Why is it that whenever I head in to work I think about all the things I want to do on vacation — little projects, ideas to explore, things to push forward on — then when my vacation rolls around, all I want to do is sit and read?
As noted before on Fauna Corporation, Michael Geist is more or less The Man when it comes to Canadian copyright and online privacy legislation.
A post from Geist on BoingBoing today points out that the Canadian music industry is about to lobby the Canadian government for more control and rights over what people post through blogs, social networking sites, search engines and video sites – including things intended for parody and satire – while putting liability on the sites and networks that carry the content. They also want a tax on new iPods, because, you know, that’s why Canadian records don’t sell. Insert incredibly loud sigh and mega-eye-roll here.
It all reminds me of when Canada Post tried to levy a 5 cent tax on every email being sent because people were sending fewer letters as email became more common. The result? Laughter, then even fewer letters being sent.
I would be surprised if the Canadian record labels that I actively support (and I mean actively support; I buy a lot of music) are amongst those lobbying government (ie: smaller, more interesting labels with more lateral business models), but at this point I don’t know enough about it. So we’ll see what shakes down in Parliament.
Either way, this is the kind of thing that often involves asking for the moon because, with concessions, you’ll probably get the sky. So it seemed appropriate to point some traffic to Geist’s post (via Cory Doctorow) on BoingBoing to raise awareness that this is happening.
Have a read, have a think, and then buy some wicked Canadian music directly from the artists that create it, because they are keeping up with the times and the choices consumers are making. And generally speaking, they’re not trying to control what you share.
There are a lot of websites that are currently protesting the US’s proposed SOPA legislation. Obviously a lot of ink has been spilled (both for and against) such restrictive online policing, but I’ve really appreciated the work done by BoingBoing on this, because they often provide a Canadian perspective via the work of Michael Geist.
Cooler still is how BoingBoing chose to protest the legislation today – by taking their site offline and providing info about their chosen form of protest. Heavy duty.
When I was younger (and scabbier) I was a skateboarder.
Skating is one of those things that never really leaves your system, even long after you quit. I may not be able to do the tricks I once did (and certainly can’t do the ones I tell people I once did), but I am always inspired by skating.
The Adidas Skateboarding Montreal video, below, is fun on a few levels.
- The production values are unreal, with great shots, editing and post-production (check out the altered Metro & public building signage!)
- It is shot in Montreal and features Montreal musicians in the soundtrack
- The skaters are doing things (sooooo casually!) that are totally insane.
Finally, though, the reason I like this video is because I saw it being filmed. I was taking a walk on my lunch break this past September, and saw this same group of skaters working over a couple of public statues and filming themselves doing it.
Then, as now, I stopped to watch. I am constantly marveling at how far skateboarding, skate videos, and online videos in general have come in the last few years.
Check it out, then head out and pop a couple ollie-impossible-to-nose-slides in celebration.
If nothing else, this video may show off the awesomeness of Montreal.
But always remember to watch out for les Flics!
Good news for fans of the Wipeout video game series, RC racing, or levitating cars!
Researchers at the Japan Institute of Technology are apparently looking into Quantum Levitation (which, as you know, is so much better than non-quantum levitation) and are using a liquid nitrogen-fueled homage to Wipeout to show how it works.
Hard to verify the authenticity of the research, but a fun idea.
Via: Boing Boing
Happy new year to Fauna Corporation readers!
2012 is upon us and I’m going to be posting to Fauna Corporation again, albeit with a slightly different focus.
Going forward, I will be sharing the things that I create (text, photos, sketches, music), the things that inspire me — and hopefully, you — to create (others’ work, links, quotes, ideas, cool creative executions), and the tools I use to create (hardware, software, apps, etc).
The evolving digital narratives are all around us, and we participate in them each day with the smart phones, tablets, laptops and other digital hardware that have become seamless extensions of us.
Rather than focusing on digital advertising, multimedia journalism, or any other specific industry, this little blog will simply throw some light on the creativity that results from our ever-expanding, ever present, digital means.
I haven’t posted very much over the last long while because I’ve been reeling from a series of personal tragedies. A close friend, my brother, my father and my mother all passed away within the span of the last two years, and frankly, I’ve struggled to just hold it together. Blogging, and more expressly, sharing what I am thinking about, has been far from my mind.
