Virtual Coupland

January 30, 2015 at 8:42 pm | Posted in Design, Humor, Internet, Media, Online services | Leave a comment

Douglas Coupland, the GenX author and artist recently had a “wildly popular” art show at Vancouver’s premier gallery, the VAG. It’s full of cultural memes, explored with some humour. This included a giant cast head of himself, onto which the public was invited to stick pieces of gum.

The Artist – from

(not sure that exactly encourages respect for public art but…)

Google has memorialized it in their “Collections” and sent in a Street View team…  On this site, you can browse some sample images to the right, click Exhibits for more of an explanatory slide show or, on the left, click Street View and browse the galleries themselves. A virtual gallery walk. Keep an eye on the left map to help with directions. I can’t say the directional controls were as intuitive as a usual Street View, but it’s an interesting application of it.

The top menu bar also allows you to browse over 600 other galleries collections, plus some “User Galleries”, apparently assemblies of artwork by users.

Native Advertising

August 14, 2014 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Economoney, Humor, Internet, Media, Online services, Psychology | 1 Comment

There’s a nasty trend developing in the media. The lack of income from on-line advertising for newspapers lead to a new approach known as “native advertising”. Basically it’s advertising presented like, and mixed in with, real news stories. While these are supposedly labelled, that’s the fine print. It’s presented to look like news.

This has been much more successful so now it’s migrating into print, which is desperate to increase revenue. I’m also seeing local papers sell increasingly large sections of their front page to advertising. Sometimes, even the entire front page. How long before that formatting looks more like news?

This trend is not confined to small papers but is being adopted by Time, The New York Times and other supposedly reliable new sources. The separation between “church and state”, between the business and editorial side? Discarded as an outmoded concept. Are they trying to accelerate their demise?

Why is this an issue? What is news if it’s run by advertisers? Infotainment at best. It certainly doesn’t lead to an informed public, which is rather important for a democracy to function properly.

The following clip is from John Oliver, a comedy show, but they cover the situation rather well. Once again, comedy becomes the way to say things we may not otherwise.

Promotion via Fakery

March 6, 2014 at 5:36 pm | Posted in Events, Hardware, Humor, Internet, Media, Science, Strange, Technology, Transportation | Leave a comment

A weird episode in Internet “marketing” this week. A real company, HUVr Tech, seeking funding  sought buzz. First, they faked up a Promo video for Hoverboards, complete with the famous and Back to the Future references. Note the 0 noise and that the video is named “belief” (on their web site). They apparently used the Back to the Future wire harness.

Second, an “apology” by Christopher Lloyd. He was tricked??   Then, one from Tony Hawk, the famed skateboarder. Wired comments.

Fake promotions and fake apologies? Lame. Pranks are funny only if you include the punchline. Has their home page been updated to reflect this? Nope. This is what they think of their possible customers?

A Day at the Park

September 23, 2013 at 10:24 am | Posted in Humor, Media | Leave a comment

Kostas Kiriakakis is an illustrator. In an illustrated cartoon muse, he explores the collection of Questions and Answers. Not your typical cartoon.

Upper Amazon

August 8, 2013 at 9:11 pm | Posted in Economoney, Humor, Media, Online services | Leave a comment

When you browse the products in a store and are searching for a specific brand, where might you be expected to find a bearded baseball card, an autographed girls photo, and a multi-million dollar painting? Why Amazon, of course. Who knew Monet was so available? Amazon recently opened a new fine art section, featuring some rather pricey artworks being offered by various local galleries.

Someone with that kind of budget for art would be pretty unlikely to buy through a reseller. It’s not exactly discreet.  And who carries plastic with $5 million on it? Do they even offer such a thing? (consider the insurance cost for a stray card)

The effort has attracted some cheeky “buyers” feedback (“I returned it – the Monet was used”) and price comparisons (Warhol vs bulk canned soup). I notice several of the highest-priced Monet’s are gone now. Some galleries may not consider such attention desirable. Not to mention some observations, like on a Norman Rockwell for close to $5 million: Is it art or “just an illustration”? But look – free shipping.

I wonder how many are adding to their Wish list. Missed birthday anyone?

I suppose if you enjoy throwing some extra cash around and advertising it on Amazon and Facebook, it’s an option. Bet your home insurance company may not appreciate it though. Better get that rider. And a better security system.

Hey – the Monet poster (Nympheas) is on sale for $2.76, regular $15. I can afford that! Over in Artwork though, not Fine Art.

PS – there are thousands of more modest paintings to choose from under Fine Art. And if this helps some of the smaller galleries survive, great. (this is reseller, not Amazon stock)

Time and Culture

September 27, 2012 at 9:54 am | Posted in Humor, Media, Psychology | Leave a comment

Awhile back, I made a documentary on how our metabolic rate affects our perception of the passage of time. How fast our body runs determines how fast we see time passing and how quickly events seem to take place. The first part of the film illustrated how different animal species have different default metabolic rates and thus perceive time and action differently. Humans behave in slow motion compared to some creatures and quickly for others.

In the second part, I explored how our metabolic rate gradually slows with age, changing our perception of time. For active, growing children, a day seems a long time and next week is forever. For the elderly or ill, the years can seem to fly by.

In this video, RSA animation illustrates another good talk, this time by Philip Zimbardo. He explores how our perspective of time affects our work, health and well-being – even who we are as a person, how we relate to others, and our culture as a whole.

More RSA animated talks


April 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Posted in Events, Humor, Media | 1 Comment

To quote Monty Python, and now for something completely different…
In the style of using Youtube clips to communicate, here is my response to some friendly chiding.

Vancouver Ad

Vancouver Yoga

A flash mob that launched a 10 day party (during the Olympics)

And to be honest, Vancouver stereotypes that are true:

And yes, we wear socks with sandals. I like Tevas.

The Divided Brain

October 27, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Humor, Nature, Science | Leave a comment

An interesting talk by Iain McGilchrist on the differences between the 2 sides of the brain. Hint – it’s not reason vs emotion. Rather, it is focus vs broad awareness. Animated by RSA.

The Prosperity Apps

September 27, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Posted in Economoney, History, Humor | Leave a comment

A great TED talk by Scotsman Niall Ferguson on western history, what created the Great Divergence (in affluence between east and west), and why prosperity was such a western phenomena.

He credits 6 core ideas:
1 – Competition
2 – The Scientific Revolution
3 – Property Rights
4 – Modern Medicine
5 – A Consumer Society (to drive the economy)
6 – The Work Ethic

He demonstrates that the Great Divergence is over. Are we going to learn the lessons of history? This is not to say we shouldn’t seek a moderate way. But are we willing to lose our comfort and prosperity by being blind to what got us here? And will other countries trying to emulate the west succeed if they leave some out?

PS – see Why You’re Not Rich as a counterpoint with current preoccupations.

Google NGram Viewer

September 27, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Posted in Books, Computers, Humor, Internet, Online services, Web Apps | Leave a comment

Google has once again added a new technology from their labs. The NGram viewer is a way to scan millions of books for the commonality of different words or phrases over time. They’re using the massive library of material they’ve been digitizing as a database.

3 words for example: Computer, mathematics, & electron

In this TED talk, 2 scientists demonstrate how it works and some amusing examples. And why it has value.

The NGram home page


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