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.

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3-D Mania

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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:

Video games + music = jackpot

Often talk of a recession leads to how people are restructuring not just their finances, but their time. Many people start spending more time in the home – cooking, renting movies and reading books. Increasingly, both children and adults are spending some of that time playing video games. Despite the economic downturn with many industries struggling to stay afloat, video games raked in a record-breaking $11.7 billion in 2008, a 23% increase over 2007. That’s according to Mediaweek who cites numbers from NPD Group.

Interestingly, sales indicate that people are especially interested in top titles with a strong music tie-in.

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  • “Madden NFL 09” sold over 5.25 million units and includes a 26-song soundtrack.
  • “Grand Theft Auto IV” (5.22 million units) features 214 songs on 16 stations in the game’s car radios – from Latin to hard rock to hip-hop.
  • “Guitar Hero World Tour” (3.4 million units) debuted in October and includes songs from major artists like Jimi Hendrix and Metallic, who included their new album “Death Magnetic” as downloadable content on the game.
  • “Rock Band 2” (1.7 million units) features over 80 tracks including exclusives from AC/DC, Guns ‘N Roses, and Bob Dylan. The game release coincided with a 29-city “Rock Band Live” tour headlined by Panic at the Disco and Dashboard Confessional.

When’s the last time you remembered a cab ride?

978060241_1e6ff7493e_oIt’s easy to assume that your next experience in a cab will be like every other, no matter where you are. You tell the driver your destination and sit silently looking out the window or reviewing news and/or emails on your Blackberry or iPhone. Maybe you attempt some idle chit-chat with the driver. Whatever your protocol, chances are you forgot about the ride the moment you stepped out of the car. That’s why cabs are such an easy space to make memorable.

As Arturo Trovato writes, his recent experience in a Chicago taxi got him thinking about the simple things that can make the experience so much more enjoyable and even worth talking about.

A few minutes into the ride I asked my cabbie what gives. Why are you messing with me? Turns out he had this idea one day that people need a cab ride to be something more than a way to get from point A to point B. A cab ride should be about peace of mind and tranquility; a client should feel happier after experiencing the ride. The cabbie also told me that a cab should be a place where people can share their thoughts with those who ride after them.”

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.

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

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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.”

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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.

White House 2.0

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President Obama is ushering in plenty of change with his new administration, and much of his promise for transparency centers around technology. He successfully leveraged technology early on the campaign trail by soliciting donations and dispatching information via cell phones and online campaigns, and he has continued to embrace new media since being elected. In addition to making whitehouse.gov a user-friendly, informative site for information about legislation, the administration’s agenda and newsworthy events, Obama’s team has also launched a dedicated channel on vimeo with press events, the President’s weekly address, and even space for viewer comments.