Bookmarked a thread by Kicks CondorKicks Condor (Twitter)

Mountain Dew is now doing a tie-in to Nat Trez High School called Mountain Dew: Teen Series. We are hearing complaints that this has nothing to do with American History. Thread incoming. 1/
The team behind this is dedicated to getting this right. There are some big names orchestrating this. One player in this game is so big that we could drop the name and it would OBLITERATE this discussion. But we want to win this argument the old fashioned way: with words. 2/
The Teen Series strategy is not about teens! Nor is it merely about the Constitution or Benjamin Franklin's special decoder glasses. Instead the Teen Series strategy salutes the incredible history of search engine optimization in the modern United States. 3/
Search engines are like any engine - they need gas. The gas in this case is WORDS. Important words. On the Internet, we engage in a dramacratic process to agree upon the vital words of our era. 4/
Valuable words like "law", "eyeglasses" or "Sophia" each create billions of dollars of worth that wouldn't exist without those words. 5/
We learned early on that two of the most undervalued words on the Internet right now are "printable" and "mazes". Young parents everywhere scramble to type these two words every day. 6/
Homeschool blogs have captured this stream, while Hollywood producers attempt to milk forgotten words like "summer" and "Matthew". 7/
Now we didn't leave the typo "dramacratic" in there as an accident. Initially it was an accident - but it turned out to be sublime. When our team was in high school, we all took drama class together. We staged a production of Seinfeld, featuring our own original script. 8/
In that fateful episode, George Costanza has to take a hearing test for work. And what does he do? He lies on the test. 9/
He's wearing a headset and the testing lady asks him to raise his hand if he hears a beep in his ear. He decides not to raise his hand. They play the beep in his right ear and then in his left ear. He stays still. They even play the beep in both ears. He doesn't budge. 10/
After the test, they can't seem to remove him from the chair. It appears that he has turned to stone. It dawns on the testing staff that George has been sonically petrified by the headset. Indeed, the headset was set at maximum volume, which they had been warned about. 11/
They turn to the testing lady. Her name is Sarah Vibrant. She begins to sing a beautiful song about the turmoil she is feeling. The song is titled "Lock Me Up, Hold Me Down, I Ne'er Quite Knew the Power of Sound." Meanwhile, the actor playing George had to sit stock-still! 12/
Mountain Dew: Teen Series works in EXACTLY the same way. It is a generic teen canvas that PepsiCo can sublimate the viral desires of the moment onto. It acts as a lightning rod that is fastened to the entire Teen Project. 13/
In short, this is one of the biggest deals since the episode of Doc McStuffins where she first meets Starblazer Zero. That, too, was a confluence of all the trends we'd seen up to that point in history. And it forced all future trends to pass through it first.

I’ve said it  before; I’ll say it again: Kicks Condor is the Stan Brakhage of the internet.
Read The fight to preserve a 44,000-year-old painting by Krithika Varagur (1843)
One of the world’s oldest artworks has been discovered inside a working Indonesian mine. It survived this long – Krithika Varagur ventures to Sulawesi to find out if it has a future

This painting was discovered in the Bulu Sipong cave on Sulawesi in 2016 and recent analysis has shown that it is the “oldest pictorial record of storytelling” and the “earliest figurative artwork in the world”, and is at least 43,900 years old. (The oldest known drawing in the world, a 73,000-year-old abstract scribble, was found in South Africa in 2018.)

Annotated on March 06, 2020 at 10:25PM

Listened to Mindscape 74 | Stephen Greenblatt on Stories, History, and Cultural Poetics by Sean Carroll from preposterousuniverse.com

Stephen Greenblatt headshotAn infinite number of things happen; we bring structure and meaning to the world by making art and telling stories about it. Every work of literature created by human beings comes out of an historical and cultural context, and drawing connections between art and its context can be illuminating for both. Today’s guest, Stephen Greenblatt, is one of the world’s most celebrated literary scholars, famous for helping to establish the New Historicism school of criticism, which he also refers to as “cultural poetics.” We talk about how art becomes entangled with the politics of its day, and how we can learn about ourselves and other cultures by engaging with stories and their milieu.

