Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Passenger

A very, very fun video for classic Hollywood to the Iggy Pop song 'The Passenger.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Harnessing play and the energy of children (usually impossible to focus) as a power source to pump clean water... brilliant.

PlayPumps is going to be nominated for The Sherman Foundation Prizes for "Fucking Clever" and "Creative Circumvention of Child Labor Laws".

Via King Friday Via Guy Kawasaki

2 Years Of Cwalk


Happy Monday Morning

Laura Ingraham, having a fantastic time at work. Is she a big B or does she work with incompetent retards? Probably both.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday School at the Sherman Foundation: Liberal values make the world a less interesting place.

Repression and conservatism force those of us more liberal in our leanings to find ways to embed and code the things we wish to express.

For example, all of the wonderful, pop-culture products of the 70s that were about getting high on marijuana: The song "Puff the Magic Dragon", Scooby Doo, and the bizarre and frightening show H.R. Puffinstuff.

Pop Music used to be much more rich in metaphor than it is today. The Coaster's song about a sexually-liberated but potentially disease-transmitting female: "Poison Ivy".

The freedoms and joys of liberalism yield diminishing returns. Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

Sunday is Unmet Needs Day

Real Men and their Real Dolls
The powerful deep-seated need for human beings to connect can manifest itself in some very surprising ways. This documentary is a case-in-point. It examines the relationships that a group of men have to their Real Dolls, life-size, realistic sex toys.

One of the most fascinating aspects of this video is the ease and comfort with which these individuals talk about themselves and these relationships. Maybe more so than your "average" person.

An explanation of my use of the term: Unmet Needs.

The BBC does a lot of interesting reporting on sex and sexuality research:

Lip size key to sexual attraction

Kissing couples turn to the right

Face values applied to love game

Partner choice 'shaped by father'

Why women fall for 'Mr Average'

Women look at men's cheeky bits

Women slate rivals to win a mate

Bizarre Deep Sea Species Discovery?

No, just horrifying medical animation.

What's really messed up is that the animation doesn't show anything except a mechanistic (to make it visually inoffensive) penis getting an erection. Where is blood flow swelling the tissue? I was always a big fan of the animations in medication commercials that showed the pill going down the throat and the "active ingredient" going to the point of discomfort.

Neil Patrick Harris for Old Spice

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Pussies in Beaverton

Nike pulls Hyperdunk ads amid criticism
BEAVERTON, ORE. (AP) -- Nike said Friday it would pull its ads for its Hyperdunk basketball shoes, responding to criticism that they fed homophobic views.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Win a Shelby Terlingua

Win a Shelby Terlingua. My boy Holmes in Los Angeles is working on this fundraiser for The Carrol Shelby Children's Foundation.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Ad World / Real World Collision

Thanks Kim, for turning me on (to this).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Process

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Christian the Lion

Unreal, truly. Really quite touching, although I could have done without the Whitney Houston. Maybe a medley would have been better... something from Lion King followed by "wild Thing" (Tone Loc), "Talk a walk on the Wild side" and wrapping it up with Hall and Oats... "Maneater".

Or maybe the whole thing is a setup, an obvious play on the Christians and Lions thing and "love" conquering all differences. I feel dirty and used just thinking about it.

Font Conference

Your favorite and not-so-favorite typefaces personified.

Dark Marketing & ARGs

Dark marketing n. Discreetly sponsored online and real-world entertainment intended to reach hipster audiences that would ordinarily shun corporate shilling. McDonald's is the latest mega-brand to adopt this paradoxical promotional tool, with an alternate-reality game called The Lost Ring, nearly devoid of golden arches.

Via Wired Magazine's Jargon Watch

The example of dark marketing cited by Wired is MacDonald'sThe Lost Ring.

A few month ago I had the pleasure of attending this year's New Yorker Conference and meeting Jane McGonigal (a pioneer in the area of ARGs and one of the creators of "The Lost Ring") after her talk on gaming and virtual worlds. Here's video of that presentation.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Björk, Wanderlust in 3D

Björk's video for Wanderlust was "shot entirely in 3-D using custom-built equipment by San Francisco Bay Area filmmakers Encyclopedia Pictura, the seven-minute video took nine months to produce. More than 150 artists, sculptors and interns worked on the project." (Wired)

Watch the video and see the making of features exclusively on Wired.com.

I have a friend that used to produce and direct music video but he says that the bottom fell out of the business. Over the past few years budgets have plummeted and it just isn't worth the headaches anymore. It's nice to see a few artists like Björk (and Radiohead with "House of Cards" take the time and expense to do something special.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

On Digital: Getting Stuck on Stickiness

I came across the following article on The Standard that referenced a Neilsen report on time spent on various websites.

