The Spaces Between Us

Note: This is the first in a series meant to inform our municipal election. I’m not running for office myself, so I’ve created an “Open Source” political platform to help form consensus for the next four years – and beyond – in London, Ontario.

The Spaces Between Us – Part I: Planes, Trains, and Automobiles

My job affords me the truly astounding privilege of some unique insights into our community, and among those insights is the opportunity to witness firsthand the sort of awesome talent in digital media and content creation that our city’s institutions of higher education – specifically Western and Fanshawe – are able to produce. During my time at EK3, and in my current position, I’ve reviewed some truly remarkable portfolios, and been profoundly inspired by what I’ve seen.

So when, a few years back, I was invited to a personal tour of our Province’s premiere digital media incubator - nGen - I happily made the drive across an Ontario not yet recovered from the ravages of Winter to visit Jeff Chesebrough at the next-generation facility he’d founded.

Jeff toured me around the state-of-the-art building, showing me millions of dollars in digital and interactive media creation tools: professional digital film edit bays, Hollywood-calibre visual effects workstations, two $50,000 RED camera kits, rapid prototyping industrial 3D printers, and the most advanced 3D motion capture studio on the East Coast of North America – all available to everyone in Canada at aggressively competitive rental rates.

Where was this marvellous facility? Toronto? Kitchener-Waterloo? Ottawa?

It’s in St. Catharines.

“We knew we had a ‘if we build it they will come’ situation here, and where we located was less important than what we provided access to” Jeff said in his office after the tour.

“See, people in Toronto, they don’t see us as St. Catharines, London, K-W,” Jeff continued, his gliding hands pointing to an imaginary map in the space between us above his desk. “They see us as the rest of Ontario.”

His arms went wide – inclusive. “And Montreal or Halifax? They don’t see us as Toronto, St. Catharines, London. They see us as ‘Ontario’, and BC sees us all as Eastern Canada, and the US sees all of us as Canada, and Europe sees us as North America, and so on and so on.”

I suddenly saw what he meant: If Canada is to take full advantage of the global supply chain of innovative manufacturing and digital media creation that has rapidly grown to our doorstep, we need to match the awesome talent coming out of our schools with the best-in-class physical tools, resources, knowledge and opportunities that are being developed around the World.

Yet without the ability to easily, affordably, and frequently access those facilities, plus the other people and ideas it obviously attracts, many of us (and right now I mean London) will be excluded from the opportunities that are being created there.

Some folks have proposed that we focus on locally replicating commercialization and incubation centres – across a variety of sectors and industry – using a ‘Made in London’ philosophy to tailor each facility to our needs. The challenge I see with this approach is two-fold: first, unlike the nGen philosophy of inclusion, I believe this strategy would serve to isolate London from national and global opportunities by creating a competitive bias; and second, it’s unrealistic and fiscally impossible to replicate all of these centres here in London.

To find the answer, I find myself echoing the sentiments of Kevin Kelly, who has famously suggested that “Access is better than ownership,” and that we are moving towards a time when owning something – even as a municipality – is less desirable than gaining access to that thing.

Yet, try to book a train or a bus ticket to St. Catharines and you’ll find that your only options take hours (the Greyhound bus trip is 5 hours each way, Via doesn’t offer an option), so, realistically, the only option is to drive, which ends up excluding many of the very talented young (and not so young) people that could benefit most from the nGen media incubator.

So following up on a brilliant idea and campaign created and executed by Kadie Ward over at Build Strong Cities: What if we connect our community to the rest of Ontario and Canada with affordable, convenient rail and public transit (bus) to access all of the world-class facilities and opportunities in our Province? The secondary benefit to this plan is we would also end up providing the World with access to the one-of-a-kind resources (some of which are chronicled here) that we are so proud to host in our City.

For the first part of my open source civic platform, I propose that the next council make it a priority to work with the Province and the Feds to build a regional public transit hub – with London at its centre – that would employ rapid rail and bus service to connect our region’s talent, skills, and ideas to the facilities, resources, innovations and jobs that exist only a few hours away. In turn, we can open our doors to a World of opportunities, because when it comes to so many facilities and World-class resources, ‘we’ in London have already ‘built it’, now we need to help ‘them’ come here to access it.

In my next post, I’ll talk about a conversation I had with a colleague about 8 years ago, and why his – again – brilliant and simple idea makes more sense today than it did back then.

