Saturday, July 31, 2010

Irrational Rationale, Part 1

It is easier to arbitrate from on high than to do the hard work of actually caring. Similarly, it is easier to accept pre-packaged plans handed out by "experts" than it is to investigate the matter personally. This dichotomy creates the age-old class system, which it is popular to rail against, but mostly accepted as a necessary evil. However, to reason that a rational system of force is the only way to organize society, is to make the irrational assumption that people cannot be brought to reason through the examination of their irrational ideas.


Economics is a relatively simple science, but is a brutal science in its simplicity. It is no more complicated in its natural form than that resources fed into a given system must produce a positive output from the system. If a positive output isn't attained, then the system is broken. This has been made complicated by political arbitration—which isn't strictly bad. However, as certain unhealthy habits are known to cause cancer in the human body—an inescapable condition—so unfit practices with money create inescapable debts.

Cancer and other diseases take the physical lives of loved ones in the same way that financial mis-managements take away their lifestyles. In order to avoid this dreaded outcome, a measure of proactive discipline is needed. Those who are just starting their independent lives need to work to develop a savings account, if they are to remain independent. Those who are "successful" in their own independent lives need to open opportunities for talented young creators and performers.

There is no doubt that it is emotionally difficult for young people to attain the needed discipline, and it is also emotionally difficult for successful people to risk investing their hard-earned money on such undisciplined people. Therefore, irrational rationale has led us to adopt a system whereby those just beginning are given money, upon certain conditions, by those successful people. This money is then to be paid back with "interest" regardless of what is done with it. This is seen as the only option. However, debt is the beginning of servitude, has the same wasting effect of cancer, and therefore, leads to the "need" of more debt.

These debts create a trapped lower class, which must constantly labor to fill the holes created by the compounding effect of interest. At this point, it is "safe" (not emotionally risky) to employ these desperate individuals to fill menial positions as cogs in a machine. If they don't comply with the orders handed down from on high, then they risk losing the job they desperately need. That's scary, but so is dependence on someone who is to afraid to care about you as a human!


Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3

Monday, July 26, 2010

Leaders and Followers

These are two terms that I had no real understanding of five years ago, and I suspect the same is true of most people today. If you had asked me to define what a leader was, I would have described the position of President, the job of a CEO, or the forceful temperament I thought was necessary in either. If asked to describe a follower, I would have made reference to barnyard animals.

This is a perfect demonstration of what unbalanced media can do to the minds of its viewers. By constantly seeking to be in agreement with the mind of the masses in order to maintain expanding (if increasingly unstable) viewership, mass media entertainment unknowingly follows it into the inevitable depths of pessimism. Media that criticizes the world for its problems merely re-enforces the thinking that created the problems.

The pessimistic view that all "leaders" are authoritarian and unlikable, has the effect of dissuading individuals in the masses from seeking to lead. Their bosses then play the part they are left—to force the unenthusiastic masses to follow orders like sheep. These "followers" in turn play the part they are left—to keep their heads down and do no more than is expected. The casualty here, of course, is art.

Great leaps forward in history, while many times arising from strife, must first be fueled by the momentum of inspiration. The American Revolutionary War wasn't fought on a whim, but was kindled by true leaders that stoked the fires of imagination in the people. Only when the people could feel what freedom would be like, could they summon the courage to rise up. This sort of leadership is an art form, and the media of the day helped crystallize the message of what could be, not what was.

Today, we are inundated with media (both through formal education then through television and other entertainment) that portrays the positional leader. While today's positional leaders are not royalty, media uses language as if they were—especially with regard to celebrities. In cases where the position was "earned" rather than given by succession, the perspective (and perhaps the truth) is that the successor must have done something dishonest to get there.

But much of the frustration surrounding this type of leadership stems from a misunderstanding of what leadership is. First of all, the position does not make one a leader, merely a manager or a king. Secondly, getting people to do what they already know how to do isn't leadership, it's redundancy. A true leader encourages people to grow, and true followers are naturally inspired to do what they do—and more.