What sites are the "stickiest" at holding users' attention?
A website's "stickiness" is a measure of how much time each user spends on it. The latest Nielsen Online data logs the average Google user as spending 1 hour and 50 minutes on Google sites. Microsoft sites come in at 2 hours and 12 minutes. Yahoo, with its very broad selection of topics -- and perennial favorite Yahoo! Games -- holds users for more than 3 hours.

But what category of website holds users' attention for much, much longer? In one case, more than 10.5 hours per user per month -- on average?

Online poker! Although their unique audience is significantly smaller than the big boys, PokerStars.com, FullTiltPoker and PartyPoker all average more than 4.5 hours of play per user per month -- with PokerStars.com logging an astounding 10 hours and 37 minutes.

This is a chart from that report from Click Z: Top U.S. Parent Companies and Stickiest Brands on the Web, June 2008

Problems of "context" have always bothered me when it comes to the consumer research done in the area of online behavior.

In general, I've never been convinced that "time spent" is a valuable goal or metric, for a brand and believe this to be particularly irrelevant when it comes to interactive, digital experiences. Is the length of time that someone spends engaged with a brand as important as the depth of engagement or the power of the brand experience?

Without a context for behavior and insight into mindset, "time spent" is meaningless, or worse a dangerous, misinforming stat. Take any task-based or problem solving activity online (bill pay, finding the best mortgage rate, getting a restaurant's address, finding fresh sources of your favorite niche porn... whatever) and you are more likely to have a measurement of ineffectiveness if you're tracking time spend. For many sites that exist, finding engaging ways to pass time simply isn't the point, getting things done is.

It often seems to me that the big reason many types of stats are reported is that they just hapen to be the things that can be reported. It's easy to track visits, hits, time spent, keyword searches and mentions so companies do. They gather these data points, make reports and sell them despite the fact that without context and insight into user process is extremely limited in its value. These kinds of reports are golden calves made of play-doh, reassuring toys that can be reshaped to fit any misguided belief.

Successful completion of task, effectiveness and satisfaction are incredibly difficult things to measure. If you've ever been involved in hard-core usability studies for a task-based interactive experience, you know what I'm taking about. Gathering this type of information about a single web experience, gleaning insight for that data and feeding it back into the design process is painstaking and expensive. That's why it doesn't get done as often as it should. Making generalizations that are broadly applicable across the digital channel is a joke.

Designing for human behaviors that interact with technology is far more complex than the passive absorption of read-only media. There are several tricks and frameworks I use to model consumer behavior and mindset.

This is one for thinking about browsing behaviors that I still refer to constantly.

1. Prequalified Browsers
Knows what they want and that the site they are at has it.

2. Surgical Browsers
Knows what they want but are not sure if the site they are at has it.

3. Functional Browsers
Have a need but are unsure what will fulfil their need or solve their problem

4. Recreational Browsers
Looking for new ideas, information gathering or just engaging content that interests them.

As technology enables interactions to be more like conversations and as the behviors and task it enables become increasing complex and narrowly focused the need to get as close as possible to the target audience is crucial. There are a few ways for people (or agencies) doing digital and mobile work to do this.

1. You have to live it like your target does (or hire people that do)

2. You need to understand behavior and mindset. In one of his books, David Ogilvy talks about going to filling stations and speaking with consumers to understand their perspective. Take that approach and multiply it by how complex today's technology is, how splintered demographics are and how difficult targeting is given channels numbers and complexities. This should give you a sense of how deeply you need to be willing to dive.

3. Here's the Holy Grail on social media but you might not want to drink from it. Social media is about communities of people. If you want to "get it" or work within it you MUST be a part of these kinds of communities. It's that simple and difficult a the same time. Knuckle up and get ready for the time investment.

Real stickiness is about impact, memorability, and repeatability. I just finished reading Made to Stick.

One of my big takeaways after reading this book, a reminder really, was that beyond all the challenges complicating the media industries, the black magic of technology and the mind-clouding, 3-ring binders of research it all still boils down to people, human connection and storytelling.

Radiohead's "House of Cards" Video

Radiohead used a real-time laser scanning process to reate the video for the single "House of Cards".

Its important to watch it here so that you can interact with the video data (change the angle and scene), very fun. It also looks best when viewed in the flash player. The fidelity of the compressed video versions I've see are squishy and don't do this justice.

I was initially turned on to this by the article on Creativity Online about the making of the video for Radiohead's House of Cards: From OK Computer to Roll Computer. The piece is a good read.

In the article director James Frost talks about the cameraless process, working blind (without visual preview) and a set that was largely tech and computer guys as opposed to a film crew. This is a great example of technology being used differently than what its designed, intended purpose is. Here's an excerpt:

Creativity: What are the engineers on the set usually doing with this equipment? I'd think this would be a high point for them.

