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Not Prince Hamlet

"Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse."

Bombs or Ads?

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The City of Boston was seriously disrupted today by ads that looked like bombs. Reuters has the story of blinking devices placed on bridges throughout the city as a marketing ploy for the popular cartoon, Aqua Teen Hunger Force. From the story:
The billboards, encased in dark plastic, consisted of blinking lights wired to an electronic circuit board to project an animated cartoon image in an outdoor promotion for a show on Turner's [ala Turner Networks] Cartoon Network called "Aqua Teen Hunger Force."
NPH has been meaning to write something about outdoor advertising for some time now, so here ya go.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:15 PM | link | 1 comments |

It's Gotta Be The Shoes

NPH is probably behind the curve here, but we've only now just learned about TOMS shoes (thanks to a tip from Cool People Care). Started by 30 year old Blake MyCoskie--a former Amazing Race contestant--the shoe company donates one pair of its Alpargata shoes to a needy child for each pair that it sells. MyCoskie got the idea when he was in Argentina. This is what his website says:
Inspired by a traditional Argentine shoe and challenged by the continent's poverty and health issues, I created TOMS with a singular mission: To make life more comfortable. TOMS accomplishes this through its unique shoe and my commitment to match every pair purchased with a donated pair to a child in need . . . no complicated formulas. You buy a pair of shoes and I give a pair to a child on your behalf.
NPH thinks this is brilliant. We looked it up, and there's a local shoe store where we can get these. We're all over it.

Here's the trend we're noticing: charitable donations on behalf of consumers. Like the Product Red campaign, TOMS doesn't ask affluent western consumers to do anything other than what they're already doing, namely shopping and consuming. But it's the ultimate if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em strategy, where you make their consumption into a vehicle for good work. This is the entrepreneurial innovation the world needs more of.

Read more about TOMS shoes here and here.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:30 AM | link | 3 comments |

Do You Really Want To Win?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Forbes magazine has a piece up about the mechanics of American Idol exposure for those who compete. Particularly of interest is the cut that producer Simon Fuller's production company takes from contestants' subsequent record sales, which is upwards of 50% when the industry standard is 15%. Further, contestants are sworn to secrecy regarding what they're actually paid by Fuller's company (19 Entertainment), whether in record sales or in revenues from live concert appearances. Tellingly, most of the past winners have severed ties with 19 as quickly as possible.

Also of interest is this chart from The Church of The Consumer, laying out the viewers and voters from year-to-year compared to actual album sales. Obviously, the former consistently go up and up, while the latter don't do the same. What determines how many records a given winner sells? Could it have something to do with the way 19 Entertainment mis-handles and mis-markets the Fantasia Barrino's and Taylor Hicks' of its competition?

Note: this post previously said that 19 Entertainment was Simon Cowell's production company and not Simon Fuller's. Thanks, Matty, for the correction.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:41 AM | link | 1 comments |

Super Bowl Pre-Game

Monday, January 29, 2007

Bob Garfield of Advertising Age and On The Media gives the pre-game report you're really interested in. Interesting tidbits: the secrecy surrounding the ads, the vulgar content of the ads, and the price of the ads. Enjoy it here.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:42 AM | link | 0 comments |

Mini Madness

Ever drive past a billboard advertising a product you use and feel a surge of pride? "Hey, that's my cell phone"; or what about, "Hey, that's my car."

Mini Cooper is banking on it. Starting this week, four American Cities (New York, Miami, Chicago, and San Francisco) will test run Mini Cooper billboards that send personal messages to Cooper owners as they drive by. The billboards use Radio Frequency Identification (or RFID) technology to send a signal from your key to the billboard. When it receives the signal, the billboard will flash something like, "Tom: king of the road." Mini owners completed surveys that will provide fodder for message content.

