Sunday, June 24, 2007

CrankCast Vid Picks: Sticking on Sesame Street

I've finally gotten back around to reading Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, the ideologue's socio-cultural apriorism on the pathologies of ideas. I just finished reading his chapter on stickiness and the importance of making an idea sticky. To illustrate his point, Gladwell discusses the academic minds behind the designing (and re-designing) of one of the stickiest television shows of all time - Sesame Street.

Gladwell discusses the successes (like young James Earl Jones reciting the alphabet) and failures of various Sesame Street skits as the show's writers, creators, and researchers grew to understand child psychology in amazing ways.

This reminded me a conversation I had with two of my fellow post-modern roommates about our own glory days watching Sesame Street. We each had our favorite Sesame Street bits and, amazingly, we all remembered each others favorites. A testament to how truly sticky those Muppets were, we all shared these nuggets of cultural collective memory. Through the beauty of YouTube, you too can bask in the nostalgia. Don't take our word for it, check them out below and please leave comments with your own favorite Sesame Street memories. I'm sure they're posted out there somewhere on this series of tubes.

Burt and Ernie Fishing - "Here Fishy Fishy"

This is my favorite Sesame Street clip of all time. My mom remembers me just laughing and laughing when this came on. I still say "here fishy fishy fishy" when I go fishing. I don't go fishing very much.

Hungry Cat Cartoon

"I've never seen stroganoff look quite like that." What an amazing line.

How Crayons Are Made

A beautiful documentary short. I love that the Children's Television Workshop was a venue for all sorts of filmmakers, like the animator who made the previous cat short and the filmmaker who made this one on crayons.

Smokey Robinson Singing "U Really Got a Hold On Me"

This segment has made me deathly afraid of the letter "U." Years of Scrabble playing have yet to shake this vowel-phobia.

Eleven Twelve

A psychedelic journey through the first dozen natural numbers, this catchy tune takes the idea of rhythm and repetition to an extreme as it teaches kids to count.

If you live in the Bay Area I highly recommend checking out "Muppets, Music, & Magic" a Henson retrospective hosted at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in the Mission. It started June 21 and runs through July 1.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Aekta's Birthday Alarm

Today is everyone's favorite Aekta's birthday. Yay! Make sure you send her happy birthday wishes and check out the special wake up we gave the birthday girl this morning.




It's like an alarm clock!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Entourage.tv

What do you get when you mix the Justin.tv crew, a Mustang convertible, and a suction camera mount? Entourage.tv, of course!



This month's theme for the NewTeeVee Pier Screenings is parody, which the dictionary defines as "any humorous, satirical, or burlesque imitation, as of a person, event, etc." Protecting parody and satire is increasingly important as media companies throw DMCA takedown notices around like confetti.

So I got to thinking about how I might document the trials and tribulations of my (eventual) ascendancy in the web 2.0 sphere and I thought it might be cool to somehow document it. Then I realized that that'd be heinously boring. But what if a (highly) fictionalized version of my web 2.0 life included money, women, and cars! Well, then you'd have Entourage 2.0! The proof/spoof (sproof?) is in the pudding and the pudding is embedded above.

So the way it went down was Jackson and I brainstormed the idea and broke down the Entourage intro sequence into the different shots needed. The Justin.tv guys were an obvious choice because of their local celebrity and there were four of them. A perfect tech-entourage. So we got a ZipCar, a sunny afternoon, and a healthy dose of Jane's Addiction and drove around on the Embarcadero for an afternoon.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

CrankCast Vid Picks: Net Neutrality

While this issue is not as current as it was when I started this post, here we go. Who better to examine the issue of Net Neutrality than the smartest and wittiest voices on the internet. This collection of videos captures some great voices who's very medium is at stake with this issue. Who will save our series of tubes?

RocketBoom with Amanda Congdon



Ask A Ninja


Ze Frank
(he doesn't like embedding. Click here.)

The Daily Show's John Hodgeman


Media Disintermediation Throughout History



If you're not outraged you're not paying attention.

Let me know if you know of any other good media out there about this issue and go out and make your own.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

June New Tech Meetup

Another month and more tech! And more people! This month’s tech meetup, again meeting in the Metreon Theater auditorium with it’s triumvirate of projectors and screens, was a packed event and all of the pizza was gone by the time I got there. Fortunately (and mysteriously) the beer was plentiful. The presentations moved along well and nearly all of the technical snags from last month were solved.

