Archive for May, 2009

New Television – Kevin Slavin’s 5D Conference Talk

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

I found this over at Bruce Sterling’s Beyond The Beyond blog and it’s pretty cool shit. Kevin Slavin runs a company called Area/Code and they design cool games that they used to consider were beyond our regular television viewing experience. Here he gives a talk at the 5D: The Future Of Immersive Design conference.

The 5D Conference describes themselves thusly:

From the plasma screen in your media room, to the portable device in your pocket, to the side of a high-rise in Manhattan, savvy broadcasters are creating comprehensive “ecosystems”…, blending television, web, movies and gaming to redefine the experience of television. This panel explores the intersection of design and technology in the creation of “new television”, the experience… created by the blending of media and the interaction of the consumer.

You can watch more videos from 5D here and they’re worth sitting still for cuz these folks are smart and really know how to fuck with your head in creative ways.

All of this falls into the kind of queries Jill Golick, myself and many others have been making as we attempt our self-evolution from the dying existing television industry into the current realms of ubiquitous and immersive digital media.

We keep forgetting that the new shit that is coming down the pipe – if you’ll pardon the sewage analogy, although we are talking about television – is cannot be defined by the old shit that has already gone on before.

It is different shit.

What Slavin points out – admitting his own surprize at the revelation of it – is that television at its best is a mass event in real time. The future of television in that context – with all the new tech at hand – is very exciting.

The blending of gaming and information tech and the ubiquity of mobile devices is going to supplant the existing passive viewer paradigm of the old television industry and replace it with – who the fuck knows? You’ll read a lot of reports these days about how television is adapting to meet and succeed within the changes that are being wrought by the disruptive tech of the net. I consider most of that to be mere whistling in the dark by the old media. Yes, as I’ve mentioned before in this blog, there will always be a place for linear narrative within these emerging models – there will always be mass audience real-time events – but they will be so distorted by the emerging differences that it will be nigh impossible to compare them directly to anything that has gone before.

The old guard of the media industries are desperate eager to find a new business model that will ensure they maintain their assumed role of authority, power and profit over the exploitation of culture as product. The ones who will succeed are those who realize that everything changes and never has it been changing so quickly and so profoundly as it is these days. I’m sure previous generations though the same thing about their own times but Jesus H. Tap-Dancin’ Christ we’re living in a Buck Rogers future today folks! You think for a second that just because someone holds the purse strings they’re gonna stop this rampant cascade of human and technological evolution and innovation? Do you really think anyone is going to be able to find, let alone control, the reins of the net and be able to steer it back into a complacent feeding tube for a docile public? Do you really think the internet is going to end up being just like television?

I sure as shit don’t.

A lot of very powerful and aggressively motivated people want that and are prepared to do everything they can to ensure the outcome they desire. But it ain’t gonna happen. To mix a few metaphors: the dam has burst, the genie is out of the bottle, the horse is out of the barn, Elvis has left the building and that semi-apocalyptic vision of the King, brandishing a Djinn in one hand and a cheeseburger in the other whilst riding a horse acrest a wave that is bearing down upon us all not only gives me the shivers – it gives me hope.

It’s too late to go back – and we can’t force the future to be anything like the good ol’ days.

it just ain’t gonna happen.

I’m always fond of quoting Mark Twain who once said: “History doesn’t repeat itself – but it does rhyme.” The corollary to that is the future will not imitate the past – but it will change us.

It will be different – and so will we.

Get used to it.

Embrace it.


Threads Of Time

Friday, May 29th, 2009

Every morning when I get up I make a school lunch for my son, Henry. I also make a little folded comic that I stick in with the lunch. I’ve been doing that for a number of years now and the collection that has amassed is still calling to be posted online.

I also make quick little notes for him to read while he eats his breakfast. Usually these are just short little things that serve to brighten the start of his day and get his brain ready for school.

The comics are bizarre because they are more detailed than the breakfast notes, being a serialized story featuring Henry, his sandwich and a trio of demented coconuts; they also reflect some of the stuff he (and I) are going through as we grow older; they are always done before I’ve finished my first cup of coffee; and I never know what’s going to happen next.