JF: I think they found it quite amusing. Both of them were excited to be there; we had one engineer from each company that has the scanners. In their mind they thought we were nuts, because we were using them in ways they'd never been used before. Using it in a creative way, physically moving in a dolly and stuff, is not something they even do. They have vans hooked up to GPS units and stuff so they get incredibly precise recordings of their environments. We're just like, Oh yeah, let's drive it through this field; try to keep it at five miles per hour if you can.

There are some great making of features and info about the technology HERE.

Great thanks to my lovely crush Kim for turning me on.

5 Unintentionally Terrifying Foreign TV Spots (Via Esquire)

Via Esquire online: 5 Unintentionally Terrifying Foreign TV Spots

Daniel Murphy does a great online column called "The 5 Videos" for Esquire

Friday, July 18, 2008

Picking Over the Bones: Scrapping in Detroit

Helen sent me a link to the blog, Sweet Juniper earlier this week.

Apparently the scrapping, the stealing of aluminum window frames, street signal poles and manhole covers is out of control. Here's a excerpt from a post titled Decontruction

I heard on the news yesterday morning that Flint has more than 200 missing manhole covers. Scrappers get about $20 for the heavy iron discs, but the city must spend $200 to replace them. A month or so ago, scrappers stole an 8-foot statue of Jesus from a Detroit church. The plaster statue had just been painted green to resemble tarnished copper. So they dumped Jesus in an alley. With China's voracious demand for raw materials and the shocking increase in value of recyclable metals over the past few years, increased scrapping and theft are no surprise. But in places like Detroit the problem is so vast, fighting it seems almost futile, like those farm workers beating away the locusts in Days of Heaven. Occasionally a scrapper will die cutting a live wire, but six more step forward to take his place.

You see scrappers all the time in their beat-down old cars and trucks filled with metal: aluminum siding, radiators, steel fixtures, copper piping. I often see them inside Detroit's wide-open and abandoned historic structures. Most artifacts of architectural significance have long been pillaged (for example, the terracotta lions from Lee Plaza that passed through the Ann Arbor antique market before being incorporated into new condo developments in Chicago). But there is still some rusty metal to be ripped away from the walls in most of these buildings. While showing that BBC documentary crew around a few weeks ago, we came across a mini van filled with metal driving around inside the old Fisher Body 21 plant. They are like maggots feeding on wounds; parasites devouring the viscera of this dying city.

Rickrolling is so last year

From behind the Iron Curtain.. why not disrupt your political adversary (in this case Gary Kasparov) with a flying penis.

F is for Friday, F is for Faygo

You know you're from Detroit if...

Shame and Denial in the Skies

You know that the problems in an industry have gotten systemic when multiple companies are trying to convince you that what they do, isn't what they do. British Airways is the latest to drag out the "this is not" approach". What they offer is "A new and different flying experience to Paris".

Earlier this year JetBlue began to distance itself from flying by claiming that they "jet". The work is really creative and clever and the interactive features on the Happy Jetting website are tip top but the strategy is a stinky shit and it will never, ever, ever, ever fly.

In general, what I call presentations of "theatricized reality", once a hallmark of the advertising industry are increasing difficult to pull off. The current milieu, defined by skepticism, the "voice of the consumer" and the gritty realities of video culture produce too stark a contrast for this these kinds of claims to be credible. Add to that a gap between the "brand promise" and "brand delivery" that's too wide for JetBlue to deliver against. The experience isn't distinctive enough and PR over the last year has been too negative.

The tone and voice of the JetBlue work has some sproblems as well. I'm just not sure if this is a face you can put on an airline.

If you're going to do work that panders to youth culture it has to be timely. The "Rushmore Hipsterism" of the video work is past its expiration date.

Denial in the air
Every brand aspires to be that shining example that will defy the bounds of the category to such a degree that people take notice and evangelize the product and experience beyond it's functional reality, that has to be created and demonstrated. You just can't put the words in consumers mouths.

Here's the best example I can give you. Go out today and take a look at the lines at Apple stores. You don't even need to ask those people if the iPhone is just an iPhone. Apple would NEVER take the "this is not aproach" and they are one of the few brands that could rightfully make that claim. But they know better.

The folks at Helio don't know any better, and they too produce work that panders to youth culture. See my post: Helio. Not your mobile Oldsmobile?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Art School at the Sherman Foundation: Museums are for Amateurs

With practice you can have an "art experience" anywhere. You don't need a museum to do it. Museums are for amateurs, places filled with objects so over the top in their expression of artiness that even tourists and people with no interest in or knowledge of the arts to carve out a moment for an aesthetic reflection.

Art isn't about works of art and the lives of artists. Everyone gets that wrong. Art is about the viewer and their lives. Art is about what happens in someone's heart and mind when they are having having an "art experience".

There are so many "art books" made, too many, and too many written about the wrong things. Too much time is spent spilling ink on the formal qualities of works of art and on the lives of artists. This misplaced focus is precisely why people have such a poor understanding of what art is and why there is almost no common, accepted understanding of the social/cultural role of art. This is demonstrated clearly by the battles over public funding for the arts which I personally am against. Our nations legislators are just about the last group of people that should have an active role in defining culture.