But, as I have said, 2012 is upon us, and times have changed.
Hopefully this new Fauna Corporation focus offers something to you. And hopefully you’ll share the fruits of your own creative channels.
Take good care in 2012.
That was then and this is now and thank God for that.
(Onward and upward for Virginia Heffernan)
Last week marked the final time that Virginia Heffernan’s The Medium column would run in the New York Times Magazine. I think it’s a shame that this column has been rendered obsolete by the magazine’s Secular Overlords (or whoever makes the decisions at the NYTimes).
In the four years that her technology column ran, Heffernan was always a moderate voice in an industry full of overblown hype and wide-brush lifestyle marketing. At once informed and curious, Heffernan’s column (along with Randy Cohen’s The Ethicist — also nixed by the mag last week) became a primary reason for me to read the magazine every week.
Heffernan’s final column for the NYT Magazine addressed the changes in the web over the last 2 years, where commercialized add-ons and targeted promotions have overrun genuine culture and idea exchanges. Heffernan presents the Kindle as an example of a consumer space aimed at the pleasures of culture, rather than the business of it.
Fittingly, I found Heffernan’s columns to be the same way – a lucid examination of the (often) ridiculous eccentricities of the net that increasingly come to define how we live and communicate. Heffernan’s columns were always respite from the histrionics that come with emerging digital culture, and while I mourn the loss of her column, I will enjoy reading its archives and following Virginia Heffernan’s upcoming work.
I saw Build Anything by Studiocanoe yesterday and was really struck by it, as I gather most are, given that it won an advertising competition at Cannes this year.
Very clever use of perspective (in several ways!) and a fun, lo-fi, imaginative experience for the viewer. I’m a little unclear who the target market for this ad would be, but I enjoyed watching it.
Recommended by Fauna Corp.
One of my biggest interests over the last couple of years has been building beats. For the uninitiated, “beats” in this context equals instrumental hip hop tracks, focused mostly on texture, juxtaposition and getting a good head nod going. You can hear my take on this art form here, but that’s not really what this post is about.
Damu the Fudgemunk is a musician who has been using YouTube to showcase his approach to making beats for a few years now. He’s garnered a solid reputation and landed production gigs by using YouTube to get his name and style out there. So that’s one reason why he should be interesting to the Fauna Corp faithful – he has brought his art and passion together and built a brand for himself via online video, and people keep tuning in because he’s got skills and charisma.
Damu’s latest video (filmed and edited by JNota) has him playing live drums and talking about his approach to rhythm. I thought this video was especially relevant for Fauna Corp because the production values are solid without being flashy (text overlays in capslock, san-serif fonts, video shot with slight vignette effect, nice saturation, and solid editing), and the subject matter is so particular.
If you are new to the world of beatmaking, the considerations that Damu discusses (poly-rhythms, tone and placement of hi-hats, different producers’ techniques for kick and snare textures, etc.) are the very same ones that beatmakers obsess over every day. For a musical form often referred to as “boom-bap”, It is a style filled with surprising subtlety, and reinterpreting / re-purposing the licks and riffs of previous masters is part of the art. So for Fauna Corp readers that means: learn from the best, lift what you can, make it all your own.
So Damu’s latest video is instructional to Digital Creatives in three ways:
- It shows how being passionate and genuine in online video can be a way to further your craft, reach new audiences and establish your brand;
- It shows how simple, tasteful production techniques can be used to make engaging videos that resonate with audiences both inside and outside your community;
- And it shows how the minutiae of any interest or past-time – whether it is beatmaking, visual art, weird sports, or even political upheaval in Sudan – can be studied and obsessed over so that your own output is a natural (but not unconscious) extension of what you’ve learned, hybridized and interpreted.
Check out Damu’s latest video, and see if you agree that there are things to learn from, regardless of what your digital output is about.
Get into what you are into, and you can get others into it too. And, as always, feel free to leave a comment here on Fauna Corp.
As a kid growing up weird in a town that didn’t really like weird, I found myself drawn to those sectors of society that didn’t even try to fit in.
For example, I didn’t really become a punk, but I listened (voraciously) to the music, understood the culture, knew the history, and was influenced by the artistic and political movements that punk drew from. I still am, in some ways, even though I’ve changed so much over the years.
