Using Phil Fish, the person responsible for critically acclaimed indie game Fez, this video by Ian Danskin explores what it means to be internet famous, something everyone who writes/creates/posts/tweets online has experienced to some extent.
We are used to thinking of fame as something granted to a person by people with media access. The reason people hate Nickelback is because of that record contract, that Faustian bargain -- they bought into it. They had to be discovered; someone had to connect them to video directors, record producers, stylists, advertisers.
This is not what fame looks like on the internet. There, fame is not something you ask for. Fame is not something you buy into. Fame happens to you.
Phil doesn't have an agent. He doesn't have ad executives. He doesn't tour the country on press junkets. He doesn't have a PR department. (Obviously.)
He talked on social media. He did interviews when invited to do them. He was invited into a documentary. People read these things as shameless self-promotion or a desperate need for attention, or both, but that's projection -- nobody knows Phil's reasons for doing them but Phil and the people who know him personally.
Phil never asked to be famous.
We made him famous. Maybe, in part, because we found him entertaining. Maybe, in part, because we found him irritating. Largely because many of us were once sincerely excited about his game. But he became a big deal because we kept talking about him.
On the internet, celebrities are famous only to the people who talk about them, and they're only famous because we talk about them, and then we hate them for being too famous, and make them more famous by talking about how much we hate them. Could there ever be anything more self-defeating than this?
Here's a transcript of the video. In his post about why he decided to sell Minecraft to Microsoft, Markus Persson cites This is Phil Fish as an influence:
I was at home with a bad cold a couple of weeks ago when the internet exploded with hate against me over some kind of EULA situation that I had nothing to do with. I was confused. I didn't understand. I tweeted this in frustration. Later on, I watched the This is Phil Fish video on YouTube and started to realize I didn't have the connection to my fans I thought I had. I've become a symbol. I don't want to be a symbol, responsible for something huge that I don't understand, that I don't want to work on, that keeps coming back to me. I'm not an entrepreneur. I'm not a CEO. I'm a nerdy computer programmer who likes to have opinions on Twitter.
Robin Sloan connected Persson's post with a post by Erin Kissane on how she has curtailed her use of Twitter. Here's one of her problems with Twitter:
The first is feeling like I'm sitting at a sidewalk cafe, speaking in a conversational voice, but having that voice projected so loudly that strangers many streets away are invited to comment on my most inconsequential statements -- especially if something I say gets retweeted beyond my usual circles.
Many moons ago, I was "subculturally important" in the small pond of web designers, personal publishers, and bloggers that rose from the ashes of the dot com bust, and I was nodding along vigorously with what Danskin, Persson, and Kissane had to say. Luckily for me, I realized fairly early on that me and the Jason Kottke who published online were actually two separate people...or to use Danskin's formulation, they were a person and a concept. (When you try to explain this to people, BTW, they think you're a fucking narcissistic crazy person for talking about yourself in the third person. But you're not actually talking about yourself...you're talking about a concept the audience has created. Those who think of you as a concept particularly hate this sort of behavior.)
The person-as-concept idea is a powerful one. People ascribe all sorts of crazy stuff to you without knowing anything about the context of your actual life. I even lost real-life friends because my online actions as a person were viewed through a conceptual lens; basically: "you shouldn't have acted in that way because of what it means for the community" or some crap like that. Eventually (and mostly unconsciously), I distanced myself from my conceptual counterpart and became much less of a presence online. I mean, I still post stuff here, on Twitter, on Instagram, and so on, but very little of it is actually personal and almost none of it is opinionated in any noteworthy way. Unlike Persson or Fish, I didn't quit. I just got boring. Which I guess isn't so good for business, but neither is quitting.
Anyway, I don't know if that adds anything meaning to the conversation, just wanted to add a big "yeah, that rings true" to all of the above, particularly the video. (thx, @brillhart)
David Gelb, the director of Jiro Dreams of Sushi, is going to be doing a six-part documentary series for Netflix about "culinary artists".