A good working definition of creativity is looking at what everyone else looks at and seeing something else. Defamiliarization is a fancy way of saying just that, making new and curious again things that we see so often that we don't really "think" about them anymore.

Art is about refreshing our abilities to see, hear and think. It's about turning off autopilot and getting back into the hot-seat of experience. Do you really need Christo or the MOMA to find interesting things to look at and think about.

The stark austerity of the museum experience is about creating focus. A better way of thinking about a museums intended purpose is that it's a theater for viewers to perform an art experience in. They put works of art into these otherwise empty space so you can remove yourself from the hustle and bustle of the world and try and have an undistracted moment to "do art". In New York this doesn't really work out as intended. There are so many people milling about and bumping into each other it's hard to have an art experience there. I refuse to go to NY museums on weekends. A better strategy would be to hide the pieces of art all over the city. That way you would never be too far away from a work that you can use to have a little "art moment" for yourself.

I went flying with a friend in his Cessna 182 (a small, 4 seat light aircraft) last weekend. There are several very cool things about flying in those types of aircrafts. First, there is the physical sensation. It's a much more raw experience than flying in a commercial jet. You feel the turbulence and hear the engine and the wind. It's physical.

Second, is the view. You're flying at a lower altitude than commercial aircrafts do. It's a different, fascinating and defamiliarizing view of the world. There are a whole set of perceptual and conceptual shifts that take place.

These are a few interesting observations that struck me as flew over Dutchess County.

Shade is what we call shadows when they're so big they engulf us. Clouds cast cloud-shaped shadows on the ground. On the ground it's just the immersive experience of shade. There are lots of naming and perception changes that occur with distance and the shift from direct experience to the observation of phenomenon. What appear to be landscape features seen from the cockpit of the plane would be called terrain if I were walking on the ground and had to climb some of those hills.

This is a tracking shot of the Cessna's shadow that I took as we did practice landings last Sunday.

From the cockpit the houses and cars look like toys. This is combination of the effects of distance and vantage point. When you're flying in a place, you're in a sense standing over the world as if it was a model train set. It's as if the details like window shutters, individual sheets of aluminum siding, car doorhandles and windshield wipers evaporate and vanish into a collapsing dimension.

Art isn't about the works and museums and the tumultuous lives of artists, it's about making conscious those shifts in perception and making reappear the details that are lost in the course of daily life into the collapsing dimensions of mind.

On Creative Process: David Lynch "Where Ideas Come From"

Via The Atlantic.com

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Theory of Evolution and the Taco Bell Trick.

What you can learn about the Theory of Evolution, human perception and marketing from Taco Bell.

I spent last weekend at a friend's family home tucked away in the wilderness north of Manhattan. Nature, is in full effect there. The place is teaming with life. I saw deer, hedgehogs, turtles, snakes, chipmunks, fish, frogs, a muskrat, birds and insects galore. Not to mention the abundant plant life. I ate 3 different kinds of wild berries off of bushes while I was there.

A particular aspect of evolutionary theory gets overlooked that I find fascinating, the fact that all living things are made of the same stuff. When I look all the wildly different species of animals I don't see "different things", I see the same "stuff" organized into different configurations.

The same material compounds that produce a lamb, are reconfigured by the process of evolution to make a snake, a chimp, "man" and so on. It's the same stuff, shuffled by the surprisingly simple operational rules of evolution.

It's kind of like Taco Bell. The menu consists of a selection of choices composed of the same ingredients. It's the same stuff, just pressed into different shapes. The menu items have different names like burrito, chalupa, taco, quesadilla... but it's just beans, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, sour cream and your choice of beef or chicken held together in a shell or wrapper of ground maize.

On a strictly observational level you can't always tell one species of living thing from the next. Could you tell the difference between the internal organs of two animals roughly the same size? Probably not. Pieces of animal remains, particularly bone fragments are often confused for those of a human.

Take slices of apple and potato, eat them with your eyes closed and your nose plugged and tell me the difference. Most people can't.

The other aspect of evolution that I thought about over the weekend was the differences between things have a high degree of variability and things that are low on that scale. The first animals I saw on our drive up were cows. Both humans and cows are mammals. On an organ level we share most of the same basic parts but they're ordered into very different configurations. The cows all look pretty much the same, very uniform in overall construction except for the asymmetrical patterns that are random and different from cow to cow.

The same process at times produces wildly different things with basic similarities, like cows and humans. Those species seem relatively stable with gradual changes over long periods of time. Except for things like facial features and cow patterns which are shuffled with a high degree of variability from individual to individual. What determines what maintains high stability versus a high degree of variability? I don't know, I didn't study science.