Another example is skateboarding. I only skated hardcore for about seven years, but I firmly believe that skating is a “once, always” kind of culture that never really leaves your system.
Maybe that’s because skating makes you see the city in totally different ways. Or, maybe it’s because once you choose a pastime that requires you to repeatedly smash into concrete to get better, you never really forget it.
Either way, there’s a rich continuum in skateboarding that most skaters choose to learn, add to, reference and build upon both inside and outside skate culture that goes on long after you quit. “Mike V & The Brooklyn Banks” showcases this continuum quite nicely.
Nowadays, Mike Vallely is a bit of a celebrity on the Vans Warped Tour side of things, a pro skater who also fronts a punk band. When I skated he was just a skinny kid with a shaved head and combat pants who had lyrics from the Smiths on his grip tape. In other words, he was just like me. Key difference: Vallely is an insanely talented skater.
The short video, below, could just be an indulgence to me, but maybe there’s something in it for everyone that has ever been immersed in an underground culture. I found it fascinating to hear Vallely talk about being changed by the same videos, photo spreads and scenes that I was impacted by, and I think there’s a neat fold-in that Vallely eventually became one of these influencers too, inspiring kids to try things they’d never thought of and learn from those who came before them.
You may not know who any of these people are, or why the Brooklyn Banks were important to youngsters living hundreds of miles away (in my case, living in a different country), but in the age of instant access, I hope a video like this touches again on the raw inspiration that we used to feel when we were fully immersed in the underground and had to consume VHS tapes and print (that’s right, print!) magazines to get our fix.
These days I’m feeling like the things that used to be so critical to me are more important than ever, especially as the tools for creative expression become more ubiquitous and varied. I may not want to crack a kick-flip over a set of stairs (well, I may still want to…), but I do still want to be tuned in to why that felt so important, in both the small and large scale of things.
Check out “Mike V & The Brooklyn Banks”:
Have some gritty underground inspiration of your own (or others’) to share? Let me know in the comments!
Part of what I love about digital creativity is that if you are always receptive to inspiration, the internet’s tangential structure will eventually reward you.
For example, at work this week, I needed videos of epic fails and colossal wipeouts, and instead found a beautiful doc that basically showcases the opposite perspective. It won’t directly or immediately help my work, but it dovetails with my other interests and can inspire forms of creativity that may.
In the doc, Ilabaca talks about the mental aspects of parkour, and how going “all out” is important but only secondary to the real liberation of free running: recognizing the freedom in living in the moment and gaining confidence in choosing your own path.
That’s powerful stuff, especially for those of us who want to document and capture our unique (though still collective) perspectives.
Check it out:
For those of you looking for the “how” elements of this, I found some info about how 63 Productions made the doc.
The filmmakers chose to use a tripod for the shooting because they believed a hand-held camera makes the viewer aware of another person (ie: the filmmaker) being present, which they felt was a distraction. Also, the filmmakers could only shoot 8 seconds of slow-motion footage at a go, so they had to time their shots perfectly to capture the tricks they wanted. If they missed hitting record at the right moment, they missed the shot (which apparently happened). Note the Explosions in the Sky-style music, and the “vignette” effect on the footage as well – subtle elements, but shorthand for “this is meaningful”. Still more impressive, is that this video was shot in one day and edited in two.
Choose Not to Fall is another fine example of mini-docs, and their ability to move us, inspire our thoughts and document our lives together.
Recommended by Fauna Corporation!
Have some mini-docs or digital inspirations of your own (or others’) to share? Let me know in the comments.
Thirty years ago today, Pac-Man was released in Japan. I would have been about 7 years old, I guess, and it would take a few years for the game to reach North America, but when it did, it caught on like no game before it had.
Pac-Man was a departure from the “shoot-your-way-out” games that existed at the time, and its cross-over appeal (for men and women, video game geeks and people who had sex) forever changed video games and by extension, our present digital world and how we interact with technology.
In my hometown, Ms Pac-Man was the preferred choice, and I lost many hours at the Mac’s or 7-11, drinking Dr. Pepper slurpies and playing Ms Pac to avoid the blistering, Dune-like levels of punishing, arid heat that my hometown is known for. In these conditions, Ms Pac was like a digital beacon to an air-conditioned refuge that shielded me from walking on the surface of the sun. Thanks, Ms Pac!