A lot of discussion about the billboards is centered on the safety issue. However, NPH is more interested in the marketing tactic itself. It's a great example of using a brand to create what Douglas Rushkoff calls "social currency." A brand offers itself to consumers as a way to belong to the community of its users. In an increasingly isolated culture, brands as social currency provide an acceptance and belonging that most people are not getting from traditional vendors of such things: neighborhood, civic involvement, church, even family. So the brand positions itself as your community.

While the billboards are aimed at current owners, they're no doubt part of a strategy to attract new consumers. "See," they say, "You could be on the inside of this. You could be part of the billboard message community." All you have to do is sell your soul to the brand.

Note: in Get Back in The Box, Rushkoff singles out the makers of the Mini Cooper for marketing practices that are exemplary, especially when compared to the folks who redesigned the VW Bug. What he found good about the Mini was the attention paid, first of all, to the quality of the product and not the slickness of a marketing campaign. In fact, the only marketing BMW did for the Mini Cooper was to get it in a movie ("The Italian Job") and do drive their cars around on the tops of semi trucks.

NPH wonders if this new step is in continuity with those exemplary practices or a departure from them.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:16 AM | link | 1 comments |

No, Seriously

Sunday, January 28, 2007

This is the kind of mail solicitations that come to NPH's church.
No joke.


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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 3:21 PM | link | 5 comments |

Food Network Subliminal Advertising?

Friday, January 26, 2007

NPH is part of a Yahoo group called "Media Squatters" that serves as a forum to discuss media. Today somebody alerted us to this, a one-frame McDonalds advertisement "subliminally" tucked into the content of the Food Network's "Iron Chef America." Real? This guy's not the only YouTube user who caught it and uploaded it. This guy did too.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 11:50 AM | link | 1 comments |

The Anti Advertising Agency

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Culture Jammers at work. NPH marvels.


Check out The Anti Advertising Agency.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 11:09 PM | link | 0 comments |

Video Pancakes

A couple of weeks ago NPH featured 39 Second Single, a web-based video serial about a 39 year old single woman in New York. We're now pleased to share with our readers Video Pancakes, the video blog (or vlog) of 39 Second Single's producer. NPH has been enjoying Video Pancakes for about a month now, and we're always impressed with the simplicity of the production and the poignancy of the subject matter. There's something authentic and sincere about this that impresses us greatly. Enjoy.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:39 AM | link | 0 comments |

Super Bowl Ad Controversey

Advertising Age is reporting that the National Restaurant Association is upset with a Nationwide Insurance ad queued up for the Super Bowl. The ad (part of the "Life Comes At You Fast" series) depicts Kevin Federline enjoying his new solo rap career before being woken up by his boss at a fast food restaurant. It's only a dream. K. Fed's real life is to work at a fast food restaurant.

The CEO of the National Restaurant Association has written Nationwide an angry letter. Here's an excerpt:
"Developing creative concepts that accomplish the marketing strategies for a product should not require denigrating another industry. Should an ad of this nature run during the Super Bowl, we will make sure that our membership -- many of whom are customers of Nationwide -- know the negative implications this ad portrays of the restaurant industry."
Bob Garfield (of On The Media) makes a great point in response: the vast majority of that industry's employees live below the poverty line, and so Garfield asks, "How about the many of the 12.8 million Americans he is so concerned about who work full-time in his industry and still live in poverty? Who's he going to write to about them?"
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:09 AM | link | 0 comments |

TV Networks and Storytelling

Monday, January 22, 2007

CBS has ordered pilots of two potential shows for the fall: a drama about open marriage and a musical about a casino, written by Hugh Jackman.

What?

"We are talking about throwing out the rule book and trying new kinds of storytelling," said CBS' Entertainment President Nina Tassler.

Hmmm. NPH is intrigued, particularly with the part about "new kinds of storytelling." For a television network such a move can only be motivated by market competition and the need to attract more viewers and, thus, more advertising dollars. In fact, Tassler also said that the move is about getting people talking about her network. It's about the need for buzz appeal, for something that is so novel that it takes on a life of its own and becomes a sort of virus.

