Sunday, 10 October 2010

Bondi 3D

After a few trial and errors, here's what's left of my first Inkscape experience...

And here's the original. Isn't Bondi pretty.

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Adventures On Wikipedia

Write what you know, it is often said. And love, is what I’d like to add. In embarking on the Wikipedia adventure this past week, the saying has certainly proven to be a very helpful starting point for me. Whereas I expected finding a suitable topic would be the main challenge, I knew what to write about within ten minutes.

For me, ‘what you know and love’ usually leads to a pop culture-related topic rather quickly. And so, starting from the requested articles, the first entry to consider was on an episode on one of my favourite tv shows. But I wanted to contribute a little more than a synopsis that not a whole lot of people of going to read anyway. I moved my focus to film and immediately decided to contribute to the list of European film festivals. At this point I hadn’t yet decided on writing in either Dutch or English, but seeing that the wonderful Cinekid Festival did not have a page on the English Wikipedia yet made it easy to make up my mind.

Cinekid Festival is an international children’s festival for film, television and new media based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. It is the largest of its kind in the world and I feel it is important that an organisation and event like this has a solid presence on a large work of reference such as Wikipedia. Although Cinekid is represented on the Dutch Wikipedia, with my contribution I hope to expand its potential audience internationally.

My entry was put up on Monday 4 October and has since only been edited by me. A small but valuable contribution from fellow Master of Media Marije excluded: she helped tweak the image that I put up, which turned out to be the main challenge in my first active Wikipedia experience. So far, so good, but hopefully the entry will receive some comments or edits in the future. I have taken the initiative to inform Cinekid of their new Wikipedia page and am currently awaiting their feedback.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010


Today marked the start of this year's PICNIC Festival at the marvelous-as-always Westergasfabriek in my beloved Amsterdam. It also marked my first time there. The organisation describes the festival as "a gathering of friends old and new, where everyone brings something to the table" and that is exactly what being there felt like. It was wonderful to be surrounded by such a large and diverse group of smart, curious, friendly and interesting people. It seems impossible to leave PICNIC uninspired or indifferent.

Masters of Media @ PICNIC!

Where to start? There was so much to see and so little time! PICNIC being a convention in a festival setting, different parts of the very elaborate and full program are planned simultaneously. Even knowing that going in, it can be disappointing having to miss some of the potential awesomeness. It was even more challenging this time since my fellow students and I were only there on a 1-day ticket we had won. At the same time the festival setting adds so much flavour to the event that I wouldn't want it any other way.

Speaking of flavour: great tastes to be enjoyed there! From fabulous fresh pizza by Instructables (above picture) to delicious frozen yoghurt and 'adult only' coke from Germany, there was plenty to choose from. But that was only in between brain-intake sessions. After spending the morning trying some of the practical activities PICNIC has to offer, making our own funky colourful glasses (see: picture) for example, or playing around with augmented reality in Stedelijk Museum's ARtotheque, the early afternoon session 'Everything You Know About Transmedia Is Wrong' brought us our first mind-challenging experience.

Fab glasses on my fellow student Ekaterina Yudin

I love the whole 'collective brainstorm' aspect that PICNIC offers. The Transmedia Masterclass was such a great example of that. In a matter of two hours it presented several speakers from all over the world thinking out loud on what transmedia really is today and how it can be used for an improved future. What is comes down to is it's all about storytelling. It was great to hear Tommy Pallotta's thoughts on the subject. He is an immensely creative storyteller and filmmaker, and any time there's film talk, you've got my ear really. He spoke about his past transmedial film projects A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life but also gave us a sneak peek at the project he's currently working on: Collapsus, a crazy combination of (documentary) film, animation, internet, conspiracy theories and anything in between. Love it!

Anita Ondine was another of my favourite speakers here. She went beyond the entertainment factor and asked how we can in fact use transmedia as a tool for social change. The key, she says, is audience participation. It's about inviting the audience to influence the story from different perspectives and platforms. This evokes an energy that allows an emotional experience to evolve from the story.

More food for thought on the subject:
* "Transmedial storytelling has taken a wrong course because of the 'geeky precedence" - Dan Hon
* Transmedia doesn't entirely have to exist digitally. Social media is only a small part of what transmedia truly is about. It's conversation meets content, the virtual world meets the real world, it's creative participation.
* "If you're trying to create awareness, you're better off spending the money on hiring a really great PR agent"

This session really pushed my buttons. So many great ideas and new ways of looking at things! I will have to keep my eyes on future projects by all of the wonderful speakers involved here.

Since there was so much to see and discuss: to be continued...

