Items of Interest: Ep. 15

For the introvert, we sometimes think that, if it were possible, we could go out to the middle of nowhere and stay forever. If only we establish that precedent of self-sufficiency, we could rule our own piece of the planet.

No need to hope anymore.

Turn fantasy into reality.

Items of Interest: Ep. 15

Micronations

What is a micronation?

A micronation is a self-proclaimed sovereign state. They are often not interfered with by larger governments, but are not recognized as official independent states.

I know what you’re thinking.

Didn’t I see this on an episode of Family Guy?

Yes, but my point is still valid.

Sealand is probably the world’s most well known micronation. The site of Sealand is about 10 km off the coast of England, and was originally a World War II sea fort designed to deter German air raids. Eight shades of awesome.

In 1967, Paddy Roy Bates occupied the sea fort (then called Knock John) and used it to run an off-shore pirate radio station.He and his family have claimed it as an independent sovereign nation, including issuing passports. Bates claimed that the nation was granted de facto statehood when Germany sent a diplomat there, and a 1968 UK court ruling stated that because of its location in international waters, it is outside of British jurisdiction.

This is connected to what is perhaps the most fascinating event in Sealand’s history, which took place in 1978. While Bates was away, Alexander Achenbach, who refers to himself as the Prime Minister of Sealand, along with several German and Dutch compatriots, staged an armed takeover of the facility.

What? Sweet. Let’s fight over a platform. Look at that picture. Was this just a couple of adults playing King of the Hill?

They held Bates’s son, Michael, hostage for several days, later releasing him in the Netherlands. You know, because the Netherlands has the monopoly on the hostage release market. Bates raided Sealand from helicopters. He held Achenbach and the others as prisoners of war, and while the others were released, Achenbach was not. Since he held a Sealand passport, he was charged with treason against the micronation and was held unless he paid a hefty fine. When the British government would not help, Germany sent a diplomat to negotiate his release.

From time to time, rather extreme things like this have happened at Sealand, including an instance in 1990 in which a British ship was fired upon with rifles from Sealand for passing too close and “invading Sealand territory”.

Torrenting gurus The Pirate Bay attempted to buy it in reaction to harsher copyright restrictions in Sweden, its homebase.

If you’re going to go claim sovereignty, please put a little more thought into the name, by the way.

Micronations vary from the neighborhood crackpot to the uber-feminist (I didn’t link to the official site when I saw the “models are over 18” warning) to the guy exploiting the loophole

So, introverts, start looking for those loopholes. When my micronation invades yours…shoot, you’re going to be so surprised.

Hardly Working

I may have…accidentally…on purpose…inadvertently…quit my job.

That was the teaser.

Now for something completely different.

My final semester of college, I flipped my academic advisor (and group of friends) the bird and moved to New York City. NO REGRETS! Jiminy Cricket, I love that city. I participated in an internship program. The Great Lakes Colleges Association purchased an old hostel on 29th Street and 8th Ave. (I could practically spit on Madison Square Garden). Out of all the artistes participating in the program, the coffee-fetchers, the case carriers, the note-takers, I had something amazing.

An internship at Sony Pictures Television.

I was in a three-person department which consisted of the Development VP and Producer for Mini-Series and Made for TV Movies, her assistant, and lil ol’ me.

And this was no coffee-fetching internship. I was picking writers for projects. I was determining which rights to acquire. Script coverage, contacting agents, sitting in on budget meetings, editing scripts…my God, I’m almost shedding tears thinking about it.

Once the writers’ strike was over, the VP was on set while her assistant and I held down the fort at the New York office. I was watching dailies, seeing costuming. I only went out for coffee once, and the assistant apologized at least four times for asking me to do it.

I was in love. There’s something about that city. It doesn’t work for everyone, but when it gets inside you, you feel it. It whispers in your ear. It tugs on your heart. It lifts you up high and reminds you of every low. It makes you forget everything outside of itself.

In retrospect, I did some stupid stuff in that city.

I walked around by myself at two-o-clock in the morning just to feel the pace still burning through the streets when the world should be sleeping. Okay, I didn’t go to Central Park at night. I have seen almost every episode of Law and Order: SVU. I’m stupid, but not suicidal.

