Angela Natividad's Live & Uncensored!

30 November 2010

AdVerve Episode 56: Get Whirled with Joe Sabia

Pi-tastic Joe.

Play the show now.

Joe Sabia of SF-based Whirled (@getwhirled), of Rockmelt demo vid, zombie speeding and Mad Men cigarette fame, joins us for some good clean all-natural fun. What's the difference between Vimeo and YouTube? Why plug a manifesto? What makes Tumblr so awesome?

We get to the heart of what makes something catch an audience's eye, why mediocrity might not be so bad ... and why the internet may be the best thing that ever happened to really boring people.

Also, Joe busts out the Morse Code chops. It's a riot in dots and dashes.

LEGO. AR. OASIS. Dragons!

O'er at Intel Labs, Seattle, LEGO got together with OASIS to see how the play experience could be augmented with (ta-da!) augmented reality.

While it isn't clear how likely it is that we'll all have AR tables installed at home in the near future, I like the idea that environment can be used to respond to play in a way that fuels the imagination. Sure, the mind can make a house burst into flames all on its own. But it's so much funner to be able to see it.

26 November 2010


Me: "Where did you put the drill? I want to put those new hooks in."

Him: "It's too late now for the drill. You'll wake the neighbours."

Me. "It's 5 PM on a Friday. Who am I going to wake?"

Him: "Can't you see I'm working?! YOU CAN'T HAVE THE DRILL."

23 November 2010

Google Search Stories, Gone French. (And an Astronaut Segue.)

It's poetic that Google's Search Stories campaign, which swept us off our feet with "Parisian Love" during this year's Super Bowl, now has a true French variant.

The Une Histoire campaign is outfitted with its own Search Stories, written in French but armed with more universal triggers: hopes, dreams, trajectories that start small but blossom into dramatic life changes. You know the plot well. My favourite is "Rêve d'Enfant" ("Childhood dream," above).

I totally wanted to be an astronaut, but not for any noble purpose. It was mostly to have a reason to go to space camp. And while we're off-topic, check out these "holiday snapshots" by astronaut Soichi (@astro_soichi). They're magic!

Back on-topic. Une Histoire was produced in partnership with France-based ETO. As with the English campaign, you have the option of creating your own search story, which media pub Influencia actually went and took the time to do:

UPDATE: "Une Histoire" debuted as a broadcast campaign on French network TF1 on November 28 for a reported 300,000 euros. In maintaining a bit of the Super Bowl spirit it rode for its US debut, the ad appeared just before the screening of Bienvenue Chez Les Ch'tis, a film that scored record box office returns in France.

Google Germany's 3D Streetview Stop Motion

Google Germany punts its Streetview feature with this adorable video that weds 3D to stop-motion. It brings to mind how Streetview succeeds in knitting photographs together, often providing full 360° views of a given area.

The effort is framed as though it's taking place in an old-school traveling scrapbook - the kind you fill up for road trips. A nice nod back to tactile memorabilia.

Work by agency Kolle Rebbe, with production by Sehsucht Berlin.

Props to Fubiz for the vid.

Tim Burton's Cadavre Exquis

Alongside the Toronto International Film Festival, Tim Burton's inviting users to play a game of Tweet-based Cadavre Exquis. As Len Kendall (photo credit) says here, "it's dark and stylish" - typical of Burton's work. (Consider the Willy Wonka remake with that slightly traumatising, but decidedly Dahlish, dentist dad interlude.)

Cadavre Exquis, French for "Exquisite Cadaver," is a parlor game where a person starts a story and others continue the thread until it arrives at a conclusion. You may remember that Rhea Scott did something similar with filmmakers in '08 to promote her production firm, Little Minx.

Burton's story revolves around Stainboy and his investigation of a mysterious and slightly animorphic goo. If you're clever and slightly insane (our favourite kind), make like the director and dig into the deep, unexpected places where tales twist perversely. One such mind is plenty, but paired with the contributions of a few thousand...? We can't wait to see what gets dug out.

