We Cause Scenes

I recently watched the documentary We Cause Scenes, which follows the origins and viral success of Improv Everywhere. They're the New York City-based group that seems to have pioneered flash mobbing (though they would not call it that), conducting silly and edgy experiments in unexpected public displays of chaos and fun. You may have seen their work in YouTube videos like the No Pants Subway Ride, the Best Buy Uniform Prank, and Frozen Grand Central:

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Videos: TedXRichmond, marketing with integrity

Here's a recording of a panel I was on at the 2013 Earlham School of Religion Leadership Conference, where we talked about marketing with integrity:

And here's a video of me speaking at 2012's TedXRichmond (Indiana) event, about being stuck, getting unstuck, and some related thoughts:

Life In a Day, a crowd-sourced documentary

You should watch the film Life In a Day.  It's a crowd-sourced documentary assembled by the folks at National Geographic and YouTube, where folks from around the world sent in 4,500 hours of video footage of their lives as recorded on July 24th, 2010.  (Don't worry, the film itself is only an hour and a half.)

Life In a Day weaves together moments of joy and sadness, frivolity and struggle, plainness and great beauty into a wonderful fabric of the human experience.  It at once shows the ways in which the routines of our days are shared across cultures and landscapes (we wake, we clean up, we eat, we interact, we travel, we love, we argue, we sleep), but also the stark contrasts of wealthy and poor, privileged and oppressed, healthy and unhealthy, troubled and care-free.

There are only a few "characters" we see multiple times throughout the day - a man bicycling around the world, a family struggling with cancer - but the amazing editing and soundtrack create a story arc grounded not in personality or plot twist, but in the experience of having 24 hours pass and all of the amazing (or mundane) things that can happen in that time.  It's a masterpiece that will perhaps seem quaint in a few decades, but that could not have been possible even 5 or 10 years ago.

Life In a Day is inspiring and moving.  Best of all, it's real.

Here, you can start watching it right now:

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Review of Zack Parker's Scalene

I recently received my DVD copy of local filmmaker Zack Parker's latest film, Scalene.  This is my review (partly of the film and partly of the making of the film), which doesn't contain any plot spoilers but may still affect your own viewing experience if you read it first.

Scalene is a dark thriller that tells a story of a mother, her son, and the son's caretaker as they interact around some events that change their lives significantly.  The film shows the perspectives of each of the three characters using a combination of linear (forward and reverse) and non-linear story-telling, a technique that certainly keeps things interesting and always a bit unsettling.

The movie was filmed in Richmond, and so as a resident it was also "fun" to try to pick out the locations and backdrops along the way - various scenes in the City building, various restaurants, Glen Miller Park, etc.  I've even been pulled over by one of the Richmond Police Department officers who makes an appearance in the film, but I don't think that qualifies me for an on-screen credit.

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My YAPC::NA talk on framing and Perl

In June, a delegation from Summersault attended the YAPC::NA Perl Conference in Columbus, Ohio for a few days.  My second YAPC conference, it was an interesting experience full of inside jokes, engaging discussions, more inside jokes, and good food.

I was only scheduled to give one presentation ("How to talk, or not talk, to your clients about Perl") but after hearing some of the opening remarks at the conference that spent too much time and energy, IMHO, declaring that "Perl is not dead!" I signed up to give a new talk about possibilities for re-framing that sentiment.

You can view a video of the talk, or you can view my slides [PDF].

Security FAIL

Two stories of security failure for this blustery day:

1) Apparently, all you have to do to throw off the facial recognition software that protects us from identity theft or worse, is smile:

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles is restricting glasses, hats, scarves -- and even smiles -- in driver's license photographs. The new rules imposed last month were deemed necessary so that facial recognition software can spot fraudulent license applications, said BMV spokesman Dennis Rosebrough.

And then he had the gall to spin it as an improvement, since it would be horrible to admit that humans had done a better job:

The new technology represents an advancement of what the BMV already was doing, Rosebrough said. BMV employees always have looked at the old photo of a person to see if it looked like the person seeking a new license.

FAIL.

2) I was at a local video store yesterday, trying to rent a video using Anna Lisa's account. I gave the cashier her phone number and name, and he said he'd have to call her to verify that it was okay for me to rent on her account. When she didn't pick up, I offered to call her on my cell phone (in case she wasn't picking up the call from an unknown number), and the cashier said, "okay, yeah, just ask her if it's okay and then you can tell me what she said."

FAIL.