Category Archives: new media

Pop culture on the web

With millions of pages of information being added to the information superhighway everyday, it’s amazing that two people, or three or even a million have all seen the same thing. And yet it happens. Maybe we hear about these memes on Best Week Ever or The Soup, maybe our friend passes along a link, or maybe we somehow stumbled upon it ourselves. Whatever the case, it’s amazing that amid all the noise and garbage online, I can still mention Diet Coke and Mentos or Rickrolling and people know what I’m talking about.

Here is the video I can’t get enough of right now. I started watching one week ago and I still laugh every time I see it. As a testament to the weird stickiness of random things on the web, over the weekend the video got over 1.5 million hits (I swear it wasn’t all me).

Admittedly, I’m not the hippest when it comes to memes, which is why I found this list helpful if not exhaustive: Greg Rutter’s Definitive List of the 99 Things You Should Have Already Experienced On The Internet Unless You’re a Loser or Old or Something.

Microsoft surfaces in Vegas

Now that touch screens have hit the masses via cell phones, it looks like touch tables may be next. There has been buzz about the Microsoft Surface Tables for awhile, but it still seemed like something only tech geeks would talk about. Until now.

rio-drinks

With Vegas hot spots like Mandalay Bay, the Palms and the Wynn stealing most of the spotlight, the Rio hotel and casino rarely makes it onto the buzz meter. But the Harrah’s owned property is making some smart decisions to earn cool points with hot new technology. According to this report on bub.blicio.us, Rio’s iBar features six of Microsoft’s Surface Tables that allow customers to use touch screen technology to do everything from watch YouTube videos, order drinks, play games alone or with friends, and even send pick-up lines and drinks to people at other tables.

Aside from custom content for Rio, several of the applications include branded content, like the bowling game using a lime to knock down empty Patron bottles.

touch-table1

This is a smart move for both Rio and Microsoft. Rio has a chance to gain some popularity by being a leader with this new technology and Microsoft has a much better chance of making waves in popular culture by allowing people to play with the product (why do you think Apple stores are always so crowded?).  The surface table interface clicks at the casino by delivering two critical benefits – interaction and customization:

  1. Interaction – It encourages people to further engage in an already social environment
  2. Customization – It offers highly personalized content through an entertaining and easy-to-use interface

Visualizing information

I’m analytical by nature but I have a hard time really processing information unless it’s represented visually. That’s why the graphics-heavy layout of USA Today and books like Edward Tufte’s The Visual Display of Quantitative Information are so fascinating.

One of my new favorite websites is FlowingData, which focuses exclusively on data visualization. At the end of the year they compiled the top 5 best visualization projects of 2008. In addition to being incredibly impressive projects, these projects are a good reminder that data can be both informative and really great to look at.

Not surprisingly, Radiohead made the shortlist with their “House of Cards” music video that used no cameras, only scanners and lasers. The video was just one of the band’s list of breakthrough, clutter-busting efforts over the past couple of years,  including offering a pay-what-you-want digital version of album “In Rainbows” that went on to top the charts in CD sales and a fan contest to create a music video.

Life in raw data

These days, there seems to be no limit to what the internet can do. We can learn about new inventions, find out the weather 3,000 miles away, book a vacation and catch up with friends. But the internet is best at amplifying the one thing we are most interested in: ourselves. In an inspiring article in Good magazine, Boing Boing‘s David Pescovitz talks about how technology is enabling us to not only learn more about ourselves but keep a record of who we are –  everything from exercise and diet habits to sleep cycles and number of phone calls made.

tim-idrinkthereforeiam

3-D Mania

3d-audience

What’s old is new again. So too with 3-D technology, the relic from the early 50s. Not just sequestered in science museums and IMAX theaters, 3-D is making a huge comeback, and it’s been a long time coming. The New York Times predicted a return of 3-D back in 2002. Last month, NYT revisited the topic after it got a lot of attention at the CES Show.

Last weekend’s SuperBowl highlighted just a few examples of today’s resurgence of 3-D technology. Here is a sample of the latest offerings from TV, movies and advertising:

Movies:

  • My Bloody Valentine 3D (out now)
  • Coraline (opens Friday)
  • Under the Sea 3D (Feb. 11)

Check out MarketSaw for a complete list of upcoming 3D movies.

TV:

  • Chuck episode in 3-D (NBC, aired Feb. 2)
  • A post on Craigslist in NY claims to be producing North America’s first 3-D show
  • Panasonic announced they would like to begin making 3-D TVs in 2010

Advertising:

Sweet Coraline

coraline_posterEverything about Coraline is a delight, from the story to the movie adaptation to its promotion.

Coraline is a spooky tale about a girl who finds a doorway into an alternative universe inhabited by strange and sometimes terrifying creatures, like a man made of rats and a couple who look just like her parents but who have shiny black buttons for eyes. Although the content seems a bit gruesome, the book is targeted to 9-12 year old readers. I read the story when it was first published in 2002 and was delighted by the imaginative creepiness of it, on par with Nightmare Before Christmas or Lemony Snicket’s Series of Unfortunate Events books.

Now the story of Coraline has been made into a “stop-motion horror fantasy” movie from the director of Nightmare Before Christmas and starring the voices of Dakota Fanning as Coraline and Teri Hatcher as Coraline’s mom and Other Mother. The promotion of the movie includes the standard fare: TV commercials, an interactive website, and a collection of accompanying merchandise on Amazon.com.

But the best promotion elements are less mainstream and celebrate the enigma and intrigue of the story:  50 mysterious boxes that were sent to bloggers and Coraline keys that have been placed in public areas in New York and Chicago (the keys have gotten attention on Craigslist and listings on eBay). You can follow the posts made by the bloggers who received boxes here.

coraline

coraline-chicago

HBO’s “Web of Secrets” clever but not original

biglove_home

Web of Secrets is HBO’s new site to promote “Big Love,” the critically acclaimed series about a polygamous family. The site is quite clever and allows visitors to read anonymous people’s secrets by clicking on linking words in each quote.

For example, you might stumble upon the secret “I dropped out of college 2 years ago but I still get financial aid.” If you then click on “I” you might find this secret morsel… “I’m going to marry someone I hate because it’s convenient.”

biglove_because

Anyone can submit their own secret by clicking the link at the bottom of the page. They have even set up a Twitter feed for those who want to get real-time updates on submitted secrets. The concept is both interesting and interactive, but it’s also strangely reminiscent of two other websites: PostSecret and We Feel Fine. According to AgencySpy, the agency for HBO approached PostSecret creator Frank Warren about using some of his postcards for the site. Warren said no and HBO proceeded with the idea anyway.

PostSecret

PostSecret

We Feel Fine

We Feel Fine

Web of Secrets is certainly not a new idea, but as a promotional concept, it’s a shinier and more polished version of things that already exist. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.