Wave hello to CrowdWave. And then please(!) promptly wave goodbye
Have you heard about this? If this isn’t a disaster waiting to happen for Canadian NHL franchises, I don’t know what is.
CrowdWave’s unique in-game system and Vision Interactive technology analyzes the direction, intensity and timing of a crowd’s movement as a whole or section by section. Fans will be able to control games or answer poll questions displayed on the high-definition scoreboard by moving their arms. The interactive technology enables fans to either work in tandem or compete against each other.
Here’s a fan video:
Basically? The already-corny stuff that is currently broadcast on arena big screens will now be even cornier AND controlled by the crowd - er, the segment of the crowd that decides to play along which, judging from this article, so far doesn’t seem to be large.
What a great example of solving a problem no one knew they had.
Yet more proof that I’ll pretty much write about anything I’m asked to, my latest is a short piece for Monkeybiz on a one-man post-rock/folk/acid/blues act currently out of Portland, Oregon who is set to play This Ain’t Hollywood in Hamilton tonight.
I checked out Apple’s new social networking site Ping yesterday for what was my first, and probably last attempt at deciding whether it would be useful to me. There are a number of reasons why I think Ping will never really catch on:
1. It’s found within Apple iTunes, which some find difficult to navigate compared to regular websites.
2. There are already social networking sites for music lovers. Last.fm offers many of the same features that Ping does, without excluding certain artists (such as The Beatles)
3. Ping was billed as a sort of fusion between Facebook and Twitter, for music. What Apple doesn’t seem to get is that people can already talk about music on Twitter and Facebook. So why do they need Ping?
4. Ping was launched half complete. Actually, it was launched probably less than half complete, judging by the looks of things and reports from those who visited the site immediately after it was unveiled. As anyone working with the web and social media knows, once you’ve brought someone to your site and underwhelmed them, it’s tough to convince them to come back.
5. The name is sort of confusing. While social networking sites often seem to take ridiculous names that don’t exactly make it clear what they’re for, Ping just doesn’t really do it for me. More importantly, there already is a Ping.fm, which allows social networking users to update all their statuses at once.
Maybe I’m completely wrong. (If that’s the case, I’ll probably delete this post.) But something tells me that Ping just isn’t going to catch on. Social networking sites catch on strongest when they are taken up by individuals in a “grassroots” manner, not when a mega-corporation’s CEO tells the public what site they should use.
Have you seen theTV commercials that have been running since just before the NHL playoffs began?
Their theme is “History will be made” and feature a number of historically important moments in hockey. The footage begins to go backward almost instantly, taking the viewer through the moment in reverse, ending with a question like “What if Bobby didn’t fly?” or “What if there was no greatness?” (in regards to Wayne Gretzky).
The spots are simple and short, two attributes necessary for success in both today’s TV advertising and online world, but there’s something else about them that’s even more intriguing: they’re highly emotional.
Check out this one:
For me, a huge Montreal Canadiens fan, this is shiver-inducing, but it’s also heart-tugging in that it makes you wonder: Yeah, what if Roy had played like a rookie?
Now, before you go shrugging it off, thinking that it doesn’t really matter, consider this: These ads are aimed at die-hard hockey fans - the guys (and girls) who remember (or at least have seen footage of) the epic moments featured in these commercials. And I think it works. It gets fans pumped and primed for the post-season and, more importantly for the NHL, ready to watch and/or buy tickets.
While searching for the Roy clip above, I came across another NHL playoffs commercial which I think also successfully plays to emotion:
It’s interesting because these sorts of ads are not usually used to target men. For evidence of that, just watch a beer commercial or the new Old Spice campaign. Not exactly tear jerkers.
By now you’ve probably already seen this: Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi serving up verbal barbs at each other during a charity tennis event for Haiti.
At first, I thought it was a little uncomfortable to watch: two legends, years beyond their prime, teaming up with current stars to put on a show in support of a good cause and yet can’t put away their rivalry for even a few hours.
I quickly remembered, though, that I was watching sport. And two men who took their particular sport very, very seriously.
Guys are going to be competitive - especially against someone who tried to knock them from the number one spot in their profession. I think people have to accept that, and though we shouldn’t condone poor behaviour at an event for charity, we also shouldn’t expect these two to suddenly love each other. You aren’t going to put a tiger in a cage with a lion and expect things to go well, even if the zoo’s raising money for an earthquake stricken country.
Am I way off base here? Should these two have just put it away for awhile and been good sports? Are they justified for their behaviour?
