28 October 2008

Quebec / New York EFIT

Two days ago, my friend Julie and I did an EFIT (stands for ett foto i timmen, which is Swedish for a photo per hour) with our D40s. We settled on 10am-10pm on a Sunday (to ensure that every picture wouldn't be of a computer screen). It was incredibly fun, especially since I knew that someone else was being as mindful of the time as I was for the day (and approximately at the same moments). Here are three of Julie's:

Julie's EFIT - 1.21 PM

Julie's EFIT - 2.02 PM

Julie's EFIT - 3.30 PM

And three of mine:

Johanna's EFIT - 11.42

Johanna's EFIT - 18.20

Johanna's EFIT - 22.06

Another thing I liked about this project was that it made me more productive. I don't remember who told me once that going to (or doing) something – even if one just feels like being lazy – always ends up being worth it. Well, they were right. I was feeling extremely lethargic on Sunday, but rather than risk every picture being of the same thing in my apartment (and just taken from a different angle), I made myself go out and do stuff. And it was worth it. I got my bike tuned up, took a walk, made a few pots of tea and went to a music performance.

I just went back and looked at all of our pictures to see if we were ever in photograph unison (I even made sure that we were in the same time zone (I idiotically didn't know)). And we were in unison, once! 10.00am.

Julie's EFIT - 10 AM

Johanna's EFIT - 10.00

And a close 2nd – Julie at 7.29pm and me at 7.27pm:

Julie's EFIT - 7.29 PM

Johanna's EFIT - 19.27

We both intend to do another one of these soon. Try it out! (It's not required to be with two people, we just made it that way) See how /if it changes your behavior and how you see things.

21 October 2008

Kill my blog? No thanks.

I came across an article in WIRED this morning called Kill Your Blog, by Paul Boutin of Valleywag. The first paragraph reads, "Thinking about launching your own blog? Here's some friendly advice: Don't. And if you've already got one, pull the plug."

A tiny summary:

1. The blogosphere is too crowded and impersonal now
2. Bigger blogs like Gawker or Engadget get all of the traffic and show up higher on searches anyway
3. All that is left of enthusiasm in the smaller bloggers' posts is in the form of abusive anonymous commenters
4. Other 2.0-ish things like Flickr, Twitter and Facebook are more efficient (Google won't find your blog as quickly as one can search on Twitter), easy (fewer steps and clicks on Facebook) and exciting.

Please pardon me, but... what the F? I think Paul is missing the entire point for why so many of us smaller bloggers do this in the first place.
...your blog will still draw the Net's lowest form of life: The insult commenter. Pour your heart out in a post, and some anonymous troll named r0rschach or foohack is sure to scribble beneath it, "Lame. Why don't you just suck McCain's ass." That's why [Jason Calacanis of Weblogs] has retreated to a private mailing list. He can talk to his fans directly, without having to suffer idiotic retorts from anonymous Jason-haters.
Yes, anonymous commenters are annoying and at times demoralizing. But, this is nothing new (and certainly not unique to blogs). Flaming has been happening since the dawn of P2P on the web. And the fulfillment that all the bloggers I know get out of reading interesting points of view from readers – and even making great friends for life – proves to be well worth a snarky comment here and there.

The e-mail list idea is kind of a neat one, but it's completely different from blogging! With e-mail, there is a specific and controlled number of people receiving your information; you completely eliminate the likelihood that someone will stumble upon it by chance. I guess Paul doesn't see value in the click-then-click. How can one get inspired randomly and unexpectedly if they can't find you through clicks of clicks and possibly have their day made just a little better or more inspired? The environment that a lot of smaller bloggers live in is about reading something one didn't necessarily expect to be reading that day – serendipitous delights from grazing and gathering bits and bobs from different places. And when you comment, anybody else reading can respond and build on or expand your thoughts. Not at all like being on an e-mail list that one knows they're subscribed to.
When blogging was young, enthusiasts rode high, with posts quickly skyrocketing to the top of Google's search results for any given topic, fueled by generous links from fellow bloggers. ... That phenomenon was part of what made blogging so exciting. No more. Today, a search for, say, Barack Obama's latest speech will deliver a Wikipedia page, a Fox News article, and a few entries from professionally run sites like Politico.com. The odds of your clever entry appearing high on the list? Basically zero.
This is insinuating that:

1. All people reading blogs are doing so to look for something specific. OR People only go to blogs when they have searched for something specific and a few big ones are the top results.
2. All bloggers are blogging so they can get hits or fame.

Ever think that we oftentimes read and write "just because?"