A follower is not a sheep, but a student. And he is not a student that is being molded into a cog, but one that is blossoming with all the uniqueness of a wildflower. A follower in this sense, is a person who knows he does not yet possess the ability to lead. While he may never surpass the skill of the leader he is following, he will become some level of leader himself.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

168 Hours, Part 3

The Rewards and Their Results

These range from natural rewards (those naturally occurring from the activity of sharing with other people) to official rewards (those given out according to prescribed policy). Many relational and emotional "bonuses" arrive from being genuinely enthusiastic about something beneficial, and from the knowledge that those benefits are transfered to others in the sharing.

However, this is not enough. As for some, creating is its own reward, so for some it is enough to share what has been created. For many, this is as much drive as they have, but some others wish to devote their lives to these pursuits. Without economic rewards, this is impossible. Therefore, these vital fans must be given an opportunity to qualify for profit-sharing in order to build a life around these pursuits—so that they may be free to increase their fervor.

The goal is to accomplish this without bankrupting the capital gained from liquidation, and without imposing unnecessary restrictions on voluntary actions. To do nothing that will kill the golden goose. Since the current network model ultimately generates revenue to the degree that their sponsors sell products, it follows that as long as the sponsors sell the same amount of products, they should be bound to pay the same for access to the network.

Therefore, the New Network Plan would be structured around marketing the network sponsors' products to those who wish to support the media as a result of its benefit to them. In other words, if you love the episode buy something you need from one of its sponsors. This allows the episodes to remain free to the public, while still providing marketing revenue.

In similar fashion to traditional network marketing, this hybrid will utilize the efforts of independent business owners, who will grow the network based first upon their enthusiasm, then upon their ability to pair media content to sponsors' products in a way that is beneficial to the audience. In this way, they act as mini-factory versions of traditional Network Affiliates, working as regional teams to gain higher and higher levels of profit-sharing for each affiliate.

By focusing the same resources into less time output, the New Network Plan will give fans more material to discuss and more free time to discuss it in, generating interest, loyalty, and viral spread. The cumulative effect of such media content will improve human understanding and relational skills both through the philosophy embodied in the media and through the earnest discussion between fans and new/prospective fans.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

168 Hours, Part 2

The New Network Plan

The television network will have to undergo an extreme makeover to survive the information revolution. First, it must forgo static programming. Second, it must trim the fat from its output. Third, it must liquidate and re-commission its assets. Fourth, it must welcome creative fans. Fifth, it must reward evangelism.

By "static programming" I mean the current method of scheduled airings. Before any other steps can be seriously undertaken, a network must dedicate its release of new content to on-demand outlets, especially such web outlets as Hulu and/or the network's own site. This does not exclude the possibility of static programming outlets in the future, but treating on-demand as primary will free the network to perform the second (though far more important) requirement.

Liberated from the necessity to fill a 168 hour schedule, the network can eliminate from its lineup less beneficial shows. In my mind, there are two ways to define the benefits of media content: benefit to the fans and benefit to the network. Whether they realize it or not, fans expect brain food from the media—wiser media benefits the culture of society, equipping it to solve its own problems. Being a business, the network itself craves capital to re-invest, increase value of shares, and pay employees. It also craves recognition and a loyal fanbase—especially one that will hold it accountable to improve.

Shows that do not satisfy these requirements can be sold to another network, sold to another channel owned by the same network, or liquidated entirely. This action will free up assets and capital, both human and material. The resulting resource pool can be drawn upon by creators to subsidize the large up-front effort needed to weave deep, resonating stories.

Only with this depth will the higher aims of culture, loyalty, and evangelism be attained. And only by an unparalleled level of fan-creator interaction and feedback will this resonating depth be created in the first place. Once the groundwork and story introduction are created, the search for truth must be outsourced to the fans. Fans who demonstrate to the creators a profound understanding of the story's heart and soul would be invited to operate as independent consultants. Their job would be to accumulate and filter new ideas through direct interactions with fans and critics.

