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:
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:
The "pros and cons of a global distributed network" edition:
- Do you depend on Gmail or Google Calendar? Did you know they're not ready for production use yet?
- The Rockridge Institute, a progressive think tank (THE progressive think tank for many) abruptly closes its doors because there wasn't enough money coming in. But as a part of their exit, the description of "The Big Job" to be done is compelling, and so life goes on.
- I love a good idea I've never heard of before, and this place has lots of them
- Can you survive for 24 hours without your computer? I didn't think so.
- One of the best YouTube videos I've seen in a long time: An Engineer's Guide to Cats
- The Palladium-Item will be updating its website this week - and once again wiping out any archive of past reader discussions in their forums. I can't decide if this is a blessing or a shame, and it's probably both. I hope the new beginning represents a new mode of conversation, but I won't hold my breath.
Links of recent interest:
- Richmond Indiana Images of Home - a brief video slideshow with photos by Jim Hair and music by Brian Wallen.
- VotePoke.com - Are you registered to vote? Are you sure?
- Web Masters - Earlham College's recent Alumni Spotlight article featuring myself and Mark.
- Finding the Time and Place to Do What's Important - another interesting take by Dave Pollard; I may respond to some of his points in a forthcoming blog entry, if I have time.
- Hacking train tracks - It could work, if we can just get the right angles.
The CNN Political Ticker has published a comment by Nancy Kolger of Richmond, Indiana, in response to last night's CNN/YouTube Republican Political Debate:
As a Senior Citizen I am really disappointed that not one question was asked about Health Care and rising Drug Costs for all the people. I can send you an email response and/or question but I do not know how to take or send a video or download and all that other stuff that younger people do. So therefore I was not given the chance to ask a question and I feel this is a form of discrimination...
Kolger goes on to suggest some topics that she would have wanted to cover had she been able to submit a question. The responses in the comments range from agreement to disagreement to outright insult. Of course this is all happening on the highly interactive website of the news organization that pioneered the fast-paced media product directed at short attention spans. I suspect there are some "senior citizens" out there who wouldn't know how to point a mouse at cnn.com, and some who are preparing their YouTube video responses complete with CGI effects right now. Good for Nancy for getting this far.
If you grew up in the 1980s, it was hard to miss the dark and brooding song "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins. I remember brooding to its tune myself at times, and of course the part where the drums come in was a pivotal moment for those who played along with our own "air instruments."
That's probably why I can't stop laughing at this:
I remember back in the day (i.e. a few years ago), when you wanted to put video on your website, you needed to think about disk space, bandwidth, media format compatibility and a host of other issues before you could even hope to have people looking at the actual video content. Today, sites like YouTube and Google Video (soon to be one) make it as easy as uploading your video to their site and then linking to it. And as Jean Harper sort of noted (lamented, really), it's quite the craze with the kids.
So (or, despite that), I decided to throw up a few videos I've produced over the years to see what happens. There's my trip to Washington D.C. to ask the president not to invade Iraq, highlights from a conference on cultural change that I organized, a clip from an inspiring talk about peak oil, and highlights from the raising of a wind turbine at the Cope Environmental Center, which I've mentioned here before. These were shot with everything from a digital still camera to my GL-2 MiniDV rig, so the quality varies widely, but I've already generated 1 subscriber to my "channel", 49 views of my videos, and a comment. I love web-based social networking!
Let me know what you think.
Last year I made a short video about the raising of a 104-foot wind turbine at the Cope Environmental Center here in town. I've just gotten around to posting it, so you can take a look and let me know what you think. It's a little dramatic and rough around the edges, but it was great to be a part of that experience and get it on film. Thanks also to Evan Agee for his help in some production design, and Geoff Greenfield of Third Sun Solar & Wind Power for the great work and juicy sound bites. If you haven't already, head on out to the Cope Center and check out all the renewable energy education stuff they have - it's cutting edge! (And if you're interested in that sort of thing, The Richmond/Wayne County Environmental Awareness Council hosts its sixth Environmental Awareness Luncheon on April 28 from 11:30 - 1:00 at Hills Pet Nutrition. There is no fee for the program and lunch is sponsored by Hills. Contact Jackie Vanderpool for more info.)