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Dan Phiffer Dan Phiffer builds websites, makes art, and teaches in NYC

The cultural heritage of the music video

I posted earlier about OK Go’s fantastic Rube Goldberg music video. I had assumed that because that video is embeddable the band had made inroads in convincing EMI to reverse their prohibition on video embeds. It turns out that OK Go decided to drop their label and form their own. From Fast Company:

OK Go rocketed up through the indie rock world in large measure due to the band’s brilliant, lo-fi music videos, which have spread like wildfire on YouTube. But EMI, in a misguided attempt to wring every penny out of the band’s success, decided to block embedding on the YouTube videos — meaning the videos were unable to disseminate out through music and pop culture blogs, news sites, and personal blogs the way they did before the restriction. And that’s not a minor detail: the band saw a 90% drop in views when that restriction went into effect. As in, 100,000 views one day, 10,000 views the next.

It’s obvious what the bands have at stake in this situation: more people watching their music videos translate into more exposure. Which means more income for the band. One would assume that what’s good for the band is also good for the record labels. Why would they undermine their own success?

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George Lois’s Esquire coversnymag.com

George Lois on the first cover he art directed for Esquire:

Hayes mentioned that we were going to have a spread of Floyd Patterson, the boxing champion of the world, and Sonny Liston, the challenger, and Patterson was an 8–1 favorite. I knew right away what I was going to do, because I knew that Liston was going to kill him. So I called the photographer, and I said, “We’re going to get a guy with the same body as Patterson, we’re going to lay him flat on the ring, and we’re going to show him killed, knocked out by Liston. Leave him for dead.” I wanted to show a metaphor for boxing — if you’re a loser, you’re left for dead, which is also a metaphor for life. So we get the shot and I sent it to Hayes.

“George, I never saw a cover like this in my life! You’re calling the fight — suppose you’re wrong? Everybody says you’re wrong.” I told him we had a 50/50 chance of it working, but if it does, it shows we have balls. It hit the newsstand a week before the fight, and it was roundly laughed at in the sports crowd. But a week later, of course Liston kills Patterson, just like I thought. And Esquire got tons of publicity and the best sales since the start of the magazine. And Harold said to me, “You gotta keep doing my covers.”

He went on to create 92 iconic covers during the 1960s that were exhibited at MoMA and added to the permanent collection. Unfortunately only five of the covers have their image rights cleared to display online. Not many people realize that even if a work is “owned” by the museum, having the right to display it online is another matter. This is an issue the Brooklyn Museum has addressed nicely on their blog. This is why photography is usually not allowed in museums, except within the older permanent collections.

Link via Jason Kottke

Haliburton patents frivolous patenting?appft1.uspto.gov

Filed in 2007, Patent Acquisition and Assertion by a (Non-Inventor) First Party Against a Second Party:

Methods for a first party to acquire and assert a patent property against a second party are disclosed. The methods include obtaining an equity interest in the patent property. The methods further include writing a claim within the scope of the patent property. The claim is written to cover a product of the second party where the product includes a secret aspect. The methods further include filing the claim with a patent office.

Alas, my prior art has been one-upped by a comically evil corporation.

Link via Doron

OK Go’s This Too Shall Passwww.youtube.com

After watching this (unsurprisingly) spectacular OK Go video I was struggling to remember the name of a similar contrivance in Vik Muniz’s Rebus exhibition. I found it, along with lots of helpful commentary over at Chris Devers’s blog.

A few things that struck me:

  • This is not your typical Rube Goldberg machine — it’s messy, destructive and the band members stand in as “props that can reposition themselves” (as Chris nicely puts it).
  • The open letter seems to have worked. Even recording industry lawyers are apparently powerless to this kind of strategic bad publicity.
  • On the other hand, the last few seconds of this video indicate some kind of compromise on the part of the band. It pushes this music video into the direction of “novelty viral advertising.”

All that said, I’m happy this exists. I’m also happy the marching band version exists and glad the video embedding issue has been set aside for now.

Link

The Mac startup sound and Sosumivimeo.com

A great interview with the former head sound guy at Apple. The intro is in Dutch but the interview itself continues in English.

A gentleman in the comments with a NSFW user icon offers this bit of HTML geekery:

If you look at the Apple’s website source code, the element containing their copyright notice it’s actually called “sosumi”

Link via John Gruber