Help spin the yarn at Note that Tweets must contain the hashtag #burtonstory.

The effort is a promotion for the Tim Burton exhibition which originally appeared in New York's MoMA. It'll be opening at the Toronto International Film Festival building, downtown in the aforementioned city, this Friday. Don't miss it! No guarantee that your 140 characters of fame are going to be incorporated in a Stainboy movie, though.

AdVerve Episode 55: Tryptophan! Santabration! ...and Airport Frisks.

That yearly bacchanalia of peace on earth and goodwill to men.

Play the show now.

We get you in the holiday spirit with the curious origins of Thanksgiving and some pre-Christmas foreplay. Also, Bill manages to squeeze in a full-sized rant about the new TSA body scans while I try desperately to reel the conversation back to tinseltown and the roots of the Christmas stocking. (Not what you learned in school! But probably even less true.)

We sorta do never quite do get around to making that “thankful” list. (Although Santa knows we tried.)

Also in the confession booth: the worst Christmas presents we ever got. Email us yours!

18 November 2010

Google Goggles + Advertisers: Opportunity Rising

Google Goggles is one of those hyper-useful services that seems so deceptively simple, we've wondered for years why it didn't exist: why can't you photograph something and run that image in a search engine?

Well, huzzah! Now you can. And from your mobile phone, no less.

Observing that a number of people were apparently using Goggles to snap photos of ads, Google Mobile's engineering team decided to put five super-powerful advertisers together and get them to try incorporating its capabilities into their marketing. The advertisers represented nearly all major industries: T-Mobile, Diageo, Buick, Disney and Delta Airlines.
This video is basically the result of that experiment:

For the time being, advertisers' ideas are simple enough: when a user photographs your ad via Goggles, sponsors can drive them directly to their brand/campaign site to continue the "experience" the person's allegedly having, face-to-face with billboard, or punt them stuff.

That's big already. (Bypass those narsty QR codes completely!)

But think bigger. Faced with a movie poster, a resto ad or a saucy pair of shoes, you can immediately drive users to useful data: the closest retail store. Showtimes. A reservation maker.

The question now is adoption, and for Google, that might not be an obstacle. An NPD Group survey found that between July and September, a whopping 44% of new smartphone users in the United States purchased an Android phone. So if the next generation of Google smartphones come stock with Goggles, running invisibly in the background and integrated in your photo features (Search/Use as Background Image/Send to Contact), this is going to explode.

Explode, we say! And all the better for the advertisers and the Foursquare/Yelp/Gowalla junkies, because this presents the perfect marriage of search, geolocation and the deliciously instant gratification of a user's curiosity.

Hip-Hop Tango: Tough, Beautiful ... Like the VW Polo?!

To personify the Polo's "Tough. Beautiful." slogan, Volkswagen UK enlisted the aid of DDB UK, whose creative mind-melding produced "Last Tango in Compton":

World-class Argentinean tango dancers Gasper Godoy and Manuella Rossi developed the hard, fast routine against an unforgiving, equally passionate hip-hop track laced with jazz tones. No reassuring bandonéons in sight. But they make it work.

The making-of is just as interesting. Tango champion Godoy admits he's never danced to either jazz or hip-hop in his life. We admire him rising to the occasion.

While we're grateful the DDB team didn't try shimmying the car into the footwork (consider that weird "Tango at the Tower" thing Ford Fiesta did with Cake Group in '08), we took a little bit of issue with the abrupt end transition to the shot of the Polo. It struck us as random and stapled-on, even with the tagline tying it all together.

But this is entertainment. And for some, particularly those with an affinity for gritty streets that breed passion, rage, danger and beauty, that might be plenty.

Learn more about the dancers and the music (Roc C's Don't Stop) at the (rather nahce) Volkswagen Polo Facebook page.

The Most Captivating Thing You'll See All Day.

"Philips is bad ... very bad."

Dude's VHS collection will definitely kick your dad's VHS collection's ass, but there is so much more to this than those somber black relics of entertainment past. Focus on the musical transitions. These are gems the likes of which you don't hear often.