Three letters come to mind here: XFL.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:54 AM | link | 0 comments |

Politics and The Internet

Friday, January 19, 2007

BuzzMachine takes up a new report by the Pew Internet And American Life Project in which the 2006 mid-term elections are analyzed in terms of the role of the internet. Read the full report here. Here's the article abstract:

Twice as many Americans used the internet as their primary source of news about the 2006 campaign compared with the most recent mid-term election in 2002.

Some 15% of all American adults say the internet was the place where they got most of their campaign news during the election, up from 7% in the mid-term election of 2002.

A post-election survey shows that the 2006 race also produced a notable class of online political activists. Some 23% of those who used the internet for political purposes – the people we call campaign internet users – actually created or forwarded online original political commentary or politically-related videos.


What NPH finds most interesting about this is the new content being created and distributed. That internet video technology allows people to have a more active role in the political process, even if it means simply being the guy holding the camera when George Allen utters a racial epithet.



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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:18 AM | link | 0 comments |

Pirate Ads

Variety has a story this morning about Wal-Mart placing banner ads on The Pirate Bay, one of the most popular P2P sites for bit-torrent downloading of copyrighted material. On the face of it, this seems to not make sense, since the patrons of bit-torrent sites are obviously choosing the run 'round media retails and not through them. Does Wal-Mart think that a tech-savvy 16 year old looking for the latest episode of "Prison Break" is going to stop what he's doing to purchase old episodes (one's he's already got) on DVD?

But the real issue here, as pointed up by blogherald, is that of a conflict of interest. How does the Motion Picture Association of America feel about a retailer of its product getting in bed with an outfit that's illegally distributing is?

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:06 AM | link | 0 comments |

I Knew Them When (Part II)

Thanks to a tip from this guy, NPH just had his second Windell Middlebrooks sighting. Wendell, for the uninitiated, was a college classmate and fellow thespian who's recently made some inroads in Hollywood. Read about his first one here and watch the latest one here; he's the landlord in the first scene of this week's "My Name is Earl."

As it happens, Adweek selected Windell's Miller High Life ad as a "best spot" in December.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:34 AM | link | 0 comments |

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

American Idol's sixth season debuts tonight, and so here is a bit from the Daily Lectionary's reading from Isaiah:

"All who make idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit."

Enjoy.


posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 6:13 AM | link | 1 comments |

But Aren't They All Psychopaths?

NPH and the missus took in a film the other day, the Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett thriller "Notes on A Scandal." It's a really well-done film with first rate performances by both female leads and great supporting jobs turned in by Bill Nighy and a young bloke named Andrew Simpson (who's from Northern Ireland).

Based on the novel by Zoe Heller, the screenplay is very well written.

But it raises a disturbing question: what was the last movie with a lesbian protagonist who wasn't a sociopath or an otherwise dangerous or disturbed character? NPH and the missus kicked this around and couldn't think of one. Not one. We could get into all of the sociological reasons we suspect, but that's not our purview. We just have to note our observation, that lesbian characters in films (especially major studio releases) tend to be crazy, and that seems to be a problem.

Now that we think of it, here's a film we saw a couple of years ago where this was not the case.
posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 4:38 AM | link | 0 comments |

It's Not Just Milk

Friday, January 12, 2007

So beverage companies fund studies of their products that produce favorable results? Well, according to this month's edition of Environmental Health Prospectives Journal, cell phone companies do the same thing. The long and short of the study (which analyzed 57 studies that appeared in the academic literature between 1995 and 2005 about the possible effects of cell phone use) is that "sponsorship" of these studies should be taken into account.

The Center for Media and Democracy summarizes the study's findings thus:
Only a third of the industry-funded studies identified a biologic effect with possible health consequences from exposure to cell phone radio waves, while 82% of the studies found such effects, as did 77% of the studies whose funding source was not identified.
Again, the question: who paid for this and why do they want me to see it?

