Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Free the Wonky Produce!:: EU Lifts Restrictions on the Ugly

Years ago, I remember being at a farmers' market in Berkeley, California and one farmer, Carl Rosato of Woodleaf Farm offered up a "pie bag" of discounted certified organic peaches. Very ripe and not the prettiest fruit, but oh so good.

I had no idea that the EU had standards for fruits and vegetables, but according to the BBC, restrictions on ugly or odd-looking fruit are being lifted.

So, after 1 July the consumer can once again choose to buy "curly cucumbers, crooked carrots and mottled mushrooms." The rules won't change for 10 crops that represent 75% of the produce sold, but consumers can buy them if the offending specimens are labelled "product intended for processing."

Well, I guess this doesn't affect fruit that are categorically cosmetically-challenged, like the durian::

I once bought a durian in a San Francisco produce market not knowing what it was. Is it food...or a weapon‽ It was frozen, but eventually defrosted. Fast forward a few hours and in the trunk of the Saab was an interesting odour that made me wonder if something crawled in and died. Here's what others have had to say on the smell of the durian. It wasn't bad tasting, but I thought it was odd.

What's your take on "wonky" produce? I'm sure all the pretty produce can relate to the song.

Twittervesion:: #EU lifts ban on wonky produce, ending two decades of #lookism. http://url.ie/1xy2 @Prof_K

Monday, June 29, 2009

Will Globalization Kill or Make the CBC Relevant Again?

The CBC, Canada's national public television and radio network, is under fire. Facing budget cuts and layoffs, many question its relevance, as its steady decline since the 1970s doesn't seem to have any chance of being abated. The CBC model is closest to that of European public television, but unlike the BBC, the CBC doesn't enjoy revenue streams from a television licence, or from voluntary contributions like PBS and NPR do in the United States.

How much are we talking here? The public funding in 2007-2008 from Parliament was a little over $1B CAN, amounting to $33 per capita of spending. The network does allow advertising, bringing in an additional $393M CAN. The BBC in the UK, with about double the population of Canada, has a budget of $8.83B CAN. On a per capita basis, the CBC has a budget about one-fourth of the BBC's. Politics are said to be playing a part in the funding crunch, as the Conservatives under Stephen Harper have been accused of starving the CBC.

In terms of all television, not just the CBC, technological changes with the Internet drawing away viewers and the prevailing trend of audience fragmentation has called into question the very enterprise. Radio-Canada, CBC's francophone TV arm, is somewhat insulated from these changes, but not immune to them. Canada is a relative small nation in terms of population next to a large one. The global "mediascape" has favoured American programming, which is readily watched in anglophone Canada. Culturally, anglophone Canada may be distinct from the US, but not so distinct that it rejects American Idol, Dancing with the Stars, and Survivor.

I think the relevant question is the importance of having a flagship Canadian public broadcaster. Does it even matter? I think it does. Andrew Coyne at Macleans has an interesting argument, but let's see if it holds water. He says pay TV is the answer. Since the most compelling programming is on premium cable, with subscribers, why not have the CBC move in that direction. The devil's in the details and I'm not sure how such a transition would take place, as CBC would be dramatically overhauling their business model. It brings up the issue of whether the CBC is a "business" or part of a public infrastructure, which its mandate alludes to. Coyne, Chantal Hebert, and Allan Greg discuss the CBC on CBC's The National.

The CBC has been betwixt and between Parliament on one and and the market {advertisers} on the other. I think it shines when it comes to hard news and sports, particularly hockey. Where they falter is when they try to go for mass appeal, with infotainment shock-and-awe investigative journalism and syndicated programming like The Simpsons {dropped after budget cuts}, Jeopardy, and Coronation Street. They lost the bid for the 2010 {Vancouver}/2012 {London} Olympics by 110% to CTV, which might be a good thing given the economic climate. Apparently, CTV is trying to charge 4 to 5 times what CBC was charging for ads during the Turin Olympics. Sounds pretty dire.

