sayHear.org Launches

With 3 days left until the election, I am oh-so-proud to announce the launch of sayHear.org, a site intended to literally give voice to the voters of America. You participate by calling one of the numbers on the sayHear.org website based off of who you are voting for and leave a message explaining why you are. Your audio recording will then show up on the site for others to hear.

This site was a joint-collaboration between myself, Gershoni and Ribbit. Without Ribbit’s technology, there would be no way this could have been created – I cannot thank them enough for their time and generosity. In addition, working with the Gershoni crew was absolutely amazing and I am still amazing at how much we were able to accomplish in such little time.

Please, do take the time out to go to sayHear.org and leave a message. It will take less than a minute and in return you will help keep the political discussion going all the way until election day. You should also check out electionmyx.com for some really cool election 2008 video mashups. Big hat tip to Neil Voss for the great work on that site.

YouTube Opens Up, Levels Video Playing Field… Almost

Say what you want about Google, they are the gargantuan multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, but the news from YouTube to radically open its platform has Google written all over it. With the features they have opened up, developers can (almost) essentially use YouTube as a free video hosting/serving solution. As expected, the videos will also be viewable on YouTube, but for people with little wallets and big ideas, this does not seem like a bad tradeoff. Services like Brightcove are going to no doubt lose some clients with less hefty pocketbooks.
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Google Reader Has Changed My (Online) Life

I really fail to understand how long it took me to start using Google Reader, but it is frankly changing how I consume content/information online. In the week or so I have used it, the amount of articles I have digested has taken off exponentially. I previously had a hard time regularly checking my favorite blogs as the process was cumbersome and plagued with too many steps. As usual, Google nailed the process and made something which previously was a pain into something I thoroughly enjoy.

I have noticed that I already have been commenting on my favorite blogs more frequently (which still is not enough) as well as getting ideas for new content on this blog. It is truly amazing what a good tool can do to impact your daily life.

Nine Inch Nails' Ghosts Album is About MUCH More Than Music.

If you have been reading this blog for even a moderate length of time, you are most likely aware of the unusually high amount of Nine Inch Nails articles on this site (seen here and here to name a few). Considering the general theme of this blog, I could see how this could be seen as strange to many. Still, I tend to write a lot about how digital media (which design-technology intersects with) is changing not only mainstream media, but the society which consumes it – which in turn impacts how we do our work. For the past two years, Nine Inch Nails has really been on the frontlines of pushing media away from the consolidated, copyright-heavy, corporate-run model to a distributed, grassroots, artist-run model.

Last night, Nine Inch Nails released Ghosts I-IV, an independently-produced album that is available for download for the price of $5. There are 36 songs in this album, so that $5 looks even more reasonable than ever. For those of you into the tangible, CDs can be purchased as well. Additionally, 9 songs are available completely for free – no questions asked. While this is distribution model is new, it is not new – we have seen it with In Rainbows and Niggy Tardust, each with their own little tweaks on it. However, make no mistake, Ghosts is unlike any other album distribution we have seen.
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Clean Water Through Playing

This is the epitome of good interaction design. There are shining nuggets of work on the internet that create this rare win-win combination, but there are just far too few. reCAPTCHA is one that surfaces – I would love to hear from anyone about other projects/products along these lines. I honestly do think this is where products are headed – all products/services will have some sort of give-back. However, they probably will not be as fun as a merry-go-round.

Making a Reusable Cup Sleeve

If you have spent any time talking with me, you are probably well aware that I am putting significant time into lowering my environmental footprint. This is a pretty common sentiment nowadays, with everyone taking a different path to achieve their goal. One day, on a walk with my wife after getting a remarkably hot cup of coffee, I took notice of the generic cardboard cup sleeve on my cup. It dawned on me that, along with the cup, there was no reason why a sleeve to insulate your hand had to be disposable. While it is easy to find a non-disposable cup (duh), I have yet to run into a reusable cup sleeve. I soon thought, why the hell not make my own? Then I thought, why not share the template so anyone can make one (hopefully better than mine)? Continue reading “Making a Reusable Cup Sleeve”

NIN Remix – UGC Strain Mutates Towards Music

We all know what video UGC has done to change the face of modern media. Video is beginning to show signs of a strong bottom-up structure forming. In turn, mainstream media has had to adapt by both slowly integrating UGC into their model and putting their content onto UGC networks. While video UGC has taken off, music has not followed suit due, almost assuredly, to the music industry’s absolute resistance to evolve. Until now, the stonewalling of progress by the RIAA and other music industry leaders has been relatively successful in terms of the big picture. There are no YouTube scale sites offering independent, community created music. In my opinion, there is plenty of talent out there, but these sorts of movements usually need a jumpstart in order to pull in the combination of a large community and ample traffic to become self-sustaining. For YouTube, the early inclusion of unwarranted copyrighted video (whether intentional or unintentional) was that jumpstart – now TV content is a much smaller piece of the puzzle as a large content creating community has been fostered. The recent launch of NIN Remix may just be the jumpstart for UGC music. UGC music will become mainstream. The only question is if NIN Remix will be what gets the snowball rolling.
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The Next Hot Style – Just As Soulless As The Last One

A little over a year ago, I wrote on the short-sightedness of the visual style which had been named after the technology it had been associated with – Web 2.0. As predicted, the masses have begun to tire of the current trend. Additionally, designers are beginning to write about their dissatisfaction towards the Web 2.0 visual trend and are proposing alternatives to it. As the visual style attributed Web 2.0 wains, we are inevitably going to see the rise of another all but arbitrary visual style take its place which will be adopted by the design masses without a second thought. Continue reading “The Next Hot Style – Just As Soulless As The Last One”

Niggy Tardust is Everything We Wanted In Rainbows To Be

If you are on the internet more than 20 minutes a day, you know about Radiohead’s In Rainbows album and how it struck such a chord (yes, pun is intended) with the online community and the millennium generation. Being able to purchase an album for any price of your choosing (including free) flew right in the face of the wretchedly backwards model the RIAA has artificially propped. I myself purchased the album for well over the usual market price – there were even instances where people paid $1000 to support such a bold move.

Well, it wasn’t as bold as we all had thought…

It turns out that In Rainbows was always planned to be sold the old (and backwards) fashioned way. This does not diminish what Radiohead did, but it resembles someone dipping their toe into the water to quickly go back to safety. Well, Saul Williams and Trent Reznor have jumped in head first with no flotation device. Williams worked with Reznor on his new album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust and have made it completely free or $5. From what I have read, this is it – no CD release, no running back to the record label, just a pure relationship with the fans to directly support the artist.

In my opinion this makes Radiohead’s effort pale in comparison. There is real risk here if people decide not to support the album/artist. We have all cried for fairly priced music where the vast majority goes to middlemen – Niggy Tardust seems to be the most genuine step towards just that. All that aside, the album blew me away after the first listen – this is a great collaboration between Saul Williams and Reznor as you can hear strong influences Reznor while not losing Williams’ style. It is well worth the equivalent of an overpriced cup of coffee to support not just the artist, but what the artist is attempting to do. So let’s see if we as a community are willing to follow through and pay artists when they treat us fairly. This time, $5 goes a long way.

Download Niggy Tardust (and PLEASE support the artist)