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Before The Gloves Come Off

I’m of the belief that all citizens of London, Ontario want to live in a city that we continue to be proud to call home; a place that people from around the globe aspire to emigrate to; a place where global businesses see a future bright with opportunity for growth and innovation; a place where the next generation chooses to live as they start a family, a career, or even launch a new startup.

It also seems to me that London, Ontario finds itself looking through a rapidly closing window of opportunity; a unique and precious moment in time wherein I believe we ought to make a commitment to ourselves as a community – if for no other reason than for the sake of democracy.

And so, in this time, before a gauntlet is thrown and before any gloves come off;
Before lines are drawn in the sand, and missives slung like missiles;
Before fingers get pointed, and motives questioned;
Before the first salvos are fired on the virtual fields of social media…

…I think we ought to agree that rather than use digital media to tear down those that hope to lead, we should use those same digital tools to help all candidates imagine a bright, prosperous future for ourselves and for our children.

So in the race towards October 27, 2014, I appeal to all Londoners:

That when opponents opine;
When voices on the radio scorn and scoff;
When ink is put to press, and bits to blogs;
When armchair policy-makers comment, tweet, post, and poke from the safety and comfort of their, well, armchairs…

…that, when these things happen, before you hit publish, or like, or comment, or tweet, or retweet, please remember this:

We all know their records, just as we all know how they spin, but if we spend the next nine months focusing on the missteps of the past (and I’m referring to incumbents and challengers alike), we’re going to miss out on an opportunity to clarify aspirations for our city, provide a Council with a considered mandate, and unite our community behind a shared goal that benefits all of us.

Democracy has provided us the time to engage in a dynamic, exciting, and visionary exploration of what our City is truly capable of achieving, and by working together towards our shared success we can craft a considered, compassionate and creative vision for prosperity and happiness for all the citizens of London, Ontario.

Finally, if none of the above has convinced you, please – above all else – do remember that the World is reading, listening, and watching.

It’s up to us to decide what they’ll know about Canada’s London.

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Don’t Let Social Media Become the Internet’s Catty Corner

Nearly a decade ago, I sent a very angry e-mail to a group of colleagues at the startup company I was working for at the time.  It was rancorous, it was self-righteous, above all… I was right, goldarnit.

Shortly after I sent the missive, my boss – the CEO of the 80-person-strong startup I was at – called me.  It was strange that he used the phone rather than replying to the email.  It was stranger that he didn’t just walk the three doors that separated our offices; but no… he called me.

“Do you have a minute?” he asked. “Can you come see me in my office?”

I was suddenly nervous and wondered if it had to do with the email I’d just sent out.  I was pretty sure my job was safe, but… one never knows.

When I arrived at his office moments later, his back was to the door while my email was splayed (in very large text) across his screen.

“Adam,” he began timidly, slowly turning in his chair Bond-villain-style. “I know you’ve been a consultant for a long time, and aren’t yet accustomed to working in a group setting.  That’s why this is a really important thing for you to know now… before it becomes a problem.”

I was ashen.  OK – I was ashen-er than I usually appear.  I had really screwed up – big.  Lecture from the CEO big.  Then he made one statement to me – a question, really… almost rhetorical, but somehow pointed.  A dull sort of sharp, like the edge of a letter-opener.

“Before you send an email like this, ask yourself: Would you say this aloud – in person – to the people you’re sending it to?”

I rethought the email in my mind and realized that no… I most certainly wouldn’t ‘have the [guts]‘ (as he would later say to me) to say this in person to any of the recipients of the email.

I think this same rule applies, perhaps more-so, to social media vehicles like Twitter, Facebook and even comments on blogs and YouTube. All the time, it seems, I see short barbs carried across the tubes that would have no place in casual conversation with a group where there are contrary views, or even intimate chat between two individuals who are at odds.  People have no problem, for instance, twittering about politician X’s latest misstep, whereas they would have no ability to speak their displeasure in the presence of that party.

Far too frequently I see Tweets or Facebook Fan Page posts flung indiscriminately as bait that is clearly designed to entice a contrarian response (as with Mr. Clement’s most recent Twitter spars with those for and against the census issue).  Much of the time, the subject of such attacks are derided for “not getting the two-way” of social media when, in fact, such a comment wouldn’t merit a response in TRL.

