by the glint in his eye he was talking about Neil Patrick Harris.
but right now i just want to celebrate Jason Segal. he writes songs (probably the biggest reason girls crush on him). here's one for the Russell Brand character from Forgetting Sarah Marshall. which was a funnier movie than i expected it to be, but has left Kristen Bell, who i loved as Veronica Mars, making crap like this, when she'd probably rather be making a crappy reunion movie. (yes! a nearly breathless run-on sentence!) -- FB
witness, content creation on an iPad!
so to the guy sitting behind me at PSFK who couldn't figure out the keyboard and regurgitated the 'consumption not creation' meme at me, i say neener-neener-neener. -- FB
real therapy is annoying enough (and i should know!). i can't quite put my finger on what specifically is making my head hurt about these webisodes, but it might be lisa kudrow's voice. -- FB
yes, i've been under a rock, but i hear rumblings: south park is at it again.
this is what they have to say about it all. and it's summed up in the last couple of seconds, simply enough: "we're not punk anymore."
for some reason, thinking about contraceptives as a prisoner's dilemma in which women disproportionately lose (HT @MZHemingway), makes me almost as depressed as experimenting with an iPad as a dude magnet and discovering it doesn't work.
ah well. onward. -- FB
performance art isn't new. what seems (and i am not plugged in enough to know) to be newish is that arts institutions/artists are getting more comfy with people interacting with that performance. turning it into a two-way street, an improvisational experience in which you actually become part of the art/performance. this is not only going on in art - it seems comments, liking, friending, tagging, trending, hacking, reblogging, etc. are behaviors that know no platform. which is both cool and chaotic.
but a year ago, MoMA wasn't cool with thehappycorpglobal getting Posterboy to mash up MoMA ads in the subways. i guess you could have your picture made while jumping in front of art, but you couldn't have a street artist cut & splice it. maybe it's just that they don't mind people interacting with or subverting the art when the art is inside their four walls...
is miley cyrus a liberal trojan horse into the country music world? or does this guy just really, really hate her? also, if you want to feel the warm embrace of the country community, do scroll down into comments, because it's fun to call a teenager a tramp. -- FB
so, some people who made the important parts of MySpace are leaving. is this anything? -- FB
Looking at this kinda cool thing, when i noticed a banner for "The Happiness Exhibit: A photo project to document happiness across America."
It's sponsored by Lay's, who insists that Happiness is simple. It's a flickr-powered micro-site for sharing happy photos. If you upload a happy photo, maybe it will appear in an ad (for potato chips, natch) in People magazine.
but this might make me want to watch it - or at least last night's episode. i mean, madonna!
here comes the WSJ warning me away, but i think this warning, like so many others, may have to go unheeded. -- FB
once i got my head back on all straight and optimistic, i went straight over to see some smart happening on Faris Yakob's blog. because that's where you go when you need an intellectual pick-me-up.
and then, feeling nostalgic for memes & 'idea multipliers', i wound my way over to BBH Labs and some thinking about crowdsourced creativity and open source creativity. and then, glancing at the twitter feed, stumbled upon this:
maybe the optimism wore off just a little. -- FB
so women still aren't welcome in tech start--up culture? dudes, consider the following:
smarter, more educated women drink more. check.
promiscuous women cause earthquakes. you betcha.
the navy is cool with adding chicks on submarines, and taking away smokes. aha.
now let me ask you, do you want to get laid or not? -- FB
just in case you were trying to remember why you like to watch Mad Men, and what you'll be tuning into on July 25, this is a handy visual reminder:
you like this: >
you don't care for this at all:
(shudder) -- FB
in related news, steve jobs says no, you can not build an iPad app for your porn collection. he doesn't care how 'artistic' it is. --FB
we can't all be the olsen twins, but apparently we can try.
today i learned that david lynch has his own coffee brand.
dan aykroyd launched a vodka that seems to be based on the worst Indian Jones movie.
bill wyman wants you to find loose change on the beach.
these are, of course, very clear and compelling 'synergies' between products and brands. and lord knows the star power of these three will mean investors will make tens of dollars. -- FB
New thing: MediaBugs, "a service for correcting errors and problems in media coverage in the San Francisco Bay Area."
so on the one hand, a shout-out to my alma mater, the University of Oregon, for actually thinking about making content for mobile devices. and on the other hand, while some are saying this is about making the iPad a content creation device, the story suggests that the content creation devices are the students, and that the content they make will still be merely consumed on an iPad. by the way, i see nothing wrong with that. mostly because that debate (create or consume - good or evil) makes me zzzzzzzz. -- FB
i said i wouldn't blog about robots, but i guess i lied.
AV Club disses it, but I lurve the laser keyboard. -- FB
this was pretty HOTT last week in the advertising/planning/creative community that dominates my twitter feed.
According to the latest rankings...
Top 5 Awesomest:
Bottom 5 Inadequatest:
1. Kevin Federline
2. Mitt Romney
3. Sanjaya Malakar
4. Robert Pattinson
5. The Hills (sorry, Rex)
Now go forth, and be more awesome. -- FB
I love games. especially the dark & twisty, screwing with you just to screw with you, make you beg for mercy and wish you'd never been born, totally waste your time kind. I do! But GSN is totally harshing my vibe.
A new show hosted by Jerry Springer, called Baggage, in which contestants get to find out up front all about the baggage of self-proclaimed 'douchebags', 'ratties' and well... watch this:
Finding out up front takes all the fun out of it.
something about this makes me think LCD Soundsystem is taunting Ok Go. [rex, how do i embed videos in this rickety contraption you've got here?] -- FB
Joss Whedon to maybe helm The Avengers movie. FOX to probably let him finish.
Seriously, is there a genre for behind-the-scenes fanfic yet? Because I kinda want someone to imagine the sexual tension (and its inevitable, completely bonkers resolution) between Joss & Robert Downey Jr. -- FB
okey dokey. you get to watch me completely muck up rex's blog this week. let's begin. According to Ad Age, nicknames are The New Hot Thing in branding. Belevdere Vodka wants you to just call it "Belve". Because, y'know, you're such close pals. Arnell Group is behind this 'thinking' for Belve. If they are to be believed, having a nickname creates a sense of intimacy between consumers and brand. Alternatively, Arnell's planning process includes looking up client names in urbandictionary, googling some lyrics, and getting this video. Jay-Z? Belve & Cris? PURE MARKETING GOLD. By the way, not to be outdone, Keystone Light (whozawhatnow? Is that a real thing? Oh, it is.) wants all the bros to call it "Stones." As in, "He's got one helluva pair of Stones." By the way, their tagline is "Always Smooth. Even When You're Not." So I guess we already know how they feel about you. --FB
The thing that everyone is going to talk about today so why even bother linking to anything else: Life is Tweet.
I don't have any idea how Google's tablet will compete with the iPad, but the mere introduction of it basically solidifies that this type of device will the new way we encounter computing for the next many years.
It thus exists in a pleasingly liminal space between old and new, electronic and paper, sincere and wry. With titles like Page 35's "We Like Lists Because We Don't Want to Die", or Page 28's "I Believe Mustard To Be One Of The Most Amazing Condiments", it almost out-Tumblrs Tumblr for that mix of the heartfelt and sheer post-ironic oddness.
Yet, like Tumblr, it's the occasional juxtaposition that's most jarring - most likely to stop you dead in your tracks as you careen through your feeds - like the contrast in pictures and text that appear on "We're a Virus With Shoes, That's All We Are". -NA
h+ magazine is an online publication that purports to talk about the scientific and cultural trends that will fundamentally change humanity - and occasionally feels like the imaginary lovechild of Donna Haraway and the guys at Snarkmarket.
Exemplary stories: this recent piece on explaining consciousness; how 'Gamification' is turning work into play (which Rex also presciently wrote about in 2007); Transhumanism and Superheroes; or Jonathan Lethem on Phillip K. Dick. -NA
The fact that Joanne is saying smart things about the attention economy in this week's episode seems good enough reason to point you all to Spark, CBC's great techno-culture podcast hosted by the sultry-voiced Nora Young (Andy was also on it last year talking about Kind of Bloop and Kickstarter).
The show tends to veer toward the abstract side of the tech world, choosing to focus on people like Kevin Kelly, Bill Buxton or Jesse Schell rather than talking about the latest gadgets or geek-friendly pop culture. -NA
Did you spend most of your early twenties with a coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other, talking about Kafka and Nietzsche while Explosions in the Sky or Tortoise played in the background? If so, then you might be happy to learn that Godspeed You! Black Emperor are having a reunion tour of sorts. -NA
William Gibson has been using his blog recently for an extended Q&A. Yesterday's question was: "Do you think any influence from "The Wire" has leaked into your (this) writing? Would you necessarily [be] aware of it, if it had?". [via] -NA
Trailer for Best Worst Movie, which documents the belated reaction to Troll 2, which some have labeled the worst movie of all time. -NA
This internal Gawker memo in which Denton bestows advice on how to win at the internet is fun to read, largely because the note seems so surprisingly banal ("readers respond to drama") when compared to the often excellent work that appears on the media empire's sites. [via] -NA
Since I know many of you reading this are in New York, this London Review of Books event there includes a panel entitled "The Author in the Age of the Internet". -NA
More to the point though, I just googled 'Fuck Yeah Tilda Swinton' and no Tumblrs popped up. Travesty! Somebody rectify this please. -NA
I realise it may seem silly to link to an iPad review especially a few days on, but Gizmodo's is worth reading, and not just because of the weirdness that neither they nor Engadget got early review units.
No - it's the fact that Brian chose to write his review as a narrative of a day with an iPad that feels so refreshing and so bullshit- and hype-free. The fact that it's capped off with a video from Joel Johnson - who's arguably the best tech writer working today - is just icing on this surprising cake. -NA
Though they aren't always the most current - this essay on 'A White Boy's Defense of Avatar' went up yesterday - there are at least a couple of reasons to enjoy Ryeberg (tagline: 'Curated Video'): not only is their mixture of embedded video and the essay a uniquely online form, they're also just delightfully odd.
Examples? Poet Lynn Crosbie's strange tribute to Michael Jackson; Mitu Sengupta on 'Bombs, Bombshells and Bollywood'; the ever-awesome Lisan Jutras giving Keyboard Cat the kind thoughtful of analysis I always thought it deserved; and Bert Archer on the quintessential songs of the 80s and 90s respectively.
Bonus link: Markus Kirschner on cyborgs and fetishising technology in an essay called "Fucking Machines". -NA
You may remember Passage, the small yet surprisingly poignant lo-fi game that asked players to meditate on mortality. Now, Jason Rohrer has a new game coming out called Sleep is Death, and it looks promising. [via] -NA
But, beyond being really funny, it does make two important points: 1) that "the fact that the internet emerged in an advanced capitalist society where knowledge is intensely privatized and proprietary [means] the valorization of surplus value trumps ethical concerns"; and 2) that SEO depends on finding and tricking 'e-rubes' to fall for AdSense ads that no-one I know ever actually clicks on.
Might lean too far toward the Keen-Carr side of the spectrum, but it's smart and well-written enough to make it worth a read. -NA Update: PDF of the essay.
There are now two movies about the singularity: Transcendent Man, which debuted at Tribeca last year; and The Singularity is Near, which will show at the Sonoma Film Festival this month. Unfortunately, there's no trailer for the latter yet, but there is a description of it on IMDB. [via] -NA
The interesting thing about this defense of shyness [via] is that it suggests that the more 'we live in public', the more diffidence is counter-cultural - i.e. it kinda' makes you unreadable in way that Facebook/Twitter et al obviously do not. -NA
Women "with degrees are almost twice as likely to drink daily" sounds like fodder for all sorts of inappropriate joking, but I'd like to think it's about a willingness to abandon oneself to both pleasure and the moment. [via] -NA
I admit that "Australia's earliest film" may not be the most exciting title you've ever read, but beyond the historical interest - apparently this helps people piece together a line that leads up to Chaplin - there's just something fun about having a video from 104 years ago open in one tab and one uploaded to YouTube an hour ago in another.
Paniteur Grotesque "shows a bearded man, dressed in a top hat and smoking a cigar, rollerskating in a park before a circle of onlookers. He stops and lifts his jacket to reveal a white hand print on the bottom of his trousers in a cheeky gesture to the camera". Like ya' do.[via] -NA
If it sounds like music written by 18-year-olds, it's because it is. It's a trashy Strokes-meets-Arctic Monkeys mix of moroseness and fuck-you swagger - and the drunker you get, the better it sounds. -NA
You could probably sum up the anticipation for David Simon's Treme as equal parts "OMG! Can't Wait!" and "There's just no way it can live up to The Wire". Well, this Salon review is the first I've seen and calls the show "TV storytelling as its finest". Guess we'll see for ourselves on April 11th. -NA
Just because 30 Rock sucks this season (oh shush, it does), doesn't mean we can't talk about self-reflexive sitcoms, postmodernism and those crazy millennials.
Also - not mentioned in the essay but worth discussing: NBC's Community is not only a better show than 30 Rock this year, it, along with Arrested Development, might be among the first 'post-postmodern' sitcoms. -NA
Among the many upsides to new Broken Social Scene disc Forgiveness Rock Record releasing on May 4th is that your torrid summer love affair/fling will now have a soundtrack. -NA
We know how this goes now, right? Apple launches something, we all partake in - and quickly get sick of - the breathless conversation, and then the smart people we like use the buzz to say something altogether more interesting.
To wit: Hilobrow's Peggy Nelson wonders what happens when technology in general fulfills the promise of the iPad's interface and simply disappears.
What are we left with? "Virtual space junk orbiting around each of us, the shards of Friendster and old DOS-based BBS, YouTube videos sunning themselves in the periphery, email and blogs and Twitter streams in a state of continual update, all floating about in lazy ellipses." -NA
Hate the surveillance state? Time to hit the Ben Nye counter! Preliminary makeup patterns to hide from face detection (via.)-JM
Regarding yesterday's discovery @WhatTimeIsItNow: it turns out there are more than a handful of Twitter clock bots out there to tell you what time is it. In the words of @big_ben_clock, Bong! Bong! Bong! Bong! -JM
Rainer Werner Fassbinder made an insane number of brilliant films before his death in 1982 at 37. Newly restored is World on a Wire his obscure sci-fi movie for German TV. Dennis Lim for NYT calls it, "Head-trip cinema about virtual-reality immersions, its an analog-age 'Avatar,' a movie that anticipates 'Blade Runner' in its meditation on artificial and human intelligence and 'The Matrix' in its conception of reality as a computer-generated illusion." (via.)-JM
WhatTimeIsItNow: hilarious? useful? Updated over 276,482 times*, which only ranks as #47 on the top 100 most noisy accounts on Twitter. (The most updated account has tweeted more than 1,560,818,) -JM *corrected via, not daily updated, but aggregate.
You know how architecture blogs always seem to have impossibly cool futuristic images? Most of those images are renders. They haven't been constructed yet and probably never will be. Also, renders are marketing material. These images portray a building in the best possibile circumstances, but due to weather and you know, gravity, a lot can happen between the sketch and completion of a building. More from Will Wiles on why we shouldn't yet make too much of Anish Kapoor's wtf ArcelorMittal Orbit render for the London Olympic village.-JM
The 11th Doctor Who: Justin Bieber! No, not really, but the new Timelord Matt Smith is pretty young. The next season starts on BBC America on April 17. Steven Moffat, who wrote many fan favorite episodes, is replacing Russell T. Davies as the showrunner. -JM
Director Alejandro Jodorowsky (The Holy Mountain, El Topo) also made some really amazing comics (Check out The Metabarons.) Here's a collection of his weekly comic strips that ran in the late-60s. (via.) Also, Abel Cain/Sons of El Topo/Whatever the El Topo sequel is finally called: it's happening! -JM
Things you will learn in two recently published memoirs about Norman Mailer by his widow and former research assistant: he would eat teriyaki oatmeal and once insisted that cheating on his wife was research for his novel about the CIA. - JM
After 14 years, Roky Erickson has a new album coming out and Okkervil River is the backing band. Here's a single, as well as a new recording of "Goodbye Sweet Dreams" with the band. More on his website including some videos of Erickson in conversation with Will Sheff -JM
Trailer for Todd Solondz's latest film Life During Wartime, a semi-sequel to Happiness. Yeah, that's Paul Reubens you see in it. -JM
After The Runaways, what music biopic comes next? Don Cheadle has signed on to play Miles Davis. Forest Whitaker will soon star as Louis Armstrong. Someday maybe the Janis Joplin and Jeff Buckley movies will be made. In the meantime, enjoy "Weird: The Al Yankovic Story" - JM
You've got 4 days left to hear this Radio 4 episode on electronic music pioneer Delia Derbyshire, best known for her work with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop including the theme for Doctor Who. -JM
Stills from the upcoming movie based on Haruki Murakami's novel Norwegian Wood. The movie features Babel's Rinko Kikuchi. Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood is doing the score, following his terrific soundtrack for There Will Be Blood. More in the Atlantic (via.) - JM
Your moment of interactive zen: Data/Booty. (This is Rex, btw. Joanne wouldn't link to this trash!)
Sam Anderson goes behind the scenes of the theaterical adaptation of Samuel R. Delany's Dhalgren playing this week at The Kitchen (via.) Director Jay Scheib says, "It took me roughly a year to read Dhalgren for the first time. I would read the same ten pages over and over and over again. You get the feeling that the story has been going on like a fugue for millennia. The second time you read it, its thrilling. The third time, it makes you high. After that its like reading philosophy." -JM
PS 1 director Klaus Biesenbach once argued with Lady Gaga over whether she's a "performance artist." That and more in a great big post from David Byrne on "recontextualizing work", art world economics, video installations, Tino Sehgal, Marina Abramovic, the Whitney Biennial, advertising, oh, just about everything happening in the art world today. -JM
The Most Infamous Girl in the History of the Internet by Parker Ito. (Not Julia Allison) Found on artist Jon Rafman's Tumblr (Kool Aid Man in Second Life, The Nine Eyes of Google Street View) -JM
In case you missed it, there's a new LCD Soundsystem song (which is reminiscent of early Blur, right?):
Album coming in May.
"Anthems for a 17-year-old Girl" by Broken Social Scene is one of my favorite songs of all time. In concert, you never get to hear Emily Haines sing it anymore though. Except at SXSW.
I doubt anyone really remembers how controversial the BMW Films project was in 2001. There was an immense amount of chatter about whether the future of filmmaking would be consumer brands paying filmmakers to produce movies. Beyond the occasional foray of an auteur into 30-second commercials, this dystopia hasn't happened at all. But here's something new from Spike Jonze, brought to you by Absolut: I'm Here.
Tomorrow Museum asks: "When did curate stop meaning, as the OED says, 'to look after and preserve' and start describing the retweeting of bit.ly links and SEO optimization?" That and more...
I didn't see much chatter about this New Yorker profile of Polyvore last week, but parts of it were pretty interesting, especially the bits about it being founded by the creator of Yahoo Pipes (!) and his rather unsexy reason for creating Polyvore:
I felt that it would be great to work on something that has a visual component. If you look at all the different types of visual media, images are the ones your brain processes the fastest.
Anyway, the whole data-invasion-of-the-fashion-world theme is an interesting recurring idea out there right now... Update: Lindsay thought the profile was dumb (she's right about cringing at that "usability testing" bit).
You may recall that PBS rebooted The Electric Company into a hip hop inspired take on the disco reading for kids version from the 1970s. If you are a fan of the show from way back when and haven't taken the time to check out the new version, you should- it's great, and they have a YouTube Channel! I wish I knew more 4-10? year olds so that I could be the hip aunty that turned them onto this awesome show. The music is great, the stories are cute, the cast is super talented, and I find myself singing along whenever I have time to play an episode from the tivo while I'm internetting or whatever. (Also notice how I'm all set with the educational TV ready to go in case any 4-10 year olds DO come over. You should see my nature videos! Anybody need a babysitter?) Here's one of my favorite clips from the new version of The Electric Company, with Chris "Shockwave" Sullivan and Lin-Manuel Miranda rappin about Hard and Soft G. :DS
This Big-Picture-style photo essay from the Denver Post follows Ian Fisher, his parents and friend as he graduates from high school, joins the army, and does his first tour of duty in Iraq. It's powerful stuff, all taken by the same photographer over the course of 27 months.
Props to the Denver Post props for using the scrollable-collection-of-browser-width images format perfected by Alan Taylor at The Boston Globe's The Big Picture. It's really true about a picture speaking 1000 words, and my favorite thing about digital news distribution is the ability to show more photos and video. I HATE the trend towards click through image galleries. Media People, Are you reading this??? Please!!! Stop with the making me click all the time through your photo gallery! Come up with ad units that aren't so obtrusive, and let me scroll past them, and I'll expand if I'm interested. Flipping past an ad in a magazine and having it catch my eye is often an enjoyable experience, but having to click like a rat at a feeder bar for the next photo or next page just so you can display the same three ads to me 16 times is absolutely maddening. You can do better than this!!! Let me scroll! Through of the pictures at once! I'll scroll past ads if i must! Do the right thing!!!
Oof. This is a media blog sometimes, right?
Anyhoo- This excellent and excellently-displayed imagery is photojournalism at its finest, and it is part of a much larger multimedia reporting project from the Denver Post about Ian Fisher's life as an infantryman- although it seems some of the files in the video section are missing or slow to load. :DS
This is a truly special video link if you're into gay disco dancing, male nudity, and awesome songs. EXTREMELY NSFW
oOoOoOooooooh! You touched my TraLaLaaaa! :DS via funlap
Your favorite music video for the next 2 minutes: Sentimental by Onili.
Video By Onili & Boaz Aquino :DS
Welcome to DotComArchive.org... If you created or worked at an internet technology company during the 1990s, we invite you to tell us about your experiences. :DS
Today marks the 99th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire. Cornell's Industrial and Labor Relations school has an extensive web archive of original documents and secondary sources related to the event. :DS
Your favorite BBC Radio 1 DJ for the
next 5 minutes rest of the afternoon : Ras Kwame. Streaming on BBC1 Player and by download from his Ning Network. Featuring the best in Funky House, Dancehall, Dubstep & more... via the British Music Embassy at SXSW (which was awesome) :DS
I highly recommend this addition to your Netflix queue: Kenny, the delightful Australian comedy about a portaloo delivery man. It's been a worldwide sleeper hit since its release in 2006. The accents are a quite thick, so you might find it helpful to watch it with the subtitles on. :DS
Three gorgeous iPhone games that really make the most of the multi-touch surface:
Eliss came out last year -- it is unbelievably addictive and super challenging. It's been on everybody's best-of iphone lists, but if you haven't played it yet, get thee to the app store! In the words of the developer, Steph Thirion: "Warm up your hands, you're up for some serious finger gymnastics in the bizarro galaxy."
