Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Bands of the Decade

I could probably think of more, but here's a list of the bands I discovered over the past decade - the Oughts - which I came back to again and again. In simple, alphabetical order ...
  • Burial
  • Elbow
  • LCD Soundsystem
  • The National
  • M.I.A.
  • The Knife/Fever Ray
Song of the Decade
"Someone Great" - LCD Soundsystem or "Hey Yah" by Outlast (technically, André 3000). The latter must hands-down be the best pop song of the decade. An astonishing little atom bomb of a tune, that one.

What do you think? I'd love to hear about the bands - or the music, which left the greatest impression on you over the past decade.

Monday, December 28, 2009

My Favorite Flicks from 2009

Top 10
Gomorrah
Moon
Fantastic Mr. Fox
In the Loop
Inglourious Basterds
Hurt Locker
Disgrace
Goodbye Solo
Silent Light
Sin Nombre

In no particular order really, tho Gomorrah was probably my favorite - at 2008 release in Europe, I think. Also, The Road probably figures into my top 10, tho I don't know which I'd drop. Update: having seen Herzog's Bad Lieutenant and Police, Adjective now, I'd probably squeeze them into the top 10, too, if I were allowed.

Favorite Documentaries
Food, Inc
We Live in Public
Objectified
Art & Copy

- I didn't see Crude or The Cove yet, unfortunately

5 Which Would Probably Make the List If I'd Seen Them
A Serious Man
Up in The Air
Bad Lieutenant
My Son, My Son, What Have You Done
White Ribbon

Disappointing But Worth a Watch
District 9

As usual, I reserve the right to update or modify this list in any way, as the mood strikes or if I'm able to cram some more flicks in before the end of the year - or the few weeks that follow, for that matter.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Emoticons

The reason the emoticon became popular is that with the advent of the Web, people began writing far more than previously, but not better.

So the emoticon replaced any gift for nuance lacking in their writing, which was always missing, but did not get nearly as much exposure.

Everyone is a writer now. For better or worse.

Those of us who think of writing as an art and therefore disdain "smileys" should remind ourselves that more people are writing more often than ever in the history of our species. It's no surprise they adopted the emoticon pretty quickly to fill in the gaps in their skillset, where writing and the art of letters is concerned.

Also, for what it's worth, most of us write differently in different arenas. I wouldn't the same way in an email, on Twitter, on IM, in a short story, in a music review, in presentation for work.

- In response to "Death to Smiley" by Mary Elizabeth Williams

Friday, November 13, 2009

The News That's Fit to Tweet?

Three ways The Huffington Post flubbed their Fort Hood Twitter List implementation. My new article is live on Razorfish's Scatter/Gather.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Guidelines for Capitalizing Headings & Titles

Folks often have difficulty knowing what to capitalize when writing headings for articles or, more often in my field, slides for PowerPoint presentations, so I've put together a list of rules to help you learn how to do it. Now, if you don't know the parts of speech, admittedly, I can't help you. Here's my small contribution to reducing the agony of presentation production. Note that it applies only to the English language.

What to Capitalize in a Heading or Title When Using Initial Caps

1. ALL nouns
2. ALL pronouns
3. ALL verbs, no matter how short. That means "is" and "are" always get capitalized
4. ALL adverbs and adjectives
5. ONLY prepositions over 3 letters in length - e.g. NOT "at" or "in" but "With," "Before" and "Along"
6. ONLY articles over 3 letters in length - e.g. NOT "a," "an," "the" but "There," "This," and "That"
7. NO conjunctions under 4 letters in length - e.g. NOT "for," "and," "or," "nor," "yet", "so," or "but"
8. ALWAYS the first word, no matter what part of speech
9. ALWAYS the last word, no matter what part of speech

Confusing? Yep. English often is. But I didn't make this stuff up. I did teach it to college freshmen for a couple of years, however, so that helped drill it in. Don't take my word for it, though. Here are some further sources. I'd link to more authoritative ones like the AP or Chicago Manual of Style, but they all have their content behind pay walls.

One final note: some sources vary as to whether prepositions should ever be capitalized. Since experts differ (this ain't uncommon in English either), I've chosen the over 4 letters route as it "just looks right" and it's what I learned and taught in college.