Chefs featured in the docu-series are: Ben Shewry (of Attica Restaurant in Melbourne, Australia), Magnus Nilsson (Fäviken in Järpen Sweden), Francis Mallmann (El Restaurante Patagonia Sur in Buenos Aires, Argentina), Niki Nakayama (N/Naka Restaurant in Los Angeles), Dan Barber (Blue Hill in New York City and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Pocantico Hills, N.Y.) and Massimo Bottura (Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy).
Sounds a lot like a Jiro Dreams series. Looking forward to it. (via @MattH)
The Climate Report from the National Audubon Society makes for sobering reading. Due to shifting climates, over 300 species of US birds are in danger of losing their habitats or even extinction within the next century. Here are the primary findings:
Of the 588 North American bird species Audubon studied, more than half are likely to be in trouble. Our models indicate that 314 species will lose more than 50 percent of their current climatic range by 2080.
Of the 314 species at risk from global warming, 126 of them are classified as climate endangered. These birds are projected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2050. The other 188 species are classified as climate threatened and expected to lose more than 50 percent of their current range by 2080 if global warming continues at its current pace.
The NY Times has a piece on the Audubon Society's findings.
"Common sense will tell you that with these kinds of findings, it's hard to believe we won't lose some species to extinction," said David Yarnold, the president of the National Audubon Society. "How many? We honestly don't know. We don't know which ones are going to prove heroically resilient."
Can the birds just move? "Some can and some will," Mr. Yarnold said. "But what happens to a yellow-billed magpie in California that depends on scrub oak habitat? What happens as that bird keeps moving higher and higher and farther north and runs out of oak trees? Trees don't fly. Birds do."
Here are some things you can do with instant ramen aside from eating it as directed on the package, including making a grilled cheese sandwich, gnocchi (a la David Chang), and pizza.
Chris Ware is publishing a new graphic novella called The Last Saturday on The Guardian web site, with a new installment appearing every Saturday. (via df)
Mojang's popular game Minecraft has sold over 54 million copies. But that, and the $2.5 billion that Microsoft just paid to acquire the company, dramatically understates the impact that this game has had on [Dave Pell's] third grader and his friends. They all wear Minecraft gear and watch Minecraft videos on YouTube. And several of them completed a week of Minecraft Camp over the summer. The way I see it, $2.5 billion just became the most anyone has ever spent on a babysitter.
The Verge: Why parents are raising their kids on Minecraft.
Markus Persson, the founder of Mojang (known as Notch), explains why he's selling -- and leaving -- the company: "It's not about the money. It's about my sanity."
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Conflict photographer Ashley Gilbertson recently embedded himself in the video game The Last of Us Remastered and sent back a selection of war photos.
Reminds me a bit of Jim Munroe's My Trip to Liberty City, a film made from the perspective of a tourist visiting the city featured in Grand Theft Auto III:
Update: New Gamer took photos of a road trip in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. (via @johnke)
This goal by AC Milan's Jeremy Menez against Parma over the weekend is just beyond:
No-look backheel. Jeebus.
The Affair is a London-based fashion brand that looks for inspiration in literature, producing t-shirts and prints inspired by notable books. But they've taken it up a notch for their newest collection on Kickstarter: 1984: Stealth Fashion for the Under-Surveillance Society. 1984 is a collection of durable fashion inspired by the workwear clothing of the George Orwell novel and our post-Snowden surveillance society. There's a Party Workshirt, Party Chinos, Outer Party Jacket (which I've got my eye on), and an Inner Party Blazer.
But the key to the collection is the UnPocket included with each piece. The UnPocket is a removable sleeve for your mobile device that renders it untrackable, allowing you to "go dark" when you're out and about. The pocket's material and design blocks out all cellular, WiFi, GPS, and RFID signals, effectively rendering your mobile phone invisible to the outside world, your own personal Faraday cage. They're also offering the UnPocket as a separate item for purchase, to slip into your own pocket, purse, or backpack. So check out the 1984 Kickstarter for details, pricing, and available styles.
Originally from the sixth issue of the excellent Lucky Peach magazine, mad food scientist Harold McGee of the joys of aging canned food and its "extremely cooked flavor".