Colorbind by Daniel Lutz, is only about a month old, and it is just as much fun as Eliss- but in a much more relaxing way. You're weaving colored strips to connect the corresponding dots, and it's challenging, but pretty zen at the same time. As Mr. Lutz says, "Colorbind is easy to play, hard to master."
Bebot is not exactly a game, but he is pretty much the cutest synth robot best friend you will ever have. You can thank Russel Black at Normalware for this one.
Shoutoutout to my #1 homeslice JSTN for turning me on to all the best iPhone things. :DS
Feeling the need to let someone know you care? TajTunes is a singing telegram service from India that delivers your best wishes via telephone. You choose a song from their library and specify the receiver's name & number. The TajTune performers ring them up and sing the tune, and then they deliver a hilarious MP3 of the call back to the sender for just $6.99 (less if you're sending multiple tunes). TajTunes: Outsourcing Never Sounded So Good! :DS
This was NYT's their breaking news alert just now:
Mr. Obama affixed his curlicue signature, almost letter by letter, to the measure, the Affordable Health Care for America Act, during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, surrounded by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid and a raft of other lawmakers who spent the past year on a legislative roller-coaster ride trying to pass it. Aides said he would pass out the 20 pens he used as mementoes.
"affixed his curlicue signature"? Really? -RX
I'm excited to see what this week's guest blogger, Danielle Strle, is going to come up with. She works at StumbleUpon, designs stuff, and will blow your socks off. (If for some twisted reason you are interested in what I've been doing, here's an interview with me about recent projects.)
Another new launch today: Styleite. I'm really happy with how this turned out. Power Grid is back, bigger and prettier, and Style Sheets is the new Tumblettes. Verena is going to be a fantastic editor.
"Peaches Geldof seen smooching with new boyfriend Eli Roth" So we can add Eli Roth to heroin and Scientology. What a great trifecta. --DG
Not to double-dip, but it's really good to know that Sean Penn is back on his Madonna-dating, chain-smoking, crazy meds again after he freaked out at a reporter for asking him about his "critics die screaming of rectal cancer" statement. Then his PR team told the reporter to write a public apology to the Haitian ambassador before having her publicly escorted out of the gala (where reporters were allowed to ask Sean Penn one question, btw) by the police.
Top secret Improv Everywhere thing today involving Stormtroopers, if that's your thing. My thing? Stormtrooper burlesque. -- DG
The Zentai Project makes it sound like its some sort of hip, performance art-type thing to go around in a full body latex/lycra suit. I remember when we used to just call those people into masking gimps. -- DG
I thought Barbie's new job was going to be some sort of computer engineer? No? Now she's secretary Joan Holloway? Well, not much of an advancement in feminism, but you have to admit, waaaay more sexy. -- DG
New York Press film critic Armond White went all pissy in The Post, claiming he was barred from Noah Baumbach's new Ben Stiller movie (huh?) because White once said mean things about The Squid And The Whale. But publicist Leslee Dart says Armond was nixed because he made personally insulting remarks about Baumbach, like "calling him a [bleep]hole and saying his mom should have had an abortion." Which is just so...I don't lololol-able? Not that I dislike Noah Baumbach, but it's funny to think of this little Wes Anderson protegee being told his mother should have had an abortion. Like the only thing that could make this funnier is if Christian Bale had said it. -- DG
I'd be wary of a site that offers to call your cell phone for you in case you can't find it. Who knows what telemarketing list you'll end up. Plus side: Oh, there it is!
Whoops, and just figured out how that site works as spam. So no links for it!
Never mind, different spam site. Go ahead and use at your own risk. -- DG
Hey if you want to steal Google Maps coding to turn in for your 2nd year C++ course at community college, the SA forums have a really good cheat-sheet for you to use. Mr. Baronsky totally won't notice the difference, since he's too busy getting drunk to forget about his impending divorce.
So is Heidi Montag liberal now? Because during the election, she and Spencer were all about John McCain, but suddenly she's making these Ron Howard-directed videos for Funny or Die about creating a consumer agency to protect against big banks. So...she's against mindless corporate growth now? Heidi, get back to me. I need to know where you stand on the health care bill. Is it messed up to say she got hotter? --DG
[Sorry, I'm sneaking back onto my blog for self-promotion!] I forgot to announce that we relaunched this over the weekend: TheWeek.com. If you know the magazine, you know The Week is in an interesting position, as basically the most internety thing in the entire print world. If you take some of the editorial principles -- aggregation, synthesis, simplicity, clarity -- and apply them to the internet, you could envision something immensely desirable. It's a fantastic staff, so I'm excited about applying our/their ideas over the next few months.... -RX
Last night's House episode dealt with one of the show's key demographics: bloggers. Let's see what the show's writers thinks our profession looks like.
Nailed it. --DG
Well, when Rex Sorgatz was asked a while back, How bad do you anticipate Gould's book will be? Rex said he was still gathering his thoughts. In the meantime, Publishers Weekly have gathered theirs: "On the strength of an exposé she wrote for the New York Times Magazine two years ago about her experience working at Gawker.com, Gould, hailing from Silver Spring, Md., and now in her late 20s, delivers a series of 11 insipid essays about her uninspired youth and general lack of motivation or talent for various jobs she took after moving to New York City. The writing seems intentionally bland, as if Gould is attempting to be blasé."
Rex, have you gathered your thoughts yet? As someone from around the Silver Spring area myself, I can promise there is not much else to do besides listen to Liz Phair and then go to Kenyon (Oberlin). Also, haven't read the book, but based on what I've read of Gould's work, I don't think that being blasé is "intentional" as in something she's faking...shit is genetically imprinted. Not bland though: How can the person who made the Internet coin the term "overshare" be bland? --DG
So, admidst all the conversations about Chatroulette's marketing potential, some enterprising video editor went ahead and gave the medium a chance. Mind you, this isn't actually on behalf of Fancy Feast, and it's not entirely revolutionary, but it IS more than just shouting out loud.
I don't believe for a second that this guy isn't trying to get himself a job doing viral marketing campaigns on ChatRoulette.
He even admits to making this "spec ad specifically for the medium" which we all know is industry slang for "Hire me, crowdsourcing ad agency!" -- DG
David Foster Wallace's papers are all going to the University of Texas, including some "juvenilia" like 200 books from his own library, poems, and college/graduate papers. Why Pomona didn't get these is sort of head-scratching, but UT is building up quite the collection. In case you wanted to hear what Chuck Klosterman thinks about this:
"He definitely is the writer I've ripped off the most," said Klosterman, author of "Sex, Drugs and Cocoa Puffs," on Monday. "Wallace showed me that you could present ideas that were insightful and complex, but the presentation could still be as entertaining as any sort of writing whose sole purpose was to entertain. Considering how dense his work could be, it was almost never confusing."
Unlike say, having a quote from Chuck Klosterman in your article that has nothing to do with the subject matter of where DFW's materials are ending up. --DG
Lights Camera Jackson is the only movie review site you should be reading. This 11-year old puts SexMan (who is now apparently Pruane2Forever?) to shame. Ex: He gave Alice in Wonderland, a movie ostensibly marketed to him (and Neil Gaiman fan-girls and 40-year old man-children who still think Burton puts out good work) a D+!
Yes, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit and Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum are involved in the story, but not that much. However, the one thing that is missing completely from this version of "Alice" is fun. Burton has made a serious film, that, at times, is even a bit depressing. And the movie gets off to a dreadfully slow start, as the first 20-minutes: Alice's life prior to falling into the hole, are completely unnecessary.
A+ review from someone who has never seen another Tim Burton film before he redid Willy Wonka! Are you legal yet? Call me! -- DG
Hey, right at 2:30 you can spot Adam from Mythbusters making a cameo as the drowning kid!
When Spiers described her earlier idea for an online "Maxim for women, Women's Wear Daily noted comparisons to Gawker Media women's site Jezebel (where that story's writer, Irin Carmon, now works). However, The Gloss feels quite different from Jezebel. It's female-positive, for sure, but without the overtly feminist voice often found in Jezebel. (Spiers' "Maxim" concept was intended to cater to the female id and the female ego.")
New York's okay if you like
saxophones a women's site catering to your ego where the only dude is Michael Orell. --DG
It wasn't just the first time a woman has won Best Director (and then take Best Picture). It's the first time a woman has been able to shove that shit in her ex's face and go "See? I am better than you." Kathryn Bigelow is literally the best director of 2009. Fuck you and your little blue suicide-inducing Na'vi, James Cameron. --DG
I guess I'm on the record being annoyed with NYC's recent look-at-me-look-at-me glee over a handful of successful startups. Obviously, it's not that I don't want this fair city to succeed; it's just that I shun boosterism for its own sake, and there's a lot of that here. Go social media!
That said, Jenna Wortham's Sunday NYTimes piece on the scene hits all the right spots, namechecks all risers, and generally feels informed about what's at stake. If NYC digerati can position themselves as the next version of their key fracturing industries (media, fashion, finance, advertising, publishing), it should be poised to find the next versions of those sectors. --RX
It's been a fun week. I'll sign off now before I get tempted to overstay my welcome and live-blog the Oscars tomorrow night. ("WHAT?! Hurt Locker was SO contrived!!", etc.)
Thanks for reading, and thanks to Rex for the opportunity.
If you're interested in more of this kind of thing, you can follow my shared links and catch me on Twitter. In a couple months, I'll be launching Slow Machine (RSS), a site with occasional, longer pieces about -- what else? -- pop culture and politics. Hope to see you there. --ADM
I've decided to follow someone at random. She likes peanut butter and gummy dinosaurs. Sarah Killen, your life is about to change.
Update: Here's an interview with her.
Some people asked me for the slides from last night's Ignite talk. It completely lacks context without the audio, but here they are: Why The Hills Is The Greatest Show In The History Of Television -RX
The Wolfram|Alpha knowledge engine can now answer queries about the Academy Awards. So you can enter a query like "academy awards for The Godfather" and it will show you the Oscars it won. Note that the examples suggest querying with the phrase "Academy Awards" but using "Oscars" seems to work too. --ADM
NYT's Lens Blog has first-hand account of the Marja battle from embedded photographer Tyler Hicks. Hicks and reporter CJ Chivers filed some outstanding work from the battle. Chivers (a former Marine) and Hicks were on the front lines throughout, and I wouldn't be surprised if they earn a Pulitzer for their efforts. --ADM
Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland opens today. Here are some reviews:
- Manohla Dargis in the NY Times doesn't like it
- Kenneth Turan in the LA Times doesn't like it much either
- Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun-Times likes it until the third act
Ebert notes that the 3D feels tacked on and adds nothing to the entertainment. --ADM
They are a form of online vigilante justice in which Internet users hunt down and punish people who have attracted their wrath. The goal is to get the targets of a search fired from their jobs, shamed in front of their neighbors, run out of town. It's crowd-sourced detective work, pursued online -- with offline results.
The article opens with the story of a woman who appeared in an anonymous web video stomping a cat to death. Viewers organized an effort to identify her. Shortly thereafter, living in a small town in a country of one billion people, she was identified. And ostracized.
The article suggests such efforts are more mainstream in China than in the US, though identification and subsequent harassment of "people who have attracted their wrath" is common among certain online communities here, too. In fact there are exact parallels: a group of users on 4chan have also tracked down a cat abuser (among many others).
But perhaps all online communities and social networks are essentially human flesh search engines, or easily transformed into them as desired -- although usually with less malice. We might not be much more closely connected than we have been in past years, but with 400 million people on Facebook alone, discovering (and persisting) those connections is becoming trivial. Powered by the data and photos in these social networks, recent technological advancements such as real-time face recognition built into cellphones will soon erode, if not entirely dissolve, anonymity.
With your anonymity goes your privacy. Does it matter? Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg says a desire for privacy is no longer the "social norm." But maybe such social norms were a casualty of his -- and others' -- business models. Uploading a photo of myself doesn't mean I want everyone to be able to identify me on the street. Emailing clients regularly doesn't mean I want them to see the names of everyone else I'm in contact with. But to Facebook, Google, and other companies, it does. This is the bargain we've made: give me convenience and connectedness, and I'll give you my anonymity and privacy.
We know the short-term consequences of this already -- insurers checking up on us, bosses peering into our personal lives, and so on -- but what are the long-term social and psychological consequences? Adults today have had years of disconnection from their pasts and had the option of growing up and evolving outside the gaze of their childhood peers, their relatives, etc. But today's kids will spend their entire lives on the social web. Will this hold back their personal growth in any way? Would you be different if everyone you've known from elementary school and beyond could look in on you at any time? Will today's kids grow up acting more conservatively because they know their behavior (and that of their friends) will be publicly and permanently documented? Or, will this instead cause a greater liberalization of social behavior as they become adults in a generation that accepts everyone acts foolishly, and everyone's foolish acts are publicly and permanently documented?
Or maybe the problem will solve itself. It seems possible that if nearly everyone you've ever met is your "friend" on Facebook, then your social network will eventually become so diffuse and the amount of information available will be so overwhelming, no one will bother checking up on anyone they don't really care about. Sound familiar? Maybe the social network will supplant the role that the internet played in our lives 10 years ago: others could often find you in its vastness if they cared, but they didn't. Just as ten years before that, we all had our names in the phone book, but no one called. The social norms adapt.
How do you see them evolving in the next 5 - 10 years? And how will Facebook and Google respond to or drive the changes? --ADM
If Windows 7, Mac OS X, or Ubuntu Linux aren't doing it for you, maybe try out a state-sponsored operating system from your favorite dictatorship: North Korea's Red Star or Cuba's Nova. Both appear to be Linux variants.
Engadget reports that the North Korean distro looks a lot like Windows, with just a few minor differences: the equivalent of the "Start" button has been replaced with a red star, and Firefox is called "My Country." Oh, and: it doesn't connect to the internet...just the local, gov't-approved BBS.
Rex's oft-repeated prediction about the Hipster Grifter is one step closer to reality: Ex-con Kari Ferrell will be answering readers' questions at Gawker. She'll be responding by video. Get in there, Rex! --ADM Update: Her response is up.
Tim Rogers has lived in Japan for several years. He's sick of it -- very, very, very sick of it. So sick of it, he's written one of the longest* blog posts in the history of blog posts to explain all the ways he's sick of it. I didn't read the whole thing, but most of it seems to be because they put meat on everything and scream all the time.
Threat Level reports that the Chinese hackers who attacked Google and more than 30 other high profile companies a few month ago targeted the companies' source code management systems, meaning they had access to -- and apparently the ability to modify -- the "crown jewels" of their targets' intellectual property: their software. The victims of the attack used Perforce to manage their code, and according to Threat Level, Perforce seems to have an extremely weak security model. (For instance, anonymous users with no password can add users to the system.)
On Thursday morning, ABC will air the first recent video of Jaycee Lee Dugard, the woman who spent 18 years living in the backyard of her abductor, Phillip Garrido. Here's the teaser. The video will appear on
Thursday'sFriday's Good Morning America and on Nightline. --ADM
Amtrak's Acela Express trains (which run at high speed along the northeast corridor from DC to Boston) will be getting free wifi. It's coming to some of the major stations, too. But the regular old trains will not be getting it any time soon, so you'll still have to make do talking to those Emerson College kids for 5 hours. --ADM
"A raid on suspected militants in the West Bank planned for Wednesday was called off by [Israel's] military because a soldier posted details of the operation on Facebook."
The offending message:
"On Wednesday we clean up Qatanah, and on Thursday, god willing, we come home."
He also gave up the name of his unit, the time of the operation, etc. Maybe we should just give Facebook to the guys at Guantanamo. --ADM
Noted NYC graffiti artist Lee Quinones has responded to readers' questions at NYTimes.com. His work is in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum, he appears in Wild Style, and he painted Luis Guzman's truck in How to Make it in America. Even if you don't like graffiti, his responses are worth reading just for their musicality. --ADM
Harvard's Nieman Journalism Lab examines an usual editorial relationship between the Huffington Post and a third-party fundraiser [link fixed]. The Lab says HuffPo outsources editorial control of the "Impact" section of the site to Causecast, a for-profit organization that raises money for non-profits:
In exchange for the content, HuffPo shares the advertising and sponsorship revenue the section generates with the outside company, Causecast. And Causecast gets a platform to promote its services and the nonprofits it chooses to highlight, some of which are its partner organizations.
The section on HuffPo is labeled "in partnership with Causecast," but the third-party authorship is not made explicit:
...despite having a bio and byline like other Huffington Post editors [an author of some Impact pieces] is not a HuffPo employee. He is paid by Causecast and works out of their Santa Monica offices. As part of the arrangement with the Huffington Post, Harris oversees two other writers, who are also Causecast employees, in producing the site's content, which includes short original stories and aggregation from around the web.
The Nieman Lab wonders about the ethical implications of this. Causecast says their clients cannot pay them to place a story on HuffPo. Are there other considerations? If you're reading something you think is authored by HuffPo and is actually authored by a third-party corporation, do you care? What if that third-party has undisclosed relationships with the organizations discussed in the article?
Google Blogoscoped takes a look at the current state of Google Knol, Google' almost-forgotten, and allegedly more "authoritative" response to Wikipedia. Knol launched with much fanfare in 2008, although plenty of skeptics at the time felt the walled garden approach would fail.
Since the last time you've heard anything about Knol was probably in 2008, it's probably safe to say that it is now a failure. Will it recover? Google Blogoscoped says the developers seem to be "taking a long term view" of the project, and notes they are still actively improving the service. But the post estimates that Knol only has about 163,000 articles on it, many of which appear to be spam or debates about Knol itself. (Wikipedia has 3.2 million articles in English alone.)
As a result, few people seem to be thinking about or looking for Knol. Some Google Search Trends charts included at the bottom of the article dramatically illustrate this point. (The blue line is Wikipedia, the red line is Knol.)
Have you used Knol? Contributed to it? Made any money from it? --ADM
TiVo just launched its next-generation DVR, called TiVo Premiere. It's 1080p, eSata, 320GB, 802.11n, blah blah blah and looks like a TiVo from the year 2010. But check out this cool remote! It's a QWERTY slider! --ADM
Update: Here's the remote in action.
It's interesting to me that no sector of the mass media learned from any other sector as each one got its turn to react to the ongoing digital revolution. The newspaper industry is in the same throes as the film industry was, just as the film industry's struggle mirrored the music industry's.
For the last year or so, it's been the book publisher's turn to demonstrate it has learned something -- anything -- from the last 15 years. But, as the kerfuffle over pricing and DRM have demonstrated so clearly -- they haven't.
The latest WTF moment comes from Macmillan (them again): CEO John Sargent says he wants to sell "hardcover" eBooks. As TUAW's TJ Luoma astutely points out, there are only a few reasons to get a hardcover instead of a paperback, and they either don't apply or make no business sense in the digital realm:
- You want to buy the book soon after it's published? eBooks take care of that. You can have it a few seconds later, in fact. If the publisher delays releasing it because it's a "paperback," they're just shooting themselves in the foot.
- You want a collector's item? Too bad! THEY PUT DRM ON THE EBOOK. Not much resale or nostalgia value there!
- You want bigger type? Press the "+" button.
Here's my (free!) business plan for book publishers: Since you're going to have to do it eventually anyway, give your customers what they want now. Four other industries have already learned these lessons for you -- and in some cases are still learning them. They spent a lot of years and money (and angered a lot of customers) so that you wouldn't have to. Wishing things away is not effective. --ADM
Putting aside the brief hysteria that PleaseRobMe.com set off recently, will your use of social media sites have an impact on your insurance rates? For instance, if you post your vacation plans or pictures from a wild house party, will your insurer notice? According to Computerworld, Legal & General, a home insurer in the UK, is exploring the possibility. [via Techdirt]
Joel Spolsky, widely known among programmers for his exceptional blog, Joel on Software, has a thoughtful piece in Inc. about corporate blogging.
He credits fellow developer Kathy Sierra with helping him verbalize something he may have only intuited:
"To really work, Sierra observed, an entrepreneur's blog has to be about something bigger than his or her company and his or her product. This sounds simple, but it isn't. It takes real discipline to not talk about yourself and your company. Blogging as a medium seems so personal, and often it is. But when you're using a blog to promote a business, that blog can't be about you, Sierra said. It has to be about your readers, who will, it's hoped, become your customers... So, for example, if you're selling a clever attachment to a camera that diffuses harsh flash light, don't talk about the technical features or about your holiday sale (10 percent off!). Make a list of 10 tips for being a better photographer. If you're opening a restaurant, don't blog about your menu. Blog about great food. You'll attract foodies who don't care about your restaurant yet."
But are corporate blogs necessary or even desirable? Despite running one for 10 years, Spolsky isn't convinced. He observes that many successful companies -- Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc. -- have lousy blogs, and Apple has none at all. Finally (and relatedly), he announces that in a few weeks, he will be retiring his blog. He makes a good case for doing so, but it seems to me that companies who lack a large customer base and name recognition could gain a lot by blogging the way he did. --ADM
NYT's Natalie Angier has a very poetic piece on some new research showing that over the last 50 years, the pacing of movies has tended toward the natural rhythm of the brain (and the universe). It's hard to summarize in a sentence, so Angier explains at length:
The basic shot structure of the movies, the way film segments of different lengths are bundled together from scene to scene, act to act, has evolved over the years to resemble a rough but recognizably wave-like pattern called 1/f, or one over frequency -- or the more Hollywood-friendly metaphor, pink noise. Pink noise is a characteristic signal profile seated somewhere between random and rigid, and for utterly mysterious reasons, our world is ablush with it. Start with a picture of Penelope Cruz, say, or a flamingo on a lawn, and decompose the picture into a collection of sine waves of various humps, dives and frequencies. However distinctive the original images, if you look at the distribution of their underlying frequencies, said Jeremy M. Wolfe, a vision researcher at Brigham and Women's Hospital, "they turn out to have a 'one over f' characteristic to them."
Researchers analyzed the length of shots in films and noticed the trend, which Angier suggests may explain why movies are so captivating even when they aren't that good. The researchers also seemed surprised that a montage from Rocky IV showing Rocky and Drago training separately featured matching shots of equal length for each boxer. As with the golden ratio, it seems like pink noise is the sort of thing that artists and audiences figure out before scientists do.
