I had some clever quip prepared about this being our new company vehicle, but I figured it wouldn’t be all that funny once our clients decided they didn’t need to bother paying us anymore. While I didn’t get to drive, touch or even smell this red hot stallion, it’s still a nice perk to be able to check out some of the incredible rides that roll through here and take a few snaps. Jealous?
Archive for the ‘Intriguing?’ Category
2011 Jul 06
2011 May 16
There is so much advertising in our modern world that I tune out nearly all of it. There is the rare occasion when an ad or commercial will make me stop and take notice. Creative or clever ads are becoming increasingly scarce, so it’s a real treat when you see/read an ad that does more than just annoy you.
This howrealtorshelp.ca commercial is a great example of a clever idea that is executed wonderfully. Check it out.
2011 May 13
Language is rotting.
“Hold on, stop right there,” you say. “Another English major ranting about the malicious massacre of language? *Yawn* How very pedestrian.”
No wait! Bear with me, dear reader. I promise to get to the point in short order.
As a life-long writer, I can’t deny that the perpetually accelerating degradation of language terrifies me. LOLspeak, Textese, online writing behaviours and general language laziness are systematically tearing down thousands of years of carefully evolved language structure.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m a language evolutionist. It’s only fair that language should continue to evolve alongside society and technology. Until quite recently, however, literacy was a matter of pride – a sign of class and education. That meant the people defining its use and steering its evolution (at least in the written form), were schooled and practiced in the art of the wordsmith.
Now, with computers giving keyboard access to the masses and the internet offering a forum to share the subsequent creations with the world, the history of our language rests squarely (and somewhat precariously) in the hands of babes.
See, here’s the thing. No matter how many of us freakishly anal English majors are out there trying to tell people what to do, the nature of language is descriptive, not prescriptive. That means language is defined by what people actually say, rather than what they should say.
So, phrases like “I could care less,” due to common misuse, often replace the less cited but more correct version – in this case, “I couldn’t care less,” meaning you care so little it’s impossible to care any less.
“Alright, get to the point already! You promised me this wasn’t going to be another one of those English lessons telling me how everything I say is wrong!”
Yes, you’re right. Apologies.
How about an example then. Here’s an ad I found one Monday morning… spot anything off?
But here’s the beauty of the internet. Either someone complained (or maybe someone at the agency decided to read the ad for a change), because a scant few hours later, the same ad suddenly looked like:
I won’t even go into critiquing the concept here (trust me, I’m tempted), but for businesses and professionals, this laziness looks amateur and uneducated. A major international brand should look polished and intelligent. And flubs like this have FAIL written all over them.
“Okay, they fixed it fast. No big deal. Everyone makes mistakes.”
Of course! I’ve made PLENTY in my day (and I’m sure I’ll make many more before I retire to a rocking chair on the front porch of the senior’s home). But how about typos like this then?
Did you spot it? Not exactly a huge deal, but not a short-lived advertisement either. And Apple isn’t exactly a mom-and-pop shop. Still didn’t get it? I have faith in you.
Okay, tired of the English lesson by now I’m sure. Well, as they say, “if you can’t beat ‘em, make lemonade…” or something like that. And on that note, here’s one final funny to send you on your way.
Interactive television represents a continuum from low interactivity (TV on/off, volume, changing channels) to moderate interactivity (simple movies on demand without player controls) and high interactivity in which, for example, an audience member affects the program being watched. The most obvious example of this would be any kind of real-time voting on the screen, in which audience votes create decisions that are reflected in how the show continues.
Web-based services such as YouTube, Hulu, iTunes and Boxee have become increasingly popular as ways for people to consume their favorite video and television content over the past few years. As people look to the web to receive their entertainment more and more, the current television broadcasting business model begins to look and feel outdated and out of touch. Personally I believe that both networks and cable service providers need to step up their game and rethink their strategies in order to compete in what is bound to become a very competitive and lucrative internet business.
A good friend of mine and I discuss the concept of interactive TV quite frequently. The idea originally stemmed from the desire we have to be able to customize the style of the overlay graphics during sports programming. Imagine if you could personalize the score bar at the top of your screen. An even more useful application of this technology would be the ability to move this bar around the screen to your desired position or change its orientation from a horizontal layout to a vertical one. Have you ever seen the statistics that broadcasters will display in between plays, quarters or periods? What if we could pull up stats on any given player or entire team at any point in the game? You could review the stats and simply close the “window” when done. Taking the concept another step further, it would likely be possible to choose your own camera angle at any time, or even have multiple “picture in picture” views of the available angles. You could then swap out the main view at will and reposition the different views on your screen.
