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….ahh behold the glory of the internets

December 21, 2010

Sometimes its just best not to ask why, but to enjoy the sheer brilliance.

Found this one day while shooting. It made our day very easy.

Marshall McLuhan Versus Tron Legacy

December 20, 2010

The theater was crowded. People scoured about looking for their best option of seating. Some hesitant to sit in the spaces reserved for the handicapped pondered about as if playing ring around the rosey. Suddenly one would drop out of the que and plop down into the chair. The cycle continued until there were no seats, save for the highly unsavory ones in the front. We collectively put on our glasses, it was an Imax 3d showing after all, and awaited the sensory explosion. I couldn’t help but think most of us looked like Robert Evans variants.

from Esquire


Tron Legacy isn’t a great film. It’s not a piece of filmmaking that will change the world or offer a new perspective on life itself at first glance. The subtext housed within the story is much richer than that of eye candy co-patriot Avatar. There is truly substance here, but this isn’t what’s important. What makes Tron Legacy significant is the affirmation of Marshall McLuhan’s statement “The medium is the Massage.”

The experience of seeing a film crafted for the Imax 3d that fully encompasses the aesthetic and sonic devices of modern filmmaking is truly a sight to behold. Sure 3d is a gimmick, but within a diagesis like Tron this added depth only draws upon the truth in McLuhan’s words. It would be an interesting study to see the effect of viewing the film both in 2d and 3d back to back. There are external influences that can greatly enhance the viewing audiences opinion. In this economy a $14 – $18 ticket seems to instantly create a potential buyers investment clause. If compounded with the notion that seeing a film in Imax 3D theaters is much more experiential than standard cinema, McLuhan wins again. For example, what affect would this film have if it were shown in an indie theater. The crusty couches and mismatched seating arrangements certainly set a mood for the film you’re going to view. In many ways it’s much more relaxed. One might expect more plight and less family fun. The possibility of the preconceived notion of a color pallet might shift as well. Tron Legacy should only be viewed in Imax 3D – for that is what makes it more of an experience and less a contribution to societies motion media addiction. In many ways the 3D aspects seems to feel like you’re studying an art instillation instead of just viewing a film.


The sensation of 3D further supports McLuhan’s concept. The performance of the technicians and artists are quite literally massaging your cortex with information. The result is both unique and yet just familiar enough to be acceptable. When coupled with the sound texture provided by composers Daft Punk the immersion factor feels doubled. In the end it wasn’t about Tron 1.0 versus Tron Legacy in terms of story, it was about the medium in which it was delivered.

Tron 2.0 is a popcorn movie, unless you see it in Imax 3D – then it’s a rare experience into the mind of many artists.

Did you see it? If so in which medium? Film print or digital?

Making mistakes – I was wrong about the iPad…

November 22, 2010


A long time ago…well about a year actually, I published an article regarding the iPad and how their marketing claims were the equivalent to nuking the fridge. I received a few pieces of not so pleasent mail, but stood behind my concept that the iPad was going to be a great paperweight. Well…I was wrong. A dear friend needed something to browse the web and create the ocassional pages document. A laptop was truly out of her price range, so she landed with an iPad. I was lucky enough to spend more than just some demo time with it. With products like square, flud, and flipbook it really did change the way I looked at the product. I’m terrible at keeping track of all the data shared via twitter and facebook, much less the other blogs I subscribe to, but with Flud and Flipboard that’s all changed. It just becomes easy…almost too easy. From a productivity level I found myself much more engaged to interact within the social media sphere of influence. Couple the iPad with a product like square and you have a completely legitimate tool for small business/productivity. So with that said…I apologize interwebs. I made a mistake. I hope Santa Jobs will bring me an iPad this Christmas.

Nuking the Fridge…with an iPad

January 28, 2010

Even Indy thinks its dumb...


Nuking the Fridge….with an iPad.

I prepared my work area for the announcement.  I had my sammich ready and had gathered my work for the afternoon.  My plan was to actually take a “lunch” today and absorb the hype from Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs as, “The most important thing I’ve ever done.”  WOW.

I sit writing this on a Powerbook.  I use FCP and Mac’s for my work as an editor.  I call clients, my wife, my family on an iPhone.  I am an early adopter…er was an early adopter.  Apple has not officially “Jumped the Shark,” but has, in my eyes, nuked the fridge.

Eh?