I'm sure this can use some refining, and I'll update it in the future accordingly. And I welcome your suggestions.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Subway Poem 10

There's a man a foot of the subway stairs,
Angular, thin, white with graying hair
All pale against the pool of blood about him
And splashed upon the wall
He has fallen

After the sirens
A woman descends the stairs slowly to help him
It seems she will never arrive

11/02/09

Subway Poem 9

Two older men on the train,
Reflecting each other across the aisle
Graying, grizzled with beards
Clothing distressed, huddling
Their belongings in bundles at their feet
Invisible to others, brothers to themselves
When one spoke, the other attended, responded
Used to being unlistened to himself

11/03/09

Monday, October 19, 2009

Symphony of Science Supergroup



So great to see someone infuse so much joy into their love of science.

"The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together. ... We are a way for the cosmos to know itself." - Carl Sagan

Monday, September 21, 2009

We Will Not Walk in Fear

We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven into an age of unreason if we dig deep into our history and remember we are not descended from fearful men. 
- Edward R. Murrow

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

We Live in Public

Over on Razorfish's content strategy blog, my companero Rachel Lovinger and I discuss our reaction to Ondi Timoner's new documentary, We Live in Public. We IMed each other, then distilled down our conversation into a blog entry.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

RIP Ted Kennedy

Quality care shouldn't depend on your financial resources, or the type of job you have, or the medical condition you face. Every American should be able to get the same treatment that U.S. senators are entitled to.
- Ted Kennedy
Ted Kennedy has died of brain cancer at the age of 77. Sadly, "the liberal lion of the Senate" never saw the universal healthcare he fought so hard for come to fruition.

May the Senator's fight not have be in vain.

Related:

New York Times: "Edward Kennedy, Senate Stalwart, Dies"

Los Angeles Times: "Ted Kennedy is making a final press for universal healthcare, from his sickbed"

Newsweek: "The Cause of my Life" by Ted Kennedy

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

5 Links

Time: Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin - Exercise makes many people gain weight. That's because the eat more because they exercised. Simple really. You have to eat less. And if you drink a bottle of Gatorade after you worked out, you may as well no thave worked out. Also, rats process fat better than we humans do and consequently stay slimmer more easily. Rats. If many people read this article, it could shut down thousands of gyms.

Wired: Why Craigslist Is Such a Mess - Fascinating insight into Craig Newmark and the evolution of Craiglist, a company with 30 employees, which draws more traffic than eBay (16,000 employees) and Amazon (20,0000). Also, seems a measure of their success is due to the fact that they don't give a rip about profits.

ReadWriteWeb: Google Maps Gets Smarter: Crowdsources Live Traffic Data - Google enables social driving.

Rob Report: Safety First: The Mercedes-Benz ESF 2009 - Mercedes enables social driving, too, relaying data to other cars, so they get a heads-up about upcoming road conditions.

Mother Jones: Fiji Water: Spin the Bottle - Some delicate details on the Fuji Water company and the nature of its operations in a country under a military junta. Be careful what you sip!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Happy Mirth Day



We have Independence day in July, Labor Day coming up in September, but my good friend Jack Dillard - writer, poet, photographer extraordinairre, points out the sad fact: we don't have a holiday in August. Therefore, he's suggesting one. And if you're going to have a holiday between two such serious ones, why not something more frivilous, something fun. He's suggesting Mirth Day.As any 21st-century advocate worth his salt would do, Jack has set up a site with more info, including an exhortation to petition your elected officials.

Says Jack, "Join me in observing Mirth Day, a celebration of laughter and levity on the last Friday in August, the birth month of great American humorists, comedians, actors, and cartoonists, including Garrison Keillor, Steve Martin, Lucille Ball, Gary Larson, Ogden Nash, Dorothy Parker, Walt Kelly, Martin Mull, Buddy Hackett, Dave Chappelle, R. Crumb, Pee Wee Herman, and Chris Tucker." That's a whole lotta humor.