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:09 AM | link | 0 comments |

The 39 Second Single


Jeff Jarvis, regular CNN talking head and author of the blog BuzzMachine, pointed a couple of weeks ago to some of the better online video out there right now. These are shows produced explicitly for the web by people with a camera and a web connection. Of course there's a lot of garbage out there, but Jarvis pointed out a few that are exceptional.

First, 39 Second Single. Every Friday produces a new episode of this 3 minute documentary series about one woman's failed ventures in dating. The story is compelling and the production is perfect for what the show wants to accomplish. In fact, it has a very This-American-Life kind of feel to it. NPH loves it and thinks you should watch it.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 7:22 AM | link | 0 comments |

You Fall off The Horse . . .

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

So Lady in The Water was ripped by critics and barely sputtered at the box office? That doesn't bother our boy M. Night Shyamalan one bit. Reuters is reporting that the Philadelphia phenom has signed on to write, direct, and produce a three-part series of films based on the popular Nickelodeon series "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Paramount Studios' Mtv Films and Nick Movies are behind it. This will be the first time since writing the Stuart Little screen play in 1999 that Shyamalan will be working on something that he didn't create himself.

Early reporting on the deal can be found here, here, here, and here. Two things are emerging: 1)Titanic director James Cameron has just announced that he's about to begin working on a film with the same name, so a legal battle is likely to ensue, and 2) the project is seen as a "safer" and "family friendly," so writers are implying that either Shyamalan is being reigned in by his studio or that he's just been chastened by his first taste of failure.


NPH couldn't care. Great artists excel with their own material as well as others. Most of Shakespeare's canon is other peoples' stories that he simply dramatized. Shyamalan is going to knock this thing out of the park.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 3:30 PM | link | 0 comments |

Milk: It Does the American Dairy Council Good

Boston researchers have concluded that scientific studies of the nutritional content of beverages are biased by whoever pays for the study. It's something that has long since been documented in pharmaceutical studies and taken as a given in nutrition studies, but here is the first documented study to prove it. Studies entirely funded by an industry (such as the American Dairy Council) were four to eight times more likely to produce results favorable to the funder. And, more significantly, not one of the 538 studies examined that had been fully funded by an industry found fault with that industry's beverage. Not one.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:11 AM | link | 1 comments |

Technology and Disconnection

Monday, January 08, 2007

Here's a piece in which two of NPH's areas of interest, global media and civil society, converge. Jenny Uechi wrote it for Adbusters, and it asks some difficult questions about the proliferation of communication technology and the concomitant decrease in civic and social involvement among the populace. To avoid generalizing, Uechi draws upon a study that was done at Washington University and funded by major communications corporations 10 years ago. She summarizes the findings like this: "While most first-time users went online for social purposes, the studies showed a rapid decline in participation for social activities beyond the net and increases in depression and loneliness."

Further, she cites a Duke University study conducted last year posited that "the average American today only has two close confidants," and SwissCom Inc. "found that 80 percent of all cell phone conversations took place with only four people."

NPH thinks there is something qualitatively different about face-to-face interaction and that which is mediated through a a mechanical device (a computer or cell phone). And while many argue that the two forms of communication are just "different," we have to think that the former is better--much better--than the latter, and if the latter is allowed to phase out the former democracy is in big trouble (it may be in bigger trouble than we think right now).

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:30 PM | link | 0 comments |

Random Thoughts on Fox

NPH watched a fair amount of the "Bowl Bash" football games over the past week. The "Bowl Bash," of course, is an invented title for a string of college football games pertaining to the Bowl Championship Series. This year the Fox network broadcast all those games, thanks to a massive contract it signed with the BCS in 2004.

Its' coverage of the games was painful. Because, as Fox does with the NFL and with postseason baseball, the network spread a 60 minute sporting event out over four hours, with regular breaks for commercials, many of which promoted Fox's own upcoming shows.