An accompanying graph shows how various films align (or not) with the 1/f ratio, objectively and as compared to the average for its year of release. Of all the films analyzed, Back to the Future matched 1/f most closely. Even so, researchers noted that there is no consistent correlation between a film's adherence to pink noise principle and its popularity with viewers. --ADM
You may have been hearing that chef Jamie Oliver wants to change the world through better food. And he has a show on ABC to help him accomplish just that. In this teaser video, he goes to a school in "America's unhealthiest town" (Huntington, WV) and shows the kids tomatoes, an eggplant, and cauliflower. The kids don't recognize any of them. --ADM
Penguin Classics and AIDS-awareness marketeers (RED) have teamed up to re-issue 8 classics with some striking new designs. Each cover features a quotation from the book as the key design element. --ADM
An arrest warrant has been issued in California for Ronald Reagan's grandson. Failure to appear for charges related to.... marijuana possession. Grandma is *not* going to be happy about this one. --ADM
Here's some developing tech that will let you turn your skin into a touchscreen. The first two questions for any new technology apply here: (1) How does this apply to me? (2) How does this apply to porn? --adm
NYT's Motoko Rich breaks down the costs and profits associated with creating and distributing eBooks vs. regular books.
If I'm reading it right, for each hardcover sold, publishers are left with revenue of $4.05 before overhead. For an eBook, they end up with "$4.56 to $5.54, before paying overhead costs or writing off unearned advances." Hence their reluctance to continue with the $9.99 pricing so favored by Amazon.
Related: Did you see that author Douglas Preston got into all kinds of trouble with his fans for suggesting they had a "sense of entitlement" for wanting cheap eBooks? He eventually apologized and reframed his comments after an outcry. --adm
The Foursquare Rap - Badges Like Us:
The Tribeca Film Festival opens on April 21 in NYC. Its stated mission is "assisting filmmakers to reach the broadest possible audience, enabling the international film community and general public to experience the power of cinema and promoting New York City as a major filmmaking center." So of course Shrek 4 is opening the festival this year. --ADM
The NYT's Lens blog features an essay by a photographer/videographer who has been covering bomb squads in the Iraq War over the last six years. He says The Hurt Locker is completely unrealistic:
The film is a collection of scenes that are completely implausible wrong in almost every respect. This time, its not just minor details that are wrong...More disturbing and implausible yet is the way the protagonist repeatedly endangers the lives of his team members. The soldiers I have worked with over the years are like brothers to one another. Never have I seen stronger bonds between men. Any soldier who routinely endangers his own life or those of his squad members would not be punched, as the movies star is in one scene. He would be demoted and kicked out of his unit.
Does it matter? --ADM
George Soros has been buying massive quantities of Yahoo stock, increasing his holdings from 726,000 shares to 3.5 million. No one knows why. An analyst at Minyanville recommends being cautious about following Soros on this one. --ADM
This short video clip brings together two of your favorite things from the 1980s: the "Tears in Rain" scene from Blade Runner and Legos. (It may have gone around before, but the creator re-cut it recently.) --ADM [via Make]
Serious Eats has a profile of Robert Caplin, the photographer who takes many of the photos that accompany the New York Times' restaurant reviews. FAQ #1: Does he get to eat the food? "We aren't supposed to sit down and have a meal, but the chef often insists you try something..." He also takes pictures of things besides food, and has a blog. --ADM
Apple has released its annual report [PDF] on the labor conditions in its factories overseas. Highlights:
- Underage workers: "Across the three facilities, our auditors found records of 11 workers who had been hired prior to reaching the legal age."
- More than half of the plants had employees working more than the permissible 60 hours per week.
- 45 of the 102 audited plants were docking employee pay as a means of punishment. Apple says this is legal according to local laws, but has stopped this practice.
The Pew Internet & American Life Project, in the news every few months for issuing reports on America's media consumption habits, has just released its latest survey, "Understanding the Participatory News Consumer." Key findings include:
- "37% of internet users have contributed to the creation of news, commented about it, or disseminated it via postings on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter."
- "The internet has surpassed newspapers and radio in popularity as a news platform on a typical day and now ranks just behind TV." But over a third (38%) rely solely on offline sources, and...
- Local news is still the leading new source. "78% of Americans say they get news from a local TV station."
- 75% of online news consumers say they get news forwarded through email or posts on social networking sites.
This week's guest editor is ADM, someone who I have known online for, oh boy, nearly a decade. He's already picking up items you'll see talked about in other places all week. I think you will enjoy his curation.
(In the meantime, one of my upcoming and exciting projects got written up in NYTimes' style mag, T: Refashioner. Much more on this later, but this will be exciting.)
The illustrator Robert McCall has died. McCall was notable for his ambitious visions of space exploration. According to a note on MAKE, Isaac Asimov said he was the "nearest thing to an artist in residence from outer space." If you spent time as a kid reading a lot of theoretical magazine articles about space stations and manned missions to Mars, you probably ran across his work. (He also did the poster art and other materials for 2001: A Space Odyssey.) Here are a few scans from an April 1961 issue of Life magazine, published right after Yuri Gagarin's successful mission sent America into a panic and McCall's illustrations helped us feel like we actually had a plan. --ADM
Will Matt Damon be in another Bourne movie? His message has been consistent since about the time the last one came out. But people keep asking him about it, so here he is repeating it:
"If Paul Greengrass does it and we have something to say, definitely," said Damon. (Greengrass sounded less willing: "I'm out of it. I'm going to try other things.")
But this time Damon adds an unsettling twist:
"I think the way is to extend the franchise is to create a 'Bourne identity' that different actors can take on. I could pass the identity to Russell Crowe or Denzel Washington or Ryan Gosling."
Please don't talk like that, Matt Damon. --ADM
The hit squad that killed the Hamas commander in Dubai apparently used a fast acting muscle relaxant to disable him before they smothered him. Earlier reports on the execution said the door was latched from the inside when the body was discovered. Anyone have any idea how they might have done that? --ADM
Update: Not sure what happened to the comment, but someone here posted a link to this video showing how to do it.
The econ/finance site Minyanville analyzes a recent report from AdMob and notes that "roughly 73% of Android users are male." The iPhone's user base, by contrast, is gender-balanced. Why? Minyanville says it's because of -- surprise! -- marketing. For example, Droid ads include subtle messages like, "It's not a princess. It's a robot. A phone that trades hair-do for can-do." Apparently men, like robots, regularly fall for this kind of thing. --ADM
NYT talks to Paul Greengrass and Brian Helgeland about Green Zone, which opens on March 12. In their comments, they reference Judith Miller, David Simon, Imperial Life in the Emerald City, and The French Connection. --ADM
Walmart is now selling locally-sourced food. They call it "Heritage Agriculture." Just another case of greenwashing? Let's find out: The Atlantic has a full report, including a blind taste test with a panel of foodies, comparing the offerings to the local Whole Foods'. --ADM [via BAR]
The 2010 Whitney Biennial has opened. The Times says it is understated but sometimes provocative. New York magazine agrees. Note that the exhibit includes the unforgettable 'Marine Wedding' photos by Nina Berman. --ADM
Why is Toyoda not spelled 'Toyota'? The Washington Post explains. Executive summary: His grandfather started the company, but they changed the name because "Toyota" has a luckier number of brush strokes (8). --ADM [via Consumerist]
So cute: Spoon's Britt Daniel talks to NPR's World Cafe about "found" lyrics and says that sometimes, when he hears something funny in a conversation, he'll text himself so he won't forget it. (Yep. That's all I've got on this most slow of snow days. But the link will take you to a live Spoon performance and that has to be worth something, right? It's only twenty minutes but they close with "I Summon You!") --FD
Gay couples seeking surrogate mothers are the latest group looking to outsource to India through cheap "rent a womb" plans: "We feel we hit the jackpot because we got two healthy and beautiful twins for a fraction of what it would have cost in the U.S." --FD
The Guardian's Daniel Leigh thinks we should stop pretending that Tim Burton and Martin Scorsese are still making great movies. In anticipation (or not!) of Alice in Wonderland and Shutter Island, Leigh examines why he just can't muster up any enthusiasm for either. Here he is on Tim Burton's last six films [I disagree with his assessment of Big Fish, but he has a point--am I breathlessly awaiting Alice in Wonderland because I actually think it's going to be fantastic? Not really. As Leigh argues, we should know better.] --FD
Is the world really so hard up for set-dressed flights of Gorey-esque fancy that we're rewriting history to forget 2005's drably gleaming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory retread? Or that his very finest moments in recent years could best be described as satisfactory (Corpse Bride) or efficient (Sweeney Todd)? And bear in mind that after them we're into Sleepy Hollow, Planet of the Apes and, oh God poke my eyes out with a fantastical curlicued kebab skewer if I ever have to witness it again, Big Fish.
In keeping with today's "celeb" theme--Wayne Coyne is famous, right?--here's a profile of a guy who moderates Oh No They Didn't, arguably the most impressive celebrity link blog community in the world. It's written in a refreshingly understated tone (especially for The Awl), with both the writer (a friend of mine, full disclosure!) and the subject downplaying the predictable excitement one must feel when getting ripped off by Perez Hilton, racking up 2.5 million pageviews on Gawker and tapping into Dina Lohan's psyche, resulting in a peaceful glimpse into a surely hectic mind. --FD
If you like the Flaming Lips, you may feel like an amateur fan when you read this conversation between Matthew Perpetua of Fluxblog and Mark Richardson of Pitchfork about their 90s-era music--but you'll enjoy it anyway. Richardson, who wrote the newish 33 1/3 book on The Flaming Lips' 1997 Zaireeka, discusses the importance of Wayne Coyne's age difference with Kurt Cobain, the band's early theatricals and their consequent influence on bands like Of Montreal, the contrast they set against 90s grunge grimness and much more. --FD
[Note: I originally wrote that Richardson discussed Coyne's "mild schizophrenia" but that was actually in reference to former guitarist Ronald Jones.]
"After gravity, culture is the thing that holds humanity in place." That's Cate Blanchett, making a case for the arts as both spiritually and economically necessary in a great speech she gave to the Australian Performing Arts Market this week. --FD
Esquire asks Mary Louise Parker to give up sex for a month. She accepts. Then declines. Then writes about it. Sort of. Seems a bit staged but anything she does or doesn't do is completely forgivable.
See also: giving up the news ("I read novels during my daily commute. I straight-up ignored Chris Matthews. Bliss. Then things got weird") and drinking by Editor in Chief David Granger ("The other hardest thing about not drinking is eleven o'clock"). Smells like the first Esquire feature-turned-book I might even buy--giving up on things as a trend seems like a natural, compelling next step in our excessive "try everything" culture. --FD
From "Destination: Haiti," an unsentimental yet illustrative account of Port-Au-Prince by a young freelancer based in Mexico City: --FD
As the bus pulled into Petionville, on the hills north of Port-au-Prince, some Texas evangelists I had met on the ride invited me to stay with them at the home of a Haitian pastor. We piled into the pastor's white Montero, driving carefully past people sleeping on the streets, too terrified of aftershocks to spend the night in their homes. That night Jose, a freelance photographer I had met on the bus, and I camped in the pastor's large garden. Getting more than one thing done a day in Haiti required an act of violence, the pastor's wife said.
Millennials! They're getting harder to ignore/understand by the day!
Yesterday, the President of MTV Networks said that he thinks this generation is "really about authentic reality and family" and that's why MTV programming no longer appeals to Generation X. The Oscars announced that Zac Efron and the Twilight crew will be presenting awards this year in hopes of drawing a tween audience (which won't work on them because it's not like anyone below 23 has seen The Hurt Locker, but will work on me because it's not like I haven't seen 17 Again, twice).
Today, PBS News Hour is livetweeting a Pew Research conference on Millennials with some fascinating figures (only 14% use Twitter) and some mystifying statements with unintentionally ironic airquotes ("What's surprising is how 'conventional' this generation is."). And finally, Pew has a "How Millennial Are You?" quiz, which you can take here. I got a 78, which is probably why I'm actually enjoying the new Ke$ha video that just leaked, but not enough to steal her album. --FD
[Update: the full Pew conference report: "The Millennials: Confident. Connected. Open to Change."]
"If you're a white student and you arrive at the public elementary school building on 95th Street and Third Avenue, you'll probably walk through the front door. If you're a black student, you'll probably come in through the back." --FD
Zach Galifianakis interviews John Wray, author of the excellent Lowboy, now out in paperback. If you haven't read it yet, I bet this clip won't discourage you, unless you hate Brooklyn and/or laughter. [Here's John Wray's "The Making of Zach Galifianakis" in the Times magazine last year, and here's a Q&A with Wray by yours truly.] --FD
Haven't gotten around to reading The Guardian's collection of great authors' "Ten Rules for Writing Fiction" yet? Here are two good best-of lists: NYMag // Flavorwire. The second one even has the quotes Photoshopped onto their respective writers' photographs, ready for some insta-Tumbling, as well as some excerpts so you can judge the authors' words against their own advice. --FD
Great new issue of Wired this month, especially for old-schoolers who miss the early years. "10 Years After" looks back at the moment the Nasdaq peaked, the cover story is a roundup of the new digital currency options that even advances the ball, and Steven Levy's story on the Google algorithm is actually the story you've been wanting to read about the Google algorithm, not another warmed up wonk story on "Google culture." And Kevin Smith does his thing:
My dream is to never have to take a real job again. If my next movie bombs and nobody ever gives me another dollar to make more, I wouldn't care. I don't need to do it anymore. I was never convinced that the film thing would last anyway. It just made me interesting enough to have a Web site.
I'm doing one of those pecha kucha things at Ignite NYC VIII next week. The title: "Why The Hills Is The Greatest Show In The History of Television." Prepare to be convinced. More info to come.... -RX
A sad musical, or the saddest musical? "The Last Goodbye," a rock version of "Romeo and Juliet" told through the songs of Jeff Buckley, is set to open in the 2010-2011 season. --FD
This is a week old, and most likely old to a lot of people, but this post about becoming the mayor of the North Pole on FourSquare is interesting in the whole gaming the system / creating useful systems debate. -RX
I wonder what Proust would have made of our present-day locus of collective fantasy, the Internet. I'm guessing he would have seized on its wistful aspect, pointing out gently and with wry humor that much of what beguiles us is the act of reaching for what isn't there.
Clem Snide, one of my favorite bands, has a new album coming out tomorrow. The Meat of Life, which you can listen to in its entirety here (until tomorrow only), has gotten largely positive early reviews as an album that's a focused and smooth--if maybe too smooth--return to excellence. --FD
PresenTense, a hip Jewish life magazine, has launched its latest issue entirely on Google Wave, marketing it as the first magazine ever to do so. It's a bit distracting--it's never easy to read an article when you're inside a giant chat room. But I like the idea of using Wave as a full-issue magazine browser instead of having to download the PDF or click through all the individual pieces, especially for small publications. --FD
"Sure, you can carpe diem, but with the late-night text you're saying you're ready to carpe a.m." -- From the inaugural sex column on late-night texting in the newly-launched HuffPost College. --FD
Why Lady Gaga is the Ultimate Social [Media] Climber: an analysis of why Gaga has become one the most sought-after celebrity endorser by using social media and how that makes her type of endorsement different than others' ("It's not about her putting her name on something -- it's reinvigorating a brand"). I don't really get the appeal, but the people who made her MAC Viva Glam lipstick the biggest seller in the campaign's 16-year history sure seem to! --FD
Know your celebrity Buddhists! The Daily Beast does a nice round-up, which I've narrowed down to four surprising categories: 1) Rich people of Asian descent 2) Rich people who have met the Dalai Lama 3) Orlando Bloom 4) Orlando Bloom's girlfriends. Notably absent: Tiger Woods' girlfriends. --FD
Netflix alert: Fish Tank, which won Best British Film at the BAFTA awards last night, about a teen girl adjusting to her mother's new boyfriend. Fish Tank was in good company: it beat out An Education, In The Loop, and Moon. [Or, if you can't wait and you're super not-lazy, the movie is currently playing at IFC.] --FD
While watching a promo for Chuck Todd's show on MSNBC, Matt Yglesias finds a great, seemingly-harmless soundbite to illustrate the problem that afflicts most of today's high-profile political news coverage. Todd is an unusual target, but when he's quoted in his own promo saying, "I love politics; I wish every day was Election Day," it's worth doing a double-take, as Yglesias does, to consider that this "treat every day like it's election day" approach provides as much irrelevant coverage as the rise of the pundit-fueled infotainment on cable news does. --FD
With User Labor, we propose an open data structure, User Labor Markup Language (ULML), to outline the metrics of user participation in social web services. Our aim is to construct criteria and context for determining the value of user labor, which is currently a monetized asset for the service provider but not for the user herself.
The Upper Playground Gallery in Los Angeles has revealed "The Lost Art of Inglourious Basterds", a collection of fanmade artwork inspired by Quentin Tarantino's last movie. Each piece was numbered and signed by Tarantino himself. Check out the image gallery at Rope of Silicon. --MM
HBO has posted The Ricky Gervais Show pilot on YouTube and Arts Beat has an interview with Karl Pilkington, the third-wheel in this new project from Gervais and his partner in crime, Stephen Merchant. The show (due to premiere on HBO tonight) is a cartoon based on the popular podcast of the same name in which Gervais, Merchant and Pilkington sit around a table and talk. Wait, what?-- MM
Kris Tapley, of the weblog In Contention, has posted "Top 10 Shots", his annual list of best movie shots of the year. Tapley explains reasons for each choice and includes a brief commentary from the director of photography that captured the image. Check out numbers 6-10 here and the top 5 here. --MM
"I mentioned that it was sort of a relief to have that full-page photo of my face. Yes, I winced. What I hated most was that my hair was so neatly combed. Running it that big was good journalism. It made you want to read the article."
Jimi Hendrix's stepsister, Janie Hendrix, let it slip during an L.A. Times interview that a Hendrix edition of "Rock Band" video game will be coming before the end of the year. Any new Hendrix music in the Rock Band franchise will be part of a slate of new products being planned to coincide with the 40th anniversary of his death. --MM
Today in Tumblr stats: The Universal Record Database (URDB) reveals that the most "popular" post on Tumblr is a wedding proposal video created by some random dude. As of this morning, the post was liked/reblogged 12,844 times. --MM
The Wall Street Journal has a great article on how difficult it is to get a good band name today because they are all taken. For example, Them Crooked Vultures were supposed to be called Caligula before Dave Grohl realized there are at least seven acts named after the decadent Roman emperor, including a defunct techno outfit from Australia. --MM
"Crash", the new exhibition at London's Gagosian gallery brings together works by artists who have been influenced by the JG Ballard, from his contemporaries such as Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol and Helmut Newton, to younger artists such as Tacita Dean, Jenny Saville, and Mike Nelson. Check out the photo gallery here. --MM
This is really a great way to waste your time: Thanks to the new collaboration between Google and Russian Railways, you can now take a virtual cross country trip across Russia! The Moscow- Vladivostok route is 9226 km long so in order to make your trip more pleasant Google included audio clips of Russian classic literature, brilliant images and fascinating stories about the most attractive sites on the route. --MM
I'm not sure how I ended up on Razorfish's site, but this is a well-done timeline: A Decade In Search. --RX
A guy walks into Werner Herzog's Rogue Film School. With a fake ID, of course.
"The school was what you'd expect. He got lock picking out of the way at the outset and quickly moved on to forgeries. He spoke of the World Trade Center antics of Phillipe Petit of Man on Wire fame, and recounted temporarily halting his shoot on the Peruvian Amazon only after getting shot at by a teenaged border guard."
Remember when Matt Haughey was on the cover of Brill's Content? No, of course you don't. But just like the good old days, here's an interview with him.
I have people constantly asking me to recreate Gmail, recreate Flickr, recreate Twitter, recreate Delicious. "Can't I just post a link instead of having to make a post about it?" "Can't I upload photos into posts?" Well Flickr already does photos so much better, so why don't you just go there and we'll figure out ways to bring them into our site.
For New Yorkers, this looks pretty awesome:
Seven on Seven will pair seven leading artists with seven game-changing technologists in teams of two, and challenge them to develop something new -- be it an application, social media, artwork, product, or whatever they imagine -- over the course of a single day.
"BowLingual, Dog-to-human language translator which got The 2002 Ig Nobel Peace Prize, is planned to be released for iPhone in summer 2010, Tokyo-based Index Corporation announced. The latest BowLingual will have Twitter support, by which dog owners can send what their puppy says to the world directly on iPhone."
Racked.com enlists Katie, a 5-year-old fashion blogger to cover New York Fashion Week:
"I met Carlota, the vice president of Hautelook, and I interviewed her about her job. I told her my favorite color is turquoise, like the flower on her necklace. Then I put on some glitter make-up and lip gloss, talked on my favorite pink phone, and checked my email."
Whatever. -- MM
The Guardian pays homage to the late J.D. Salinger by hypothesizing who should direct and star in the movie version of "Catcher in the Rye". The Coen brothers, Wes Anderson and Spike Jonze made it to the list, while they simply could not decide who should play the young Holden Caulfield. According to the Guardian: Joseph Gordon Levitt is too old, Anton Yelchin too Russian, Michael Cera too geeky, and Jessie Eisenberg "too Jew-fro" (?). Dakota Fanning maybe? She would kill it. --MM
A young lady of 18, wealthy, pretty and agreeable, wants a husband. Not finding any one of her acquaintance who suits her, she has concluded to take this method of discovering one. The happy gentleman must be wealthy, stylish, handsome and fascinating. None other need apply. Address within three days, giving name and full particulars, and enclosing carte de visite, Carrie Howard, Station D, New York.
Things are about to get a lot better around here.
While I bury my head in work the next month, I have a few guest editors coming on board. First up, my pal Marina is taking over link operations for the next week. Brief bio: Marina learned English by watching American television while bombs dropped around her Serbian home. Beat that, Tumblr! She has been given uncensored reign to create chaos. Welcome!
NYT tracks down the creator of Chatroulette. He's a 17-year-old Muscovite.
Bandwidth bills show sums which shock me as a teenager, but I am not very worried.
P.S. I swear, Scott, this is shaping up to be the greatest novel ever written. Or at least the greatest novel I've ever written, anyhow.
That's Philip K. Dick. Which novel do you think he was talking about? The answer.
Tina Fey shooting a Vogue cover, just cuz
A tidy link farm of people's diverse impressions of Google Buzz today: Dennis Crowley, Robert Scoble, Mat Honan, Jason Calacanis, Dave Winer, Tim O'Reilly, Kevin Rose, and MG Siegler. (Mine? It's as annoying as fuck. It will be huge.)