In one particular circumstance, a Social Media aficionado declared that (paraphrasing) they were going to ‘unfollow’ a particular local politician because they were too one-way: Highlighting the notion that this politician was using social media to broadcast their achievements but bemoaning the fact that they weren’t listening to the other people in the social media space.  To this I say the following:

I would do exactly the same… as the politician.

Social media is not a private conversation; indeed, on the contrary, it’s a super public, archived forum.  I wouldn’t expect a politician to candidly go on record regarding a hot topic in a private conversation with me, and were I a political advisor, I wouldn’t suggest that anyone, ever, express an opinion on a hot issue in < 140 chars that hadn’t been carefully crafted and considered by about 20 politically-minded copywriters (and if you think that Obama is actually writing even 1/140th of any Tweet, well… I’ve got ocean-front property in in Calgary to sell you).

If you take issue with a politician – especially a local one – or even if you take issue with a politician’s party’s policy… make an appointment and go see them.  If you’re a constituent, it’s almost unheard of for them to refuse you an audience.  It may take a week (or five), but they will see you, and they will listen, and they will respond.

If you want more out of a brand… write a letter, or speak to a manager, or stop doing business with them.  Heck, I’ve been seriously guilty of slapping a brand via Twitter (http://twitter.com/adamcaplan/status/18934536560), and I’ve even considered “Liking” an Anti-[Insert hated company here] page on Facebook, but it’s rare that I do something about it (other than boycott Bell and McDonalds – my favourite brand hate-ons), so I’m certainly guilty of using my online persona as a passive-aggressive shield as well…

The argument I often hear back is “These companies/politicians/public figures should communicate with me the way I want to be communicated with”, to which I reply “Horsepucky” (to borrow a phrase from M*A*S*H).  Organizations of any size have finite resources, and can’t respond to every single social media meme that starts getting press.  E-Mail, snail-mail and phone support still work – as does walking into a store or an office and making one’s case.  Just because you send 2000 tweets a day and @yourleastlikedbiz has a Twitter handle doesn’t make them fair game.

And that’s the point.  If you want a two-way conversation – especially one that’s controvercial with ANYONE, politician, your favourite brand, or band, or (again) anyone — don’t hide behind an avatar (even if it is a reasonably well-represented likeness) ask yourself if you’d have the [guts] to say it to their face… the same litmus test you’d use with e-mail.

If you have a problem with this post, give me a call, and we’ll discuss it over a beer or a coffee.  I’ll even buy it for you.

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Robin & Sagi Mini-blog

For all of the friends and family following this blog – please check out my mini blog of Robin & Sagi’s wedding. You can find it at http://rswed.nvck.ca and I promise to update it with the latest and greatest from the Wedding festivities (along with points of interest from here in Israel) as the week goes on!

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Canada 3.0 And The Illusion Of Scarcity

Canada 3.0 Conference LogoThe other night I was having dinner with a friend and her teen-aged daughter who – not unlike many of her age – was struggling with the idea that some people, specifically those of a ‘wiser’ generation, just didn’t understand things like the Internet, Facebook, iPods, and the like. We tried to explain to her that, as someone who had never spent a day in her life “un-connected” from the always-on global network, she looked at the world through a radically different lens than many of her elders, and that different point of view represented a massive shift in perspective.  She remained unconvinced until a hypothetical was posed…

“What if” her mother asked, “tomorrow there was no Internet, and no cellphones… how would your life be different?”

Ashen panic crossed the youngster’s face… “Don’t – I mean… you can’t!”

That existentialist crisis is at the root of the unsettling feelings that consumed me as I emerged from Canada 3.0 a few weeks ago: That while there is a digerati (the digital-minded ‘elite’) in Canada that live and breathe the digital lifestyle every day, they are largely unable to guide the rest of the population, including those in industry, government, and even academia, towards a digital future because the digerati – the early adopters - and the non-digerati – the mid-to-late adopters – are looking at the world through radically different, fundamentally incompatible lenses.

Digital Beings

Being Digital, as Nicholas Negroponte so articulately expressed in his thusly titled seminal book, is a wholesale paradigm shift  - it is, as its name implies, an all or nothing proposition; a binary code – a 1 or a 0. One either thinks digitally, or one doesn’t – there is rarely a middle ground that can be found.  The inherent challenge that emerges as a direct result of this polarization is at the root of the crisis we Canadians face if we’re to catch up with much of the rest of the developed world, digitally speaking, and this challenge was the core conceit of Canada 3.0.