Here’s a quick recap of each presenter:

VEODIA – Veodia was present last month streaming the event and this time took center stage to talk about their product. CEO Guillaume Cohen gave a good to the point presentation showing his product and how it was, at that very moment, streaming the event live. It worked, it made sense, and, consequently, there was an awkward silence during the question section, which I took as a good sign. Having been a beta tester for Veodia I can say it simply works. It does what it says it does. Cohen did tell us that they’ve hooked up with WebEx to provide the video streaming of their system. There big competitor, UStream, was out of the gate earlier and have gotten some high profile users (like Chris Pirillo and GreenTeaGirlie). But hopefully lower profile users (like ME!) can do some good work with Veodia.

LUCKY OLIVER – Offering high quality stock photos, Lucky Oliver hopes to propagate itself by getting photographers to like them who will in turn attract customers with there quality images. They offer FTP uploads for easy batch uploads and good metadata. The carnival theme was kind of cool, but I still don’t understand why they needed the microeconomic system of tokens (I HATE that Wii does the same thing). Founder Bryan Zmijewski said that their top photographer would make about $10k this year which is a number that really has no context. They are young, so we’ll see. However, I was very pleased and intrigued to hear Zmijewski, a veteran or several other startups, say that he thinks the golden ratio for development is to have two user-interface guys per engineer. I like that focus on the user.


WRIKE – Battling Microsoft’s Project Wrike is working to become a versatile project management tool. Currently, this is a crowded space and I look forward to some good and easily deployed software coming out to replace e-mail as the project management tool of choice because my inbox is waaaay clogged. Wrike’s timeline visualization looked useful and pracitical but I think they need more to “wow” me.

ATTEN.TV – Giving the best and most scattered demo, founder Seth Goldstein showed off his many products including Atten.tv and Trakzor (a counter-stalker Facebook/MySpace app). To showcase Atten.tv’s potential, he showed us Justin.tv’s streamcast which was cute. The issue of streamcasting’s one’s porn surfing was entertaining and showed off how people really would watch this. Don't think of it as a privacy problem. Think of it as a publicity solution.

coRank – Need your own Digg.com? Here you go. Easy to use and distribute coRank is a cool tool to make your own social news network. It offers some good customization tools and I think this tool would be very useful in conjuction with a group blog or wiki.

However, it was the 60-Second Soapbox presenters that stole the show. Izimi.com had a great bit of freestyling from "Tommy.” Mobouy.com gave a whole standup routine. Mizpee.com had no shortage of great toilet humor punnery. Colloquial laughs and self-promotion go well together.

I definitely look forward to next month's meetup.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

NewTeeVee Pier Screenings

So, the blog that gets me the Benjamins is over at NewTeeVee.com. We cover online video, everything from software and hardware to legislation and litigation to venture capital and video contests to content and "weblebrities." I cover mostly those last two (though I'm fond of all the major geek food groups).

The Pier Screenings series is an event we at NewTeeVee put on where we invite video makers (or anyone!) to submit videos around a theme (episodic content, parodies, etc) and the best get shown on a giant screen we setup on our pier and watch them with beers, snacks, and friends in the web 2.0 community.

Here's a recap of our last event. If you want to come to the next one register and come! June 19th!

NewTeeVee Pier Screening

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Mr. Rogers Speaks to the US Senate Hearing Committee for PBS

This video surfaced recently in the top ten section of Digg's Video section, of all places (go Digg It now). Digg.com, "a user driven social content website," is often swamped with tech and geek news surrounding Apple rumors and Linux hacks. This made it all the more amazing and touching to see the beautifully legato speech Fred Rogers gave pleading for money not to be cut from PBS and redirected to the war in Vietnam.



It is when gems like these work their way to the blogosphere surface that I truly think that web 2.0-cum-3.0 can truly do great things for the world. I see this as proof that while our ADD-laden generation is clicking and tapping away in front of liquid crystal displays with glazed eyes, behind that malaise there is a deeply powerful humanitarian spirit. People matter.

When Rogers gave this speech in 1969 the US was engaged in a "police action" in Vietnam. For the first time in history video images of war were coming back home and suddenly war, a game man has waged for millennia, was in every American living room in all of its napalm and entrails splattered glory. The Vietnam war redefined journalism (and many argue that journalism defined the Vietnam war) and explored the newfound powers of broadcast journalism.

I grew up on PBS. Mr. Rogers Neighborhood, Sesame Street, Square One, and Bill Nye the Science Guy were all regulars in my family room. I was CONVINCED that if I just kept watching Reading Rainbow LeVar Burton would impart to me the powers of literacy. Rogers explains how the work of PBS has done a huge amount for the mental health of the United States. So what are the children of the web 2.0 dawn downloading, streaming, and watching? Where is quality educational children web content? And if there isn't any where will these internet orphans be in ten, twenty, thirty years?

After his passing in 2003, both the House of Representative and the Senate passed resolutions honoring the amazing work of Fred Rogers. Who will be the Mr. Rogers of new media? And what kind of neighborhood will it be?