In autumn of 2007, during the WGA strike, I was teaching entertainment marketing, where a recurring theme is cost control. I wondered if the strike might open up opportunities for Canadian writers and production. As it turns out, opportunities have opened up. Given that Canadian producers understand the U.S. market and that Canadian production for an hourlong drama can be $1.8M US versus $3M US in the United States, co-production is on the rise. Flashpoint is an example of a CTV-CBS co-pro, shot in Toronto and started {and continues} strong ratingswise on CBS, despite having a summer run on the TV wasteland known as Friday night.

Getting back to CBC, could such "reverse colonialism," as the NYTimes puts it, take shape. Their much-hyped and promoted Being Erica found a home on US cable, so there's evidence of content flowing backwards to the US. In 2008, Douglas Coupland's {infinitely better} jPod cost under $1.5M CAN, so that's the ballpark CBC is playing in, in terms of production costs. jPod Trailer.

Given that the US TV market is costly and arguably broken, given how shows need to instantaneously find their audience with the revenue-hungry networks, perhaps the CBC can look to co-pro, as an option. Moreover, rather that trying to compete with the other networks airing US television shows, maybe it's time to build strong niche Canadian audiences with tight demographics. Hint:: Rick Mercer. The news division needs to make sure it embraces the web and the convergence/singularity of media. Concede that other sources may break stories, but be the place where Canada talks about them.

These ideas are just stop-gap and don't address the big issue of increased funding. The people will have to be behind the national voice of a CBC and willing to fund it as part of a cultural infrastructure. Letting the market "decide" will seal its fate, which would be fine for many, but is that good for Canada? The worst case scenario is a PBS model. There's good production here and there, e.g., Frontline, Austin City Limits, and {at times} Charlie Rose, but the viewer-sponsored model means that KQED in San Francisco turns into the cooking channel on Saturdays.

Image:: CBC "Butterfly" logo {1966}. Hubert Tison.

Song:: The Morons Are Winning - The Awkward Stage {Vancouver band previously featured on CBC Radio3}

Video:: CBC's Rick Mercer's earlier work

Video bonus:: CBC Logobug

Twitterversion:: #Globalization & future of #CBC. #CBCTV relevant or #fail? Can co-pro w/US help? Is it cultural infrastructure? #Canada http://url.ie/1xre @Prof_K

Where the Streets Have No...Numbers? ᐃᖃᓗᐃᑦ

A friend of mine is visiting up "North." I've never been further north than Golden, BC back in 1992. It was early evening and snowing, but the snow was turning to steam on the warm pavement. I must admit the thought of going there is intriguing. The capital of the federal territory of Nunavut/ᓄᓇᕗᑦ is Iqualuit/ ᐃᖃᓗᐃᑦ, population 6,184. A webcam link {left} offers a glimpse of the town, updated every minute. See video {below} to see a bit more of the town.

So, I was on the CBC archive and found a link to a 2000 As It Happens clip, "Lost and Confused in Iqaluit." The clip mentions how the fire department wanted to give the streets names and addresses numbers, as opposed to the old system of every building having a number. The old system reminded me of what I've heard of the Japanese address system, where street names are seldom used.

Well, I did a bit of digging and I found out that the streets have been named, but the numerical addresses are still forthcoming. I would imagine it's still manageable in a town of 6,184 and a relatively small "downtown" area {below}.

My favourite street name is the Road to Nowhere. I hope the locals still call the "ring road" the ring road and not Queen Elizabeth, but that's my problem. When I was growing up, my mom hated living on Los Encantos, as nobody knew how to spell it. That sure beats Niaqunngusiariaq.

Today, a week after solstice it's supposed to be 7ºC, but will be a balmy 12ºC on Canada Day.

