Monday, February 23, 2009

Milking the issues

This is a post about the Oscars, so if you don't care, then you can stop reading right now.

At the Oscars last night the movie "Milk" won for best screenplay and Sean Penn won for best actor.  Heath Ledger won for best supporting actor as the Joker in "Dark Night."  

Here's my issue: the academy doesn't want to recognize truly great work, they want to recognize what is popular.  I haven't seen "Milk" so I can't really judge whether the performance was that as good as they say.  However, it is my opinion that the win had a lot more to do with the subject matter of the movie than with the actual performance (I call this the "Brokeback effect").

Additionally, Heath Ledger had to win for playing the Joker.  Since he died there was no other option.  I genuinely think he did an amazing job in playing the Joker, but no one else had a chance of winning because they didn't die.  Now they can't be upset that they lost otherwise they will be jerks, and they can never know if their performance was the best or not (because they didn't die).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Skip it

Seth Grodin just blogged about skipping to the good parts:

You can watch "the good parts" of a baseball game in about six minutes. The web has become a giant highlights reel... the best parts of SNL, the best parts of a speech, the best parts of a book . . .
As consumers of information, though, I wonder if the best parts are really the best parts. Yes, you can read a summary of a book instead of a book, or watch the trailer instead of the movie, or read the executive summary of the consultant's report instead of the whole thing... but the parts you miss are there for a reason.

Real change is rarely caused by the good parts. Real change and impact and joy come from the foundation and the transitions and the little messages that sneak in when you least expect them. The highlights of the baseball game are highlights largely because the rest of the game got you ready for them.

I hear what he's saying, but I'm not sure I agree.  We have gotten really good at skimming for a reason.  There is just too much information out there for us to meaningfully interact with all of it.  How can we know what is the good stuff without skipping to the good parts?  

He uses SNL as an example, I've tried watching it recently and it sucks, a lot.  I just don't have the 1.5 hours a week to kill waiting for the potential of one or two good sketches (a season).

I feel the same way about many books and websites, I just can't spend the time to read every word.  Words are too cheap.  You're skimming this right now.

Seth is right, we do miss something when we don't absorb the experience.  There is less drama to a sporting event, less impact to a sermon, less transformation from a book.  But there is more.  I can deal with more information if I refine my skimming skills.  The trade is depth for breadth.

I think that there are times when our hyper-refinded skimming skills need to be put on the shelf.  Seth speaks an appropriate word of caution to those of us who may be skimming through our world at ever increasing speed.

Take a deep breath.

Slow down.

Pick something that is really good (because you skimmed it and you know) and dig deep.


Thursday, February 05, 2009

Don Miller thinks you are a fat loser if you use a Mac

Don Miller just blogged about Mac users.  Check out some experpts:

Apple, having been a minority share-holder in the market branded themselves as aloof outsiders, swimming upstream in a culture of conformists. But in all reality, those of us who have fallen for this campaign are the worst offenders. I would even argue the use of Apple products, to some degree, mark us as the most insecure about our identities.
Apple products are defended with near-religious zest. But in our zest are we defending a company or our own identites? Perhaps what we’ve been offered is a brand to associate ourselves with, a brand that triggers our survival instincts, revealing we don’t believe we have enough to survive without this association? Perhaps the use of Apple products reveals insecurity more than it reveals confidence. . .

If you think about it, the most confident of counter-culture heros aren’t talking on i-phones, wearing designer jeans or jumping in the air in their facebook photos (why are all the hipsters suddenly jumping in their facebook photos? Why didn’t anybody call me to say we were doing that?) but instead are the people most of us might not notice. The reason we don’t notice these people is because they offer us no beneficial association. They buy products because the products work, they buy jeans because they cover their asses, and coats because a certain coat will keep them warm. A true counter culture is not manipulated by the whims of fashion and therefore is not made up of fashionable people.

I recommend reading the entire post, but that short quote will probably be enough to get mac fanboys doing some drive-by comment-flaming.

On another note, I like the way Don organizes his blog so that the first sentence of each paragraph is in bold so one can quickly scan the post and get the jist of things.  Good job DM.