Finally, to achieve this level of attention to a given story in the first place, the network must reward evangelism. While a dramatic term, perhaps, "evangelism" in marketing is very similar to its humble form in religion. A new follower is inspired by the benefits of the story to such a degree that he desires to share the experience with others. This is the greatest reason to create wise media, but its effects are not everlasting. By the time the evangelist naturally loses his initial excitement, rewards resulting from his work at sharing should begin to arrive.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

168 Hours, Part 1

We live in an "on demand" world. Because of the internet, everything is available always. Television audiences are no longer confined to the broadcasters' schedule. There is no longer any need for TV channels to offer a full 168 hour lineup. We can minimize overhead and create a viral spread by focusing the input required to produce 168 hours of output per week into a "quality over quantity" output of 2 to 4 hours per week.

Imagine what could be done with the leverage of 42 to 84 times the resources that currently go into an hour of television. If invested in story depth, these resources would create a vast and enthralling landscape of human interaction. Enormous story arcs could be developed and executed with unparalleled scope, much to the delight of the more critical audience members.

Yeah, but...

Of course, you've likely realized that no network fills a full weeks' schedule with original material even now. Network television pads empty time with infomercials, and production gaps with re-runs. Cable television runs and re-runs "marathons" of both popular syndicated shows and their own original programming. All channels resort to such low-budget programming as "reality" shows, studio-based sitcoms, and game shows.

A further challenge to this proposal is the fact that each hour of the week represents 12-15 minutes of commercial time—a significant source of television revenue. By the current media model, reducing the number of leverage points means losing resources to the same degree. While DVD and memorabilia sales account for some additional revenue, their delay and uncertainty make them unreliable and inadequate under the current system.

Digital media releases which appear on iTunes the day after air are a potentially increasing source of revenue for episodes which bear repeating, but such purchases are in competition against "free" web releases a la Hulu. This source of media, of course, allows ads to be embedded (hence the quotations). Both of these distribution channels clearly benefit from the increased quality which more focused leverage would provide.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The War of Ideas

To be on either side of the Question is to fight only what you can see—namely, your opponents; but to seek truth is to fight nature itself through the lonely exploration of the middle-ground despite crossfire. There are many questions (with a lower case "q") that have definitive answers despite many people's ignorance of those answers. However, there are some where we have not yet found definite answers, those whose answers are critical to solving the world's problems.

In considering these Questions, there is a huge difference between being moderate and being mediocre. To be a spectator at the game of life is to merely watch the competition of ideas in the political and social arena. Mediocrity is waiting for the hard questions to be answered by someone else—then reading the scores with an idle interest.

The great people of history who have been in this lonely middle-ground certainly studied the scoreboard of the competitors who volleyed over their heads. Their interest in finding answers and the intensity of their search, however, led them to examine this war of ideas up close—and not without risk.

Well-read people see faults and virtues in every opinion. Big thinking people focus on the virtues with an eye on unity, rather than schism. But, alas, it is easier to fall to one side where the company is welcoming and the enemies are readily identified. A place of labels and uniforms, where conforming one's speech to a fixed ideology is the clear path to high status.

The question is why do you defend the points you do? Is it because you believe your opinion is the true answer to the question? Or is it because you gain something else from aligning yourself with others of the same mind? Depending on the situation, there may be nothing wrong with either reason—and you may, in fact, be defending the truth.

Just remember, in the war of ideas, it isn't the truth because you think it is or wish it was. It's only the truth if it actually is!
FEATURED MEDIA: A Deadly Misunderstanding: A Congressman's Quest to Bridge the Muslim-Christian Divide - I'll admit, I haven't read this book yet, but it promises to be thought provoking. Articles I've read by Mr. Siljander sound clearly reasoned and point out the contemporary political stance of "shoot first, ask questions never." Our government is a long way from making peace in the Middle East, and mostly due to ignoring diplomatic approaches to unity.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Language is the Key to Thought

I've never considered myself a "car guy," but have nevertheless undertaken a project to restore a '65 MGB. Knowing nothing about cars except what's taught in Driver's Ed, I lacked any knowledge of the basic parts and the names of those parts. Everything I've learned has come from reading, looking at diagrams, and tinkering with the car itself.