Twitterversion:: #Iqaluit / #ᐃᖃᓗᐃᑦ {capital of #Nunavut / #ᓄᓇᕗᑦ }, where the streets now have names, but still without numbers. #Canada http://url.ie/1xm0 @Prof_K

Update {6 November 2010}:: Arctic College Cam

Video:: Shot in Iqaluit

Bonus Video:: White Stripes "Fell in Love with a Girl" {favourite song by them}, video by Michel Gondry's Partizan

Feminism at a Crossroads:: Interactive Visual Misogyny or Harmless Representation?

I was clearing out my bookmarks in Safari, as I'm trying to shift to using Del.ici.ous more, and I came across this from 2006::

Play Mona The Ragdoll Game

It's a demo of a game development engine by fisix and Mona is their "mascot." There are other, less salacious demos and I'm not that surprised it didn't get on the radar of Salon.com, given how this was far from the beaten path of the Internet, but it would have been interesting to see readers' reactions given their penchant for finding and deliberating on stuff of this ilk. Here's a link to an explanation of the technology behind it and here's a video showing the "possibilities"::

I realize the audience was not intended to be end-users, but developers, but the semiotics of this are interesting and perhaps a bit indicative of the culture of production, as this developers' discussion thread makes clear.

In the era of Bruno, can anything be offensive anymore? Some might argue that Mona the mascot is more sad than offensive misogyny. Is it, though? Last year, Grand Theft Auto leveraged its notoriousness for free publicity for its games where players can kill prostitutes.

In this era where Grand Theft Auto is chastized for misogyny on Feministing, I wonder how long this type of stuff will prevail. Feminism doesn't seem to be in agreement, as here's a Salon Broadsheet article offering an alternative view to the Feministing one. Here's a quote from the author, Tracy Clark-Flory::
"She [Susannah Breslin of Reverse Cowgirl] isn't saying that all men have these fantasies, but rather that some men -- perhaps, many men -- do. As Breslin wrote during an e-mail back-and-forth with me, whether you "agree" or "disagree" with virtual prostitute killing is irrelevant; the fact is that these intensely politically incorrect fantasies do exist and by ignoring that fact -- or blaming it on the patriarchy -- we work against understanding them. "

Of course, in GTA, you can't always count on the avatars not pushing back::

So, what is the effect of representations of misogynist actions/art/performances? Taking a symbolic interactionist {SI} perspective might be an interesting way to stimulate thinking on this, rather than a back-and-forth on the cause and effect of the interactive imagery.

Taking a simple, old-school SI framework by Herbert Blumer ::
  1. We act upon things on the basis of the meanings we ascribe to them
  2. Meanings of those things arise from social interactions we have with others and society
  3. Meanings are engaged upon and moderated through our interpretations of these things
So, if we look at such imagery, can we answer the following questions::
  1. What are the meanings of these images as symbols? How are they contextualized? What about differences in perceptions?
  2. What about the interplay of these images in everyday interactions? What is and is not acceptable? What should and should not be acceptable? What are the consequences for using or negating these images?
  3. How do various people interpret these images? Where's the line between being a matter of taste and being a harmful presence?
In the current era of feminism, I think these are confusing times and precisely why there is so much varying opinion among feminists on issues like the killing of prostitutes in GTA. One does not want to appear shrill, but on the other hand, where are the cultural guideposts?

So, at the end of the day, is this offensive? Harmful? No big whoop?

Twitterversion:: #newblog on #oldstuff. #videogames & #misogyny, the #feminist implications? can symbolic interactionism help? #sociology http://url.ie/1xld @Prof_K

Video:: Live

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Cancer Incrementalism & Moving Towards Knowledge Collaboratives

The New York Times has a not-too-surprising article about the state of the grants system when it comes to innovative cancer research. They offered a breakdown of public funding through the National Cancer Institute::