Yet, to borrow a phrase from the great Leonard Cohen, there is a crack in everything… where the light gets in, and this circumstance is no different.  Despite the black-and-white chasm between digerati and non-digerati, there is a massive grey area when it comes to consumerism and technology adoption.   For technology to be adopted, even by the digerati, it needs to be both useful and valuable.  When we reflect on the digital technologies that have achieved wide adoption – and I’m specifically thinking of digital cameras, iPods and e-Mail – there has always been a clear analog and an established use that the digital realm, also known as bits, simply did a better job at accomplishing for the user than its meatspace counterpart… commonly referred to as atoms.  Indeed, with each leap from atoms to bits – truly a black and white distinction, there’s been a shallow pool for non-digerati to dip their toe in – a comfortable, easy-to-use, familiar killer app that’s driven broader adoption.

For example, E-mail, widely considered the killer app of web 1.0 Internet adoption, has a natural analogy to paper snail mail. To, From, Subject and Signature are all remnants of dead-tree letter writing… even “CC” and “BCC” (carbon copy and blind carbon copy, respectively) are remnants of this atom-based communication methodology. Napster and YouTube, while relatively new, are still familiar ways to consume familiar content (linear, non-interactive music and video), and each has, in its own way, driven broadband adoption and demand.  Finally, Facebook, by using us and our friends as a familiar source of valuable content, is actually driving much of the adoption of mobile digital technology (AKA web 3.0), and is even furthering much of the understanding and adoption of web 2.0 sharing practices among non-digerati.

The Slow Tectonic Shift

If consumers are slow to adopt, then it serves to follow that industry, too, is slow to change. While there are many risk-takers, the vast majority of those in business are risk-averse and protectionist – a completely understandable practice given the pressures of having to be responsible for the massive volume of livelihoods and standards of living that are at stake. Businesses people, especially those in big business know that when new threats or opportunities emerge, play to your strengths and shore up your weaknesses — trust your instincts, work with what you know, and above all when drafting a strategy: Stick to the fundamentals.

While much of the strategic thinking – and the tactics they produced – may have worked in a pre-digital era, there has been one, fundamental shift that is causing tremendous disruptions in the strategic planning process across a variety of industries.  It’s a big, lumbering shift that is causing all manner of headaches and keeps executives and politicians lying awake at night. Simply put, the shift is that our newly minted digital economy is moving us from being driven by scarcity to being founded on abundance.

Buh-bye Scarcity, Hulllllloooo Abundance

Scarcity, as Chris Anderson has discussed in not one, but two significant tomes (The Long Tail and Free: The Future of a Radical Price), is a venerable concept that has served our economic thinking for literally thousands of years. Trade and markets are governed by it: Scarcity of commodities such as oil and agriculture drives the price of said items up… abundance drives the price down. Consider the final scene of “Trading Places” where Dan Ackroyd and Eddie Murphy make a killing by convincing the marketplace (illegaly, mind you) that there wouldn’t be enough oranges to fulfil demand for the world’s yen for frozen concentrated orange juice. The presumed scarcity drove the price of orange futures sky high, and when the price had gone as high as it could go, it was revealed that there would be an abundance of oranges that would easily meet demand and the price bottomed out faster than you can say frozen concentrated orange juice.  Summary: Few oranges – high price.  Lots of oranges – low price.

In the digital age, scarcity of many products – largely media related, but certainly not limited to that arena – is, by-and-large, a non-issue. With concepts such as the limitless shelf space of iTunes, and emerging business practices like on-demand production techniques at LuLu.com, we are continuing to make great strides towards abundance.  Yet the vast majority of industry – certainly here in Canada – is determined to try to preserve scarcity as the arbiter of its pricing and economic models, even if they need to artificially create it.

The Illusion of Scarcity

In order to acheive this illusion of scarcity, Canadian media (content) and ICT (Information & Communication Technologies — i.e. conduit) industry veterans are looking to government to aid them in this effort.  These providers need things like digital locks on devices that are protected by ‘copyright law’ – not so they can stop piracy, although that’s part of it – but so that they can continue to be the exclusive purveyors of narrowly licensed content.  They also want government to let them continue to ‘manage’ the Internet (that, by the way, the government has subsidized with our tax dollars) so that it is not a level playing field, but rather resembles the way our Cable and satellite TV packages are productized today.  The natural evolution of this practice will end, not with a freely accessible abundance of content and Websites, but rather with a programmed, pay-per-service or pay-per-tier productization (i.e. scarcity) of content (startling thought experiment example here).