And as for Twitter being the new and exciting thing of 2008 (???), I do agree that there are – and can be – sometimes "chirpier ways to get your word out." But chirpiness isn't the point of a blog to begin with. It's meant for longer form, cultivation and evolution of thoughts. Not pithiness. There is a place for every type of expression today. Blogs aren't good for chirpiness, and Twitter isn't good for having an in-depth discussion about something you're interested in. A lot of these "social multimedia sites" work so well in tandem with your blog, as support nodes to create a fuller experience and gestalt of your life.

I don't know. This piece sounded like the purpose of all bloggers is to act as a widely-read, ad-generating platform rather than a digital conversation. Maybe for a lot of them, it is. But until I personally see diminishing returns on my tiny little space (that only gets about 100 readers per day), I'm not going anywhere.

EDIT | Upon Noah's comment, I read a couple more posts about the article. Makes me wonder if the whole thing wasn't just one big experiment, since upon thinking about it again it seems far too ridiculous to be serious. And regarding the flame bait, well I just walked right into that one, didn't I? At least it helped me pin down exactly why I do this...

15 October 2008

Audio schemata

While messaging with a sir a few weeks ago, I mentioned loud Isaac Hayes playing at the office driving me slightly nuts. He asked if my lax work environment ever gets to me because of this, because he needs 100% quiet to work. I actually prefer having sounds around when I'm working; I get restless and fidgety when there is complete silence.

Then I got to thinking about audio environments. I mentioned coffee shops as my favorite place to get work done. People milling around, turning pages, putting a mug down, popping the cash register drawer back in, tossing change into a jar, etc. Even though I live most of my life with music playing in some way (through headphones, through my piano, from my computer, and so on), my favorite work audio environment includes no music. I like it when the iPod has been forgotten at Naked and papers are shuffled around, people are talking and heels are walking across the hardwood floors.


Well, said sir brought up that there is a word in French – bruitage – referring to a collection of sounds that make a whole. Once again with the tiny explosions, one went off in my head. I asked my friend Alex (from Paris) about the word, and she said:
A person who does "bruitages" is a person who collects or create sounds and then integrate them in movies. For example, if you want to recreate the atmosphere of a restaurant... you would do bruitages with like voices, and sounds of glasses, forks etc
Audio schemata of a place. Isn't that brilliant? One of my favorite things in the world is when I learn a word in another language that stands for an entire thought or concept.

What is your favorite audio schema?

11 October 2008

Banksy's pet store

Within hours of Wooster Collective's announcement of the Banksy pet store two days ago, I started getting messages from friends all over the place. Some just sent the link, others regretted not living in New York. The general consensus, though, was: Awesome.

And they were right. I went to check it out with two visiting friends last night. For the those who haven't read about it by now: Banksy opened a pet store in The Village... or so it appears, at first. Upon closer inspection, one quickly realizes that it's not exactly the pet store it seems. The people walking by who didn't look more closely actually just kept walking, not realizing what they were missing.

Going inside the pet store to look at the snoozing leopard reveals that it's actually a moving fur coat.


Other bizarre animatronics inside the pet store – among the not-for-sale merchandise like pet food and toys – include a monkey watching television amidst pizza leftovers and beer, a swimming fish stick, and overwrought Tweety Bird and tanks of wiggling meat products.

Vain bunny

Sure you want one?

TV-watching monkey from Johanna on Vimeo.

As Wooster Collective mentioned, one wouldn't have any clue that Banksy was responsible for this had they not told us (or had we not been friends with Banksy himself). Very cool.

Pet store windows from Johanna on Vimeo.

Tweety's tired

Pet sausages from Johanna on Vimeo.

The whole thing had an absurd, Science of Sleep-style surreality about it. I thought at one point to myself, "I wish life were like this." I quickly took it back, though, because then tiny strokes of curio-genius like this one wouldn't be as special.

[image of sleeping leopard from the outside borrowed from Wooster Collective]

10 October 2008

Watch for the nucular medley.

Yesterday, my friend Jess sent around an mp3 she made with her friend Lucian. It is basically a collection of Sarah Palin's "best" sound bytes set to a cheesy dance tune. I listened to it quite a few times, and then made my poor roommate and house guests listen to this bastardization of the English language last night. Today Jess Twittered the URL for the video that Lucian made for the song. Here it is, folks.

The song was funny the first time, but adding the dimension of video almost sets tiny explosions off in my head. It is completely off the wall bonkers. Well done, Jess and Lucian.

