One Book to Rule them all

I’ve come across a couple of interesting / alarming reads in the last while on the rising dominance of Facebook over all media, not just the social kind. If you want to peer into a crystal at the potential future of digital magazine and news publishing, you may want to give them a read. Hint: say goodbye to bookmarks.

One article is from Salon , and another by the NY Times’ David Carr.  Both essentially report on how F-Book’s tremendous reach, equally tremendous algorithms and successful transition to a revenue-generating, mobile-first destination is supplanting Google as the equivalent of Sauron or St. Nick, in the media world, depending on who you talk to too, and who’s willing to talk openly.

Maybe it’s my newshound roots and I’m sure I’m not alone, but if I relied heavily on reading content my friends shared on Facebook as the main mechanism toward shaping my world view, it wouldn’t contain many angles. The secret lives of cats, or babies, or babies and cats in listicle format, or communal outrage over the next crazy conservative that got elected provides a kind of self-fullfilling echo chamber. On the whole, your Facebook friends are your friends because they are like you (except for the odd ‘truther’ outlier, we all have one or 2 of those), which makes it  the perfect place to socialize online, but not as a destination for all the news that’s fit to print.

I like to think I read the news online not to confirm my beliefs on how the world should work, but to gain exposure to new ideas and nuances that challenge how I thought things and people operated.

A future with One Book to Rule Them All seems dull and dangerous.

Momento: 2

Terry stood still, poised on one foot, the other frozen in forward motion as he watched for signs of life from Sharon. When the door bell rang again, Sharon sighed and rolled over toward the opposite wall. 3 tentative steps later, Terry slipped out the bedroom door. Getting rid of the front door pest -priority number 1; reconciling how he ended up in the sack with, technically speaking, a member of his family – priority #2.

The bright light that streamed through the front door window of his cousin’s flat felt like daggers. As Jerry opened the door, he vaguely realized he too was nude. Perfect. He hoped the arse on the other side of door had a coronary.

As Jerry prepared to confront the ringer in full frontal, he almost felt disappointed when nobody stood on the other side to witness his full splendour. ‘Christ’, Jerry muttered and went to close the door.

That’s when he noticed the small, brown paper package lying on the doormat, addressed to him.

Christmas Goodie

I got a new lens for Christmas and I think my family feels like they’re being stalked. It’s a 35mm lens that allows for decent shots, portraits especially, in low light without needing to use your crappy built-in flash which tends to wash the main subject with stark, artificial light.

Here are some of the results from tailing Kristin, Sunny and the kids throughout the house over the holidays looking more and more like a hobo in my pyjamas and scraggly holiday beard. The rest from the holidays are here on Flickr.

Momento: 1

When the buzzing finally woke Terry from his vodka-fueled slumber, he was not amused. Each successive ring acted like a drill, probing his heavily-cocooned consciousness, until it hit pay dirt, his eyes shot open. Confused, nauseous and grappling with what felt like a rodent, furiously scratching at the middle of his forehead from the inside out, Terry struggled to comprehend the source of his sonic torment, emanating throughout his cousin’s apartment. His ‘aha’ moment unfolded upon the 8th shrilling ring; it came from downstairs he thought… the front hallway?… the doorbell!

Terry rolled out of bed and shuffled toward the bedroom door, eyes half shut, intending to politely shoo away the Jehovah’s Witness, or UPS dude, or whomever had forced this far-to-early-in-the-morning reckoning with his hangover. As he caught his reflection in the mirror on the wall opposite the bed, though, Terry surmised two factors that would temporarily impede his forward mobility: 1) He was completely nude 2) His cousin’s wife lay sleeping in the bed.

Olde T Dot’s First Cemetery

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Photo by Dave Carpenter

 

I like to walk through this section of downtown Toronto, usually after lunch, between Bathurst and Spadina just north of Front. There’s some great architecture, where ad agencies and cafes have taken up residence in old garment factory buildings, while the business core’s skyscrapers looming over to the east.

But there’s this small park, Victoria Memorial Square, that I like the most, partly as an oasis in a busy stretch of town, but also for the really old headstones (in north american terms), running parallel to Portland st.

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Photo by Dave Carpenter

 

You don’t see headstones this old in Toronto; in fact, they are the oldest in downtown Toronto, restored by the neighbourhood’s association and city council to commemorate what was once the burial site of Toronto’s first European settlers.

Dating back to 1793, I like how the headstones symmetrically line up in one, discreet section of the park, both perfectly restored yet with inscriptions slowly fading from historical record. The deceased include Governor James Simcoe’s infant daughter and a sailor who drowned on Lake Ontario.

 

Buzzfeed: The Shape of Things to Come

You can forgive yourself for writing off Buzzfeed’s content as uneven at best, what with coverage from the flames of Ferguson sharing close quarters on its homepage this morning with Baby Alia and her best friend Daisy the sloth. At least Buzzfeed is covering some real news, and reporting on it it quite well, with live updates throughout the night from Buzzfeed reporters on the ground in Ferguson. There’s also their recent, doozy-of-an Uber exec scoop. Both good signs that young folk, despite ‘conventional wisdom’, don’t exclusively obsess on french poodle GIFs and listicles. The Buzzfeed staff know this , because their user analytics play a big role in Ferguson coverage occupying the top slot right now, if not 15 minutes from now.

Maybe Buzzfeed covers real news now more than I give them credit for. I only really drop in to the site occasionally to try and steal glean a bit of youthful zeitgeist, mostly for my job. Yet only after reading this Business Insider article on Buzzfeed’s release of its latest user numbers did I appreciate Buzzfeed’s potential to shape the future of content consumption, and the economic implications therein. Not surprisingly, Buzzfeed’s monthly millennial reach (again, caveat, according to  Buzzfeed) easily outstrips traditional media, such as FOX, CBS and MTV. What’s more interesting, is its out-of-the-gates success in original video content via Buzzfeed Motion Pictures, with average monthly video views growing to whopping 500,000,000 in a year with help from syndication on the usual suspects, including Facebook and YouTube. Further, half of its users watch Buzzfeed’s ad-supported video content on mobile devices, with video views peaking in the evening, aka, traditional TV viewing hours, aka prime TV advertising hours.

Of course it’s in Buzzfeed’s interest to paint a picture of a future media universe with them at the centre. Millennials still likely watch their fair share of TV, but it does seem to ring true that a lot of them are probably doing it while keeping an eye on their phone, on sites like Buzzfeed, especially during TV ad breaks, enjoying Buzzfeed content supported by Buzzfeed’s display and video ads, instead of that 30-second spot on the boob tube. More at Business Insider.

 

 

The Tower That Looms

Hogtown has endless interesting vantage points on the CN Tower. I also work pretty much right under it, so maybe that’s why it seems to watch me  follow me wherever I go. It’s easy to forget what an amazing structure the C.N. Tower is when you live here, but I find myself seeing it with fresh eyes these days with a renewed interest in photography. It manages to maintain a modern feel while still reminding me of 1977 (or 1987, 2nd shot below), around when it first rose over a more quaint Toronto ‘The Good’.

I don’t know for how long though, all the condos going up downtown look intent on consuming even this grand lady.