Weirdly, I found myself walking around yesterday with a little 8-bit MIDI tune in my head, knowing it was from a video game, but not remembering which one (I actually thought it was the opening theme to Donkey Kong). This morning, in honour of Pac-Man and his lovely bride-to-be, I downloaded Ms Pac to my iPod and was delighted to find out the tune was actually for Pac-Man. I guess I was musically channeling the little yellow dudes in advance of their anniversary.
The cultural impact of Pac-Man cannot be overstated.
Without the game’s ability to reach across cultures, ages and genders, or its skill at humanizing a digital experience, we would not be as comfortable with cell phones and iPods, game systems in our adult lives, or movie / game crossovers like Avatar.
Could we have Massively Multiplayer Online Games, or deeply immersive pseudo-lives (such as World of Warcraft, Secondlife, et al), without the head-to-head tabletop editions of Pac-Man, Ms Pac and others? I don’t think so.
To show the overall impact of Pac, Google has done something interesting to mark the anniversary. Rather than have the ever-changing Google logo a simple graphic that leads to info about the game, they’ve embedded the game into the logo.
Visit Google’s homepage, click “insert coin” and play the game in-banner. Also advised, drinking a Dr. Pepper slurpie while playing.
Dublab released a short video about 2 months ago, called Secondhand Sureshots. It was probably only about 12 to 15 minutes long, but I think it will have a lasting impact.
The concept for the project was to take four well-established (but still largely underground) instrumental hip hop producers, send them to different LA thrift stores with $5 each, and have them shop for records.
The producers would then return to their labs and create a beat (ie: musical piece) using only the records they bought within their $5 cap limit. These beats were pressed to vinyl, and each copy was given a handmade, art-piece album cover. Beautiful. Copies of the finished product were then taken back to the thrift stores and reinserted into the thrift store record bins. I don’t know what that’s supposed to say, but I like the reciprocal symmetry of it all.
The whole art project was documented and Secondhand Sureshots was released online, for free, for about a week. It was then it was pulled down and some trailers remained online to promote the film.
Now Dublab and Stones Throw Records are selling the DVD, a vinyl copy of the finished tracks wrapped in hand-made album covers, and 2 slip mats for $60. I think it is a great deal, and a great way to market what is a wonderful and strange little project. Also, by putting their emphasis on engaging consumers in a full experience, Dublab and Stones Throw are able to sell this larger package (at a higher price) rather than only the CD and DVD of the documentary.
In an age of instant digital downloads, this emphasis on a handcrafted object that music fans understand and engage with at a deeper level could offer another option to the music industry, or possibly, some inspiration to journalists, digital storytellers and other multimedia producers. The value-add has never been more of an added value.
In spite of all the digital marketing speak above, let’s not lose sight of the core cool: this is ultimately a nifty little documentary and album aimed at a niche, dedicated audience. One that includes me.
The producers, Ras G, Nobody, Daedelus, and J-Rocc are all talented weirdos, and I’ve been influenced by their music for a while now. I found it very cool to hear their thought process (or feel process) for diggin’ in the record crates and making beats. And because I didn’t know in advance that the documentary was only going to be online for a week, and was so impressed by the well-crafted final product, I’ve decided to buy the full package.
Maybe you should too. Or release your own multi-format art piece?
Have some multi-format art pieces to share (of your own or otherwise)?
Let me know in the comments.
I came across these two pieces, which I thought were great examples of people reconfiguring or re-thinking a commonly accepted form of content.
The first is Beth Fulton’s kinetic text interpretation of Todd Alcott’s poem. The piece, and I assume the poem, are entitled Television is a Drug:
The second, Tilles Singer’s piece, Skateboardanimation, is a nifty hybrid of fast-shutter photography from print, and motion graphics or stop-frame animation in digital video. If we also consider that the video is being distributed digitally, pieces like this can really represent the evolution of our media across the years, in a single piece:
Got something to share (of your own or otherwise)? Let me know in the comments.
Anyone with a scroll-mouse, or those technophiles that have harnessed the finer points of ‘page-up / page-down’ technology, can see that I haven’t posted to my beloved Fauna Corporation in quite a while.
There are a number of reasons for this, but what is most important is that I am resurfacing after a deep-thought hiatus.