This punishing heat treatment helps create the distinctive flavors of canned goods. So does the hermetically sealed container, which means that after any preliminary cooking outside the can-tuna is steamed to remove moisture, for example, and the best French sardines are lightly fried-oxygen can play only a limited role in flavor development, and that whatever happens in the can stays in the can-no aromas can escape. Hence the common presence of a sulfurous quality, which may be eggy or meaty or oniony or cabbagy or skunky, from compounds like hydrogen sulfide, various methyl sulfides, and methanethiol. Some of these notes can gradually fade during storage as the volatiles slowly react with other components of the food.
The overall flavor is nothing like freshly cooked foods. Food technologists often refer to it as "retort off-flavor." But it's only off in comparison to the results of ordinary cooking. It's really just another kind of cooked flavor, an extremely cooked flavor, and it can be very good. Canned tuna, sardines, chicken spread, and Spam all have their own appeal.
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd,
but when they said, "Sit down," I stood up.
-- Bruce Springsteen, Growing Up
In the NYT Magazine, A.O. Scott reflects on the death of adulthood in American culture:
What all of these shows grasp at, in one way or another, is that nobody knows how to be a grown-up anymore. Adulthood as we have known it has become conceptually untenable. It isn't only that patriarchy in the strict, old-school Don Draper sense has fallen apart. It's that it may never really have existed in the first place, at least in the way its avatars imagined. Which raises the question: Should we mourn the departed or dance on its grave?
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This guy Fik Shun? He knows how to dance.
The thing he starts doing with his chest around 2:10 is some Exorcist-level shit. (via digg)
Walter Isaacson has written books on Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, and Steve Jobs. His newest book, The Innovators, is due out in early October and focuses on the people who invented computing and the Internet.
In his masterly saga, Isaacson begins with Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron's daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s. He explores the fascinating personalities that created our current digital revolution, such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and Larry Page.
This is the story of how their minds worked and what made them so inventive. It's also a narrative of how their ability to collaborate and master the art of teamwork made them even more creative.
The analysis of the weak parts of Apple's recent introduction of the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch at the beginning of this piece is good, but the real gem is the complete reworking of the presentation as Steve Jobs might have approached it.
Jobs: It's not easy being an engineer at Apple. (Laughs) How do you take the world's best phone and make it even better? (Cheers)
When we first launched the iPhone back in 2007, we didn't anticipate the central role it plays today-how it would touch every part of our lives. (Cheers)
Seven years later, our iPhones are the window to our world. Through this window I see my wife and kids. I see my friends, take care of work, and relax.
If this window is so important, what if we made it a little bigger?
(Steve holds out his hand and starts separating his fingers as if he's stretching an iPhone)
(Once they get really far, he grins and quickly pushes them back together)
Jobs: But not too big! (Audience chuckles) You still want to be able to hold it in one hand and fit it inside your pocket.
Our team of smart engineers have come up with the perfect size.
The heartfelt folksiness is pitch perfect. And the whole thing about the iWatch is amazing:
Jobs: The iWatch comes with a special sensor that detects your heartbeat. In addition to linking to Apple Health, it does something very special.
Something very dear to me.
I'd like to see how my daughter is doing. Instead of sending her a text, what can I do? I press this button twice, and... (Heartbeats echo in the auditorium)
You can't see it, but my watch is vibrating to her heartbeat. I can close my eyes and know that my daughter is alive, living her life halfway around the globe.
Not sure if Jobs would have approached it this way, but it made me actually want to get an Apple Watch. (via @arainert)
Erik Vance on why real working archaeologists don't care for Indiana Jones.
"Oh God," he groans, "Don't even go there. Indiana Jones is not an archeologist."
It's not surprising that academics -- hell bent on taking the fun out of everything -- would hate our beloved and iconic movie version of them. But Canuto is no killjoy. His ironic tone and acerbic wit seem honed by long boring days in the sun. So I bite. I quickly learn that there's a good reason why most every archeologist on Earth hates Indy. And that they might have a point. Because Jones isn't an archeologist at all.