Monday, 20 September 2010

Book Review: "Deep Search. The Politics of Search beyond Google"

It is hard to imagine life without search engines. Information is everywhere and we seem to need it all the time. So the importance of being able to access all information at any particular time of our choosing cannot be underestimated. This speaks for itself. Or does it?

Unfortunately, most people use search engines on a daily basis without ever even thinking about it, let alone asking critical questions about such an influential presence in their lives. Examining the social and technological construction of information and knowledge, Deep Search. The Politics of Search beyond Google aims to ask the questions that should desperately be raised by everyone using the Internet.

“How is computer-readable significance produced? How is meaning involved in machine communication? Where is the emancipatory potential of having access to such vast amounts of information? And where are the dangers of having to rely on search engines – particularly when operated by opaque monopolies – to make use of that information?” The latter, of course, an unavoidable reference to Google, the ultimate market dominator and recent producer of yet another search engine enhancement.

With contributions by everyone from Katja Mayer to Matteo Pasquinelli, Lev Manovich and many others, Deep Search covers the issues raised in four topics: histories, liberties, power and visibility, ensuring a thorough and global criticism on the subject. In the context of law for example, not many rules and regulations have been established that provide a framework for all the (potential) players in search engine field, thus allowing for much more legal tolerance than would probably be desired by most users. This is a well-known issue in countries without a tradition of free press and freedom of expression, but Joris van Hoboken renders a much-needed eye opener on the topic in a European setting.

And there are plenty more eye openers to be found in Deep Search. Its examination of the politics and power play that surround the development and use of search engines is insightful. The book offers an understanding of the past and daring statements and ideas for the future, but most of all it brings up those questions that are now more than ever relevant and incredibly important. If the next time you jump behind a computer and start searching you want to do it without a blindfold on, read this.

Full details:

Deep Search. The Politics of Search beyond Google.
By Konrad Becker and Felix Stalder, 2009
Studienverlag & Transaction Publishers
ISBN 978-3-7065-4795-6

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The Wilderness Downtown: How New Media and Music Can Reinforce Each Other

Musicians are struggling, as they have always been. It seems to have to be part of the deal in one way or another. In the past decade or so however, things have gotten increasingly difficult for artists as the music industry has found itself confronted with fast declining record sales and an even faster growing competitor in the form of the internet. Particularly file sharing has become a major pain in the tush for record companies and artists alike. Yet despite several legal actions against online music distributors, some successful, most not, the problem has not faded. As a matter of fact, it is very much alive and kicking, even more present now than ever before.

So what is a recording artist to do? How to keep oneself relevant, and with an income. Live performance and merchandise might cut it for those in the pop genre, big record companies and a mean PR machine backing them up. But without that it's a different ball game.

Enter Arcade Fire, an indie rock band from Montreal, Canada, and one of my personal favourites. They are known and appreciated for their creativity, musically and otherwise. And so for their third studio album, The Suburbs, they have taken to the internet in quite a creative way. The album carries the theme of growing up (in the suburbs) or as the lead singer recently put it in an interview with NME: "it's a letter from the suburbs". For promotional purposes a video was made for the track "We Used To Wait", but it wasn't done in the regular way. Instead the band formed a collaboration with Google which has resulted in an interactive film that can be enjoyed at The Wilderness Downtown.

On the website you are asked to enter the address of the home you grew up in. I could explain what happens after you click play, but it would take away from the wonderfulness of experiencing it yourself. Please go to the website (in Chrome or Safari), close all other windows and turn up your speakers. Oh, and possibly be a little patient. But trust me, it is worth it! Besides the amazing music, you will be treated to a visual work of art that shows yet again and in a brand new way how amazingly well music and new media go together. May they live happily ever after and produce a lot of offspring!

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Viral Marketing Campaigns: Tipp-Ex and The Bear

After introducing the world to its newest ad campaign just several months ago, Old Spice will now forever be associated with one of the biggest viral marketing campaigns ever: 'The Man Your Man Could Smell Like'. Its star, former NFL player and current actor Isaiah Mustafa, has become an overnight phenomenon. He has since signed a talent deal with NBC and his acting career seems to be taking off.

Hot on Old Spice's tails, Tipp-Ex has joined the game with an online ad that uses YouTube interactively. It starts off with a video titled "A Hunter Shoots a Bear". But as it soon turns out, the hunter doesn't really want to shoot the bear and so he grabs the Tipp-Ex that is conveniently next to the video screen and changes the title of the clip. With that the fate of the bear is changed as well and the viewer is invited to suggest what should happen to the fur ball.

Basically any word gives the story a whole new twist. Popular suggestions have been:
  • hugs
  • moonwalks with
  • fucks
  • drinks
  • sings to
  • marries
Try anything and see what them creative people have come up with!