It was 1977.  The three part opening of season 3 of “Happy Days” featured the Fonze jumping over a confined shark (which would probably kill it) on water ski’s.  Hence the term was born.  Crafted as a usable phrase by Jon Hein the phrase came to represent when a TV show had reached its peak and was now on its way downhill.  Its cliche and fun to overuse the term – albeit many TV shows now purposely play the JTS card.  What Apple did with their hype and development of the iPad is far from JTS in my eyes.  Poor product ideas and launches does not mean failure.  It can most certainly lead to bigger returns if those early adopters can truly turn others onto the product.  I believe Apple has “Nuked the Fridge.”

Nuking the Fridge is far different from that of Jumping the Shark.  Both commit to absurdity to generate a desired outcome; however, Nuking the Fridge carries a bit of arrogance and an air of patronization with it.

The term was generated post Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, based on a scene in which the archeologist survives a nuclear blast by hiding in a lead lined elevator, which is also thrown quite a ways from ground zero…and he survives only slightly disoriented.

I suppose in many ways this is how I felt post announcement.  Post reading into the statement by Jobs (see above).  Post watching the iPad presentation video – which is one of my favorite moments after an Apple product has been released.  The video itself suggests several powerful points – that in my eyes reflect the problem with the over hype machine – especially when the product feels like it will fall flat.*  It’s stated in the video that the iPad is the best way to surf the web – my assumption is that this is due to the tactile nature of the device it self; however I am at a loss.  The best way to surf the web is, in my opinion, if the web were itself re invented.  If browsing and searching were redefined.  The process of surfing is the same – the content is the same – the way we view the content is the same – so why is this the best.


Do you constantly show photographs to your friends?  I remember when the stereotype used to be that couple who wants you to see all 1252 of their vacation photographs.  We mocked it for years.  I frankly still do.  Show me the best 5 and then lets discuss it.  Again the Ipad has been stated as being the “best way to share photos.”  I could’ve sworn that iPhoto was the best way or was it the iPhoto app on the iPhone or was it Mobile Me with iPhoto or Flicker…oops they don’t own that.  I am not quite sure how the iPad is the best way to share photos.  What if you have more than 2 people there…can it hook up to a projector like my laptop?  Can it transmit the photographs wirelessly to my TV like my Apple TV?  No.  Crap.  I guess I still need a laptop and Apple TV for those options.  Seth Godin, who announced the iPad 12+ hours early of its launch, preaches products being a purple cow.  Where’s the purple?  Where’s the cow?  From my POV more time was spent on the superfluous than the practical.  I guess I’ll have to wait until iPad (insert improvement moniker).

I hated the Nuke the Fridge scene in IJ and The Crystal Skull.  It broke my heart, but I did finish watching the movie.  I will do the same for the iPad.  I wonder if the local Apple store will let me hold it and figure out how I’m going to have to sit or position myself to make it usable?

*I had really hoped for a kickstand or at least a way to utilize it beyond propping my knees up…as my wife doesn’t allow me to have my feet on the couch or the coffee table in front of it.

Learning from the Punks – a brief read into Ian Mackaye and Dischord Records

January 21, 2010


Do you know Ian Mckaye?
May be you know the bands Minor Threat, Fugazi or the Evens? <img
What about Dischord Records?

I grew up listening to mostly punk. I was introduced to the sounds of the Misfits, Crass, Gorilla Biscuits, and my favorite Minor Threat. It was the quick yet direct dialog in their songs that first attracted me. Singer Ian Mckaye, powerfully addressed how I felt as a young man. Amazing that as a band they were able to influence so many starting at the ripe age of 15. Their music was fundamental to national/international punk scene, but its roots were in Washington D.C. As an adult, I connect to their words with more clarity than before. Granted older, fatter, certainly less punk in appearance, but still in heart, I look to the punk movement of that era for inspiration in my business life. So many of the original rockers are still out there. Contributing their voice to the movement – that is the less publicized movement [some may argue the real punk movement]. Their ability to stand strong in their beliefs is admirable, especially in this day and age of design and advertising jumping the shark for higher rates of impressions.

There is an interesting study into the logistics behind punk as a business. Surely they had to sell enough records to afford the gas for their next show – I omit food as it somehow seemed optional. The bands would sell their merch on tour to fund the tour. They did not have a large capital backing of a major label or investors – they believed that their fans were the investments. Not to go to Godin [Seth], but the MOVEMENT was their true investment. They spent their money by focusing on the customer first. That said, of course, they did not seem to really want to grow their investment beyond a point, as mainstream was not “punk” enough. Here’s where my disconnect occurs. To me it’s MORE punk to bring their opinion to the larger audience – thus bringing the movement with them. Even simple punk-enomics would suggest that more numbers meant more money – spent on more gas and possibly food? But again, this is fight the factory. Innovation = inspiration = income. That doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your life to the factory – should your perspective not align with the albeit abusive business model.

