STOP, Or I’ll Tweet You to the Police!

August 31, 2009 at 11:49 pm (Florida, News, social media, South Florida, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

tweet-policeWe’ve heard of people posting updates to social media sites that have cost them their jobs and relationships, but how about their freedom? The City of Boca Raton, Florida has started using Twitter as a crime fighting and public information tool. Who knew that the little blue bird from twitter would replace McGruff the Crime Dog?

It’s refreshing to see that local police are adapting to the new frontiers of social media. Sure cybercrime units are nothing new, hey there are even some movies featuring cybercrime now, but to use social media as a communications link between the top brass of crime prevention and the community is fairly new. Boca Police Chief Dan Alexander gets it. His blog, The Chiefs Corner, outlines why he chose to create a blog:

“Through this blog, I think we have an opportunity to provide another, perhaps more personal angle to the issues we face and the work that we do. We have turned on blog comments, but we will screen any messages in order to avoid the obscene, offensive and otherwise inappropriate. I hope you enjoy this blog and look forward to hearing from you.”

He later discusses that the department’s use of social media is to be “not interested in technology for technology’s sake.” We have eliminated those [social networking sites] that don’t reach our target audiences and will try to avoid merely being fashionable when it comes to new programs in the future.”

So you may be asking “what real world application does all this web based Tom Foolery have for a serious police department?” Well, he can tweet things like: “If you work in a bank, please call when this guy walks in. Please make patrons remove hats and glasses.” with a link to a surveillance picture of the bank robber. Or a link to information about a recent hit and run involving an officer. This way the public can assist in the community policing effort and information can get released in real-time instead of hearing about it on the news after the fact.

I say well done to Chief Alexander! You can follow him @bocachief and the police department @BocaPolice.

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District 9 – No Non-Humans Allowed

August 30, 2009 at 11:52 pm (movies, News, Uncategorized) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

District 9 is a movie that unexpectedly brings together some of the best features of several movie genres. The premise of the movie is that 20+ years ago an alien spacecraft came to rest just above Johannesburg, South Africa. “It hovers above the city for three months without any contact; eventually humans take the initiative and cut into the ship. They discover a large group of aliens who are malnourished and sick.” Eventually these aliens, nicknamed “prawns” by the local human population, are forced to reside in a government controlled area-cum-slum named District 9. Multi-National United, a private company, takes control of the operation when it is decided to move the prawns to a new area, named District 10, 240 Km from Johannesburg.

The film is shot in a documentary style employing several camera techniques including: helicopter views, security cameras, first-person-shooter, and, of course, extensive shoulder mounted camera work. The image movement is kept well under control through most scenes, so there is no Blair Witch type of motion sickness. The only lock-off/tripod shots are those of interviews shown at the beginning and ending of the movie.

Like vintage sci-fi films, the audience forms an emotional connection with the monster, or aliens in this case. Sharlto Copley, who played the protagonist – Wikus Van De Merwe, actually adlibbed all his lines, a feat that may not have been done since Robert Altman’s 1970 movie, MASH (it won an Oscar for Best Writing – the script was barely used), which probably added to the uneasiness and awkward fluidity of Copley’s performance, and helped sell the documentary feel of the film. The CG of the aliens was done very nicely, but the alien mechanized battle suit reminded me too much of the ED-209 from Robocop.

Overall, I think the movie was very well done. The majority of the actors are either unknown, or have worked mostly in television instead of film. The camera positioning and technique helped to define the movie as a sci-fi mockumentary, and the storyline is laid out better than most action films. I can’t wait to get the DVD release and watch the special features.

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Disney Exhibit Moves the Norton to the Music

August 29, 2009 at 11:46 pm (advertising, Art, Art Event, Education, Florida, Gallery Opening, News, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Disney-Music

Disney: The Music Behind the Magic 1928-Today, an exhibit held at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida, “explores the integral role that music has played in every facet of Disney’s success, from animation and film to TV, radio and Broadway, as well as the record label’s key songs, composers and performers, and their impact on popular music and culture.”

The exhibit starts with the earliest musical works from Disney including the “birth” of Mickey Mouse with his debut in Steamboat Willie on November 18, 1928 and covers the 80 years since then. Through the exhibit you will see (as described by the Experience Music Project in Seattle, Washington):

More than 65 rare artifacts, including animation storyboards, musical charts, rare recordings, sound effects equipment, Mickey Mouse Club outfits, and costumes from theatrical productions such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King.

Five interpretive films, all of which are being made specifically for the exhibition and feature Disney artists and experts with excerpts of Disney films to illustrate key points:

  • The first film explores Disney’s innovative musical storytelling in its early animations, from Steamboat Willie to Bambi.
  • The second film examines the critical role of music in Disney’s animation renaissance in the late 1980s, starting with The Little Mermaid; it features filmed interviews with composers Alan Menken and Phil Collins, film critic Leonard Maltin, and other Disney historians.
  • The third film looks at the music and making of Mary Poppins, the pinnacle of Disney’s live-action musicals. It includes interviews with the film’s composer, Richard Sherman, as well as other Disney artists and experts.
  • The fourth film considers Disney’s musical legacy, exploring its influence and impact on popular music and culture
  • The fifth film is a 15-20-minute overview of Disney music shown in our theater and introducing visitors to the exhibit themes and narrative.

