December 29, 2005

Google Base Advertising on Eventful?

Why, it almost seems . . . evil. We serve Google AdSense ads on Eventful, and just this week I've started noticing Google Base ads appearing in the AdSense spaces on our site that say, "List Events on Google" and "Post or search for all types of events. Try Google Base - Free."

Here's a screen grab:

UPDATE 12/29/05
Hey, Google's running the same ads on Zvents too.

Posted by brian at 05:20 PM | Comments (0)

Earphones and Hearing Loss

Pete Townshend blogs about his hearing loss brought on not by loud live concerts, but by earphones in recording studios.

In a studio there are often accidental buzzes, shrieks and poor connections that cause temporary high level sounds. Playing drums with earphones on is probably a form of insanity I think, all those gunshots, so much louder than a real gunshot, but how else can a drummer hear the other musicians? When I work solo now I often avoid using a drummer, simply to keep the overall sound levels lower. Also, one might have to work for several hours to perfect a studio performance. As the work progresses, the ears shut down and one needs a higher volume. If you stop to rest your ears (and you need to do so for at least 36 hours to do any good) you lose the current performance. It is a tough call.

I have unwittingly helped to invent and refine a type of music that makes its principal proponents deaf. It takes time, but it happens. This is, I suppose, no worse than being a sports person or dancer who knows they have a limited working span, and their body will suffer. The rewards are great - money, fame, adulation and a real sense of self-worth and achievement. But music is a calling for life. You can write it when you're deaf, but you can't hear it or perform it.

It's an interesting post. Makes me recall the times I've had my headphones on recording something, and I press the wrong button on the mixing console, and ZZZAAAAPPP KAPOWWWW an intensely loud buzz hits the headphones -- so loud, so beyond comprehension, and so sudden, that you don't know what's happening, and for a moment it almost feels like your eyes are rolling up and you're being zapped by a gazillion volts of electricity. It's scary. It's one of the reasons I didn't like my Mackie mixer -- it would occasionally do this horrific sound in the headphones. I'm sure it was some cabling error on my part, but still. No matter what preventive measures I tried, it would happen every few months.

I wonder how much hearing damage is going on what with all the new iPod owners out there.... Particularly young children and teenagers, with earphones in their ears every day, every night, all the time. A nation of deaf middle-aged folks in the making?

UPDATE 12/29/05
Well, well, well. Associated Press reads my blog, or, great minds think alike: check out this AP wire story on iPods and hearing loss. It's been Slashdotted even.

Oh wait . . . just now reading the comments . . . I guess the Slashdot happened yesterday. Didn't know, honest!

Posted by brian at 09:29 AM | Comments (2)

December 24, 2005

Essentials

Been reading a lot of Bob Lefsetz lately. Whether it's his scathing music reviews, condemnations of the record industry, or recollections of the golden age of music (to him, 1964-1974), he cracks me up.

Here he is from a podcast (MP3 link) from a few months ago:

I hadn't eaten any lunch and i got to Burbank and I was just looking for a McDonald's, quarter pounder, something to keep me goin', and I pulled into Quizno's. Now, back in the day, which may be like six years ago, you only saw Quizno's in airports, where you could sort of tolerate what was goin' on there. But now, Quizno's are everywhere . . . .

. . . . but I got this sub, you know, they have like two thousand ingredients in this toasted sub, and by the time you finally eat it, it's incredibly bland. And that's what's wrong with a lot of music today. Even if it's in your face, it's bland, it doesn't have character.

Lefsetz nails it again and again how so much of what passes for today's music lacks any authenticity, real passion, real meaning. It's all substance. And so again and again he points out examples of music that he feels does possess authenticigty, passion, and meaning. Stuff from what he would probably consider his "essential" collection.

Speaking of which . . . this blog post was supposed to be about essentials. Works by artists that, well, if this was all you saw, it would be all you need to see, or if this is all you read, it was all you needed to read, or if this is all you heard, it was all you needed to hear -- before having to see or read or hear everything else the artist has ever done, but perhaps not bested.

One artistic work that comes to mind instantly as an absolute essential for me is "Life Lessons", a short film by Marty Scorsese. It's the first film in a three-part movie called New York Stories. Best of the three, although Woody Allen's film is pretty funny.

But "Life Lessons" is, for me, one of the best films ever made, and, since it's a Scorsese movie, it's got some of the best music -- music I bet Lefsetz would agree is part of the essential stuff. Two absolutely stunning sequences in the film -- both show a tortured painter at work on a huge canvas in his New York loft studio. In the first sequence, we hear Procol Harum's "Whiter Shade of Pale" -- the song is so perfect for the film you'd think it was written for it. And then later, Scorsese tops it by playing a live version of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone" that blows me away everytime I hear it.

Sure, Scorsese did Taxi Driver, and Goodfellas and Casino and a bunch more, but for me, he has never topped Life Lessons. All that needed to be said was said better than all the menacing violence of his other films combined could ever say. If and when I paint a canvas, it's going to be in the Lionel Dobie style. And I'll have A Whiter Shade of Pale blaring from the speakers, the hell with what the neighbors think.

While we're on the topic . . . . why is there no Criterion Collection extra-widescreen super remastered DVD with 5:1 audio? Why is the only DVD available a 1.33:1 fullscreen TV version? What's holding up something decent? C'mon Disney. Get with the program and get a widescreen DVD out into the market.