Clay Shirky, for instance, the author of Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, is a man whose name is now uttered in technology circles with the kind of reverence with which left-wingers used to say, "Herbert Marcuse." "Web 3.0 is not an upgrade -- it's a revolution," says Shirky characteristically. Shirky, along with Jeff Jarvis, a Cotton Mather (or Billy Sunday) figure, who has turned his sky-is-falling lectures to old-media executives into a lucrative consulting practice to old-media businesses, Chris Anderson, Wired's editor in chief, and Jay Rosen, an N.Y.U. professor -- all dedicated bloggers and, in Internet parlance, "quote monkeys" -- have essentially morphed the anarchic, 60s-style, Whole Earth Catalog roots of the Internet into aggressive business theory.
Even when you don't want to like Michael Wolff, you have to love pshit like that.
What makes the NYT Most Emailed list? There's a study for that:
Perhaps most of all, readers wanted to share articles that inspired awe, an emotion that the researchers investigated after noticing how many science articles made the list.
Our most popular new online tools -- Google, Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Digg -- were designed to help us tame the web's wildness, to tag its outer limits and set up user-friendly taxonomies. ChatRoulette is, in this sense, a blast from the Internet past. It's the anti-Facebook, pure social-media shuffle.
It's usually provoking when the academic press gets ahold of popular technology, because it tends to create new sociological, economic, or aesthetic perspectives. But this long New York Review of Books piece on Facebook reads more like an attempt to coalesce everything that has already been written about Facebook, without any attempt to say something unique. But I wonder: is this the fault of the academic press, or is popular publishing already doing a decent job of contextualizing Facebook?
If I were into writing trend pieces, I'd be whipping up something about the migration that's about to happen from west coast bloggers to NYC: Scott Beale, Andy Baio, and Dave Winer should all be in duh big city this summer. What's interesting about this group is that they were all seminal Web 1.0 people who are even more relevant today.
I don't know if you've noticed, but this site has kinda sucked lately. The last few months have been ridiculously busy, and the next couple will start to reveal why. I'll be launching several new projects in different spaces: a couple startups, a few blogs, a couple old/new media combos, and a large sports league. The categories range from user-generated fashion to virtual economies to data-focused blogs. Today is the launch of a small but cool one, Geekosystem, which should complement the category that includes BoingBoing/io9/Wired. The differentiating feature, the Power Grid, kicks off with a list of the 30 Greatest Geeks, which, rather appropriately and quite unlike other lists, is algorithmically determined. [Techcrunch story.]
Starting in early 2011, visitors to NYTimes.com will get a certain number of articles free every month before being asked to pay a flat fee for unlimited access. Subscribers to the newspaper's print edition will receive full access to the site.
And the winner for "Best Google Streetview Discovery" goes to... Flaming Lips' Wayne Coyne bathing nude in his backyard.
The 100 Greatest Science Fiction or Fantasy Novels of All Time. Yikes, this makes me feel small and inept.
I kept hearing that Andy Warhol had a show on MTV in the late '80s called Andy Warhol's 15 Minutes, but I've never been able to find it (promo). Much younger versions of Jerry Hall, Grace Jones, Marc Jacobs, Judd Nelson, Courtney Love, and William Burroughs were supposedly on it. I finally found a site that has videos of three of the episodes, including interactions with John Waters, Simon Le Bon, Bo Didley, Frank Zappa, Kevin Dillon, Debbie Harry, Paulina Porizkova, and Pee-wee Herman. It's the most random collection of stuff that you've ever seen, and it's difficult to imagine it on MTV. (There's also something about this that reminds me of "the old internet," where not everything existed at a finger's touch, and you had to search FTP sites to find this kind of esoterica. Now if I could just find those NYC cable access shows he used to do.)
According to a Wall Street Journal study of four recent broadcasts, and similar estimates by researchers, the average amount of time the ball is in play on the field during an NFL game is about 11 minutes.
Everyone expects Apple to announce a tablet on January 27. And the New York Times is expected to announce a pay wall of some sort "in a matter of weeks." Mix those two up, and maybe they could do a joint announcement.
He was impervious to my flirtations until I grabbed his crotch and showed him my tramp stamp.
-- The Fucking Word of the Day, your new favorite site for the next five minutes.
The song is in D minor, but that chord first comes in at the 7th beat of the 16 bar progression. So when the song ends cold on the first note of that progression, it ends on Bb. This gives the listener a subtle feeling of an unfinished song, even though it ended on the 1st beat, which is typical of most songs. By not resolving the chord, the listener is more apt to hum the song and therefore more likely to need to listen to it again.
--Why Ke$ha went #1... and why it could've been bigger.... Also, chick looks like this:
The only problem with a sarcasm punctuation mark is that it would be only used sarcastically.
7 Books We Lost to History That Would Have Changed the World. This is interesting because it makes you wonder how things would have been different if the Library of Alexandria had survived. Also, I wonder why no one has jumped on this Gospel of Eve thing.
Like a lot of Gen Xers, I often wonder how college would have been different with Facebook (or for that matter, cell phones). Here's a small glimpse of what it might look like if Foursquare were: Foursquare at Harvard. [via]
Rumpus: You've previously mentioned a master password, which you no longer use.
Employee: I'm not sure when exactly it was deprecated, but we did have a master password at one point where you could type in any user's user ID, and then the password. I'm not going to give you the exact password, but with upper and lower case, symbols, numbers, all of the above, it spelled out 'Chuck Norris,' more or less. It was pretty fantastic.
Rumpus: This was accessible by any Facebook employee?
Employee: Technically, yes. But it was pretty much limited to the original engineers, who were basically the only people who knew about it. It wasn't as if random people in Human Resources were using this password to log into profiles. It was made and designed for engineering reasons. But it was there, and any employee could find it if they knew where to look.
This and much more in Conversations About the Internet #5: Anonymous Facebook Employee.
From Slate's culture blog: The Unbelievably Bad Metaphors in Esquire's Profile of Jay-Z. (Nwah-whah? -- Slate has a culture blog? I guess so. The post about The Weirdest Zip Codes on the New York Times Netflix Map is also good. And if you're into that kinda thing, GQ has a blog too.)
Big Love fans likely noticed tonight that the the old opening sequence with The Beach Boys.... ...had been replaced with a new one with Interpol's "Untitled": Better? Worse?
Designers will enjoy this four-question survey from Pentagram: What Type Are You? The password to get in is character.
If you slow down Lady Gaga, it sounds like a cross between Metallica and Michael Bolton.
The essence of Warhol's genius was to eliminate the one aspect of a thing without which that thing would, to conventional ways of thinking, cease to be itself, and then to see what happened. He made movies of objects that never moved and used actors who could not act, and he made art that did not look like art. He wrote a novel without doing any writing. He had his mother sign his work, and he sent an actor, Allen Midgette, to impersonate him on the lecture tour (and, for a while, Midgette got away with it). He had other people make his paintings.
--The New Yorker, annoying abstracted online.
This is something to finally be optimistic about: one-third of The Atlantic's revenue's come from its website.
Here's that new Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary ($364.68) that you many have seen lauded in the New York Times Magazine. Check out the video "How to Call Someone Stupid In Old English Using The Historical Thesaurus of the OED":
"Google and Microsoft are paying roughly $.03 for every 1,000 tweets." Somebody overpaid!
The giganto list of 2009 lists is finally winding down, but here are few highlights to appear recently: Ad Tunes' Top Ad Music, Onion A/V Club' Top 10 Electronica Albums and Mixes, Eat Me Daily's The Year in Food Blog-to-Book Deals, The Auteurs' Movies Posters of the Year, Techmeme's Top 10 Objectively Biggest Tech Stories, Art Fag City's Best of the Web, The Atlantic's Best Cocktails, Stereogum's 10 Most NSFW Music Videos, and The Yale Book of Quotations' Most Notable Quotations.
While compiling this list, I asked a few people a dumb question: What was the biggest online event of the year?
Random answers included Oprah joining Twitter, Michael Jackson's death breaking on TMZ, and Susan Boyle coming and going. Someone even tried to argue that a writer who detailed his firing from The New Yorker on Twitter was momentous.
But frankly, I've got nothing better. So try this out: Matt Haughey selling PVR Blog on eBay for $12k was the most emblematic online event of 2009. Why? Because the amount seems both ridiculously high and preposterously low at the same time. It proved that if there was ever a time when you couldn't tell what the fuck something was worth, this was it.
With Kim Kardashian making $10k per tweet, even internet fame seemed synchronously bankrupt and filthy rich. Or as someone else asked, how didn't we notice that Perez Hilton had accidentally become more famous than his namesake Paris? And how is it possible that more people are reading Reblogging Julia than Julia herself?
So it's time to stop being wishy-washy about our value assessments. A few years ago, someone convinced me to drop the title "Best Blogs" from this annual list and change it to "Most Notable" blogs of the year. It made sense at the time, when the medium was still figuring itself out: chiefs were being chosen, voice still being refined. But as I began to assemble this year's list, it became clear that, no, these blogs actually were my favorites, not merely the most interesting.
So here they are, the 30 Best Blogs of 2009:
30) Dustin Curtis
Woe, the personal blog. It's a small tragedy that the decade began with the medium being used primarily by single individuals to gather and share small insights, but ends with the impersonal likes of Mashable and HuffPo. In the age of more more more, it's remarkable to see someone dedicate so much time to a single post, making sure the pixels are aligned and the words are all just right. Dustin Curtis' personal site is one of the dying breed of personal bloggers who care about such things (similar to how Jason Santa Maria puts art direction into every one of his posts). Start with: The Incompetence of American Airlines & the Fate of Mr. X. (See also: Topherchris, We Love You So, A Continuous Lean, and Clients From Hell.)
29) NYT Pick
The bloggers behind NYTPicker had quite a year: they got Maureen Dowd to admit to plagiarism, they pointed out several errors in the Times obituary of Walter Cronkite, and Times contributor David Blum was revealed and then un-revealed as one of them. In the process, they showed that blogs can comment on the New York Times in a more substantial way than making fun of silly Sunday Styles trend pieces. If anyone really still thought blogs couldn't be the home of original reporting and research, NYTPicker proved them wrong. They watch the watchdogs! Just wait for an enterprising blogger to start NYTPickerPicker in 2010.
28) Gotcha Media
Every year it seems like a site should emerge to take the video aggregator trophy, but the space is still a hodgepodge of sporadically embedded YouTube clips. Gotcha Media was the closest to the quintessential destination for finding video events we remembered through the year, whether that be Kanye crying on Leno or Michele Bachmann leading a anti-health care prayercast. (See also: Gawker TV and Mag.ma.)
As Virginia Heffernan recently asked in a recent NYT essay, what exactly should a magazine look like in the digital age? Once a sporadic print title, Animal is now one of the last remaining examples of what an underground magazine could look like online. (See also: Black Book Tumblr and Scallywag & Vagabond.)
26) Shit My Dad Says
Several people tried to convince me to change this entire list to "Best Twitterers of the Year," a listicle that someone probably should compile but which exceeds my pain threshold. In the meantime: "Son, no one gives a shit about all the things your cell phone does. You didn't invent it, you just bought it. Anybody can do that."
25) The Rumpus
As literary magazines go, The Rumpus is something of a mess. Created by Stephen Elliott, who spent most of the year jostling around the country in support of his novel, The Rumpus defined itself mostly in opposition to what it is not. But columns by Rick Moody and Jerry Stahl, along with a rambling assemblage of interviews, links, anecdotes, reviews, and whatever fits onto the screen, make it the best case going for a reinvented online literary scene. (See also: HTML Giant, The Millions, Electric Literature, and London Review of Books Blog.)
24) Best of Wikipedia
...Coprolalia, Foreign Accent Syndrome, Stendhal Syndrome, Dude, Mopery, Sokushinbutsu, Tyvek, Shm-reduplication, Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, Pica, Kayfabe... (See also: Double Tongued.)
23) WSJ Speakeasy
It didn't start off very well. In the backdrop of the Wall Street Journal announcing Speakeasy in June was the chatter about Rupert turning the internet into a clunky vending machine (put a quarter in, junk food drops out). And the coverage at this culture blog was spotty at first, but the gentility eventually morphed into a more conversational aesthetic. (See also: NYT Opinionator.)
22) Script Shadow
"I was just thinking what an interesting concept it is to eliminate the writer from the artistic process," said Tim Robbins' cocky producer character in The Player in 1992, and Hollywood seems to have listened. By reviewing movie scripts before they get made into movies, this site turns the focus back onto the written word. (See also: First Showing, Movie of the Day, and Go Into The Story.)
21) Newsweek Tumblr
It isn't enough that Newsweek is the only mainstream media organization dangling their toes in the rocky stream of Tumblrland; it also happens to be doing it better than most of the kids. (NYTimes.com has been threatening to do "something interesting" with the medium for a couple months, but there's still nothing to show for it.) It's tricky for an established old media company to find the right voice on a new platform, but the Newsweek Tumblr has figured out how to mix their own relevant stories with the reblog culture. (See also: Today Show Tumblr.)
20) Asian Poses
The Nyan Nyan. The Bang! The V-Sign. The Shush. These are just some of the poses Asian Poses introduced us to this year, illustrated by photos of cute Asian ladies. Is it offensive? Maybe, but many of the most interesting blogs straddle that offensive/not-offensive line. Also, based on the well-known "members of a group can make fun of that group and you can't" rule of comedy, this is not offensive since it is run by a Chinese guy. But maybe it objectifies women! Color me confused-pose. (See also: Stop Making That Duckface, This Is Why You're Fat, Really Cute Asians, and Awkward Family Photos.)
19) Look At This Fucking Hipster
If you thought the Internet had run out of ways to mock hipsters, Look At This Fucking Hipster and Hipster Runoff proved you wrong this year. Look At This Fucking Hipster took the more direct approach, simply asking you to look at photos of these fucking hipsters, complete with caustic one-line captions. It may come as no surprise that the author, Joe Mande, appears to be a self-loathing hipster, posing in black-rimmed glasses and a flannel shirt on his website. Literary-minded hipsters are surely jealous of LATFH's book deal.
18) Hipster Runoff
Hipster Runoff's Carles took a more satirical approach, blogging about pressing hipster issues such as the music meme economy and whether you should do blow off your iPhone in fractured, "ironic quote-heavy" txt-speak. Many people suspected that "Carles" was actually Tao Lin, since Carles' writing was so similar to Lin's affectless prose, but Lin denies this. Whoever Carles is, he is most certainly another self-loathing hipster. He knows far too much about Animal Collective to be a civilian.
There's a long-standing joke on this annual list to mention Metafilter every single time. But this was the first year it seemed that more people were paying attention to what was going on in the conversation threads on Reddit. For the uninitiated: Reddit takes some of the features of Digg, mixes it with the aesthetic of Twitter, adds the editorial of Fark, and accentuates it with the comments of Metafilter. But better than that sounds.
16) Smart Football
If you had told me at the beginning of 2009 that Steve Pinker and Malcolm Gladwell would get into a heated debate about football esoterica, and that this debate would happen, in all places, within an internet comment thread, I would have said, "Yeah, and Brett Favre will have the best season of his life at 40." But every once in a while intellectuals wander into sports, and recently the NFL seemed the place where the Chronicle of Higher Ed crowd is hanging. So if you want to get smart about football, this is the place to do it. (See also: Deadspin and The Sports Section.)
It looks like a conspiracy that Snarkmarket has made this list a few times now, but unlike most blogs that become sedentary in their success, it just keeps innovating. This year, Robin Sloan quit his job at Current TV to become (among other things) a fiction writer -- and one of the most fascinating ones on the scene in some time. Matt Thompson had been gigging at the Knight Foundation, but recently hopped to a new gig at NPR. With them being so busy, Tim Carmody settled in as the new scribe of ideas. If they let me give it a tagline, it would be "The BoingBoing it's okay to like." (See also: Hey, It's Noah and Waxy.)
13) Nieman Journalism Lab
Where were these guys when we needed them? Sure, it's another think tank, but Nieman Journalism Lab has been putting its not-for-profit money where its mouth is by also breaking news, such as the item about Google developing a micropayments sytem, the crack-ass idea from the Associated Press to game search, and little factoids like NYT's most frequently looked-up words. It also happens to be the only place still hiring journalists. (See also: Reflections of a Newsosaur and Newspaper Death Watch.)
12) Anil Dash
At some point during the year, I asked Anil for an explanation in the upsurge of blog posts on his site. He said it was merely recognizing an opening: there are so few people writing intelligently about technology today. True! Daring Fireball may have the links, and TechCrunch may have the coverage, but there are scant intellectuals left in the space. When it was announced last month that he was leaving Six Apart to work for a new government tech startup within the Obama administration, the techno-pragmatism all made sense. (See also: Obama Foodorama.)
11) Slaughterhouse 90210
Slaughterhouse 90210 combined lowbrow TV screencaps with highbrow literary quotes, making it kind of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cups of Tumblr blogs. Another comparison: an intellectual I Can Has Cheezburger. Seeing a quote from, say, The Bell Jar underneath a Friends screencap is pleasantly shocking -- especially after you realize the quote fits the show perfectly -- and a reassurance that it's okay for smart people to like stupid things. Could be a good candidate for a book deal, if it weren't for those pesky copyright issues. (See also: The G Maniesto and Fuck Yeah Subtitles.)
10) Letters of Note
We've known for a while that the best blogs are dedicated to a precise nano-topic, but there is also a new thread emerging: the blog dedicated to disappearing technologies. The tagline of Letters of Note, "Correspondence deserving a wider audience," says it all. There's Hunter S. Thompson starting a screed "Okay you lazy bitch," there's Kurt Vonnegut writing his family from Slaughterhouse Five, there's the letter from Mick Jagger asking Andy Warhol to design album cover art, and there's J. D. Salinger's hand-written note aggressively yet delightfully shooting down a producer who wants to turn Catcher in the Rye into a movie. (See also: Significant Objects, Iconic Photos, and Unconsumption.)
Launching another media blog didn't sound like rearranging Titanic deck chairs; it sounded like booking a flight on Al Quada Airlines to Jerusalem. But not even six months after launching, Mediaite was already on the Technorati 100, eventually landing somewhere around #30 on a list of players who have been there for years. Sure, it can go a little bananas with the seo/pageview bait, but it's also one of the few entities in the whole bastardly New York Media Scene to actually have the will to take on Gawker (or its pseudo-sibling, The Awl). (See also: Web Newser and Politics Daily.)
8) Clay Shirky
There were only, what, a dozen or so essays on his blog this year? But one of them, Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable, caused such a little earthquake in the industry that tremors were still echoing months later. Shirky is the only guy in the whole space who doesn't sound like he has an agenda, who doesn't have a consulting agency on the side that he's pumping his half-baked theories into. (See also: Umair Haque and The Technium.)
6) Harper's Studio
The book industry is about to go through the same disruptive changes that the music industry set upon a decade ago -- this, it seems, almost everyone agrees upon. But just as with the previous natural cultural disaster, no one is sure how to prepare for the earthquake. The editors at the new Harper Studio are the most likely candidates for turning all the theory behind "the future of books" into actual functional products. An impressive list of inventive works on the horizon hints at their agenda, but the blog, which is something of a clearing house for discussing everything that has to do with the future of publishing, is like an R&D lab for print. (See also: Omnivoracious, The Second Pass, The Penguin Blog, and Tomorrow Museum.)
5) Eat Me Daily
As one competing food blogger put it to me, Eat Me Daily is the Kottke of food blogs. Which, if you want to follow that obtuse metaphor, makes Eater the genre's Gawker and Serious Eats its Engadget. And which, if you understand any of that at all, means that this blurb can end now. (See also: Eater and Serious Eats.)
3) TV Tropes
If you don't know TV Tropes, it's too bad, because I probably just ruined your life. If you've ever recognized a hackneyed plot device on a tv show and thought "I wonder if anyone else has thought of this," the answer is: yes, a lot. I don't even know where to suggest starting in this labyrinth, but try entries like Butterfly of Doom or Chekhov's Gunman or Bitch In Sheep's Clothing -- or just hit the random item generator. My dream is to have Tarantino spend a month here and come out with his Twin Peaks. (See also: Television Without Pity and Urban Dictionary.)
2) The Awl
The Awl is too good to exist, or so goes much of the catty banter in the media business scene. There is seldom a conversation of The Awl lately that doesn't ask, "How the hell will they make money?" But let's set aside that gaudy little question for a second and instead ask, "Why has The Awl become an internet love object?" I've done the math, and I have a theory, involving at least two factors: 1) It winks at all the sad internet conventions while both debunking and adopting them at the same time (Listicles Without Commentary and those Tom Scoccha chats are the best example). And 2) it is willing to go to bat for the unexpected without sounding like one of those intentionally counter-intuitive Slate essays (Avatar and Garrison Keillor are two good recent examples). In short, it's just less dumb than everything else. Even Nick Denton joked about it at launch, and I don't know how they'll survive either, but The Awl already exists in an admirable pantheon that includes Spy and Suck. (See also: Kottke and Katie Bakes.)
Go ahead, scoff. But I will tell you this: no site in the past year has better personified the internet in all its complex contradictions than 4chan. Blisteringly violent yet irrepressibly creative, vociferously political yet erratic in agenda, 4chan was the multi-headed monster that got you off, got you pissed off, and maybe got you knocked out. When I interviewed moot in February, I discovered a smart kid who had seen more by the age of 16 than someone who actually lived inside all six Saw movies. People tend to think of 4chan as pure id, but there are highly formalized rules (written and unwritten) within the community. Inside all the blustery fury of the /b/tards, there is more going on psychologically than we are equipped to understand yet. (See also: Uncyclopedia, Encyclopedia Dramatica, and Know Your Meme.)
Special thanks to these exceptionally nice people for contributing ideas to this list: Caroline McCarthy, Joanne McNeil, Melissa Maerz, Chuck Klosterman, Soraya Darabi, Mat Honan, Katie Baker, Erin Carlson, Noah Brier, Jason Kottke, Taylor Carik, Nick Douglas, Lockhart Steele, Matt Thompson, Anastasia Friscia, and Kelly Reeves.
Now here's a list I could debate for a while: The End of the 00s: Listicle Without Commentary: The 348 Best Reality Television Shows of the 00s, In Order, by Jon Caramanica.
I've often wondered why NYTBR doesn't do more contemplative, thematic essays like this: The Naked and the Conflicted. It's about how "the Great Male Novelists of the last century" portray sex.
There are now 35 books in my Amazon list "My year as..." which collects all the books in which people do one thing for a year. THIS. TREND. WILL. NOT. DIE.
I wonder: what is the quality of 'viral' that makes it viral? Some would say it has something to do with the medium -- the way it gets passed around socially, without the aid of traditional outlets. In that sense, the 'viral hit' is somewhat like the 'sleeper hit' -- it starts slow, builds momentum. It doesn't seem much different.
But I wonder if that's not what people mean at all when they say 'viral.' I suspect they mean something much closer to a different phenom from a previous decade: the 'one-hit wonder.' In that sense, is Blind Melon really any different than Tay Zonday?