So far the new feature is only available in certain U.S. cities, but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before we see the addition of bike routes to Canadian maps.
From what I’ve seen, the maps look similar to regular Google Maps, but use three types of green lines to differentiate various types of bike routes. The biking routes will also take into account large hills, so cyclists will be able to avoid those thigh-burning climbs.
Will you use this new feature if and when it comes to Canada?
There is too much hilarity happening in this story, but before I go any further, let me say: I don’t condone any sort of crime. But you can’t write stuff like this.
First, we still have sugar “barons”?! Actually, I didn’t know we had “barons” of any sort anymore.
Second, who travels with $45,000 in jewels? That doesn’t seem like the best idea.
Third, “Ricco Suave” has to be one of the best criminal nicknames of all time. That fact that it was given because of this guy’s “smooth manner and debonair appearance” is even better.
Lastly, the criminal’s victims have thus far included the aforementioned sugar baron, a Mexican soccer team, a salsa band and an Israeli basketball team. I don’t think you could have dreamed up a group like this.
Again, I don’t like to see anyone get ripped off, but this case seems more like a movie script than it does real life.
This caught my eye in the latest issue of Maclean’s.
Basically, it’s a way of life that involves eating, exercising and generally living in a manner more closely resembling the way humans did in prehistoric times.
Though there are divergent branches, diet generally includes more meat and fewer legumes. Eating is more sporadic and exercise is less formal, involving a great deal of climbing and running.
There’s much more to it than this, but I thought I’d highlight the article for anyone who wants to learn more.
Though I don’t think I’ll be living like a caveman any time soon (though some would say I already do) I think it is probably in our best interests to live a more basic life, especially when it comes to diet.
“Women don’t have jobs, either, but women aren’t abusive, most of the time. Men, when they’re out of work, tend to become abusive. Domestic crisis shelters in Nevada are jammed. That’s the way it is all over the country.”—
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.)
I’m not even going to touch this one, but I would like to know what you think. Besides being a terrible move politically, is Reid on to something here? The Washington Post article this comes from also says “While no study suggests that men “tend” to become abusive when unemployed, a 2004 National Institute of Justice study found that men who experience unemployment are more likely to engage in arguments with intimate partners that end in violence than men who are employed, and that the impact of unemployment is particularly acute in disadvantaged communities with thin social ties, where 15.6 percent of couples with men experiencing unstable employment have violent altercations.”
Musical theatre? On a Man Blog? Matt, have you lost your mind?
I know. But aside from the fact that I wrote this piece, you should read this because these guys are really good. Take a listen for yourself. The audio embedded in the story is of the cast rehearsing the Finale (Don’t Feed the Plants) from Little Shop of Horrors. Good stuff.
For some people, the television program Cops is upsetting. It reenforces the idea that crime rates are increasing, our neighbours are cooking up meth and society is generally going to Hell in a hand basket.
I can’t blame people for thinking this way: after all, watching violent take-downs, sting operations and undercover ops in which millions of dollars of illicit drugs are confiscated is bound to have a negative effect on some. For me, however, Cops is different.
When I watch Cops, I’m reminded not only that the world is full of good people, but also that some of those good people are physically jacked, heavily armed and prepared to deliver the worst sort of whooping upon the scum that roams this earth.
When I see the long, flag-emblazoned arm of the law reach into the sewer and pull out another rat, I don’t think about how many more rodents there are on the street – I think about how great it is that another one has been exterminated. And how awesome it must feel to nail another a crackhead.
We all know that these guys are innocent until proven guilty. We also know that there are a myriad of social ills that lead to some amongst us having unwanted starring roles on Cops. But for some of us, the show taps into that primal urge for justice: the part of us that makes us stick up for the little guy on the shinny rink getting picked on by the goon, or the woman that’s getting treated like garbage by her boyfriend. It’s a part of us that is far too often suppressed.
Some will write my appreciation for Cops off to loving guns, having too much aggression or advocating for the increased militarization of the state. In reality, it is simply the ungodly-sweet feeling of watching justice carried out on my television set while I eat Milk Duds that keeps me watching Cops.
Last night wasn't pretty, in more ways than one...
I’d love to comment on last night’s men’s Olympic hockey game between Canada and the rising hockey nation of Switzerland (now ranked 7th in the world), but I think nearly everything that can be said has been said.
I will, however, comment on the sorry state of Team Canada’s current hockey sweaters. Am I alone in thinking we could have done a lot better than this?