Despite the fact that all human faces are, superficially, very much alike the level of information and meaning in the nuanced differences is extremely high. You would think, given how similar human faces are and how many you see over the course of a lifetime that mistaking strangers for people you know or met in the past would happen way more often than it does. Those nuanced differences are so important and meaningful that sometimes they can get you to fall in love with their possessor, they can create "profound meaning". This insight is lost on marketers that place too heavy and emphasis on functional benefits and people in advertising that complain about having a commodity product to work on.

What is clear to me is that the visible, observable differences (like shape, size, color) have more impact on our perceptions and our mental constructs than the material differences.

Recent genetic research backs me on this: Human Complexity And Diversity Spring From A Surprisingly Few (Relatively Speaking) Genes

An interesting quote from that article:
In April 2003, scientists completed the massive Human Genome Project, recording for the first time in history the location and sequence of every gene in the human body.

One result of the international project came as a bit of a shock. Scientists discovered that the body has only 30,000 genes, far fewer than the 50,000 to 140,000 they had expected to find.

Moreover, scientists learned that some less complex, less diverse organisms had more, or proportionally more genes than human beings. The rice genome contains 50,000 genes and the fly contains 14,000, to cite two examples.

Everybody gets hung up on the "we came from monkeys" thing but there are bigger more troublesome implications that our moral frameworks and emotional constructs may be inadequate to deal with.

Racism, sexism... prejudice of all manner spring from reactions to observable differences in appearance and culture. Reason ands science tell us that were all essentially the same and we should strive to treat each other accordingly. Civilized humans embrace this but would they extend it to all living creatures?

If rice is (at least) as complex as us genetically maybe we aren't so special after all. This is at the heart of the nagging, existential worry of nihilism produced by science.

The world we live in, experientially, is shaped more powerfully by our reactions to what we observe and how we describe it than by what is there. Those traps of the mind are hard to escape even when we have science and reason to show us the way.

It is a lot harder to think outside the bun than Taco Bell would have you believe. They're living proof.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dancing Liquid

Chicken Little, Horny for Apocalypse.

What is the unexplored link between apocalyptic climate-change worries and tawdry photographs of Miley Cyrus?

This week's Sunday School at the Sherman Foundation explores the tacit obsession with apocalypse and overt, cultural expressions of sexuality.

What's on everyone's mind?
Culturally, the obsessing about death and apocalypse is overwhelming. It manifests itself in the fretting over terrorism, actual wars, stories of environmental crisis and climate change catastrophe, speculations about the waning American empire, peak oil, food riots, economic collapse, conspiracy theories, zombie movies and films with disaster scenarios. In fashions it is expressed through the popularity of camouflage (See: Wearing our psyches on our sleeves and striking a military pose.) and skulls (they're this millenia's smiley face).

Last month I listened an interview with Alan Weisman, author of The World Without Us. A book that explores what would happen to the planet if human suddenly disappeared. The most startling revelation in the interview was the fact that MILLIONS of gallons of water are pumped out from below Manhattan and out to sea, daily, to keep the subways and city above from flooding. (That really is scary.) The inspiration for the book was a trip he took to Chernobyl 7 years after the nuclear accident. As opposed to being a burned out "dead zone" as one might think, the area was in fact overrun by nature. Tree roots were breaking up the pavement and houses were virtually concealed by overgrown plant life.

The interview includes a fascinating description of the 38th parallel, the 2.5 mile wide, human-free strip of land were the armies of North and South Korea face off against one another. (iTunes link for the Scientific American interview.)

Despite the overwhelming expressions of the apocalyptic theme, our fears and obsessing remains largely tacit and unconscious. There isn't much cultural dialog about the fact that this is taking up so much of our radar. Why aren't more people noticing this and meta-framing it? The blind spot for this aspect of out collective experience is enormous.

Horny for Apocalypse
What's better than "vacation sex"? "Disaster Sex". I've read that there are spikes of sexual behavior following events like 9/11 and Katrina. Apparently, disasters trigger a sexual response in humans and the frequency of intercourse surges. :)

Could it be that our unconscious obsessing over death and doom is what triggers, on a cultural level, a need to over-sexualize. Is this the unexplored link between apocalyptic climate-change worries and tawdry images of Miley Cyrus?

The use of overly-sexualized imagery of barely pubescent youth is a commonplace staple in fashion and publishing. Given the hypersensitive cultural fears of sexual predators and pedophiles you would expect that collectively, we would be more uncomfortable with the display of over-sexualized imagery of children, but that doesn't seem to be the case.

Is the over-sexualized state of our society, the need to sexualize virtually everything, including at times images of youth a triggered response to the collective fears of death and destruction?

Kim and I were talking about "disaster sex" and she joked that there are times that a terrible meal qualifies as a disaster. God bless her. Kim, shall we rendezvous for the end of it all?