--Me, quoted in an essay that proposes the aughts were the first decade to be defined by their virality (memes), an interesting theory that I possibly tried to debunk.
Some new things added to the 2009 List of Lists: Buzzmarketing Daily's 10 Most Important Tweets, The Week's 10 Most Compulsive Twitterers, The Frisky's 10 Worst Boyfriends And Husbands, Onion A/V's Year in Swag, Idolator's Worst Album Covers, Yale Book of Quotations' Most Notable Quotations, Business Insider's 10 Most Infamous Lawyers, Top Recording's Top 20 Albums, Ad Freak's 30 Freakiest Commercials, Wall Street Journal Top Art Sales, and Reality Blur's Top Reality TV Whores.
DJ Earworm - United State of Pop 2009 (Blame It on the Pop) - Mashup of Top 25 Billboard Hits: See also: Michaelangelo Matos' list, Top 125 Hot 100 Hits of the 2000s.
After selling PVR Blog on eBay for $12K+, Matt Haughey posts his final item, 2000s: The Decade of DVR, which has dot-com celebs (Heather Armstrong, Chris Anderson, Nick Denton, Gina Trapani, Jeff Jarvis) reminiscing on how the DVR has changed their life. My favorite is Caterina Fake's:
A guy said to me once, "Wow! As a woman, you can get laid whenever you want!" and I said "Yeah and I can eat dirt whenever I want too!" For years there was a Blinkx advertisement on 101 between Silicon Valley and San Francisco with a tagline that said something like "Find something to watch," which I thought was one of the stupidest taglines I'd ever heard. It's not hard to find someone to sleep with, it's hard to find someone you'd WANT to sleep with. It's not hard to find something to watch, it's hard to find something GOOD to watch.
Instead of a list of the most played tracks, I'd rather see a list of all the tracks people don't want you to know they listened to: Most Unwanted Scrobbles.
If perhaps you thought for a second that Jay-Z's "Empire State of Mind" wasn't absolutely everywhere, then you didn't see the Sex and the City 2 trailer yet. Sorry, everyone's ruining it for you. (See also, vaguely related, an LES lament: Together for Years, but I Just Don't Know You Anymore. [via])
The monstrous list of 2009 lists leaped up to nearly 700 entires over the weekend. Some new things include WSJ's Year in Photos, Billboard's Artists of the Year, YouTube's Most Watched and Searched For, AOL's Hot Searches, Jezebel's 10 Best Cover Lies, Glamour's 10 Best Dressed, Videogum's Best Viral Videos, and Babble's Best Mommy Bloggers.
I did a 5QQ for Mediate in which I talk about The Hills, BNO News, and Megantereons. Snippet:
Isn't it interesting that Tumblr and FourSquare are NYC's major contributions to social software in the past couple years? I have a theory! They share this commonality: they're both semi-closed networks. To wit: Though wildly successful, both platforms still somehow feel clubby and insidery.
In the long run, it will be interesting to see if this distinct (dare I say New Yorky?) quality is a feature or a bug.
(Before I lived in NYC, I had a name for social software like FourSquare's predecessor, Dodgeball. I called it "NewYorkWare" because those apps seemed specifically made for the hyper-urban. Similarly, Tumblr seems made for the hyper-mediated.)
Some new things recently added to the LIST OF 2009 LISTS: Roger Ebert's Best Films, Pitchfork's Top 50 Albums, Mediaite's 50 Innovators and Influencers, Cryptomundo's Top 10 Cryptozoology Stories, HuffPo's Funniest Protest Signs, The Big Pictures' Year In Photos, and Pitchfork's Top 100 Tracks.
Some of the people speaking at TED this year include Sarah Silverman, Bill Gates, Jamie Oliver, David Byrne, Ze Frank, and moot.
It's my responsibility to explain why list-making matters, probably by making up some ridiculous counterintuitive argument and using words like "paradigm," self-reflexive," and "counterintuitive." I suppose I could suggest that the acceleration of technology has changed the way humans organize their internal thoughts, or that the proliferation of media has made list-making a necessary extension of cultural engagement, or that the ability to place pre-existing items into an arbitrary sequence has replaced the desire to generate an authentic personality. But that would be predictable.
I wanted to pick The Awl for best new blog of the year in Bygone Bureau's roundup, but Womack took it, so I chose Mad Men Footnotes instead. And rather than actually talk about it, I choose to rant about Tumblr.
Whether your metric-of-choice is book deals or raw numbers, The Kids Who Tumble graduated to big boys on the playground, not so much by stomping the other kids as by inventing their own game in the corner. Tumblr's make-or-break premise was always that the semi-closed platform (insular, secular, participatory) would eventually make a deeper connection than the open online systems (cosmopolitan, egalitarian, populist) powered by Feedburner and retweets. Whereas anyone can read blogs or tweets, tumbling nearly demands participation.
We interrupt the yearly listmaking to bring you io9's 20 Best Science Fiction Books Of The Decade.
Here's a smart Mediaite piece: Revisiting the New York Times' 2001 "Year In Ideas." It lists all the ideas from 8 years ago and declares their viability. Big surprise, "selling things yourself in cigarette vending machines" and "hypnotizing focus groups to get better results" aren't entrenched concepts today. (For media mavens, 2001 was during Adam Moss' editorial reign at the mag.)
If you're the kind of person who's intrigued by tv graphics and branding, then this explanation of the NBC color case study will interest you. (I've read the NBC design style guide several times, and one of the first rules is "Don't mutilate the peacock," which somehow these guys were able to do.)
The list is the origin of culture. It's part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order -- not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries. There is an allure to enumerating how many women Don Giovanni slept with: It was 2,063, at least according to Mozart's librettist, Lorenzo da Ponte. We also have completely practical lists -- the shopping list, the will, the menu -- that are also cultural achievements in their own right.
These two things from disparate parts of the Sunday Times (Week In Review and Styles) should be mashed up:
It "is one of the most symbolic documents of our age," the historian Daniel Boorstin wrote of [Celebrity Register]. "It is an index to the new categories of American society" -- the categories, he meant, that were formed by the media, which had degraded the hero into the mere celebrity. "The hero was distinguished by his achievement; the celebrity by his image or trademark," Mr. Boorstin observed. "The hero created himself; the celebrity is created by the media. The hero was a big man; the celebrity is a big name."
A growing number of Web sites now play the role of middleman, connecting aspiring contestants with casting directors. And as the reality genre has thrived, so has the cottage industry of online talent scouts that serve it -- sites like RealityWanted, Talent6 and GotCast, where people can find casting calls for TV shows and submit their resumes, often for a monthly fee.
Just in case it got lost in the shuffle of decade nostalgia, Alex Pareene's Encyclopedia of Counterintuitive Thought, which itemizes all the ways in which convention wisdom has been undermined, reveals what may have been the prevailing intellectual trick of the decade.
That "Hulu for magazines" thing (still unnamed) was announced this morning. Getting Conde, Hearst, Meredith, News Corp, and Time into a room together is worth something.
I maybe get a Kindle just so I can see how all these Choose Your Adventure titles for the Kindle work on it.
This Financial Times article about the downfall of MySpace and its conflict with News Corp is pretty funny for all kinds of anecdotal reasons, but my favorite bit is this:
Former MySpace executives say News Corp dragged its feet over implementing Ajax, a program that allows users to send a message, an e-mail or to post a comment on their friends' pages without having to open a new browser window.
Oh really? So that's what Ajax is!
Meta-Enabling should be the word of the year. It's everything that's right and wrong about the internet right now.
As you may have seen, The Observer reported that the New York Times is likely going to close some of their blogs. (Gawker handicapped the carnage.) This makes me wonder what some of the other large media companies who have started blog networks will do. AOL and MTV immediately come to mind. I mean, you can chuckle at some of the obscure NYT titles, but MTV has a blog dedicated only to comic books turning into movies. Really!
The 2009 List of Lists is progressing nicely. Some new things that have been added: Google's Zeitgeist, Yahoo's Year in Review, Pitchforks' Top Videos, and The Millions' Year in Reading. Please email me additions.
So the best thing about David Carr at The Times is that The Times lets him get lyrical, amiright? I feel like this is the kind of stuff that would normally get cut from any non-op-ed piece; either that, or no one else can write in the same bouncy way:
For those of us who work in Manhattan media, it means that a life of occasional excess and prerogative has been replaced by a drum beat of goodbye speeches with sheet cakes and cheap sparkling wine. It's a wan reminder that all reigns are temporary, that the court of self-appointed media royalty was serving at the pleasure of an advertising economy that itself was built on inefficiency and excess. Google fixed that.
So yeah, the End of the Year List of Lists is happening again. [Except this year, I have no time to manage it, so please email me if you'd like to either a) manage it for a small stipend, or b) sponsor it.] It's just starting out, but a few things already added: NYT's 100 Notable Books, Amazon's Best Books, Literary Review's Bad Sex in Fiction, S/FJ's Best Songs and Albums, Metacritic's Best Music, and Wired's Pop Culture Moments. Be sure to email me if you have more lists.
We're living in a stylistic tropics. There's a whole generation of people able to access almost anything from almost anywhere, and they don't have the same localised stylistic sense that my generation grew up with. It's all alive, all "now," in an ever-expanding present, be it Hildegard of Bingen or a Bollywood soundtrack. The idea that something is uncool because it's old or foreign has left the collective consciousness.
-Brian Eno, The Death of Uncool
The Black Friday sale that I recommend: 23andMe. Complete ancestry and health analysis for $300 if you order three or more. I'm getting it!
Like Twitter and Facebook, Foursquare taps into our inner exhibitionist self -- a malady of the post-Internet era. It allows everyone to be a Ruth Reichl, the legendary food critic -- an arbiter of taste. With a narcissistic quotient that is higher than a genius's IQ, it's only a matter of time before it's discovered by everyone from dithering fashion editors to pro athletes and pop stars. And when that happens, yet another tech pop phenomenon will be born.
Have you seen this crazy ass thing? It's a building going up in Bangkok called MahaNakhon that uses pixelation as its inspiration.
Your new favorite Wikipedia entry for the next five minutes: Catullus 16. It's a 1st century BC poem, the first line of which is translated, "I'm gonna fuck you guys up the ass and shove my cock down your throats." [via]
I'm in love with these Des Kiraz t-shirts that come packaged like collector's items in a box like a video game. From the artists Boros and Szikszai, they come in titles like The Battle of Yankee Stadium and Motorcade 9/11. I bought CVH-95 Coney Island which includes flying tigers, exploding ice cream trucks, and of course bad ass psychos on motorcycles.
Random thing I noticed: both GQ and Wired featured this axe in their holiday shopping guides. Axes are hot Christmas gifts this year!
This video of Brett Favre mic'd up during last week's Vikings game is pretty amazing:
I realize no one will interpret this the right way, but this reminds me of The Hills more than anything I've ever seen.
Your favorite video for the next five minutes: Charlotte Gainsbourg and Beck, "Heaven Can Wait." (The comments on Antville are getting better. I like: "This video looks too random, like the director spent too much time looking through his FFFFOUND folder.")
If you're in NYC this weekend, you may want to know about Sasha Grey and others reading from Neuromancer at the New Museum. (In other incongruent news, did anyone see the strange thing on the newsstand this month? There's a Roger Ebert essay in Playboy about Kubrick's Lolita with pictures of Sasha.)
Expert Labs will borrow developers from the hallways of Google in Silicon Valley or start-ups like Foursquare and Kickstarter in New York to build government applications and social media tools in exchange for grants -- and the chance to connect with some of the most powerful people in the country.
Mr. Dash plans to lure participants with a periodic, competitive model, similar to the Knight Foundation's Knight News Challenge. He'll ask government agencies about their policy initiatives (say, fighting childhood obesity) as well as operating issues (like expensive, licensed billing software) and then host competitions, asking developers to code social media platforms so specialists can provide innovative solutions.
Is this the change-dot-gov we're waiting for?
The NYT media desk might be the subject of a documentary. (Side anecdote: I was at a party a few days ago that contained a full video team following around NYC socialite Tinsley Mortimer for a possible reality show. I nudged Brian Stelter and said, "Why don't they make a reality show about you?" He smiled in a way that I didn't understand at the time.)
Bonnie Fuller has finally launched the first salvo in her attempt to cross over to new media: HollywoodLife.com. It is in the running for worst website design of the year.
Hype Williams directs a video with Beyonce and Lady Gaga singing about their video phone. That's all you need to know, but if you want more, The Awl dissects.
Arrington weighs in on this whole FoxCorp/Google de-indexing thing. I still think this is going to play out in some interesting way: I predict someone big will attempt to treat their spiderability as an asset in the coming year. Google won't pay at first, but once Bing takes a bid for exclusive rights, it's a whole new game. (And to that "value of traffic" argument from the previous post, I still can only say: 1 billion unmonetized pageviews versus 10 million actual dollars isn't a contest right now. Many companies will try to take that Bloomberg strategy of making their content exclusive in the coming year. I'm not saying it's necessarily the right strategy, but I'm sure it will happen.)
Belle de Jour, the anonymous sex blogger from London, never really became a huge phenom in America. (Most people don't even know that Secret Diary of a Call Girl, the ITV2 show about her, gets replayed on Showtime in the States.) Anyway, she has finally revealed her identity and the best part is that not only is she a she -- but she's a scientist! Dr. Brooke Magnanti, welcome to geekboy adoration.
Daily Beast interviews the Hipster Grifter. I'm still convinced she will become a Gawker Media employee the minute she gets released.
I need help again! Last month I posted for an assistant, and it went well: I've hired that person full time. But now I need to find someone new. Same requirements as before. If you're interested, let me know.
Esquire has launched its augmented reality issue. (You read that right!) It requires a webcam and software install. Oh, and a print copy of the magazine.
If you talk enough, eventually you'll say something smart, or at least interesting. Jason Calacanis on what media companies should do to Google:
The idea is that publishers could use their robots.txt as a ransom note, selling it to the highest bidder -- Bing or Google. (I suspect this idea takes fire and gets repeated a lot over the next couple months.)
Murdoch threatens to hide News Corp content from Google. Ooooh, scared!
The Tokyo Hot List: 20 people to watch. You will know none of these people, but you will want to instantly know all of them!
Google Dashboard. Provided by Google as an aid, this is actually a quick view of how scary it is that you store so much stuff in Google.
The One-Liners of Roger Sterling. Sometimes I think that Mad Men was created to be turned into supercuts.
The headlines says 237 millionaires in Congress, but the 13th paragraph is where you read that Joe Biden has a net worth of $27,000.
I have an idea for an essay that connects new services Twitter Lists and Gawker Forums. In one sense, these are merely extensions of tagging and folksonomies popularized by Flickr and Delicious. But there's something else going on here: tagging not just as taxonomy but as content generation.
But I don't have time to write this essay, so someone please do it for me.
(See also: Twitter, Outlines, Lists, Directories, Y!ou.)
A "Digg for articles" isn't a bad idea, and I guess that's what the new magazine article aggregation service Maggwire wants to be. (It bills itself the "iTunes of Magazines" but I don't understand that.) Not bad so far, but something that's more format agnostic like Give Me Something To Read seems more compelling.
I always thought of The Moonwalk as something of a sui generis invention, but this video illustrates that it was an evolutionary process, like everything else.
If you've ever wondered how much of Tracy Morgan's shtick is an act, or if he can even stand outside of his stage self, his interview on Fresh Air will set it that straight. Around 13:00, he breaks down crying talking about his mother. Even Terry Gross is shocked. It's sorta amazing:
He also apparently broke down at a Barnes and Noble reading.
An interview with the prop master of Mad Men. Also, I finally around to reading The Atlantic's take on Mad Men, which is brilliant at picking apart the inner logic of the show, but stumbles in forcing a value judgement on that structure.
Marge Simpson's Playboy pictorial leaked. Okay, listing her measurements as 26-26-26 is funny.
Clearly the strangest part of the NYT Mag's interview with Ruth Reichl:
[Gourmet] has a legendary renewal rate. They would never tell me exactly what it was. I kept asking: "What does that mean? What are you talking about?" And they just kept saying: "It's great. People buy Gourmet forever."
This reminds me of NYTimes.com's lead editor saying he has no idea of their metrics. I understand why editors might want to shield their publications from the vagaries of metrics, but to completely ignore them seems like suicide.
At a party recently I was talking to Michael Malice, who co-founded Overheard in New York, about the history of the blog-to-book trend. We were trying to recall the first instance of a blog becoming a book, but couldn't think of it. Coincidentally, Urlesque has published a timeline (and story) of the meme, which credits Tucker Max as the founding occurrence (30 days before Overheard). This somehow seems wrong.
Whoasky. Charles Bukowski, William Burroughs, and the Computer. Bukowski used a computer; Burroughs did not! Not only that, but this story credits Bukowski's creative explosion in 1991 to the Macintosh IIsi. [via]
Robin says: "If Dan Reetz didn't exist, it would be necessary for Cory Doctorow to invent him." He's talking about this interesting Russian guy who lives in North Dakota who built his own book scanner.
"Search Engine Optimization is not a legitimate form of marketing. It should not be undertaken by people with brains or souls. If someone charges you for SEO, you have been conned." Previously: Bad Strategies.
I'll give anything a chance, which is why my TiVo gets overloaded in the Fall when I allow every new show to get at least three episodes of viewing. It's now the third week, which means it's time to clean out the TiVo. As of last night, I have officially dropped Cougar Town, Melrose Place, Leno, The Beautiful Life, The Middle, The Forgotten, Glee, and Eastwick. That leaves Flashforward and Community as the only new shows that will survive this bloodbath.
Wow. This seems impossible to believe, but last night's Vikings/Packers game was the most-watched program in cable history. Go midwest!
Following the New Yorker profile, Gawker is offering $1000 for photos of blogger Nikki Finke. If you include Eater's little gimmick to give you $25 for shutting down your food blog, this is becoming a strange little trend: micropayments as a form of promotion.
This NYC-sponsored looks like a good idea in principle, but the paltry rewards don't seem like enough incentive to start something: NYC Big Apps.
It's the first great novel about the Internet; it's one of the best books of any kind I've ever read about identity on any level. It is brilliant and it is essential; it should be required reading not only for anyone who uses the Internet, but for anyone who cares about contemporary American fiction.
I was already 16 years old when I first set foot in a McDonald's. This was partially because my mother wouldn't let us eat fast food, but also because we lived 80 miles away from the closest one. It turns out that the location in continental America that is furthest from a McDonald's (145 miles) was actually very close to where I lived.
My new theory on the death of big media: sobriety.
In case you were wondering if Sasha Gray was going to make more non-porn movies: Smash Cut trailer. (Diablo and Quentin will both love this. No one else will.)
Nice: new Eater redesign. Also, Curbed bought Down By The Hipster. Update: Despite NYT's story, we already knew about the Curbed/VVM ad sales deal, but Fred Wilson put his usual twist on it by pointing out that local media's hidden asset may be its sales force.
The Six Apart kids gave me a preview of this last week, and it's out now: Typepad Motion. It wraps the social graph onto your blog platform. (It essentially combines Typepad and Pownce, which they bought almost a year ago. Another analogy might be "a cleaner, more extensible Ning.")
When the Obama administration came into office, utopian hope spread across the digital land: the internet was finally going to be used for governance. More than a mere fund-raising tool, the medium would reveal its true self as an instrument of self-organization, problem-solving, and collaboration. Like Twitter and Google before it, Change.gov would become a verb!
We're now nine months into the administration, and it's time to ask the question: Is the internet changing anything?
In January, I noted that the only time I ever visited a government website was to download tax forms. In the intervening months, that hasn't changed much. Is it just me?
Anil makes the case that the most interesting startup of the year has been the federal government. While all the new dot-gov sites he lists look cool, I have to wonder: are there any practical examples yet? (It was a HuffPo puff piece, so I hope he expands it.)
The primary criticism of the Obama administration is similar to my concern: good planning, questionable execution. Apps.gov is cool and noble and interesting... but I'm trying to think of use scenarios where it will be used effectively. Is it my lack of imagination?
It's possible that the limited innovation has nothing to do with the the administration -- perhaps it's the shortcomings of the medium itself. (It strikes me that the Internet and American pragmatism have similar historical tracts.) Or maybe it's just too soon. That's a common answer to much of the anticipation of the past year. That seems to be Anil's answer too, as he closes with a notion that returns us back to that utopian vision:
And it's likely that soon they'll be platforms that spawn their own ecosystem of developers, users and applications, just like Facebook or Twitter or the iPhone. When that does happen, we can safely say that dot-gov is the new dot-com.
Have you ever picked up a pill, wondered what exactly it was, noticed an indiscriminate marking on it, and pondered whether you should just toss it down your gullet? Wouldn't it be cool if could look up what exactly the drug was from those indiscriminate markings? Well, there's a website for that!
Question: who actually uses those "share this" buttons cluttering up all websites? Seriously, who? Sites are increasingly looking more like this graphic that accompanies the NYT story about those social media buttons. While I'd like to say these are complete bullshit (and I try to convince clients that they are), you can't ignore that ~200 retweet count on Techcrunch posts. Do any of those really matter? Are those influencers, or bullshiters?
(Similarly, isn't it crazy that no one has stopped and wondered how the hell ShareThis and Bit.ly, like Pluck before them, became hot startups? It's like once the legitimacy of user-generated web 2.0 companies was accepted, no one dared ever question the importance of the intermediary ever again.)
When Garrison Keillor had a stroke a few weeks ago, about 20 people sent me emails asking if I felt any sort of glee. Of course that's dumb -- this Gawker tag is all the vengeance I need.
Whoa. How would you like to spend the weekend with Herzog? Here you go: Rogue Film School. From the description:
Related, but more practical subjects, will be the art of lockpicking. Traveling on foot. The exhilaration of being shot at unsuccessfully. The athletic side of filmmaking. The creation of your own shooting permits. The neutralization of bureaucracy. Guerrilla tactics. Self reliance.
The price is not unreasonable: $1,450. [via]
So I've read several analysis stories now and I still don't understand why Adobe bought Omniture. $1.8 billion seems like an awful lot to spend to get those Flash apps tracked correctly!
Some new stuff this week:
The first time I met a writer was the first time it occurred to me that one could be a writer.
I was a college sophomore who, through a random set of instances, walked into a very large auditorium containing a very small audience. Jim Carroll was on a dark stage reading from a collection of stories, Praying Mantis, that he had just put out. His crackling, stuttery, affected voice filled the room as he said, "This is 'Tiny Tortures' (mp3)." I actually counted the number of people in the audience: eight.