Cover art for Sean Carroll's Mindscape

How could you not love this?
Read Retroactive continuity (Wikipedia)
Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established facts in a fictional work are adjusted, ignored, or contradicted by a subsequently published work which breaks continuity with the former.
I’ve known of the concept for a long time, but I’ve only seen this word for the first time today.

🎧 Is True Crime Jinxed? | On the Media | WNYC Studios

Listened to Is True Crime Jinxed? by Bob Garfield from On the Media | WNYC Studios

We revisit Bob's conversation with filmmaker Joe Berlinger, about the ethics of HBO's "The Jinx."

Whether Robert Durst confessed on camera will become a relevant legal matter in the real estate figure's upcoming trial. The supposed confession — "What the hell did I do? Killed them all, of course." — at the end of HBO's The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst has recently been revealed to have been seriously, deceptively edited. In 2015 Bob spoke with documentary filmmaker Joe Berlinger, co-creater of the Paradise Lost trilogy, about modern filmmaker, the responsibility of the artist and different interpretations of "truth." It's a relevant conversation to revisit, this week in particular.

Some interesting ethical questions here. Something to think about with respect to documentaries, truth, and entertainment value. Some pieces not too dissimilar to how some cable news stations are approaching the news these days.

🎧 Sheila Nevins on Age, Sex, Love, Life, and Everything Else | Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda

Listened to Sheila Nevins on Age, Sex, Love, Life, and Everything Else by Alan Alda from Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda

Sheila Nevins has explored the human condition in the thousand or so documentaries she produced for HBO. From more than 30 years of telling us stories about ourselves, to her experience as a woman in the workplace, Sheila has plenty to say about communicating. And she never holds back. In this delightful episode, Alan Alda talks with Sheila about her life, how she feels about aging, the movement, sex, divorce, documentaries, storytelling, and just about everything else! This episode is sponsored by Calm. Check out www.calm.com/alda for more details.

I always forget that Sheila is as old as she is. She does have a great sense of humor.

She makes an interesting point about humility that people with power (and especially within the entertainment industry) should be aware of and work to improve.

Most shocking was the story she tells about her me too moment and how she viewed it. Definitely a perspective I wouldn’t have expected.

Her perspective about looking at individuals as a way into human problems and making documentaries is similar to a philosophy I remember hearing from Masha Gessen in an interview that Jeffrey Goldberg did with her. The upshot is that, especially for righting wrongs and general atrocities, focusing a story on a particular individual has a lot more power than focusing on the nameless and faceless masses. Sheila’s example of the Holocaust survivor is a particular apt one. (As I think about it Masha would be a great interview for this podcast.)

In fact, I recently watched an immigration related documentary on Frontline and while I didn’t personally find the lead woman very relate-able or sympathetic, I was still pissed off at the process because her individual story was still so powerful.

This general ideal also reminds me of the gut-punch scene at the end of the film A Time To Kill (1996) [spoiler alert] which ends with the command to the jury “Now imagine she’s white.”

👓 Podcasts keep getting better | Nieman Journalism Lab

Read Podcasts keep getting better by John BiewenJohn Biewen (Nieman Lab)
"It turns out that people — well, lots of people, anyway — are hungry for substance. Our attention spans are quite intact, ready, and willing."
Replied to How Long Should a Podcast Be? by Jeremy CherfasJeremy Cherfas (Jeremy Cherfas)

Podnews has a piece that many podcasters could usefully read. The bit that resonated was this quote from Roman Mars:

If you have 100,000 listeners and you edit out one useless minute you are saving 100,000 wasted minutes in the world. You’re practically a hero.

Not quite a hero, I can at least count myself a mini-hero. 