If my theory is correct there are is a cliché and an assumption tat need to be reexamined: "Make love, not war" and "If you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao, you ain't gonna make it with anyone any how."

The sky is falling, the sky is falling... let's get it on!

From the Foundation Archives: Pulling for Apocalypse

This video illustrates the changes that would take place to man-made environments if humans simply vanished from the face of the earth.

National Geographic's take on the speculation.

Across the pond similar questions are being raised. The trailer for the film
Flood, a UK disaster film.

2 works from a series titled Flooded London.

Creative Process: John Mayer on Songwriting

See more funny videos at Funny or Die

Friday, July 11, 2008

Fleet Foxes

Earlier this week Lady D-Mac turned me on to the Fleet Foxes and the video for White Winter Hymnal.

Yesterday she managed to get her meat hooks on a couple of tickets to the show at Union Hall. We got there just in time to be front and center for the bands show. The basement area where bands play isn't any bigger than many of the basement rec rooms of suburban homes. Thanks again D-Mac. (We gotta go back to Union Hall to play bocce.)

Before the show I had dinner with an business colleague, you can add Capital Grille to the list of great steal houses in NYC. If you go , have the calamari appetizer, it amazing. (I know, its calamari, every restaurant on the planet serves it and easy to have mediocre or bad plat of it put in front of you, but trust me, it great.)

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Know Your Limits

Clever. I think the execution could have been better.

Big thanks to Kathleen for sending me all sorts of cool stuff this week.

Controversial Ads: Deutsch Magazine

This morning it became very clear to me that I've fallen behind in keeping up with the latest in controversial ads and shocking fashion photography. The subject of "the male fantasy" and the use of "ironic sexism" seems to come up a lot in conversation these days. The subjects of fantasy, tacit desire and impulse as they relate to the process of "reading imagery" deserves to come under The Foundation lens. I'll try and get to it soon.

Via Trendunter: Deutsch Magazine.

Misuse & Innovation: Woman kills husband with folding couch

There is a long history of product innovation springing from consumer misuse. The latest example comes from St. Petersburg:

ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) - A Russian woman in St Petersburg killed her drunk husband with a folding couch, Russian media reported on Wednesday.

St Petersburg's Channel Five said the man's wife, upset with her husband for being drunk and refusing to get up, kicked a handle after an argument, activating a mechanism that folds the couch up against a wall.

The couch, which doubles as a bed, folds up automatically in order to save space. The man fell between the mattress and the back of the couch, Channel Five quoted emergency workers as saying.

The woman then walked out of the room and returned three hours later to check on what she thought was an unusually quiet sleeping husband.

Police refused to comment.

Via Reuters: Woman kills husband with folding couch


From The Foundation Archives:
Technology and Culture: The foreseen and the unforeseen

Controversial Ads: Duncan Quinn

The ad above appeared in a post on
Trendhunter titled: Misogynistic Marketing - Is Duncan Quinn's Fashion Ad Inappropriate? (The Duncan Quinn brand is described as follows:
For those who do not know, Duncan Quinn sells handmade ready-to-wear and bespoke men’s suits with a tagline of, “Savile Row meets Rock ‘n Roll.)

The author doesn't unpack the topic or offer any explanation of the source of the piece below.

See: Friends with Benefits: Benifits Summary Prospectus for another example of parody corporate literature.

Dustin Humphrey & Dopamine

Some amazing photographs by Dustin Humphrey, apparently shot as part of a promotion for a clothing label called insight51.

I think everyone involved was really high because I can't figure out what the connection is between the label, the photographs and a film called dopamine. If you click here you can be confused as well.

The video below is described as a trailer for a film called Dopamine. It's cool but I have no idea what it's "about".

Dopamine from TheShermanFoundation on Vimeo.

Nixta, thanks, once again for showing me the way.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Trendspotting: Mustaches

The were discussing Jason Giambi's awesome mustache on ESPN this morning and they put a quote up on the screen from the American Mustache Institute.

I thought the mustache institute might be a joke, but sure enough, it's real. Check out one of the many institute interviews I found on YouTube.

Dani was recently going on about Nick Cave's stache in the video for "Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

Muckety (Muck)

I've been thinking a lot about the uses of data, particularly public data over the past week (See: Dangerous Ideas: Consumer Empowerment, Data Harvesting and Value Reclamation) and here is an curious example a friend just turned me on to:

Its subject is powerful, socially influential people. A say peculiar for a couple of reasons. Unlike most sites about celebrities and people of note is that it isn't littered with photos and paparazzi snapshots. Instead it uses branching tree-maps to chart relationship connections. You can even copy the code to embed the maps into your blog. The other reason is the rather beat, newsletter look of the site. Both things violate expectations for the presentation of information give the subject and category.

The "relationship map" below is for This Muffie Potter Aston.

Muffy Potter Aston

This is how the site describes itself:
Muckety is published by Muckety LLC, a company founded in 2006 by a team with years of experience in journalism, technology and online publishing.

