Saturday, May 29, 2010

Advertizing Will Shrink And Grow Feathers

Is it such a bad thing that newspapers are dying? First, the world of newspapers could never have permitted the evolution of a market niche like John Gruber's or Nate Silver's; neither of these terrific, deeply specific journalists could have made a dime or seen a word in print in the pre-Internet era. Secondly, newspapers aren't really dying; this is the histrionic shriek of the privileged when forced to reckon with the requirements of a world that no longer spoils them. Did the dinosaurs ever really go extinct? Of course not. They shrank, they grew feathers, and they proliferated. Not only are the dinosaurs still alive, but many of them have learned to speak English.

via flickr

Newspapers are not dying. Newspapers are shrinking. They shrink because their form has not enough to do with their function; they derived their income from classified ads, and Craigslist destroyed their business. But Craigslist didn't destroy their business by being better at tying classified advertizing to journalism; Craigslist destroyed their business because there was no logical, necessary connection between classified ads and journalism in the first place. Classified ads went in the paper because everybody read the paper. Circumstances of social organization ("everybody reads the paper") created an artificial relationship, which was doomed to disintegrate.

Advertizing has the same problem.

from wondermark

In an alternate universe with no Internet, we still have Keyboard Cat. He just sells cereal for Kellogg. Irreverent, foolish, short-form video dominated American culture for decades before YouTube came along. Corporations subsidized it, due to circumstances of social organization ("everybody watches The Honeymooners") which no longer hold true. This shit will change.

If you want to know how, I'm doing some experiments, and you can get a rough, raw, comprehensive and honest overview of these experiments in my video Internet Marketing For Alpha Geeks.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Buy A Hippo Saying "Muppetfuckers"

I saw something on Twitter which surprised me, when I put my internet marketing video on sale: people who wanted to buy it to support the blog, but didn't want to spend that much. Despite all the talk on the internet about 1000 true fans, somehow this obvious possibility had never crossed my mind.

For those of you who want to show support for my blog, first of all, I want to give you my gratitude. Second, I want to sell you a hippo saying "muppetfuckers."

You can buy it on a coffee mug:

Or a clock:

Or a SIGG water bottle:

Or a t-shirt:

Or a dog:

(Dog sold separately.)

Or a tote bag:

Or a trucker hat:

Or a women's zip hoodie:

Or any of many, many other products. Some amount of the profit will go to various charitable organizations, art projects, and open source projects, as determined by my near-random whims. The rest will go to support my blogging habit and/or to redress my severe Lamborghini and helicopter deficiency.

Check out all the awesome and ridiculous products you can buy a picture of a hippo saying "muppetfuckers" on.

Web Replacing Older Media: Positive & Negative Effects

Neuroscience and fragmented attention on the Internet:

What kind of brain is the Web giving us? That question will no doubt be the subject of a great deal of research in the years ahead. Already, though, there is much we know or can surmise—and the news is quite disturbing. Dozens of studies by psychologists, neurobiologists, and educators point to the same conclusion: When we go online, we enter an environment that promotes cursory reading, hurried and distracted thinking, and superficial learning. Even as the Internet grants us easy access to vast amounts of information, it is turning us into shallower thinkers, literally changing the structure of our brain.

Dan Pink and Clay Shirky:

Television was a solitary activity that crowded out other forms of social connection. But the very nature of these new technologies fosters social connection—creating, contributing, sharing. When someone buys a TV, the number of consumers goes up by one, but the number of producers stays the same. When someone buys a computer or mobile phone, the number of consumers and producers both increase by one. This lets ordinary citizens, who’ve previously been locked out, pool their free time for activities they like and care about. So instead of that free time seeping away in front of the television set, the cognitive surplus is going to be poured into everything from goofy enterprises like lolcats, where people stick captions on cat photos, to serious political activities like, where people report human rights abuses.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Practice Video For Acting Class

Spoilers ahead...

All I'm actually doing in this video is using techniques from Stephen Book - a series of emotion arcs and a few emotion switches - but I was pretty happy with the effect. Emotion switches are self-explanatory; an emotion arc is a progression from a low-intensity version of an emotion to a high-intensity version. For instance, I did a happy arc in the rant about chaos, then switched to a low level of anger and ramped up an anger arc at the very end.

