Thursday, December 26, 2013
Thursday, November 28, 2013
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
Monday, September 16, 2013
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
The sheer glut of used media (books, CDs, DVDs) has been threatening to overwhelm our society for a few years now. In fact, selling used is apparently not a sound business model (all those CD Warehouses went out of business even before the heyday of digital). Even the thrift stores don't have the room for all the VHS cassettes and Readers Digest condensed volumes dumped into their bins; they still make their bucks turning over clothes and handmade holiday macrame. Is there a better model?
There are still some independent retailers in my area who are sticking to the "mostly-used, some new" model, but many were forced out of business by a public obsessed with purely digital entertainment. One former community favorite - Vinyl Fever - ended up splitting their new and used music sections 50/50, but I don't think it could sustain itself on meager 99 cent used CD sales. Up by USF, Mojo Books and Music is rocking a cavernous, well-stocked used book selection (and selling coffee and being a community hangout), while in Pinellas Park, SoundExchange is so overrun with used DVDs, they are pushing most off at 3/$5 (but being smart by organizing them by lead actor rather than alphabetically for easier binge watching). The venerable local institution that is Bananas will invite you to their voluminous warehouse, but their retail presence serves up a rather generic catalog of used CDs, sure to please the passer-by looking for a bargain.
So, juggling new and used media in brick & mortar is probably not a good business model at all. (I can't see Barnes and Noble doing it, no matter how quickly I am contributing to their demise.) Books and CDs are, unfortunately, destined to clog up the landfills; DVDs probably even faster due to the realization that you don't have to own a movie in order to have access to it whenever you want thanks to streaming subscription services and several robust rental schemes like Amazon and iTunes.
But folks don't stream CDs, they still rely on glorified radio stations like Pandora (and the upcoming iTunes Radio) to curate for them. As for books, is there really a more sustainable idea than the public library? Thanks to places like Better Worlds Books, it's gotten easier. I can buy a used book for a penny from Better Worlds Books via Amazon, read it, and then deposit it in one of the many green Better Worlds drop boxes in my community. It seems like borrowing to me, verging on recycling (the tree's already been felled, the presses already run). Unlike the public library, it isn't exactly free - but most of the price goes to keeping the U.S. Postal Service alive - so that's almost being patriotic, right?
I have attempted to set up the same sort of cycle for CDs, but it's a bit more complicated. Sure, I get 99.9% of my music digitally (not just iTunes, elitists, I actually make the trip to bandcamp.com to pay my favorite artists directly), but you know how iTunes and Amazon will make the best song on a soundtrack "album only" just to piss you off? I'll by the CD used and within minutes of it showing up in my p.o. box, I've digitized the track and re-listed it to sell on Amazon. The circle of life to be surel I may even make a profit.
Speaking of supporting artists directly, one fantastic arena rocking my online world is original art t-shirts. Instead of rolling down to Hot Topic (at my age, please!), I find amazing art to wear on websites such as Zazzle and Threadless and – since I have a New Orleans bent – Dirty Coast. The original t-shirt world is bright, shiny and booming while allowing me to spread my bucks around big business directly to the folks who deserve it.
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Monday, June 3, 2013
My mother's generation may or may not have dreamed of landing on all those alien planets that look suspiciously like our California desert, but I suspect sadly that space travel will be less Voyager or Moya or even Serenity and more Nostromo, only with meals catered by Monsanto.
Wednesday, May 15, 2013
I imagine the cloud to be the great steamer trunk in the sky. For those who are new to this world, or haven't seen Titanic, steamer trunks were these intricate traveling wardrobes - much more than a suitcase - it was full of tiny drawers and hidden spaces and when it opened up, looked like a modern entertainment center. I am a compartment fanatic; I like everything in its place.
Unfortunately for control freaks like me, the new digital "imperative" is not a trend - it's the new reality. Computers no longer have CD drives because manufacturers say no one burns cds. Why bother when all your music is available remotely and you can time capsule all your important stuff into the wireless ether. I hear even USB drives will be an early 21st century relic soon. Why carry around info when you are supposed to access it everywhere and anywhere.
So, yes, I will be the last man who still backs up to CD and external hard drive. I will be smart (or paranoid) enough to eventually choose two cloud solutions - just in case one goes all karfluffle.
Or, when the solar flares hit, they all will.
I'm sure no one likes being dragged kicking and screaming into the future. I remember the uproar in my house when I was a kid and VCRs were suddenly no longer top-loading.
One of my biggest beefs with this whole process is how it's being advertised - just to the folks who want access to their movies while waiting in line at the movie theatre, or who want to listen to their tunes while waiting for a concert to begin. Some of us, the artists, the professional designers, need more hand-holding and soothing assurances.
But technology marketing has become american-idoled for awhile now - appealing to the most common consumer. Wordpress, for instance, a robust website builder, is still advertised (by its own company) as being a great tool for your blog. Flash player wants me to update so I can enjoy Facebook better (huh?). And cloud proponents are always going on about that collosal mp3 collection I have that I just need to beam to whenever I have a little more time at the grocer or need to share all those photos of grandma falling into the creek while in the dentist waiting room.
First big thing: the whole world better have one hell of a broadband connection. At home, at work, at the gas station, at Disney World. And not just "free wifi" that barely spins up. For the cloud to really become the standard, you can't have people crying in the streets because their bars disappear on their smartphones. It'll be like snatching smack away from a junkie, but then standing in front of them dangling the pipe. Chaos will be the norm of the day.
Second huge concern: who gets your steamer trunk in the sky when you die? It becomes the great safe deposit box in the sky - sealed for eternity, but no one has the key. Expect an entire business model to populate over this (I see a few seeds of this already, but nothing mainstream, no matter what Google (the monarchy, not the search tool) tells you).
Your head may be in the cloud, but not mine. I am a hardwired relic.
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Monday, April 8, 2013
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Part of the 2013 downsize and reorganization is being able to say farewell old art projects, both physically and emotionally. Back in the 80's I wrote plays and novels, now interred in a drawer somewhere. They have a digital life, but no digital after-life. (someday I may try to self-publish, who knows.) My artwork and photography, however, has a much richer life. They were born digital and live, in many incarnations, in many versions, on various compact discs, flash drives, and on my portfolio website(s). I also use Shutterfly for archiving purposes, not just for creating photobooks and making posters. But sometimes having a "hard" version of artwork can - besides weathering a post-apoco scenario involving the power grid - provide another avenue for presentation. Sometimes whipping out an iPad and linking to my Behance or Coroflot portfolio doesn't have the same panache as ink on paper.
Of equal importance for this year's downsizing is saying goodbye to old projects. Not just because I've moved on, gotten better, switched my style. Older artwork no longer best represents my talent and experience, so it needs to be curated, much like I change the artwork on the walls of my house. I am by no means giving this art an interment, merely a retirement from the limelight. Current portfolio website wisdom claims that having too much "product" can overwhelm those sensitive viewers, much like shoppers who cannot wrap their minds around too many choices. So, much as I switch out old for new on Refrakted's website, I can give an older era of creation the eulogy and memorial it deserves.