For more information, contact Jack Dillard at jack@happymirthday.com or 704-301-4317.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Hero of the Moment: Barney Frank



I often enjoy Barney Frank's unguarded and incisive way of getting to the point. But this moment when he responds abruptly to a heckling protestor, who doesn't have her facts straight, seems destined to go down in political history. It may even prove to be a watershed moment in the fight for universal healthcare.
"My question to you is, why do you continue to support a Nazi policy?" the woman asked Frank.

"On what planet do you spend most of your time?" an incredulous Frank rhetorically replied, indignantly adding "You stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis....Trying to have a conversation with you would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it."
Of course, the fact that Mr. Frank has a Jewish heritage and may take allegations of nazism quite seriously seemed entirely lost on the woman.
A couple more great Barney Frank moments:
After the Senate aprroved a 105.9 billion wartime spending bill a couple of months ago, Frank chastised both sides and expressed his dismay with social networking:
The left and the right live in parallel universes. The right listens to talk radio, the left's on the Internet and they just reinforce one another. They have no sense of reality. I have now one ambition: to retire before it becomes essential to tweet.
A couple of months before that, Frank accused Republicans of not supporting a bill because if it passed, they'd miss something to be outraged about:
They appear to have become so attached to their outrage that they are even more outraged that they won't be able to be outraged anymore.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Subway Poem 8

When two trains follow each other
beneath the ground,
the impact for a moment is such that
We are each human fish in an aquarium
staring across the few scant feet
to the human fish in the aquarium
just beyond our group
but eternally out of touch
before slipping up and away into the darkness.

8/4

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Trust but Verify



I have a new essay up on Razorfish's content strategy blog Scatter/Gather, entitled "Blinded by Content Bliss." In it, I argue for more care in verifying the authenticity of user-generated content before incorporating it into a site. The national media showed us how not to this recently when covering the election in Iran. Since that country's government keeps a tight reign on information, the media had to resort to broadcasting a lot of user-created content in the form of Flickr images, tweets and blog entries. Of course, some of this material did prove excellent, but all too often we started seeing the media backpeddling on content they'd already aired. Not a good for journalism. And not a good practice for any of us as content disseminators either. I offer some simple principles in how to avoid reproducing poorly-sourced content - and plain old fabrications.

You'd think these principles would be common sense, but with 28% of Republicans still believing Obama may not have born in the United States--due to the spread of this very sort of poorly sourced information--well, you'd be wrong.

Two more of my recent pieces:

"Cultivating Effective User-Generated Content," With Bob Maynard, Razorfish.com, July 2009 [pdf]

"Crowdsourcing Content," Scatter/Gather, April 22, 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Send to Trash After Reading



The last two years, I've reviewed a book of the year's best technology writing. If I could vote on entries for this year's, I'd have to include this New Yorker piece by Nicholson Baker on the Kindle. In it, he explains how the Kindle is still light years away from providing a superlative reading experience. Some consider Baker a bit of a neo-Luddite, but I can't sling that pejorative at such a good writer - especially since by the article's end, he does recommend using the iPhone with the Kindle app, as well as several other apps.

The whole article's definitely worth a read, but I found this section in particular on the experience of reading The New York Times on the Kindle particularly telling.
The real flurry over the new DX, though, has to do with the fate of newspapers. The DX offers more than twice as much Vizplex as the Kindle 2—about half the area of a piece of letter-size paper—enough, some assert, to reaccustom Web readers to paying for the digital version of, say, the Times, thereby rescuing daily print journalism from financial ruin. “With Kindle DX’s large display, reading newspapers is more enjoyable than ever,” according to Amazon’s Web site.

It’s enjoyable if you like reading Nexis printouts. The Kindle Times ($13.99 per month) lacks most of the print edition’s superb photography—and its subheads and call-outs and teasers, its spinnakered typographical elegance and variety, its browsableness, its Web-site links, its listed names of contributing reporters, and almost all captioned pie charts, diagrams, weather maps, crossword puzzles, summary sports scores, financial data, and, of course, ads, for jewels, for swimsuits, for vacationlands, and for recently bailed-out investment firms. A century and a half of evolved beauty and informational expressiveness is all but entirely rinsed away in this digital reductio.