After forty years, the article cites the death rate has changed only slightly. The article cites that "incrementalist" research are the projects that tend to get funded, so, in many respects, oncology research is much like mainstream Hollywood. Radical ones without preliminary data are riskier and hence are less likely to get funding. Readers of Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions wouldn't be shocked at all. This bit is rather telling::
"One major impediment, scientists agree, is the grant system itself. It has become a sort of jobs program, a way to keep research laboratories going year after year with the understanding that the focus will be on small projects unlikely to take significant steps toward curing cancer."
This article made me think of two things. One, stemming from a research project I just completed on web communities, is the importance of research that is patient-centred, fostering understanding of disease in deep context. Three-and-a-half years ago, a researcher working on breast cancer genetics received half-a-million dollars from a MacArthur "genius" Grant. In addition to the genetics research, she was a clinician at the University of Chicago, committed to "finding and testing improved methods for the prediction, prevention, and early detection of cancer in moderate and high-risk populations." While I'm not advocating all research be patient-centred, one challenge I do see is coordinating research that develops knowledge among researchers as part of an overarching strategy.

I say this, as it leads to by second point. Years ago, I saw a marginal film by the BBC, Life Story, which was about the fascinating story about the race to discover the double helix. James D. Watson and Francis Crick are racing to prove their ideas before Linus Pauling, Maurice Wilkins, or Rosalind Franklin can. The first ten minutes set up the story::

In the end, Watson and Crick, in the then-nascent field of molecular biology had the intuitive theory, but it was Rosalind Franklin's x-ray crystallography data that proved the helical structure of DNA. Her data was perplexing, as it showed an X-shape::

Watson and Crick saw it as a 2-dimensional depiction of their idea of the 3-dimensional helix, viewed from above. As an aside, Franklin would have shared the Nobel if she hadn't died before it was awarded.

The competitive nature of grant-driven science often thwarts collaboration. Funding entities and agencies could look towards being knowledge brokers, but that would entail setting up new organizational structures and policies, which would not be a mean feat. Changing the ways of science {or any social process} reminded me of Kuhn's book quoting Max Plank:: “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” I know that there are some efforts to move in this direction, which will likely be facilitated by genetics and Health/Medicine 2.0.

In the private sector, 3M altered its structure to better reward teams for innovations, resulting in more collaboration and commercialization of new innovations. Food for thought.

Twitterversion:: #newblog unsurprising NYT art. {27.june} on state of #cancer research. time for knowledge collaboratives? #health2.0 http://url.ie/1xhr @Prof_K

Song:: Particle Man - They Might Be Giants

Video:: Paracetamoxyfrusebendroneomycin

Friday, June 26, 2009

The Girlfriend Experience, Steven Soderburgh, & We're All Boring Now

I wanted to hate this movie after reading a few reviews, particularly since I've had my ups and downs with Soderburgh over the years. I recall being on a friend's sisters' couch in Morro Bay and being mesmerized by the quiet intensity of sex, lies, and videotape and I also recall seeing Bubble, after reading about how Soderburgh "got" the concept of the long tail, and hated every single moment. I enjoyed the sly cleverness of Oceans 11, but gagged on the overwrought slickness of Oceans 12 that left a rainbow sheen on my television. I went along with his method directing of period techniques in The Good German, but thinking I would be less forgiving of such wankery if the film didn't deliver.

In The Girlfriend Experience, we see scenes of Manhattan teetering on the precipice of the collapse on everyone's lips and the nervousness of the lesser elites seeing Obama as inevitable. Is this capitalism at the crossroads? Everything is commodified and no sphere of life is immune, including intimacy. Adult film star Sasha Grey is Chelsea, a high-end callgirl who has a quiet confidence fueling ambitions, but these ambitions are tied to the excesses of capitalism and a line of work that deadens the soul. Or was Chelsea dead inside already? Some critics are quick to judge Sasha's flat affect, but they miss the point. The realism of Bubble is given a more salacious story and what is bubbling under Sasha's blank coolness are simmering, seething emotions like those in sex, lies, and videotape. Everyone is vapid in the film. Everyone is a cog in the machine. Desires are portrayed in way that makes it clear that today's world is interested in simulation and simulacrum that approaches the real, but can get placed back on the shelf before it gets inconvenient. One client figures it out on the fly, therapy, nah, I'll get a hooker.