Four exciting interactives designed to create hands-on experience for visitors of all ages:

  • Name-That-Disney-Tune is a game show in which four contestants or teams test their knowledge of Disney melodies, lyrics, composers and performers.
  • Sound Effects Challenge has four visitors work as a team and use Foley equipment to create and record the sound effects for one or two Disney cartoons, then watch the results to judge their future as sound effects experts.
  • Remix Disney Hits is a chance for visitors to remix hit songs by Walt Disney Records artists and then compare their mix to the original release.

Wonder Mine did a great job in designing this traveling exhibit. It was laid out nicely, created some good background visuals for the experience, and was very informative –  Did you know that in 1937 doctors warned parents that watching the color cartoon Snow White would damage their kids eyes permanently? If you want to experience this exhibit, hurry, it closes at the Norton on September 6th.

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Home Brewed Dialect

August 26, 2009 at 11:55 pm (Art, Art Event, Design, Design Events, Florida, Fort Lauderdale, free, Gallery Opening, networking, News, social event, Social Events & Networking, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Dialect

Dialect – a monthly art and music event at Brew Urban Café in the Himmarshee area of Downtown Ft. Lauderdale – was alive tonight with music, beverages …and spray paint. Live music was provided by the DJs of Twilight Notes, drinks were being crafted and poured at the café, and down the street artists were decorating the walls of the soon-to-be-open 18 Rabbit Gallery. If you have never had the opportunity to watch a group of artists transform a drab wall of CMU and boring paint into a masterpiece of color and inspiration, then you should jump at the next opportunity. A good reference is the international graffiti documentary Bomb It by Jon Reiss, but there is no substitute for watching these artists at work – truly amazing! The event, also sponsored by Enticement Design, continued through the night with an after party at The Brick. I can’t wait to see more of these events – Please, liven the Ft. Lauderdale scene with some more of the Miami Graf!

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Pizza, Pizza, Pizza Party!

August 25, 2009 at 11:50 pm (Florida, free, Miami, networking, social event, Social Events & Networking, social media, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Pizza-TweetupThis evening was the Pizza Tweetup held at Pizza Volante in the Miami Design District – a special thanks to @Lapp and worstpizza.com for organizing the event. The restaurant offered an intimate space inside, and sidewalk dinning outside allowing for conversation with many groups of people. I always enjoy a good face-to-face discussion with people every once in awhile. Tonight was no different; some of those I carried on conversations with were: @Ines, @jarret23, @jeffreycohen, @valpass, @IamNezer, @alexdc, @johnnybond86, and of course @Lapp. The food was delicious, the company was good, and the bar was serving, so it was great night.

Check back on PizzaTweetup.com for the next event. Unfortunately I won’t be able to make tomorrow night’s RefreshMiami, but there are plenty of upcoming events for the South Florida social media community like Nuvo Tweetini, Herald Tweetup, a hands-on social media training workshop, and rumors of a Beerup (unconfirmed).

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Where’s Waldo Meets the Real World

August 23, 2009 at 11:20 pm (advertising, marketing, News, social media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

vanish_waldo

We’ve all heard about people going off the grid, or disappearing for a while. People do it all the time for reasons as varied as witness protection or to just getting away from it all, but what about for a contest? That’s right, in a Where’s Waldo type of hide-and-seek game Evan Ratliff, a writer for Wired Magazine, has gone on the lam. Best of all, if you find this elusive writer, and capture an image of him, you could win $5,000 and an interview in the magazine.

In this era of connectivity it’s harder than ever to truly disappear. In the past, separating yourself by a few thousand miles and grabbing a new name along the way was all it took, but today we are hard pressed not to be connected into the virtual social fabric that weaves around us. Investigators can search your social media pages and find your friends, location, and even personal information, like your bank account records and frequent flyer miles.

To aid in the hunt for Evan he has given the world a glimpse into his life – a much more intimate glance than most would allow. The magazine has put out his name, age, medical conditions, likes, and dislikes. He has even allowed Wired Magazine full access to his debit card for tracking – if he actually uses it over the next month. During his time on the run he will be staying connected through social media, to a degree, and will be monitoring the information about his whereabouts.

This contest is genius on the part of both the magazine and the author. They have created a real-world, multi-user experience that crosses geographic and media boundaries. Anyone can play, choose their level of involvement, and there is no guaranteed winner – it’s all up to the players. And did I mention the publicity? So far AOL has picked it up, and it’s moving through social media communities with blogs and twitter posts covering the action.

Wired Magazine may be onto a new version of sleuth game. Geographic hide-and-seek. The concept could involve cross-platform collaboration between social media sites and utilize new technologies and competitions like geo-caching and Microsoft Tags to enable players clues, maybe even live action role-playing 2.0. We’ll have to see how many news outlets actually pick up the story, but regardless, what better way to involve your target audience than bringing them into this game?

