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Archive for April, 2008

3-D Printed Magic Kingdom

3-D printed Disney Castle

Today was a good day. Not only did I find out my apartment is in GTA IV, but I also received a 3-D printed scale model of Cinderella’s Castle. A few weeks back I did a speech at the Disney Imagineering HQ in California, where 3-D printing is used to develop new designs. They made one of these for Bob Iger, one for Steve jobs, and had this one at HQ, which they very kindly sent me as a thank you, after finding out about my obsession with all things 3-D printed. It’s the most detailed thing I’ve seen come out of a prototyping machine yet, this picture doesn’t do justice to the perfect brickwork, spires and columns, nor can you see the corridors that run through the model. It’s pretty nuts. Apparently it took 11 hours to print.

Ron English hits L.A.

Ron English

From Hi-fructose, via Boing Boing.

UK Launch Party at The Jump Off

Jump Off

I’ll be over in the UK next week for the launch of the book back in the homeland, and am honored that my good friends Harry and Ara at The Jump Off are throwing the official launch party for the book. The Jump Off, for the uninitiated, is the U.K.’s premier hip hop event. Part club night, part hip hop as sports entertainment show, there isn’t anything else quite like it either side of the Atlantic. As one as hosting one of the most competitive MC battles on the planet, each monthly night features a host of different competitions and events back to back from the ever broadening spectrum of hip hop entertainment. This month there’s a fashion show, photo shoot with the unstoppable Mr Paul H, jokes from comedian Slim and, in tune with the Launch, a B-Boy ‘Biters’ Battle. Goody bags go to the first 200 on the door courtesy of Hip Hop Connection, Touch, Jelly Belly, Penguin and Jump Off TV and copies of the book will be given away throughout the night.

The Jump Off takes place at Astoria 2, 165 Charing Cross Road, this Bank Holiday Monday 05 May 2008, the doors open at 8pm and tickets are £6 in advance or £10 Door.

Carrotmob makes it rain

Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo.

I love, love, LOVE this!

Pirates at the RSA


May 8th I’m doing a lunchtime keynote speech in London at the RSA, it’s free to attend. To register and find out more, visit their website.

Good review in this month’s VICE…


The Network is the Story

network is the story

I’ve was in LA last week talking to various people in the entertainment business about various things, and a subject that kept coming up was how the way we create stories is changing. Most forms of big media storytelling are one-to-many, but new forms of malleable media and new opportunities to create many-to-many networks are adding value to broadcast models, and the way they tell stories.

Stories that include their audiences in the creation process become more complex, go off on tangents and create new relationships between the broadcaster and the audience. Some even extend markets and product life spans. Giving the audience space to create their own stories within the broadcast story is a great way to create mass media. Instead of creating one story with broad enough appeal for a mass audience to find it palatable, it’s now possible to create a piece of mass media without much of a storyline at all, but instead, the tools the audience needs to create millions of their own, that they in turn can change and narrowcast to their peers. The audience knows what they need from narrowcast entertainment better than the broadcaster does, and they know the target audience for that entertainment (their friends and families) better than the broadcaster ever will.

Video games, currently biggest selling form of entertainment, have realized the potential of this idea more than any other type of storytelling. The battle between Master Chief and the Covenant isn’t the whole story of the Halo franchise. Your YouTube video of yourself regulating ten noobs with nothing but the butt of your gun and a hand grenade, set to a techno music bed that sounds offensively bad to everyone other than you and your friends, is also a major part of the story. That’s the reason why Halo set the record for the most single day sales of any form of media. The game about to knock Halo off the top spot is GTA IV. It will do so for the same reason – GTA story lines are paper thin, the real value has always been the rich and detailed sandbox worlds of GTA and how they let you create your own stories within them.

Networks drive stories in physical spaces too, they drive our life stories. David Leonhardt recently made the point that ideas and the value of networks keep us living close together in cities when we don’t necessarily have to. You might visit a major city like LA or Tokyo or London as a tourist for the linear story, to see the sights and so on, but people move to cities for the opportunities and stories they themselves can create with the networks that exist there. The quality of the relationship you are able to have with the network in a physical place makes the difference between that place feeling like a nice place to visit, and that place feeling like it could be home. New York City and Liberty City are great places to be for the same reason.

gta iv new york

Great networks perpetually add value to all kinds of stories. From fan-fiction to remixes to making home videos at theme parks, people have been creating their own niche stories within mass entertainment properties for a long time. When mass entertainment properties encourage and add value to the networks that grow around them, they make it easier for the network to reciprocate.

Telling Stories

hard times

I was recently asked by Penguin to put together a story for a project they are doing in the UK called We Tell Stories, a series of short stories by six different Penguin authors, told over a period of six weeks. Each of us had to come up with something based on a Penguin Classic, and each story was told in an interesting way online somewhere or somehow.

My brief was to come up with a story based on Hard Times, the Dickens classic which illustrates the growing pains of the industrial revolution. My story was to be about the growing pains of the information revolution, the subject covered in The Pirate’s Dilemma. If that wasn’t an intimidating enough way to enter the world of fiction for the first time, the story also had to be told as an ‘info-graphic novel’, using mostly statistics and numbers, mirroring Mr Thomas Gradgrind’s (the main character in Hard Times) obsession with cold hard facts.

I didn’t end up writing a story at all. Try as I might, I could not get my head round creating a piece of fiction that worked in this way, using mostly numbers, that would somehow be comparable to the work of Dickens. That’s kind of a tough one. Instead I took some of the numbers and quotes from Pirates and tried to tell a factual story of change and revolution using as few words as possible. I was lucky enough to work with designer Nicholas Felton on this, famous for his incredible annual reports. Nicholas put the information together as a slick-looking statement, describing some of the changes we are currently experiencing as a society. It’s not the greatest thing I’ve ever written by a long shot, in fact it was more a case of quote and stat-pulling than actual writing, but I think Mr Felton’s sharp design looks pretty cool. You can download or view the finished article here. The other stories (which are all actual stories) are well worth checking out.

Brooklyn Stand Up!

Brooklyn Stand Up

For a while people have been asking where they can come see me do a keynote somewhere in New York City for free, something I’ve been eager to do. So much of The Pirate’s Dilemma is about my adopted home town and it certainly wouldn’t have come out the way it did if I wrote it somewhere else. So I’m excited that today I finally found a place where I could do a keynote off the corporate lecture circuit, which anyone can come to free of charge. Better still, it’s in Brooklyn, and better still, it’s at PodCampNYC, a great new media event I ‘d heard a lot of good things about.

I’ll be closing out the event with a keynote at 4pm on Saturday April 26th. If you want to come and see it, all you need to do is register here. My favorite thing about podcamp is not just that anyone can attend, but anyone can speak there too. Check the website for more details on how to get involved.

Steal this idea

fast company

I recently did an interview with Fast Company which has just gone up on their website – check it out here.

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