And, when walking through NYC at two-o-clock in the morning, I knew what I want to do with my life.

I want to produce content. Not just books, not just TV shows, not just movies. I want to tell stories, no matter what form that takes. I want to take these fantastic images in my head and hand them to someone else and say, “Look. Without me, this would not exist. What do you think?”

I know. All mad gab existential.

But, more than that, I want to be someone people can associate with quality storytelling. I want my name to be attached to a TV show, and a group of people take over a bar on premiere night so they can make up a series drinking game. I want to share other people’s stories that I find brilliant.

I want to determine what gets added to the cultural genetic structure.

Sounds crazy, no?

It’s not about the money. It’s not even about the reputation. It’s about the story. It’s about the culture. It’s about striving for a higher standard, raising the expectation, and achieving something amazing.

This past weekend, I took a step back and looked at Day Job. I adopted a British accent, stuck my finger in its face, and screamed, “You’re not helping me achieve my bloody goals!”

I told my boss I think I needed to explore my options. Because I have to keep moving forward. Stagnancy is going to kill me.

Wish me luck, pray for me, keep me in your thoughts, whatever.

Because I might be broke forever, but, at the end of everything, at least I can say I tried my hardest.

And, that counts for something.

Items of Interest: Ep. 14

Mind the gap.

No, not the warning in the Underground.

I’m talking about the generation gap. That’s right. Here it comes:

Items of Interest: Ep. 14

Generation C, the DIY Generation

Generation C is not your typical generation. It’s not defined by dates, birth year, decades. The “C” stands for Content. 

This phenomenon captures the avalanche of consumer generated ‘content’ that is building on the Web, adding tera-peta bytes of new text, images, audio and video on an ongoing basis. They’re using technical tools to create and publicize their own content. It’s easy. Blogging, social media, self-publishing, YouTube videos, Flickr. There are hundreds of ways for you to spread your content far and wide. You also have the opportunity to focus your content laser on the people who are interested in what you have to give.

The ultimate shouting into the void.

And, it’s not limited to content. The upcoming generation has taken a Do-It-Yourself approach to business. The entrepreneurial spirit has captured the young generation. Look at Google. The founders didn’t even meet each other until 1995 and now it’s one of the most influential companies in the world. Apple has changed from living in Microsoft’s shadow to a leader in technology.

What is bolstering this Do-It-Yourself spirit?

Technology. Need to make a bank deposit? Use a machine. Need to hang a shelf? Go to the hardware store and buy the materials. Need to rewire your house? I’m sure there’s a YouTube video on that somewhere…

But, wait! There’s more!

Most professional content industries (production studios, publishers, news corporations, recording studios) have gatekeepers. And, they have gatekeepers for a reason. There is value in the gatekeeper.

Let’s be honest. I can take a picture of a pier. Doesn’t mean it belongs on a poster or postcard. It’s just something I put up on my blog when I *cough* don’t have anything to write that day.

Just because I can record a song in GarageBand doesn’t mean I can cut an album (nor should I). You can list every successful content creator out there, but for every one success story, there are hundreds of failures. Why?

I’ll tell you.

In Creativity, Mihaly Csikszentmihaliyi tells us why being “creative” isn’t enough. You must know your domain and know the rules of it. What’s a domain?

Like Psychology or Literature. The category of “thing” you want to contribute to. 

Then, you need to be in a field, a place where people can judge if your innovation is novel and relevant enough to be added to the cultural knowledge base. While the Internet is used by millions of people, how many visitors do you get on your blog?

Think about it. There were nearly 290,000 books traditionally published in the US in 2009.

Which ones did you read? (What Oprah told you?)

I’m proud to be part of Generation C. I love hanging out on social media. I like blogging about things I find interesting.

But if I want to be added to the cultural knowledge base, there are a few gates I need to crash.

Read more about Generation C here.

Shameless Apple Product Gushing

I got an iPad 2.

I am such an Apple nerd. I’m sorry, I know. It’s like the Mark of the Beast.