"That first scene, where he's in the temple and he's replacing that statue with a bag of sand -- that's what looters do," Canuto says, grinning. "[The temple builders] are using these amazing mechanisms of engineering and all he wants to do is steal the stupid gold statue."
Makes you wonder if Jones was one of the Raiders referred to in the title of the first movie. (via @riondotnu)
This Lego version of the Simpsons house looks amazing. Not sure if it's $200 amazing, but still. These minimalist Lego Simpsons characters are much cheaper.
If you're thinking of switching mobile carriers (b/c perhaps a certain fruit company is releasing new models), you should check Sensorly for "unbiased" coverage maps of AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and even smaller companies like Metro PCS and US Cellular. Looks like the maps are somewhat inaccurate because they rely on contributions only from Sensorly app users. For example, there are large swaths of upper Manhattan and the Bronx which show coverage only along major roads. But still helpful to use beside the companies' official coverage maps. (via @ludacrisofficia)
Update: Rootmetrics also has coverage maps for the major carriers. (via @ropiku)
[Note: if you're unable to read about domestic violence against women for any reason, you might want to skip this post. Possibly related: the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.]
From an anonymous author on The Frisky, Why I Married My Abuser.
One Saturday afternoon a few months after our first date, I opened one of the cards and then smelled it as he beamed on proudly. I sniffed and joked "like a woman" because he was the first man I ever knew to send a scented envelope.
I know it's a cliche, but if I close my eyes, I can still see that moment in slow motion. His face changed from beaming to furious. And suddenly, I was on the floor. It wasn't until he extended his hand down to me saying, "Oh baby I am so sorry! Why did you have to say that? I'm so sorry!" that I realized I was on the floor because his fist had put me there. I actually thought for a second that a piece of the ceiling must have fallen down. Surely Hank couldn't have hit me? That was something that happened to other people.
"Why did you have to say that?" The insidiousness of that simple phrase is chilling. From Obsidian Wings, the perspective of someone who worked at a battered women's shelter for five years: Why Do They Stay?
So imagine yourself, in love with someone, on your honeymoon or pregnant, when suddenly this guy just goes ballistic, often for very little reason, and hits you. For a lot of women, this is profoundly shocking and disorienting. There are things that are comprehensible parts of the world, even if they're rare, like having your car stolen; and then there are things that are unexpected in a completely different sense, like having your car turn into an elephant before your eyes: things that make you wonder whether you're completely crazy. Being beaten up by someone who apparently loves you is one of those things.
What this means is that precisely when a woman needs as much confidence in her own judgment as she can muster, the rug is completely pulled out from under her. And it's not just that she questions her judgment because she got involved with this guy in the first place; she questions her judgment because something so completely alien to the world she thinks she knows has just happened.
And via the National Domestic Violence Hotline site, Sarah Buel's Fifty Obstacles to Leaving, a.k.a., Why Abuse Victims Stay.
14. Financial Abuse: Financial abuse is a common tactic of abusers, although it may take different forms, depending on the couple's socio-economic status. The batterer may control estate planning and access to all financial records, as well as make all money decisions. Victims report being forced to sign false tax returns or take part in other unlawful financial transactions. Victims also may be convinced that they are incapable of managing their finances or that they will face prison terms for their part in perpetrating a fraud if they tell someone.
Since the video of former NFL player Ray Rice knocking his then-fiancée out in an elevator leaked, the National Domestic Violence Hotline has seen an 84% increase in call volume. If any of the above rings true for you and your domestic situation, that phone number again is 1-800-799-7233.
The internet is full of remixes of movies and trailers these days: Wes Anderson's Forrest Gump, The Shining as a romantic comedy, Toy Story 2 mashed up with Requiem for a Dream, Toy Story meets The Wire, and so on. But before all of that, from 1987, perhaps the first mashup of its kind, Apocalypse Pooh:
Todd Graham made this short film with VCRs and film nerds passed around copies on VHS tapes. (via @johankugelberg)
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