Archive for January, 2010

Predictions Part 2

Wow, I was wrong on almost all accounts–mostly because I was giving Apple a lot of credit for changing the game; it now looks like they were just entering an already-existing market. Still, I thought the stock price going down was a no-brainer due to past antiicipation-effects. But maybe it’s because others thought the same thing, I don’t understand that shit. I’ve got a lot of issues with the closed down platform of the iPhone extending to a full-size offering, the same issues I have with the Kindle and other similar products. But those are for another blog post–for now, time to go on a shoot!

Predictions for the Apple Tablet

Tablet?

Tablet?

Tablet.

Buzz buzz buzz. It’s fun to make predictions. The Apple Tablet (which we presume will
be launched today) has been on everyones’ mind and blog, and im going to join in and predict things on top of what we already think we know. Let’s see how I do:

  • newspapers, magazines, blogs, and books (duh). Following the New York Times’ recent announcement, more content sites that have been “forced” into providing free content to compete will bet that on a closed device that makes it easy to pay, people will.
  • A transaction system. This is the buzz-idea of the year. The iPhone platform will now include a way to use your iTunes account to pay for anything. Expect an app, and an RFID chip in future iPhones that works with tap-to-pay credit card machines.
  • A cloud-based, touch-screen version of iWork. This has been suggested before and makes sense. Google Docs and other services encourage you to not care what kind of computer you are using. Apple has an incentive to change that.
  • Cloud music and sync. It’s time has come. Access your library of purchased tracks even if they’re not on your iPod. Do a full sync if you’re on wifi. I’d bet money that Google will be implementing this on the Android platform, and Apple also has a lot to lose in competition with “radio” services like Pandora.
  • The “Verizon” iPhone will accomplish this through 4G compatibility. The current Verizon network uses CDMA technology, which is not compatible with the rest of the world. Integrating it would serve little purpose when the 4G “LTE” technology will be compatible. Using thus assumption, this iPhone will not be ready until closer to September. You may not even see it announced.
  • iPhone 4.0 software will not come out today. When it does (in the next few months) it will allow anyone with current iProducts to buy these magazines, etc. with those products.
  • A matte screen or new screen technology, making it look less backlit and more like a book. Im not as sure about this one
  • Apple’s stock price will drop today, because people are bonkers.

Ah, tablet.

Your hypotheses for our scatterplot

Adam Robbins and I are making scatterplots for price v. calories in McDonalds and other restaurants. One of the breakfasts at McD’s costs $4.19 and is 1350cal!!

COMMENT, tweet, im, or facebook AND GIVE US ur predictions on graph shapes, linearity, marginal cost of calories, etc. in healthy vs unhealthy restaurants Well compare your hypotheses with our results in the blog post.

Thanks!

Bottled water is evil

More: Beyond The Bottle.

I bought $10 aluminum bottles at amazon.com for my roomies and I, and swore off drinking these terrible things. CALL THREE FRIENDS and buy them bottles too – if you pool together you get free shipping, and think of the plastic use you will have saved. Or, just try some Onion humor!

If you like your news NYTimes style check out their article, or read the facts on water bottles below. Individual facts have gotten a lot of criticism in the comments on the site where I found the infographic, but that shouldn’t change the overall conclusion: it’s really bad and don’t do it.

The Facts About Bottled Water

Sometimes I wish my blog was a tumblr.

“A man should learn to detect and watch that gleam of light which flashes across his mind from within, more than the lustre of the firmament of bards and sages. Yet he dismisses without notice his thought, because it is his. In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.”
-Ralph Waldo Emerson

Man, I’ve thought that before.

What will come after Twitter?

I’ve been using Twitter for several months now and have a much better understanding of it than I had before. It is a lot like email, in the sense that its possibilities are not immediately apparent until they are explored (in other words, email was not just a quicker way to send email but an entirely new form of communication.)

Why Twitter is Great Now

There are a few revolutions contained within Twitter, and I will explore each of them before concluding with the reasons I think the service will be replaced with something better, or morph itself.

The first is its radical openness. My usual description is of many people speaking loudly in a big room. Conversations are audible by everybody, even if they are formulated as private thoughts or 2-way conversations. The benefits of this model are tremendous and readily apparent: massive polls can be taken quickly, everyone can shape a conversation, and like-minded people can quickly span multiple degrees of separation to encounter one another. It takes the process begun with Facebook wall posts to a more extreme, less personal level. All well and fine.

