Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Another NBA season over

With Dallas finally getting the Miami monkey off its back, it's time to play "2010/2011 NBA Season Pros & Cons!"

Pro: Blake Griffin finally busts out and makes people wonder if LA is now a Clipper's town.
Con: The Clippers give up an unprotected draft pick to Cleveland which turns out to be number 1.

Pro: Rumours abound Iguodala may be traded for Kaman. Imagine that front court!
Con: It's the Clippers. Nuf said. What's the over/under on Blake running into Mo during the pre-season and busting both their knees for a year?

Pro: Kevin Love sets a record for double-doubles.
Con: And his team almost sets a record for suckiness.

Pro: New York becomes semi-relevant again! And this time it's not for a sex scandal or incompetent management!!
Con: Having to put up with a season worth of Melo-drama.

Pro: Gilbert becomes Agent Zero again!!
Con: Everything else about Arenas.

Pro: Nash to Gortat on the pick and roll!
Con: Vince Carter. Again, nuf said.

Pro: At some point or another all three of those players were on my Fantasy roster.
Con: At some point or another all three of those players were on my Fantasy roster.

Pro: Gerald Wallace, Western Conference first round game 4 vs Dallas - "When people ask me what did I do in the fourth quarter, I'll tell them I stood in the corner and watched The Brandon Roy Show."
Con: Brandon Roy after game 2: “I’m not going to lie: It’s hard. My pride is a little scarred. It’s difficult sitting on the bench.”

Pro: Leonard wins back-to-back fantasy titles!
Con: No con here. It's all good.

Pro: Simmons launches Grantland.
Con: Not sold yet. It's looking promising, but we'll see.

Pro: The Mavericks pull off a six game finals victory, making Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry's tattoo, Bill Simmons (who bet heavily on six games), every LeBron-hating sportswriter, the city of Dallas, the city of Cleveland, in fact anyone outside of Miami (and the people working on the Heat Index), extremely happy. The win caps off an incredible narrative that sells the game around the world, making the product more popular than it's been in years!
Con: In 16 days it all goes down the toilet unless someone does something incredible to stop a lockout.

Leave your other season pros and cons in the comments.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fromelles Fallen - An ABC News Special Presentation

I have to admit, before I started on this project I had no idea at all what a Fromelles was.

A village in France? OK, if you say so.

First combat seen by Australian forces on the Western Front in WWI? Makes sense I guess.

A complete cock up that saw the death and injury of over 5500 Aussie troops, at a time when Australia only had a population of 5 million? Oh, really? Hmm. That's not good.

So as this project went on, and the reporter, Tim Leslie, shared his obvious enthusiasm for the subject, it was hard not to become more and more intrigued by this story.

The end result is "Fromelles Fallen." A combination of video interviews, photo galleries, a timeline of the battle and extracts from the diaries of participants, this has been hard work, but a great experience.

Kudos to Tim Leslie, Ben Spraggon, Tim Madden and Jim Whimpey for their hard work, and to Aaron and Rudy Fedrick and Peter Dunstan who agreed to do interviews for us and fill us in on what it's like to have a relative who just disappeared during wartime.

I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My GenCon Oz schedule

What follows is what I've signed up to at this year's GenCon Oz.

As some of my friends and compatriots have mentioned, GenCon Oz is the type of event where you need a little flexibility in your schedule, so I probably haven't gone as tightly scheduled as I might otherwise. I've also not joined up for as many LARP events as I did last year, mainly due to the costuming and time required.

Don't worry Steve, I have signed up for yours (against my better judgement and sleep requirements).

A pity there weren't more Feng Shui sessions available, and minimal Shadowrun sessions available.

Anyway, if you want to join me in a game sign up quick! Early rego ends 31st August and sessions are filling up fast.

Game ID: RPG00028
System: Feng Shui
Event Duration (hours): 3.5
Event Start Date: 18-Sep-09 9:00 AM

Game ID: RPG00044
Title: RADIANCE: Lost Contact
System: Radiance
Event Duration (hours): 4
Event Start Date: 18-Sep-09 2:00 PM

Game ID: RPG00040
Title: Valley of Diamonds
System: D&D
Event Duration (hours): 3
Event Start Date: 19-Sep-09 1:00 PM

Game ID: LRP00005
Title: Warhammer: Sunset Claws
System: Systemless LARP
Event Duration (hours): 3
Event Start Date: 19-Sep-09 7:00 PM

Game ID: CCG00006
Title: Shadowfist - Final Brawl - QLD Championship
System: Shadowfist CCG
Event Duration (hours): 5
Event Start Date: 20-Sep-09 12:00 PM

Game ID: CCG00007
Title: Shadowfist - Who Wants Some? Dueling comp
System: Shadowfist CCG
Event Duration (hours): 1
Event Start Date: All conference long

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

They're calling it Chasergate now? - A conspiracy theory

A whole bunch has been said about The Chaser and "that sketch".

