Not much to say about this Shatner/Conan remix video but: Wow. There's something very "meta" about remixing Shatner, given that the origins of configurable fan culture were Kirk/Spockslash and vids. And, like Shatner, it never gets old. Or bald.
Friend-of-Radar Joel Gershon shot and co-produced a really incredible mini-documentary (13 minutes) called "Wasteland," about "gleaners" who mine for recyclables and other cultural detritus at the Nonthaburi Landfill in Thailand.
It's amazing to see how many recognizable brands end up there. And yet not amazing at all. The gleaner culture is also very interesting; even though it's all about eking a living from other people's garbage, there's an ethic of sharing; if you find something valuable first, no one else can redeem it. And, despite the stink, the dirt, and the disease involved in the job, they seem to have about as much job satisfaction as your average big city office proles.
Current.tv (possible presidential contender, eco-warrior, and erstwhile Internet inventor Al Gore is the chairman and founder) has an interesting model; videos uploaded to the site can be "greenlighted" ("greenlit"?) for distribution on cable by viewers. Thus far, this video has been greenlighted by everyone who's voted.
George Lucas, the man who screamed like a wounded wookie when the Phantom Edit first introduced JarJar-free prequelosity to millions of online nerds, has come around, kind of.
Lucasfilm, which is in the middle of a hype cycle centered around the original film's thirtieth birthday extravaganza, has announced that this time around, fans are being invited to mash-up, remix, and even eff with the official storyline and timeline, using 250 officially sanctioned video clips from all six feature-length films. They're partnering with online video editing site Eyespot.com to do it, which should provide Web 2.0 legitimacy to the plan, plus a huge boost in subscriber numbers for the video site.
Of course, Lucas isn't exactly uploading the master keys to the Death Star; for one thing, Eyespot will use some kind of pattern recognition software to censor out any user-generated clips that contain "nudity, pornography, and the like" (seems like a pretty conveniently broad stricture). Also, remixers will have zero stake in their work; Eyespot and Lucasfilm will divvy up the proceeds from streaming advertisements served to viewers. And don't even think about the possibility of either the source materials or the products being released under a Creative Commons license...
...But all in all, we like this. We are happy. We might even make an all-Jar-Jar-all-the-time edit, if it's not deemed obscene.
A few weeks ago, I gave a talk at the Annenberg Center for Communication, based on the research I've been doing into sample-based music for my doctoral dissertation. Musicologist, musician and all-around cool human Joanna Demers (author of Steal this Music) also spoke, about the aesthetics of electronic music.
There's a WMV video of the event here, and an MP3 here. Howard Rheingold also blogged it here.
Many thanks to the Annenberg Center for giving us the opportunity to present our research, and to all the people who came to hear us.
Incidentally, Marissa and I will be presenting related research, based on our recent consumer survey about configurable cultural practices (e.g. mash-ups, remixes, machinima, etc.) at MIT5 in Cambridge later this month, and at ICA in San Francisco next month.
YouTube star and octogenarian sweetheart Sue Teller has posted a "how-to" video for making musical mash-ups. We're not sure what to make of this; has configurable culture gone from bleeding-edge to the granny set without passing Go or collecting $200? Or is Mrs. Teller simply living proof that when change happens, it happens in beautiful and unpredictable ways? Either way, we're delighted to finally hear "Flight of the Bumblebee" with a hip-hop backbeat -- the way it was meant to be heard.
Our only beef with the video: there's a conspicuously open laptop next to her turntables, but she doesn't seem to be using it to generate any sounds...
BTW, there's good reason to believe this is stealth marketing by Pepsico for the Mountain Dew brand. If so, we applaud it all the more.
How did the folks at Google lose this bidding war? Our favorite prematurely canceled television show, Arrested Development, has been revived -- sort of. In a (probably fruitless) effort to compete with GooTube, MSN Video has acquired the rights to distribute the show online, to showcase its new-n-improved™ Web video player. The first five episodes are now available, and all 53 will be rolled out within a year.
This is almost as smart an idea as the Zune is stupid. Arrested Development, with its rabid online fan base, is the perfect asset for Microsoft to lure geeky Firefoxers such as ourselves to its IE-only video site. And they seem to be making money, to boot -- each episode is punctuated by two interstitial video ads (a/k/a "commercials"). No skipping allowed. The one I muted was for a Chase credit card.
And I have to give credit where it's due -- unlike many other Web video players (Motherload, anybody?), this thing actually works -- provided you have the latest IE, WMP and Flash plug-ins installed. Once the DRM gets hacked so I can skip the ads, maybe I'll actually use it.