Sometimes whole articles and op-ed contributions aren’t there. Three pieces from the July 8, 2009, print edition of the Times—Adam Nagourney on Sarah Palin’s resignation, Alessandra Stanley on Michael Jackson’s funeral, and David Johnston on the civil rights of detainees—were missing from the Kindle edition, or at least I haven’t managed to find them (they’re available free on the Times Web site); the July 9th Kindle issue lacked the print edition’s reporting on interracial college roommates and the infectivity rates of abortion pills. I checked again on July 20th and 21st: Verlyn Klinkenborg’s appreciation of Walter Cronkite was absent, as was a long piece on Mongolian shamanism.

The Kindle DX ($489) doesn’t save newspapers; it diminishes and undercuts them—it kills their joy. It turns them into earnest but dispensable blogs.
Emphasis mine.

None of this is to say that the Kindle (or, more accurately, the e-reader) isn't a revolutionary device. But sometimes we can get so caught up cheering on the technology that we overlook its obvious deficiencies.

Also,
  • New York mag article in which Lane Brown guesstimates Baker's expenses for the piece, only to be corrected by him in comments.
  • Stephen Johnson's more positive forecast for the impact of the e-reader on the future of books in April 20th's Wall Street Journal. He concludes, "We all know the story of how the information-wants-to-be-free ethos of the Web threatened the newspapers with extinction. Wouldn't it be ironic if books turned out to be their savior?"
  • On the Media podcast from May 8, 2009 on a Senate committee hearing on the "Future of Journalism."
Image above from my Flickr stream

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Profiting from Healthcare

Ronald Reagan decries socialism

I don't agree with everything Michael Moore says, nor with the strident tone he often adopts, but on some things he's just dead on. Like with these thoughts on "socialized medicine" aka universal healthcare:
Socialized medicine. Ooh, socialized. Bad. Really? Isn’t that what our police departments are? Socialized? Run by the government. Free service. Do you think anybody would ever ask if the fire department should have to post a profit? You know? Seriously. Would we allow a fire department to every time they get a call for a house fire, when they arrive at the house determine whether or not this is going to affect the fire department’s bottom line. We wouldn’t allow that, would we? When someone is wheeled into a hospital, that question should never be asked. That is an immoral question amongst a—in a humane society to ask that question, where is the profit here? How will it affect our bottom line? How do we make money off this sick person? I mean, this doesn’t look good, folks. It doesn’t look good to the rest of the world and it won’t look good to the anthropologists who dig us up hundreds of years from now. They will wonder what were these people thinking?

- Michael Moore addressing California lawmakers in 2007

Saturday, July 18, 2009

RIP Walter Cronkite

Walter Cronkite
I can't imagine a person becoming a success who doesn't give this game of life everything he's got.
- Walter Cronkite, 1916-2009
Walter Cronkite has died at 92.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Obey


Many stickers have been peeled down by people who were annoyed by them, considering them an eye sore and an act of petty vandalism, which is ironic considering the number of commercial graphic images everyone in American society is assaulted with daily.
- Shepard Fairey in his Obey Manifesto
Visited the Shepard Fairey exhibit at the ICA in Boston this weekend. It's the first museum exhibit for Fairey and features examples from his earliest work up to his iconic Obama posters, as well as a handful of brief documentaries and clips. In the brief documentary, "Andre the Giant Has a Posse," Fairey explains how his original Andre stickers (which he refers to above) were meant to poke fun of gangs and skater culture, but evolved into much more.

The exhibit lasts until August 16th and is definitely worth checking out if you're a Fairey fan.

I know plenty of folks are critical of Fairey's work, but I don't find much of the most-repeated criticism terribly compelling. It's simplistic, some say. The music of the Beach Boys sounds simple, too. Try recreating it. It's derivative or he steals from other people are the most frequent arguments. What isn't derivative? And Fairey's been completely open about his sources since his earliest work. See Warhol and Rauchenberg, two of the luminaries he's compared with in this exhibit.

Fairey's work is often succinct and iconic. Those are valuable traits that might look easy, but prove quite difficult to pull off with any regularity.