A million thanks to @Wisey and @KingofBullshit, to whom I now owe my life and anything of value that I may do with it. This was myrrh, and your efforts brought it to me with great patience and care.

16 November 2010

What Makes a True Geek?

The yardstick's all over the place, but there's a weird above-and-beyond passion that unites the respondents in this video. You see it in how most of their faces light up and recount with pride the moment they switched majors to physics or learned Elfish or decided to shape their online identities around an inexplicable love of JSON.

Hug yourself, Geek. Your curiosity outweighs fear of judgment, and your wonder is a mushroom cloud. It wasn't an easy road, was it? ...but you had to, didn't you?*

Oh, also, you can turn your own responses in at Dice's Facebook if you want to.

Via the inimitable Publigeekaire.


*I am totally making out with myself right now.

'A Life on Facebook' Sweeps 3.65M Views in a Week

Longtime CG artist Maxime Luère recently struck gold when he recently uploaded his second YouTube video of all-time: "A Life on Facebook."

On the creator: Remember that Lacoste Future video from '08, where the tennis player had that mask thing on his face and digital ads in his shoes? That was Luère's doing. You can see more of what he's done, and his specialities, on his website.

On the video: Set to a toe-tappity beat that builds, the film depicts the story of a coed-cum-man, told from the narrative frame of Facebook. He finds love, burns it, razes rather publicly through a pile of girls, lifts a glass to his lips fairly often, and finally finds love again. (On Facebook, of course.) But that's only half the yarn.

Its resonance to users raises interesting conversations about where Facebook is going and its place in our lives. "Very cool," said reader Atif Chaudhry of the video (on my Facebook wall, no less!). "BUT will we really be using 'this' facebook in 5, 10, 15, 25 years from now? We'll all have moved on to something better..or facebook will evolve to suit [our] needs better..."

In our minds, this is just an expression of the phases of life on Facebook today: that forming couple, your drunk coed neighbours, a young bachelor fooling around, that chick who's constantly posting pictures of her pregnant stomach. There's our parents, and those new parents who are so into their babies that they flood your feed with his colic, gas or compulsive thumb-sucking. There's the wanderlusters who do their best to turn every historic piece of scenery into a backdrop for their own enviable selfhood.

It's everybody's story, told on one of the most relatable narrative devices today. And it's okay if that device is ephemeral; that doesn't make it any less pertinent to the culture, much of which is sustained by the data-vomit and voyeuristic lurking that happens in that endless sea of violet blue pages. (Luère makes that very banality look deliciously rock-'n-roll, even epic. That's the talent of the storyteller.)

Since its appearance last week, "A Life on Facebook" has garnered 3.2 million views on YouTube and another 450,000 on vimeo (plus 3005 vimeo Likes). The wise Luère concluded it with a clever little signature inviting users to Like him on his own Facebook page, and as of this writing he's now the beloved of about 11,588 people.

That's a lot of visibility from a guy who's operated mostly under the radar.

15 November 2010

Monoprix Wages War Against Junk Design

Ever wish your store-brand tomato purée had more oomph? France's Monoprix is answering the call with pop art-inspired packaging for its proprietary food items.

Before and after:

Dreamt to life by Design Havas City in response to Monoprix's refusal (inability?) to compete pricewise with stores like E. Leclerc, the packaging does away with generic food images and instead features contrasting colour bars buttressing words describing the contents, accompanied with a single pithy line.

For example, for a long horseshoe-shaped package of sausage, the label reads, "High-quality dry sausage: the sausage that does a demi-turn."

AdVerve Episode 54: Monster Media

Play the show now.
(Or right-click link to open in new window with controllable player.)

Culture journo Carolina Miranda (@cmonstah), the magnificent brains behind, WNYC's Gallerina and the Perfect City documentary, joins us for some high-meets-low culture fun and games. She chats us up about the scariest road in Peru, what she looks for in a would-be tourist attraction, the changing face of compensation and expectations for writers in the tech age, and journalism’s no-fly zone... if it even has one anymore.