I admit, I didn't realize that I was learning much at all. However, this past weekend, my car (the one I drive regularly) had some sort of issue which prevented it from starting. Now, I wish I could say that I miraculously figured it out on my own. This was not the case. I consulted a couple of people who I knew to be bona fide "car guys" to help me troubleshoot.

The point is how clear my thinking was in regard to the troubleshooting process. Where I would previously have been at a loss to describe the problem in words other than "thingy" and "doo-hickey," I surprised myself at recalling the correct jargon. When I crawled under the car—surprise!—the components I saw were easily identifiable despite the two cars' similarity being no more than apples and oranges.

Describing this sensation to my wife, she replied, "You're learning the language. Language is the key to thought." In other words, once complex ideas can be given a name, they can more easily be related to other ideas.

Equipped with this new revelation, I re-examined what I believe to be the future of media. In such meditations, new understanding is reached even on the most well-tread paths of thought.

I came to the realization that language is not only limited to words, but also to visual forms. It was not because I knew the name for a transmission that I was able to identify the one in my car, but because I understood the form of a transmission. Having learned more extensively what each car part does within the system, my brain was able to capture the range of shapes to which a given part is limited—by physical laws, among other things.

Truth in Fiction works the same way. The story (a vehicle) can take the audience to any place the creator can imagine. The engine, however, is limited to a certain range of forms—according to natural law. The one distinction in this analogy is that while violation of forms in a car will prevent the car from reaching a destination at all, fictional stories can be so contrived as to reach a desired destination despite flaws.

Nevertheless, the quality of each journey is dependent upon the driving parts' fitting together in harmony. Moreover, the experience of a harmonious journey teaches our unconscious minds about a standard of excellence—against which other experiences will be compared.

If all one knows is a crummy existence, full of lies, deceit, and poverty, then all one can expect from life is the same. However, if one trapped in this view of the world, views truth-based media, his mind is given a higher standard to which it can aspire.

Therefore, books are certainly important for teaching of language and its uses. Yet, there is much untapped merit in visual media, which teaches the language of forms and the standards against which one can measure his daily experiences.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Apparatus

The machine of society is constructed in two areas. The area of science (the known), constituted as laws and utilized by factories; and the area of art (the theoretical, constituted by civil discussion and utilized by leaders.

There is nothing wrong with constructing a machine to handle what is known, insofar as it is available for use by all. Factories became an important part of our economy in the early 20th Century, and have evolved from the literal industrial form into big box stores and other business models. The more tasks can be gotten "down to a science," more machines can take over those tasks. This is desirable because it frees people to solve more organic problems which require human creativity.

The problem arises when a mechanical solution is applied to these organic problems. That is, when the machine attempts to arbitrate the theoretical, semi-unknown aspects of society, it must err by definition. I say this because, by its very nature, a machine can only work with rational systems. Humans create irrational problems that cannot be solved by a rational system.

Nevertheless, when societies realize that easy but tedious work can be handled by a machine, they inevitably desire that the same machine would handle the difficult work as well. So they create arbitrating systems that attempt to manipulate nature into a predictable form, like cyborg mechanisms grafted into a human body. This collective, I call the "Apparatus."

There is a vast selection of illustrations of this basic concept to be found in Science Fiction. Indeed, I believe that the central resonating theme of high quality sci-fi is based primarily upon this concept. In every example of machines attempting to emulate or intermingle with human emotions, terrible calamity ensues. One can argue that it is merely fiction, of course, but if that is so, then why does it move us so?

Possibly, the prevalence of such themes is owed merely to a popular, yet unfounded fear—brought on by an innate paranoia that we humans will some day cease to be masters of our world. That assertion is fair enough, but I would ask: which came first? Is there a fundamental reason to fear this, which prompts us to demand media which reminds us? Or did media creators stumble upon an latent fear, which they began exploiting for profit?

As I learn more about the big picture, I realize that it is both. Who can say which came first? Certainly, however, society must be wary of any machine that attempts to do what it cannot do. If media can be so constituted to remind us of this potential, so much the better. But if media goes so fair as to perpetuate irrational fears of, say, a literal zombie invasion—then the mainstream won't take the metaphoric warning seriously.