Which is to say, after much consideration, I have decided to post to Fauna Corp again, but with a slightly expanded focus to the content I highlight, share and discuss.
Over the last several months of working in advertising, and gaining some distance from the harsh realities of freelance journalism in the midst of an economic downturn and an essential breakdown in the fabric of how media works, I have gained a little bit more perspective on multimedia content.
There is no need for someone like me to be wringing his hands about the future of journalism. I’m simply not plugged in enough now to really know what’s happening with the media giants, and far more attuned minds than my own could give you the 4-11 (or even the 9-11) on what’s happening.
Furthermore, at a certain level, I simply don’t care anymore. As countless experts discuss and debate, our digital culture moves forward. People upload their on-the-ground footage, others generate beautiful short films and slideshows, still more develop apps and widgets, while experts deliberate on a functioning media model in a shifting cultural landscape. It is not possible to know where we’re going, and I think my energy is best served elsewhere.
What I am plugged into (and seeing a lot of) these days is unique digital content deployed across the cultural spectrum. This has led me to think a great deal about digital narratives – the ways that we represent who we are (or who we aspire to be) through our digital ecosystem.
Sophisticated tools are becoming cheaper, average people are developing professional skills, and more and more people are using their creativity to represent their lives. It is becoming seamless, natural and, at times, deeply moving.
It is this, then, that I am going to focus Fauna Corporation on – the artists, journos and communities that document the people, places, products, ideas, stories and projects that matter most to them. The digital narratives we create and share, to connect, however briefly, with each other and those quiet parts of ourselves that represent who we truly are.
How this plays out will be shown in the next little while, but I just wanted to give you a heads-up about this shift to Fauna Corporation’s content, and thank all of you who have been regular readers despite a loooooong silence on this little blog.
I think you will enjoy where we are going…
A great many moons ago, I reviewed Anderson Cooper‘s Dispatches from the Edge, and commented on his questionable decision to travel on his own to Somalia with only a Hi-8 camera and fake press pass as his protection.
What I did not say in that review is that I, like so many other freelance writers, considered doing the same thing: examining how many responsibilities I have to shoulder in my life, and then considering the cost / benefit ratio of just packing up and chasing the story around the globe – whatever and wherever the story may be.
This MOJO (ie: mobile journalist) idea is especially appealing now that high-grade, lightweight and broadcast quality technology has come down to consumer level pricing, and now that major media outlets have begun looking for the raw news story from the people in the streets (rather than from the people wrapped in flack-jackets and embedded with friendly forces).
In fact, my friend David Widgington at Burning BIllboard has followed this Andersoncooperean ideal to its natural extension (though certainly by his own inspiration), arriving in the Sudan with a video camera and blog log-in and little else, in advance of the Sudanese elections, making trips back and forth. Sudan, of course, has only recently emerged from 21-years of civil war and approaches its first multiparty democratic elections since 1986 (edited for accuracy – swg).
As the Sudan struggles to develop the infrastructure to support these elections and fights to discourage the ferocious mistrust that spawned its prolonged conflict, David has placed himself in the action to document, report and explore it all (I recommend checking his site out) in what can only be described as a challenging environment.
However, as important as that all is, the real purpose of this post is to highlight a statistic that Journalism.co.uk posted about recently – that half of the world’s jailed journalists were working online.
While mobile, online journalists are most capable of breaking stories and avoiding the ‘officially-sanctioned’ stories of repressive regimes, they are often freelancers who lack the advantages of a traditional newsroom – which could include lobbying, potential mass media coverage of their kidnapping, and the application of other reporters to investigate a staffer’s disappearance.
The new breed of mobile journalist that we’re all becoming replaces the typical foreign bureau that we grew up watching, and operates more fully as an independent newsroom (mirrored by the increasingly overlapped skillsets of writing, reporting, shooting, editing and uploading that many nu skool freelancers embody), but lacks the solid shielding of traditional media outlets under the intense scrutiny of repressive governments. The MOJOs are, for all intents and purposes, alone with only cameras and press passes as protection.
If you have been looking around your city and wondering if the grass is more newsworthy on the other side, then I simply recommend you spend some time with the Journalism.co.uk article above. There are tons of opportunities in the world for valid, significant (and freelance!) journalistic practice (as BurningBillboard and others evidence), but with each, it is critical to arrive in the trouble spots informed and protected, or risk becoming another journalist lost in the maelstrom of politics, policies and police states.