The name Muckety derives, of course, from muckety mucks. Some follow the money. We follow the muckety, producing a daily news and information site based on online databases (which we enlarge daily), extensive research and old-fashioned journalism.

We strive for accurate, timely, objective journalism. Although you may sometimes see ads with a political point of view (served automatically through ad services such as Google AdSense), we aim to be nonpartisan in our maps, news stories and databased information.


Must sees from The Sherman Foundation Archives:

The Embalmerati: The overly preserved undead walk amongst us.

A classic: Noel Jeffrey for Crate and Barrel

Q: Well, what do you think of Crate and Barrel?
A: It’s a very good resource. I bought some furniture there for my son’s apartment. It’s not for my clients, really. I mean we’re using it right now for a maid’s room, so that makes them happy. But our clients really want custom everything.

Classist, hysterical remarks abound at: The New York Social Diary

Gameshow Idea: Villians in Marvel Comic Movies or NYC Socialites???

Fleet Foxes "White Winter Hymnal"

Princess D has been turning me on to all sorts of good music of late, including Fleet Foxes and this great, animated video for "White Winter Hymnal". There is an earnestness about the track and the video that is really refreshing to see. I really love the use of light as a narrative element.

White Winter Hymnal from TheShermanFoundation on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sunday School at The Sherman Foundation: Killing God Softly

I've always placed the beginning of the 20th Century at the formation of Nietzsche's concept of "nihilism". If you remove God, the lynchpin from the moral equation, the structures of meaning and valuation fall apart and the result is the void of nihilism. That is what Nietzsche believed we had unknowingly done and what he was describing with Zarathustra's notorious proclamation that "God is dead".

At the close of the 19th century and the start of the 20th science was asking and answering questions that supplanted God with mechanistic explanations for the structure and order of the universe. Some of the paradigm shifting examples along these lines include Darwin's "Origin of Species", Frued's theories of the unconscious and Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

Recently, I've noticed a renewed and vigorous interest in "pulling back the curtain" and "popping the hood" in scientific literature for lay audiences. What's most striking about the kind of examinations being conducted is that they tend to inquire about primary processes or fundamental aspects of human experience. Take for example a recent Wired article: Inside Jokes: Science Writer Jim Holt Explores Why We Laugh.

WNYC's Radio Lab is a scientific journalism series that explores simple questions like what is laughter, sleep, time and space.

A steady stream of books by economists and behavioral economists in the "freakonomics" mold have been published. See Slate's Undercover Economist Series.

I'm currently reading two books that make fundamental inquiries and examine primary processes: Snoop: What Your Stuff Says About You and Made to Stick: Why do some ideas thrive while others die?

Is it a coincidence that a concurrent striving to answer very basic questions and widespread cultural divergence on issues of values and ethics (fundamentalism vs militant atheism) is taking place?

From a cosmological point of view, the hits just keep on killing.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Dangerous Ideas: Consumer Empowerment, Data Harvesting and Value Reclamation

There has been a lot of discussion about consumer empowerment in the web 2.0 era. Stories abound of bloggers airing grievances and staging boycotts as well as consumers recording experiences with call centers and posting them on YouTube.

Much to the chagrin of many corporate entities technology has created a new, unprecedented level of consumer empowerment. My message to all is "brace yourselves, you ain't seen nothin yet". What has transpired thus far doesn't amount to much more that publicly aired letter writing campaigns. As technology that leverages access and manipulation of data becomes increasingly accessible to consumers the type of empowerment will move beyond the ability to simply "air grievances" and enable them to redefine the nature of interactions between individuals and corporate structures. Just as technology ended the unilateral control of cultural transmission, the unilateral control of data will come under increasingly destabilized.

A current, call for entries in the UK entitled Show Us a Better Way seeks proposals for innovations that leverage the use of public data. You can expect the subject of "mashable data" and legal issues surrounding access to data to become increasingly hot.

Harvesting Consumer Data
For several years, in private conversations I have been trying to make the point that consumers have been being striped of valuable behavioral data without getting anything in return. This can be justifiably viewed as a "harvesting" not unlike having a kidney stolen by a Las Vegas prostitute. The comparison may be slightly dramatic, but I'm leverage this urban myth to make an important point.

Oblivious consumers have been kept intentionally unaware of that value so that they unwittingly give it up for free on a constant basis. Discussions of data usually revolve around privacy issues. From a consumer perspective there is an issue of value that has gone unnoticed. These inequities that have skewed in favor of corporate interest aren't going to last much longer. Why should people give away this equity?

Every time a consumer subscribes to a magazine, uses a credit card to pay for a meal or a pair of shoes, visits a website, or uses a silly Facebook application they create a data point that someone else can use to profile them, build predictive models of people similar to them or bundle with others data and sell to marketers.