And that would be a calamity.
FEATURED MEDIA: Metropolis - A massive structure called the "Ziggurat" is meant to be a symbol of man's power, but becomes a terrible menace when a confused girl takes control of it. She is a life-like android model of a human, so real she is uncertain what she is.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Selling Out

Fans, especially überfans, are very concerned about this concept of "selling out." However, corner them about a definition of the phrase, and they usually cannot produce anything coherent. Answers range from "Oh, I don't know," to "Well, it's like, um."

All joking aside, have you ever tried to define a sell-out? Two things come to mind when I try to answer this question, and I hope my analysis will better equip you to communicate your concerns to your favorite artists and their respective agents, managers, and business executives.

The first is a financial sell-out. This is most readily identified by a connection to a third-party commercial product. Depending on the artist's intentions and goals, this may or may not be selling out at all. In the Information Age, art is cheap to create and distribute, provided you find your creative spark, and it follows that the end product is expected to be inexpensive or even free.

This doesn't mean that the artist is bound for poverty, it just means that he or she must also creatively leverage the art to develop revenue. This concept of leverage is foreign to most people in the "work-a-day" world, but entails connecting a third party (who has something to sell) with your fanbase. There are many ways to execute this, but basically the artist earns a commission of some sort off the sales made because of his art.

For this not to be a sell-out, the third-party has to share the same intentions and goals as the artist, and be offering a product that the fans actually want. While generic sponsorship (i.e.: fast food corporations) might lead to short-term revenue, the reputation of the sponsor becomes an issue. When the fans dislike the sponsor, they feel abused by the artist. This has a long-term degenerative effect.

Which leads me to the second, and more critical form of selling out: the compromise of one's principles. To gain any sort of fanbase, a creator must be equipped to create art which resonates with a number of people. Basically, to "resonate" is to be harmonious with certain universal truths. The wiser the artist, the more universal the art, and the greater the fanbase. (This is different than formulaic elements, which only superficially represent real life.)

When an artist gets comfortable and chooses to stop pushing the envelope of his art, he relies more and more on what worked before. This, in my opinion, means he has actually stopped being an artist entirely. To stop uncovering universal truths or expressing them in new ways is to compromise the very thing that makes your creation a work of art. That being said, the main issue comes in making that choice. Every artist hits a wall from time to time and must backpedal to find his way again.

One must remember the natural cycles of any business, and art is ultimately a business if it's not a hobby. As the überfans naturally share what they love with those who don't yet know or understand, the balance will naturally shift away from a heavy concentration of überfans to a general and mainstream appreciation. This is not selling out, but moving on. Some überfans may move on as well, because the less they feel they're part of an exclusive thing, the less they care to be a part of it.

Ultimately, I think selling out means betraying your fans, especially your überfans. If you can't sell the vast majority of your überfans on the change, then you've bitten the hand that feeds you. On the other hand (pun intended), if the change brings your art closer to its FIT state, then your fans will either come around or they weren't true fans—either way, you'll increase your überfanbase.
FEATURED MEDIA: Adaptation - Screenwriter Charlie Kaufman is given an assignment to write an adaptation of a book. This not being what he usually does, Charlie can't help but write a crazy story about a secret love affair and drug trafficking mystery, which himself and his fictional twin brother are forced to solve.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Subtle Distinctions

"We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." - US Declaration of Independence
Common language is never as concrete in its meaning as the writer would like. Simply because you know what you're saying, and you have a deep understanding of words, doesn't mean your reader will take your meaning.

Recently, I posted "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of stuff..." to Twitter and Facebook, as a reference to the above quote from the Declaration of Independence. My intention was to point out the fallacy of the consumeristic idea that stuff = happiness, which pervades our culture and media.

My friend Matt, however, pointed out an historical distinction which I was aware of, but did not consider when writing the post. He observed that philosophers like John Locke had stressed "property" as an important right in place of "happiness." There are two subtle distinctions in language here. The first is my intention with the word "stuff." The second is Matt's understanding of the word "property."

