Saturday, January 09, 2010

Tweety Birds: Mama Smurf

Why put on the trench coats and have the glamour shot? I think John Cowan nailed it: attentivores.

Culture satirizes any source that takes itself more seriously than it is essential or more novel than a new version of an old model. 1.6 million people willing to give you access to their raster attention budget is as trivial or non-trivial as what that 1.6 million will do given a message from the twitter account. Marketing speak particular; it's non-trivial. It is power.

Societal importance?

What will smurfs do for a smile from the smurfette? Sometimes, quite a lot.

UPDATE: Amber comments on the Lolita Effect. In the sense that this incident is about 30 somethings, it doesn't quite apply. In the sense that the objectification of women has been brought up, it does. Do read this:

Friday, January 08, 2010

The Flight of the Tweety Birds

It appears that the Flight of the Tweety Birds is this week's cause du jour among the geek women bloggers. The claims are getting evermore snarky and meant to justify a round of 'serious' web generation mystique but don't seem to offer a basis for complaint. Instead they are the victims of old people, old business, just old. Old frightens them. It could be they were had except the article was written by someone who isn't old and isn't that tied to old media. Vanity Fair is a glamour mag and glamour mags don't take up serious topics. If they did, they'd be Playboy. Sad but so.

The claim that gets to the heart of their complaint is one made by Felicia Day, that the author of the Vanity Fair piece failed:

to celebrate a new kind of independent and liberated woman

I guess she doesn't have the awareness to notice she is practicing the same sexist agism and generationism that got her into the mess. Ok, Felicia, somehow you think you are new? Challlenge: exactly how are you the example of a new independent liberated woman? What is it you've achieved that say, Carly Fiorina hasn't? Meg Whitman? Susan Sarandon? Dolly Parton? Over a million followers on Twitter? So now you have the power to change exactly what? Your fellow bloggers say you and they want to have THAT conversation, so get on with it.

You want to sling arrows because you believe you've been trivialized. Great. Just be sure you have a full quiver and a solid stance in the saddle because you're accelerating into the curve on a running horse, not out of it. The complaints you have and that of your fellow bloggers read like Danah Boyd crying over her Twitter-wall experience at her presentation. In other words, it's infantilism vs agism and somehow none of you seem to understand if you put your sex up front, it is the topic. Smart women or men get that and run with it. Hypocrites or just plain too full-of-themselves repeat the remarks that have stereotyped you as the whiniest generation since the Jazz Age. New and different? How? Say it or STFU because there are real victims out there who need attention a lot more than a 30 something living in LA with the TwitterNation hanging on her every burp.

Compared to Neda Soltan what have you suffered lately?

Nothing is more boring than a successful anything that complains when the spotlight turns green. Like the sign at Wentzel's says, if you want a place in the sun, expect blisters. Otherwise, get over yourself, or at least take a moment to study the career of Lenny Bruce. When commedians or commediennes turn serious, the laughter stops and so does the applause.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Tweety Birds

In the new edition of Vanity Fair, some ladies of the web are photographed wearing trench coats and posing just slightly provocatively. The article has the breezy tone of snark VF is famous for and in the text follows the tone of the photo. It isn't a serious portrait or all that demeaning but the subjects have taken upon themselves to become outraged, pissed, ready to 'thump skulls' and their fans are following suit. It is the usual herd response from a generation that seeks opportunities and creates technology to increase their herdiness through their nerdiness. The article is poking fun at that and I don't think too many geeks were harmed in the production of the article.


1. They signed up for the photo. If the trenchcoat poses didn't clue them in as to what was coming, these ladies aren't quite as media savvy as claimed.

2. They need the photos. The cult of celebrity requires a persistent thumping on the skulls of the public to keep them front and center. Celebrity is a brief fling with a bull-riding machine anyway. Day, for example, is someone who rather desperately wants to be a Hollywood insider despite her reputation for being a successful outsider. That is where the career and the money are and she is not a silly woman from the cheap seats.

3. Every ten years or so, the last media darling generation gets tossed on the fire of satire and ridicule to make room for a new generation. Thus has it ever been and the geeks don't seem to be prepared for the inevitable.

So ladies and irate fans, putting up blogs about how unfair VF is, how they are ignoring your serious accomplishments (lifecaster? really?), or how the old media is just jealous of the new media (we be fast; you be slow), is what is expected of you and it will fuel the flames of support, and it will drive up the sales of that issue. Mission accomplished. It will also make put you on the path to the C-list and start the crack down the middle of the ice that holds your feeds above the waters of oblivion because the more you emphasize your serious accomplishments, the more boring you will become.

Vanity Fair and articles to follow elsewhere aren't doing this for jealousy, spite or lack of 'getting it'. They are doing it because it's time. If "what the web thinks you are, you are, deal with it" as Tim Bray wrote is the meme du jour, you have just been bathed in how that comes about and how very little control you have over it except possibly in watching your warddrobe.

Deal with that.

Monday, January 04, 2010

What Will Happen When YouTube Isn't Free

Bono has written an op-ed in the New York Times touching on the topic of music piracy. The usual counter-arguments are presented in the comments to the article and the usual lunatics tend to prevail.

Fine for now. In the near future, maybe not.

At some point the free services that the indies who give away their work rely on will no longer be free. Today YouTube is the radio. Anyone wanting to keep up in the arms race of art competition (with each other; the audience is passive) has to be able to make videos on the cheap or otherwise. Fortunately, it isn't that hard and like other tools, costs are down considerably even as skills have to catch up.

Yet like it or not, the term is 'hypermedia' not hypermedium and there are costs to producing at that level of complexity that can't be dismissed as easily as "we give away our CDs" because while one doesn't have to manufacture, one is still having to climb the complexity curve. Frankly, most bands and songwriters aren't up to the challenge.

Other costs will creep up. This will dry up a lot of what far too many rely on for entertainment sources. Having choked the life out of several industries, it will be Nebraska morning noon and night for about a decade as those with access to capital realign among themselves to control the distribution of the works of those who used these services to develop themselves during the 'everything should be free because that benefits me' period of internet market development.

Bono is right. It simply doesn't matter at the moment but he is right nonetheless. Unfortunately, he is talking to the wrong audience. He's arguing with the pig and as the old joke goes, the pig only gets irritated and he comes up smelling of sow. The people who need to understand where this is going ARE the artists and particularly the young ones just getting into what is left of the music business.

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