More:
  • "Street Cred," ARTINFO - explains the origins of the pointed "Obey" meme and offers thoughtful criticism of the commercialization of his work
  • Video: Shepard Fairey on Fighting the AP Over Obama HOPE Image

Monday, July 06, 2009

RIP Robert S. McNamara

Robert s. McNamara
“We burned to death 100,000 Japanese civilians in Tokyo — men, women and children. LeMay said, ‘If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.’ And I think he’s right. He — and I’d say I — were behaving as war criminals. What makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?” - Robert S. McNamara
Robert McNamara seemed a tortured soul towards the end of his life. Errol Morris's compelling 2003 documentary, The Fog of War, found him apologetic, even haunted. Can we imagine Donald Rumsfeld, who served in the same position, Secretary of Defense, as McNamara, similarly apologetic some time into the future? Or Bush? Or Cheney? It's hard to imagine. But I suppose it's possible.

More: McNamara writing in Foreign policy in May/June 2005 on the dangers of nuclear proliferation

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Subway Poem 7

Young European girl, twenty-something
slouching beside her hooded friend
She sucks her thumb
And I smile
Hoping she sees it
not as a smile of derision
But of understanding
I know, it's a big city
Filled with buzz, jitter, and judder
Like so much else of the world

Friday, June 12, 2009

Subway Poem 6

On the subway, across from me
I see a girl with the same scar
as I.

A compound fracture to the radius on her left arm
leaves its tracks down the otherwise smooth skin
of her arm.

We have something in common.
And nothing in common.

6/7

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Some Thoughts on Torture

Waterboarding, circa 1556

There are some subjects my idealistic self hopes people won't continue to politicize. Abortion is one and torture is most certainly another.

I'm less interested in what one person in any administration has to say about torture than what experts say, who refer to rational, carefully considered evidence. Empirical data.

Let's not fall then for the fallacy of anecdotal evidence. The possibility that torture "worked" on one person (and let's remember that 24 is fiction - and fiction created by a man who was an open fan of the Bush administration) wouldn't justify its use on prisoners willy nilly anyway - especially when those prisoners were often gathered on a so called "field of battle" without any evidence that they were actually participating in acts of terrorism. Sadly, some of the people have even been proven completely innocent later, though they have received permanent physical and psychological damage from their mistreatment.

Conservative pundit Andrew Sullivan has been carefully cataloguing the ethical and efficacy problems with torture for many months now. I recommend searching for "torture" on his blog and delving into the reams of thoughtful evidence he's compiled.

Let's also recognize that the mere fact that something might (upon rare occasions, possibly) prove effective, does not automatically justify its use. The ends does not justify the means. Otherwise, we might quickly return to all manner of barbarism.

It's surprising to be put in the position in the 21st century of arguing against the use of torture. What has 9/11 done to us?

Washington Post - "The Torture Myth"
Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who conducted interrogations in Vietnam, Panama and Iraq: Aside from its immorality and its illegality, says Herrington, torture is simply "not a good way to get information."

PBS - "Debating Torture"
Sen. John McCain: "First, subjecting prisoners to abuse leads to bad intelligence because under torture a detainee will tell his interrogator anything to make the pain stop."

"Science and Engineering Ethics," 2004 - Springer
A utilitarian argument against torture interrogation of terrorists

Salon - "Mixed Messages on Torture"
The U.S. Army declares torture useless
Lt. Gen. John Kimmons, the Army deputy chief of staff on "tough" interrogation techniques: "No good intelligence is going to come from abusive practices," Kimmons said. "I think history tells us that. I think the empirical evidence of the past five years, hard years, tells us that. ... Any piece of intelligence which is obtained under duress through the use of abusive techniques would be of questionable credibility." Kimmons conceded that bad P.R. about abuse could work against the United States in the war on terror. "It would do more harm than good when it inevitably became known that abusive practices were used. We can't afford to go there."

MSNBC - "Military agency warned against 'torture'"

Red Cross Report - "ICRC Report on the Treatment of 14 'High Value Detainees' in CIA Custody" [PDF]

U.S. Department of Justice - "Torture Memos" [PDF]

Finally, Amnesty International enables you to write your senators and state representatives asking them to investigate and prosecute those who responsible for encouraging a climate of torture on behalf of the United States.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Crowdsourcing Content

mob

I have a new post about crowdsourcing content over at Razorfish's Scatter/Gather blog. One of life's little mysteries is why folks would want to contribute content of one sort or another for free in the first place. I briefly describe some incentives and also discuss framing your inquiries and networking for providers.