I need more than this. A voyeuristic glimpse into high-end sex work with mechanical handwaving to larger societal issues can be interesting, if the audience gets a sense of payoff. We do see that Chelsea knows the game she plays, but also is vulnerable as a person, as she's merely the narcotic fix. We see her guard come down here and there, in one memorable scene {above}, she confesses to a client how she was used without the safety of flattering lighting. Her meaning is attached to being beautiful simulacrum in designer packaging, but since she has no substance, it's hard for the audience to empathize.

The film clocks in at 78 minutes and is visually interesting. I think Soderburg was on to something here, but audiences aren't going to see themselves as Chelseas caught up in variants of the same game. I didn't want to see a more interesting Chelsea, but rather the tricky connection made that our smug selves may well be just as boring, vapid, and inane. I think it would have been interesting to play with the zeitgeist of the fall of 2008, having the audience contemplate, through the narrative, the future and meaning of their own lives after 16 years of life under "bubbas."

Song:: "Beautiful" - Belle and Sebastian

Video:: Trailer

Twitterversion:: #newblogpost #Soderburg 's The Girlfriend Experience is voyeurism w/out payoff.Characters vapid,but in the end,aren't we? http://url.ie/1x8i @Prof_K

Facebook & the Gift

Crossposting:: A longer sociological version is on ThickCulture.

Years ago, I was given The Gift Economy by David Cheal to read, a book focusing on the tensions between market relationships {political economy} and social ones {moral economy} in today's capitalist societies. This often manifests itself in terms of tensions between the rational and the emotional. While gifts may be given for instrumentalist means, they often are not. Recent thinking considers gifts to be a social process, one that has a significant economic impact, given the amount spent on gifts.

So, how is this interplay of the economic and the social affected by social media? In my current work, I’ve been thinking of the use of Facebook by organizations, particularly in the realm of philanthropy. Organizations have been embracing the idea of creating relationships with constituents, rather than focusing on transactions. Health non-profits often provide information and advocate on behalf of their constituents. By doing so, this creates a person-organization relationship and ideally leads to greater levels of philanthropy {economic resources for the non-profit}. The key is that the relationship must have salient meanings for the constituents,
i.e., the brand meaning system. Depending on the context, this is often tied to outcomes, e.g., cures for diseases, social change, identity, etc.

Social media and social networking sites like Facebook not only foster person-organizational relationships via information disemmination and provision of services, but also peer-to-peer relationships. These relationships are social, but are within a capitalist market context. Hence, we return to the gift. We manage relationships through gift-giving and other behaviours, through the management of symbols, such as $1 gifts on Facebook::

Social media has the ability to move constituents from this model::

Organizational Activities -> Org.-Person Relationship -> Outcomes

more towards this one::

Organizational Activities -> Communities of practice {e.g., web community} -> Outcomes

The latter being facilitated by the Internet and with the possibility of a richer set of outcomes stemming from an engaged community. We want gifts to be expressive of our relational ties, hence full of meanings, within a given social context, e.g., a community of practice.

Facebook is a global player, but still needs a solid revenue model. Apple's success with "apps" show the power of a platform to deliver value, often at a low price-point. The Facebook platform should be developed in line with how people, how a large number of people, actually engage in symbolic relationship management, tied to other strategies, such as::
  • Bling gifts that are expressive of sentiments {various media}
  • Donations and sponsorships
  • Online events to engage community members
  • Free/Low-cost personalized apps that add value, e.g., health monitoring, reminders, alerts, etc
Organizations are still figuring out how to use social media and Facebook is still figuring out how to deliver value. All I can say its future isn't online ads and organizations just paying lip service to their constituencies with social media is as transparent as this::

Twitterversion:: #newblogpost #Facebook & #socialmedia in reconfig of econmics. Interplay {political&moral economies}.Implic.for orgs&FBk. http://url.ie/1x6e @Prof_K

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ten Year Alumni Reunion:: Freaks, Geeks, and Where Are They Now?

