The Echo Chamber Election

Most terrifying to me is that I cannot find a single satisfied pro-Trump comment in my Facebook feed this morning. That means half of everyone else woke up this morning to feeds loaded with genuine celebration and triumph (and very little contest). I obviously have friends who voted for Trump and post regularly, so what gives? Seriously, Facebook, what have you done? Zuck, you’ve contributed to building a very dangerous world.

We now live in echo chambers designed for our individual convenience and engagement, “safe” from opposing opinions. Frankly, the press failed in this election (indisputable, no matter what side of the aisle you’re on) in large part because they cannot reasonably compete in profiteering contexts with social media feeds that serve our deepest sentiments and surround us only in reflections of our own uncontested opinions. Friends, your world now literally feels like “your world” in total ignorance of the actual world around you. And that’s fucked up. Consider protesting these platforms for that reason. I could not have been more wrong when predicting the outcome of this election…and have the press, an antiquated system of polling, and social media algorithms to blame. Tech elites, developers, product designers, and advertisers…you all fucked up, too, and we have a lot of work to do to make the world a better, safer, smarter, and more connected place.

Press, it’s your job to inform the people and put everything into perspective, not pander to our sentiments. Don’t try to compete with social media; go back to building brands around trust and truth. We have the first amendment and a free press to hold us all accountable from tyranny and its tells. But we now have a President who has not been transparent with us (where are your effing tax records, Donald?), never once taken responsibility for mistakes (of which there are a great many in his businesses and campaign), and has no functional plan or reputable team assembled to actually make America “great again.” America just put in for a four-year order of another reality show. Unlike “The Apprentice” or “Miss Universe” that were of trivial consequence to our day to day lives, we’ll all be contestants on this reality show and required to play whether we wanted to or not.

To be clear. I do not contest the outcome of this election or issue any ill will against our President Elect, for I still hold a great deal of faith in our representative democracy. Contrary to his remarkable accusations, the system isn’t rigged and we got what we asked for. That said, we have a responsibility now more than ever to better-inform and educate the people, to better involve them in our government and policymaking, and to hold our leaders accountable.

Motion Pictures: An Expendable Commodity Experience

In a world where a billion people can create and share content, Hollywood studios compete against their own consumers for audience attention. Hundreds of thousands of hours of video reach audiences through a growing number of channels each day. Web Video Platforms enabling your four-year-old nephew to compete with studio mega-moguls struggle to sift through the infinite noise to help you find the best entertainment. Hollywood Studios struggle to efficiently recapture audiences after the curtain closes, left only to throw billions of dollars marketing desperate pleas to past successes through a record number of franchises, sequels and remakes. As a consumer, building a loyal relationship with either continues to prove as difficult as siding with a parent through a divorce.

The theatrical and home video businesses treat content as a commodity, marking up ticket and a la carte prices to record-high margins. The television and internet businesses treat content as expendable to sell advertising and subscriptions. The answer, for consumers most loyal to great storytelling, lies somewhere in the middle. As the music industry learned through live shows versus lost sales via easily transmittable mp3s, sustainable value lies not in the content itself but the experience through which people consume it. Great content markets special experiences. Rather than fighting an uphill piracy battle, consumers continue to challenge the industry to focus on making it as easy as possible for them to access content in any and all formats that maximize their personal experience. Greater the experience, greater the value.

In the Information Age, consumers expect better quality at their own convenience. Make them wait or jump through hoops and they will likely go elsewhere or steal from you. Are they criminals? The law says so. But the studios are responsible — for failing to build a better relationship with and serve audiences who love their content. As the Internet evolves into a responsive utility with no prejudice between screen sizes or location, producers have the opportunity to reach limitless platforms with ease. What are we waiting for?

With the capacity to reach any screen at negligible distribution cost, how can the industry create the illusion of value in content itself? Commodity value comes from scarcity — supply and demand. Digital can transmit anywhere, anytime, ad infinitum. Unlimited supply. No scarcity. When movies exist as ones and zeros, good luck convincing audiences to pay $30 for a file or stream.

Scarcity, then, can only come through wrapping the movie with an unforgettable experience. The “wrapper” can manifest as a better video player, larger screen or infused relationship with a fan community. But that’s only the beginning. Sure, digital can transmit ad infinitum, but “once in a lifetime” experiences cannot. Exclusive themed dinners, costumed extravaganzas or private viewings with filmmakers all fit the “once in a lifetime” thesis. An experience you cannot rewind or replay. An experience worth paying for. How much would you pay to sit next to Steven Spielberg and watch Jurassic Park or E.T.? The more inventive and unique the experience, the greater the value. Popcorn and surround sound do not sell tickets anymore.

Want to compete against small screens, millions of content “producers” and the Internet abroad? Make content easy for audiences to consume and help fans live your stories.

Don’t just make movies; create memorable experiences.

Back in Business

Many have asked why I stopped blogging. Thank you dearly for enjoying and supporting my writing. While there were many excuses, the biggest one was simple: I needed to invest the 5-10 hours per week spent blogging into another personal project. Fulltime work for Sympoz demanded 60-80 hours, and I found myself battling for spare minutes.

Right before the holidays, I resigned from Sympoz (a decision I may explore in a later post) and will start a new adventure next week. I cannot promise you that I will blog about it, but I will certainly try (a lot depends on access to wifi and how easy it is to write with the WordPress mobile app).

Stay tuned!