To keep tabs on the competition you can check out twitter with the hashtag #vanish or Wired’s website.

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Inglourious Basterds – “Killin’ Naazis” at the Box Office

August 22, 2009 at 2:28 am (movies) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Inglourious Basterds has to be one of Quentin Tarantino’s best films. Contrary to Tarantino’s trademark style this movie runs chronologically, allowing for less concentration on the part of the viewer. Overall it seems that he has matured in his film making and brought together a beautiful piece of cinema. Not to say I haven’t enjoyed most of his films, Kill Bill aside, but this one was much stronger and did not need the time travel that was necessary in his past films to show every conceivable perspective through each character’s eyes.

The true star of the movie was not the well-known cast members like Brad Pitt, Mike Myers – who has a guest appearance, or BJ Novak – of The Office fame, but rather Colonel Hans Landa played by Christoph Waltz. Waltz, who currently lives in London and is fluent in German, English and French, displayed a fantastic performance. In many scenes he had a John Malkovich like delivery, but his range throughout the movie is very impressive.

Over the course of the movie Tarantino’s twisted sense of humor is shown quite often in the fashion we have come to expect from his work on films like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. He also pays homage to past movies like his insertion of a brief clip from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1936 movie Sabotage, among other works.

The movie was well written, shot, edited, and the cast was perfectly chosen. I believe it is the strongest film Tarantino has put out to date – don’t just take my word for it, German film critics are even praising it. If you have the chance to see it, do.

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How Does Social Media Affect You?

August 20, 2009 at 10:27 pm (advertising, Branding, economy, marketing, networking, social media) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , )

What is social media, how do people use it, why do they use it, and how does that effect you as a designer, advertiser, marketer, etc? Watch and learn:

Thanks @saribrooke for the link!

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Unmasking the Avatars – Tweetup @ Brio Tuscan Grille

August 19, 2009 at 11:47 am (Florida, Fort Lauderdale, free, networking, social event, Social Events & Networking, social media, South Florida) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

brio-tweetup

Last night I attended my first tweetup. It was sponsored by the Sun-Sentinel and hosted at Brio Tuscan Grille at the Shops at Pembroke Gardens. Brio had some really good food and drink specials for the group. The food was good, the conversations were engaging, and there were a lot of prizes raffled off. I spent some time talking with @pokengirl about the benefits of using pokens – little characters that “high-four” to transfer contact information instead of everyone having to write each other’s name and information down, the data is then transferred to a privately accessible rolodex-esque database. I had some good conversations with @Murrayiz, @ctiedje, @pbabanes, and @rsm4lsu about everything from work related topics to the use and direction of where social media (twitter, facebook, linkedin, etc) are headed.

It was nice to meet the people behind the twitter avatars last night. I hope to see everyone again, and maybe some new faces, at the PizzaTweetup at Pizza Volante on August 25.

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AARP Joins the Fight with Canes a Swing’n

August 18, 2009 at 2:21 pm (advertising, commercials, economy, marketing, News, print media, TV advertising) (, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , )

Amidst the debate of national healthcare reform, one television commercial really stands out. Regardless of your opinions on this controversial topic, this commercial has the perfect metaphor for AARP’s message; an ambulance running lights and sirens, getting cut-off at every turn – brilliant. I didn’t even listen to the words the first few times I saw the commercial, I watched the imagery and instantly got it. Maybe I connect with the spot because of my brief stint as a state certified Emergency Medical Technician and 8 years as a part-time health and safety educator, or maybe the symbolism is just that strong. Either way I though it was well done.

In the past few days this commercial has stirred more controversy than most advertisements ever will, here’s some comments:

From AARP.org on August 17th & 18th:
“My first impression was laughter.  I thought all of those cars were rich ambulance-chasing trial lawyers fighting to get a new client.”

“The AARP commercial looks pretty good – it takes on the myths and facts.  Take a look.

I love the comments about the use of American cars in the commercial (some people reallllllly have too much time on their hands to look for conspiracy theories.  They’re probably disappointed that black helicopters aren’t featured as well.)”

“WE WERE MASSIVELY OFFENDED by the commercial we saw tonight showing an ambulance being cut off by expensive cars at every turn. SHAME ON AARP for thinking that we are so gullible as to be influenced by such obvious tripe.”

I didn’t know the Dodge Caliber, the car most visible throughout the commercial, was considered an “expensive car”, but okay.

From YouTube on August 17th:

“This video is awsome it really shows how good the government has got at sponsoring propaganda!! 2 thumbs up!!”

“I hope AARP paid enough to make this commercial because I definitely think less of them after having seen it.”

Pretty strong opinions for a commercial sponsored by a non-governmental organization (and interest group). Whatever your feelings about the healthcare reform bill are, you have to admit that this is a strong commercial with unmistakable symbolism – people getting in the way of healthcare.

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