If this seems silly and impossible, consider how we Canadians access our Internet, our media content, and our mobile telecommunications currently:

  • Internet: We choose from a dog’s breakfast of plans, each with bandwidth caps and speed limits. While Internet access is actually abundant, the big 3 networks keep telling us (without providing the documentation) that network capacity is perilously close to failing, and thus they need to ‘manage’ the access to the network by limiting speeds on specific types of files, and the source of those files, that we transfer over the Internet. More importantly, the artificially scarce marketplace is anti-competitive, and as the upstream providers control the marketplace under an oligopoly, there is limited opportunity for new entrants and competitors to level the marketplace and provide a so-called neutral net.
  • Media Content: Most people, digerati included, are still very much in an un-digital mindset for the content we consume, even if the content is delivered digitally. We still “move” the content around from device to device (i.e. CD to computer to iPod), rather than recognizing that every piece of digital content is always available virtually anywhere. Additionally, for the most part, the content is hardened, meaning that producers rarely sell or otherwise provide the components of a work (e.g. unmixed tracks or unedited scenes) so that consumers and others in their industry can remix it to their liking (or play it in the default setting).
  • Mobile Telecommunications: Rather than paying for wireless network access that we can do with as we please, we’re offered plans that create an artificial limit on voice minutes, texts, data, and even certain content types. As a particularly dangerous example of this mode of artificial scarcity, consider this promotion for Rogers Wireless which promises “…free, unlimited access to the most popular social networking sites and more.” for only 50$ per month. Consider what that would mean if one was on the Internet – Pay 50$ per month for free, unlimited access to Facebook, otherwise it’ll cost 99¢ every time you view it (or be entirely inaccessible until you subscribe to Roger’s ‘Facebook channel’ – again, thought experiment here). Even today, Rogers, Bell and Telus are using exclusive content (and using digital locks to secure it) to differentiate their products, rather than fundamental value propositions like speed, price, or quality of service.

In each case, there is a demonstrable illusion of scarcity, and to be fair, in the short term, this artificial scarcity will protect profits and jobs… but in the long run, as the world around us moves with the digital shift from scarcity to abundance, Canada will be left with precisely what scarcity promises: very little.

New Technologies, New Monetization Models

The ironic thing is that there is arguably a lot more money to be made in exploiting abundance, and certainly more ability to influence the consumption behavior of your customers. When you combine abundance with disintermediation – the act of removing steps between consumers and producers – you end up with a need for filters and aggregators that can help consumers navigate the abundance of content. More choice equals more value to the consumer in helping them find what they want… Less choice means that consumers will find alternate ways to access the plethora of content, even if that means turning to illegal means to get the content they want the way that they want it.  It’s also cheaper to deliver to them, and you can charge (yes, charge) content producers for introducing their wares to your customers.  You also get to learn a lot about your customers and can start to curate not only content, but products, services, and even other people for them; BUT, in order to accomplish this, you must start from a place of abundance, and not from a place of scarcity.

At Canada 3.0, digerati and industry squared off, but neither was really listening to the other. The content stream (that I participated in), had a number of digerati, but was largely influenced by and populated with members from traditional industry; However, far from reaching consensus, the digerati and non-digerati communities were staunchly holding to their 1′s and their 0′s, and rather than focus on mechanisms for adoption of digital tools to support abundance – the only grey area in the discourse – the dialogue became increasingly polarized.  In the end, what emerged after two days of discussing Canada’s ‘Moonshot’ – our national digital strategy – was ultimately tilted towards the protection of the illusion of scarcity rather than the exploitation of abundance.

While my friend’s daughter may never wake up in a world without an abundant Internet and her mobile phone, the rest of Canada may one day wake up to what a lot of the rest world already knows – there’s no future in scarcity.

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Social Media for the Arts: An Un-Conference

After a conversation with Andrea Halwa, Executive Director at The London Arts Council, followed by a subsequent conversation with Carol Kehoe, Partnerships Manager at Museum London, I have become involved in organizing an Un-Conference on Social Media for the Arts.

This event will feature a full-day of sessions and discussions that seeks to connect artists, art administrators, and even art dealers with the social media practitioners and enthusiasts who can help them understand the value, potential, and benefits of new media.  London’s very own social media experts, Titus Ferguson and Bill Deys are on board as the event’s key organizers.

