Cinematic Experience: From Spectacle to Empathy

A new housemate once told me she didn’t like movies, and I was surprised, how could she not like movies? She said she didn’t like having her emotions manipulated. And sure, I’ve cried at the movies. Even a good documentary can move me. It’s empathy happening.

Say you’re watching a movie at home and you have no empathy for the protagonist, what’s to keep you interested, keep you from turning off the show and moving on with your life? Perhaps curiosity? Suspense? If you don’t want to know what happens next, the movie has failed. And in that sense, every movie is a suspense film. Continue reading

Soft Hacking: Seeing is Believing

When I was in high school nearsightedness came on slowly and some days it would be worse than others, like when I was tired and came home and I’d reach for the door and it’d be blurry. The exhaustion compounded my frustration and it made me mad to lose focus. It was beyond my control. I went on like it was temporary but by my senior year I had to start sitting toward the front of the classroom to read the board and I went for an eye exam. Continue reading

Why Mars? A Multiplanetary Species, But It Won’t Be Humanity: Outer Space as Salvation Myth

It’s powerful, practical even, to charge your employees with great purpose. Scientific discovery, satellite communications, asteroid mining are all useful and practical reasons to launch rockets, and where humanity steps back in awe, Elon Musk takes his SpaceX employees further by saying they’ll make us a multiplanetary species. Granted our technology will explore and work in outer space, but to understand how earthlings would fare on another planet you only have to visit the zoo. Continue reading

Facebook Credits: Getting Paid to View Ads and Creating an In-Platform Economy

Attention, our free time, is the only scarcity online. With so many pages, videos, podcasts to experience, no one wants to waste time on ads—unless it pays. Let’s say the advertiser pays people to view an ad. Currently advertisers pay Facebook to get their ad in front of customers. Let’s imagine Facebook’s News Feed where along with the standard ads and Friend updates, there appears a narrow white bar with a button you can click to unfurl an ad, crediting a dime to you. That ten cents would be an in-platform digital currency.

To seriously consider this scenario with its attendant why-nots and impossibles, let’s attempt to answer: what is the purpose of our economy? With the billions in advertising revenue Facebook collects annually, it might seem the economy works best when money is extracted from an ecosystem and converted to share price and ten-figure entries in the company’s bank account. It’s easier to measure and make sense of the accumulation of money, watching the scoreboard in a global economic contest, than measuring the velocity of flow. But what if the economy actually functions better when money circulates more? Continue reading

40-Second Elvis Movie

At a party convened to celebrate poetry, If Not For Kidnap, a guy introduced himself and said he’d perform an Elvis song from an avant-garde French movie in which Elvis played an ornithologist. James Okubo, a filmmaker based in L.A., was at the party with me and I said let’s make it—the Northwest Film Center had an upcoming 40 second film festival.

Here’s a sample of the storyboards I made for this project: Storyboard

Portland 2050?! Punctuation from the Future

AUTHOR’S NOTE: The emails I received from the future appear “spoken,” possibly evidence of a keyboardless interface—-they might be using a quantum computer that has entangled my machine! If any more qubits settle from their superposition in another, what is it, an alternate timeline, our potential futures, our actual future: I’ll post the text here for you.

Matchmaker

I got an interview with Maubi and it wasn’t a call or an interview. They use a hiring platform at WeWork downtown, the co-working space that installed a read-out station. I checked in at the desk and went to the room where RealU has their office. A small waiting area but they got me in quick—-the office has been modified somewhat. The room has numerous stalls, private chambers, and my appointment was scheduled and it was only a matter of the RealU guy telling me to go into number five. He gave me a key card and I passed it over the door and it unlocked and the door popped open and a pleasant light came up inside the stall that had only a chair and a desk and a computer and a wireless hat that hung on a stand in one corner. When I sat down the computer screen came on and it went through a welcome menu that was redundant because a voice said the same script through some speakers that I didn’t see. I guess the onscreen display was for deaf people and I wondered if maybe this was also a visual interview and in that event, I smiled and said hello. Continue reading