Carroll had survived modest success in the '70s as a rock singer. "Catholic Boy," which sounded a little like The Clash meets the Stones, and "People Who Died" (mp3) were small hits in 1980. But after that he lived in relative obscurity for over a decade, until Leonardo DiCaprio came along to play him in The Basketball Diaries.
When I walked into that dark room, Carroll was reading something called "A Day at the Races" (mp3). I grew up in a town about the size of your apartment building, so this was the first time that I ever heard someone read their own work. And I was mesmerized.
I happened to know the student council person who booked him at this random midwest college, so I asked her if I could take Carroll out for the night. Frightened by his stories of heroin abuse, she was relieved that I would entertain him. So at a bar called Whitey's on a cold winter night in North Dakota, Jim Carroll drank with me. He told me a hundred stories about people and places I had never heard of. And he frequently snuck in the bathroom to do I-don't-know-what.
I had never met someone like Jim Carroll, but his writing eventually led me to people like William Burroughs and Patti Smith. I never talked to him again after that night, but every time I walked down St. Mark's -- 10, 15, nearly 20 years later -- I thought of him. It was one of those incalculably small events that probably changed me forever.
Update: NYT obit.
Your favorite new hippie band for the next five minutes: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, on Letterman.
For those who miss the days of Mondo 2000 (helllooooo ouuuut theeeerrrreeee), there's this: h+. The cover story about Dollhouse is spazzy old-skool good.
Google is developing a micropayment system, with the idea that new orgs could use it, but given these terms they never would.
The Awl visits the Minnesota State Fair and picks up on the way that agriculture is still presented as the centerpiece, even though most people have no relationship to agriculture anymore. Since the first time I visited the fair in the early '80s, it has transformed from something like a trade fair vibe to a museum of a forgotten lifestyle. Or as The Awl puts it:
They are petting zoos for the 90-some percent of visitors who no longer have any connection whatsoever to the fundamental pillar of local society going back to whatever beginning you're inclined to believe we had.
It wasn't that long ago that agricultural subsidies were discussed with the same rigor as health care is debated today. My sister and nieces still live on a farm in Minnesota. I thought of them the other day when someone casually mentioned Farm Aid, which I'm surprised to learn still exists. Farm Aid -- that was a big deal once upon a time!
50 things that are being killed by the internet. #1: "The art of polite disagreement." Yes, that.
The entire proposition seems like a boondoggle. I mean, who is interested in old music? And who would want to listen to anything so inconveniently delivered on massive four-inch metal discs with sharp, dangerous edges? The answer: no one. When the box arrived in the mail, I briefly considered smashing the entire unopened collection with a ball-peen hammer and throwing it into the mouth of a lion. But then, against my better judgment, I arbitrarily decided to give this hippie shit an informal listen. And I gotta admit -- I'm impressed. This band was mad prolific.
Some new stuff this week:
- Blueprint 3, Jay-Z's comeback, exec produced by Kanye.
- The Beatles: Rock Band, which got more press than Teddy Kennedy's funeral.
- The F-Word, by Jesse Sheidlower, the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.
- Level 26, a multi-media book/internet experiment from the creator of CSI (Fast Company profile).
Judging from the audience size in the theater, I'm probably the only one who saw Gamer this weekend. The trailer made it look awful, but it was better than you think! The conceit: rather than being about man versus machines, or about jacking into an alternate matrixy game universe, Gamer takes place in the real world but is inhabited by meatbots (remote-controlled humans). It's a little heavy on the first-person shooter action, but it's still watchable. The directors are going to be the next hot thing, with their upcoming adaptation of DC Comics' Jonah Hex (starring Megan Fox, Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, and Will Arnett).
Rating: 6 out of 10.
Starring: Gerard Butler, Michael C. Hall, Amber Valletta, Alison Lohman, Ludacris.
Directors: Mark Neveldine & Brian Taylor.
Creepy real-life details on the new Werner Herzog:
Produced by David Lynch, the film is based on the true story of a southern California actor who kills his mother. And proving life can be stranger than fiction, Herzog said the real-life actor was known in some circles for playing the role of Orestes, who in the Greek tragedy kills his mother.
Herzog said that, when he decided to do the film, he visited the man after his release from a mental institution, where he had lived 8 1/2 years after being declared unfit to stand trial.
"From a distance, I could tell he was still kind of dangerous, still really insane," Herzog said. He recalled finding in the actor's small trailer home a poster of Herzog himself with a crucifix over it and a candle beneath. "After that meeting, I never contacted him again."
It occurred to me watching this Jay-Z commercial that The Blueprint 3 is his first album not to have his face on the cover. (Okay, The Black Album didn't either.)
Given the verse-chorus-verse similarity, this mashup is so painfully obvious that I'm not sure why it took a decade to think of it: Blurvana.
The Web Ecology Group has another new paper: The Influentials: New Approaches for Analyzing Influence on Twitter. Example finding: "sockington is more influential than MCHammer, while MCHammer is more influential than three major social media analysts (garyvee, Scobleizer, and chrisbrogan)."
I'm sure this isn't news to Minneapolitans, but I just noticed that The Uptown Bar is closing. (It was famous locally for a variety of musical reasons. The Replacements and Soul Asylum and Husker Du practically lived there, and Tommy and Bob Stinson's mom still worked there.) I saw my pals from Communist Daughter play there last time I was in town in May. [via]
Sorry for the obnoxious personal nature of this... I desperately need to hire an assistant and I thought I'd try posting it here first. Some terms:
- The ideal candidate knows a lot about the internet. The super ideal candidate can make stuff on the internet. Any combination of basic design or programming or project management is awesome, but not required.
- Writing, too. And research.
- This is not a full-time job. It's barely even half-time. So it should be your backup gig.
- It very possibly could grow into a fulltime job, soon, if you wanted.
- Some things might be interesting (meeting pitches, product invention) and some things won't be (sorry, Zuki needs to be walked).
- You must be in NYC, but you can probably work from home some of the time.
If you're interested, let me know!
NYT Mag has published its big Spike Jonze feature for the eventual release of Where The Wild Things Are in mid-October. It mostly poses studio execs against creative geniuses, or something like that, with quotes like: "Jonze told me that one of his models for the dialogue was the work of John Cassavetes, which may be exciting news if you're a fan of avant-garde cinema, but might not sound quite as good if you're the president of Warner Brothers." [via]
Gawker Media launched seven years ago. They're
gloating celebrating their success with a few quotes from those heady days.
"It's such a stale idea. The Web is distributed. Try to get the flow to coalesce in a premeditated way. Not likely to work."
"Will it be profitable? I think it's possible but it's much more likely to break even long-term. Which, for the publishing industry, ain't too bad."
"It's still too new of a site, but I'm looking forward to seeing how well written it is, and if it keeps me coming back. If so, and it makes the people behind it money while doing it, maybe professional blogging can work afterall."
At the Movies is finally returning this weekend. Michael Phillips and A.O. Scott will host.
Some people were creeped out seeing Cobain sing in the Guitar Hero 5 trailer, but I don't think anyone was prepared for the sight of him singing Bon Jovi in the unlocked version:
I told Robin the other day that I'm jealous of all his ideas lately. There was that Kindle short story collection, preceded by the New Liberal Arts book. Then he ingeniously decided to use Kickstarter to fund a book, and now he's using Google Adwords to name a character. So much smartness so fast!
From the author of Book of Ages, a list of interesting ages in cultural history. Includes such items as "AGE 3: Sigmund Freud sees his mother naked, 1859" and "AGE 15: Susan Sontag buys her first copy of Partisan Review at a newsstand on Hollywood Boulevard, 1948."
To accompany Kottke's list of 1984 movies, here are some of the album releases from the same year:
Madonna, Like a Virgin
Prince, Purple Rain
The Replacements, Let It Be
Bon Jovi, Bon Jovi
The Smiths, The Smiths
Husker Du, Zen Arcade
Bruce Springsteen, Born in the USA
Minutemen, Double Nickels on the Dime
Metallica, Ride the Lightning
Talking Heads, Stop Making Sense
The first time I heard about The Fourth Kind was seeing the trailer before District 9. I was into its Blair Witch meets X-Files vibe, but I stumbled on the part where the professor claims that an audio recording contains spoken Sumerian, "the oldest language in human history." From my memory of college linguistics, I immediately was like, "No fucking way do we know what Sumerian sounds like." The distance between spoken and written was still vast, with grammatical elements like verbs (much less morphemes) still in development. But then Wikipedia sorta proved me wrong by suggesting we can at least guess at the phonemes, though it's not exactly conclusive if we would be able to recognize spoken Sumerian. Linguists out there: please help!
Microsoft is donating money for every person who gets the fuck off of IE6. That's my kind of charity.
It's almost like he's talking about the internet!
Jay-Z's "Run This Town" and the Occult Connections. And here we thought that awesome-crazy conspiracy mythology embedded in pop culture died in the '90s! "'Run This Town' is an announcement of the coming of a New World Order, lead by secret (Luciferian) societies." And more:
Further in the song Jay-Z says: "I'm in Maison, ugh, Martin Margiela" which is a upper-end fashion store. English speaking people usually pronounce the French word "maison" to sound like "mayzaun." Jay-Z however says it to sound like "mason" as in Freemason. There is an obvious double-meaning here meant to catch the ear of the listener. He basically says "I'm in Mason" to make people say "huh did he really say that?" as "I'm a Freemason" but he then continues by saying "ugh, Martin Margiela."
Update #1: Jay-Z on Bill Maher. Watch, watch, watch. Update #2: Jay-Z showed up at a Grizzly Bear show. I can finally disagree with the man: "What the indie rock movement is doing right now is very inspiring."
Guitar Hero 5 - Kurt Cobain Trailer. It still seems weird to see that Daniel Johnston tshirt.
It's like asking me, after I put together a band of musicians, why I didn't choose the musician who spoke Portuguese. What difference does it make if a musician speaks Portuguese? I'm going to pick the band member based on how good of a musician he is, not which languages he speaks. That's completely unrelated. Of course, if our band planned to tour in Portugal, it might be a different story, but let's put it this way: the band is not planning to tour in Portugal.
--the inimitable Adrian Holovaty on whether EveryBlock should have been purchased by a newspaper group instead.
Naked Lunch turned 50 last week. Update: Day of the Locust turned 70. I just reread it, because I remember not being amazed by it the first time. And second time through, I'm still unsure why it's so revered.
Have you been watching the weird stuff that Beck has been doing online? In record club, he and friends covered all of Velvet Underground & Nico; in planned obsolescence, he's made some post-GirlTalk mixed tapes.
I was waiting for someone to write about how Twitter isn't popular among the kids. (The 18-year-old who sounds like a 68-year-old -- "I just think it's weird and I don't feel like everyone needs to know what I'm doing every second of my life" -- has 11 followers.)
Nick's new book, Twitter Wit: Brilliance in 140 Characters or Less, went on sale today. I'm sure some will think it's frivolous, and in some context maybe it is, but it's also a spectacular illustration of how the internet bustles with brief and spontaneous moments of creativity. And contrary to how the supposed controversy was perceived, I'm super happy that someone made this book, because I probably never would have. And the bonus: someone finally cut Nick a check so that he could move to NYC. Welcome to the idiocy.
I've heard this complaint about Mad Men: It forces current events onto the screen in a way that isn't like actual life. History isn't that deterministic, goes the argument. A good example was when Roger Sterling spoke of a "Yetta Wallenda-sized misstep." I don't know if that criticism is fair, but I'm going to try entering "Jasmine Fiore-sized identity" into contemporary usage.
Here's something I think about a lot: In the span of my life, I've seen the coming and passing of many music formats. I vaguely remember 8-tracks, cassettes populate all of my high school memories, walls of CDs took off in college, and records seemed to persist steadily through that entire era. But then there's the MP3. After all of that change in so few years, it now seems likely that I will die with the MP3 as the dominant format. Anyway, this new Pitchfork thing is long, but it's highly recommended: The Social History of the MP3.
Because in this movie, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis have sex. Yeah. You read that right. And not just nice sweet innocent sex either. We're talking ecstasy-induced hungry aggressive angry sex.
GQ wrote this of Gamer this month: "If Guy Debord wrote the movie of Society of the SPectacle after injecting a case of Ed Hardy Energy Drink into this member and playing 174 hours of Call of Duuy, that would look like Howards End compared with Gamer. Michael Bay, get ready to cry yourself a new hole." Trailer.
Bruce Sterling keynote: "At the Dawn of the Augmented Reality Industry." He thinks it's the most exciting thing happening in tech today.
Your favorite tshirt for the next five minutes: Oxygen 65%, Carbon 18%, Hydrogen 10%, Nitrogen 3%, Calcium 1.5%, Phosphorus 1%, Potassium .25%, Sulfur .25%, Sodium .15%, Chlorine .15%, Magnesium .05%, Iron .006%, Flourine .0037%, Silicon .002%, Rubidium .00046%, etc. Guess who?
Twitter to Add Location. Was wondering how this would ultimately be executed. It's at the API level and users can opt in to add location metadata. The teaser:
For example, with accurate, tweet-level location data you could switch from reading the tweets of accounts you follow to reading tweets from anyone in your neighborhood or city -- whether you follow them or not.
Just imagine if a service like Foursquare was able to send your actual location to Twitter alongside the name of the place you are at. That would save the people who follow you on Twitter but don't use Foursquare the hassle of looking up the location of the place you are at if they want to meet up with you.
I imagine attention festivals: week-long multimedia, cross-industry carnivals of readings, installations, and performances, where you go from a tent with 30-second films, guitar solos, 10-minute video games, and haiku to the tent with only Andy Warhol movies, to a myriad of venues with other media forms and activities requiring other attention lengths. In the Nano Tent, you can hear ringtones and read tweets. A festival organized not by the forms of the commodities themselves but of the experience of interacting with them. Not organized by time elapsed, but by cognitive investment: a pop song, which goes by quickly, can resonate for days; a poem, which can go by more quickly, sticks through a season. A festival in which you can see images of your brain on knitting and on Twitter.
"The sexy son hypothesis is one of several possible explanations for the highly diverse and often astonishing ornaments of animals." Oh, science.
A decade in the making, James Cameron's Avatar finally has a trailer and a release date: December 18. Avatars, for Cameron, are the product of a human mind implanted into and alien body. It looks awesome.
Top 6 Augmented Reality Mobile Apps. These are all pretty cool/futuristic. And if they all port over to that supposed iTablet....
Google's IPO was five years ago today. I was trying to remember the skeptics. Here's one:
"I'm not buying," Stephen Wozniak, an Apple co-founder, declared to The New York Times in the weeks before Google went public.
NY Mag: A strangely detailed manifesto about the materials and techniques that go into t-shirts today. "How does a new T-shirt feel instantly familiar? The patina of age is a good start. It not only softens shirts and makes them comfortable, it lends them the aura of uniqueness." And so forth.
For Entourage watchers... A reporter asks Jamie-Lynn Sigler (Meadow Soprano) if pretty women date fat dudes in real life. He doesn't know that in real life she's fucking Turtle. I mean Jerry Ferrara.
In the category of "If you like X, then you'll like Y" and X = Mad Men... Art & Copy trailer.
There are two clashing worldviews. There is my view, that a human being is in charge of his or her own life and, with sustained focus, can reach higher and higher achievement every week, gradually approaching (and maybe one day reaching!) a virtuous, peaceful, and happy life.
The other view is more of a victim mentality: that life happens to you, that infinite frustration and suffering are unavoidable, that the only reasonable way of coping with such an awful world is to attack whoever seems to actually enjoy life -- because surely they are dishonest or crazy and must be brought back down to Earth.
There are probably a thousand new linkable Mad Men links out there today, but let's just go with this one: The Tech of Mad Men, from Gizmodo. Includes the photocopier, the typewriter, the slide projector, and of course the electrocizer, or whatever they ended up calling it.
SNL audition tapes, including Belushi, Hartman, Ferrell, Carvey. I had no idea they existed, but they're amazing.
Just released: the previously un-aired pilot of South Park. Most of it was integrated into the actually-aired first episode, but it's interesting to see how the early episodes, which were mostly anal probe jokes, gradually transformed into topical cultural criticism.
This has never happened to me, yet I feel like it's happened to me a hundred times. (Guy goes to Europe for two weeks, but somehow his girlfriend forgot the conversation in which he tells her this. She goes a little crazy. It's nearly eight minutes long, but it's pretty great.) [via]
What kids searched for this summer. Seeing "sex" and "porn" at #4 and #6 reminds me of how, from age 10 to 15, I looked up "fuck" every time I picked up a dictionary. Some terms you might also need to Google:
- "Webkinz" (#16)
- "Runescape" (#37)
- "Nigahiga" (#99)
- "Miniclip" (#18)
- "Poptropica" (#54)
- "Hoedown Throwdown" (#61)
- "naked girls" (#86)
On the occasion of the release of Squeaky Fromme: the spastic conspiratorial "Let's Put Squeaky Fromme on the One-Dollar Bill" section of Slacker. (Btw, people always remember Squeaky's relationship to Manson, but forget her actual reason for attempting to assassinate Ford: to save the redwoods. If you're in the mood for a flashback, read the 1975 Time cover story.)
North Dakota is home to protectionist policies ranging from agriculture co-ops to state-run insurance to a law demanding that all pharmacies be locally owned (banning the only advantage of a Wal-Mart: cheap drugs). There is the state-run Bank of North Dakota, which in a year that saw private banks taking federal bailouts, returned $30 million to the state's general fund. More importantly, these state organizations operate in competition with private business, a fact that keeps everyone honest and is a system that, while quite successful and popular here, is clearly going to destroy America if partly implemented on any national scale, such as with health care.
This nails the contradiction of the state, which has two of the more progressive senators -- Kent Conrad and Byron Dorgan -- yet is culturally more red than Utah. If you ever wondered what a libertarian socialist economy would look like (and who hasn't?), North Dakota is basically it.
Conrad, the senior senator, was on Charlie Rose recently, speaking about the glories of social co-operatives. Co-operatives!
In 1991, Norwegian churches started to burn, just after an underground circle of metal musicians had formed. While reporters and police scrambled for answers, more and more churches went up in flames. They had no leads until Varg Vikernes, one of the architects of an underground music-art-political scene known as BLACK METAL took credit and was quickly arrested. While he was in police custody, the media ran a largely fabricated story of satanic rituals, abductions and sacrifices. This film reveals the true story behind the music, murders and church burnings, and shows what happened when these young men, who tried to change the world using music, art and violence, found that they could not control what they had created.
You may have heard of Varg before -- he was charged with four counts of arson (all historic churches) and of murdering his bandmate (via 23 stab wounds). He smiled as he was convicted to a 21-year sentence. After 16 years in prison, he was released a few months ago on parole. Here are the documentary's creators, who also seem crazy, but in the exact opposite way satanist nazis probably seem crazy, discussing the film in a sorta Christopher Guest kinda way. [via]
20-year-old Hayley Williams of the band Paramore has not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, but six Tumblrs dedicated to her. Vulture just went out on a limb and asked, "Is Paramore the greatest lady-fronted rock band in the country?"
I've become conditioned to saying that everything the AP does is stupid, so maybe I have to reserve judgment on this one: How The Associated Press will try to rival Wikipedia in search results. At least it's tactically an idea, rather than fantasy. Interesting: EveryZing, a company I've worked with that was recently purchased by NBC, seems to be involved.
Dumenco inteviews Wasik, devises 7 Truths About Viral Culture. "5. The Attention Economy is (mostly) a sorry excuse for a (predictable, rational) economy."
A great collection of Google Street View images. Burning houses in Arkansas, guys with guns in South Dakota, hookers in Italy, kids flipping off the camera in Belfast, and much more.
I hope the economy recovers soon enough for everyone to have guilt-free lust for the hypothetical new iTablet. Lam: "To me, this is where Star Trek starts, and War Games ends." Update: reports came in throughout the day that it will be is a 2010 launch, so maybe you should consider a Kindle after all.
Despite everyone telling him it's a dumb idea, Hunter is attending Columbia Journalism School to the tune of $47K. His story will be a good one to watch (I bet he gets a book deal, which is a funny way to make j-school worthwhile), but the real reason I link to this: it's a good example of Gawker's new commenting system working pretty nicely. Gawker is the new Metafilter?
It's almost like it didn't happen until Eclectic Method creates their definitive cultural news mashup.
For those who watched Dollhouse, the un-aired 13th episode is on Amazon. It takes place 10 years in the future.
I actually own a copy of Lotion's album Nobody's Cool (1996), which infamously (at the time) had liner notes from Thomas Pynchon. Now, 13 years later, it turns out at least part of the back story was a hoax. (Conversely, it seems that the new book trailer is actually narrated by him.) And just to be annoyingly elusive and insinuating, just like the master, I'll add: a prominent dot-com mogul grew up in an apartment right next to Pynchon and describes him as very normal. GUESS WHO!
This is something that will happen a lot: What happens to a reporter's popular Twitter account when she jumps to a rival? What if, I dunno, @Maddow jumped to CNN?
Lady Gaga: Architecture Personified? I ask not in jest, is there anyone trying harder to bring the avant-garde to the mainstream? (Actually, are we allowed to use the term "avant-garde" any more?)
The Awl: Midget Wrestling in North Dakota. I don't know how this story came about, but a strange coincidence: I used to drink in this bar three times a week.
Television operators, the people who buy and produce things for people to watch on TV, are taking the position that films photographed in the 2.40:1 ratio should be blown up or chopped up to fit a 16:9 (1.78:1) ratio. They are taking the position that the viewers of television do not like watching 2.40 films letterboxed to fit their 16:9 screens, and that a film insisting on this is worth significantly less -- or even nothing -- to them. They are taking the position that no one will dare challenge them and risk losing revenue.
Facebook buying Friendfeed is like cloning yourself, not feeding it for a few years, and then eating it.
I finally redesigned this dumb blog. Yay! There's still some clean-up work to be done, but drop a note in the comments if you see anything amiss. (LOOK AT THE BIG SCARY VIRUS GRAPHIC THAT'S GOING TO EAT THE INTERNET!) Update: I've made many changes based upon some feedback. And I made the logo even uglier, just to piss off that one guy. (I'll probably tweak that later this week.)
My favorite discovery in Vanity Fair's cover story on Mad Men was learning that the women dominate the writing of the show -- "the core five of whom are all women, unusual in television," as the story states. A new WSJ story picks up the same theme, expanding the numbers a bit: "Seven of the nine members of the writing team are women." (This is the first time I've noticed that Marti Noxon, my favorite Buffy writer, is also one of the staff members.)