I’m a fashionista by no means, but even I can tell that we’ve done better in the past. Of course, we can be thankful we don’t have a logo like any of these. Thoughts?
Which, by the way, is a name I thought most people were familiar with, but as of late I’ve met a number of people who didn’t know it referred to the Salvation Army.
While at the mall this past weekend we had the pleasure of hearing the Salvation Army brass band playing Christmas carols in support of their annual fundraising campaign, something I think most people are quite familiar with.
After we stopped snickering about the classic Mr. Bean Christmas episode in which the title character takes control of a Salvation Army band in the U.K., we decided that the organization runs a pretty unique campaign.
Unlike many in the “charity sector”, the Salvation Army doesn’t seem to lean quite so heavily on the guilt factor - that is, guilting people into giving. Instead, it has positioned itself as a tradition part of the Christmas season. It gives back to the community not just through the programs it supports but through the very act of playing music in public. How many other charities are out on the street corner doing anything other than just asking for donations?
Were they to stop performing, supporters and non-supporters alike would miss the band, which speaks to the power of the Salvation Army’s brand presence in society-at-large.
While donations are surely down this year (as they are just about everywhere), I think the Sally Ann probably does a great deal better than others in its sector and if so, owes a lot to its popular public face during the holidays. Though like most charities it could do better to tell its stories to the masses, I remain impressed with the organization’s image.
I had an extremely important rule of communication bluntly demonstrated to me twice in the last two weeks, and I thought I’d share.
In two separate conversations regarding two completely different things, I had the distinct pleasure of witnessing on the personal level what far too many communicators do professionally: the repeating of a message louder and more forcefully rather than clarifying the misunderstanding on the part of the audience.
Now, while my situations involved other parties literally raising their voices at me, the analogy still applies to companies, brands and any organization trying to communicate a message. The problem is, forcefully repeating the same message that was not initially understood doesn’t work. In fact, even if you think your message is as clear as a starlit sky, if your audience doesn’t understand you you must find another way to convey your meaning. If your audience doesn’t “get it”, it’s your fault!
If consumers are confused as to what your product does, or your financial stakeholders don’t understand what you’re saying about your company’s books, you need to find another way to get your message across.
There isn’t really much more to say on this. It’s a pretty basic rule, but it’s easily forgotten, both in personal and professional life.
Really interesting group of guys that have been playing intramural football at McMaster University for 25 years (making the playoffs every year!). Todd Ford, interviewed for the article, really spoke highly of Mac. Great to hear!
“We’re stopping short of bold predictions, or anything you can put on a bulletin board, but we believe the group is (a playoff team) and, if it’s not, we’ll get back to work.”—Toronto Maple Leafs GM Brian Burke, with a promising assessment of his team.
If you’re within range of the radio signal beaming from the storefront studio at 228 Yonge Street, home of the radio station known as 102.1 The Edge, you probably know the guys from the Dean Blundell Show.
Known for their outlandish antics and sometimes crude humour, their more insightful musings are often missed, buried under jokes about bowel movements or flatulence.
A few weeks ago Dean made one such comment which I found particularly interesting, given my line of work. He mentioned that his superiors make him blog, though he finds no particular use in it. In fact, to paraphrase his comments, blogging is relatively self-serving. Which led me to wonder: is blogging strictly for self-promotion?
I’ll start with my own blog, which admittedly falls into Dean’s category. I started this site mainly so that I could have a place to write whenever I wanted, about whatever I wanted, keeping my skills sharp. But I also started it so that I had something tangible to direct potential employers to when they asked about my experience writing, blogging and with social media, which is definitely self-serving (and smart, I think).
The reasons behind my blog aren’t the same behind all blogs, however, and that’s where I take issue with Dean’s comments. I think the folks over at rabble.ca, and any of the myriad of other citizen journalism sites on the web, would too. Few are getting famous by breaking news in the blogosphere. They’re getting short-lived attention, perhaps, but they aren’t getting famous. They’re blogging for reasons that have nothing in common with why I am: they feel the need to contribute to their communities, they’re fed up with mainstream media, they’re passionate about a particular issue or cause. None of these things are self-serving in any sense of the word.
Even large organizations that seem to blog for selfish reasons are really only doing so to add another level of communication to their mix, allowing them to engage in conversation with their stakeholders and audiences.
In short, blogging can be used to reach a number of goals, both self-serving and otherwise. What’s truly important, however, is how informative and enjoyable the blog is to read.
And with nearly 200 visitors making more than 300 visits since April 30, 2009, my life…so far must be both. (Hey, I said it was self-serving!)