In using the word "stuff," I was intending it in the George Carlin sense of trinkets or possessions which we pile up as a measure of status. Stuff, in this sense, is empty and does not lead to happiness, but to the pursuit of more stuff in the name of seeking happiness. Matt seems to have missed my meaning—which is entirely my fault, because I created the post. As is indicated by his assertion, he took "stuff" to merely be an informal word for "property."

By my understanding, however, "property" in 18th century philosophy referred not to individual things like candlesticks and washbasins, but to those things owned as a means to do business. These things include [chiefly] land and all that is on the land to add to its value. Property is a tool to generate an independent lifestyle, and therefore, happiness in whatever manner a free citizen might define it. I could, of course, be wrong in my understanding.

All-in-all this example illustrates the challenge with contemporary bite-sized media blasts, such as are found on Twitter, banner ads, magazine covers, etc. While it might be a benefit forcing people to condense their thoughts into 140 characters, each of us has a different experience with the depth of our words' meanings. We must be cautious when loading words with meaning that we are understood.

As always, I differ to Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: "Habit 5 - Seek first to understand, then to be understood."
FEATURED MEDIA: Lost in Translation - An aging actor whose life is empty meets the young wife of a celebrity photographer in a Tokyo hotel where they are staying on business. Removed from those around them by cultural and language barriers, the two bond in an unlikely friendship.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Linchpin FIT

It may be unclear to some what is meant by "finding your fit" in an organization that also promises freedom. Is it not true that fitting in or "conformity" is synonymous with being a cog in the machine?

In his latest book, Seth Godin goes to great lengths to describe and illustrate through examples the indispensable people he calls "linchpins." He argues rightly that although employers seem to want (and even emotionally prefer) replaceable "cogs" which can be used and discarded at will, they actually NEED people willing to do emotional work.

Most people approach a job—whether employed or self-employed—as an assignment. "I'm here, what do you want me to do?" This is reactionary.

Being indispensable is about being proactive. It's about seeing something that is not being done, and doing it. It's about finding your fit.

These gaps are often seen and best filled by those who stand to gain the most by it. Hence, necessity is the mother of invention.

Rather than rapidly building an organization of arguably empty people, why not begin with solid building blocks? Why not build an organization around linchpins, rather than hoping they appear?

While anyone can be a bolt, a nut, a crosspiece; more integral to an automobile is an engine, a transmission, a brake system. An organization which seeks out those who fill a large place can always find the miscellaneous parts later.
FEATURED MEDIA: Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? - Like his earlier books, Linchpin is broken down into short blog-length sections. This makes it an easy and fun read—and it is filled to the gills with great examples and clear, plain language.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Independence Day

“I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.” -James Madison
With the weekend's celebrations lingering in your thoughts, consider your personal level of dependence. Broaden the scope of your understanding beyond political dependence: the laws, officials, civil servants, and military that legitimately preserve nationwide freedoms.

If you lost your job, how long could you survive on what you have saved? If you get downsized, are you emotionally willing to downsize your lifestyle?

If you have a sudden health issue, do you have the insurance to cover it? Would you still be covered if you lost your job? What about if your insurance company suddenly changes its policy unfavorably? Can you cover the expense from savings?

Consider your debts, subscriptions, and contracts. Can you live without the material goods and services they provide? Do any of them help you pay for the others?

There are a thousand ways in which we become dependent on external systems. Economically, we take support in times of trouble, then conveniently fail fail to give back when things go well. We become increasingly dependent on large institutions to take responsibility for our problems, then become so used to the services that we demand more for less without thought for consequences.

The system encourages us to behave like children—emotionally lusting after material desires. The more they succeed in dumbing us down, the easier we are sold on hype!

Independence is not a choice, but a series of choices. It is created by a spirit of self-sufficiency and a giving heart. There must be sacrifice in times of strife for there to be victory at the end.
FEATURED MEDIA: 1776 - David McCullough gives an enrapturing account of the events of that historic year, beginning with what I feel is a fair treatment of the situation on both sides. He tells of the splendor and good character of George III, and of the many loyalists who resided in the colonies at the time. He also extols the virtues of George Washington, who had just taken command of the then nameless "rabble" which barely constituted an army.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

U-Turns in Suburbia

A while back after we moved, my wife and I were driving around the city, getting to know the lay of the land. We got lost, of course, from time to time. Often this meant we needed to do a U-turn.