But, I love this thing so much. I want to make it a little bed to sleep in at night. What do I use it for?

Okay. List time.

1. Media input – Time Warner Cable TV, ABC Player, Netflix, Vevo. Plug me in, I am ready to go. And this whole battery life thing? No joke. I get at least six hours of streaming time. Don’t ask me how I know that. I’m hard at work. Seriously.

2. eReader – There is nothing like this badass screen to read books on. Oh, man. Shoot. I have a nook, which I still use for outside and the bathtub and whatever, but one thing I didn’t realized I missed: colored highlighting. Any color. Pick a color, you can highlight in it. If you think that highlighting is not important, then you have never read good non-fiction. Squee! Blue! Orange! Red! Chocolate! Puce!

3. Mobile RSS – I know a lot of people. I like some of them. And, I subscribed to their blog feeds. Here are some of them:

    A. Lee Martinez – author, juggler, he’s got some fun stuff to say and he doesn’t sling any BS
    Kristen Lamb – author, social media expert…no, social media goddess
    Chuck Wendig – author, screenwriter, oh, man, I love this guy. I have favorited three of his posts. Only three because I haven’t been able to get to the rest because I’m laughing so hard.
    Okay, yes, an obvious trend in who I follow. My point is still valid.

4. Social Media – What’s the deal with Twitter? Why do I twitch like a junkie when I’m away from it for too long? Not that I would know. I was a Twitter junkie on my iPhone long before the iPad, but for some reason, I always have to be plugged in. But Twitter for iPad? That app is so intuitive, it knows what I want to do before I do. You flip through pages, you follow links. Oh, my heart flutters.

And, GetGlue. I keep track of my overwhelming media consumption and earn BADGES! I am so excited about virtual stickers. What am I, eight years old? Yes! Check-in to Game of Thrones with 5,000 other people!

5. News – ABC News, Mashable, Wall Street Journal. Even fake news! The Onion has an app. 

6. Productivity – You know, because that’s why I actually bought the thing. Ack, this is the most boring number in my list.

dropbox. yeah. confetti.

PDF Reader/Annotater. hurrah. vuvuzela. 

Popplet, okay, now we’re talking. It’s like brainstorming. Paste images, draw pictures, text input, connect things. Like a white board, but digital.

And, of course, I immediately set the screen to this:

Why did I buy it? It may have something to do with hypnotoad, but I love it nonetheless.

Breakdown…of a different variety

I wasn’t able to finish reading a book this week. I know. I’m disappointed in myself, too.

But, I’m not going to leave you hanging. See, every day, I have a lunch break, and I’ve started watching movies to take up that sweet hour of not staring at a computer.

Since I have no book to review this week, I offer you a different sort of breakdown.

Movie Breakdown

(like someone watches it for you)

Easy A

I saw this gem nestled in the depths of Netflix Instant Play. I thought I’d give it a whirl. I was mildly interested when it was released, but never got around to viewing it.

Olive (Emma Stone) lets it slip that she lost her V-card. The rumor travels around school, and she suddenly becomes known as the token slut. In order to help out her gay friend, she fakes having sex with him to boost his street cred and make him look straight. Soon, geeks and nerds are paying her to fake erotic entanglements.

It doesn’t work out the way Olive hoped, and she finds she can get hurt, after all.

This movie is solid.

The cast is fantastic.

The plot is clever and quick.

If you have :60, take a look at the second to opening scene.

First Ten:

Everyone knows that one page in the screenplay is one minute in the movie (if you didn’t, hey! you learned something new). That “Pocket Full of Sunshine” scene takes place within the first ten minutes of the movie.

Didn’t that get you hooked?

I mean, that moment when you get an addicting song stuck in your head and it’s…THERE ALL WEEKEND. That moment when you’re about to belt out the lyrics, and the CD skips? Argh! The worst.

There’s a tribute to John Hughes, an interesting family dynamic, teachers who are surprisingly human. Like I said: solid.

Watch this movie. It’s great.

Next week, I promise, I’ll have Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan ready for some breaking down. Unless you think you can beat me to it.