Awesome Foundation on CCTV America

Over the weekend, CCTV America aired an interview featuring me and my Awesome Foundation colleagues Christina Xu and Jesse Chan-Norris. We talked about investing in inspiration and building international philanthropic networks to further the cause of awesome in the universe. Watch the full interview below:

The Washington Post versus Gawker

Background story in a nutshell

  1. Washington Post writer Ian Shapira writes an article about business coach/’generational consultant’ Anne Loehr: Speaking to Generation Nexus: Guru Explains Gens X, Y, Boomer To One Another
  2. Gawker blogger Hamilton Nolan picks up the story: ‘Generational Consultant’ Holds America’s Fakest Job
  3. Shapira complains that Gawker stole his story: The Death of Journalism (Gawker Edition)

My take

Shapira’s claim that Gawker did not properly attribute him are unfounded.  The Gawker post links to the original article and to Loeher’s generational cheat sheet.  Hyperlinks are the footnotes and citations of our generation (as Loeher would probably say). I’m giving my advice for free: my generation thinks that generational business coaches are B$.  We live in a cut and paste culture; computers lower the barrier to making derivative works, as the next section of this post will demonstrate.  The subject of the original article was pretty ridiculous to begin with, as if it were tailor-made for Gawker fodder.  Gawker added value to the original with its snarky commentary. (Ms. Loeher, is snark a characteristic of my generation too?)

If Oscar Wilde were alive today, he would probably say, “the only thing worse than being blogged about is NOT being blogged about.”  While we are on aphorisms, let me give you some more free (useless) advice about my generation, courtesy of Descartes, updated for our times: Blogito ergo sum. “I blog, therefore I am.”

I don’t think Gawker is so much ruining journalism as Shapira claims as much as it is Maybe the WaPo should stick to actual news coverage and investigative reporting (after all, this is the newspaper that exposed the Watergate scandal, but “old media” can’t just rest on its past laurels).  “New media” like Gizmodo is going to give newspapers a run for their money in terms of business model.  Newspapers can either adapt their business models and learn to compete with the supposed “pirates” (“piracy is just another business model“), or they can fail.  They can revamp their content and delivery models, or they can streamline and specialize in what they do best.  But here’s a hint for being hip with the kids: complaining about the death of journalism is old news and kind of played out.

Or, in a move of desperation, they can throw down the gauntlet and start an Internet turf war like Shapira has done, which is actually a very Gawker-esque thing to do.  (What would Anne Loeher say about how that reflects on Shapira’s generational values?) It certainly has succeeded in getting people’s attention, but I hope this is not the sustainable business model the WaPo has in mind.

Continue reading The Washington Post versus Gawker

ITP Winter Show on the Internets

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Here are some news clippings of the ITP Winter Show from across the Internets:

MAKE: Blog: ITP Winter Show 2008 – Best of show… Plate spinning DJ, drinking piano, magnet music

MAKE: Blog: More from the ITP Winter Show 2008

More from the ITP Winter Appearance 2008 | USD6.com

ITP Winter Show 2008 – Highlights.  – Wiredset / Blogs / Mark Ghuneim

Response to chapters 1 & 2 of Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media

First of all, I think McLuhan is brilliant.  I love the way he effortly brings together seemingly disparate references like Greek antiquity to Shakespeare to pop culture to make his arguments.  He has been on my “to read” list for a long time now, but I never got around to it until it was assigned for Comm Lab.

It is important to note that the subtitle of Understanding Media is “The Extensions of Man”.  For McLuhan, media are not simply forms of communication such as TV, radio, newspapers, etc., but but any technology that extends the human body or mind.  Clothing, cars, houses, are all media according to this broad definition.  McLuhan gives an example of axes as media.  When metal axes were introduced to an aboriginal community in Austrialia that previously only had stone tools, the entire patriarchal social order was disrupted.

This brings us to another point that media are agents of change.  By extending the human body – the senses and the mind – media have both a prosthetic and an amputational effect.  In encountering new media, we both gain and lose something.

McLuhan divides media into high definition/low definition, hot and cool.  High definition is hot.  It gives a lot of information and requires little interaction from the user.  Low definition is cool.  It provides little information and requires the user to make an effort to fill in the gaps.  For example, the telephone is cool, while the radio is hot.  Television is cool, while movies are hot.

Of course we need to talk about McLuhan’s famous aphorism, “The medium is the message.”  I’m still trying to grapple with the full meaning of the phrase since I haven’t gotten through the whole book yet.  But from what I understand, McLuhan seems to be saying that there is an inherent message embedded in media themselves, that transcends the explicit message transmitted by the media, and creates social change over time.  If we return to the metal ax example, we could infer that the metal axes were not just about cutting things, but that their introduction to a stone age society represented a message of social upheaval that turned the hierachical order upside down.

Here is another quote that really resonated with me (page 31 of the Critical Edition of Understanding Media, edited by W. Terrence Gordon, 2003):

The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts, but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance.  The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception.

The mixing of art and technology – hmm, sounds just like ITP!  It seems that the work we do here all relates to putting McLuhan’s theories into practice.  Not that I presume to be a “serious artist,” although I certainly aspire to be one.