When I did the scene in class, it went well. One of the people watching told me I scared them. I liked that, because I'd set out to scare people. The switch from happy to angry, and just being happy about the ubiquity of chaos in the first place, makes it a threatening scene.

It kind of validates all that 37 Signals stuff about embracing constraints; I chose to arc happy during the rant on chaos not because of anything in the script, but because I had already decided to focus on emotion arcs, and happy was the only arc that was interesting and challenging from a technical point of view. It's easy to arc fear if you're discussing ever-present danger. There was some support for the happy arc in another technique from Stephen Book, a script analysis technique, but it was essentially all about the constraints I'd chosen and the technical challenge I found within those constraints.

How Programmers Approach Internet Marketing

from oglaf

Specific people inspired this post. You guys know who you are! I'm in there with you - I'm constantly writing blog posts to promote my acting career, writing blog posts to make myself a better programmer, and writing blog posts so I can get more exercise (I'm not even kidding). There are more immediate ways to accomplish every one of these goals.

I think the most thorough and permanent solution is to learn a foreign language. When you learn a foreign language, you also learn a foreign way of speaking - for instance, Japanese bakes its system of etiquette and status directly into the grammar and even the forms of words. That's weird for an American, but this is even weirder:

In many Japanese offices, you're required to scream "Good morning!" at the top of your lungs, clapping your hands to your thighs, as soon as you enter the office area every morning. Everyone in the office then shouts "Good morning!" back to you....

"Before we move onto the next item, does anyone have any questions?" I seriously and portentously asked a question, then, which I thought was hilarious: "If we're the first one in the office in the morning, do we still have to scream 'Good Morning' and clap our hands to the sides of our legs?" Her answer was immediate, and humorless: "Yes." "Well, I mean, there's no one else around to hear it, right?" "You still have to do it. It's the rule. Every employee must do this. That's why we call it 'protocol.'"...

When I first came to Japan, and learned that "irasshaimase" meant "come [into the store]!" I expressed a certain amount of confusion to the dude who was playing the part of my tour guide. We were in a Jeansmate — a Japanese jeans store that is inexplicably open twenty-four hours a day, even in towns where (as in ours) the only god damn supermarket closes at eight in the PM. I was looking at jeans, and an employee, standing nearby, was repeatedly yelling "Irrashaimase" at my roommate and I. "That's just how they do things." He must have yelled it maybe a hundred times. We were the only customers in the store. "Why is he telling us to come into the store if we're already in the store?" "Beats me, man," was my roommate's response.

If that's too much for you, resort to the old saying: "when in Rome, do as the Romans do."

A less dramatic example of different cultures communicating in different ways: I read somewhere that at Python conferences, there is no IRC channel. Having a laptop open and hacking during a presentation is considered rude and gets you shunned.

Internet marketing is a different way of thinking. If you learn it, you can make money with it. What you do with that money, and the time it frees up, is up to you. There's nothing to say that the king doesn't build labyrinths in his spare time. The labyrinth guy might only be in the throne room because the king just said to him, before the comic began, "dude, I'm going to build a labyrinth, it's going to be awesome, you can help, just hang out in the throne room for five minutes while I take care of some business first."

Assuming that you're a programmer who wants to do internet marketing, what you need to do is be your own inner king, and tell your inner labyrinth nut to hang out in the throne room of your mind for five minutes while you take care of some business first. If you can do that, you can avoid having some corporate and/or VC dillweed be your king. You're going to have a king either way. It's impossible to exist without a king. What you can do is choose between an external king or an internal king.

The Goat Testicle Millionaire

I haven't read this yet, but I'm posting about it right away, because a blog post title like that is a gift from the gods, and you shouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

These two books delve into John Brinkley, who made $800MM selling goat testicles to Americans as a cure for impotence.