For this podcamp-style event, we’re currently seeking sponsorship, and will soon be requesting speakers.

In order to help potential sponsors and speakers understand our intentions and plans, this document describes our work to this point on this conference.

Social Media And The Arts Overview (PDF)

Feel free to contact me with any questions!

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The Rule of Three is Dead

Conventional wisdom suggests that celebrity deaths occur in threes.  Just where this notion comes from is a bit of a mystery, likely solved to some satisfaction with a relatively brief Google search.  And yet the events of the past week or so have laid this concept to a sudden and hopefully peaceful rest.

It all started with Ed McMahon, but Farrah Fawcett died (albeit with some advance notice)… and then Michael Jackson met his sudden end…  And then Billy Mays… and now Karl Malden has passed on.  Is our 3-count down for the count? I suspect that it, like many of our superstitions, was more a matter of perception than of actual substance.  With that said, I believe that their proximity is of note.

Two things are at work here – and both of them have to do with great thinkers from the mid-century. The first is Andy Warhol’s prescient statement that everyone has, on average, 15 minutes of fame.  While this statement has come, for many, to mean that each and every person will have 15 minutes of fame, I’ve always understood the Warholian axiom to mean that fame averages out among the population.  For example, if there were only 6 people on the planet, and all of them knew me, but they didn’t know each other, then my 100% of fame would mean 15% fame for everyone, on average.

Said differently, if there are 6 Billion people on the planet, and each of us has 15 minutes of fame, that means that there is 90,000,000,000 minutes (or 1,500,000,000 hours, or 62,500,000 days, or 171,233 years) of fame to go around.  Now take a guy like Michael Jackson, who saw roughly 36 years of fame (from 14-50).  If we use him as an average ‘superstar’ and divide his fame-life (36) into the total number of fame years available (171,233) we wind up with 4757 people who can have as many fame-years as Michael did.  Obviously, there aren’t 4757 superstars like Michael Jackson, so in order to accommodate all the fame, we need to move from superstar to D-list (and cut down the fame-years for each appropriately). If you keep sub-dividing celebrity (and expanding the definition), you’ll ultimately end up at Warhol’s conjecture that if you take all the fame-time that is possible in life and divide it across all the people on the planet, you end up with 15 minutes per person.

In 1960, the global population was estimated at 3,039,451,023, a number expected to grow to 6,848,932,929 by next year (thanks infoplease).  This doubling of our population in 2.5 generations (and still within most folks lifetimes) means that the amount of fame-time available has also been amplified, meaning more celebrity is available… This is one root cause for the increase in celebrity deaths (and one reason why it’s going to get more pronounced).

To borrow on David Cronenberg’s insights regarding Warhol, Celebrity = Disaster(death) and Disaster(death) = celebrity.  In this way, a celebrity’s death is a disaster, and the death of anyone is a disaster that makes them a celebrity – consider that the only times not-so-notable people are mentioned in the Newspaper is for their obituary.

The other cause of the death of the ‘rule of three’ can be traced back to another mid-century titan: McLuhan.  The Electric Media that McLuhan predicted, manifested by the Internet, has created more niches and more opportunities for global promotion than any other innovation in history.  From Perez Hilton to Paris Hilton, the mechanisms for production and distribution have been democratized (to paraphrase Chris Anderson), and we now have more mini-celebrities than ever.  Take for example this week’s user-generated content work of Julia Bentley & Andrew Gunadie who, with a well-produced and toungue-in-Canadian-cheek internet video became national celebrities.

The point is, when everyone has so much access to fame-time, and whenever there is so much opportunity to distribute this fame, the number of celebrities, and the number of the celebrity deaths, will naturally increase.

Warhol and McLuhan were fare more morbid and prescient than we ever considered, an underestimation that can only end in disaster…

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Museum Underground Is Looking For Cool

Museum Underground is putting on another event at Museum London, this time on the front lawn of the Museum!

From the Facebook Event Page:

Museum Underground: BBQ On The Lawn

Museum Underground:BBQ On The Lawn

WE’RE LOOKING FOR COOL!

Bring your coolest artifacts, original art or collected art down to the lawn and show it to the curators.

At the end of the day we’ll present the 5 COOLEST THINGS IN LONDON as sourced by you!

