Archive for January, 2010

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ADD & Digital Indignation – Frontline’s Digital Nation & Web Video

[ Comments Off ]Posted on January 31, 2010 by admin in Popular Media

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

I don’t know why I wrote this piece, you’ll only read 28% of it. And Frontline’s cool new show “Digital Nation” debuts against “Lost” on Tuesday, so you probably won’t watch it.

Digital Nation Debuts Tuesday On PBS

Given the fact that according to this article you’re only going to read at most 28% of this page, I wonder if I should write less so you’ll read the whole thing? That sounds like an attempt at a humorous paradox, but it’s actually not; the fact is that according to this chart from the same article, users spend only 4.4 seconds more on a web page for each additional 100 words. So I better get to the point. This week PBS is airing a special edition of Frontline called Digital Nation, which explores how the Internet, texting, blogging, social networking, and other aspects of the “digital lifestyle” are impacting our lives. This is a topic that’s been very much on my attention-deficient mind for a few years. Although there are few solid scientific studies on the topic, I believe that as well as whatever benefits we derive from the technologies in which we’ve immersed our lives, these same tools have also caused perceptible changes in attention span, basic courtesy, and memory for many people. You almost certainly have noticed that more and more often, you and your friends can recall a film or book, but can’t recall the director, actor, author, or a major character. And who hasn’t found themselves sitting in a group of people that seem more intent on proving they have to “be somewhere else” digitally by texting, phoning, or checking a web account of some kind. Given the word count of what I’m writing, I lost you 140 words ago, but if you find this topic of interest, you might also find this TechCrunch article about what we watch and how we watch it interesting. It highlights things like how in the early 50′s, 30% of American households watched NBC during prime time, and how today that number has dropped to 5%, with other networks fairing about the same. Most of the remaining video content consumed is watched on the web, and in ways that may surprise you. This fact will almost certainly be relevant to the long-term viewership of Digital Nation; it debuts Tuesday directly opposite the season premiere of “Lost”. Read the rest of this entry »

When Did Everybody Become A Brand Expert?

[ 1 Comment ]Posted on January 30, 2010 by admin in Lifestyle & Culture

Saturday, January 30th, 2010

Or, why you’re really just a piece of livestock.

I’ve been thinking about brands a lot lately. Mostly because every time I turn around, whether in a restaurant, on an airplane, or in a business meeting, some self-appointed marketing guru is telling me how I have to “define my brand”, and how I have to “do some brand building” by doing something that “goes viral” using “social media”. When did everyone become an expert on marketing and branding? Before I go on, I’d like to say that I’m not one of these experts. Although I’ve helped a number of organizations refine their pitch or their image as part of my work, I don’t have a degree in marketing, and have never worked with a global marketing firm or ad agency. I do speak English reasonably well though, and I think a lot about why people do what they do, and a big part of what people do is think about what they want, and then try to buy it. So let’s think about the word “brand” for a minute. Do you even know the origin? In Old Norse it meant “to burn” and may have referred to a burning piece of wood, a torch, or a sword, and referred to marking the goods one created with a burn mark. Later, it of course referred to branding livestock. It wasn’t until the 19th century that it referred to a specific product going to market, and for a long time it was still simply a way of claiming ownership, much like a trademark. Although PT Barnum was an early user of the “brand as identity” concept in the 1800′s as the Prince of Humbugs, it wasn’t until the end of that century that slogans and brands began to really take shape, with companies like Ivory Soap and Kodak. After a hundred years of companies “building brands”, many of you probably think you know what a brand is, but do you? If you think you do, there are Read the rest of this entry »

What Do Kate Moss And An iPad Have In Common?

[ 2 Comments ]Posted on January 29, 2010 by admin in Technology

Friday, January 29th, 2010

My obligatory “Why I’m Not Buying An iPad” monologue.

Help Us Name This Product

Here we go again. I get to admire an Apple product from a far. It’s sort of like admiring your friend’s gorgeous model girlfriend who has a drug problem, while being absolutely confident that you’d have no interest whatsoever in dating her. Why do you tease me, Apple? It happened with the Cube, the iPod, the iPhone…in fact, it even happened with the Newton in the 90′s when you ditched the product. In each case, an amazingly conceived and engineered product just barely didn’t suit my needs, and in your brilliant obstinance, you offered no options. So what is it, that after months of drooling over its arrival, will stop me from buying an iPad? Well, this time it’s a few things; some of them simple. Like the lack of USB, and the lack of Flash. And the proprietary Safari Mobile browser. Who do you think you are? Microsoft? It’s also the lack of multi-tasking. That’s just absurd. But what it really is about for me is that I don’t want to pay someone 500 bucks to buy an advertisement and a retail store, which – aside from its amazing interface and innovative hardware – is what the iPad represents. It’s like Apple is saying “We will develop amazing technologies for you, but only if you buy lots of stuff through it“. Which is brilliant on their part; I really admire the genius. The closed loops of iPod/iTunes and iPhone/Apps have made billions for Apple, and I’m sure the closed system that is the iPad will do the same. Unfortunately, I’m from the No Logo subset of the Free generation. I don’t wear advertisements, beyond things like the tags on Levis. Actually, I’ve been known to remove those too. And I don’t like being told where and how to buy things. No, if you want me to walk into your store, Apple, make it free or affordable. Why would I pay you money for the ability to buy things from your closed markets? You should pay ME. You’ve proven that you could afford to do so by developing a product that typically could and should cost a thousand dollars (remember, the iPhone was 600 bucks on release), and then choosing to price it just low enough to kill the Kindle. No Apple, I’m onto you, and I won’t play. But I do have to thank you once again for pushing the envelope and raising the bar. Other vendors will certainly enhance their products because of you, and maybe even create one that I’ll buy in the near future. I’m sad I won’t be able to multi-touch your gorgeous glassiness for now. Maybe I’ll see you at the price drop.

