Monday, September 28, 2009

The Most Horrifying Thing I've Ever Read

Today on Yahoo! News:
among the findings of a new "60 Minutes"-Vanity Fair Poll released Sunday...[n]early half of the respondents chose Wal-Mart as the institution that best symbolizes America today.
Nooooo!!!!! I mean, have you been to a Wal-Mart?

I can't help but think that last week's Onion story was correct:
Nadir Of Western Civilization To Be Reached This Friday At 3:32 P.M.

An international panel of leading anthropologists, cultural critics, biologists, and social theorists announced this week that Western civilization will reach its lowest conceivable point at 3:32 p.m. Friday.

"From the prehistoric Lascaux cave paintings to the stirring symphonies of Mozart to today's hot-dog eating competitions and action films with comical gerbils, culture has descended into a festering pool of mass ignorance," said Yale sociologist Paul Riordan, who has spent his career analyzing western civilization's fall into the depths of depravity. "If our calculations are correct, this complete erosion of all that is enlightened and unique will reach absolute rock bottom on the afternoon of Sept. 25, 2009."

Added Riordan, "It is scientifically impossible for civilization to sink any lower than it will this Friday."
Experts predict that the penultimate catastrophe will occur at approximately 7:15 p.m. Thursday night, when the social networking tool Twitter will be used to communicate a series of ideas so banal they will instantaneously negate the three centuries of the Renaissance.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It Might Have Been Finished!

Whew! The final chapter of It Might Have Been is now up at Now the hard part: selling it!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Prints Charming?

Via Gizmodo, someone has worked out that if you printed the Internet (and I think we all know people who have tried, in one form or another; you know, the ones who can't bear to read anything on screen), it would take, among other things:
  • 57,000 years of non-stop 24/7 printing
  • 45 million ink cartridges, or half a million liters of ink (personally, I'd use toner, but that's just me)
  • 700 square miles of paper
  • 40,000 trees
Actually, if for some reason I were going to print the Internet, it would be more environmentally sustainable to first create a printer that prints directly on the trees without having to cut them down. And if readers can't make it to the forest where those trees are, I would set up a live Web cam in the forest so they can view on the Internet the printout Internet... Hmm...this is sort of a media Möbius strip, isn't it?

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Journalism in the 22nd Century

Over at Movie Mis-Treatments, from the director who bored and confused you in Battle of the Worlds fires up the Confuse-O-Vision for 1960's Assignment: Outer Space:
It is 2116 (four years after the Solar Federation assumed control of all the planets and got rid of a pesky guitar player?) and ace reporter Ray Peterson has been sent by the editor of the Planetary Chronicle of New York to report on a "routine check of infraradiation flux on Galaxy M12." Because what could possibly be more newsworthy and exciting than a “routine check” of something? “Routine,” “usual,” and “humdrum” are always words that get an editor’s toes a-tapping. No wonder newspapers are dying.

It Might Be Getting Close to the End

Over at It Might Have Been, the first of the final three chapters--Chapter 25 "Our Mutual Friend" and this one's one of of my favorites.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The concluding chapter will be posted on Friday, September 18. After that point, the It Might Have Been blog will remain up for a further three weeks while I make another pass through the manuscript, but will be taken down and no longer available online as of Friday, October 9, as I start the process of shopping the book around.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Lost in Translation

Or something. Anyway, it happened again: if it's on the Internet, it must be true! Foreign newspapers once again believed an Onion story. From Wired UK:
Yesterday's edition of The New Nation, a Bangladeshi newspaper, included an article credited to the "Onion News Network, Lebanon, Ohio" with the startling headline: Conspiracy Theorist Convinces Armstrong Moon Landing Was Faked. What followed was a faithful reproduction of an Onion story from August 31:

Apollo 11 mission commander and famed astronaut Neil Armstrong shocked reporters at a press conference Monday, announcing he had been convinced that his historic first step on the moon was part of an elaborate hoax orchestrated by the United States government.

According to Armstrong, he was forced to reconsider every single detail of the monumental journey after watching a few persuasive YouTube videos, and reading several blog posts on conspiracy theorist Ralph Coleman's website,

Another paper, Daily Manab Zamin, also ran the story, translated into Bengali. Both have now acknowledged that they reprinted the story without checking it, and have apologised to their readers.

"We thought it was true so we printed it without checking," the New Nation's associate editor told the AFP, which doesn't inspire too much confidence.
That's still not as good as several years ago when Beijing's largest newspaper reprinted an Onion story about Congress threatening to move out of Washington unless the city builds a new, modern Capitol building.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Media Overload

This is an interesting idea:
Is it a book? Is it a movie? Is it a Web site?

Actually it's all three.

Anthony Zuiker, creator of the "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" U.S. television series, is releasing what he calls a "digi-novel" combining all three media — and giving a jolt to traditional book publishing.

Zuiker has created "Level 26," a crime novel that also invites readers to log on to a Web site about every 20 pages using a special code to watch a "cyber-bridge" — a three-minute film clip tied to the story.

Starting next Tuesday, readers can buy the book, visit the Web site, log in to watch the "cyber-bridges," read, discuss and contribute to the story.
Ultimately, it will come down to the quality of the content. Well, maybe. It would be interesting to craft a story in which the multimedia aspects were interwoven into the plot and functioned as something more than "Hey, look what we can do." Maybe "Level 26" does that; I do not know. I'd be willing to give it a shot.

But then sending book readers to a Web site from a printed book isn't really all that exciting or clever. Textooks, non-fiction books, and others already do this regularly in the form of references. Still, I can envision an application where an e-book reader like a later-generation Kindle can seamlessly integrate multimedia content into e-books. (But then this was a discussion I remember having circa 1993 when CD-ROM-based multimedia content first started coming out.) Actually, an e-book reader on a smartphone like the iPhone would already be able to handle this.

But then if anyone lives in New York or Los Angeles and subscribes to Entertainment Weekly, they will, in the September 18th issue, get to see the first implementation of a video player embedded in a printed publication. Let's hope it's not as lame as the e-paper-based Esquire cover last year (my copy of which, by the way, finally died).

Habitat for Oh the Humanity!

I bet this architectural idea will go over like a lead... well, you know. Three guesses who they've always got on the CD player. I bet it could use a house Plant. Still, who wouldn't want to live in a blimp? I think it would make for a very good year.
Like a zeppelin airship crash-landed in the Australian forest, Bellemo & Cat's 'Cocoon' is nestled artfully on a steeply sloping site.

The weekender is located in a dense, bushy, holiday hot-spot along Victoria's famous Great Ocean Road. The architects designed the house as an object; an ovaloid form floating high above the challenging site to capture the dramatic views.