February 2016 Archives

I see movies. Most of them movies that Americans are completely unaware of, or skip.

I'm going to try something new for 2016 in this blog. I'll update the list of movies I've seen, but present them in order from least-best to best in 2016. So each time I post a new blog post with this list, it'll be revised.

Here we go. I've seen a dozen movies so far this year. Remember, my opinion only, from least-best (#12) to best (#1).

12. THE WITCH. Acting fine, costumes fine, production fine, photography fine (I think; theatre I saw it in must've lazily left projector in 1/2-brightness mode after showing a 3D movie; it was severely dark and hard to see throughout), story fine, reviews were generally excellent, but... meh. Just didn't buy into it. Too much madness in the current world, don't need to see what irrational raving totally-lost-it madness was like in 1630.

11. 2016 OSCAR NOMINATED ANIMATED SHORTS. I've seen numerous of these anthologies over the years, and this one was pretty forgettable compared to most, which is surprising and disappointing. Worst one: Bill Plympton's piece.

10. CHI-RAQ. I get it, but, ugh. But, I did go see it.

9. THE TREASURE. A very simple modest little film, not bad, ending disappointed. Would drive most American audiences crazy. I dare you to sit through it.

8. BROOKLYN Another 1952-era setting, like CAROL which was a better film. This was fine EXCEPT the last half hour, when the protagonist started doing things that made absolutely no sense and ruined the whole thing for me.

7. HAIL, CAESAR! Perfectly fine film, well-made, well-acted, sometimes funny. Kind of like RAY DONOVAN meets HUDSUCKER PROXY. But still... meh. Instantly forgettable entertainment.

6. FLOWERS (aka LOREAK). Took me half the movie to figure out the language was Basque and that the area was northern Spain. Interesting plot. Not too bad.

5. HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT. If you're a film person, this is a pretty great documentary. Learned lots. Then, went and Netflix-rented the 50s version of Hitch's THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH and hated it, it was disgustingly dated. So, go figure.

4. JOY. Liked it a great deal. Could relate a lot to the entrepreneurial mission and challenges. Also learned lots about how QVC worked.

3. WHERE TO INVADE NEXT. Michael Moore's new thing. Not superb, he's a sore for sight eyes, but at times funny, illuminating, lots to learn, lots to think about. Go see it. Discuss afterwards.

2. THE BIG SHORT. Loved it. Went to see it twice. Can't recommend it enough.

1. REQUIEM FOR THE AMERICAN DREAM. Best thing I have seen in 2016 so far. If only every single American would see it, think about it, discuss it, we might wake up and realize what's going on (particularly with the fiasco that is the 2016 presidential election and the corporate media coverage of it).

There's been a lot of news in the past week about Twitter planning to introduce "algorithm enhancements" to Twitter feeds, and how users are furious over this, complaining it's one more example of Twitter trying to be like Facebook. It's Twitter management's ongoing struggle to ruin what makes Twitter unique and special in order to no doubt appease Twitter shareholders and advertisers by making the service behave more like Facebook, in the process hopefully boosting Twitter's revenue and market value.

This reminds me of this great Louis CK moment on the Conan O'Brien show:

Dear Twitter management: your company has created a magnificent tool for the people of the WORLD. There are HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS of people (okay, subtract all the bots, but still) who use and enjoy your service, and find out all kinds of things in near real time, almost always beating out TV and news media. Also, it's a great way to follow the thoughts and observations of people whose thoughts and observations you find interesting. Here we are in 2016 and this amazing service exists and ALL THESE MILLIONS OF PEOPLE use it ALL OVER THE WORLD, it is truly a marvel of TECHNOLOGY, as Louis CK has argued with airplanes, which, after all, enable you to SIT IN A CHAIR IN THE SKY.

So why is it, Twitter, that you have to fuck that up? Why ruin it? Twitter users love Twitter largely because IT. IS. NOT. FACEBOOK. It is different. It is special. It is a completely different thing. And yet you seem determined to ruin that which makes it special. Why? Because your board is pressuring you to? Your institutional investors? Your big billionaire investors, looking for a return on their pre-IPO investment?

How many of these bigshot investors use the system every day? How many of them appreciate how GREAT the service is, as-is? The more you tweak it, the more you try to make it like that other thing, the less value it is. Why do that? Would it be so wrong to just say enough is enough, and appreciate that even one percent growth a year is wonderful? What is wrong with three hundred million users? It is a PHENOMENON! A miracle of technology. You should be so incredibly proud. Why ruin that? Why cave to this absurd pressure to double that size, or triple, or more? Who cares?

It's a times like these I wish Twitter had never gone public, and had kept its staff small. Find modest ways to monetize the business, sure, no harm in that. What's wrong with say ONE BILLION DOLLARS A YEAR in revenue? Does it have to be two? Ten? One hundred? Couldn't you just keep the employee count to a few hundred people, and operate it indefinitely at a reasonable burn rate? Why does it need 3000 employees?

I'd love to see Twitter's management wake up and get a clue about what's important and unique about the service, and stop trying to change it. Your users don't want it changed. Or, change it in meaningful ways that benefit users. It boggles my mind that Twitter has such little vision and imagination and is incapable of striking the right balance between innovation, monetization, and maintaining a happy user community.



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The Friendly Orange Glow: The Story of the PLATO System and the Dawn of Cyberculture, by Brian Dear
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