One day in the fall of 1917, a Kansas farmer named Bill Stittsworth, 46 years of age, showed up at the clinic that had recently been opened in the hamlet of Milford by a medical quack named John R. Brinkley. "His visit didn't seem like the Annunciation," Pope Brock writes in this hugely amusing if somewhat sobering book, "any more than he looked like the archangel Gabriel." Stittsworth reluctantly admitted that he was suffering the condition for which Viagra is now prescribed. As Brinkley tried to dream up a solution, the farmer looked wistfully out the window, "pondering the livestock," and said: "Too bad I don't have billy goat nuts."

Precisely what happened thereafter "is in dispute," but two nights later Stittsworth returned to the clinic, "climbed onto the operating table," and awaited Brinkley. "Masked, gowned, and rubber gloved, Brinkley entered with a small silver tray, carried in both hands, like the Host. On it were two goat testicles in a bed of cotton. He set the tray down, injected anesthetic," and Brinkley was on his way. Two weeks later Stittsworth "reappeared with a smile on his face." As he told other farmers about his good fortune, men -- and then women -- began to queue up for injections of billy goat magic, with the result that Brinkley soon "became a pioneer in gland transplants" at exactly the moment when America was ready for them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

No More Daily MP3s; Weekly Instead

I've been doing daily mp3s at @djgoatboy on Twitter for about a year and a half now. It's worked well, but I'm changing it up. I'm going to continue making music every day, but only upload it once a week. This will allow me to either post the best mp3 of the week, or post an mp3 I've been working on all week. The continuous effort factor stays the same, but the standard of quality rises.

More info in today's mp3

Sunday, May 23, 2010


DrumChuk is a customizable Ruby-based MIDI Drum Controller for the Wii Remote and Nunchuk.

Arc90 Readability For The iPad

It's easy (although convoluted) to install bookmarklets on an iPhone or an iPad; all you do is create a new bookmark, edit it, and then paste the JavaScript for the bookmarklet into the bookmark's URL field.

However, you need the source for the bookmarklet to do this in the first place; Arc90's Readability page doesn't give that source. I'm assuming that's an oversight. Here's the code:

javascript: (function () {
readStyle = 'style-newspaper';
readSize = 'size-medium';
readMargin = 'margin-wide';
_readability_script = document.createElement('SCRIPT');
_readability_script.type = 'text/javascript';
_readability_script.src = '' + (Math.random());
_readability_css = document.createElement('LINK');
_readability_css.rel = 'stylesheet';
_readability_css.href = '';
_readability_css.type = 'text/css'; = 'all';
_readability_print_css = document.createElement('LINK');
_readability_print_css.rel = 'stylesheet';
_readability_print_css.href = ''; = 'print';
_readability_print_css.type = 'text/css';

Bookmark this page, name the bookmark "Readability", then edit the bookmark, and copy-paste this code into the URL field. Boom - it just works.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Drive, As Real-Time Comic

(via Eugenia Harris, via Kent Beck)

Python Time-Stretcher

The Swinger is a bit of python code that takes any song and makes it swing. It does this be taking each beat and time-stretching the first half of each beat while time-shrinking the second half. It has quite a magical effect.

Money for Nothing (permutated by the Swinger in Python) by TeeJay

Connected to what looks to be an amazing project called Echo Nest Remix:

The Echo Nest Remix API is the Internet Synthesizer that lets you make things with music and video.

We've done the following: rearranged the syllables of a vocal line, walkenized and cowbellized hundreds of thousands of songs in a week, mixed up the hits of a drum beat and synced it to another loop, beat matched two songs, split apart DJ mixes by their individual tracks, made new kinds of video mashups, corrected sloppy drumming, synced a video to a song, transitioned between two covers of the same song, made a cat play piano, put a donk on it.

We're making this available as an open source SDK for Python (other languages forthcoming!) that can be easily installed for Mac OS X, Windows and Linux.