More Mashups: Girls Aloud Allowed, But EMI Goes GooGoo Over Gaga

[ Comments Off ]Posted on January 28, 2010 by admin in Music

Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Will major labels ever figure out the equation of rights management versus free exposure?

We’ve touched on mashups before, but hadn’t realized how deeply they’d been cross-infected with mainstream pop culture, and hadn’t considered the daunting task they bring to record labels operating with a Jurassic attitude toward media distribution and rights management. First of all, let’s look at an example of how not to do a mashup, and then take a look at an example of why issuing takedowns to mashup artists is probably not all that productive. So how not to do a mashup? Fox TV’s Glee “got hip” and jumped on the mashup train by taking the Police song “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” and Gary Puckett’s “Young Girl”, and having one of the stars of the show sing them as a mashup. The result was predictably horrifying. The problem? The music was obviously licensed, played by studio session players, and badly dubbed over by the actor. The net result is comparable to watching your friend who majored in drama but ended up being an MBA singing “Halo” at karaoke night. If anyone should get sued in the world of mashups, it’s the producers of Glee. On the other end of the spectrum, we have situations where a label like EMI issues a takedown when the repurposing of their property would probably do them more benefit than harm. The piece just linked to explains why EMI issued a takedown for NirGaga, the Lady Gaga Vs. Nirvana mashup. What’s wrong with that scenario? For me, the mashup made me remember Nirvana, who I hadn’t thought of in ages, and exposed me to Lady Gaga, who I would otherwise not go out of my way to listen to. In either case, it’s doubtful that the free distribution of the mashup would dent EMI’s profits, and in spite of EMI’s takedown, the video and song remain “in the wild”, and fairly easy to find, as evident with the YouTube link above. Another example of reaching a new and unlikely end-user (i.e.: me) is a series of mashups of Girls Aloud, the British reality TV superstar girl band that’s made millions and that I’d bet a million that – like me – you’ve never heard of before. Below are examples of Girls Aloud and a few other mashups (Devo vs Souljaboy, Lady Gaga vs Eurythmics) that – at least to my ears – make the unlistenable fairly listenable. I doubt major media companies will ever get this property management vs exposure equation, and will continue throwing the baby out with the bath water until they’re bankrupt. If you want a quick roundup of some of last year’s best mashups, check out CultureBully’s list, or Best of Bootie 2009. Read the rest of this entry »

Things I Wish Obama Would Say In A State Of The Union Address

[ Comments Off ]Posted on January 27, 2010 by admin in Politics

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

It really boils down to simple things, like HEY AMERICA! You’re fat, rude, and greedy! Chill out!

For quite some time, I’ve wished that when a president says utterly irrational things in a State of the Union address, he would say positive things instead of things like “everyone wants to kill us because we’re so great and they’re jealous so we’ll just have to bomb someone”. So when I voted for Mr. Hopey Changey, I think I was fantasizing that in one of his speeches he would say something like “Our team of political and social analysts has spent the last year reviewing the key problems in America, and have reached some simple conclusions and developed some simple solutions. First of all, you’re all too fat, lazy, greedy, rude, and watch WAY too much TV. Y’all need to stop eatin’ those sticks of butter and supersizin’ all six meals each day. Get off your butt and at least GO FOR A WALK if that’s all you can manage. Once you’re off your butt, when you run into people, make eye contact and say things like ‘HI! HOW ARE YA?’ and hold doors for them and let them go first in line, and say ‘EXCUSE ME’ if they’re in your way instead of snorting and having a hernia. If you’re one of those fortunate enough to own six cars, two houses, and have more than a million in cash at your disposal, THINK ABOUT SHARING some of that. How many houses can you live in at the same time? We’ve also decided that corporations and government should BENEFIT PEOPLE OTHER THAN THE ONES THAT RUN THEM. Therefore, we’re stripping corporations of their human rights (um, they’re not human, right?) and stripping legislative, executive and judicial pay back to nearly nothing, so that whole “public servant” thing makes sense again. You’re also no longer allowed to sue people every time you stub your toe on their sidewalk, but all medical malpractice suits are hereby judged in favor of the patient. We all know that even the flippant ones were the result of the greed and mismanagement of  the health care industry, right? And this whole lawsuit thing extends ESPECIALLY to kids. Children can no longer sue their parents, and parents can no longer sue the kids’ teachers. If the neighbor’s kids are acting up, BUST ‘EM. And you and the teacher are the grown ups, remember? TALK IT OUT. Oh. And no more padded playgrounds and helmets. All the dumbest and clumsiest kids are surviving grade school and creating a really feeble gene-pool for the next generation. I think that should cover it for this year. We’ll be back next year to see how things turned out. There may be a pop quiz in June though.

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