there are 34 posts from June 2010

June 30, 2010

except this time, the pants are a company

I remember fondly that time when an RA turned on the lights and yelled “WHO OWNS THESE PANTS?” Except this time, the pants are a company, and the RA is you, and the sixty five hours of community service is a deal that will ensure the experience can continue to grow for years and years and years, like a black mold behind the Gold Box.


I could blog Every. Single. Paragraph. from the Woot CEO's letter to employees re the Amazon acquisition, and it still wouldn't be enough. Go read it, and just try to imagine writing an email to your team that's 10% as good as this one.

June 30, 2010

dear brooklyn museum

I would have loved to follow Mike Monteiro at @1stfans. I sent you a follow request! I would have paid the $20! You had a hot lead attached to a Twitter handle...but you never followed up to ask me for my money.

Oh well! Looking forward to reading all of those tweets for free when he posts them to his blog.

June 30, 2010

cheating werewolf

Yes, he has a great build, but I remind you that an abdominal six-pack must be five seconds’ work for a shape-shifter.


Roger Ebert points out a massive plot hole in Eclipse. I tried to explain this to the kids waiting on line at 6pm last night for the midnight show at the Metreon, but they just stared at me, blankly.

June 29, 2010

string theory

The sort of thinking involved is the sort that can be done only by a living and highly conscious entity, and then it can really be done only unconsciously, i.e., by fusing talent with repetition to such an extent that the variables are combined and controlled without conscious thought.


James Fallows reminds his readers about this great tennis piece from David Foster Wallace. No, it's not the one about Federer, though that one is great, too. It's the one about Michael Joyce and Julian Knowle. (Who? Exactly.)

June 28, 2010

posted by bryanboyer at Flickr

The Living Pavilion.

June 27, 2010

Go read Christopher Knight's review of the John Baldessari retrospective at LACMA.

June 27, 2010

at-at day afternoon and the psychic vampire


I could watch the AT-AT chase the dog all day long. And because I love reading YouTube comments, here's my favorite, from The Instanttv...

once upon a time i had a memory of star wars, then i met a psychic vampire who robbed it from my mind. I used to love it when i remembered it , wish i could say i love it now, buy my memory is gone

June 23, 2010


June 23, 2010


This feels a little bit like 20/20 hindsight, but here's an interesting post at HBR from two management consultants about the impact that BP's 2007 internal reorganization (designed to make their massive org chart "flatter") may have had on the spill.

The risk an organization faces by eliminating levels — especially when it's done in a one-size-fits-all way as per BP — is that it will severely damage its capacity to manage complexity. And reality is complex. When it comes to decision-making, any universal imperative that forces sub-organizations to flatten and pushes teams to expand in size regardless of local circumstances is foolish.

This wasn't obvious at the time. BP raked in record profits over the past two years — although it also developed quite a record for safety violations. But the oversimplification of management structure — which played out on rigs as well as in cubicles — was a disaster waiting to happen. The evidence is in eyewitness reports of management conflicts in the frenzied few hours before the blowout. More proof is in the inept efforts to stanch the flow, the clueless non-mobilization of cleanup resources based on inaccurate information, the convoluted claims process, the lack of sufficient equipment to capture the spewing oil, and finally the finger-pointing and the don't-blame-me CEO.

Even if it is all hindsight, I like their core point: flatter is not always better.

June 22, 2010

three bits out of context

Part of the joy of Instapaper is finally getting around to reading those pieces that everyone was talking about last week. Hooray for time-shifting. Though it does make for some awkward blogging, since you've probably already read all of these...and all of the reactions to these. Oh well.

First, Brad Burnham's post "Web Services as Goverments" is a great read, and a good companion to (a) all the insanity that happened back in April with platform moves by Twitter, Facebook and Apple and (b) Larry Lessig's book Code.

Once you start thinking about large web platforms as governments, the logical question is what kind of government are they. One thing is for sure - none of these platforms are democracies. They are oligarchies controlled by founders, investors or shareholders. That may not be at all bad. As long as citizens (users) can move freely from one government to another with little switching cost, there is no reason to burden these polities with the inherent inefficiencies of popular democracy.

Second, speaking of governments, Danah Boyd writes about the issues with COPPA, as a companion to the statement she submitted to the FTC and Senate along with John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. Thinking about all the investment in COPPA-related legal work, product management, design, engineering and QA all across the web makes me sick to my stomach; Danah nails the issue right on the head...