Have you noticed that we seem to have more "inside leaks" about the reported Apple tablet than any product in that company's history? (Another one today.) I see three potential explanations: 1) There's a new squeaky wheel inside Apple. 2) It's the kind of product that more people need to see, so the risk is greater. 3) They're intentionally leaking it from the inside.
I'm betting it's the last one. This is Apple's way of placing a subliminal suggestion in your noggin that says, "You don't need a Kindle just yet."
So it's great that those American journalists were "pardoned" in North Korea, but isn't the storyline here kinda crazy? The journalists worked for Al Gore (at Current.TV) and after a visit by his former boss, Bill Clinton, they will be released despite his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, being the functional Secretary of State. Bill is presumably involved because Hillary has been playing bad cop with North Korea -- and they called her a "funny lady," which is funny. (And: "Sometimes she looks like a primary schoolgirl and sometimes a pensioner going shopping.") Along for the ride to North Korea? That wacky sidekick John Podesta, who was Clinton's chief of staff. Somehow, I bet that madman Kim Jong-il actually enjoys how this all turned out: like a '90s sitcom.
Does turning your book trailer into a movie trailer give it a better chance of being optioned?
The greatest drunk on earth? Modern Drunkard thinks it knows: "You won't find it in the Guinness Book of World Records, but Andre the Giant holds the world record for the largest number of beers consumed in a single sitting. These were standard 12-ounce bottles of beer, nothing fancy, but during a six-hour period Andre drank 119 of them." It also says he drank 7,000 calories of booze per day.
The reviews for Inherent Vice are rolling in: NY Mag | Slate | Entertainment Weekly | Financial Times | Guardian | Boston Globe | Time | LA Times | New Yorker | The Stranger. As usual, the New York Times remains the last to drop their canonical opinion. Update: And there's Michiko.
So a Washington Post writer -- Ian Shapira -- wrote a story about a generational consultant who's paid to talk about what the kids are talking about. A writer at Gawker -- Hamilton Nolan -- picked up the item, excerpted huge sections, and attributed it at the bottom. Now the writer feels like Gawker essentially stole his story. Good quotes follow and Neiman crunches the numbers. Update: Mediaite expands it. Update: Gawker has a decent response, mostly cuz it takes your eyes off the ball by saying that the downfall of newspapers has nothing to do with Gawker and other aggregation-type-things, which is true, except that wasn't really the original point.
I'm surprised it took Starbucks this long to experiment with spinoffs, but is the whole rustic thing really the right direction?
Founder of Loopt on Charlie Rose last night. Nicely articulate, and I love Charlie's weird questions.
Let me ask you, what kind of person do you think Scarlett Johansson is?
You have probably never met her, and I definitely have not, yet we both seemingly feel like we could describe her personality with reasonable accuracy.
This is peculiar.
It's not shocking to learn that humans enjoy making personality judgments based upon scant evidence. But with celebrities it seems exceptionally dubious, since we actually know literally nothing about them first-hand. Lohan, Aniston, Springsteen, Cruise -- why do all these people seem to have well-formed personas? How much of it is real and how much is manufactured? What are the sources we use to scrape together these mysterious portraits?
There are a few known mythological origins. Maybe that profile in Rolling Stone had some lasting influence, and perhaps those eight minutes on Leno left an impression. But these sources, mediated and filtered and manicured, seem exceptionally unreliable. So what else is there?
Oh yeah, we have their work. Scarlett gave a lasting impression in Lost in Translation, so perhaps we know a little more about her because of how she gobbles sushi with Bill Murray. But wait -- she was acting. Can we really conclude anything about her personality from these flickering screen moments?
I've spent an inordinate amount of time considering this question: why do we think we know people who we'll never actually know?
Here's my best guess: we trust gossip.
Before mass media, gossip was merely personal information shared about a mutual acquaintance. In other words, pre-modern gossip was the original conversational marketing: valued information shared by reputable sources.
With the onset of broadcasting, publishing, and eventually the internet, the intimacy of gossip bred with the entertainment industry, birthing the hybrid offspring known was celebrity gossip. Of all the animals in the media zoo, celebrity gossip emerged as the most chimerical creature. Every day, hundreds of weird little stories pop up on sites with names like Hollywood Tuna and Egotastic and Celebrity Puke. Sometimes they make outrageous claims (Amy Winehouse just ate a drunk baby!), and other times the narratives are ostentatiously mundane (Tara Reid just ate a taco!). Through these morsels of checkout lane anti-matter, we form lasting opinions about celebrities.
That finally brings us to today's launch of GossipCop.com, a site that I did the strategy/design/development on. The premise is simple: investigate the accuracy of the daily anecdotes, the rampant rumors, and the cubicle grist known as celebrity gossip. Think of it as TMZ meets Smoking Gun. Or maybe Perez Hilton meets Columbia Journalism Review. Whatever -- the prevailing idea is that even seemingly unknowable information can be investigated in today's info-rich economy.
My three favorite features on the site:
+ Truth Meter. Every post investigates a piece of celebrity gossip and provides a rating, from 0 to 10, based upon the likelihood of the story.
+ Paparazzi Patrol. Rather than churn out more celebrity video, Gossip Cop looks at the underside of the celebrity gossip business. By turning the camera back on the paparazzi, the site reveals the gossip creators for what they are. (This feature was originally dubbed "Papsmeared," a name I really loved but which was ultimately dropped.)
+ Twit Happens. With its direct interaction and unfiltered access, Twitter could end up being the greatest invention in celebrity journalism since the camera. It is quickly becoming the ultimate device for determining how impressions are made, rumors are debunked, and celebrity battles are fought. This hand-picked list contains the best tweets of the day.
Truthfully, I'm not much of a celebrity news consumer. But I hope this site adds a new angle into the salacious, rumor-driven celebrity culture.
And maybe I can finally get to know Scarlett.
This is the kind of thing that someone usually leaves as spam in the comments of my site, but is actually pretty cool: A Pictorial History of Dentistry. Those 700 BC braces are wicked.
Your favorite new video for the next five minutes: N.A.S.A.'s Whachadoin?", which features every hipster on the block: M.I.A., Spank Rock, Santogold, Nick Zinner....
Nicholson Baker, who as you remember really liked Wikipedia, isn't so much into the Kindle. Somewhat counter-intuitively, he suggest that reading on the iPhone might be better. Which is good news for Apple, because they're probably releasing a tablet by Christmas. Update: Edward Champion thought to make the same comparison and debunks Baker.
"But when we heard London-born R&B tart Cherri V's 'Til The Sun Comes Up' and instantly recognized its utilization of both the '90s grunge-pop behemoth's vocal and guitar melodies, we must admit we were floored: on one hand intrigued by such a ballsy move; on the other, ready to cry out 'blasphemy' over someone actually daring to go through with the idea." You be the judge.
After all those take-down notices last week, it looks like the Alice In Wonderland trailer is back up.
Look at Anil trying to get in on that name coinage industry! (Hey, everything needs a little marketing.)
From an NYT story about some new crazy thing the AP is trying to invent to prevent copyright infringement:
Each article -- and, in the future, each picture and video -- would go out with what The A.P. called a digital 'wrapper,' data invisible to the ordinary consumer that is intended, among other things, to maximize its ranking in Internet searches. The software would also send signals back to The A.P., letting it track use of the article across the Web.Could that description be any more confusing? Does anyone know what it actually is? I'm guessing some sort of markup?
Only one thing struck me as odd about today's much-discussed Observer piece about how the NYTimes.com is constructed each day: the lead editor apparently has time to read every story in the paper, but has zero time to check his traffic stats?
One of the first products from FourSquare's API: Social Great. It's pretty simple -- it shows the locations that are hot in nyc by hour, day, week, and all time -- but it's easy to imagine the potential.
Nirvana vs Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give Your Teen Spirit up. Very well done! [via]
Meme clash: Honan's Ask A Flowchart for Single Serving Sites. Uses its own websites, such as AmIDoingThisRight.com, to come to the final app to end all single-serving apps: WiredSingleServingSiteGenerator.com.
Shaq Vs: Shaq plays tennis against Serena Williams, Shaq boxes Oscar de la Hoya, Shaq swims against Michael Phelps. I'd watch this!
Your favorite blog for the next five minutes: Vintage Stand-Up Comedy. "Out of print, spoken word stand-up comedy from the 1930s through the 1990s."
A DeLillo character reviews a David Foster Wallace book in a literary journal. (It's the same character who's in that most-photographed barn passage.) [via]
This will likely be good: Will Shortz, the NY Times crossword puzzle editor, is answering questions this week. Update:
For my major in enigmatology at Indiana University, I took courses on "Word Puzzles of the 20th Century," "Construction of Crossword Puzzles," "Popular Mathematical Puzzles," "Logic Puzzles," "The Psychology of Puzzles," "Crossword Magazines," and related subjects. Not surprisingly Indiana had no existing courses on puzzles, so I made them all up myself. In each case I'd find a professor willing to work with me one on one on the topic I proposed. For my course on crossword construction, for example, every two or three weeks I'd take a new puzzle I'd created to my professor's office and sit at his side while he solved and critiqued it. This was my first experience creating professional quality crosswords. For my course on the psychology of puzzles, I studied how the brain works as well as why people feel driven to solve puzzles. My thesis was on "The History of American Word Puzzles Before 1860," in which I traced original American puzzles back to 1647 -- almost the beginning of printing history in the colonies.
Trope is the New Meme. "A few years ago it felt like one could scarcely read a think-piece in any newspaper or magazine without coming across some mention of the word 'meme.' Now it seems as though the new meme is the word 'trope.' Trope is everywhere." See also: recent xkcd.
In his first question, Al Franken asks Sotomayor about Net Neutrality in yesterday's Supreme Court nomination hearing.
Your favorite video for the next five minutes: "Treat Me Like Your Mother," the Dead Weather. (With musical references to Budgie, Mountain, Rage, and Jon Spencer!)
NYCers, your new favorite iPhone app: New York Nearest Subway Augmented Reality App. Watch the video. It looks sorta meh at first, but then it goes crazy awesome augmented about 25 seconds in. It's not out yet, but here's more info.
"Three days after [19-year-old] van Poppel sold the Bin Laden tape to Reuters, he said in an interview with Inside Cable News that he'd originally reached out to CNN's iReport with the tape. They were unresponsive." Ouch.
The kid who leaked Chinese Democracy got two months of home confinement, and zero Dr. Peppers.
Another Clay Shirky thing you probably should read: Not an Upgrade -- An Upheaval. What I appreciate about Shirky's voice during this wacky moment in media history is that it is neither conservative publisher crying about the existence of Google/Craigslist nor celebratory I-Told-You-So squealing. You don't get the sense that he's trying to make "a brand" out of his prognosis. It's just reasoned, pragmatic thinking. [via]
From The Stranger, probably my favorite story about Twitter ever: Paul Constant Reviews Twitter. He writes every paragraph in 140-characters. Each item actually could stand alone as a tweet, but it also works as a narrative.
The nerds behind Memetracker, which builds maps around news streams, have a new paper, "Meme-tracking and the Dynamics of the News Cycle," which claims, according to a NYT story, that "the traditional news outlets lead and the blogs follow, typically by 2.5 hours." I would say the methodology looks flawed, but it just so happens that this story came out exactly 2.5 hours ago.
Vanity Fair: James Walcott cries that no one will see him reading Anna Karenina on the subway, or something like that.
[Books] help brand our identities. At the rate technology is progressing, however, we may eventually be traipsing around culturally nude in an urban rain forest, androids seamlessly integrated with our devices.Argh! It's not that this form of nostalgia is unworthy of some passing historical fascination, because I'm sure digitization actually does represent a drastic change in how we perceive cultural objects. Rather, the obvious annoyance in this sentimental prose is its complete lack of awareness of just how silly the fetishized cultural object was in the first place. Shouldn't we be suspicious of anyone who thinks that showing off your CD collection was ever really the point? Update: Continued on Snarkmarket...
Klosterman's new book has a cover and release date: Eating the Dinosaur. The format will be similar to Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs.
Today we announced the launch of Mediaite.com, a new site that covers all dimensions of the media world. I advised on it, including doing the design and development. Most of my previous launch projects had the support of a media entity with dozens of employees, so this was a different kind of challenge, involving such wonderful tasks as recalling the inner-workings of DART and building WordPress plugins. It's been a while since I was involved in a bootstrappy startup, so this post is for the few people who are interested in the nuances of moving between big and small media, for however long that historical distinction remains.
Although a lot is going on with the site, this feature will probably garner the most attention. The Power Grid ranks 1,500 media personalities in a dozen categories. It will predictably get criticized for some sort of navel-gazing, but just as with pageview counts and most-emailed articles lists before it, the index will also predictably be ctrl+refreshed by industry obsessives. All new metrics go through their hazing periods, and media hazing is the worst form of it.
As this month's Wired overtly suggests, the abundance of data should pose a new frontier for publishing. As personal data migrates online, accusations will arise about the narcissism of measuring thyself, perhaps even yanking in some conservative trope about the decline of society, or some liberal invective about the end of privacy. Everyone will eventually settle down, and we will all learn a little more about each other. The world will go on, and no one will take Twitter Followers that seriously. (Except Dan, who is on a mission to pass me. Please don't follow him.)
The Power Grid itself posed many technical challenges: how to build an extensible algorithm, how to gather the data, how to differentiate industries, how to eliminate outlying factors, how to display the information. Watching the launch of Tumblarity, with its mercurial display and confounding numerical obfuscation, was a lesson in information design. (It took me days to figure out if you wanted a big or small Tumblarity number.) While the Power Grid doesn't reveal every single data point (mostly because that would be visually overwhelming), enough data is available for surmising the gist of how rankings are calculated.
And it's more than just a game. If you want to get a snapshot of Joel Stein or Kevin Rose, there is some interesting data to investigate. If you have an active, data-focused mind, you can imagine future iterations of the Power Grid: new data sources, APIs, visualized trending data, other industries. Who knows...
The tone of Mediaite is opinionated, but factual. It will be more reported than most blogging today, yet it will take stances where it needs to. The site's editors (Colby Hall, formerly of VH1; Rachel Sklar, formerly of HuffPo; Glynnis MacNicol, formerly of Mediabistro; Steve Krakauer, formerly of TVnewser) provide the corpus of the site in TV, Online, and Print, while user contributions end up in the Columnists bucket.
I'll be writing occasional columns too.
"Nostalgic futurism," "pixelated pop art," "newspaper retro" -- these were some of the early identities we toyed with. After running through iterations of each, we ended up with something calm, simple, flat.
If you follow online design trends even marginally, you've seen the grid take over the scene. It's a fine system, especially when applied to data-rich sites. But it also suffers from a deficiency: it makes you think vertically. Take a look at the NYTimes.com, undeniably one of the best designed news sites. Here's a test: Start scanning the page while thinking about how your eyes move in conjuncture with scrolling. Do you see a pattern? Your eyes are forced to move up and down with your scrollbar. This unnatural movement is because the site is built as stacks of content. Grid design implicitly enforces this kind of thinking, because it tries to build nicely aligned columns.
This is problematic, because I don't think people actually want to scan content this way. Blogs have proven they read content this way, but it seems easier to scan content horizontally.
This was a small innovation we discovered in redesigning msnbc.com, which was was reconceived in other prominent sites. These "horizontal sites" build a new kind of importance hierarchy. Designers don't realize it, but unaligned vertical stacks are a remnant of the way that newspapers were designed -- in columns, up and down. These new layouts are more like movie screens and wide monitors, with action moving left and right.
Except for the Power Grid, it's all built on WordPress, which I haven't used in five years. Some hacking was required to get the front page to have a non-blog layout, but enough advancements have occurred over the years to make it only mildly painful.
If you hang around in the NYC media bubble long enough, you develop the social depression of a collapsing industry. The west coast is full of a giddy frisson about the inevitable demise of big media, while the midwest is skeptical of everything that gets force-fed to them from the coasts. NYC, which has essentially zero awareness of any of this, continues to constantly be shocked! when a TMZ or Pitchfork or The Onion comes along from the hinterlands with a massively successful enterprise.
The reasons for this amounts to a lack of vision. Even smart people, vampirically bound to the past, seem completely blind to developing new formats. The standard for online innovation right now is "launch another blog," which no one seems to recognize is about as depressing as launching another newspaper.
Mediaite is a hybrid model, borrowing some successful formats of the past and mixing it with some new ideas.
Howard Kurtz: Just the Messenger.
My pals Peter and Ryan have been sorta soft launching GDGT, a social gadget site. Veronica explains it, but best of all, pronounces it (twice, differently). Hopefully this is a sign that smart content people are finally pushing beyond the depressing "launch another blog" strategy that has plagued the increasingly stagnant online publishing world.
I kinda dissed the New York Observer's new site design a while back, but something I've noticed lately is that the homepage currently serves up almost all external links. Even the top story, right now, is currently a link off site. It's the largest attempt to go full-on aggregation since Drudge (contra HuffPo, which is an ingestor, not an aggregator). None of these are in their RSS feed, but I'd subscribe to something that included only those links.
Your least favorite video for the next five minutes: "Alcohol," Millionaires. "Every time I'm at the bar / You wanna pay / Go ahead and buy me a drink / You won't get laid." Oh, you kids.
I don't know if I've ever seen anyone so excited with a book as when I ran into Caroline last night toting around an advance copy of Accidental Billionaires. Her review.
"A recent study has investigated this sentiment in order to understand why some cultural products and styles die out faster than others. According to the results, the quicker a cultural item rockets to popularity, the quicker it dies."
There's a new video of Leighton Meister on the internet. No, not that video! This one, a video from Cobra Starship [snicker]. The plot is pretty much an episode of Gossip Girl, and except for that breakdown bridge at the end, it's pretty good, right?
I've been thinking a lot about a comment that Rick Webb made in my post last week about unpaid writing gigs. "Just accept it's like photography, and that you'll never make a living off of it." I have a instinctual desire to say, "No, writing is different." But I'm unable to come up with any intelligible way in which it is. Will writing just democratize itself into ubiquity, leaving only a scant few people who can call themselves writers by profession? And would that be a bad thing?
Keeping News of Kidnapping Off Wikipedia: "For seven months, The New York Times managed to keep out of the news the fact that one of its reporters, David Rohde, had been kidnapped by the Taliban. But that was pretty straightforward compared with keeping it off Wikipedia." Wales contributed to the "sanitizing effort," which I'm frankly surprised ever worked. Isn't it surprising that no blogs picked up on this? NPR questions the ethics.
Who thinks Chris Anderson is wrong about the future of free? None other than that other guy whose books you buy at the airport, Malcolm Gladwell!
Fast Company's 4,400-word story on The Kindle is actually worth it, because it wanders into scenarios about how publishing might play out.
Still playing catchup... this news broke last week: David Fincher is possibly directing something called The Social Network, an Aaron Sorkin-written film about the creation of Facebook.
I agree with Bret Easton Ellis a lot, and I have a whole essay (being published this winter! in a book!) about why The Hills is amazing, but I wouldn't go so far as to say it's "the greatest show that I have ever seen in my life."
Gmail Ninja Tips. I didn't know some of these, such as that you can sign out remotely or that you can add "+anything" to your address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and it works like your normal address.
Michael Jackson, James Brown, and Prince on stage together. Prince wins, right?
I'm still signed up for at least a dozen residual "breaking news" email alert lists, which triggers a bukake festival in my inbox when things like Michael Jackson dying happens. With Twitter, RSS readers, and everything else, it's time to finally ask is email an anachronistic delivery method?
The Netflix Prize has finally been conquered. The two top teams combined their efforts to accomplish it.
Kottke's right about Twitter litter, which is why I want an app that will just give me friend recommendations. Update: NYT story about Vark.com, a revved up Yahoo Answers that uses your Facebook friends and their extensions.
NYC puked all over itself this week over this question: Should you write for free? (My answer, which is meaningless without a wordy explanation, but nonetheless: No, except for limited circumstances.) For anyone who cares, I'll fulfill my duty as link rounder upper: Simon Dumeno in Ad Age probably got the ball rolling, but Foster Kamer at Gawker picked it up and pissed off everyone, most of all Rachelle Hruska (whose Guest of a Guest had a Styles profile last weekend) who gave the best smack-down you've seen in a while, even though Maura Johnston dissented/quibbled, but meanwhile Emily Gould was forcefully explaining why she writes for free, and by that time everyone with a Tumblr had something to say about everything from The Awl to HuffPo. The end.
I was expecting Bill Wasik's And Then There's This to be the most-discussed book of the summer, but so far there's only this Vulture Reading Room, with your favorite viralogists like Anil Dash, David Rees, and Virginia Heffernan.
"Purple Rain really started hip-hop culture, whether the historians want to view it that way or not. You have Prince himself, a very unusual-looking figure, five feet tall -- pretty much anybody considered a musical genius in hip-hop has some sort of odd physical feature, i.e., Biggie's lazy eye. And then the whole idea of beefs -- Prince and Morris. Morris' whole pimp attitude, that was something you didn't hear since the blaxploitation films of the early '70s. Prince sang about sex and he worked with drum machines."
That's ?uestlove in this month's Spin cover story, which is an oral history on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Purple Rain.
My gift to you this fine Friday: Santigold - Southerngold (Terry Urban & Gold Coin Clothing Mixtape). [via]
"Crowd-sourcing killed punk rock." That's Christopher Weingarten 7.5 minutes into his presentation at #140Conf, the Twitter conference earlier this week. (And by "punk rock," he means subculture.) He's reviewing 1,000 albums this year at @1000TimesYes. Here are his highest-rated records so far this year. [via]
In a video with a Daft Punk intro that accompanies his Atlantic column, Michael Hirschorn explains why The Economist is doing well but Newsweek and Time are dying. (Absolutely nothing in that sentence sounds right.) [via]
I had no idea this existed, publicly: The-Dream's demo for "Umbrella." And just like that, Rihanna's version is now a cover!
Koogle, the new "kosher" custom search engine for ultra-Orthodox Jews that filters out "prohibited" content and shuts down on the Sabbath. What's next -- custom search engines for hipsters, Scientologists or foodies?
It's Minneapolis week at MTV2, and here's a 19-track video playlist that includes Tapes 'n Tapes, P.O.S., The Replacements, Brother Ali, and Dylan. (Why they chose that claymation Replacements vid is a mystery though.)
So I watched the first episode of It's On, MTV's new show to replace TRL, starring the extremely likable Alexa Chung. Probably the most surprising thing: it's basically a talk show. There were a couple sketches (Jack Black and Michael Cera painfully talking over the trailer to their movie), some interviews (Spencer & Heidi), a performance (Soulja Boy). They didn't play a single music video. Anyway, they seemed to handle the twitter/facebook integration into the show pretty seamlessly, which was the biggest question going in. So I think it worked and I'm ready to now ask: Alexa, will you be my friend?