The show has been put on hiatus for two weeks, the show's creators have publicly apologised and a number of high ranking positions at the ABC are looking increasingly shaky. The Prime Minister even weighed in when he should have been discussing Fitzgibbon.

Without wishing to belittle the issue or fail to take the whole thing seriously, let's wander into the realm of "conspiracy" for a moment (tongues planted firmly in our cheek). Please note this is entirely speculative, and more than a little fanciful. I don't know the Chaser team and have no personal insight into what may or may not have occurred.

The Chaser came back on air Wednesday 27th, with rave reviews over its ratings, if not its content. Then Spicks and Specks beat it the following night.

So the next week comes along, with the previous week's ratings winner up against a little known sports juggernaut known as the State of Origin. Without doubt, even with the two program's viewer bases being pretty well separated, there was always going to be a huge drop in ratings. So the Chaser boys figured they needed a water cooler moment and they needed it now. Hence, the sketch that launched countless complaints, became banned from view on the ABC, but became well and truly available via YouTube (as evidenced above).

If there's one thing the Chaser lads have shown they're good at it's understanding emerging media and making use of platforms other than TV to augment their shows. With a likely ratings drop ahead, and a possible international syndication deal, what better way to keep all eyes on them than with a skit that pushes the boundaries just a little too far, something everyone would be talking about the next day?

The reaction was obviously huge, and possibly a little more than anticipated, but you have to admit it would definitely be considered virally successful.

I floated this idea around the office and found it met with not a small amount of derision and dismissal. "Conspiracy theorist!" they joked. "Next you'll be saying they're secretly working with Elvis." Yeah, fair cop I figured. I mean, the whole incident was enough to push the Chaser team to unreservedly apologise to the Make-A-Wish Foundation and for the ABC to pull the Chaser off-air for a fortnight, returning the 24th of June. Despite what can only be described as creating an air of anticipation to see what they come up with upon their return, it seemed like the kind of response you couldn't, or wouldn't, script regardless of the publicity.

Then I started thinking, "hang on, isn't there some other event on the 24th?"

Of course! State of Origin 2.

[See also "Mumbrella: Why the Chasergate furore is bout the future of the ABC"]

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How does Chk-Chk-Boom change News Video online?

Let's talk Clare.

By now anyone invloved with the media in Australia should be aware of Clare “chk chk BOOM” Werbeloff and the Nine News raw video that shot her meme to super Internet stardom. Here it is for those who missed it.


I've been following the whole thing for a while now, when a colleague alerted me to the video as "best vox-pop ever". Since then we've seen claims of conspiracy, a publicity stunt, a hoax , the birth of a Facebook Fan page, even merchandise highlighting Clare's inane comments.

Jen Dudley outlined her concerns in her blog (a little tongue-in-cheek I suspect) that it seemed we just couldn't trust what we saw on YouTube anymore, that every meme needed to be viewed through a far more cynical filter looking for the hoax angle.

Now, I love a good meme as much as anyone and I love watching how these things grow and mature. I also love how the internet provides the tools for a meme to not only thrive, but also allow the means for it to be fact-checked and verified almost as easily. But let's step away from the viral nature of this video, or the absurd celebrity status of Ms Werbeloff, and instead believe that this clip was a purposefully created news story, shot and edited by one of this nation's more credible news resources. If so, it highlights some serious shortcomings in the way broadcasters can make news video available online.

The thing that bothered me from the start was the quality of the vox pops. Quite apart from the less than eloquent Clare and her fanciful retelling of the events, the entire story is related to us through the drunken rantings of apparent onlookers who want to make sure we realise that, whatever actually happened, there was "no need for it, eh" and that the gun was "awesome"! We do get a 10 second slab at the end of the clip showing police grappling someone on the road, as if to prove the validity of everything we've just been subjected to for the last minute and a half.

But where's the police statement? Where's the legitimate witness? Where's the obligatory police officer standing there spouting cop language to verify what happened? ("This evening at approximately 2am a male person of middle eastern appearance was allegedly shot by a second male person...) It beggars belief that a news organisation with the history and reputation of Channel 9 could have dropped the ball so badly on this one.

TV News is, by nature, pretty formulaic and any camera operator with some experience will know they're shooting for the nightly news. That means meeting certain expectations on what content is required to create a standard TV news story. To believe there was no official and credible evidence available to verify the story is a little concerning (What's more concerning is the notion this clip may have been made more "internet friendly" by removing its news credibility and turning it into entertainment instead).