Definitely some sage advice. I recall The Economist going a step further in their analysis a few years back and providing visuals on a 4 minute video: The hidden cost of Gangnam Style: What humanity could achieve if it weren’t galloping in front of computer screens

The hidden cost of Gangnam Style

👓 The Sound of Silence | Numbers Were Burning

Read The Sound of Silence by Ron ChesterRon Chester (numbers-were-burning.blogspot.com)
I just got back from the SF Symphony performance of Mahler's Ninth Symphony. It was a most amazing experience, in a most unexpected way. I'm writing this partly as my way of reliving and duplicating what occurred, and partly to keep myself from being stuck in the win of it for the rest of time.
A stunning story here. I love the concept of not only silence being a part of the performance, but the way in which the music and the conductor come together to create the space to make it happen. Storytellers should be aware of this type of direction.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

The speaker made the point that Mahler gives the second violins their own voice, rather than merely having them give depth or support to the first violins. Because of this, he said the conductor (Herbert Blomstedt) had decided to use a placement of the performers that was becoming common in Europe for the Ninth.
Instead of having all the violins on the left of the conductor, with the 1st violins on the outside and the 2nd violins on the inside, he was placing the 1st violins in their usual position, but the second violins would be on the right side of the conductor. This would have the effect of separating the voices so they could be more easily heard.  

November 29, 2018 at 11:11AM

The conductor became frozen, with his arms in the air, just as when he was conducting.
And he was still conducting! Only now he was conducting the silence! No one moved, the concert hall was completely enveloped in peace. With the conductor’s arms still up, and the violin bows still poised above the strings, no one dared to applaud. If they were wrong and it was not the end, their clapping would be a rude interruption of the music. And I’m sure that was exactly what the conductor intended!  

November 29, 2018 at 11:15AM

Hat tip: Turning Points by Ron Chester

🔖 Timelinely

Bookmarked Timelinely (Timelinely)

Create interactive video stories on Timelinely. Timelinely empowers people to go beyond just video.

Highlight interesting parts of a video on a timeline with interactive comments, pictures, links, maps, other videos, and more.

This tool reminds me of a somewhat more commercialized version of Jon Udell’s Clipping tools for HTML5 audio, HTML5 video, and YouTube. I wonder if this is the sort of UI that Hypothes.is might borrow? I can definitely see it being useful functionality in the classroom.  

👓 How to Teach Google What a Story Is | The Atlantic

Read How to Teach Google What a Story Is (The Atlantic)
Deep inside Google, a small team has been trying to solve a problem that's easy for any schmuck around the watercooler but frighteningly difficult for the world's most data-rich company: telling a story.

🎧 Season 2 Episode 6 The King of Tears | Revisionist History

Listened to Season 2 Episode 6 The King of Tears by Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell from Revisionist History

Revisionist History goes to Nashville to talk with Bobby Braddock, who has written more sad songs than almost anyone else. What is it about music that makes us cry? And what sets country music apart?

Why country music makes you cry, and rock and roll doesn't: A musical interpretation of divided America.

The big idea in this episode that there is a bigger divide in America that falls along musical lines more than political ones is quite intriguing and fits in with my general experience living in South Carolina, Georgia, Connecticut, Maryland, Kentucky, and California. Having been raised by a Catholic family with one parent from the city, another from the countryside, and having lived in many blue/red states surrounded by people of various different musical tastes, I do have to wonder if there isn’t a lot of value in this thesis. It could make an interesting information theoretic political-related question for research. This might be the type of thing that could be teased out with some big data sets from Facebook.

Beauty and authenticity can create a mood. They set the stage, but I think the thing that pushes us over the top into tears is details. We cry when melancholy collides with specificity.

Malcolm Gladwell in The King of Tears

He then goes on into a nice example about the Rolling Stones’ Wild Horses:

And specificity is not something that every genre does well.

This reminds me of a great quote in Made to Stick from Mother Theresa about specificity.

Mother Teresa once said, “If I look at the mass, I will never act. If I look at the one, I will.”

There’s something very interesting about this idea of specificity and its uses in creating both ideas as well as storytelling and creating emotion.

There is one related old country music joke I’m surprised not to have seen mentioned here, possibly for length, tangential appropriateness, or perhaps because it’s so well known most may call it to mind. It plays off of the days of rock and roll when people played records backwards to find hidden (often satanic) messages.

Q: What do you get when you play a country music song backwards?
A: You get your job back, your wife back, your house back, and your dog back.

The episode finally rounds out with:

If you aren’t crying right now I can’t help you…

Thanks Malcolm, I was crying…