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December 2009

Posts from November 2009

Running Up / London Massive

Blogging up

Despite what my friend [and fellow contender] Iain referred to as my 'shameless whoring' ,

[or what I considered 'very conservative campaigning', which is perhaps a reflection of how living in America can alter your perceptions of promotion],

I didn't win the British Interactive Media Award for Best Blog.

*Sad Face*

But I did come second and therefore Ran Up, which is completely awesome - thank you all so much.

*Big Grin*

So, to celebrate appropriately [i.e. in Britain], I'm going to be supping generic lagers in the Fitzroy Tavern on Charlotte Street, near Goodge Street Station [in London - map here] this Thursday [Nov 26th] from about 7pm

[possibly a bit earlier since I'm on 'vacation' - Happy Thanksgiving!]

[it's a Samuel Smith pub and therefore doesn't carry brand name beer].

I'm not sure it's quite a Beersphere [I'm planning a big Xmas one in Dec - more to come on that later], perhaps more of a Beer Hemisphere.


So, if you're about and fancy a pint, first round is on me.

PLOT: Data is Beautiful


My mate Lisa just spent her maternity leave [CONGRATS!] conceiving an idea, spawned by many hours staring at ugly data.

boring meetings = interesting ideas

Lisa Prince, a strategist at Wieden+Kennedy, sat in many meetings staring at data. Sometimes her mind would wander. She started to notice that by squinting a little the data began to transform into something quite beautiful.

When strategist Lisa met art director, Nicholla, x met y and they had the idea to transform data into beautiful pieces of wearable art.

So Lisa asked her lovely husband - APRINCE - to design the site, and jewelry designer Hannah Havana [is that your real name? I have just realised that names that rhyme are awesome] to make the jewelry come true.

PLOT is the result - a data viz jewelry company, created in association with W&K London, that believes:

Data is Beautiful!

If you have seen the piece about data viz Noah and I wrote a while back for Contagious - Ways of Seeing - you'll know we agree.

Those of you interested in data and how it effects marketing and that would also do well having a read of Matt's President's Prize winning IPA Excellence Diploma Thesis:

Data is Our Future: Welcome to the Age of Infomagination. DOWNLOAD MY PAPER HERE.

Meta-Semiotics (Awesome Youtube Composition)

[via - where you may also find the full lyrics]

This piece of recombinant awesomesness is just beautiful - and, importantly I think, NOT A REMIX.

See, recombinant compositions began as remixes, this is true. But increasingly I have come to think that recombinance is not the same as remixing and this is a lovely example of why.

This composition - and it is a composition - is created from fragments of culture, but is not a remix of any of the pieces.

It is rather something new, created from existing pieces.

[Of course, every new piece of culture is created from others, because culture is inherently recombinant.]

The difference, as I've said before, lies in the level of complexity - the signs being deployed have previously been deployed, and that deployment is being incorporated into the composition.

This is what's known as meta-semotics: a secondary sign, where such is considered to be of a different quality than the meaning of a word in language. The reference of the one [secondary] sign is to another [primary] sign.

[You can argue, of course, that words are in some ways the same, that every word has the weight of all its uses built into its cultural meaning, but nevermind that for now.]

The power of using cultural units that have been deployed before comes from their density - they already have a large number of hypertextual meanings associated to them, which can then be leveraged, acknowledged, pushed back against, in the composition. 

The title - The Golden Age of Video - that author Ricardo Autobahn gives his pieces alludes to these allusions.

So recombinance lets you say a lot with a little.

Snuggie Inside

Thanks to my mate Thomas I got to go to the Halloweezer gig last week at the Hammerstein ballroom.

This was highly awesome - the crowd was all in costume and some people were invited up on stage to help the band out of their costumes: a liminal space if ever I saw one - costumes allow for more fluid identities and roll reversals, hence the audience becomes the performer and that.

One of the bits I particularly enjoyed would probably have not had the same effect for anyone else there.

Allow me to explain.

The last time I saw Weezer play was in 1994 -

[Oh Lord can it really have been 15 years? Wowzer. Weezer are like an old band now.

{Kottke pointed out a while ago that listening to, say, Nirvana's Nevermind album today is the same as someone listening to Terry Jack's Seasons In The Sun (1974) in the year 1991}]

- they had just released their first album

[now known as the Blue album and still worth listening to if you don't have it].

When I saw them play Rivers Cuomo was in crutches because he had just undergone surgery to lengthen one of his legs.

[It was whilst recuperating from this apparently very painful surgery that he wrote the much darker [and always difficult] second album Pinkerton, which bombed when released but has steadily gained admiration and sales ever since.] 

So it gave me a particular kind of joy to see a trampoline on stage, which Rivers would use to to leap up onto the drum kit and back again.

The video infomercial above promoting the new album shows the band pimping the Snuggie - and you can get Weezer branded Snuggies when you buy the new album, which is awesome.

It has more than 5000 comments on youtube - I suspect, in part, because, you guessed it, it is culturally recombinent.