Plenty of twists, turns and giggles along the way. Miss it at your inner wanderluster's peril.

14 November 2010

Holographic Pop Star

Crypton Future Media creation Hatsune Miku is the perfect entertainer: 100% synthetic, tireless, unpaid and a show-stopper. She's also mostly crowdsourced (see link).

Honey's trying to break into the English-speaking market. Help a hologram out by Liking her Facebook page.

12 November 2010

A Rockmelt Review Update, to Be Just.

After 48 hours or so of hardcore use, today I decided that I hate Rockmelt.

Used as your primary browser it gets insanely slow and data-heavy and the lag is insufferable.

And because you can't organically update Twitter/Facebook from the right-hand pane, having them ever on the periphery doesn't actually stop you from having to go to those pages. All it really does is make you a compulsive newsfeed update-checker, which is something you thankfully forget about doing from time to time when you're not constantly gazing at those icons.

Back on Chrome again. Will I return to Rockmelt someday, to visit? Probably, but that I'm saying "probably" probably means no. I'll keep it on the dock awhile though, just in case.

This concludes my review.

UPDATE, 13 Nov: A few commenters actually pointed out to me how I can update my Facebook and Twitter statuses from Rockmelt.

It's on the left!

There's also some kind of "smart" RSS suggestions feature that passes you fresh sites based on your interests (StumbleUpon-esque?). I haven't yet figured out how that works though.

Thanks, guys. Maybe I'll give this another go (but that laggage, man... find a way to work it out!).

10 November 2010

A Short, Rather Incomplete Rockmelt Review

...per Len Kendall's request. :P

Let's kick off with what Rockmelt is: a Chromium-based web browser developed by Tim Howes and Eric Vishria, although you'll likely hear less about them than about its hefty backer: Netscape founder Marc Andreessen. It launched two days ago and is currently still in invite-only beta.

This demo does a good job of illustrating the experience:

How Rockmelt is Shared

This is one of the first things I noticed: primary dissemination of Rockmelt is happening via Facebook. My first couple of invites came through Facebook messages, and I was like, "....the hell is this?"

There is good reason for that: it's intimately integrated with Facebook, in the sense that you can log into Rockmelt via Facebook Connect (which has the advantage of automatically populating available friends on your left-hand pane), share with great efficacy, and - this is crucial - disseminate Rockmelt invites through it as well.

Here's a feature I thought was interesting:

Post-download, you're allotted three Rockmelt invitations to offer to others. They are replenished every time somebody uses one. When you want to pass Rockmelt along, you're given a list of Facebook friends that you can share it with - but priority space is given to friends that have already requested Rockmelt access (with the most recent at the top). This ensures you're not passing an invite to someone who already has the browser, or to somebody who doesn't care.

Stuff I Like About Rockmelt

I've been using the browser less than 24 hours, so this is a drive-by review at best. As things stand, I dig the following:
  • Available Facebook friends on the left-hand pane. You can toggle this to see only friends you've favourited - meaning, huzzah, I ONLY SEE THOSE OF YOU I LIKE. (This doesn't mean I am hidden from those I don't want to see, it only means I see less of what - er, who - I don't care about at any given time.)

  • The speed. It is easily Chrome-caliber fast. The developers explain why in this TechCrunch vid.
  • Dedicated window for Facebook chat. It feels/sounds a lot like iChat. Above your discussion, you also see the livestream of the friend you're currently chatting with. Unexpectedly handy way of keeping things in context, especially when dude goes, "So have you looked at my vacation pictures yet?" Uh ...... yes.
  • Worth noting: when friends try to chat me, Facebook tells them I'm using a remote service. To send the message along, they must confirm a change in their settings (that they are willing to be visible to remote services that access Facebook chat). It isn't yet clear if that means that, in this case, the friend would just be visible to me or to all remote chat users. Settings can be changed back in Facebook's immense archives of privacy rigmarole. (Thanks Atif for walking through this with me yesterday.)
  • Being able to browse social networks, favourite blogs, profiles, Tweets, and even search without leaving my current tab. (Anything you wish to open while toggling thepane options will automatically open in a separate tab, so you never lose your place.)