07 October 2008

Physical thought organization

If my generation has spent most of its document-writing life on a computer, why is it that we still have to print things out and physically move them around in order to get our minds around them? For example, one is able to physically move slides around in PowerPoint and Keynote, but it's not as good as printing everything out, pinning to a wall and physically reordering the slides most of the time. One can copy and paste bits of a text document all over the place, but printing it out and physically writing notes and drawing brackets and arrows seems to help more. Or is it only this way for a few people (me included, obviously)?

Is it because learning as a child tends to center on very visual and tactile methods? Maybe that's where the tendency is from; we played with Tangrams when we were younger, physically having to move bits around to add up to a whole. Ditto jigsaw puzzles. Perhaps toys like Tinkertoys and LEGO are better examples, even, since they can be open-ended and require more imagination than necessarily working towards a specific whole.

There is probably a simple cognitive theory that perfectly explains this. I'm working on 10 things at once this week and my thoughts are like an untied shoelace at the moment, please forgive me!

EDIT [20 October 2008] I recently got some very interesting input from Christy of Living Breathing; I met her at Likemind last Friday.
maybe it has something to do with the idea of permanence / finality, and its association with typing/computers. i often don't even open up powerpoint when i start a presentation; instead, i'll lay out sheets of paper and handwrite the headlines and re-arrange. only when i'm sort of happy with the flow and "ready" will i put it into powerpoint. i'm wondering if there's something just more unofficial and casual and free form about physical writing - forgiving of mistakes too - which can sometimes lead to more inspired thoughts.
Thanks Christy!

[photo courtesy of NaNa [supergirl] on Flickr]

03 October 2008

New Next: Sink your teeth into it

Once again, this was not the headline originally written for the column. It's not too bad, though, so oh well. Hi guys. I have the flu, I think. This is a post I don't have to put too much effort into right now, because I wrote it almost two months ago. Convenient! Here you go.

October New Next

It's no secret that HBO has been in the vanguard of storytelling for the past decade - but not only in its programming. The pay-TV giant has been revolutionizing its category, marketing itself not just as a network but as an entertainment property.

Last year, in addition to promoting the end of The Sopranos as if it were a blockbuster film - going so far as hiring Annie Leibovitz to photograph the cast for a Vanity Fair spread - HBO broke ground with HBO Voyeur, which showed the company understands the importance of promoting its brand as much as what it airs. In case you missed Voyeur, it was the winner of dozens of awards, including the Gold Clio for consumer-targeted site and Cannes Promo Grand Prix, and it was written up on more than 500 blogs. Watch the story at hbovoyeur.com.

Refusing to rest on its laurels, HBO continues to adapt to its surroundings, constantly reinventing itself. By the time you read this, the network will have promoted its new vampire series, True Blood, for four months before it even premiered. The company enlisted independent agency Campfire to help in promotion. Previously involved in Audi's "Art of the Heist" and "Beta-7" for SEGA, Campfire is no stranger to creating excitement around a launch.

Back in May, a handful of horror enthusiasts received mysterious letters written in dead languages. The fans came together online to help each other decipher the letters, and eventually discovered a Web site guarded and run by a vampire. The site revealed that a synthetic blood, called Tru Blood, had been developed in Japan, and that it could finally give vampires a chance to live among humans. [ed: What? That sentence sounds weird. I didn't write it that way.]

While people swarmed to forums and debated the implications of humans and vampires coexisting for the first time in history, fans began to receive packages containing "samples" of Tru Blood in vials. Fake want-ads were placed, searching for the samples mailed to vampires around the world from its inventors in Japan. Ads for the beverage appeared in mass channels, vending machines of the stuff were constantly marked "Sold out," and a fake news story reported that a Tru Blood truck had overturned in Texas and flooded a highway.

True Blood

Promotions for vampire-friendly products and services began to surface, too, including a dating site, Lovebitten, a bar in New Orleans called Fangtasia and a windowless motel containing minibars stocked with Tru Blood. Concurrently, ads calling for vampires' equal rights were run on behalf of the American Vampire League.

HBO and Campfire added an incredible amount of detail and countless layers of content to what could have been a simple promotional campaign. People can either immerse themselves in it, clicking on links that take them deeper into the story, or they can just see the work in mass channels - in some cases, for a fictional drink rather than the show itself - and look forward to True Blood. HBO has made itself into an entertainment brand, and guess what? People are very happy to play a game with them.

I still haven't seen the show, much to my chagrin. I don't have HBO and haven't tried hard enough yet to find a friend who does and also watches it. How is it?
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