The second is is aggregate-ability. The buzzword “live search” is now being used, describing the body of tweets as a rich live data source that can be collated and related together through search. Add to this a shifting tag cloud and you’ve got a real hive mind going.

The third, and I believe least important, is its character limit. Much is made of the effects of 140-character limits on discourse, but I think it is arbitrary and silly. Longer thoughts are broken up into multiple tweets or included in a link; shorter sentences probably would have been short anyways.

Twitter’s Limitations

What I believe is important about the 140-character limit is that it has made our tweets accessible. They are easy to create and easy to scan through and aggregate; but I don’t think that a 140-character limit is necessary to achieve those aims.

While Twitter has given us the ability to speak in the moment to anybody, its ability to collate these discussions is actually piss-poor. Yes, it’s clear that many people are tweeting about healthcare, but what are they saying. A click on the tag might reveal 50 tweets; how do those possibly represent the many thousands of tweets? How many Twitterers are for a healthcare bill and how many are not? How many are watching CNN and how many are actually Senators?

Twitter’s primary limitation, which it will never be able to overcome as long as it is passing only little bits of plain text, is that it leaves all the processing to our own brains. Two friends might tweet that they are in Boston for the weekend, and unless they or somebody else notices this, neither will find out. Thousands will review a movie on Twitter, but it will take a special website to extract this information.

Twitter’s secondary limitation is its inflexibility. 140 characters is enough to link to anything, but this is a simple hack. We need a platform that contains longer articles, photos and multimedia, television broadcasts, flight schedules, etc.

On to the Future

The future will look a lot like what we call the semantic web. The concept has been lambasted many times but I believe in it wholeheartedly. It’s a web where relationships between data are defined and actionable.

The future platform I envision will encompass everything you let it. Typed documents, IM conversations, emails, blog postings and articles, and all other forms of media. The platform will have a rudimentary ability to determine the meaning of typed words, which will grow with the size of the data collection. It will know what you have seen on TV, what you have read, etc., and when you type something similar to something you have read, a box will pop up asking you whether the thought came from that source. Far more sophisticated than something like a Retweet, the platform will collate your life with that of those around you, identifying shared throughlines and influences.

With this platform any information will be shareable, and innovative ways to browse and query this information accessible to anybody. If you are working on a paper and would like help with a question, select which part to make public and throw the question out into the ether. People who have written similar papers or helped you on papers before will be notified. Like a wildly more advanced version of Facebook’s News Feed.

The only thing left will be our day-to-day conversations, and these will certainly be indexable too. What horror will come when the Google haze comes to rest on even our day-to-day interactions, but I think it is inevitable.

The Chief Contender

Did somebody say Google? When considering the requirements for a next generation of Twitter, I begin to see Google Wave as its visionary successor. I think that Google Wave’s current presentation is only a subset of what it will be able to do, and see its ambition as extending far beyond its current state. What Wave is really creating is a socially mediated way to share everything, with no regard for location on the web or medium. It’s all integrated into one platform (like Twitter) that can be searched and aggregated. But it comes with complex social webs and privacy functions built in, and is infinitely more flexible.

Imagine if your cell phone creates Waves, not calls, that can be indexed and edited, synced with information already known about your contacts. In not so much time, text messages and voice conversations can be incorporated into a shifting, interrelated mass of information that is your experience.

Now yes, that’s creepy. But tell me it’s not coming. And tell me it’s not going to blow Twitter out of the water.

MLK, on activism and causality

“There is no way to peace. Peace is the way.”
-pacifist A.J. Muste

“Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek but a means by which we arrive at that goal.”
-Martin Luther King Jr.

Follow me for a moment on a journey through the human mind. (or a heady rant…you decide) I have been contemplating and discussing these ideas a lot recently and would be very interested to hear your thoughts.

Think about cause and effect in your conception of action. With each action we conceive of, the effect of that action in many ways defines it and casts judgment on its validity. A few examples: when we are racing to make an appointment, the racing is defined by the appointment. If we are then too early, the racing is considered foolish; if we are on time, it is considered wise. The act of listening is defined by what we end up hearing, or are trying to hear. The act of giving money to a homeless person is defined by their reception and use of that money. In my usual way of thinking, an effect is necessarily the reason for doing an action. I learn Spanish in order to know Spanish.