From an entrepreneurial standpoint, it's only a matter of time before a few daring individuals realize the value in getting on the consumer side of this battle. My mediating the transparency and flow of data, control over the flow and value of this resource could be reclaimed.

Imagine a service that would mask consumer transactions. A software based service would mask purchases and transaction on your behalf, bill you for it and arrange the shipping to you so that the business you've made the purchase from you doesn't know who you are. This works much more effectively in instances where we are talking about bits and data as opposed to atoms (purchased hard goods).

Is this the realm of science fiction? A credit cards with advanced security features that maintains the anonymity of the user? Swiss bank accounts used to perform a similar service.

Services and tools that act as anonymous clearing houses for transactions would empower consumers to be able to negotiate the value of that data. They could then decide what to do with this valuable resource: keep it secret, sell it marketers themselves or demand kickbacks or discounts on purchases. Not all consumer data has the same value. The data value for high net worth individuals and people who make higher volumes of purchases could certainly demand more.

This isn't science fiction speculation. Data is a fundamental, almost natural resource in the information age and people will increasing see that it is so.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Gameshow Idea: Villians in Marvel Comic Movies or NYC Socialites???

Page for page, pound for pound The New York Social Diary is far scarier than anything Marvel does.

Can you name all 3 Gotham City villians?

Mixing Meat

Someone I know once commented that America's beautiful, mixed-race babies may be one of its greatest cultural contributions. As much as I agree, I disagree. Last night I facetiously told a friend that I am opposed to racial interbreeding explaining that over a long enough timeline the differences between reces would be flattened out into a indistinct composite. All of the beautiful differences would be diffused. Would you do that with world's cuisines?

As positive as I think it is for the spread of empathy and understanding for people to date, breed and intermarry wouldn't it be awful for the marvelous uniquenesses to disappear. I'm glad I won't be aroud.

Then today, a friend blog's this Face of Tomorrow, a photographers exploration of the effects of globalization on identity.

The Face of Tomorrow is a concept for a series of photographs that addresses the effects of globalization on identity.

The large metropolises of the world are magnets for migrants from all parts of the planet resulting in new mixtures of peoples. What might a typical inhabitant of this new metropolis look like in one or two hundred years if they were to become more integrated?

The Face of Tomorrow attempts to find this face by taking photographs of the current inhabitants and compositing their faces to create a typical face. What we get is a new person - a mix of all the people in that city. A face that doesn't exist right now, but a face, it seems, of someone quite real the Face of Tomorrow.

The composites from the city of Amsterdan.

I stole the title of the post from Nixta, thanks mate.

Frank Sorbier

Fashion designer Frank Sorbier developed a 3D Flash site to showcase drawings from his latest collection. I wish there was more photography. It's kind of a fun site but using 3D to showcase 2 dimension drawing is a bit odd. Maybe if a theme of "paper dolls brought to life" had been developed more fully it would be a richer experience.

I really love the photos from the George Sand pieces. The contrast between the white rooms with linear moldings and the detail in black on black clothing is fantastic. They could have had a lot of fun with that on the site.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Not gay, just two guys that enjoy camping

Action figure toy commercials from the 70s.

Listen to the pumping gay track on this spot!

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Chronotopic Anamorphosis

Chronotopic Anamorphosis from Marginalia Project on Vimeo.

Nixta found this on

This video shows the test of a software developed as a programming exercise.

The image is digitally manipulated by fragmenting it into horizontal lines and then combining lines from different frames in the display. The result is a distorsion of the figures caused by their motion in time, or, as Brazilian researcher Arlindo Machado calls it: chronotopic anamorphosis.

The effect was completely based on Zbigniew Rybczynski's "The Fourth Dimension", but transposed to Processing programming environment and performed in real-time.

The software still has some memory issues, specially when the image rendering is combined with video recording, as it can be seen in this video.

This experiment was made within the context of Marginalia Project. More information about it, as well as the source code of this software [soon], can be found at marginalia-project.blogspot.com.

Content Aware Image Sizing

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


Sleevage: "a blog all about music cover art. From the LP’s of the 60’s to the digital artworks of now."

This Week in Muslim Outrage: Ads with Puppies

VIA the DailyMail.UK

A postcard featuring a cute puppy sitting in a policeman's hat advertising a Scottish police force's new telephone number has sparked outrage from Muslims.

Tayside Police's new non-emergency phone number has prompted complaints from members of the Islamic community.

The advert has upset Muslims because dogs are considered ritually unclean and has sparked such anger that some shopkeepers in Dundee have refused to display the advert. Dundee councillor Mohammed Asif said: 'My concern was that it's not welcomed by all communities, with the dog on the cards.

View article in its entirety: Muslims outraged at police advert featuring cute puppy sitting in policeman's hat

The Poetry of Destruction: Choice

A very powerful spot that catches you off gaurd. WOW! Well done.