Archives For MN

“I’m going to Live From Here,” I told my coworkers and friends last week.

Puzzled faces. Every time. And this is a mix of pretty plugged in millennials and music fans.

“It’s the new Prairie Home Companion,” I find myself clarifying. “Or I think it’s like the old format but with new artists, or something.”

Or something.

 

Nobody I spoke with had seen either format, which has been recorded in Minnesota for four decades and is syndicated by American Public Media. And although I recall my grandfather listening to Garrison Keillor cassette tapes on a road trip when I was eight years-old, I’m pretty much a live radio production virgin, too.

I wasn’t ever the target audience of Prairie Home Companion (PHC), am not from Minnesota, don’t seek out folk music, don’t really think Cracker Barrel humor is funny, and don’t really listen to variety show content much, if at all.

So when the show reached out with tickets I was certainly curious but also pretty self-conscious. There’s a lot of legacy here that a lot of people have loved for years, and it’s part of Minnesota culture. But by intermission of this week’s episode, it was clear my presupposition on the format’s paradox was spot-on.

Chris Thile, Keillor’s hand-picked replacement, is a charismatic and masterful musician. He instantly captured the attention of the sold-out State Theater crowd in the State Theater with his charm, wit and musicianship. He’s a gem, and learning Thile exists and seeing him live was the best part of the entire experience.

So after warmup — a self-described “sad song” on acoustic guitar from Chris Eldridge that set a terribly slow and somber tone — the “On Air” sign was lit, and the show was on.

What followed was a sometimes-painful vacillation between old timey folk and modern millennial podcast-bait. It’s no secret Thile and the shows’ producers are striving to strike a balance between what the program used to be and what it will become. That effort was clear but sometimes jarring in the transitions.

Their task isn’t a unique challenge. You take something beloved and try to keep it going, but make it have enough appeal it won’t become dated. We do this in advertising all the time. Look at Old Spice. You don’t want to alienate grandpa, but you also want the high school jocks buying it.

Buick needs help on this right now. Desperately

To me, a “Live from Here” newbie, the bipolar experience was dizzying. The show had something for everyone – folk, blues, rap, Cracker Barrel comedy and Netflix Special comedy. And in that format, the show also wasn’t for everyone.

Instead, it was for people who like all of those things. Which I’m not sure is a lot of people.

And while Thile mentioned the “millions” of listeners tuning in, it’s understandable the challenge the “Live from Here” team will have as that PHC audience base literally dies off — whether cover Prince and Bob Dylan, or not (which they did).

For example: Thile, Tim Russell and sound effects man Fred Newman had the gray hairs in the front rows chortling at their light-hearted, G-rated, rocking-chairs-on-a-front-porch jokes about an old man’s non-sensical similes (actual joke: “If that’s not enough to bear chicken, I’ll be an eagle’s auntie”).

Then there was an Alexa joke, which was maybe to balance out the old man stuff.

But in a later segment they then welcomed comedian Rachel Feinstein (famous for bits titled “Screw Me Harder,” “Only Whores Wear Purple” and “Joking After Sex”) to tell a too-brief monologue about the perils of dating and thrown objects bouncing off her body parts. Now that was funny.

And yet in a post-Keillor era on Keillor’s old show, this kind of humor was also kind of an uncomfortable subject given the allegations that undergird the bulk of media buzz about this new and improved program.

As for the musical guests, the show pitted southern blues rockers Shakey Graves against rapper/singer Dessa, and they were both great. But it was all a strange contrast to the folksy house band, who was also great itself, but very different. It was a genre mash-up and just strange overall.

I mention the gray hairs in the front row mainly because of the contrast with the younger people in t-shirts in the back rows. They whooped and cheered for Dessa while the elder class seemed to tolerate it — much like I tolerated the senior citizen humor of porch jokes, sad acoustic songs, and weird fake sponsorships that weren’t funny.

Throughout the broadcast the house sound in the State Theater was mixed terribly for such a great venue. Thile’s mandolin was barely perceptible for most of the show, and the lead vocals of nearly every performer were turned too far down. Tom Papa’s (pre-recorded?) “Out in America” segment had such a bad echo loop I got a headache. While I appreciate the show’s priority is the NPR listeners, it was a letdown that the mix was so off.

