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kottke.org posts about Mr. Bean

The genius physical comedy of Mr. Bean

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 31, 2018

For the latest installment of Nerdwriter, Evan Puschak explains the distinct brand of physical comedy practiced by Rowan Atkinson, best known for his character Mr. Bean. For my money, this scene of Mr. Bean running late for a dentist appointment is one of the funniest things ever put on screen.

This is the comedy of personality rather than the comedy of gags. It’s not about doing funny things. It’s about doing something quite normal in a funny way.

Atkinson himself explained and demonstrated the principles of physical comedy in a 60-minute documentary called Funny Business; here’s part 1:

This is really odd timing. Just two days ago, I was watching some videos with my kids and we stumbled across Rowan Atkinson performing as Mr. Bean at the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics in 2012, which a) opens Puschak’s video, b) I had completely forgotten about, and c) is perhaps the most British thing ever.

In tech and media, you can’t remain neutral on a moving train

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 28, 2017

In his review (finally!) of the iPhone X, John Gruber begins with a zoomed out view of how computer platforms face an adapt-or-die choice.

The more popular a computer platform becomes, the more of a bind in which it inevitably finds itself. A platform is only “finished” when it is abandoned. It needs to evolve to remain relevant, but it’s difficult to change in unfamiliar ways without angering the base of active users. Adding new features on top of the familiar foundation only gets you so far — eventually things grow too complex, especially when what’s needed now is in conflict with a design decision that made sense a decade (or more) prior.

I’d argue this applies equally well to cultural & scientific paradigms, media, companies, technology, and politics. And people too. Who you were in your 20s and the decisions you made for that person often don’t work that well for that same person at 40…which can make long-term relationships difficult to navigate.

It also applies to this here website. I’ve talked before about the changing landscape of web-based media from a revenue perspective, which is why I started the membership initiative.

As I hinted at in the announcement post, the industry-wide drop in revenue from display advertising was beginning to affect kottke.org and just a few months later, the site’s largest source of revenue (ads via The Deck) went from “hey, I can make a living at this!” to zero. Then Amazon slashed their affiliate percentages, resulting in a 30-50% drop for some sites in the network. I found a new ad network partner (with greatly reduced revenue) and my Amazon affiliate revenue didn’t fall as much as that of other sites, but together, those revenue sources would no longer be enough to support my full-time activities on the site.

But I’ve also been thinking a lot about how the information published here is delivered. I love the web and websites and believe the blog format is the best for the type of thing I want to communicate. But fewer and fewer people actually go to websites. I largely don’t. You can follow kottke.org on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, and via RSS, but fewer people are using newsreaders and Facebook et al are trying their best to decrease visibility of sites like mine unless I pay up or constantly publish.1

So I’ve been considering other ways of producing content that don’t involve this website. (An experiment along those lines will be launching very soon…although if you’re reading the members-only newsletter, you already know all about it.) But I also know that if you’re reading this, you are likely reading it on the web, as intended, and likely for 8-10 years or more…my loyal base of active readers who I don’t want to alienate. But as Gruber says above, it’s a sticky wicket…adapt or die. kottke.org is a blog, but that’s only a means to an end: sharing information and ideas with other people. How do I continue to do that, stay true to a format that I & my loyal readers love, but also not end up like a vaudevillian in the 1940s, hoofing it on some dusty stage with no one in the audience while the movie houses are packed? All I can say for sure is that kottke.org is very much not “finished”. Stay tuned!

P.S. It’s perhaps not the perfect metaphor in this case, but the thing that always pops into my head when thinking about changing on the go is this clip from Mr. Bean. He’s late for the dentist and has to get ready in his tiny car. The whole thing is great, but the particularly relevant bit starts at ~3:30.

  1. Social media is disproportionally shitty for small media businesses that prioritize quality over quantity. It’s Walmart gutting small town downtowns all over again.

The internet is photoshopping Mr. Bean into things and it’s great

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2017

Sometimes when the world is crashing down around you, only the dumbest possible thing will do and today’s installment is Mr. Bean photoshopped into various things and I am loving it.

Mr Bean Photoshopped

Mr Bean Photoshopped

Mr Bean Photoshopped