So apparently that last Gossip video for "Heavy Cross" wasn't the official one? Because there's now a new one. Actually, in this age of multiple videos for singles, is the idea of "official" officially obsolete? Whatever, this is the only song you need to listen to this summer.
Bill Maher holds a special place in my heart. There has never been another living person who I politically agree with so much, yet despise personally. That's success! So this thing on Obama is funny.
Every NYT Styles story should be like this one: Bartender, Make It a Stiletto. There's really some guy out there who gets his jollies by lying down on bar floors wrapped in a blanket and asking people to step on him? Has anyone ever encountered this dude?
HBO is really pushing these "True Blood" ads to their extreme. I'm sure there's some sort of stake-in-the-heart-of-journalism pun to be made here.
The Top 10 Most Absurd Time Covers of The Past 40 Years. 1976: "THE PORNO PLAGUE" [via]
"Yes, but I can make [flatulence] noises." Huh, the NYTimes really can't publish the word "fart," even if it's only online? (That interview occurred before anyone saw the video. It's funny to see how nervous and defensive the Times seems before even seeing the piece.)
As JJ Abrams recently pointed out in Wired, it's easy to forget that J. D. Salinger is still alive. The nonagenarian (that's 90!) popped up in the news last week when he filed a lawsuit against some moron writing a "follow-up" book called 60 Years Later: Coming Through the Rye ("moron" because he's doing it; I suspect it might actually be legal). Anyway, Rosenbaum at Slate runs through the conspiracy theories about just what the hell J.D. has been up to all these years. He hasn't published a story since 1965, in The New Yorker.
If you missed it, Kim Gordon sorta slammed Radiohead's In Rainbows biz model last week. "They did a marketing ploy by themselves and then got someone else to put it out. It seemed really community-oriented, but it wasn't catered towards their musician brothers and sisters, who don't sell as many records as them. It makes everyone else look bad for not offering their music for whatever."
VH1 Shelves Best Week Ever, Possibly Permanently. I haven't watched this for a long, long time, but during the first year, it was one of my favorite things on television.
Because it was Internet Week here in NYC, I ended up missing most of what happened... on the internet! But I'm sure Digg Ads got some attention. I was intrigued by this nice bit of counter-intuitiveness: "The more an ad is Dugg, the less the advertiser will have to pay. Conversely the more an ad is buried, the more the advertiser is charged, pricing it out of the system." I like the idea of being punished for bad ads.
Even though everyone instantly knee-jerk hated on Bing, Microsoft's new search engine launched last week, it quickly doubled Microsoft's search size and flew by Yahoo in popularity. Update: Oh, this is cool. Someone built a blind search engine where users compared the results of the big three and voted on the best. Bing apparently was winning!
Creepy Alluring Art of the Follow Shot. "I love this shot because it's neither first-person nor third; it makes you aware of a character's presence within the movie's physical world while also forcing identification with the character." Video includes examples.
Steven Berlin Johnson in Time on Twitter. "Skeptics might wonder just how much subversion and wit is conveyable via 140-character updates. But in recent months Twitter users have begun to find a route around that limitation by employing Twitter as a pointing device instead of a communications channel." Yep, Twitter is pretty much a link blog now.
Kinda interesting: Who do the people of the NY Times follow on Twitter? The Times itself doesn't come in until #12. (I come in at #180 -- 14 spots above Shaq! I'm hoping to defy that new power law by barely posting lately.) See also: Who do the people of Twitter follow? [via]
Almost.at looks like something that could break through the app noise. By aggregating Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and others, it allows you to follow news events in real-time (AirFrance, E3, etc.). TechCrunch writes "Almost.at's appeal lies in its ability to help users differentiate between people who are at an event, and people who are just talking about it."
Clay Shirky saying more smart things about emotion and media. It's annoying how smart he is.
This is pretty great... there's a British game show called Golden Balls that concludes with a segment called Spilt or Steal that directly borrows the classic Prisoner's Dilemma. There are many YouTube clips, but the best has to be this one.
It's music video day, I guess. There's a new Bat For Lashes: "Pearl's Dream." Sadly, she's turning into Tori Amos much too quickly.
My favorite part of the new video for The-Dream's "Walking on the Moon" (directed by Hype Williams) is not the strange recreations of the Millennium Falcon. It's when Kanye teleports onto the holodeck with the confused Barbarella supermodel.
When it comes to music videos, is anyone out there even still trying to create the epic? Kanye tosses out the occasional ode to MTV yesteryear, but no one else seems invested in the grand narrative arc. With that prelude, say what you will about Lady GaGa, but her new video for "Paparazzi" is conceptually.... something. Perez Hilton himself says: "It is her strongest work to date. It is a mini-film. It is art. It is visual pornography. It is satire. It is commentary. It is brilliant! And, we are NOT exaggerating." Okay then! See also: GaGa channeling Madonna channeling Warhol, and big dicks.
Yesterday I randomly wondered: who are cab drivers talking to all day long on their phones? A few people responded that they are actually all talking to each other. They reported that there are party lines where groups of cab drivers all chat together. If this is true, it sounds amazing! How many people are in these "rooms" at once? What is the nature of the conversations? How long has this been going on? Do the cabbies know each other in real life, or is it completely virtual? I'm unable to find any reference to this online, but Talkee.com seems like one such resource. If anyone knows more, please leave a comment.
I queried an editor at a major magazine recently about whether they'd be interested in a profile of Alexa Chung. "Who's that?" he wrote back. If you don't know, you're about to -- MTV is hoping she's the next big thing. Caroline has some of the details about how the show will integrate Facebook and Twitter. See also: Is Alexa Chung going to be your MTV friend?
The best thing you're going to read on the internet for a while is Errol Morris' seven-part series on frauds and fakes for NYTimes.com. Part 1 is about art forger Han van Meegeren; Part 2 is an interview about the Uncanny Valley with Edward Dolnick; the rest are forthcoming.
I've grown skeptical of most new collaborative communication tools. They always seem to suffer from an inherent problem: they feel like they were designed by project managers for project managers. (When I worked at Microsoft, I called this PMware. Microsoft is basically packed with PMware.) This use-case is, needles to say, quite limited. But I can see Google Wave spreading to a larger audience. The demo is 80 minutes long but O'Reilly has a summary. It essentially collapses IM and email into a wiki-like space. It's pretty cool.
Forbes has a decent little story about what NYTimes.com is doing with advertising innovation. Three bullets: they have an in-hour creative advertising team, they are developing non-standard ad units, and they are going after brand advertising rather than direct response.
Sasha Grey lists her five favorite films. 5) Herzog's Stroszek, 4) Breillat's Fat Girl, 3) Godard's Pierrot Le Fou, 2) Cassavetes' A Woman Under The Influence, 1) Carpenter's Escape from New York. Yipe.
I heard a rumor that NYT's controversial new Social Media Editor, Jennifer Preston, had never heard of Twitter before she started her job. Maybe that's a little hard to believe, but she definitely wasn't using Twitter before that. Anyway, PaidContent has some advice for her.
Proceeding Heffernan's column last week about Mint.com, a number of commenters voiced security concerns about the site. The CEO came back with a pretty interesting response about the level of security, which includes biometric access, video surveillance, "man-trap" doors, encryption, and other things straight outta Ocean's Seventeen. But here's something that's never exactly been addressed by Mint: read the fine print and you'll see that you're essentially handing over right of attorney to Mint. (They need to do this to get this level of access.) It's kinda creepy, but I still use it.
TechCrunch: "Have you ever been annoyed by the fact that Wikipedia has a wealth of textual information but no videos and hardly any pictures? [...] This is where a new service called Navify comes in. Launched in public beta today, Navify intends to enrich Wikipedia by adding pictures, videos and user comments to each article."
Finally, something decent on Yahoo Answers: Is it OK to run an illegal library from my locker at school? [via]
Meme Scenery. Waxy erases the figures from classic internet memes to reveal only the backdrops.
NYT computer superbrain thing covers Singularity, Terminator Salvation, Ray Kurzweil, Kevin Kelly, Arthur C. Clarke, Google, Moore's Law, and some other stuff.
On The Media: "It seems the lowly infomercial is finally enjoying its moment in the sun. So far this year it has garnered a book, a reality show and even a television documentary by CNBC." Update: Inside, SABF plugs Pitchmen, which I haven't seen yet.
Twitter is taking its worst quality -- the quest for celebrity -- and turning it into a tv show about "putting ordinary people on the trail of celebrities in a revolutionary competitive format." [via]
Predix: Krysten Ritter is the next big something-or-other. She owned the second-best Gossip Girl epp, and just missed that almost-happened spin-off; she's recently had the best drug and sex scenes in Breaking Bad; she's the only thing saving the otherwise ignorable The Last International Playboy, BuzzKill, and How to Make Love to a Woman; girls loved her in Confessions of a Shopaholic; I loved her in Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls; and her band might be better than those three other Gossip Girl bands -- and probably able to catch some Bats For Lashes zeitgeist. Best part: like no one is following her on Twitter.
One of my most vivid childhood memories was watching that terrifying twin alien birth in the original V miniseries. (It's not so terrifying anymore -- it looks like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle coming out of the womb.) Based upon the trailer, I am completely stoked for the new ABC miniseries, which will star Elizabeth Mitchell (the other in Lost), Morena Baccarin (the hooker in Firefly), and Laura Vandervoort (the supergirl in Smallville).
Everyone's quoting various parts of that Denton interview, but this was the surprising stat to me: "Nielsen research shows that nearly 34% of Gawker readers have their own blogs, a key influencer statistic. Gawker readers, it turns out, have their own audience." Update: Biz Insider digs up more numbers. "Turns out they're young, computer-savvy, RSS-reading atheists with good cholesterol:"
I'm finally getting around to reading this post from Joel Johnson about Wired and Wired.com. I want to respond to nearly every single commenter, but I'll instead just act paralyzed and mention some of the people who show up in the comments: Chris Anderson, Brian Lam, Sean Bonner, Gary Wolf, and Felix Salmon.
I attended the n+1 panel discussion on the '90s on Friday. I had a question that I wanted to ask, but the q&a was dragging on, and raising my hand felt like a complicated extension of a prolonged My So-Called Life marathon (so good, yet who has the time?). Had I raised my hand, this is what I might have asked:
Nostalgia wasn't always like this, right?
History wasn't always this flat, and everything didn't always seem to happen at once. While we like to point at a decade where "accelerated culture" became normative, nothing actually sped up in the '90s. Everything just ground down to a black hole slacker halt. It was timeless, dude.
Sure, there was that whole internet thing, gnawing at time and space while scrapping our quaint notions of subculture and identity politics. But postmodernism was pimpin, and all of history was being prepped for the pillage. Beavis and Butthead, the Beastie Boys, Jeff Koons, Napster -- these were the princes of pastiche, gobbling up the table scraps the Boomers left behind.
Let me say it more clearly: the '90s invented nostalgia. Or at least nostalgia as we commonly now know it. There was always that anxiety of influence playing its fatherly games, but the '90s morphed anxious fear into an international pastime. The decade obsessed about historicizing itself precisely because history felt as flimsy as the Berlin Wall that had crashed into it. I Love The '70s could not have existed in the '80s, but I Love The '90s could only have existed, instantaneously, in 2000.
This way of thinking -- nostalgia for nostalgia -- now seems commonplace. But it didn't exist in the Reagan '80s or the Wategate '70s. Fukuyama was fugged up enough to see these signs and declare it the end of history (the '00s version of which is the world is flat). He saw the right symptoms, but came up with the wrong diagnosis.
Nostalgic for itself, the '90s were indeed a trap. But never mistake ambivalence for apathy. While the rock gods of yesteryear all perished in accidental pools of vomit, it took an act of will -- a shotgun blast to the head -- to break with the past. Or at least try. It was like that Dostoyevsky Wannabe character in Slacker who asks "Who's ever written a great work about the immense effort required in order not to create?"
And that's why this panel itself seemed yanked out of the past, like that Indiana Jones scene where they find the Ark of the Covenant in a warehouse. The format itself seems tied to the days when the culture wars still mattered and you couldn't Skype your way to Tokyo. I remember panel discussions about "the future" all the time on CNN circa 1995. Now they prop up two bozos to fight out the definition of torture. (Look! Nostalgia for nostalgia!)
Oh yeah, a question? Can we talk about Courtney Love please? Oh well, whatever, nevermind.
See also: Foster | Leon | Bakes.
WolframAlpha launched. (If you need catching up, here's a screencast explanation.) It looks like fun to play with so far, but it's hard to understand its depth... Update: decent On The Media story on it too.
I've had a ton of problems with Owen's version of Valleywag over the past 8 months or so, during which the site's mission seemed to transform from debunking myth and undermining power to creating myth and toppling success. But his exit note reads like something that I actually would have liked reading, if it only existed: an instrument for investigating the Valley's groupthink. See also: Bloggasm exit interview.
Your favorite video for the next five minutes: "Heavy Cross," The Gossip. The video uses Kenneth Anger images and the song is produced by Rick Rubin.
"One includes a 'meter system,' in which the reader can roam freely on the Web site until hitting a predetermined limit of word-count or pageviews, after which a meter will start running and the reader is charged for movement on the site thereafter." Hey that sounds familiar!
For those of you who liked the almost-certainly-canceled Dollhouse (hi, second-person-singular you!), the DVD has been announced. Funny: it will contain the pilot you never saw and the finale you never saw. FOX aired everything in between!
Slate launched a new woman-focused site today: DoubleX. They made an infomercial that's pretty good, but they also sent out the most embarrassing accidentally-non-BCCed announcement email of all time. Update #1: The Trouble With Jezebel. Hrm. Update #2: Oh yeah, The Stimulist also launched today. Spiers is involved but I don't get it at all.
What Makes Us Happy? The Atlantic gets access to a 72-year Harvard longitudinal study about happiness.
Finally, a way for you to make money off your incisive Twitter commentary! Twitshirt. You get 1 frogskin for every Tweet turned into a tee. START COUNTING YOUR CASH NOW!
The greatest comedy album of all time*, I Have a Pony, is being re-released on Tuesday. To aquaint you kids, Paste's 25 Best One-Liners, or follow the fake guy on Twitter. (*For stoned midwestern kids in basements.)
Psst, micropayments are coming to news. Or at least WSJ, but I bet NYT soon enough. Update #1: FT.com story. Update #2: NYT planning some sort of NPR-ish membership model, which will not bring them to 2040.
Esquire's Jezebel-bait: Where Have All the Loose Women Gone? "From Tina Fey's fake prude to Sarah Palin's real power play, here's why strong women just aren't that into having sex with you anymore."
You know what's most fun about the White House Correspondent's Dinner speech? The YouTube comments, of course.
Your favorite video for the next five minutes: "Be By Myself," Asher Roth. Cee-Lo is pretty great in this.
I read somewhere that M.I.A. was making a song about swine flu, but I guess Mike Skinner beat her to it: He's Behind You, He's Got Swine Flu. The zombie thing is interesting, but what intrigues me is this kind of real-time media creation: songs around news events. New genre? [via]
Is Twitter finally doing something new? "Twitter has some very interesting plans for its newly-unveiled live search function: soon it will activate crawlers that will index the links users include in their Tweets. In one fell swoop that turns Twitter into an even more powerful news and opinion aggregator." [via]
New Gawker Media Promo Reel. Replete with self-critical media snippets, that MGMT song from last summer, and a "Welcome to the Future" slogan (in futurist font)!
There's a Grigoriadis profile of Sasha Grey in the new Rolling Stone, which is of course not online, but there's a blog post. The lede of the story:
On an overcast Sunday in Los Angeles, Sasha Grey arrives at a set for the film The Fuck Junkie promptly at 9 a.m. This is not her real name, though it's a subtle one for a porn star, a mash-up of Sascha Konietzko, a founder of the German industrial band KMFDM, and the Kinsey scale of sexuality, which identifies sexual orientation as shades of gray.Other things we learn:
+ Dave Navaro is her manager.
+ She's engaged.
+ She thinks the Suicide Girls look is now as trite as "the new blondes with bolt-ons."
+ She wants to go on Howard Stern with a Palestinian flag wrapped around her breasts.
Given the number of renowned media types that were involved with Inside.com (Kurt Andersen, Deanna Brown, David Carr, Michael Hirschorn, Stephen Battaglio, John Battelle, Sara Nelson, Michael Cieply, Rafat Ali, Noam Cohen, Fred Wilson, Richard Siklos, Alex Pappademas, Kyle Pope, Greg Lindsay, and, in the end, Steven Brill), isn't it a bit strange that it has no wikipedia entry? Update: Waxy started one in the comments.
Technology Review has a manifesto on how to save newspapers. Update: Good comment, inside. I completely agree that about the notion of expertise within journalism being mostly bunk (especially in the form of host or anchor), but I'm not sure if I'm willing to go so far as to imagine that big media serves no purpose.
"People who have a lot of 'bravado' -- who prefer to leap before they look -- are 50% more likely than the average person to be heavy consumers of all media. The same is true for people who rank low in 'compliance' -- those who chafe at rules and may be sarcastic. They are 60% more likely than the average person to be high consumers of all media." Oh yeah, well, how about people who obsessively quote studies about media consumption?
It's not even in theaters yet (it played Tribeca last week), but you can already rent the Soderberg/Grey project The Girlfriend Experience on Amazon.
Why text messages are limited to 160 characters. Answer: some goddamn German engineer, of course!
NYT: Amazon to announce a large-screen Kindle as early as this week. The story also adds additional speculation about a large-screen iPhone later this year.
"There are no hipsters, only anti-hipsters -- or at least the ratio is approximately the same as that of actually existing Satanists to anti-Satanists during the heavy-metal and Goth panics of the 1980s and 1990s." [via]
A feature film about open source release for free: Rip: A Remix Manifesto (trailer). Stars the usual suspects: Lawrence Lessig, Girl Talk, and Cory Doctorow. Wired's Underwire has an interview with the director.
The Secret Of Google's Book Scanning Machine Revealed. "Turns out, Google created some seriously nifty infrared camera technology that detects the three-dimensional shape and angle of book pages when the book is placed in the scanner."
What print publications do you still read? (I still subscribe to 17 magazines. I know, it's insane.)
Is there any innovation left in online news design? Let's look at the experimental msnbc.com story page which creates layers for text, photos, data, videos, etc. Craig Saila describes how it's attempting to forgo pageview-driven logic in favor of "capturing the intent of what a page view is."
Rick Astley pens the bio of moot for the Time 100 poll. He thanks him and says "I suppose at first I was a little embarrassed by it. I always liken it to when people look through their photo albums or home videos from 20 years ago and think, Gosh, did I really wear that?" More entries. [via]
Didn't see this one coming: You've Got (Hate) Mail. Keith Gessen and Emily Gould get the long Vanity Fair dual profile (online only). This graph will determine whether you like this story or not:
At this stage in its evolution, the Web is like an endless novel populated with characters who reveal way too much about themselves, sometimes purposely, sometimes half-knowingly, sometimes unwittingly. It's a junk shop of human emotion and behavior, a forum for advanced people-watching. Day after day as the Gessen-Gould affair unfolded, I turned on my computer and went a-Googling for the latest development. Like any good reality show, it made me sick sometimes, and I tried to tear myself away from it, only to find myself helpless against its crack-like power.See also: !!!
Your 57th Twitter link today: Most Twitterers are Quitters. Nielsen study reveals that 60% of users who sign up for Twitter don't return to the site the following month, which I hereby declare The Oprah Effect.
After The Awl launched, Denton joked that the brevity of the posts could have made it the first magazine published on Twitter. But now I've become obsessed with the idea: What would a Twitter magazine look like? Some aggregation, some original content -- couldn't it sorta work?
Your favorite video for the next five minutes: Passion Pit, "The Reeling". And another contender for song of the summer.
First film to chronicle millennialists' sense of privilege clashing with the current economic climate? Sure, let's say that: Trailer to Post-Grad.
While Cronenberg preps a film version of Robert Ludlum's The Matarese Circle (starring Tom Cruise and Denzel Washington), Videodrome is getting remade.
Kottke goes in defense of Twitter, which isn't shocking, except he even goes to bat for even the inane "what I had for breakfast" conversations, suggesting that this is the raw material of social bonds. Balk made a somewhat similar point, that those who oppose Twitter speak from a privileged position. It's true, right? Most of the people I know who are opposed to Twitter are merely holding onto a previously official way of speaking, which they are slowly losing.
I'm still sitting here overthinking The Awl, trying to decide if I have anything interesting to say about it, confused and worried that my only observation is trite: it's Suck meets Kottke, right? Update: alright, I unwisely choose to say some stuff in the comments.
Wait, I was actually going to pitch teaching this class at NYU! Except this part is broken: "Is Amazon's wireless reading device the Segway of handheld gadgets? Should it be smaller, come with headphones, and play MP3s instead of display book text? Students will discuss." Kindle already plays MP3s, silly.
Editor: So which of you hasn't written about Twitter yet?
Editor: How about you, Dowd?
Maureen: Ah, fuck.
And things that sound like every nyc-based journalist/blogger from 15 months ago: "I would rather be tied up to stakes in the Kalahari Desert, have honey poured over me and red ants eat out my eyes than open a Twitter account."
"A new status anxiety is infecting affluent hipdom," says The Atlantic in Class Dismissed.
In addition to that Talk of the Town piece, Brett Easton Ellis is also this week's A/V Club interview. He disses his own movie: "Less Than Zero is obviously bad, and we don't need to talk about why that didn't work. And American Psycho -- that is, I think, an impossible book to adapt. But whatever, it was the greatest hits from the book, more or less. Mary did a very good job of keeping that movie together, as did Christian Bale, and I think Roger did a terrific job. And with The Informers, I think there is really an outstanding movie floating out there somewhere, and I hope one day people might be able to see it. I am not comparing The Informers to The Godfather on any level, but there's that famous story where Paramount asked Coppola to cut like an hour out of the movie, because they didn't want to release a three-hour movie. And Coppola did, and showed it to the executive, and it was terrible. It moved very slowly at two hours. And then when he put the other hour back in, it moved very quickly. And that's all I want to say about The Informers."
Last week in the New Yorker, Gary Trudeau used his mythical Fox News character, Roland Hedley, to poke at journalists using Twitter, which as The Times points out, in some cases were actually too long to be on Twitter. (See also: @roland_hedley.) WebNewser has an interview with Trudeau about twittering. "Look, all of us are narcissists to some degree, but most find it embarrassing enough to at least try to hide it. What Twitter and its social media cousins do is disable inhibition. We expect narcissism from our movie stars and