A decade ago, Judd Apatow produced an hour-long dramedy for NBC, Freaks and Geeks. Eighteen episodes were created, but only 12 aired. I recall it having a cult-following, but I never checked it out. The 1999-2000 season was the era of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Freaks and Geeks was 93 out of 94, nosing out 7th. Heaven and Suddenly Susan, which tied in the battle for last place. Currently, it's in syndication on G4, which can be a surreal experience for non-gamers, and I've been catching up on my TV viewing 10 years later, which sounds about right::

You may have noticed a few familiar faces in this clip. The fake ID salesman is Jason Schwartzman. I'm not the first to notice this, but like the films Diner and The Breakfast Club, many of the alumni of the short-lived Freaks and Geeks have gone on to have careers::

Judd Apatow {Producer}::
Went on to produce and direct
successful comedies, such as
40 Year-Old Virgin {D/P/W},
Knocked Up {D/P/W},
Anchorman {P}, Talladega
{P}, Superbad {P},
Forgetting Sarah Marshall {P},
and Pineapple Express {P/W}.

D=director, P=producer, W=writer.

James Franco::
Best known as Harry Osborn/
New Goblin
in Spiderman
franchise. Dissed by UCLA students.

Jason Segel::
Has been on How I Met Your Mother
in recent years. Emerging writer
and star with solid roles in
Forgetting SarahMarshall and
I Love You, Man.

Seth Rogen::
Leveraging the schlubby persona
to the max. Consistently working,
plus voiceover gigs in Kung-Fu Panda &
Horton Hears a Who!

Linda Cardellini::
Best known as Nurse Taggart on ER of
late. Given her film oeuvre, other than
Brokeback Mountain, fairly
unmemorable stuff, but there's
always Grandma's Boy {right}. Might
need to consider getting a new agent, if
post-ER gigs cause her career to need
cardiac paddles.

John Francis Daley::
Probably best known as Dr. Lance
Sweets in the TV series Bones.

I have my theories on why this show didn't make, despite having a cult following and critical acclaim. It was billed as a dramedy, which I feel is the kiss of death. I don't think networks know how to promote them and build audience for them. They tend to be quirky and lend themselves to cult followings. Fox's 3 episode airing of Wonderfalls in 2004 springs to mind {See pilot here}. Freaks was an hour long, which often lowers projected revenue streams, compared to 30-minute sitcoms, as its harder to syndicate hour-long shows. I think it would have fared much better in a 30-minute format and would have more programming time slots it could be placed in. It was aired in the wasteland on Saturday nights and then moved around, so its fans had to hunt for it. It was up against Early Edition, the Saturday ABC movie, and Cops in the 8-9 Saturday timeslot, which isn't exactly stiff competition. I don't think mainstream audiences were quite ready to latch on to 1980 in 1999-2000. Maybe it was a bit too close to That 70s Show. Finally, I think NBC felt that it wasn't worth it to try to nurture it along. It had expensive shows like Friends, ER, and Frasier, so I think the network cancelled it thinking they could do better with cheaper. They had enough hits to preclude experimentation, while rights for the Sydney Olympics most likely put a crimp on spending. The next 5 years after the Freaks and Geeks cancellation, NBC's ad revenues were flat and the network was heading towards its current dire straits.

The show's pretty tight, from what I've seen thus far. The writing is solid, the characters are relatable, the performances were more spot-on than off-the-mark, and it wasn't a dreary, realistic slab of teen life like ABC's 1994 cult fave, My So Called Life.