Some very weird shit falls out of my skull early in the morning but every once in a while, amidst that morning mental detritus, a small gem pops out.

This is the short breakfast note I made for Henry this morning:


I thought you might enjoy that.


In Teh Toobs – Coverage Part Deux

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

Woosh!  Pew!  Pew!My dear friend Mark Achtenberg has posted on his Achtenblog about In Teh Toobs.

I want to thank you, Mark for your kind words about the show, my work and myself. And, yes, I will admit I used to work out of my home office in my bathrobe – and I used to direct in the studio wearing my slippers. I am built for comfort not for speed.

Speaking of which, I am woefully late in getting the next episode of In Teh Toobs online but that’s because — oh wait, I said no more excuses, didn’t I?

Okay – no excuses. You’ll just have to wait until the end of this week to see what I’ve been up to.


The World In Our Hands

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009

girl_holding_worldThere was a great article in the Globe & Mail a few days ago that I wanted to point your attention to, about how mobile tech will be changing the world.

I know I tend to wax poetic from time to time on the coming evolution of humanity through the advent of our technological extensions of self – becoming better people in a better world – in spite of our basic primitive and pathetic human nature.

It’s not all gonna be sunshine and roses – I know that – but it sure as shit will be an interesting slow motion train wreck to watch; and we got ourselves the front row seats!

Here’s part of the article that caught my attention:

“The best parallel that I use is when they first came out with motion picture projectors, the whole thought of those was ‘Hey, now I can do a stage play and play it at a different location at a different time,’ ” Mr. Balsillie said. “The concept of a ‘movie’ wasn’t in anybody’s mind at the time because they couldn’t see how the media could change the nature of the entertainment, it was just time and place shifting the pre-existing entertainment.”

“In the case of smart phones, we’re just time and place shifting some of the applications. Will it actually change the nature of the application? Absolutely. Do we know exactly how it’s going to change it? I don’t think so.”

The whole article covers the range of changes that have already been wrought by the emergence of handheld connectivity to the growing wash of information and sensorial input available through the internet. It also points out that only one in six human beings on Earth has access to the Internet which, naturally, begs the question: What happens when the rest of the world starts coming online?

When the next billion come online, many of them will not experience the Web through a PC, but rather through smart phones and handheld devices. That new influx of ideas and perspectives is bound to have a profound impact on the next decade of Internet innovation and change how information is disseminated and consumed.

Over the weekend I had a great Twitter conversation with @michaelkinney about the “flow” of content on the web, feeding the insatiable maw of the all consuming interwebs and how that affects the creation of the content from a business perspective and from the position of the individual artists. This factor of how mobile devices are and will continue to impact the way we access that flow should also form a part of that discussion. We agreed that linear narrative will most certainly survive – it’s hardwired into our living experience as animals on this planet and until such time as we conquer death or the flow of time itself that narrative line will continue to play a role in how we define and express ourselves.

But just as the cinema transformed storytelling from the oral traditions of the theatre – time shifting the experience of performance with repeatable product, as well as playing with time within the structure of the stories themselves (for that I refer you to Walter Murch and his book In The Blink Of An Eye) – so too will we see the emergence of wholly unimagined forms of storytelling that will be born into existence purely as a result of the technologies that carry them.

Entertainment is but one small part of the larger puzzle of what lies in store for us as we become increasingly connected in every way possible; but it is safe to assume the world will indeed seem to be a smaller place when we can hold it in our grasp – and perhaps, in the process of that change, we’ll gain a larger sense of ourselves upon that very world and learn to cradle it (and each other) more gently than we have in past, knowing that every gaze and every whisper with which we grace that which we hold in our hands will be conveyed to everyone around us and back again.

Be kind to your neighbours. Shake hands. Gently.


P. S. The stunning image above has been culled from monti_84′s blog. Beautiful stuff. Thnx.

In Teh Toobs – Coverage

Monday, May 18th, 2009

Jill GolickIn the shameless self-promotion and recursive blog reference department I give you the post from Jill Golick’s Running With Eyes Closed blog wherein she heaps praise upon my efforts with In Teh Toobs.