These really are masterful musicians, and it would have been great to hear them as well in the live setting as they sounded on the radio and live stream.

I get the sense some of my opinion on the experience will come off as “Man yells at cloud” to PHC and “Live from Here” fans. There’s a legacy here worth supporting, and I respect that. The “Live from Here” crew is doing an admirable job trying to mix #InstantSongRequests on Twitter with a live audience of elders who frowned at me for taking pictures during the show with my phone — to the point I put it away.

The multi-generational variety show is clearly not my thing, and the ghost of the former PHC host’s baggage haunted the theater for this first-timer. I guess I don’t get why you would get the chance to reboot a show’s format and choose to keep all the AARP stuff.

However, I heard Sufjan Stevens is coming on the 4/21 episode, and that’s an awesome booking. I’m looking forward to hearing him, but I don’t want to sit through old person jokes and the ghost of Garrison Keillor threatening to reboot his show himself.

Good thing there’s a podcast.

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Plandids Jump the Shark: It’s another buzzword!! This week it’s “plandid,” a portmanteau  of “planned” and “candid” — which is basically a post that looks like you didn’t know the pic was taken, but you’re still posing. It isn’t new, but is making the rounds in social this week. How do you take the best plandid? Shoot using burst mode; pick your favorite authentic pose, and post (deleting the other 30 burst pics is optional). We dare you to tag it #plandid. (LINK)

 

Facebook Watch: Facebook just announced a new short-form, professionally produced video feature called Watch. Facebook has already wrangled over 30 content partners from comedy to reality to live sports, and expects to grow into the hundreds and even thousands of shows down the road. The social aspect of seeing what your friends are watching and being able to view and interact with the comments from other fans is sure to make for an engaging experience. Launch is slated for August 28th and we’re excited to… um.. watch. (LINK)

 

#HEYTWITTER: An influential German Twitter reported hundreds of racist, sexist, abusive or otherwise hateful Tweets. Twitter didn’t delete them, so he sprayed them on the pavement outside the company’s offices in Germany. It made for a provocative video and furthered discussion about censorship and hate-speech online this week. (LINK)

 

Insta Stories Embraced by Brands: To celebrate the one year anniversary of Stories, Instagram released a host of stats about the feature. Of note, half of the 15 million businesses now active on the platform have also produced a Story in the last month, and one in five organic stories from those businesses gets a direct message. Oh, and Apple finally joined Instagram this week. So there’s that. The most popular face filters? Puppy ears, sleep mask, bunny ears, love with heart-shaped darts AND koala ears. (LINK)

 

Eclipse-Jacking: The solar eclipse on the 21st will be the first since social media became a thing. Which has us asking: if the moon blots out the sun and companies don’t try to brand-jack it, did the eclipse really happen? Krispy Kreme is making a chocolate glaze donut. Hertz ran an eclipse-themed rental campaign. Casper built a pop-up $500 tent rental city in Wyoming. Airbnb is hosting a geodesic dome and jet-viewing contest. But our favorite is  Chiquita’s Banana Sun: “For two glorious moments before and after the total(-ly overrated) solar eclipse, Chiquita will temporarily turn the sun into a giant banana. This phenomenon shall be known as the banana sun.” Stay cool, brands. (LINK)

Google says this isn’t for consumer release, but they are hot on the heels of Microsoft’s Hololens and Magic Leap in augmented reality/mixed reality visors….

“Google’s invention focuses on a system for providing a virtual reality (VR) space or headset that has the ability to interact with an Android smartphone for game play and other needed controls. The mobile computing device can be configured to execute a VR application, and provide content for display on the screen of the VR headset in the VR space.”

“The VR headset can further include a position detection device configured to determine a position of the mobile computing device. The position detection device can be a camera.”

Source: Google is working on a mixed reality headset, a new patent reveals

(cross-posted from space150’s blog)

In the four years since the last Summer Olympic Games, a lot of positive change has happened in social media and technology — including the popularization of Snapchat Stories and widespread accessibility of 360º content — that create unrivaled, engaging experiences that would completely shock attendees of the original 1896 Games. However, the restrictions on brands engaging and promoting the event, athletes and cultural milestones will limit engagement and overall reach of the 2016 event.  flagfetch

Updates to the Olympic Committee’s Rule 40 sponsorship guidelines have earned this year’s Olympics a Gold Medal for restrictive use of social platforms. The games have even gone so far as to send strongly-worded letters about using official Twitter hashtags. Which means brands that are non-official partners are pretty much barred from doing anything related to the games.