According to this tutorial, Echo Nest Remix is like Ableton Live via REST:

Remix is a sophisticated tool to allow you to quickly, expressively, and intuitively chop up existing audio content and create new content based on the old. It allows you to reach inside the music, and let the music’s own musical qualities be your — or your computer’s — guide in finding something new in the old. By using Remix’s knowledge of a given song’s structure, you can render the familiar strange, or the strange slightly more familiar-sounding. You can create countless parameterized variations of a given song — or one of near-limitless length — that respect or desecrate the original, or land on any of countless steps in between.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Japanese Robot Butterfly

Monday, May 17, 2010

Vim in IRB on Vimcasts

The new Vimcasts features my vim in irb hack; not only that, it also clues me into an improved version created last year and the fact that Charles Nutter got it working in JRuby, after I had filed a ticket, seen the ticket marked unfixable, and given up completely! Very glad to see that.

New Age Advice From A Tea Party Republican

I don't know if Dan Kennedy is a true Tea Party Republican, but he's damn close. He praises Rush Limbaugh and calls Obama a socialist without a shred of irony. I think his politics are crazy, but I respect him as a businessman, a writer, and a marketer - and I got some advice from him that sounds more like something you'd see in The Secret.

The advice was in one of Kennedy's books. I can't remember which one, because I've read all of them, but if I have to guess, I'll say it's No BS Wealth Attraction For Entrepreneurs. I soon saw it repeated in a few other places, including Yanik Silver's blog. I have absolutely no proof that it works, it's like entrepreneur astrology, but so far, so good - the anecdotal evidence that it works came from millionaries and since putting this advice in action, I've gone from working for The Man to working from home in my pajamas, and many days not working at all.

Want the advice?

I'll give you a hint.

from penny arcade

The advice is to give stuff away. First, look around your home, find some clutter you don't need, and take it to Goodwill. I do this every week.

Second, open a separate checking account for charitable donations - anything, including political causes, art projects, open source experiments, traditional charities, and homeless people on the street begging for change. (Give one of these guys a $20 some time, or buy them a huge meal at Taco Bell or whatever. Nothing else you can buy for the same money will have the same effect on your day.)

Keep this separate checking account stocked with some small percentage of your income and give it away on a regular basis. Then get on with whatever else you're doing to make money. Give it some time; it works.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Quick Note: Community Sites & Advice

I've ranted in great length before about the disadvantages of crowdsourcing your bullshit filter; this is just a footnote to that. In this thread from Hacker News, a programmer asks for advice on how to pay the rent without writing code, so he doesn't have to write code for other people, only for his own projects. I've achieved exactly that, but leave that aside for now. Take a look at the answers.

They are, as always in sites that follow this terrible model, sorted by upvotes, which is to say, sorted by explicit voting to determine popularity. There is no filter on the voting which requires that a voter test the advice before voting for or against it. There is likewise no filter on the contributing which requires that a contributor base their advice on experience of any kind.

The community-upvoting model of news sites encourages groupthink, and the effect on advice is especially bad. If you're looking for an answer to an unconventional challenge, you want your responses sorted not by community popularity, but by likelihood of success and appropriateness to your situation.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Rails Tutorial: Terrifying Aquatic Beasts

Recently I blogged about an Animal Planet feature which dares to voice the burning question which keeps us all awake at night, namely, "who would win in a fight, a hippo or a shark?" You may already know my answer - the hippo - and Animal Planet reached the same conclusion. Now hippos and sharks appear in the pages of a Rails tutorial. Coincidence? I think not. (Mainly because the guy who wrote the tutorial told me it wasn't.)

Friday, May 14, 2010

Facebook: Danah Boyd Nails It

I'm not usually a fan, but this rant about Facebook is dead-on:

The battle that is underway is not a battle over the future of privacy and publicity. It’s a battle over choice and informed consent.

By the way, in my acting classes, I meet tons of non-techies (duh), and many of them find Facebook's access to their data creepy or even terrifying.

Law Professors Up, VCs Down

My latest reason for staying off Twitter: demented conspiracy theories about the Diaspora guys being up to various tricks, being doomed to fail for unspecified reasons, and courting VCs on the sly. Meanwhile, in reality, they're spending their time talking to groups gathered by free software lawyer Eben Moglen.

Sometimes the best explanation is the one which makes the most sense.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Internet Marketing For Alpha Geeks: Re-Release, With Bonus Video

Update: this product is going off the market. Stay tuned for something bigger and badder!