This is more difficult than it sounds once you get into suburbia. On country roads, a "yooey" is perfectly acceptable, and in the city, one can merely drive around the block. In a subdivision, however, the roads wind around and sometimes come to a dead end. Suburban planning is built to funnel traffic—home to work, work to home—and is not designed for exploration.

It is not so laid back under the suspicious eyes of the residents as to allow a "yooey" or a turnaround in someone's driveway. However, it is also not structured enough to provide for convenient navigation without a knowledge of the neighborhood's design quirks. In a word, suburbia—like it's residents—is designed to be "cliche-ish."

The solution I often found was to turn around in a church parking lot. They are many and therefore readily available for this convenience. Also, no one is ever there, ironically. Aside from the frequently preachy signage, which suggests the author hasn't thought out who's reading the sign, one's blunder is not scrutinized.

A couple of days ago, I was doing some work at my parent's church, when this train of thought began. During the few hours I was there, three cars turned around in the parking lot! It occurred to me how deliciously symbolic this all is, and reminded me of the one sign that shows that the author did know who was reading his signs.

One of the times I got lost, I pulled into the parking lot of a medium-sized church in an otherwise inconspicuous location on the edge of a subdivision. When I drove into the parking lot, the signage greeted me with the expected type of good-willed message—the kind that is neither too preachy nor preaching to the choir, but generally not memorable.

On the way out, however, I read the back of the sign. There, quietly displayed in the conservative manner befitting a church sign were the words, "God allows U-turns."
FEATURED MEDIA: Weeds - Season One - A dramedy about suburban life, and the people that just don't fit the mold. Nancy Botwin, a newly widowed housewife and mother of two adolescent sons starts selling marijuana to pay the bills. Her descent into this unethical business reveals the darker side of the "upright" citizens and the lighter side of the lawbreakers.

Friday, July 2, 2010


As a follow-up to my manifesto-esque introduction for the "Month in Posts," I wanted to post the "Drive" video. This amazing 10 min piece sums up author Dan Pink's book, Drive.

June '10: The Month in Posts

I've spent a lot of time covering the basics of the productive spirit needed to revitalize media. Creators need to understand how great a responsibility they have to their fans, who have entrusted their perspective of reality to them. They must be vigilant in producing stories that adhere to the truth of reality, and they must uphold this vigilance independent of commercial interests that may persuade them to compromise their art.

This month, I turned my focus in a direction inspired by the rewards of creation itself. Enjoy.

Cognitive Surplus and the Appreciators - June 5, 2010
This month's Wired Magazine has an article which is extremely relevant to our cause. Wired contributing editor, Daniel Pink, author of Drive, goes head to head with Clay Shirky, author of Cognitive Surplus, about the themes common between their respective works. Basically, Drive points out that traditional "carrot or stick" methods of reward and punishment are not the only motivators—in fact, they're not even the best. (read more)
Hobbies: Creation is a Gift - June 11, 2010
Everyone has a hobby, but most of us never are able to devote enough time to it because we have to make a living. Mostly, perhaps, this hobby is something to blow off steam and forget the trials of your day-job. Maybe it would simply evaporate if you were suddenly endowed with a fortune... Realistically though, I doubt it. It seems to me that what we spend our precious spare time on is, by proxy, also precious to us. Does it not follow that we would like to make money while doing our hobby—and lose the job? (read more)
Violence: A Meditation - June 23, 2010
Does violence in the media lead to violence in real life? This is a profound question, and its answer is vitally important to choosing the correct path for future media creations. It is unlikely that I could definitively answer the question here, nor am I attempting to do so. The purpose of this post is merely to examine the question. (read more)
One Step Beyond - June 26, 2010
Everything has a story. That knick-knack you've had on your mantle or your desk for innumerable years isn't just a meaningless piece of junk. That clutter of odds-and-ends on your workbench wasn't placed there en masse. No, it accumulated for as many reasons as there are individual items. (read more)