  • Clean interface that does more or less what you expect. With so much material coming at you, it'd be easy to suffer from data overload. Thankfully, diversions and other tools are off to the side, which isn't distracting. And when I do decide to play with them, I don't lose track of where I am.
  • Easy delete. If I hate something I've saved, I just drag it out of the pane and - poof! - gone forever. Just like with the Mac dock.
  • Intuitive sharing feature. Easy to post links of what you're looking at on Facebook or Twitter; the Share button feels totally natural beside the URL address line.

Stuff I Do Not Like About Rockmelt

  • Can't toggle searches. It's like going back to the Yahoo days. If you run a search from the hyper-convenient right-hand pane, you get one basic stream of results, with no ability to see just images, or just news, or just blogs or videos. It seems crazy that you can't automatically expand this page to fill a tab (bringing you directly to Google) or that toggle options can't just be added to the top of search results.
  • I can't Tweet? There must be something I'm missing here. I can share, reply and retweet from inside the browser pane, but I can't self-produce a Tweet?!
  • Come to think of it, I can't update my Facebook status from here either. Small potatoes but irritating. Why go to the trouble of saving us from having to leave our pages to peruse our socnets if we can't update them from those same tools? Boooo.
  • Adding separate Twitter accounts isn't super intuitive. In fact, it doesn't work at all when I hit the "Add new Twitter account" button. And at the same time, I don't know if I necessarily want to fill my entire right pane up with Twitter accounts and sites I frequent. And I don't think it scrolls. There has to be an easier way to manage this, but for now it doesn't look like I'll be divorcing Tweetdeck anytime soon.
But this is all basic stuff that I'm sure will get sorted over the course of the test-drive. It also merits saying that I don't know if I care enough about all these features to leave Chrome. I'm giving it a full 48-hour test run; and if I can't go back to the way things were, I guess then I'll know for sure.

(There haven't been any rendering problems so far, and easy imports from other browsers mean I can fool around with Rockmelt without the irritation of having lost all my history and details. Naaaahce.)

Mass Adoption?

In his original Tweet to me, Len hit it right on the head when he said experience teaches that browser gadgets don't score mass adoption. This is true, and there are still others who are simply not into the idea of downloading one more extra goddamn thing, especially when our current browser options do the job fine.

If Rockmelt sorts out the issues I mentioned above, and fast enough, it's got a fair shot at adding one more wedge to the handful of browsers we actively use. It has funding, serious coverage, and its clever way of disseminating invites builds desire while psychologically prepping the user for a social browser experience.

If it is true that the vast majority of Facebook users log in over 7 times a day, and if compulsive Tweeters are hitting their socmedia-smack just as much, then it's fair to say it'd be cool if we didn't have to keep a tab open for Facebook, and some extra desktop client open for Twitter, all the time. If we can keep that stuff ever-present on the periphery of our overall internet experience, it'd make life a lot easier. And that sharing feature? Seriously. Priceless.

I'd say keep an eye on it, especially once your non-tech or media friends start talking about it. I doubt it'll take a long time; a social browser provides sufficiently non-geeky, addiction-enabling incentives that there are plenty of reasons for Rockmelt to go mainstream.

That's all for now. Hope it helps (...Len). If you have any thoughts to add, by all means, LEAVE A COMMENT, MAN!

There's an update to this review. Take a looky-loo.

06 November 2010

Post Enfatico, Dell Tamely Invites You on a 'Rendezvous'

Perhaps still smarting from the shrapnel of Enfatico, Dell turned to Mother London for its new Streak tablet. And "Rendezvous" is what Mother produced.

It's warm, just trendy enough, and inoffensive. Impressive handling by Mother of a socially traumatised and still-rattled brand.