Dischord Records. Founded by Ian Mckaye and Jeff Nelson, members of the Teen Idles, was/is a business based on selling records (known in some circles as 7”s), CD’s and now digital downloads. The label began pumping out 7”s based on the meager excess of money they had in their band fund $600.00. As the DC punk scene grew, (1980/81/82) Dischord was the premier label for DC punk – all run out of a series of basements and off beat rooms. Those that might hang out at Dischord proper (a house with basement, for band practice and a small room off the kitchen for an office) would be tasked with assembling the records – the fans literally helped build the label. The mid 80’s proved to be moderate times for the label and as Ian recants it “…the Dischord community became a scene within a scene.” What an amazing dynamic – albeit their world changed – the product remained. The movement dipped (Godin) but was still able to more than recover. For the early 90’s would again prove very….profitable.


In the late 80’s (’88) Ian had formed a band called Fugazi – with members of the Dischord “scene” and members of Dischord bands. The boom caused by Nirvana and ultimately the re-exposure of the masses to the underground scene, in ’91 created quite the (pre) viral buzz about Fugazi, Jawbox, etc and the Dischord label. The majors attempted to sign Fugazi and yet they refused. This must’ve blown the minds of the suits – Dischord was fighting the factory. Ian writes, “The band’s decision to remain on Dischord led to offers from the majors to buy the entire label, but selling it was never even a consideration. We understood the value of self-determination, and because the label was so well established we weren’t faced with the same circumstances as many other bands and labels at that time.” What Ian and Dischord may or may not have realized is that through the sheer movement – driven by their passion – Dischord had enough position in the market to live independently – read as any indy business can do that tends to its customers like they do.

All trends follow the ebb and tide of the culture and because Dischord is connected directly to a scene (community) the effects of this wavelike model shift bands in and out of the label. This process is further accentuated by Dischord’s refusal of “signing” bands with contracts. There were none. The bands must have stuck around with Dischord for the community, the freedom and the prestige. Dischord was and still is a brand name to indie music.

Ian writes about their “business model”, “Most businesses, including record labels, have used profits (or at least the fear of losing profits) as their guideline for operations. Because we have tried to approach the label as a mission of documentation as well as a community-based entity, we have managed to avoid many of the industry-standard practices. The fact that we are able to help support the people who work for us as well as pay royalties to the bands seems to be proof that such an approach is possible.” The Dischord employee has benefits. The Dischord employee has a sustained paycheck. The Dischord employee is engaged – as part of the scene/movement. The pattern remains the same – Do you have a Scene around your product or business? Are you employees fully engaged in your scene?

Nearly 30 years later and Dischord is still around. Ian has continued to innovate by adding a recording studio into the Dischord house. They created a distribution center in the late 80’s with their first big wave of growth – that distro is still in effect and includes the digital delivery methods. The Dischord website is simple yet effective. It has been updated to reflect the modern component of the music scene movement. The label will continue to exist and in Ian’s words “This strongly suggests that we’ll see another year and more music”.

To read more about Dischord records, listen to music, download and more head over to
http://www.dischord.com

Quotes taken from “The History of Dischord” found on the website http://www.dischord.com.

SurfaceScapes – redefining the tabletop gaming experience

December 11, 2009

I came across this link to a link to a link that led me to this project being developed by some students at Carnegie Mellon University.  Using the Microsoft table they have devised a way to make D&D even more of an interactive gaming experience by adding a new level to the environment.  I don’t know how many of us play D&D (I do occasionally miss those marathon 9+ hour smoke-filled sessions), but I love this concept.  Board games and even table top gaming is the ultimate (and first) social experience.  While online gaming is extremely popular – its applique into the real world is somewhat limited.  I generally mute the kiddies – tune out the trash talk – and focus on a singular experience that happens to have other persons interacting.  In tabletop gaming, there is no tuning out.  You are forced to deal with what has been dealt to you by fate, your deck, the dungeon master.  It’s about social interaction.  What’s fascinating with SurfaceScapes is the combination of technology and “old school” gaming.  This isn’t just making the wheel better – its redefining how to drive.  By keeping the social interaction offline, yet incorporating the benefits of mass computation, these designers have enhanced an experience.  I believe this type of thinking will keep us all out of the factory.

So that good idea you’re sitting on that might just be a “reinvention” could be the turning point of progress.

Down with Father Christmas!!!

December 8, 2009