While I love that cycling is suddenly the topic to talk about these days, I don’t exactly like the total lack of respect that it is getting from those who probably have little experience with it.
We all know that there are stupid cyclists. We all know that there are problems with the enforcement of traffic laws as they apply to cyclists. Come to think of it, since cycle-talk came into vogue earlier this month, everyone seems to be an expert on bicycling. So it was with interest that I read about the Toronto councilor’s idea to license cyclists (as well as make helmet-wearing mandatory for everyone, regardless of age) within that his city.
First, a word on the helmet issue. While I always bike with a lid, I don’t do it because the government tells me to do it. I do it because I value my head and what little it contains. I can’t exactly afford to go barreling into some concrete and losing whatever I’ve got up there. But, and it’s a big but, it should be my decision to protect myself from bodily harm in such a way, and nobody else’s.
As for the licensing, while I’m immediately wary of adding anotherr layer of bureaucracy to our lives at the best of times, let alone in a recession, the councilor does raise some good points. Stricter regulation of cycling might instill a sense of responsibility on the part of those riding bikes, especially if regulation brings better enforcement of laws already on the books. It may also help to educate cyclists on the rules of the road, which are regularly disobeyed by a great number of cyclists, giving us all bad names. Finally, it may also legitimize the place of the cyclist on the road, making us equals when sharing the hard top with motorists.
On the other hand, licensing may turn out to be expensive and inefficient. Attempts at education programs, which could easily be added to existing Driver’s Ed courses, may turn out to be ineffective. People may simply choose to ride “illegally”, flaunting the program for fear of a slippery slope that may one day lead to bicycle insurance and registration.
While I don’t live in Toronto, and so will remain unaffected by this no matter what happens, the prospect of such a program being initiated in Canada’s largest city is an important one; one which may have consequences, good or bad, for the rest of us outside of the city should it prove to be successful.
I had this published in the Hamilton Spectator the other day, but as with any letter to the editor I was unable to fully articulate my thoughts, given the space constraints. I thought, then, that I’d do so here.
My bike is my car. Mostly because I don’t have an actual car, but also because I love biking. I enjoy the fact that when I ride to work I average the same time as the bus and I love getting a work out in at the same time as my commute. As an added bonus, I put nothing into the atmosphere other than my exhalations of carbon dioxide.
As such, it bothers me when a few cyclists do extremely stupid things, giving the rest of us a bad name. It bothers me just as much when people who know better paint all cyclists with the same brush they paint these jokers with. Hence the letter above.
Of course there are terrible cyclists. Some go through stop signs, others bob and weave through traffic. There are even some who continue biking on sidewalks, alongside the six-year olds with training wheels who are understandably there. These fools are indefensible and should not only be ridiculed by other cyclists (some peer pressure wouldn’t hurt) but also dealt with by law enforcement. The fact that there are some who believe that cyclists can’t get traffic tickets is proof enough that police need to start cracking down on cyclists who flaunt the law.
There are also terrible drivers, however, and these are the people who most need to be educated on the rules of the road. Rules which include sharing driving space with cyclists.
In the end, in a motor vehicle-bicycle collision, it is rarely the cyclists who comes out on top. No matter who was in the right, nobody wins in such situations, so make sure you know the rules of the road when it comes to cycling on Ontario’s streets, even if you never get on two-wheels yourself.
Since landing a “real” job and having to make actual decisions regarding the things I buy, I’ve really tried to understand where consumer goods come from, how they’re made, who benefits from their purchase and what the impacts of my buying them are. As a result, I’ve done a lot of thinking about the whole “buy local” movement and have come to a conclusion: it’s a lot more complicated than I thought.
Take, for instance, the popular bumper sticker often found on cars made by the “Big Three” automakers: “Lost your job yet? Keep buying foreign!” A sticker I had often thought would one day be found on the back of my own car.
Looking a little more closely, it’s easy to see that the sticker’s sentiments aren’t exactly on the mark. The gist can be found in places like this, but suffice to say that in today’s international, globalized marketplace, few items are so easily classified as “domestic” or “foreign”. Certainly not cars.
But aside from that, I’m curious as to what most people think about buying things that are indeed local: produce, wine, art and so on? I for one make sure I buy Ontario produce at the grocery store because I recognize the importance, in terms of food security, of having a domestic source of fruits and vegetables. I also know that if I want to ensure my own economic well-being, it’s far better to send my money to the farmer in Glanbrook than it is to send it to the one in Guatemala. Nothing personal against the South Americans, it’s just that they don’t exactly contribute to my province/country’s social systems, or buy the products MY company may make like the farmer down the road.
