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Archive for October, 2009

“Dirt for dirt’s sake”

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

George Putnam’s incredible rant…tweaked a bit. I didn’t shoot this myself (obviously), and had trouble embedding it; so here’s the link to it on YouTube.

Alex (Trebek) is a minor god

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

Wolf Blitzer can’t hold a candle to  him.

This is a YouTube link posted by The Young Turks. I like their style; reminds me of late night TV, before there were a gazillion channels.

Blitzer did a staggeringly poor job; and the Turks now refer to him and other news anchors as “news actors”.  Next time you watch TV news just think of them as actors.

The Science Behind the Impulse

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

For the end user, everything is impulse. We may sit and ponder, analyze, reduce, quantify and qualify. But it all comes down to that click moment: judgments are made in the blink of an eye.  We all have our own personal paradigms, and exploring on the web isn’t likely to change that; more so to reinforce existing ones.

It is impossible to appeal to everyone; be it wax beans, kangaroo burgers or squid. Everything, excluding math, is subject to personal taste.

Some sites are deceptively simple; others are too busy, busy, busy. I prefer the slow invitation. Most sites tend to whomp you on the head right off the bat. Look at me!  I find that rather numbing; it’s the MTV approach. Filtering noise will become an increasingly important factor in the new social architecture.

For the curious, or careless: you can all too easily find yourself in alien territory.

I’ve chosen three sites to benchmark, which are indirectly competitive with each other. Demographics are about the same: mostly male, 20 – 40s age bracket. All of them appeal to movie fans; all of them have good readability.

1. Jaman.com is a movie download & purchase site; of the three, it has the broadest audience (as it offers the widest range of products and services).

2. Grindhouse Database is geared for the cult movie enthusiast; this audience is more interested in the non-Hollywood film industry; and the more “obscure” the film, the better.

3. Monsters In Motion is the most exclusive of the three, geared for hard core sci-fi movie fans and memorabilia collectors.

I.  JAMAN.COM

Jaman is a commercial/entertainment site with an extensive movie database emphasizing “offbeat” cult and b-movies,  featuring video downloads (both free and purchasable).

Jaman is a busy site, crowded with attention grabbers (like being in a virtual shopping mall); much of it competes for your attention simultaneously; but there’s plenty to choose from. It has an extensive database with high end graphics and scripting.

Main page features How To: Find Movies, Watch Movies, and Socialize – allowing users to login and review movies they’ve watched on Jaman.

Jaman includes an ingenious “Movie Mood Selector” whereby the user can move a series of sliders, and the site will make suggestions based on user choices.

The slider bars are Serious/Funny; Mellow/Charged; Deep/Shallow; Tears/Bullets.

If I move all the sliders to Serious, Charged, Deep, Bullets, it will offer on-target selections such as Charles Bronson’s Death Wish (ultra violent bummer), Orson Welles’ The Stranger (not violent but definitely deep and emotionally charged); but is a bit scattershot, including a very charged bullet-type actioner Van Helsing – a film definitely NOT deep or serious. Random or deliberate? Not sure, but it works.

You can buy/rent online; and Jaman presents a very compelling urge to whip out the credit card. Are they competing with Netflix?

Website Grader gives Jaman a 97 rating.

Here is their traffic report from Semrush.com

At worst, the site is too noisy – too much competing for your attention at once – and it may load very slowly with older systems or slow connections.

II. THE GRINDHOUSE DATABASE PAGE

Grindhouse Database is an information/entertainment site,  a data base geared for the off-off-beat audience.

Fairly comprehensive; a lot of material; “Grindhouse” refers to movies that don’t make the “A” list theaters (dominated by Hollywood and whatever the next Star Wars movie happens to be); these are films that run in what we used to call “grindhouse” theaters tucked into 42nd Street in NYC (and the former Lincoln Theater in New Haven); sticky-floor thrillers, chillers, soft/hard exploitation pics. It’s retrograde, and deliberately so.

Site is more straightforward, not as slick as Jaman; a bit more like browsing through a catalog (it’s a browsing database). Its emphasis is more on information than outright selling.

Organization is a bit clumsy, more like a fanzine or newsletter. For example, “Getting Started” should be on top and lead you further in; I think this site assumes you already know what you’re in for, and it’s not for the novice.

There’s an honesty, but an initial randomness in its organization. Site should open with the introductory page. That should be the lead – offer a quick clear exposition of what “grindhouse” means in movie terms. Personally, I like a doorway page, providing it doesn’t take a long time to load. Some sites make magnificent doorways, but take far, far too long to load.

It’s also a quasi-social site. GD has a Twitter link. I fired off a quick tweet for a movie suggestion to add to their database and they responded almost immediately (and enthusiastically)!

Website Grader gives GrindhouseDatabase a 96 rating.

Here is their traffic report from Semrush.com

III.  MONSTERS IN MOTION

Monsters In Motion is a commercial site, offering a wide range of collectibles for the “hard core” sci-fi nostalgia enthusiast, offering pre-built and make-your-own models.

Expertise in offering very precise models of nostalgic sci-fi and monster movie characters; a way of making ephemeral visions into realities.

Wow! If you’re into this, you can max out your credit cards in no time. Exceptional demonstrations of visual models you can build yourself, or buy pre-made for display.

This site is for the sci-fi movie fan who will burrow further than most to find memorabilia related to his/her favorite films. Almost all of them are nostalgic (from the 1950s upward).

Forgotten Prisoner of CastelMare is a perfect example of niche market: originally made in the 1960s by Aurora (now called Polar Lights). Seemingly simple plastic put-together model of a chained skeleton in an old dungeon. Yet this became one of the most sought after models in Aurora’s history. Why? Must have struck a nerve in the niche.