Now, TV newsrooms have lived for years using an overnight skeleton crew of single operator camera guys and girls, either staff or stringers, just shooting footage of events while the rest of us sleep. They know there's plenty of time to get the facts together before the footage is finally seen by the public in an update or bulletin the next day. And that workflow is still valid in the environment we have in Australia where broadcast newsrooms are still cautious about "scooping" themselves, letting the footage out before the big money maker at 5/6/7pm. But if you're going to engage with the net enough to warrant a specific "9 Raw" watermark you have to think some thought has been put into this venture. If so, should we see newsrooms putting journalists on graveyard shifts to add editorial verification before this sort of content is put online? Or, and here's a crazy idea, should camera operators and editors be properly trained in editorial guidelines, just the same as journalists, so they can make informed editorial decisions on the run rather than expect they'll pick it up as they go? Camera operators are already having to ask questions in press conferences where a newsroom is unable to get a journo out in time, so why not train them properly?

Of course (stepping down from my high horse and getting back into my cynical suit), despite Occam's Razor it's difficult not to believe the whole thing was specifically created by someone to be what it is; tasteless, vulgar, and as entertaining as a car crash.

I'd love to hear your thoughts.

[Edit - NineMSN's blog response to the hoax rumours]

Friday, August 08, 2008

12 Things I Love About Dr Horrible's Singalong Blog

1) The ending.

2) Remembering how good Joss Whedon is at writing tragicomic musicals.

3) Being so long from the Whedon narrative loop that I totally didn't see the twist in the final act. I should have, I really should have, but I didn't until it was too late.

4) At which point I gasped, watched through to the end, then went "[Sigh] Yeah!"

5) Neil Patrick Harris. We knew how good a comic actor he was from "How I met Your Mother", but this just takes it to a whole new level.

6) Nathan Fillion. Nice to see him play a jerk. Well, I mean a different type of jerk. The "no redeeming features" kind.

7) The guy in the pink superhero spandex, sitting on the bed, wearing pink boxing gloves.

8) Did I mention the end?

9) The fact that it began out of the Hollywood writer's strike as an opportunity to prove that the major media companies were becoming irrelevant. If anyone has a reason to tell the networks to go stuff themselves it's Whedon.

10) The fact that Felicia Day was doing her own web series about World of Warcraft. And it rocks. And that she walked up to Joss with her card and said "watch it". And particularly that he replied "I already do. And it's great. And I'm thinking fo doing something for the internet."

11) Moist. Man, that sucks as a super-villain power.

12) And what about that ending!

Sing along at home.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Real Social | Rushkoff Blog

I have a tendency to automatically expect that I don't understand things. It seems to be my default position that other people really understand the underlying value of what's coming down the road at us, while I'm just picking up the pieces.

For instance, two Christmases ago my lovely wife gave me a copy of Douglas Rushkoff's "Get Back in the Box", a great book about the real value of being innovative around a business' core competencies, rather than just spending time trying to find ways to convince your market.

So I started to read Rushkoff's latest blog post. In the first sentence he invokes "Back in the Box" and my first reaction was "Oh God, I obviously didn't understand what he was saying. Not really, not thoroughly, not deep down."

"Instead of just buying banner ads or conducting new forms of computerized market research, many of these players are coming to understand that the Internet is a social phenomenon - not a content revolution - and that it offers the opportunity to connect to a real culture and its most competent members in a real way."

"Oh God," thinks I, "why is my initial reaction to that sentence 'what is the opportunity?' rather than 'well it's obvious what the answer is.' "

But then I read further and things started to make more sense. I thought about the kind of interaction and engagement Rushkoff has advocated for years; real, thorough engagement that isn't just a shop front for commodities, and I found myself falling into the article.

"Going “social” online means more than hiring a company to create a ‘white label’ version of Facebook for your organization to chat with customers, employees, shareholders, and others. It means understanding the real value of creating a “transparent” company; it means understanding why sharing and collaborating beat hiding and competing; it means learning to work with unfamiliar measures of success - like how many new unsolicited resumes from people looking to join you come over the transom, instead of just how many “unnecessary” jobs could be cut."

In the end the post turns out to basically be an announcement that he intends to start "practicing what he preaches" by joining a friend of his in a start up company advising businesses how to succeed in social media. The rest of the post however is a nice wake up call that reminds us that we're perhaps not as open as we like to think we are, or should be. It's also a nice reminder that I'm not as dim as I can sometimes think I am.