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.
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.
- “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.
How do you get a show-stopping ensemble of pop culture icons to star in your ads? Throw a house party. To promote the 60th anniversary of the brand’s triple stripe icon, adidas launched a global marketing campaign featuring TV and print work from the adidas Originals House Party. Party guests included over a dozen artists and athletes including Missy Elliot, David Beckham, Russell Simmons, Katy Perry, and The Ting Tings. More elements of the campaign are expected throughout the year.
Last night, adidas brought the ad concept to life with a real house party in Berlin. Hosted at the adidas No. 74 concept store, the space was transformed to mimic an actual house party featuring a living room and kitchen with self-serve drinks, pizza delivery throughout the night, and plenty of music. The Berlin house party was more than just a venue to celebrate. adidas was also offering shoes for 19.49 Euros (about $25), which had a continuous line of fans waiting outside for most of the day.
By now you’ve probably at least heard of Microsoft Songsmith, the software that creates music when you sing into your computer. The products was introduced to the world earlier this month via a four-minute video that shows how a jingle-writing dad and his clever daughter are both able to benefit from the software.
The video is getting panned in the media and around the web. Even the New York Times has taken notice. In an article published last week, NYT writer Randall Stross references Sunsan Sontag’s 1964 essay Notes on Camp that identifies a “category of art that isn’t campy, just ‘bad to the point of being laughable, but not bad to the point of being enjoyable.’ The Songsmith video is exactly that.”
Microsoft was apparently not kidding about this product, but thousands of other people are. Thanks to YouTube, there are already dozens of paradoies online, including several gems of remastered classis like “Wonderwall” by Oasis, “Roxanne” by The Police, and “White Wedding” by Billy Idol, all made using the Songsmith program.