"We wanted to show that our technology enables something important—relationships—and forge an emotional connection with viewers," explained Liz Matthews, Dell's global consumer brand director.

There remains the question of who'd buy one of these when everybody's swinging from Apple's nuts right now. The answer, at least according to Boston Consulting Group, is possibly a lot of people, actually: 49% of respondents from a May 2010 survey plan to scoop up a tablet in the next three years.

People want something multi-purpose (meaning Kindle's singularity may be a turnoff) but also blanch at the price tag of your standard iPad (which starts at $499). Dell's Streak is currently going for $299.99 - not a bad compromise, especially if you want to differentiate yourself without looking like a Luddite.

After Hours, Will You Pass the Social Media Sobriety Test?

Boulder-based Webroot is an antivirus and internet security firm, meaning it is in one of the most neglectable industries in the four corners of the Internet, especially if you're a Mac user. :P

So it's come up with a way to get attention: the Social Media Sobriety Test, a Firefox plugin that does for your networks what Gmail Goggles did for the victims of your triumphant 2 AM whiskey-fueled emails.

Once downloaded, the Sobriety Test asks you to set a period of time in which you'd like to be protected (for example, after 11 PM every Thursday). You can customise what sites you'd like to be blocked from during this highly probable intoxication period, including Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Tumblr, some custom URLs and web-based email accounts like Gmail or Hotmail. If you try to access them, you'll be made to pass a randomly-generated online sobriety test.

Basically, it's a condom that prevents your uninhibited stupidity from bearing fruit in the one place it will most likely be immortalised for all time. Although I really hope this auto-update option is, uh, optional:

Awkward. UPDATE: the press guy says it's totally optional. Whew.

The tagline ties it all nicely back to pithy ol' Webroot: Protecting you from all possible threats. Even yourself. Work by TDA Advertising & Design, Boulder.

03 November 2010

Sita Sings the Blues: The Greatest Break-Up Story Ever Told

In 2009, artist Nina Paley kindly her labour of love (one year in the world, five years in the making), Sita Sings the Blues, under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License, which basically gives people the freedom to mash up or otherwise play with the content/likenesses as long as they provide appropriate attribution.

My friend Amanda reco'd the video to me recently and I just fell in love with it. To start with, it's a creative piece of work that showcases Paley's versatility as an artist. Plot-wise, it recounts the epic Ramayana in a pithy, freestyle narrative that brings to mind both Mystery Science Theater 3000 (the shadow commentators) and Drunk History (the heroes do what the narrators say, even if the narrators themselves aren't always sure what happened).

All this is quietly interwoven with the tale of Nina's divorce and eventual discovery of the Ramayana. It's not distracting and it fits right in. Also - and this is my favourite part - Sita's woes are given voice with the musical contribution of '20s-era jazz singer Annett Hanshaw. What more, I say, what more can you ask for?*

If you want, hold a Sita screening or donate to Nina. Don't be shy about it; we need beauty like this in the world.


*A glowing review from Ebert? No worries, that's covered.

It's Scrabble ... on 'Shrooms.

This Ogilvy & Mather/Paris ad for the launch of Scrabble Délire brings to mind a tenement-based Alice in Wonderland, sprinkled with the spirit of the voyeuristic dinner parties Diesel threw for its Five on Fifth opening.

Scrabble Délire is basically an unhinged version of ordinary Scrabble: at the draw of a card you can write words in reverse, use proper nouns or place a word anywhere you want on the board.

The ad's objective was to manifest the havoc that can ensue when words take on lives and motivations of their own, disconnected from the rigidity and form of the original Scrabble game.

Mainly I'm pleased it doesn't fall too far from grace: the ending ties back nicely to the purpose. And to be honest, the freewheeling noirish mayhem of it is so un-Mattel-like that it's refreshing, very nearly shocking. (Well, maybe not in France, where this beautiful piece of work came out for Scrabble Classic last year.)

Big ups to Le Publigeekaire bringing it to my attention. If you can read in French and you're not reading that guy, by gad, what are you thinking...?