All entries for April 2006

April 28, 2006

What goes around – Jack White and Coke

Writing about web page http://www.coca-cola.co.uk/whatgoesaround/512.asp

No, not Pete D coke but the refreshing cola beverage.

Jack White has done a commercial for Coke which will be broadcast one time only on channel 4, but which is also at the link above for a bit (and on youtube et al soon enough no doubt).

V. cool video – no, really.

If you remember the 80s/90s celebrity soft drink tie ups then this is as far away as you can get.

Lovely.

Won't make me drink the stuff though…


I am an Uncle (again)

Congratulations are in order for my Sister Jane and her partner Graham who are the proud parents of 9lb 2 baby Rhys. Born around midnight.

That's a big baby.

I am sure Grace will love her new baby brother.

Big smiles all day today!


April 24, 2006

Bike blues…

So, after crashing spectacularly in Feb I finally took the bike to Warwickshire Cycles to get it fixed up and back in action.

Also, I wanted them to check it over so Steph feels a bit more comfortable about me cycling again. She is pretty unhappy about this following the events of feb and so any positive info I can give her has to be good.

WC have confirmed today that whilst the headset needs replacing (which Chris mentioned anyway) the rest is okay. So no excuses on the technical front – I just need to carry on with the "it will be fine" lobbying.


April 10, 2006

Do you own a video iPod (or similar?)

I see a lot of iPods and other players around campus. As producer of Warwick Podcasts I would be interested to know how many people have video versions of these. We could quite easily start producing video content as well, but is the effort worth it?

So the question is – do you own a Video iPod (or psp, or other mobile video device)?

or

Are you likely to buy one in the next 6 months/year?

BTW - There is no prize attached to this question!


Van Gogh and Britain: Pioneer Collectors at Compton Verney

Writing about web page http://www.comptonverney.org.uk/?page=exhibitions/vangogh

Went to see the Van Gogh exhibition at Compton Verney on Sunday. Pretty interesting exhibition but not for the obvious reasons.

Many of the paintings are a bit meh! Only one or two stand out pieces. However, what the exhibition does very well is give a sense of narrative progression to Van Gogh's work. It leads you through his early work – very 'Dutch' (dark, moody and brown) – through his early impressionist work to the height of his powers and into his decline.

It's really obvious that he took a long time to develop his style, had a short period where he was on top of his game and then fell into decline as his mental state went a bit pear-shaped.

What I wasn't prepared for was the side show – a series of character busts by 18th Century Austrian Franz Xaver Messerschmidt. The four busts were brilliant – challenging, technically outstanding and full of fun and wit. You can see a few at http://www.limmat.ch/schmid/fxm/pairs.html.

The Francis Bacon piece left me cold. It raised a debate in my head about what context art is created in – who is the artist painting for? It is difficult to imagine the Bacon piece outside of a gallery setting but the VG works seemd to be more suited to a domestic setting. Much of Modern Art seems designed for the Gallery and taken out of that context probably doesn't work that well at all. This seems sad to me. For centuries the setting of a piece was almost as important as the piece itself. I am reminded of Baroque church painters who painted specifically for the light conditions of a particular location in a particular church – who took into consideration the position of a window high up behind the picture. I rather like the idea that art should be as much about place as the thing itself. The Bacon work just seemed rather disconnected from the reality around it as if it was above it – the work was more important than anything else. The busts were of their space, celebrated the world they were part of and filled the room with their presence.

Worth a look, anyway.

BTW - when we left we drove into the aftermath of a very localised and heavy hailstorm – looked like an inch of snow had fallen. Saw two car crashes on the way home – it's icy people, slow down, duh!


April 05, 2006

Folic Acid in Bread

So now the Government wants to put Folic Acid in bread. All the time and effort sorting out how to supplement our diet so that we get the proper amount of nutrients should be better spent on promoting a healthy and varied diet.

People – you can get all the nutrients you need by eating freshly prepared food, by eating a range of fruit, vegetables and meats (sorry veggies).

As long as we continue to peddle the magic bullet approach to food and nutrition then all we encourage is ignorance and laziness.

Folic Acid is naturally occuring in green leafy vegetables – how hard is it to prepare spinach for crying out loud?

And there is enough crap in commerical mass-producd bread as it is – for example: link

It's the same bloody principle that Bush approaches climate change with – "everything's screwed, but don't worry, technology will help us out".

It took thousands of years to develop the culinary knowledge we have lost in a generation – that's a horrific legacy for the future.


Should we redefine the BBC?

The question asks about the BBC but raises questions about other media channels.

Historically the power of media channels has been in managing not just the content but also the distirbution channel. Access to the bandwidth on your telly, the cinema network or the newspaper stand, gave you a lot of power and authority.

In the last few years this power has been eroded by digital distribution channels and our traditional channels are looking at how they can repsond.

The BBC has been criticised for investing so heavily in digital channels and online distribution – using public funding to gain a competative advantage. Not so, according to the DG Mark Thompson. The BBC is simply finding new channels to distribute existing content.

What I find interesting here is the way we still seem to rigidly associate content with distribution. There are many cases of content producers fighting to remove content from youtube or google video and the industry's battle with Bittorrent is well documented. John Dale has written much on th subject of file sharing.

In an age of RSS, Podcasts and Vodcasts, should we be taking a revolutionary approach to distribution? Instead of locking content into specific channels, should we democratise access, should companies get over the loss of distribution control and instead concentrate on promotion and content creation.

Here's an interesting thought. Nike own the brand. They outsource production and outsource distribution. What Nike does is marketing.

Does the same model work for broadcasters. The BBC (or another company) creates concepts and manages the brand, outsources production (which is how it operates anyway), and doesn't get too upset about who distributes it. The BBC (or other) become predominantly brand managers.

I pull my media content from a number of sources – the Guardian, the BBC, Channel 4, Radio 1 through 5, the cinema, Amazon DVD rental and so on. Does it actually matter that I have to go to a BBC site to get BBC content? My RSS reader already pulls together a range of information sources outside of their normal distribution content. Why shouldn't I get all my media this way.

Perhaps the BBCs detractors should quit complaining about the Beeb producing a media player and instead concentrate on lobbying for access to that player to be opened up so the usert can get a broad range of content. And while they're at it, they should be posting content to youtube, google video and other sources.

This raises a lot of questions about business models, but that's for all those MBA students to figure out.


April 03, 2006

Ghost World

Title:
Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

Watched one of my favourite recent films again last night – Ghost World.

The film makes me feel crushed by the end. The sense of futility and isolation is pretty overwhelming.

I also appreciate the ambiguous ending – If I am in a positive frame of mind I can read the final scence as Enid escaping her mundane life and taking a ride to new opporunities. Unfortunately I guess the ending is closer to a metaphor for suicide – a negative escape rather than a positive one. Whilst everyone else has moved on and grown, Enid stays completely still – waiting for something to take her away rather than searching for her own route out.

I saw this first in my late twenties – if I'd seen it in my late teens I imagine it would have had a deeper effect. A great antidote to all the rites of passage teen movies you tend to see.


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