Director of narrative, commercial, and virtual reality

Film Portfolio

Project Greenlight finalist | Short about sex, death, existence, time

Lily in the Grinder

Shabbat Dinner

Comedy short about coming out | Featured in 55+ festivals

Search is Back

Featured on TechCrunch | 7k users per day

Global event handing out nametags on first Sat in June

Nametag Day

Uber Forecast

Tracking Uber's surge pricing to guess what the weather might be

Archive for June, 2011

Scan the Tee!

Good morning to all!

I (get that phone out of my face) NY

I’m excited to take the wraps off a project I’ve been working on for the past several weeks. Even if you don’t know what they are, you are probably familiar with QR codes, 2D barcodes that can be scanned using your cell phone. They are used in so many advertisements, but so few people outside of advertising have really played around with them.

Now what’s really cool about barcodes that can hold a lot of information, is that you can advertise things yourself. Loud and overt messages can live in plain sight. You can reveal personal details in a space that is more private.

My new shirt store, ScanTheTee, gives you a fun new option for t-shirts. Check it out, grab a shirt if you’re interested, and please send me an email if you have a particular shirt you want.

Focus

“When you throw a rock into the water, it will speed on the fastest course to the bottom of the water. This is how it is when Siddhartha has a goal, a resolution. Siddhartha does nothing, he waits, he thinks, he fasts, but he passes through the things of the world like a rock through water, without doing anything, without stirring; he is drawn, he lets himself fall. His goal attracts him, because he doesn’t let anything enter his soul which might oppose the goal. This is what Siddhartha has learned among the Samanas. This is what fools call magic and of which they think it would be effected by means of the daemons. Nothing is effected by daemons, there are no daemons. Everyone can perform magic, everyone can reach his goals, if he is able to think, if he is able to wait, if he is able to fast.”
-Herman Hesse, ‘Siddhartha’

It was over a year ago that those words touched me so much, and since then my singleminded focus on my career has wavered and wobbled and ebbed and flowed. After an incredible year at FilmAid I decided a month ago to switch to freelance work and focus on my career. Within a few weeks, I was back talking to my old web design clients and a few new ones, making plans for projects that would last through the summer and beyond. The prospect of moving straight out of a job to a paying freelance career was really exciting, and I felt very satisfied with how things were turning out.

Today I was asked by a tree what I wished for most, and I realized that at the moment it is a successful career. Not money or fame but impact. Looking back on my life I want to be able to say, I had a real impact on the world. Walking home from dinner with my new roommate Tim we discussed all the places we wanted to travel and I thought, how sad that we only have one life to experience things, that we can only walk one path even if it will go very far. And tonight I watched a video of John Mayer putting out his second album and realized he looks young now. He was 26 then..I turn 26 in a week.

I will admit in this very public place to sometimes being a slave to that creature in the pit of my stomach that says I am not good enough or successful enough. Sometimes it creeps up and latches on and becomes an all-consuming fear that I will never have a chance to do what I want to do and life is passing me by. It saps my creativity even as it drives me to produce further. It is one of a small pantheon of demons – perhaps you know it too. It is self-focused, not result-focused, destructive. It forgets who I am.

My challenge is to learn from this demon and not let it consume me, to remember the other goals of my life: to live in happiness and harmony and change the world in small ways as well. My challenge is to remember that sometimes sitting still is faster than thrashing forward, to live in moments.

And I think of Siddhartha, who has a singleminded focus but is not obsessed. Who is clear of mind and open to his future, even while he is set on his goal. He goes about his life with open eyes and in following him I try not to fall inward to distraction.

Today I fired my web design clients. Today I decided to make films, and that felt good.

RIP NYT

Looking at the recent ads for the New York Times premium subscription service, it seems to me that the end is near for this paper as we once knew it, and I’ll tell you why.

In the contracting and restructuring of the journalism industry, we’ve been looking at the New York Times as the great microcosm for the journalism industry as a whole. As my friend Maha will tell you, they are one of the last sources left for long-term investigative reporting and authoritative, thoroughly fact-checked information.