DJ PSYFARI | DJ BROOKE WATSON | CASH BAR | BBQ

Host: The Museum Underground
Date: 18 July 2009
Time: 2:00PM – 7:00PM
Location: Museum London
Phone: 519.661.0333

On Facebook? Visit the Facebook Event Page

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Living In High Definition

HDTV pundit and blogger Phillip Swann has a running set of posts on how celebrities and news folks (mostly women, mind you) were ‘holding up’ under the harsh, unforgiving lens of High Definition Television. From Caneron Diaz to Brad Pitt, Mr. Swann has catalogued the stars’s blemishes as revealed by the unflattering resolution of HDTV.

Whenever anyone is scrutinized at high resolution, it seems, all their flaws are revealed. Take, for instance the recent story of the lawsuit plantif who claimed his car accident injuries were so bad that it was dramatically diminishing his lifestyle. An in-court examination of his Facebook page revealed current photos of the very activities (pool playing in his case) that he claimed were lost to him due to whiplash from the accidents.

This story is repeated time and again… I was recently asked to take down some pictures I’d posted on Facebook. The images themselves, while reasonably tame, were taken at a birthday party and consequently generated unwelcome questions and comments for the guest of honour by some co-workers. There are still more stories about lost job opportunities as potential employers find unflattering posts and pics of prospects through routine Googling. In one case of which I have personal knowledge, a job applicant negotiating a salary unknowingly lost thousands of dollars in yearly income when a manager read of the prospective employee’s enthusiasm for the job opportunity… On the applicant’s personal blog, no less.

This high resolution look at our second selves, the images and thoughts expressed of our ‘private’ lives are increasingly being publicized, logged, catalogued and recorded for our digital posterity (blog, by the way, is short for ‘Web log’).

This publicity of our other lives has had an unintended consequence… It is shifting and blurring our sense of what is deemed appropriate behavior. As a rather macro example, the past two and current sitting Presidents of the United States have all been shown to have engaged in some form of drug use, from a President that ‘didn’t inhale‘ a joint, to a President that very much inhaled cocaine, to the current President who reportedly continues to engage in one of today’s most heinous taboos: smoking cigarettes.

The high resolution images of who we are, while at times unflattering, seems to be making us more tolerant of our individual flaws and blemishes as society’s taboos are revealed as more and more common facts of today’s lifestyles.

With a single snap of a web-connected celphone camera, society’s closet-bound skeletons – and we’re all said to have them – are shown the light of day, and we’re being forced to reconcile them against our own, equally exposed pasts under the harsh, indiscriminate lens of today’s pervasive paparazzi.

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Painted Violins . . . Strung Out on the Arts

Painted Violins

Painted Violins

Orchestra London is putting on the cocktail party event of the summer. I’m very excited to be attending and have set up this page for non-facebookers who are interested!

The Deets:
Date & Time: 18 June 2009, 6:30PM – 11:00PM
Location: Museum London
Street: 421 Ridout Street North

Phone for tix & info: 519.679.8778

From the Facebook page:

Orchestra London invites you to the Party of the Year!

Feel good about supporting Orchestra London at an evening of sipping martinis, tasting hip hors d’oeuvres, listening to great music and viewing outstanding art pieces, which will be up for auction throughout the evening.

Six of London’s leading artists – Kevin Bice, Andy Johnson, Greg Ludlow, Thelma Rosner, Laurie Seaman and Deborah Worsfold – have been given the opportunity to transform an actual violin in any way they see fit. Orchestra London’s principal flute, Annelie Metrakos, principal oboe, Ian Franklin, and Glass Tiger front man, Alan Frew, are also lending their non-musical talents to the inaugural event.

The evening will also feature music by members of the Orchestra London string section and a special performance by Alan Frew.

The violins will be on display at The Grand Theatre May 30 to June 6 during the The Magic Flute run, and then travel to various locations around town, before making their final appearance at Museum London on June 18. There 2 violins will be raffled off to two lucky winners and the remaining sold via live auction to the highest bidder.

Event tickets are $90 and available at the Orchestra London Box Office. The first 100 tickets sold receive a free voucher to attend any 2009-2010 Ovation Series concert (excluding Opening Night). Raffle tickets are $10 or 3 for $20.

Featuring painted violins by: Alan Frew, Kevin Bice, Andy Johnson, Greg Ludlow, Thelma Rosner, Laurie Seaman, Deborah Worsfold, Ian Franklin, Annelie Metrakos

Generously sponsored by: RBC

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