Posted by brian at 10:25 AM | Comments (0)

December 23, 2005

MashupCamp

Amen, amen, amen:

Under the questionable rubric of "Web 2.0" (see my treatise on the uncomputer), there have been a lot of events that, if you ask me, run incredibly counter to this new culture of open API provision and mashup development. They involve technology executives talking to large audiences in a traditional, highly commercialized conference format and they don't involve the sort of quality face time between the people doing the real work; the ones who are already driving this wave of innovation the mashup artists and the API architects themselves. Sure, the content at these conferences (some of which are strangely invitation-only) is interesting.

Read the whole thing here. David Berlind is proposing Mashup Camp, which I think is a fantastic idea. I hope it's a Hackathon for Mashups.

Posted by brian at 03:41 PM | Comments (0)

December 14, 2005

The eBay Heartbeat


Click to see a slightly more readable chart<

Every year, right on schedule, eBay's auction activity drops precipitously -- right before Christmas. And then right after Christmas, like a week later, it rebounds violently, staying up often into the first week of January, often bringing eBay its best business for the year. It's like eBay's heartbeat, watching it ker-plump, ker-plump from year to year.

There's a great little website run by the Medved Quote Tracker folks called "Auction Count Charts" that monitors eBay 24/7/365. They have been since August 1998. The graph above shows from then until now. The graph at the right shows each year's activity.

We're right on the edge of the drop for 2005.

Note how since 2002 the drop has been really severe, particularly 2004, which when you look at it makes it seem like the whole eBay community took a collective gasp for a week and then recovered just like clockwork.

The other thing that's interesting is the year-over-year upward curve is flattening. Is eBay's growth eroding? 2004 was particularly flat compared to previous years.

2005 has two interesring spikes, one in February and one in May -- probably promotions that sellers took advantage of, I'm guessing. The May 2005 spike almost hit twenty million items for sale at one time. Amazing. But it didn't seem to do much to the graph once the promo was over; activity went right back to normal after that.

Note how in the 2001 graph you can see there was even a dip after 9/11, but it corrected pretty quickly.

2002 was nice and quiet, no spikes, just growth, growth, growth. I guess they didn't have to run any major promotions that year. But since then the graphs have been getting noisier while getting flatter -- an effort on eBay's part to stir things up, create more business? Who knows.

So how low will the December Drop be this year? It's already begun. The Medved site shows 16.5 million a week go, dropping to 15 million this week; I suspect it'll drop down to 9 or 10 million before the recovery.

UPDATE 12/23/05
Check it out. Right on schedule. The Drop has happened. Maybe it'll keep dropping!

UPDATE 12/29/05
Check it out. Right on schedule. The REBOUND has happened. Boing! Amazing.

Posted by brian at 08:30 AM | Comments (0)

December 11, 2005

Brianstorms 1, Myspace 0

If there's one thing you don't want to do, it's use one of my images on Myspace. Because I will find out about it and when I do, I will have my revenge. :-)

Case in point: Someone who calls himself "Nascar Fan" scarfs up a photo I took when I went around photographing the Hillary Clinton book event in La Jolla, California a few years ago. At one point, I saw someone holding up a sign that said "Read TREASON by Ann Coulter" and I snapped a photo. So when I see myspace.com serving an image called "treason.jpg" from my server in December 2005, I'm like, huh? What's that? I had completely forgotten about it.

So I went to investigate. The URL requesting the image was a page on Myspace:

Under the "Heroes" section, there's this:

Well, that is what it used to show.

I've changed the "treason.jpg" image on my server. Here's the new "treason.jpg", same size, 500x375 pixels, that Nascar Fan will now be showing to all his friends:

Who knew the Nascar Fan loved Pokemon? Pokemon 4ever d00d!

Posted by brian at 05:48 PM | Comments (7)

December 07, 2005

User-Generated Advertisers

Rob Hof of Businessweek blogged this morning about my participation in a panel session yesterday at the When 2.0 conference at Stanford University.

Heard a couple of new buzzwords--or are they incipient markets?--at the When 2.0 workshop presented at Stanford today by Esther Dyson's ReLease 1.0 and Stanford's Media X program.

* "user-generated advertisers": That's what Brian Dear of the online "event discovery" service EVDB (otherwise known as eventful), calls advertisers who appear like magic where people gather online (or offline for that matter). He brought up the term after Scott Heiferman of Meetup mentioned how a New York Meetup group of several hundred photographers got an offer from a camera shop to sponsor the group and offer discounts on gear. Actually, it's not a buzzword yet--type it into Google in quotes and you get ZERO results. Not for long, I bet.

The idea behind user-generated advertisers is this: everyone gets the power of user-generated content, but why stop at content? Why not help members of a local community to find those elusive local merchant advertisers every web company in the universe is seeking right now? The Holy Grail of advertising on the web is the local merchant -- the local merchant who spends lots of money on coupons, classifieds, radio, tv, print -- all the old 20th century solutions -- everything but ads on the Net. And this just Won't Do.

So enlist the public in finding these merchants, signing them up, helping them be successful. Give them a finder's fee commission, and help usher in the great new age of ads on the web: from the local car dealer, pizza parlor, hair salon, hardware store, department store, grocery store, you name it. User-generated advertisers: the wave of the future.

Posted by brian at 05:50 AM
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