The Human Race Is the Three Year Old Infant Child of the Universe

I can only imagine what extraterrestrials think of us:

Hey, you’re going to break it – give it back.
Share – for the love of god.
Clean your plate – or you won’t get dessert.
No, that toy is not yours – I paid for it.
I know the wrapping paper is cool, but it’s what’s inside that counts.
“I don’t know” does not explain why you are whining at me.
That pound of sugar is not good for you.
It was funny the first time. But not the tenth or the eleventh.
Stop trying to run. You keep falling on your face.
Put things away when you’re not using them.

For the record, that’s what a humanitarian allegory looks like on white wine and vacation.

It’s Communication’s Fault!

Human conflict, drama and gossip are all very funny things. Call me idealistic, but I do not believe that deep down people genuinely dislike other people. Bad relationships form out of misinformation or no information at all. We’ve all been gifted with perspective and egos, but they often do us the disservice of helping listeners misinterpret a speaker and inspiring speech to skew with bias. It is very, very easy – even more so for the most mindful, brilliant, sociable or well-spoken people – to misunderstand each other. Dialogue, body language and writing are all very delicate things. If you find yourself in a sticky situation with another human being, give him or her the benefit of the doubt and blame poor communication first. Try to get the other person to do the same. Get on the same page about miscommunication and you are one step closer to working it out. It’s not the other person’s fault – do not blame him or her. It’s communication’s fault.

What Do Black Beans, Honda Civics And The Black Keys All Have In Common?

They remind me of my brother. Today’s your birthday, Kyle. Happy birthday. You badass.

And while I’m at it, another 23 things that remind me of you (get it – because you’re 23 years old?):

  1. Jedi Outcast
  2. Hard Days at Preschool
  3. Tuvok
  4. Guitars
  5. Goodwill
  6. Richard Cheese
  7. Klondike
  8. Auburn Lane
  9. Galactic Battlegrounds
  10. Pretentious Artwork
  11. Scrambled Eggs
  12. Xeriscape
  13. The Onion
  14. Pokémon Red
  15. Ghana
  16. 7-11
  17. Cinnamon Applesauce
  18. Canadians
  19. Vietnam
  20. Weird Al
  21. Vinyl
  22. Calvin and Hobbes
  23. Hippies

30 “Breaking Bad” Soundtrack Selects

Perhaps the most stunning slice of entertainment to grace any screen in the last five years, Breaking Bad continues to grip, shock and awe. While lost in the drama at the edge of your seat, you seldom notice a major element that contributes to this show’s brilliance: the soundtrack. Blessed by the talents of ZZ Top, Norah Jones, Beastie Boys, Nancy Sinatra and many, many more, the tracks the music supervisors were able to lock for the show are themselves an impressive feat and well worth a listen on their own. To celebrate the premiere of the fifth and final season of the show this upcoming Sunday, I listened to every song used in every episode to date (156 in total) and selected my top 30 for your listening pleasure (iTunes and Amazon links below). In order of my play counts:

  1. BlackDanger Mouse & Daniele Luppi (feat. Norah Jones) [S4, Ep13] Amazon
  2. Horse With No NameAmerica [S3, Ep2] Amazon
  3. Waiting Around To DieThe Be Good Tanyas [S2, Ep3] Amazon
  4. GoodbyeApparat (feat. Soap & Skin) [S4, Ep13] Amazon
  5. Catch Yer Own TrainThe Silver Seas [S1, Ep6] Amazon
  6. If I Had a HeartFever Ray [S4, Ep3] Amazon
  7. The HoleGlen Phillips [S1, Ep2] Amazon n/a
  8. TruthAlexander Ebert [S4, Ep1] Amazon
  9. We Are Born When We DieApollo Sunshine [S4, Ep12] Amazon n/a
  10. TushZZ Top [S3, Ep3] Amazon
  11. WindyThe Association [S3, Ep12] Amazon
  12. Out Of Time ManMick Harvey [S1, Ep1] Amazon
  13. Magic ArrowTimber Timbre [S3, Ep2] Amazon
  14. Who’s Gonna Save My SoulGnarls Barkley [S1, Ep7] Amazon
  15. Into the NightBenny Mardones [S2, Ep4] Amazon
  16. DLZTV On The Radio [S2, Ep10] Amazon
  17. Boots Of Chinese PlasticThe Pretenders [S4, Ep7] Amazon
  18. Rocket ScientistTeddybears (feat. Eve) [S3, Ep5] Amazon
  19. Good Morning Freedom Blue Mink [S2, Ep9] Amazon
  20. EnchantedThe Platters [S2, Ep11] Amazon
  21. Didn’t IDarondo [S1, Ep4] Amazon
  22. UhFujiya & Miyagi [S1, Ep5] Amazon
  23. ShambalaBeastie Boys [S3, Ep13] Amazon
  24. Crapa PeladaQuartetto Cetra [S3, Ep13] Amazon
  25. The Peanut VendorAlvin “Red” Tyler [S2, Ep5] Amazon
  26. Sabado en el ParqueGrupo Fantasma [S3, Ep11] Amazon n/a
  27. It’s Such A Pretty World TodayNancy Sinatra [S2, Ep4] Amazon
  28. Dead Fingers TalkingWorking For A Nuclear Free City [S1, Ep1] Amazon n/a
  29. Without YouSasha Dobson [S1, Ep3] Amazon
  30. Negro y Azul: The Ballad of HeisenbergLos Cuates de Sinaloa [S2 Episode 7] Amazon