Their biggest challenge is that they don’t own these facts once they uncover them. All blog posts that references NYT articles are in direct competition for readership with NYT.

So in adopting a paid subscription service, what are the primary assets you’d have expected the NYT of the 1990’s to be flaunting? In depth news analysis? Access to primary sources? Archives of the print edition?


Well look at what we see instead on this subway ad: videos of ballet dancers; pretty charts and pictures; something called “popcasts (mp3)” which I can only assume is a focus group test tube baby focused mostly on Rihanna and Sarah Palin.

If this ad is indicative of their overall strategy (and if it’s not then they have other problems), then they are trying to compete in the distraction-sphere, and they have already lost. Why would people pay an investigative news organization for infotainment when so much of it is free? And how can an organization as large as The New York Times expect to be nimble enough to compete with Boing Boing or YouTube? They own a half-used building; when executives are incompetent they are demoted and kept at the same pay level due to old-boy cronyism.

A new media landscape requires change, yes, but to abandon a core competency, especially one that is as useful as NYT’s, is foolish. If they cannot compete on their own terms, there’s no way they will win.

Ryoji Ikeda, The Transfinite

As I alluded to in my last post, I’m spending June at NYU’s ITP grad program. It’s a hard thing to describe, but it’s kind of like an inventing camp for nerds. We learn how to make things (check out my MTA sign beta I made on Saturday!), about electricity and electrical programming, hacking things like the Microsoft Kinect, and fanning the flames of our creativity. My hope is to come out of it with a prototype for an art installation, plus perhaps a few other inventions.

To inspire us we went to see Ryoji Ikeda’s “The Transfinite,” an epic installation at the Park Avenue Armory. It is a huge multiscreen visualization of quantitative data designed to create an immersive experience. I thoroughly enjoyed it – even beyond what it is representing, the installation invokes a feeling of awe and a changed sense of time and place. I was entranced at an underlying order to the visuals and audio that I could not understand but nonetheless could feel.

I encourage anyone to go and take a look. It’s at the Park Avenue Armory until this Saturday, June 11.

1 in 1 at ITP Camp liveblog!

8:27pm – check out my day’s work! http://everythingiseverything.com/mta/ – very proud!

 

I’m in my first week of ITP Camp, a NYU grad program that combines creativity with multiple disciplines – basically, making shit.

Today we are doing 1 in 1, one project in one day. I eventually want to make a sign for my room like the New York subway signs, which tells when the next train will come. Ideally there will be an interface to enter in an address and choose nearby stations. Today, I’m just going to do the software component of it in javascript.

The steps I will try to take today:

  1. Create a page with PHP that scrapes the XML and updates it
  2. Add javascript to make it update more frequently using AJAX
  3. Style the page so it looks pretty
  4. Add another interface that allows you to choose subway lines/stations

10:42am – after breakfast, I start the day on the MTA developer resources download page.

1:07pm – wow. It’s been a few hours and I’ve just been trying to get the thing into a MySql database. I spent so much time trying to make a PHP program that imported the data directly in, and finally decided that it would take much less time to just import it using PhpMyAdmin, and if I want to automate figure out how to do it later. The data is in MySql now and I’m beginning to code!

1:53pm – happy I set aside the table import for later. I moved around a bunch of fields, which would have been so difficult if I had wanted to make it automatable. I guess for the future I will just have to massage the data to get it in manually. I have the following steps (which make more sense when you read the google documentation for the transit feed format):
1. use stop from Stop ID field
2. determine which days on calendar apply, create array of those
3. search for all upcoming stops at particular station on particular days
4. display!

And I’ve got up to step 2! Here’s the array:
3:16pm – I’ve got the queries set up, was ready to display, but when I did it was showing the wrong subway lines! Well I ran the sample query in PhpMyAdmin and realized I had put in the data into a number (integer) field, and not a text (varchar) one. Fixed that, reimported, let’s see if that will fix things.