Speaking of crowdsourcing, Iain McDonald, the founder of Amnesia | Razorfish, laid down the gauntlet today at the Razorfish Client Summit, asking attendees to see how many results they could create for a freshly minted word, specifically "razorfunfish" on Google within a single day. A prize would also be given to the person who created the entry, which rose to the top of the heap.

Well, moments later, I noted that results were already appearing. It'll be interesting to see who comes up with the most effective means of "owning" the term. I'm seeing some pretty creative efforts already. Someone even bought the URL. Also, coincidental to the subject of my article above, someone created an entry on Wikipedia. We'll see how long it lasts.

Also: Google results for razorfunfish

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kieren Hebden & Steve Reid - NYC

Kieren Hebden & Steve Reid - NYC

KIERAN HEBDEN & STEVE REID
NYC (CD) – Domino

Kieran Hebden loses the Four Tet moniker again for this instrumental album with jazz drummer extraordinaire Steve Reid, their fourth expedition together. As its title intimates, it's an homage to New York with most of the songs paying particular attention to specific NYC locales. Those tunes comprise a flyby visit to the city with two tunes, the slow descent of "Arrival" and the ambient exit of "Departure," bracketing the trip. NYC attempts to capture the city's fizz and sizzle with limited instrumentation, relying very heavily on Reid's drumming and Hebden's ever-inspired knob fiddling. And since it was crafted within two days in a New York studio, the collaboration also bears a loose, improvisational sound. With its rumbling bass and skittering drums, "Lyman Place" begins like a number from a gritty David Holmes soundtrack, while eventually transmogrifying into something akin to a jet taking off. Then the clamor of “1st & 1st” approximates the hurly burly of that East Village intersection, which Seinfeld’s Kramer described as “the nexus of the universe.” Later, "Between B & C" commences with a sample of melodic guitar, bearing a hint of Alphabet City’s Latin influence, and also proves the disk’s most accessible track. NYC rounds out with “Departure,” a comparatively minimalist track, featuring accelerating Reich-like tintinnabulation. Like all of these tracks, it’ll provide challenging, yet rewarding grist for your ear. – Robert Stribley

kieranhebdenandstevereid.com

This review was originally published in Skyscraper Magazine, Issue 30 (Spring 2009)

The Matthew Herbert Big Band - There's Me & There's You

The latest and unfortunately last issue of Skyscraper has hit the stands. A sign of the times, the mag will cease to occupy physical space and will be going entirely online in the coming months. Two of my reviews from the issue follow.

THE MATTHEW HERBERT BIG BAND
There’s Me and There’s You (CD) – !K7

Those familiar with Matthew Herbert won’t be surprised that his new effort, There’s Me and There’s You, proves a sometimes challenging, always swinging compendium of glitchy show tunes. This second release from his incarnation as The Matthew Herbert Big Band is also a highly political album. We’re told its “dominant theme is power and its abuses in the 21st century,” and its cover even features a petition for music to be “a political force of note and not just the soundtrack to over-consumption.” It’s complex and cheerily excoriating in a way that only Herbert could arrange. “The Story,” for example, begins with a rude shock of sound, a snap like lightning, then settles into heavy beats and then finger snaps before London’s Eska Mtungwazi kicks in with her powerful vocals. It’s a delight divining the mélange of sounds Herbert serves up. He swipes the sounds of matches being lit, nails being driven into a coffin, and, er, 70 condoms getting dragged across the floor of the British Museum, among others. Most provocatively, he knit “Nonsounds” together with recordings from Palestine, including cicadas, roosters, and the sound of protesters being shot against the wall separating Palestine from Israel. The see-sawing here between expertly-crafted big band sound and more abrasive electronica may prove too challenging for some, but for those accustomed to Herbert’s manic method of musical chemistry, he doesn’t fail to satisfy and provoke. – Robert Stribley

matthewherbertbigband.com

This review was originally published in Skyscraper Magazine, Issue 30 (Spring 2009)