And no show got more commercial time than American Idol. That unstoppable franchise is about to roll out its fifth season, and it shows no signs of letting up. So NPH notices this story in Advertising Age about planned expansion of the Idol franchise by its parent company, Fremantle Media. Here's a money quote from the story:
Despite the TV show being crammed with ads from 137 marketers in the past two years -- along with three core partners integrated into the content -- Fremantle Media, the rights holder to "Idol," is making room for new ad opportunities by streaming the entire program at AmericanIdol.com after it airs. Already signed on to support the website are marketers including McDonald's and MasterCard.
The three companies integrated into the content are, of course, Ford, Coca Cola, and Cingular Wireless. The article previews what these three are going to be doing in the upcoming season to integrate their brands more comprehensively into the content of the show:
Sponsors Ford Motor Co., Coca-Cola Co. and Cingular Wireless are working harder to squeeze more juice from the "Idol" juggernaut for which they paid $30 million to $50 million. Ford plans a contest that will give regular viewers a chance to appear in the music videos featuring final contestants. In addition to Coca-Cola's Red Room and its ubiquitous cups -- the most widely seen product placement on TV, according to Nielsen Monitor Plus -- Coke will sponsor a promotion that invites viewers to submit questions for contestants through MyCokeRewards.com.

Also, fans for the first time will be able to download specific performances, thanks to Cingular, which will make clips from the show available on cellphones once viewers in Hawaii have finished watching the show.
NPH always gets a little bit giddy at the start of Idol, but loses interest after the initial auditions. However, knowing the kind of marketing planned, we might watch just to de-construct the ads.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:04 PM | link | 0 comments |

Audio of Rushkoff Interview

Doug Rushkoff was interviewed and answered calls on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show about his Christmas Eve run in with a mugger in front of his home in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn. Now, NPH doesn't live anywhere near Brooklyn or anywhere near New York, but this is a really interesting conversation Rushkoff has unearthed. Listen to the interview here (scroll down to "Brute Market Force").

What's most interesting to NPH about it is the amount of self-interested criticism Rushkoff has received from his neighbors for writing and speaking about the incident. "You're hurting our property values," they're telling him. So rather than creating a dialogue with his fellow citizens about crime and their responsibility to respond to it, he's elicited annoyance and fear from them because of what the financial implications might be of actually talking openly about the problem.

NPH (who is not a property owner) has to surmise that this is citizenship in the 21st century: looking out for one another's property value.

We recently expressed a guarded optimism about the development going on in the urban core of the Heartland city otherwise known as NPH-ville. NPH does what any self -respecting white person with a degree in the humanities from a liberal arts college has to do: we wring our hands over "gentrification." And this is why. Rushkoff sums up what has happened in his Brooklyn neighborhood like this, quoting what the police officer who responded to his mugging said to him: "You've taken a whole bunch of rich white people and put them smack on top of a poor neighborhood, and . . . that neighborhood is still there; all the criminals are still there. It's still the city. That's all."

Our idyllic city is experiencing a boom of condo and loft development in formerly depressed urban areas, and it's "rich white people" who can afford to pay the mortgages and the rents for those properties (NPH and the missus looked at some of them on a lark and gawkingly backed away). What's going to happen to all those people that developers and the city are trying to attract to those properties when they realize that "It's still the city?" Rushkoff takes it with a good dose of resignation, even ribbing himself for the fact that he got caught up in the market hype of it all. But most people won't take it like that. Most people will "want something done" about "the criminal element."

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 11:36 AM | link | 0 comments |

Revolving Radio

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Over two years ago NPH lamented the death of a quality radio station where he lives. 97.3 The Planet had its format switched, due to low ratings, from an indie rock type to an all-out rocker type, even though they left The Planet up online. They changed the stations name from "The Planet" to "Max FM" and took the tagline, "Everything That Rocks."

More like sucks rocks.

Well, now its changing again. Parent company Union Broadcasting is switching it to an FM sports talk station, enlisting ESPN Radio as its purveyor. This will make the third sports station that Union owns in the Kansas City market, as they also run Hot Talk 1510 (another ESPN affiliate) and 810 WHB on the am dial, a station that has a great local following and has even started its own restaurant.

