Tag Archives: culture

behind_the_sofa

Video Chattin!

A conversation about the state of video conferencing, presented in chronological order…

Greg:
With Facetime in the hands of tens of millions of iOS users… Google+ creating a new term with video “Hangouts”… and now it looks like Facebook is going to have major Skype integration…

30 years later, are we FINALLY entering the video chat era?

Dennis:
I don’t see video chat taking off anyway. It’s uncomfortable. Voice is easier/better b/c you can divide your attention without harming communication.

Maybe the kids will like it…

Bryan:
I agree with Dennis and I think the shift away from telephone calls to texting shows that most people, even the kids, want to multitask or have asynchronous communication. I’m sure there will be a good number of people and some interesting uses for video chatting but I don’t think its going to become the dominate communication form we originally thought it would be.

and thanks Greg from starting a conversation on gmail instead of g+, I feel like i’m missing the party.

Greg:
It’s funny you say that. As I was writing that email, I stopped and said to myself, “Should I turn this into a blog post? Nah” “Hmm, I don’t want to post to Facebook, because I’ve already posted something today…” “I’ll just send an email.”

With all of these broadcasting options, I went with email. Go figure.

FYI, I’m about to tweet it.

Dennis:
I might have already sent this once before (or twice…?), but the great, late David Wallace nailed this topic in his 1998 near-future, quasi-scifi, novel, Infinite Jest: A Novel.

e.g. -
The answer, in a kind of trivalent nutshell, is: (1) emotional stress, (2) physical vanity, and (3) a certain queer kind of self-obliterating logic in the microeconomics of consumer high-tech.

First, the stress:

Good old traditional audio-only phone conversations allowed you to presume that the person on the other end was paying complete attention to you while also permitting you not to have to pay anything even close to complete attention to her. A traditional aural-only conversation [...] let you enter a kind of highway-hypnotic semi-attentive fugue: while conversing, you could look around the room, doodle, fine-groom, peel tiny bits of dead skin away from your cuticles, compose phone-pad haiku, stir things on the stove; you could even carry on a whole separate additional sign-language-and-exaggerated-facial-expression type of conversation with people right there in the room with you, all while seeming to be right there attending closely to the voice on the phone. And yet — and this was the retrospectively marvelous part — even as you were dividing your attention between the phone call and all sorts of other idle little fuguelike activities, you were somehow never haunted by the suspicion that the person on the other end’s attention might be similarly divided.

Put a shirt on.[...] Video telephony rendered the fantasy insupportable. Callers now found they had to compose the same sort of earnest, slightly overintense listener’s expression they had to compose for in-person exchanges. Those caller who out of unconscious habit succumbed to fuguelike doodling or pants-crease-adjustment now came off looking extra rude, absentminded, or childishly self-absorbed. Callers who even more unconsciously blemish-scanned or nostril explored looked up to find horrified expressions on the video-faces at the other end. All of which resulted in videophonic stress.

And then vanity:

And the videophonic stress was even worse if you were at all vain. I.e. if you worried at all about how you looked. As in to other people. Which all kidding aside who doesn’t. Good old aural telephone calls could be fielded without makeup, toupee, surgical prostheses, etc. Even without clothes, if that sort of thing rattled your saber. But for the image-conscious, there was of course no answer-as-you-are informality about visual-video telephone calls, which consumers began to see were less like having the good old phone ring than having the doorbell ring and having to throw on clothes and attach prostheses and do hair-checks in the foyer mirror before answering the door.

Dennis:
I just saw your tweet! Whoo hoo!

Bryan:
is Infinite Jest 1000+ pages of shit like that?

Dennis:
Actually, I think it’s just shy of 1,000 pages. But there are footnotes.

Greg:
Bryan, when you say “shit like that”, is that good or bad?

Dennis:
I think it’s the shit.

Bryan:
I guess without seeing my face you could not tell that I was using the word “shit” in the positive light.

Sent from my iPhone

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Thanks to Dennis, Bryan, and David Wallace for participating.

Face Exercises

Been meaning to post this for a while and when Jack LaLanne died a few days ago at the ripe old age of 96, I was reminded to. Firstly, it’s important to celebrate a man who preached fitness and a good diet. No scams. No bad science. Just a natural diet and exercise. If there’s one thing that disgusts me about this country, it’s the obesity epidemic and Jack LaLanne was looking out for us before we even knew what super-sizing was. One of his classic quotes over the years was, “I can’t die, it would ruin my image.” Well JLL, I can say with decent clarity that you were wrong on that one. Practice what you preach and you live to 96.

This post, however, is not for obese people. It’s for ugly people. You see, JLL didn’t just care about your health. He cared about how you’ll look as you get older. So he offered up these face exercises. These are from The Jack LaLanne Show circa sometime in the ’50′s. I’m a bit biased because I tend to treasure vintage stuff like this. I love the look and feel of this program. The music. Jack’s easy demeanor. And facial exercises invaluable!

Comics and Greek Mythology

Are comic books really that far off from Greek mythology? Greek mythology was a religion. Ancient Greeks perceived these characters as not some form of entertainment, but actual gods. In essence though, they were fantastical stories featuring characters with super powers. Poseidon, who was always my favorite, was essentially Aquaman, whom I don’t particularly care for. Zeus was pretty much Superman.

As with all religions, these stories were written as a form of control. And to a lesser extent, a way to explain the mysteries of the world. Modern comic books are written for entertainment, and to a larger extent, money. Both DC and Marvel have both heavily borrowed from Greek mythology. So is the intended purpose the only difference between these two?

Let It Be, please

This is cringe-worthy and hilarious all at the same time. Apparently, to promote it’s fourth season, Norwegian talk show Gylne Tider created this promo of D-List celebrities singing a borderline Muzak version of “Let It Be”- “We Are The World”-style. The cheese and randomness factors are through the roof on this one. What is unclear is whether or not they are being ironic or simply believe in the power of celebrity so blindly that they’re willing to put this many once-names into a promo for a current show. (I also submit that there is the possibility that Gylne Tider is actually a show about D-List celebrities from the 80′s and 90′s)

Love seeing Robert Englund make an appearance. Three cheers for Lou Ferrigno and Berlin too!