Cisco is running a new advert for their TelePresence technology showing large scale multi-screens in major urban centers communicating in realtime with identical setups in other major urban centers. Prior to this, I have only seen demonstrations of the technology within an indoor environment: business meetings obviously, but also school classrooms (two elementary age groups on either side of the globe playing a game of blink). But the simple act of moving the technology outside I think is significant. It's a very direct expression of, and a marked step toward, digital ambience. I think there is much more to this than the novelty of seeing people in Paris, let's say, staring back at you as you're standing in New York. Extending Cisco's vision not too very far will remove the looking-glass aspect of the endeavor into something, potentially, not random but expected. Imagine the effect upon street culture, upon performance (music, theatre, some of which is already being seen in things like the Metropolitan Opera's Live HD broadcasts), upon conversation. The future of the billboard may thus not be something akin to Blade Runner or Minority Report (ever more gargantuan displays wrestling our attention with ever more personalized effect) but something closer to an exchange, with all the attendant opportunities for monetization as well as cultural interplay: the "open sourcing" of everyday life, around the city, around the country, around the world.
Are you the sort of person who sits in the cinema after the movie has played and watches the credits? In the old days of film, of course, this wouldn't have been an askable question. The movie finished, "The End" faded in, and at most the distributing studio flashed its particulars. Have a good night. Now, of course, the list of credits includes everything from the assistant to the assistant to the star-director-producer, to the catering company, to the ant wrangler. It can be kind of entertaining. So yes, I am the sort of person who does sit through the whole mess, not to even pretend to try to read through everything that shows up but simply, in most cases, to decompress from the experience. I don't go to the movies very much anymore because the experience is too often so flat and tasteless that decompression isn't required. This isn't true of so-called independent films but it certainly is of Hollywood-produced fare and it's the largest reason why my attendance has fallen off by, I conservatively estimate, a factor of 20-1.
Anyway, there is a growing number of films that tempt you to stay through the credits, though I'm not sure why they would care (unless to justify the investment? After all, imagine the wasted film stock, in our still transitioning digital age, from 5 or 10 minutes of credits in a movie that is distributed in thousands of cinemas across the country!). They do it through a little teasing addition at the end of the movie. An additional scene, or a comedic hiccup, or a hint at a sequel, something that rewards you for having sat through the morass of typography scrolling toward heaven. But what if you're not rewarded? What if, after the screen goes dark, the houselights simply come up as if you don't deserve anything further? Do you feel cheated? Or do you just refuse to play the game and leave at the last line of dialogue like most moviegoers do?
Now you don't have to guess. A site called MovieStinger gives you the lowdown on whether or not extra scenes, outtakes, etc are shown during or after the credits.
My prediction: more and more movies are going to include extra material, perhaps even exclusive material, in cinema releases. To the point where it will not be acceptable not to. Or rather to the point where the cycle turns and we start all over again. My wish would be for it to cycle all the way back to The End and leave the numberless mass who produced the project to remain as nameless as the builders of the Pyramids.
Did any of you see the recent article about running injuries that appeared in The Daily Mail? I won't go into detail, the link below will provide information if you're interested, but the upshot is this: Nike and Adidas and all the other shoe companies that spend ga-jillions of dollars in ever-expanding research to develop the greatest running shoe may have just been exposed as... useless. Turns out running in your bare feet (or nearly) is the healthiest thing you can do. And it is not nonsense. Indeed, even Nike, in response to the indisputable research, has recently released a new shoe called the Nike Free, which reduces reinforcement, cushioning, and as much as possible getting in the way between your sole and the road. What else is a US$20 billion industry going to do? Fold up and go home?
(I would link to the Nike Free site too, but nike.com is such a Flash Frankenstein pain in the butt, I'm not gonna do it.)
The covers of two current issues of national magazines, Sports Illustrated and Conde Nast Portfolio. If you were visiting from another world, could grok English in that so-convenient and excellent way ETs on Star Trek do (Universal Translator? hrmmph), and took a look at mass media in the US, you'd immediately perceive that there is something a little weird going on. Some basic glue has been loosened, bonds have broken, and the ethos of the country (and much of the world) is adrift. "You can trust me" Albert Pujols is saying. Everyone else in my sport may have broken your heart, but I'm still a guy you can believe in. (The world of cycling has been going through this in an even more intense way for years. Lance Armstrong, his integrity on the line a long time, will have to go through an endless barrage again during his return to the Tour de France this summer.) Bruce Springsteen, on Jon Stewart a few nights ago, tells us the country has lost it moral center. I'm not sure the fragmentation of the last 30 or 40 years qualifies as a center by any definition, but OK, those ricocheting shards have certainly caught everyone's attention now as they duck and cover from each new headline. And AIG (and all it symbolizes), what can you say of AIG that hasn't already been said and continues to be said?
They've gone way beyond the FU into a land, a dimension, all their own. Dante, as we speak, is writing a sequel to The Inferno: he didn't draw enough circles of Hell the first time around. All of this is to say that Trust, capital T, is an issue, perhaps THE issue, of our Time. Can we look each other eye to eye and make certain assumptions, take certain inferences on faith, that allow us to do business together, the business of commerce, of friendship, of courtesy? Time will tell. But keep your eyes open and take care when you blink: in all levels of experience, personal and professional, Trust is the zeitgeist issue.