NPH likes this. Union is a locally owned media company that has been very successful, and if their fm station isn't going to work as a music station, then we'd rather it broadcast something that it knows how to do well.

Interestingly, the station's Wikipedia entry already has this as written history, even though it just happened two days ago. I wonder if a Union Broadcasting employee wrote that . . .

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:17 AM | link | 0 comments |

Another NPH First

This spring NPH will vote in his first mayoral election. Ever. We've never cast a ballot for mayor in any of the cities we've lived in, simply because we've never actually lived someplace when that place was electing a mayor. NPH will keep his readers thoroughly apprised of the campaign events, signs, phone calls, and fliers as we encounter them.

Walking down Main street in midtown this morning, we walked past Joe Joe's Italian Eatery, where a huddled group of people were gathered, and where a KCTV 5 news crew was standing around outside. As we walked past the building, we looked back over our shoulder to see a massive sign reading, "Do you shop at Costco? Thank Jim Glover. Glover for Mayor." So there you go. Kansas City Councilman Jim Glover is running for Mayor, and he's launching his campaign on the compelling premise that the he's the man who brought us Costco. What NPH had stumbled upon was the ribbon cutting ceremony for his new campaign headquarters.

Pardon NPH for not being riveted.

There's a Home Depot on the same lot as the Costco. Is Glover not taking credit for it? Surely the urban retail complex that Glover advocated and helped to realize has helped the city (it's on a plot that NPH used to walk past all the time back in the day, when it was just an abandoned lot). But putting the retail chain Costco in your campaign slogo? That's just lame. And the picture on his website looks like an ad for the store, not a picture of a compelling candidate.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:00 AM | link | 2 comments |

Ads on Cell Phones

Friday, January 05, 2007

NPH got a new phone over the summer, and when we did so we sought out a phone that was a phone and nothing else. No camera, no web browser, no video: just a phone. And we found it (pictured there on the left).

Part of the reason we wanted such a simple phone was that we just don't use all that other stuff. We wouldn't surf the web from a mobile device, we already had an mp3 player, and limited video clips streamed over your phone screen just seems like a dumb way to waste time. But another reason to avoid those bells and whistles is that with content-delivery streams comes advertising. NPH didn't figure that it would take long for those mobile video clips to subject us to ad content (the same way that networks' online versions of their shows do).

Well, Mark Glacer over at MediaShift has a post about this very thing, the prospect of your cell phone being used to assail you with advertising. His post is an innocently posed question: "What do you think . . ."; but consumer reports are already saying what people think. "No thanks." Make no mistake: any time a device can be used for any kind of communication, be it audio, text, video, or anything else, that device is going to be used for advertising purposes. The text message function on the new NPH phone has already been hit up by ads from the its service provider. If we start getting all kinds of ads on the thing, we may just have to get a phone without text capability. If that's even possible.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 10:22 PM | link | 0 comments |

HDTV is Hot

Douglas Rushkoff has a column up over at Discover Magazine about High Definition television. It's the first thing NPH has read about HDTV that 1) isn't enamored with the technology and 2) doesn't assume it to be a simple progression of television as a medium.

In fact, Rushkoff argues, because of the ridiculously-high pixel levels featured by high definition plasma screens, what we're dealing with is a whole new medium, an entirely new content delivery system, and not just an improvement on an old one. Because whereas television, with its vertical lines and internal bulb, projected an image outward that a view more-or-less passively received, an HD receiver highly intensifies the resolution, amps up the color palette, and provides an aspect ratio that, in Rushkoff's words, "can cover my whole field of vision instead of just a little square." All this, he says, "turns the TV set from a flickering box into razor-sharp hyperreality."

Which may not be entirely good. Rushkoff draws upon Marshall McLuhan's categories of "hot" and "cool" media to raise some concerns (a "cool" medium invites active interpretation from a subject who is aware of themselves as a recipient of the medium, while a "hot" medium stokes the emotions and diminishes both interpretation of the medium and self-awareness in the recipient). Ultimately, the hotter the medium the weaker the active interpretation of it. And HDTV is hotter than anything we've ever had.