Twitterversion:: #newblogpost Where are they now? Alumni of #JuddApatow 's #Freaks&Geeks #NBCfail from #2000. http://url.ie/1x54 @Prof_K


Bad Reputation by Joan Jett on Grooveshark

Video:: Freaks & Geeks Intro

The McLuhan Conic:: Understanding Social Media


Crossposted on ThickCulture

McLuhan Way is just down the street from me, so perhaps it's my inspiration. I remember reading Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media over 14 years ago in a seminar on the Internet. The hot/cool media continuum perplexed many of us and some say technology has rendered the concept obsolete. In terms of hot/cool, where does the Internet stand?

  • Hot media are high-definition. Media that fully-engages one sense of the audience member:: print {visual}, radio {sound}, film {visual}, & the photograph {visual}.

  • Cool media are low-definition. Media that require more active participation from the audience member to interpret:: Television {visual with limitations in the 1960s}, telephone {sound of a relatively poor quality in the 1960s}, and comic strips {cheaply reproduced mass-entertainment}. The video game as a hyperreal construct, where the audience/player must fill in gaps of this representation of the real.
Reading is engaging in hot media and is a solitary experience. Reading, contrasted with speech, forces an isolating consciousness, perhaps one overly-immersed in the individual.

How does Web 2.0 fit into all of this? Well, new technologies trend towards the hot. The iPod engages us, bathes us in a bubble of sound of our choosing. What about this paradox? New technologies are higher-definition, engaging us more and more, but also allowing us to be interactive with others {social media}. Moreover, there is convergence of the technologies. The smartphone {MP3 player, telephony, Internet web surfing} is a stunning example of multisensory engagement that also allows us to communicate and share with others.

What happened? Is the
singularity of media, where all media is converging, making it all lukewarm? The continuum is shrinking to a singular point, as in the multimedia experiences of the smartphone. Has technology sped up our communications, so that there is the appearance that time has folded upon itself. We read text or see a video and now we can immediately respond to others. We read a tweet from Twitter and immediately respond to it.

So, bear with me as I think out loud here. Let's assume that media are approaching singularity. As you go up the cone, technologies converge and the user is collapsing hot/cold, engaging both simultaneously.


Let's assume that at the base of the cone, along the diameter is the continuum from hot to cold. Perpendicular to that diameter is another continuum, the institutional semistructures, rigid {controlling} versus chaotic {open}. The circular base would have 4 quadrants, each with prototypical examples::

  1. Hot & Rigid- Old "big media" {print, radio, film, etc.)

  2. Hot & Chaotic- Engaging content in unstructured/uncontrolled databases

  3. Cool & Rigid- Newsgroups

  4. Cool & Chaotic- Synchronous unmoderated chat

The origin will be "lukewarm" and semi-structured. The origin is somewhat of a normative assumption. It lies between individual User experiences may vary and may not even be contiguous. I know I need to refine these ideas and construct a better diagram. Nevertheless, I think this concept might be valuable in thinking about how people's use of technologies is likely to evolve. Where would you put the following::

  • Facebook {social networking site}

  • Twitter {microblogging}

  • YouTube {video filesharing}

  • Hulu {long-form professional videos}

  • Google {all things data}

Where are they moving towards -or- how could they better provide value? Of course, despite
McLuhan being gone for quite a while, I half-expect this to happen::

Twitterversion:: Can #MarshallMcLuhan 's hot/cold continuum inform #socialmedia? #sociology #web2.0 http://url.ie/1wys @Prof_K

Song:: "Suspect Device" Ted Leo & the Pharmacists-lyrics

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Pigs of Hogtown

Addendum {24 June 2009, 17:49 EDT}:: I forgot to include that the Toronto city councillors received a 2.4% raise, despite the severe budget situation.

The Toronto garbage strike {city workers represented by CUPE 416} is in day three. Despite Premiere McGuinty's confidence in a forthcoming solution, I expect the provincial government to legislate then back-to-work before long.