But for everyday Olympics fans, there will be plenty of opportunity to engage with the games online. On Twitter, follow @Olympics, @OlympicFlame, @Rio2016 and @Rio2016_en.

Not to be outdone, Facebook has also rolled out a number of Olympic features, including country-specific profile picture frames. Much like Snapchat filters, it places the country’s flag and the Rio 2016 logo below your photo. Facebook will also leverage its acquisition of MSQRD to enable users to add a flag to your face when sharing photos or live broadcasts.

On mobile, check out the NBC Olympics App, BBC Olympics App and, of course, Snapchat, which will have a dedicated channel for the games from Rio curated by Buzzfeed.

From an immersive content perspective, Periscope will launch a dedicated channel with exclusive content, Vine is changing it’s Like-hearts to Olympic Flames, and the Olympics YouTube Channel has already proven to be a go-to place for sports explainers and official content. And the Olympic Broadcasting Service has committed to 85 hours of 360º content, “including the opening and closing ceremonies, men’s basketball – including the semi-finals and final – gymnastics, track and field, beach volleyball, diving, boxing and fencing.”

From a social sharing perspective, fans can use the Trackmoji Emoji Keyboard for sharing customized event-specific icons with friends. And don’t forget the Emoji Flag tab on major platforms including iOS, OS X and Android.

Except there’s one problem, almost nobody in the world can name all the close to 250 global flags in the Unicode Consortium list. Until now…

This week, Twitter launched feature where users can use Tweeting a three-letter country code hashtag that will trigger flag emojis for every team, as well as 50 other related terms (#Gold, #Silver, #Boxing, #SyncronizedSwimming).

At space150, we wanted to get into that emoji-flag translation action, too. So we built a chatbot we’re calling FlagFetch.

flagfetch chatbot

FlagFetch is a Facebook Messenger bot that provides a translation between emoji flags and their country and vice versa. Users can input the Brazilian flag, for example, and receive back “Brazil” or they could say “COL” and it would send the Colombian flag. This allows Facebook Messenger users to very easily lookup and insert flag emojis into their social posts.

To find and add FlagFetch, open Facebook Messenger and search “FlagFetch”. The bot will appear. Once you’ve connected with FlagFetch start sending flag emojis, country codes or country names to get the emoji or country name translation. Then cut/paste to share.

Regardless of brand participation, we expect this to be the most engaging Olympics ever. Rio will be the first Summer Games to air live in prime time since the games in Atlanta 20 years ago. As a result, NBC plans to air more hours of coverage than ever before – across all channels. And despite the heavy restrictions on social media, these the emerging channel opportunities will showcase the way we celebrate our teams today and provide a unique snapshot for the future of live sports.  We’re excited to see how it all plays out and will be watching to see which social network gets the gold.

We live in the most amazing times.

“In other words: Warner had just DMCA’d an artificial reconstruction of a film about artificial intelligence being indistinguishable from humans, because it couldn’t distinguish between the simulation and the real thing.”

Source: A guy trained a machine to “watch” Blade Runner. Then things got seriously sci-fi. – Vox

Great read from danah boyd on this ridiculous assertion that Mark Zuckerberg’s leadership will keep Facebook neutral.

Algorithms can’t be unbiased because they are programmed by biased humans, for starters…

What is of concern right now is not that human beings are playing a role in shaping the news — they always have — it is the veneer of objectivity provided by Facebook’s interface, the claims of neutrality enabled by the integration of algorithmic processes, and the assumption that what is prioritized reflects only the interests and actions of the users (the “public sphere”) and not those of Facebook, advertisers, or other powerful entities.

Source: Facebook Must Be Accountable to the Public — Data & Society: Points

I hadn’t thought of the personal information diaspora happening on Facebook as being a subtle, subconscious reaction to monetization.

Interesting thoughts from Warren Ellis in his latest newsletter.

“…users now use Facebook more like Tumblr, posting memes and gifs instead of personal updates because Facebook can’t pull marketing insight data for resale so well off memes and gifs.”

Source: [ORBITAL OPERATIONS] 1may16