I'm re-releasing my video Internet Marketing For Alpha Geeks. It costs $197; in addition to the original, hour-and-a-half long video, you also receive a two-hour bonus video. The bonus video includes a few minutes of recap, telling the story of marketing and selling Internet Marketing For Alpha Geeks itself, but I spend the majority of the two-hour video answering questions from the customers who bought during the first run.

Three and a half hours of how I do internet marketing and what I've learned about it so far.

Buy Now

By the way, if you don't like the video, I have a simple refund policy: No questions asked. Any reason works. I will literally give you a refund because you stubbed your toe or your cat farted. I do not care; if a customer asks for a refund, the customer gets the refund (with the caveat that it may not be instant, depending on my schedule). Your trust is worth way more to me than $197.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

New Video Sneak Peek

Coming soon...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Venture Capital Obsolete: More Anecdotal Evidence

Diaspora, a Kickstarter-funded startup centered on purpose rather than profit - its purpose being to replace Facebook with a free, open, distributed, and open-source solution which does not threaten democracy or privacy - got more than double its required pledges of funding with more than 20 days to go before its funding drive ends.

Burn, Palo Alto, burn!

Please donate to the project; Facebook is evil and deserves to die. We can kill it, and dance around the fire as we burn its corpse.

New Videos Coming

Tomorrow I'm hoping to release two videos - one new, the other a re-release. The re-release is Internet Marketing For Alpha Geeks; the new video is about resumés and shows you to create a great one. It may also include a worksheet guiding you through the process.

I may only keep the videos on sale for a brief time period; it appears to boost sales. It also has another useful benefit: I may be able to use it, for example, in the case of the resumés video, to sell individual consulting and resumé re-writing services. Not the most fascinating work in the world, but I can do it, I can do it well, it's good karma, and it'll tell me how I can make the video better, should I choose to re-release it later on.

I also noticed something interesting when I released my last video, which was that some people wanted to buy it just because they were fans of my blog and wanted to support what I was doing. That's awesome! I decided to create something for that, which is almost ready, and which I hope to blog here soon.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Robot Gamelan Orchestra @ CalArts

The Karmetik Machine Orchestra:

Appearing next Thursday at the Disney Modular Theater in Valencia.

Videos: Internet Marketing Returns, Plus Maybe Something More

Internet Marketing For Alpha Geeks should go on sale again soon, possibly again for a limited time only - I haven't decided - and there may also be another new product soon. Also, I think I'm going to raise the price on my programming careers video, so if you want that, the smart move is to buy it now.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Linux Touchscreen Guitar

by Misa Digital

Friday, May 7, 2010

Hacker News(paper) Was Essential This Morning

Often useless, today it was, for a brief shining moment, vital.

Excellent perspective on Facebook.

Making Millions With Open Source Hardware:

Donate To Gigantic Burning Man Fire-Spewing Collaborative Musical Instrument:

I donated $250. Donate here!

Also, if you're bored, here's a goth song about random objects in or near my home.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Free iPad Sleeve

I bought it for the little plastic stand, but now better stands are on the market, and the sleeve itself, I don't use. Simple black neoprene sleeve, continental US only (unless you want to Paypal me a few bucks for shipping). First come, first served, only one available, void where prohibited by law or hippo.

Update: taken!

Monday, May 3, 2010

RIP Lynn Redgrave

She was my distant, distant cousin. I admired her work and would have loved to have met her.

Apple Antitrust?

This could be excellent news. I've defended 3.3.1 in the past, but mainly because I think geeks talking about "voting with their wallets" is disgusting, outmoded Reagan-era bullshit. You vote with your vote.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Considering A San Francisco Visit

I might be up in the Bay Area mid-May-ish. I'm very much only ramen-profitable at the moment, so I'm in search of a sofa to crash on. (Actually, the same is true to a lesser extent for New York; if there's a sofa to crash on, I might be able to go to GoRuCo.) I'm allergic to cats. In San Francisco there's a very old-school DJ I want to hear. Need more info, just e-mail - I'm not using Twitter at the moment.

Update: got sofas in both places (thank you peeps!) but may not go. The conf I wanted to go to in New York, GoRuCo, is sold out; SF is more likely but I may not have time.