In the study of consumer behaviour, there's acquisition, consumption, and disposal processes. The city sealed trash and recycling bins, but that didn't stop people from just piling up garbage or wedging their Tim Horton's cups between the shrinkwrap and the bins. Way to stay classy, Toronto.

Walking to and from a play, I went through Yorkville, an upscale shopping area. No piles of garbage and the streets were clean. Although it seems like the whole city is under construction. Speaking of construction, I saw one photo of "construction waste" {carpet remnant} being dumped illegally in park. There are supposed stiff fines for such dumping.

Along Yonge was another matter, as well as in the public parks and walkways, with trash and recycling bins overflowing. It's almost as if people panic and lose their minds when they can't throw stuff away immediately. Online, every so often there's a comment about reducing the consumption of disposable products and packaging in the first place, which I think is an excellent point. Citizens were asked to store their garbage this week, but I saw plenty of bins on curbs on my walk last evening. Generally speaking, I find Toronto to be a relatively clean city, particularly when compared to New York, but I do wonder what compels people to think it's OK to literally trash the town. Is this a case of the tragedy of the commons, where without property rights people will act in their own self-interests with impunity? Under certain circumstances, do people revert to a Hobbsean state, of no "rights," only "freedoms"? No matter, the city has gone to the pigs.

Also, online, there are references to privatization. In Etobicoke, there is garbage service because its privatized. I'm not affected, since I'm in a building that contracts out garbage and recycling. This isn't without costs, as the monthly homeowners fees in my building are a few hundred dollars and ever increasing. I think before people advocate privatization, they should have full knowledge of the tax implications. That said, I think more transparency on the part of the City of Toronto and CUPE is in order.

The future...here it is::

Twitterversion:: #newblogpost #Garbagestrike in #Toronto. City going to the pigs. Tragedy of commons? Hobbesean state? Idiocracy? http://url.ie/1wuk @Prof_K

Song:: Garbage - Chairlift

Video, Live, Baton Rouge, LA Spanish Moon 5 August 2008::

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Get this Guy a Radio Talkshow, Stat!

A Progressive Conservative MLA in Alberta apologized for remarks that went beyond bad taste and into the realm of #fail. According to the CBC, Doug Elniski representing Edmonton-Calder blogged these pearls of wisdom, as advice to women::
"Ladies, always smile when you walk into a room, there is nothing a man wants less than a woman scowling because he thinks he is going to get s--t for something and has no idea what...Men are attracted to smiles, so smile, don't give me that 'treated equal' stuff. If you want Equal, it comes in little packages at Starbuck's."
Go ahead, push it. That's what it's there for.

The blog is gone, but this blogger found that it lives on thanks to Google cache {look under Grad Speeches}. This wasn't part of any speech he gave, but Elniski said the line was lifted from a comedian. The NDP responded, as MLA Rachel Notley {Edmonton-Strathcona} called him out. At least change the lifted joke to a Canadian chain. He can start with this off-colour joke that uses Tim Horton's. He was under fire from the gay community last week for some tweets on Twitter he made from Edmonton's Pride Parade, including::
"I am surrounded by bumping and grinding lesbians"

"that guy has size-14 stilettos."
He apologized for both, which really kills the buzz for the LOLs. Well, for a newbie MLA who barely won the election {178 votes out of 11,127 cast}, these faux pas are undermining his own cause. Yet another Web 2.0 cautionary tale. Is all of this a bit too harsh or is this politics as usual? I think being an elected official does mean that your every word is scrutinized and Web 2.0 makes your mistakes easy for your detractors to pounce on. These comments are lame and chronically unfunny. I must say he does have a curious Twitter bio. for a Progressive Conservative:: "It is natures irony that my efforts to usurp authority should result in my being one," but speaks to his personality. I think this guy might be better suited for a career in radio. Maybe something like this::

Twitterversion:: #newblogpost #Alberta MLA inserts foot in mouth w/cribbed joke. #Canada #Politics #Fail http://url.ie/1wen @Prof_K