The usefulness and entertainment potential of this technology would not be limited to sports, however. Since the invention of the DVD most people have become familiar with the concept of “special features” for movies. Wouldn’t it be incredible to be able to see “The Making of” for the most recent episode of The Office or Heroes and not have to wait for the DVD release? In addition, studios could include trivia tidbits for each episode of programming. At “tagged” points of the show, a pop up could appear that would give you insight into what the creators were thinking, or what their inspiration for a scene was, or how many times it took to get the take they needed. It would be something similar to VH1′s popup video. Imagine watching Lost and being able to read about an obscure reference to an earlier episode… or better yet, being able to click a link that would pause your current episode and take you to that scene from the earlier episode. Obviously these are just a few examples of the possibilities, but the concept is pretty enticing, isn’t it?
The Fat Cats
Of course, this is all well and good for us as consumers to dream about, but what would motivate the television networks and cable service providers to implement such technology. First of all, the technology exists that would allow any and all of these ideas to become reality today. It’s not as if they would have to invent anything new, only use what is already at their disposal, ie. the internet – perhaps coupled with some interesting hardware (more on that in a minute). The current television model works like so: television programming is created by networks who make the money to pay for creating their shows from selling ad space during the program (simplified, I know, but basically this is how it works). That model would not have to change all that much, in my opinion. I think many people would say, “In an internet based model, there should be no commercial interuptions”. While that’s a sentiment we could all hope would become reality, I don’t believe that tv ads will be going away anytime soon (especially considering the fact that internet advertising has become increasingly obtrusive in recent years).
As interactive tv becomes a reality, however, advertising will take on added depth and thus become more useful (albeit, likely more annoying) for us as consumers. It’s likely that there will be fewer commercial breaks and ads will take on a form similar to what YouTube uses. YouTube will often place a small overlay at the bottom of your screen which displays an ad. If you are interested in what is being sold, you may click on it, otherwise you can close the ad. While this is somewhat annoying, it’s less obtrusive than the current advertising model used by television networks. The video doesn’t stop to play you an ad, it continues and the ad slides up at the bottom of the screen. I would tend to agree with what most people would say to this, that it would interfere with their enjoyment of the program, but think of the benefits of such a system. First, there would not have to be as many commercial interruptions, perhaps one before one in the middle and one at the end of your program. Second, you might not realize it, but networks are already doing this. I’m sure you’ve seen the overlay graphics that show up from time to time, advertising for what is “On Next” or the “New Season of Gossip Girl”. We’ve become used to seeing these ads and I don’t think it would be much of an adjustment if an ad for Tide SuperClean 2015 showed up during regular programming. Finally, commercials would cease to simply be background noise and become means by which to purchase products or find information on important subjects. If we see an ad for a product that we’re interested in, we could click to purchase it. If one of those controversial PETA commercials came on, we could click to become involved or read more information (ideally this would simply send a newsletter-type message to our inbox that we could read later, in reality, it’s more likely that it would pause our playback and take us to a “tv website” of some sort).
Currently, the technology exists to accomplish all of these things. It’s just a matter of implementing them in a way that’s easy to use. The interface could be something similar to YouTube or Hulu but it would be a subscription based service that you would receive through your TV. You would pay a monthly fee to Rogers or Shaw and get a interactive set top box that would connect to your TV. I would imagine that the remote for this box would be something like a Wii remote which would allow you to point and click on screen.
On screen you would see a list of all “channels” that you could filter, search and order in any way you like. There would likely be facebook and twitter integration so you could alert your friends when you “favorite” a new show, ad or even network. There would likely be a carousel of recent releases so you could always find the new episode of Jersey Shore easily.
The need to set your DVR to record your favorite shows would be a thing of the past. You could go back a view all the episodes of Iron Chef that you missed at any time. Shows would still hold time slots but instead of 30 Rock airing and playing to completion on Thursday at 8/7 Central, it would simply become available to watch from that time forward. Of course, hosting all of this content would require considerable resources, ie. server space in the “cloud”. Not to mention the fact that studio networks make a great deal of money by selling previously aired content in DVD and Blu-Ray formats at your local Wal-Mart. So to offset the cost of hosting hundreds of hours of content, episodes that are over 6 months old (as an example) could be available to download for a fee. Anything over a year old could be available to purchase and download as entire seasons and not by episode. In practice, this would cost the studios considerably less than it does to manufacture discs and distribute them to retail outlets, thus they could sell your favorite TV shows for a bit less and probably make more profit in the process. And of course, at any time before the first 6 months is up, you could download and store episodes on your box, just as we do with current day DVR’s.
The current model of the television industry is archaic in comparison to what it’s easily capable of being. I’ve only scratched the surface of possibilities here. Personally I don’t even bother with subscribing to any cable or satellite TV service, I don’t like them. Any content that I wish to see, I can download and view at my leisure. The industry is going to have to change to suit my demands and the demands of people like me. I see HUGE potential for the studios to get on board and start offering their content for digital download directly as opposed to depending on third-party services. And in my opinion, they’re going to have to in order to survive. More and more people are looking to iTunes or Hulu to watch their favorite shows, so change, as it has always been, is inevitable.