COPPA is well-intended but its implementation and cultural uptake have been a failure. The key to making COPPA work is not to making it stricter or to force the technology companies to be better at confirming that the kids on their site are not underage. Not only is this technologically infeasible without violating privacy at an even greater level, doing so would fail to recognize what’s actually happening on the ground. Parents want to be able to parent, to be able to decide what services are appropriate for their children.

Finally, Eric Rosenfeld has an appreciation of the work that Robin Sloan is doing.

While Bruce Sterling and Cory Doctorow and Vernor Vinge fantasize about the Singularity or augmented reality or 3D printers that can reproduce themselves (which, incidentally, all appeal heavily to juvenile power fantasies), Sloan is writing a fiction that speaks to a world in which we find ourselves not exactly emancipated by technology but simply hyper-connected by it, our identities as people redefined by the media we share, media which we embrace and deeply care about even when it leaves us bewildered, co-opted, and reduced in a thousand ways to algorithms.

Want a good introduction to Sloan? Go read Mr. Penumbra's Twenty-Four-Hour Book Store.

June 22, 2010

mom! phineas and ferb are making a title sequence...

Indeed, Povenmire and Jeff Marsh incorporate sophisticated one-liners that would once provoke winces from network executives, like the one about Existentialist Wacky Pack trading cards, in which one character remarks to the other, "I'll trade you two Nietzsche for a Sartre."

"They'd say, 'Is that joke too old for our audience?' " Povenmire said. "And we'd say, 'We don't care as long as that joke doesn't make the kids change the channel. There's a joke coming for them in five seconds. We're playing to the adults in the room.' "


The LA Times reports that "Phineas and Ferb" is about to have the full Disney marketing machine behind it, with more episodes, a full line of merchandise and maybe even a movie.

Two thumbs up from the Sippey household -- we (all of us) love the show; it's fantastic. If you haven't watched it yet, you should. Because if Disney has anything to do with it, you will be watching it soon, so you might as well get a head start.

June 22, 2010

imperial bedrooms

Queued up in the reading list: Bret Easton Ellis's Imperial Bedrooms, the sequel to his 1985 novel Less Than Zero. And because books now come with trailers...


If you're in New York tonight, you can go hear Andrew McCarthy (who played the character Clay in the movie version of Less Than Zero) read from Imperial Bedrooms at the Barnes and Noble in Union Square. Bring your own blow.

June 22, 2010

i don't have this problem

I looked at my sweat-beaded reflection in the still darkened laptop screen and I realized that yes, I am high on my own supply.


Dave Pell laments his slip from dealer to user, and confesses his addiction to the streaming realtime app-enabled social media hoo ha, since he's doing things like checking his iPhone every five minutes and avoiding his children and tweeting while driving, etc., etc.

I don't have this problem. Sure, I'm as addicted to the streaming realtime app-enabled social media hoo ha. But I don't have the guilt of slipping from a dealer to a user. I've always been a now being a dealer as well and having access to my own supply now only makes things easier.

June 22, 2010

area 51 is not for everyone

Really, it's not. Joel says so right here:

Area 51 is not for everyone. If you don’t know what it’s for, or why it’s going to work, or you can’t figure it out, it’s not, actually for you.

Go see if it's for you. It's probably not. And that's OK.

June 21, 2010

there is no such thing as cannon fodder at this level

When I turned off the TV this morning to feed the kids breakfast, Roger Federer was down two sets to Alejandro Falla in their first round Wimbledon match. He came back to win in five. This bit in the AP story about the match caught my eye...

When Federer won the third, Falla, who had several bouts of treatment on his left thigh from the trainer during changeovers, could have been expected to fold.

However, the Colombian, who had been dismissed as “cannon fodder” in an article in the day’s official programme, broke in the opening game of the fourth, with Federer contributing to his total of seven double faults in the process.

Sure, Falla's only ranked 65th in the world, and Federer's ranked 2nd. But at this level of professional sports, there's really no such thing as cannon fodder. (Need more proof? Just ask the Italians...)

June 21, 2010

james murphy on fresh air

Terry Gross interviews LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy. I loved this bit about the job of being in a band, and the shift he's going to make...

There are a lot of things I'd like to do that I can't really do because I have this job. So I thought like three albums — a nice trilogy over a decade — it feels like a good time to stop being a professional band. That doesn't mean LCD will stop. It just means I'll go back to the beginning: releasing a track here and there or being more fluid about my decision-making rather than albums, videos, singles, tour. Rather than this professional arch of being in a band, I'd like to go back to being a person who decides what he likes to do and pursues something new once in a while.