Astute readers of Fauna Corporation (or those who simply scroll down) will know that I was working a contract for a digital ad agency before the Holidays.
As it turns out, they liked my moxie so much they offered me a full-time position, which I’ve accepted. I’ve just come through my first week as an official employee there, and boy are my arms tired – or however that old joke goes.
Working in an ad agency is a bit of a weird shift for me (though not outside my employment history), given my heavy focus on multimedia journalism, so I thought I would take a second to try to let you know where this decision came from.
First, I want to confirm that my love of journalism continues, and my interest in trying to figure out (with you all!) where the industry is going remains as strong as ever.
But the reality – for me, at least – is that the technological advances, emerging narrative tools and the unbelievable creativity of multimedia journalists has far outpaced the journalism industry as a whole.
Personally, I had no problem landing writing gigs (for terrible freelance rates, naturally), but I had a lot of trouble landing contracts for my multimedia work, despite genuine interest and positive feedback from the web- and section-editors I spoke to.
The issue seems to be that the larger media structure is still struggling with how to carry multimedia work, how to market it, how to deal with the reciprocal loop it can create with viewers, etc..
Meanwhile the technology still advances, the narratives become ever more layered, and the e-journos continue to produce novel, intelligent work. These developments, coupled with the state of our media, generally, have become a recipe for disaster for freelancers.
When an opportunity came along to work for a cutting-edge digital agency, I realized the potential of working in an industry that was not behind the e-curve (and is, in fact, is often pioneering new communication techniques), and I recognized that I could learn an awful lot about building and deploying online content from creative experts.
So that’s what I’ve decided to do. I hope that doesn’t make my usual readership think I’ve sold out to The Man. Or even, A Man.
In my opinion, the days of journalistic purity are pretty much over, as each journalist increasingly becomes his own brand and entrepreneurial skills become ever more important in getting eyes on your work (let alone be paid for it), as the industry crashes all around us. It doesn’t mean the ethics of a journalist have been or should be compromised, only that the (often fictitious) divide between editorial and marketing is dissolving ever more.
So far, the new job has been very challenging and rewarding, and I think it will benefit my journalism work in the long run if I can continue racing up the (steep!) learning curve. My hope is to bring new insights to the Fauna Corp readership, while still sharing interesting and engaging multimedia journalism content with you all, as we try to figure out where journalism is headed.
2010 promises to be an interesting new year, and I hope you all stick with Fauna Corporation for the ride.
Let me know your thoughts about all this, leave a comment if you have anything to share. No sales agents will visit your home.
Whew! This whole accelerated world we’re living in has been exhausting lately.
But I must say, the technology finally seems to be catching up to the creativity of content creators, and is also coming in line with the demands of consumers.
As usual, I find the discrepancy between what consumers are looking for, and how journalists & news outlets are talking to them, to be the biggest hurdle facing journalism as a whole.
My accomplice and I recently picked up iPod Touches, and have been experimenting with different ways to use these cool gadgets to actually enhance our lives (rather than just, you know, be cool gadgets). That’s been a fun process, but there have been a couple of videos out lately that show other potentially ground-shifting tools that are coming to market.
These new tools display some creative uses of cross-media delivery by magazine publishers, and seem to really enrich the user experience. Check it out:
First, Multimedia Shooter has posted a great list of sports-related, multimedia journalism pieces which is worth reading. This Sports Illustrated video shows how SI is planning to unveil their magazine in tablet form, and, despite the hokey digital hands, shows how the magazine’s main assets of stunning photography, quality writing and box scores, will be further enhanced by the tablet technology:
Also, I thought I’d include this video from Outside Magazine, displaying their idea of how an interactive magazine feature may work in the near future. I originally found this video from one of my RSS feeds, but now can’t remember which website posted it (apologies for that). Instead, I found the same video piece at the Living Art Media site. It’s a little hyperbolic, but the overall effect is very cool:
Both of these videos are ‘aspirational’, but they show that the technology we are becoming accustomed to on our hand-held devices are now beginning to inform the decisions of media outlets and how they craft the content we’ll be enjoying in the coming year(s).