Website Grader gives MonstersInMotion a 76 rating.

Here is their traffic report from Semrush.com

in tiny paragraphs

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Frank Zappa’s testimony before the almighty State. Worth another look as Washington ponders a “Fairness Doctrine for the Internet.”

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Monopoly = censorship.

Plexus

Monday, October 19th, 2009

“Many is the mirage I chased. Always I was overreaching myself. The oftener I touched reality, the harder I bounced back to the world of illusion, which is the name for everyday life. ‘Experience! More experience!’ I clamored. In a frantic effort to arrive at some kind of order, some tentative working program, I would sit down quietly now and then and spend long, long hours mapping out a plan of procedure. Plans, such as architects and engineers sweat over, were never my forte. But I could always visualize my dreams in a cosmogonic pattern. Though I could never formulate a plot I could balance and weigh opposing forces, characters, situations, events, distribute them in a sort of heavenly lay-out, always with plenty of space between, always with the certitude that there is no end, only worlds within worlds ad infinitum, and that wherever one left off one had created a world, a world finite, total, complete….”

Henry Miller, Plexus

antonin kaos

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Who needs information?

History repeats infinitely, or am I simply generational? I find the plethora of net info to be simply noise. I tune out. Or I single out things that don’t interest me; yet without the info, how would I know? Nobody wants to live in a cocoon; and yet, isn’t what the virtual worlds are about? Cocooning.

I don’t have time to figure out the latest “trend”  – download a document in .enw or other format – doesn’t work? You can lose hours trying to download the f**ker, only to find you have to buy a password or install a new item, reboot, etc.

Looking for simplicity; not 100 ways to do the same thing. I use the net for results; not the process.  How do microwave ovens work? Try putting a raw egg in one. Or a Tesla Coil.

If that makes me conventional, so be it. I need to prioritize, or my head will explode.

If I could share anyone’s brain it would be Antonin Scalia.

This Way to the Egress

Monday, October 19th, 2009

“Professional” journalists are finally learning what the alternative online media already know. Faster is not always better. Professionalism isn’t measured by money, but by accuracy. Granted, there’s always a time frame (life span) of interest for most stories, depending on the weight or importance of the story itself. And dare I say that accuracy in online terms may be relative?

Elvis Loved Bacon

For example, it’s been eternally reported that Elvis loved peanut butter and bacon sandwiches, which contributed to his obesity and health problems. But what kind of bread? What brand of bacon? Hormel? Oscar Meyer?

Perhaps the Oracle of Bacon?

Elvis himself is history, but he lives on “virtually” through his music, movies and tv appearances, which, thanks to the net, will never die. And was he really slumped over a toilet, and just how many drugs were in his system? Is Graceland getting another makeover? Welcome to the niche audience.

Pardon My Niche

A lot of people still adore Elvis and want to know everything about him. For most of us, he’s locked in time; for others he’s perpetual. They didn’t call him “the King” for nothing.

A niche is a person, place or thing (animal, mineral or vegetable – no Elvis jokes please) that only certain people resonate to. Cults are the extreme end of niche markets. But they can also be as simple as model airplane building, wine tasting or monster movies. The niche is the commonality. “News” as we’ve experienced through major mainstream companies isn’t niche – it’s delivered like buckshot to hit the widest possible audience. It’s also formulaic: grab ‘em with a current controversy (often manufactured by the media themselves), followed by fires, fashion shows and a few cute puppies.

So until recently our culture’s [tv] news was consumed at dinner time. Uncle Walter Cronkite always sat in the king’s chair. But his heir, Dan Rather, destroyed that credibility with his phony George Bush story. Thanks to the “remote audience” he was summarily dethroned because “amateurs” around the world proved that the very documents Rather purported as truth simply couldn’t be real – because the typeface didn’t exist at the time.

Create or Destroy?

Irresponsible journalism kills. Misinformation unleashed by virtual virus or video buckshot can do enormous damage – simply because people have a predilection to believe what they see. Unfortunately, volumes can be written about how, willfully or ignorantly, mass journalism disseminates untruths at the expense of human lives.

Among the most egregious was Newsweek’s phony story about a Koran flushed down a toilet, leading to riots and murders. Whoops. Any of these professionals wonder how you’d flush a book down a toilet in the first place?

Lions at the Gatekeepers

Axel Bruns’ article on Wikinews declares: “alternative online news sites can be described as a form of remote commentary or annotation of what is covered in the mainstream news. In doing so, alternative online news frequently practices what can be described as gatewatching as opposed to traditional journalistic gatekeeping: where in an age of easy publication and distribution of content over the Net no one news organization has the power any more to choose what news is ‘fit to print’ and what news is discarded, and where therefore the ‘gates’ of publication have multiplied beyond all control, such alternative online news publishers watch the gates of as many other news (and newsworthy) organizations, and analyze, evaluate, and discuss the information which passes through them.”

So who’s guarding the henhouse?

This way to the Egress.

Say the Secret Word

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

You bet your life.

Don’t worry, it’s only a game.

Eggs on Top

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

I wouldn’t click this if I were you.

Welcome to the Machine

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

Welcome to the Machine

Yes I live here, but I resist any notion of a “collective” and have well before The Matrix came along. I grew up during the Cold War, and collectivism (call it a community if you will) was enforced at the expense of individualism.

I am inherently suspicious of technology, as it leads to moral relativism. Webs are woven by spiders to trap prey, paralyze and eat them alive. I see Humanity (at least the sentient ones) dissolving into a virtual collective.

Am I showing my age? Just an island? Or should I move to Brazil?

Here are three good reasons: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

And don’t ask me about BitTorrent or I’ll find you in Quake.