Monday, March 30, 2009

AutoPromotion

auto promotion

I have a new article, "Auto promotion: Using Twitter in the automotive industry," on Razorfish's Headlight blog about how the automotive industry is using (or failing to use) Twitter.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Kudos to Razorfish

WWD Screencap

Kudos to Razorfish for winning a MIN Best of the Web Award for Design for our work on WWD.com. I'm happy to say I worked on the project as a content strategist.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Scatter/Gather

Scatter/Gather screencap

Proud to announce the launch of Razorfish's new content strategy blog, Scatter/Gather. My first contribution, "To Fabricate or Not to Fabricate" critiques the practice of "astroturfing," wherein folks basically fabricate grassroots campaigns or, more loosely, positive reviews for a company or products. I advise against.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Protected



Protected: Massive Samples is the new album, which collects songs that Massive Attack have sampled throughout their albums.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Guantanamo To Go

Great change is already afoot in the United States as our newly minted President, Barack Obama, ordered the shutdown of Guantanamo Bay, saying the orders reflect "an understanding that dates back to our Founding Fathers: that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard."

You can commend Obama on his action via Amnesty International's prepared message, which also encourages him ensure that an independent commission to investigate abuses committed by the U.S. government in its "war on terror" is set up and to ensure that anyone responsible for human rights violations is held accountable."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Minding Your Microblogging Manners

My new article "Mind Your Microblogging Manners" is live on Slant, Razorfish's newsletter on the intersection of marketing and technology. (Link to PDF.)

The opening couple of paragraphs follow:
If you have any doubt about the impact of Twitter as a powerful forum for communication, talk to the folks at Motrin. In mid-November, Motrin pulled an ad aimed at mothers – or Motrin Moms – from the homepage of its Web site after scores of angry moms protested on Twitter that the ad slighted them for using baby slings. As a result, Motrin had to restructure their site after taking it down for part of the day.

Arguments followed as to whether Motrin should’ve pulled the ad or not. Perhaps, some argued,
they overreacted to a vocal, if highly organized (thanks to Twitter), minority of voices.
Regardless, the episode is another milestone in Twitter’s growth and proof of the economical
power it affords. Instead of smarting at the impact of the medium, companies would do well to
embrace it, as a powerful and economic means of Social Influence Marketing™.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Winter Thaw - A Playlist



Trying out 8-Tracks. Not sure whether I'm a fan or not yet, but it's a replacement for Muxtape, which the RIAA put the kibosh. Of course, Favtape still lurks, which does remarkably the same orientation as Muxtape.

The 8-Track selections seem to all fade out after a sample, which quickly proves annoying. There's no explanation on the site for why this is happening. Am I missing something? Maybe they've had to scale back their functionality due to complaints from RIAA as well?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

I Feel New York

Love New York, but not know what to do with her? I Feel New York is a great place to start. The site, currently in Beta, encourages you to select a mood - Naughty, Manly, Girly, Hungover, Energetic, Broke, Romantic, etc - and then offers you a few things to do, via a mashup of Google maps and some cute little icons. You can ask for invitation if you'd like to contribute to fleshing the maps out.

Cavalcade of Quotations

Doing a little winter cleaning tonight and happened to come across a string of quotations, which meant a lot to me at different times in my life. So, here they are then:

The only kind of dignity, which is genuine is that which is not diminished by the indifference of others. - Dag Hammarskjöld
I place the struggle for the victory of reason and of moral values above a peace brought by their loss. - Václav Havel in Memorandum
The voice of intelligence ... is drowned by the roar of fear. It is ignored by the voice of desire. It is contradicted by the voice of shame. It is biased by hate and extinguished by anger. Most of all, it is silenced by ignorance. - Dr. Karl Menninger
Values must be acted on to incite change. - me, I think, in grad school

Friday, January 02, 2009

U.S. Department of Paranoia



Via Reuters: A Muslim family was kicked off an AirTran flight yesterday after passengers heard them talking about safest seats.

What's unclear to me is: why weren't the complaining passengers the ones kicked off the plane? After all, they were the ones creating the ruckus, not the Muslim family. Apparently, to be Muslim is to be guilty by default.