It's a good article, and thought provoking. NPH doesn't have an HDTV, so we can't validate from experience Rushkoff's contention. But y'all should read the article, if only for its description of what watching "The Sopranos" is like in HD.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 9:55 PM | link | 0 comments |

Good Stuff, I Mean Good Local Stuff

Thursday, January 04, 2007

While NPH's wife is out the country, some good friends are keeping him company and allowing him to spend exorbitant amounts of time on their couch, eating their food, watching their bigscreen, and playing with their baby.

On Tuesday night, as dinner cooked, we took a jaunt to the local hardware store to copy some keys. We couldn't resist the temptation to duck inside the bookstore next to the hardware store, one that we'd both driven past several times but never, as yet, patronized. Why'd we wait so long?

At the Half Price book store in Westport NPH picked up a cheap used copy of a cd that another local blogger had recommended and a $10 Random House edition of W.H. Auden's Longer Poems (including "For The Time Being"). But the real event was finding a copy of Douglas Rushkoff's Coercion and, well, coercing our friend to buy it. We were looking for Get Back in The Box, but couldn't find it, so NPH was tickled to find Coercion. It's the first Rushkoff book we ever read, and it remains required media literacy reading to his mind.

That a copy of it is now in the hands of our brilliant friend can only mean good things for the world.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 5:19 AM | link | 2 comments |

Churchy Reversals

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

NPH is immersed in H. Richard Niebuhr these days. We're reading large sections of The Social Sources of Denominationalism during the commercial breaks of bowl games. It's a truly fantastic book and should be required reading for anyone even considering a vocation within the church.

Of the many observations contained in the 1929 book, this one strikes NPH as particularly ironic for a 2007 world. Speaking of the difference between the "church" (that is, the institutional church hailing from the Reformation--Presbyterian, Lutheran, Anglican) and the "sect" (the free church deriving from the Anabaptist tradition(s), Niebuhr says this:
They [the Reformation "churches"] are not prone to seek reforms; they are most often the bulwark of political conservatism.
NPH notes that, now, exactly the opposite of this assertion is true. Niebuhr wrote not quite 20 years before the German confessing church movement and the Barmen declaration, and so Social Sources . . . is without the benefit of such a historical case. And as a result of Barmen, along with the fundamentalist/modernist controversy (well underway in Niebuhr's day), the contemporary manifestations of these "churches" are now most soundly maligned as "liberal" by their mostly free-church antagonists.

In 21st century North America, it is those churches deriving from non-denominational, anti-state church traditions that are now the bulwarks of political conservatism, and not only its bulwark but, more accurately, its devoted activist. While those church voices which criticize the political order and the actions of the nation are increasingly those with the most comfy church/state legacy.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 8:11 PM | link | 0 comments |

Blogging The End

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

NPH and a colleague are collaborating on a preaching series for the next seven weeks and a-blogging as we go. Check if out at A-blog-alypto.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 12:24 PM | link | 0 comments |

A New Year's Gift: Rushkoff Interview

Monday, January 01, 2007

Pop Occulture has an interview with Douglas Rushkoff up today, and NPH thinks y'all should read it. Here's a teaser:

In addition to improving our intellectual understanding of media, could you outline some simple techniques or activities which we can put into practice in our lives based on the insights we derive from the process of de-constructing mass media?

There’s simple things you can do to keep the media from having quite as strong an impact on you without your consent. You can observe how you feel when watching TV, and try to see what kinds of images or situations make you tense. And when you feel this anxiety, try to figure out why you feel this way, and who wants you to feel this way. And why?

Or try to figure out who is paying for what you’re watching. That’s almost the easiest one. Who paid for this thing? Why do they want me to see this?

Simply, "Who benefits" is the question to ask of the media we consume. Who is pulling the strings behind the reaction arising in us as we interact with various media.

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posted by Not Prince Hamlet, 12:40 PM | link | 0 comments |