I’ve known Jill for about 25 years now since we first worked together on Canadian Sesame Street. Since that time her work as a writer in series television and as an active member in the Writer’s Guild of Canada has been exemplary. More recently she’s been wading into the same trough of cultural chaos I’ve been wallowing in, pursuing the various forms of storytelling and narrative emerging across and throughout the interwebs.

Jill also organizes the Writers Watching TV events held each month at the Camera Lounge, the last one being a Web Creators Show & Tell where I got to show off the first bits and pieces of my work on In Teh Toobs.

Be sure to check out her Story2Oh web series and her most recent venture Hailey Hacks – which is a really cool intro to web wizardry for and by our young digital natives.

Thanks for the promo, Jill!


Us Now

Friday, May 15th, 2009

Yesterday started out well and then just ended in a steaming heap of suckage for me but I shan’t dwell upon that here. Instead I give you Banyak Films documentary Us Now all about mass collaboration through the Web and how it’s reshaping the future of government.

You can find it at the Us Now Vimeo page or you can just watch it here:

Found this through a BoingBoing post from Cory Doctorow.

Very cool insights which everyone should be aware of. This is why Net Neutrality and net access is important and is very much a free speech issue. Watch it. Share it. Talk about it. Act on it.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’m off to the backyard to write some neat shit.


In Teh Toobs – Episode 002

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

So here’s the next installment of In Teh Toobs. In a way it’s just an extension of the Prelude, advancing the concept of the show further and finally introducing Riley.

Future episodes will carry further forward faster – and the audio will be better too. My excuse is that Riley is having technical issues from inside the tubes and that’s the only caveat I’ll ever offer from now on.

Later this week I’m gonna post a video here with me talking about this web series and the other projects I’m working on.


P. S. I’d really appreciate any comments you may have about it. Good or bad, I don’t care, I just wanna hear something. And please be sure to comment on the In Teh Toobs site itself. Many thanks. :)

Ze Frank’s iPhone App: iFingrU

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

We all miss Ze Frank‘s daily video show but occasionally he puts up a fresh gem on his blog.

Here’s his iPhone app: iFingrU



Monday, May 11th, 2009

Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. Mashable reports on an awesomely psychedlic site called Yooouuutuuube which lets you put tens, even hundreds, of YouTube videos into rows and columns, creating an utterly trippy experience. Just enter a YouTube (YouTube reviews) video ID and frame width for each “piece” of the mosaic, and Yooouuutuuube will generate a video grid.

Trippy? You betcha. Just ask Alice:

Alice In Wonderland

Far out, man.



Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Shouting B-Movies isn’t as cool as shouting WOLVERINES!! but for today it’ll have to do.

My sister, Toni, sent me a link for the AMCTV B-Movies site and it is just chock full of delicious cheese.

Old Roger Corman flicks, Hercules sand and sandal epics, John Carpenter‘s cult fave Dark Star, biker movies and all sorts of really awfully wonderfully crappy drive-in movie fare.

It’s like I’m back in my youth and staying up to the wee hours on a school night just to watch old films on CKVR because my little hole of a town didn’t have a movie theatre.

That’s a long winded way of saying I’ve been busy trying to get the next episode of In Teh Toobs finished – almost done – while also trying to get the Ruffus site launched – not nearly as done as I like to be – while also trying to write a script for another project – I am so fucked on that one – and at the same time trying to write a couple of decent blog posts here that aren’t just lame ass pathetic embeds of somebody else’s cool videos cuz I’m too damned lazy to finish my own shit – guilty as charged – and on top of all that I had to throw together a quick collection of shows I’ve worked on for a possible show runner gig that – knowing my luck – will never see the light of day but I’m keeping my fingers crossed cuz I could use a paying gig right about now.


Happy now?


Okay – relax – sit back – get yerself some popcorn – and watch a very young Robert Vaughn in Roger Corman‘s 1958 classic Teenage Caveman.

Thanks, Toni!

I just blew off the rest of my afternoon.