Now consider that this paradigm is a subjective lens by which you are viewing the world. It comes from the experience of time passing us in a particular direction (forward) and from the fact that we have human needs which must to be managed, so we have been programmed to seek results. We construct narrative around every action and moment, and privilege later moments in time over earlier ones as the final judgment of a story. And why should it be? Where is the one final moment that tells us whether all we have done is futile or not, and why should it have more power than the present one?

So let’s deny ourselves this modality for a moment. There are now entities and there is intention. Results of actions are no longer the reason for them. It’s a total mindfuck if you’re really in it; people and entities that just are, set in a location in the sphere of ideas. The dominant mediator between acts is now ideological similarity and not causality. For example, what we before considered “giving a dollar to a homeless person” now becomes a smile, a human connection, and generosity. Rather than traveling through the 3D world we see with our eyes, we are traveling through a multidimensional world of ideas and experiences. Rather than do an action to achieve a specific result, we can try to remain in one location in this multidimensional world. And when others follow us on this journey, that is the change we seek.

Causality...yah bitches!

Causality...yah bitchiz!

Some important Buddhist tenets stem from this mindset: present-mindedness and attachment to one’s own action rather than its result. It is a very human way of perceiving the world, and after some consideration it I think it has tremendous validity and wisdom.

This is the vision of A.J. Muste and Martin Luther King Jr.: that separating our life and work into 1) goals and 2) the means to attain those goals is fallacious, and that a goal is not something to attain but to embody. This concept informs the meaning of activism and the search for positive change, and I like to think the philosophy can be applied to a banker as much as to Mother Theresa.

So in respect for Dr. King and all that he stood for, I hope we as a world strive to embody his ideals at every moment and become the change we seek.

Projects projects projects

I’ve taken a much-needed break from the blog and spent some time in the real world which, for all its uninterestingness and problems, has the advantage of being real. But now I’m back, and it’s looking to be a busy year.

The question “so what are you doing these days?” is so difficult because the answer takes about five minutes. It’s everything and nothing, I’m busy but I’m not. It will be different tomorrow and was different yesterday. Here’s what it is right now:

1/3 of my focus is devoted to my current internship and freelance work, 1/3 is devoted to finding a steady job in film, and the other 1/3 is focused on personal screenplays, videos, and pitches. Videos and pitches are always preliminary until they happen, and it is in the nature of this industry that they often do not happen. The failure of these endeavors is always a useful experience. A contact may come out of it, or the germ of another proposal or project, or a useful exercise much like an academic paper. But take that to mean that many of these projects will never see the light of day except in this casual mention.

Here’s a few of the projects I am working on and will be blogging about in the future. Want to work together? We’ll talk!

  • I’m pitching a video art installation. An immersive exhibit, with televisions and video cameras placed all around the installation connecting visitors with themselves and others. The effect of time and causality dissolves and visitors are left to explore their own desire to observe others. Facial recognition and other technologies are leveraged to turn the entire exhibit into a platform that can be extended through programming and placed into other spaces around the world. (If that was gibberish, just know it will be really awesome and the most interesting peoplewatching experience you’ve ever had. If I can make it happen this will go up in New York this year.)
  • I’m writing a miniseries on a young teenager coming to terms with his homosexuality, family, and the corrupted value systems of his town. It’s going to be about five seasons and take him through different locales, many phases of his life, and loads of interesting characters.
  • I’m brainstorming a web startup relating to internet video.
  • Oh right, I really. Need. A job.

Combine all that with the hope of continuing to work with Oren Jacoby, Mirra Bank on First Pitch, Susan Campos, Andy Suzuki on a music video, and new projects with a number of different people, and it’s looking like some great movies will be made.

DONATE TO HAITI NOW

$5 or $5000, just do it.

My family is pooling our donation and splitting it across Doctors Without Borders, Yele, Oxfam, and Planting Peace.

Castle on High at Brown Filmmaker Showcase!

Castle on High

Follow my watch. Yes, you are getting very sleeepy. See my moooovie.

Hello dear readers!

Exciting news…my film, Castle on High, will be making its New York City premiere with the Brown Alumni Club. It will be screened with other awesome short films created by Brown alumni at an awesome event with food and wine, and it would mean a lot to me if you could come. Tickets are still available online at this point, so I’d jump on them.

JANUARY 12
6:30 – 9:30 PM
Helen Mills Theatre
137-139 West 26th Street / NYC
BUY TICKETS
($20, with food and wine)