His sign-off is worthwhile, too, but I won't spoil it for you.

June 21, 2010

its envelope also contained sparkles

ThinkGeek gets a cease & desist letter for one of their "products." If you haven't heard about it yet, quoting any bit of their (fantastic) blog post would ruin it for you. So click. Click like the wind.

June 21, 2010

Having the archives of Feed back online makes me crazy happy. As does this introductory bit from Steven Johnson...

when we started FEED, it was much harder to imagine a world of asymmetric media, where a small group of underfunded writers and editors and designers could compete with giant corporations with vast payrolls, satellites, printing presses on their side. I’m not sure Stefanie and I fully realized how profound that shift would be when we started FEED. In some sense, we started it for the oldest of reasons: because we could.

Emphasis emphatically mine. Link via Kottke.

June 17, 2010

with apologies to all seven of my readers in boston

Chris Burden, the guy who had himself shot in the arm for "art," is from Boston. The nature of this place is slowly becoming clear...


Ezra Cooper connects the dots.

June 17, 2010

curbed's hiring

Curbed is hiring for a full-time blogger job for a top-secret upcoming project. How might you know that this project would be of interest to you? The news of Paige Rense's impending departure from Architectural Digest rocked your world. You have a favorite floor at ABC Home. You think Apartment Therapy is "probably too mainstream."


Job descriptions for bloggers are the best.

June 16, 2010

five bits out of context

"This may sound silly, but I’m cutting back my internet use this summer… as I work on writing a book about the internet." (Tomorrow Museum)

"To me, there were three separate "tragedies of 9/11." One was the day itself and all the resulting carnage. The second was the invasion of Iraq and distortions of U.S. policy and values carried out in response. And the third was the failure to use a once-or-twice-per-century moment of true national unity to address true national problems. In the long run, the third tragedy could prove to be the worst." (James Fallows)

"Katy Perry binges on baking chocolate she keeps in the pantry to dull the pain of a sex life without intimacy." (The Awl)

"Allen didn’t make this on a lark, it was a specific response to Prince’s refusal to grant an online magazine the rights to reproduce his own reproduction. Is it deep? No. And I DON’T CARE. The event itself makes clear that the issues are still very relevant. Allen’s remake was the most straight forward and logical way to address the problem, and that’s why I like it. I’m not asking it to be something else, because I don’t want it to be anything else." (Art Fag City)

"Mr. Joyce manages to give the effect of unedited human minds, drifting aimlessly along from one triviality to another, confused and diverted by memory, by sensation and by inhibition, is, in short, perhaps the most faithful X-ray ever taken of the ordinary human consciousness." (Edmund Wilson, with thanks to Jim Coudal)

June 15, 2010

until they're all outed by a different source, that is.

"The Big 12 sticking wasn't a miracle,'' said the source. "There have been a number of people who were involved -- a number of seriously key people -- unrelated to the conference who will never be known to have helped get things on track.''


Somehow I think the identity of those "seriously key people" who worked to keep the NCAA's Big 12 in one piece won't quite have the same level of secrecy attached to them as, say, Deep Throat.

June 15, 2010

messy and manic in flat-front khakis

Highly recommended: Jamie Lidell's Compass. Pitchfork only gave it a 6.6 (really? not a 6.7?) But the bits that they found worthy of criticism are what I think make it his most interesting record yet...

Compass isn't another sweeping re-invention of Lidell's sound, nor is it even really a particularly cohesive collection of songs. It is, instead, a messy and manic record, one that's more concerned with the moment than with any overarching aesthetic or tone.

Up with messy, manic and concerns of the moment. Here's the video for track six, The Ring.


You may also enjoy the video for I Wanna Be Your Telephone, which features Lidell in flat-front khakis. It's my favorite song on the record.

June 15, 2010

in other words, movies are now 'commodities'

Here's the trailer for Takers, the first movie where you can trade box office futures on a Commodity Futures Trading Commission-sanctioned exchange.


According to Variety...

To win approval, Media Derivatives agreed to a number of conditions that are designed to address concerns about market manipulation. ... Among them is a rule that will require "entities and individuals who control a film's marketing budget, release date or opening screen number" -- in other words, a studio and its top executives -- "to provide the Exchange with information regarding such decisions whenever that entity or individual holds a position of 1,000 or more contracts."

