Saturday, July 02, 2005

Live from Chicago and Halsted: Drunken conversation with Lisa and Tom

this is an audio post - click to play

Drunken conversation with my friends Tom Henkey and Lisa Hemminger! Not Safe For Work! Much, much cursing! Many, many smarta** remarks! Contest between Lisa and me over how many women of the wrong sexual orientation we've slept with! Enjoy, but be forewarned!

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Get yer fake Flickr press pass!

As pointed out at the Flickr corporate blog: Make your own (unofficial) Flickr photographer badge. Yes, it's utterly pointless; yes, I made one too!

London city government embraces SMS

The Greater London Authority, which I think is the British equivalent of the American "Mayor's Office," recently announced a new SMS-based service for those in the city. Simply send an instant message to "MAYOR" from your phone to get all kinds of things returned to you from the local government - tourist info, transit schedules, even a chance to buy discounted same-day theatre tickets online. Brilliant! Why aren't more American cities doing something similar as well? (Thanks to Adverblog for pointing this out.)

Veen: "Please make fun of my free electronic book"

To mark its fifth anniversary, web designer Jeffrey Veen (known in the Pettus household as "The Man Who Can Do No Wrong") is releasing a free electronic download of his seminal book The Art and Science of Web Design, which you can find at his site. And why is he releasing the book for free after all this time? Because it's outdated, to put it simply, and he no longer feels that it's relevant as an active web-design guide for sale at bookstores, but rather as a historical document. And to that end, he's also inviting readers to share their historical thoughts concerning the book, which he will be reprinting in his blog. Have his predictions from five years ago come true, in your opinion? Does his obsession in that book with dial-up-friendly sites seem quaint to you now, or should we still be worrying about the conceptual issues that come with such bandwidth-consciousness? This is a great chance for you to converse about web design with what I consider one of the masters of the medium, and to read for free what I consider a still highly relevant design guide; don't let the opportunity pass you up!

Consumerism defined - and it ain't pretty

My friend Greg Gillam recently traveled the Illinois length of historic Route 66, and wrote a blog entry detailing the experience. The essay itself is its usual fascinating stuff, just what I would expect from Greg, but he also has a line in it that really made me stop and think:

"...[T]he heart of consumerism is a fixed state of potential pleasure which never arrives."

Jeez, Greg, did you knick this from somewhere or come up with it yourself? In either case it's brilliant, and suddenly made me realize exacty why I'm so uncomfortable anymore when I visit the St. Louis suburb where I grew up - because millions of people there are doing exactly what Greg just described, sitting around and buying more and more useless crap, waiting for the pleasure they were promised which never arrives, falling for the promise again every time a new piece of crap goes on sale.

Don't get me wrong - I believe in capitalism, and I believe in a free-market society, and I believe in both not only as economic theories but as actual lifestyles. But there's a difference between capitalism and consumerism: in the former it's the customer in charge, and the person with cash in their wallet who is dictating the business practices of the company in question; while in the latter the customer is a voluntary slave, unwilling to use their intelligence to question the company with whom they're interacting, instead simply buying the things the company tells them to buy and hoping that it'll somehow make a difference in their lives. My advice to you - be a capitalist, not a consumerist. Believe me, you'll be a much happier person as a result.

Surprise - insanely expensive celebrity-laced ads might not be that effective anymore

Well, it's official - after tens of millions of dollars and months' worth of controversy, the Paris Hilton ads for Carl's Jr finally started running a few weeks ago...and resulted in a whopping two-percent rise in sales for Carl's Jr nationwide. Still want to argue that traditional advertising is effective in our modern age? Go right ahead - I'll be over there with my buddies, getting an actual decent return on investment for our marketing dollars, and laughing at all those poor dumb bastards at Carl's who I'm sure are scratching their heads this very moment, wondering where they went so wrong. (Thanks to Joseph Jaffe for pointing this out.)

Odeo finally goes live, becomes immediately irrelevant

Man, talk about your bad timing: Earlier this week, Evan Williams' new Odeo finally went live to its beta testers (myself being one of them), a new service which promises to streamline and simplify the podcast-subscription process. Then 24 hours later Apple releases the newest version of iTunes, the program almost all iPod owners already own (and which requires no separate registration, like Odeo does), which now allows you to subscribe to podcasts as easily as adding a blog feed to your RSS reader. Oops! I haven't actually gotten to try Odeo yet, by the way, because I don't actually own an MP3 player; I signed up in order to try out their podcast creation tools, including an option for recording podcasts through your cellphone, much like Audioblogger currently works. But alas, Odeo doesn't actually have any of the creation tools invented yet...and they don't even have an estimated completion date to give people either, who write in and ask about it.

Odeo, I love you guys and all, but may I kindly suggest you get on the stick a bit? At the rate that podcast technology is changing these days, you may just find yourself completely obsolete before the company is even open to the public.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Live from the MCA "Tuesday on the Terrace"

I'm down at the Museum of Contemporary Art (Chicago, one block east of Michigan), enjoying the "Tuesdays on the Terrace" summer series. Drinks aren't free like I guessed, but the ambience is; and at $4 Goose Islands, most can afford a few hours of the back patio. Hot nerdies abound! Yeehaw!

Monday, June 27, 2005

Live from Quimby's: Playing catch-up with Katherine Hodges

this is an audio post - click to play

While at the "Secret Lives of Librarians" show at Quimby's I ran into my old friend Katherine Hodges. Here, a four-minute audio interview on her new zine reading series at MoJoe's, and the show she'll be hosting at Quimby's herself later this summer.