Gnod is a described as a "search engine to help you find things you don't know about", and it's a very cool experiment in artificial intelligence. Give the Music Map a whirl: input a band/artist and watch the cloud of recommended artists form before your eyes :)
Rob Walker wrote a great article this past weekend on the reverse appropriation of brands by street culture, another version of brand hijacking.
Mike is an example of the sometimes porous border between brands and
their fans and how hard it is to nail down who "owns" what. Susan
Scafidi, a Southern Methodist University law professor, examines such
questions in "Who Owns Culture? Appropriation and Authenticity in
American Law." In an interview, she compared the Mike brand to the "fan
fiction" that some Star Trek enthusiasts write, in effect building new
content (and new communities) out of somebody else's intellectual
property. While Nike, Converse and the Jordan brand "have given the
consumer a vocabulary of style," Scafidi says, at least part of the
"meaning" of sneaker brands today has been defined by consumers who
turned athletic shoes into a staple of contemporary street fashion - a
phenomenon explored in the recent documentary "Just for Kicks."
Like everyone else, I squirmed in my sofa watching Oprah lambast James Frey yesterday. Ms. Winfrey felt "duped" by the shady author, and yesterday we watched one of the most influential brands in American culture flex its muscle, bringing down the guy she had almost singlehandeldly made famous. Such is the power of Oprah. Ouch!
This sordid tale reveals a lot about our culture. Following Oprah's initial breathless praise for the book, a nation lapped up Frey's memoir, singalling a collective longing for a really good story. And especially a story about "redemption" and all of the other feel-good pop-psychology Dr. Philisms. But as much as they public wants a good story, book sales have been flat for years: people don't want to read fiction, that's not the appropriate vehicle these days for telling the best stories, it seems. People long for "the truth", and not the dramatized reality-TV version; they want the real thing. The more real the better. Of course, Mr. Frey and his publishers obscured the fact, likely sensing that throwing in caveat's about writer embellishments, as one might expect in a memoir as opposed to, say, an autobiography, would take the wind out of the sails of the overwhelming publicity initiated by Oprah.
But like any great brand, Oprah, despite initially defending James Frey, listened carefully to her fans and acted swiftly to publicly condem him, thus restoring her place on the side of all that is good and "true". The question for me though, is: who is the "real" Oprah, and what values are the most important for her as a brand? Is it the sympathetic Oprah, going out on a limb and emphatically stressing that the central message of the book (redemption) should not be eclipsed by the fibs, or is Oprah managing her brand more carefully by making sure she says the right thing at the right time to the right people, giving in to the groundswell of criticism of Frey and taking the high road? Maybe we'll find out in her memoir.
News of re-designed Google page should cause fits of hysteria among devotees, but it looks like many think the new look may even be less cluttered and cleaner than the current one. Will Google make the change?
From Techcrunch, we get word of a new version of FireAnt, the video blogging directory that allows users to tag, rate, subscribe to feeds and easily find the rapidly growing world of video content available.
Eye-opening article on Brain Training, a hugely popular application/game for the Nintendo DS system, available only in Japan. It's essentially a tool to keep your brain sharp, disguised as a game, and it's redefining notions of gaming. The author's thoughts are insightful: as games and gaming continue to evolve, it will be interesting to see new hybrid entertainment/educational/creative platforms emerge, and it they will happen anywhere, you know it will definitely be in Japan, first.
So, the #1 game in Japan is a non-game. My (shocking) conclusion: there
is a huge market for new styles of games and new game players, and the
gap between "games" and "apps" is getting smaller.
At first it's
hard to imagine something like Brain Training ever hitting the top of
the USA video game charts. Virtually impossible, I'd wager.
if you had told me that "Deer Hunter" would've become the top-selling
computer game a few years ago, I would have pulled the car over and
laughed you out of it — and yet, it happened, stunning a whole
generation of developers who were working on "Brown Devil Alien Guns
Both successes tell a valuable lesson: there
are a lot of people who could play video games, but don't, because the
right software isn't there.
From the NYT, some challenges media companies face in the age of rapid convergence:
For once, the visionaries were right. Video is popping up on cellphones, iPods, TiVo's
and Web sites. And as for blogs, photo-tagging sites like Flickr,
podcasts and the rest of the bubbling digital stew, it's clear that
lots of media are coming together in lots of devices in lots of ways.
for all the time that media executives - from the towers of Sixth
Avenue to the back lots of Burbank - had to prepare for convergence,
they are now scrambling to figure out what to do about it.
"Convergence is possible now, and you are seeing the earliest breaks on the beach," said John C. Malone, the chairman of Liberty Media,
who has been trying to profit from convergence for the last two
decades. Now that it's here, he predicts there will trouble for many