Takers opens August 20th. Better get your bets in quick; the financial reform bill includes language that would ban box office futures-trading, effectively reversing the CFTC's ruling.

June 11, 2010

jjg on the ipad's programmable keyboards

Related to yesterday's post re. programmable keyboards, Jesse James Garrett has a great post up at The Adaptive Path blog about how the iPad Numbers app reconfigures the "keyboard" depending on context.

These variant key layouts start to get really interesting in Numbers, Apple’s spreadsheet application. Again, you see very different key layouts depending on context — in this case, the type of data you’re entering into a spreadsheet. Click a cell formatted to accept only numbers, and numbers are the only thing you can input:

More like this, please.

June 11, 2010

i'm imagining this as a lyric

David Byrne:

If there’s a venue or a platform where doing something seems to make itself possibly available, then it’s like “Oh! Yes! Why not?”


June 11, 2010

are you an el ten eleven fan? help them finish their record

El Ten Eleven is going direct to their fans (kickstarter + topspin style[1]) to raise funds to finish their forthcoming record. Suggested donations start at $30 and go to $750...

For $750 – You get a Signed copy of “It’s Still Like A Secret,” executive producer credit on the album artwork and an hour-long helicopter flight with Kristian in Los Angeles (includes lunch). Yes, Kristian is a pilot.

[1] Small k, small t on purpose.

June 10, 2010

where was the nighthawks diner?


Via Tyler Green comes a great series of blog posts from Jeremiah Moss about his digging through public archives to find the diner that's portrayed in Edward Hopper's Nighthawks. No spoilers for you; load 'em up in new tabs and enjoy part one, part two, part three and the coda.

June 10, 2010

programmable 'keyboards'

I liked this little gem in the Ars piece about Loren Brichter and Tweetie development.

He did say, however, that that he looks forward to the day he can develop code on the iPad and ditch his Mac for creating software. "If you break the idea that we have to use software keyboards the traditional way, there's so much potential for insanely fast programming," Brichter said. "Think about keyboard buttons becoming whole variable names. You could become so efficient while programming!"

The common iPad thread is that it's a better content consumption machine than a content creation machine. There's a slate of apps in the store now for music creation (keyboard + drum machine + sequencer variations) with customized UIs that borrow heavily from physical devices. (And at some point we'll see iMovie for iPad, right?) I'd love to see someone build a dedicated environment for Processing on the iPad. Programmable "keyboard" + eye candy = yum.

June 10, 2010

imagine this scene shot by michel gondry

Tony Curtis to Roger Ebert in 1985:

"Let me tell you a story, sort of a parable. One day in 1948 I went to Hollywood. My name was Bernie Schwartz. I signed a contract at Universal, and I bought a house in the hills. It had a swimming pool. Unheated, but it had water in it. One night I came home late, I jumped in the pool, I swam a few laps, I got out, I dried myself off, I put on my clothes, and I walked directly into this room and sat down and started to talk to you. Do you see what I'm saying? Thirty-eight years, I don't know where they went. Gone like that.”

He shook his head, slowly. “Yesterday, I jumped in that pool,” he said. “Jeez, the water was cold.”

I love that Ebert's archives are available online, and that the man himself is so great at mining the good stuff.

June 09, 2010

bloody bloody andrew jackson

Highly recommended: Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, the emo rock opera at the Public Theater in New York. Here's the lede from the Times review:

Ladies and gentlemen, the seventh president of the United States is here to take a firsthand look at you the people, and he thinks you’re really hot. You feel the same way about him, right? You’re going to shake, rattle and roll when he makes you the ultimate promise, the one you truly want to hear from anyone who aspires to lead your nation: He solemnly swears to give you the best sex you’ve ever had.

Made me want to read Meacham's book...though I think I'll skip a companion Dashboard Confessional soundtrack.

June 08, 2010

i voted up this youtube comment

"My favorite part is when that guy swims into the hole."

June 07, 2010

the blank slate

In the future, all Apple product prognostications should be as simple as a cutting a piece of cardboard to a particular set of dimensions. "It will be about this big, and it will do magical things."


Looking forward to today's keynote, where I'm sure more magical non-cardboard-based things will be uncovered. Can't believe it's been two years. Time flies.

June 01, 2010

anchors away

Nick Carr argues for linkless writing online.

People who read hypertext comprehend and learn less, studies show, than those who read the same material in printed form. The more links in a piece of writing, the bigger the hit on comprehension.

Text from his piece, Experiments in delinkification, annotations mine.