Handmade Correspondence in the Twenty-First Century

screenshotRose is the daughter of a couple friends of mine. She was in my photo “Rose Runs” that was in the DCist Exposed show and has appeared in the local paper a couple times.

And now a picture I took of her was used to illustrate an article on handmade correspondence. When you’re six, all your correspondence is handmade.

What's the Government Doing in Second Life?

SL seminar pic
Virtual and real worlds collide in this screenshot from the conference.

The Federal Consortium for Second Life is a newly formed group of federal government employees and contractors interested in exploring the use of virtual worlds in government, sharing best practices and policies, creating shared repositories, and networking.

They met recently and their event presentations and slides are available online. The government is interested in Second Life (SL) as an outreach and education tool. For example, my colleague Eric Hackathorn is developing a virtual island for NOAA, that contains a red tide simulation, a really cool weather map and an auditorium for presentations. NASA has a robust Second Life home where you can experience a dust storm on Mars. The Centers for Disease Control is looking at the platform as a way to educate the public on health. A survey revealed that SL users are interested in catching virtual diseases, just for fun.

A friend of mine described Second Life as being all about “sex and shopping.” There’s certainly that, just like there was in the early days of the internet.

Like the internet, however, SL is destined to develop well beyond hedonic activities. It’s great to see that government is thinking ahead to what the public will want from virtual worlds.

Migrating Flickr Pics to SmugMug

I do love Flickr.  But I don’t like their prints, finding them to be really washed out and disappointing.  However, I like SmugMug’s prints but didn’t want to go to the trouble of downloading all my Flickr pics and then uploading them to SmugMug.

Enter SmuggLr, a  Firefox extension that promises:

Photo migration from flickr, ImageStation or PhotoSite to Smugmug with an easy to use wizard.

I was skeptical.  The term “wizard” conjured up memories of Microsoft applications that papered over their complexity and poor usability with “wizards” that inevitably left one frustrated.

However, this is one “wizard” that really is a Merlin.  I let SmuggLr do its magic and, over the course of a couple hours, it migrated 1,510 of my photos in 48 galleries from Flickr to SmugMug.  And it kept all my galleries together, along with my captions and exif data.  Brilliant!

Reverend Billy Pic Illustrates Column

One of my pictures of Reverend Billy was used in an Amy Goodman column on how Americans buy too much stuff.

The Reverend has an excellent documentary coming out this month called What Would Jesus Buy. Produced by Morgan Spurlock, I saw it earlier this year at SilverDocs and it’s excellent. I think people should be allowed to buy whatever they want, without being made to feel guilty for their choices. What’s great about What Would Jesus Buy is that it makes its points through humor and the Reverend’s gentle humanity, and that’s a much more effective technique than hectoring. It certainly got me thinking – and buying less.

You can see the rest of the set from the Reverend Billy at SXSW here.

Hollywood 2.0

A fascinating post by Marc Andreeson on rebuilding Hollywood in Silicon Valley’s image.  Here’s his inspiring conclusion:

However, in the event of a long-term strike, out of the ashes of the traditional model would — I believe — come the birth of certainly dozens, maybe hundreds, and possibly even thousands of new media companies, rising phoenix-like into the global entertainment market, financed by venture capital, creating amazing new properties, employing large numbers of people, and rewarding their creators as owners.

As someone who’s made a career out of working on web sites, and has dabbled with filmmaking,  I’m ready for this new world.  When you build a web site, it’s all point and click, online collaboration, drag and drop, copy, paste, submit.  When you make a movie, it’s about printing out scripts, stuffing them in envelopes and pitching your ideas in person to people far removed from the actual decision-makers.

This is a world that’s calling out for disintermediation.  The moviemaking business is filled with gatekeepers (like studios and agents) that add costs and keep consumers from getting the content they want.  Andreeson rightly points out the music industry as an obvious parallel.

I have a friend who gets all his media from YouTube.  He doesn’t watch TV.  I suspect that, the longer the strike drags on, the more people will be like my friend.

The Internet has utterly changed countless industries.  Now, with advent of the writers’ strike, it’s Hollywood’s turn.

Creative Conversations in DC

Philippa Hughes @ Luster art show

A shout-out to Hoogrrl, a.k.a. Philippa Hughes, a writer’s group friend of mine who has since gone on to fame as a local promoter of the arts.  While she calls herself a flaneur, she’s very dedicated in her coverage of the local arts scene and in bringing creative folks together.

I was at her event, Salon Contra at Gazuza, last night.  Billed as a “creative conversation”, it definitely was as artists, musicians, photographers, writers and others mingled in a hip environment, fueled by happy hour mojitos and appletinis.

Go Philippa!