While that may make sense to most people, many people also claim to worry about the plight of the third world farmer-hence the rise of “fair trade” items, such as coffee. So does this mean we’re torn as to who we support, don’t really care and purchase goods as we need them or something else?
Though I see the “buy local” movement as a great thing, I think it’s important for people to fully recognize the implications of their spending and purchasing habits. Intelligent consumerism is never a bad thing.
Forget busy- last Friday’s James Street North Art Crawl was bursting at the seams! And for a mountain boy only now really discovering downtown, it was a little overwhelming.
People were jammed into every gallery/shop/inch of sidewalk along the crawl to discover for themselves just what Hamilton’s so-called “creative class” is doing these days. To say they’re doing a lot is an understatement.
From nude photography (not my favourite, but obviously someone enjoys it) to beautiful mural-like artistry, we encountered a very eclectic mix along James Street North- and that’s without mentioning “Dramabot”, the robot-like deliverer of classic monologues.
Though every site we visited offered something enjoyable, our favourite place along the crawl wasn’t even a gallery. It was without a doubt The White Elephant, for which I can’t even begin to write a description. Suffice to say it’s a little like a classy thrift shop for historians, albeit with free candy for hungy art crawlers. And to the girls who run the store (who keep their own rather entertaining blog) I should tell you: I will be back for my $25 Sir John A print.
I won’t speak for them, but my friends probably wouldn’t call me the artsy type. Tom Thompson I know, but only because he paddles by in a Hip song. And while I’ve enjoyed friends’ art exhibitions I’ve never really understood them.
At tonight’s Hamilton Youth Advisory Committee we discussed walkability which, according to Wikipedia, is “a measure of how friendly an area is to walking.”
It’s a long story, and the details are here, but City representatives are now seeking feedback on the state of walkability in Hamilton. Specifically for our committee, from young people.
Here is the gist of the comments I made:
Western culture has not changed enough to warrant huge sums of money invested in pedestrian-friendly street features/bike lanes, etc. that may or may not be used
Young people aren’t necessarily sold on the environmental benefits to walking/cycling, but they are apt to respond to the financial benefits (i.e. saving gas money, not paying car insurance, etc.)
Planning must not focus solely on pedestrian/cycling routes but also the end points: there is no sense having a bicycle lane to one’s place of work if that workplace doesn’t have a shower and secure bike storage (I mentioned the student residence at the old CNIB building on Main West as an example)
City staff must go to young people for their input as opposed to waiting for youths to come to them (by visiting their schools, campuses and groups/associations)
What do you think? Agree with me? Take issue with anything I said? Have something to add? What do you think of being a pedestrian/cyclist in Hamilton? Leave a comment or get in touch with me via email or any of my social networks and I’ll forward your comments on to the committee and the City.
For anyone at the extreme west end of Corktown, in the area just south of the Hamilton GO Station, that racket you just heard was the American Originals, a fife and drums corps from the metro Washington area. And they put on quite the show outside of the Pheasant Plucker on Augusta. Check out a pic here, or a YouTube vid here.
Though I have an unabashed love for alliteration, I’m not exactly obsessed with Twitter.
Sure, I find it a neat tool for some very specific purposes: finding information, tracking trends, following the news, etc., but that’s about it. You won’t usually find me tweeting about my dinner, my cat or what the guy across the street is doing. I try to keep my tweets relevant. Or use them to shamelessly promote my blog.
I have, however, stumbled across some really cool tools to use with Twitter that I’d like to share. The first being Twitterfall.
Twitterfall is a simple web-based tool that allows you to follow tweets from a particular search in real-time. For instance, last night I followed the hashtag #pr20chat, a chat for public relations professionals. I just entered the hashtag into the search and the tweets began falling down my page. Best part: you can pause at any time, allowing you to follow conversation at your own pace. You know, if you can’t read good.
Twitterfall allows you to colour code your searches, sign in to follow your own timeline and send tweets from your account. Very useful if you want to be twittering while following multiple searches, which can quickly get complicated.
I’d recommend Twitterfall if you’re following a particular conversation or tracking a particular trend that’s relatively popular. If the topic you’re tracking isn’t that popular, Twitter Search works just as well.
Ever used it? Give it a try and let me know what you think!
So it’s not that I didn’t care about anything before, but since getting my own place I’ve been much more conscious about what I buy: looking for goods made in Canada, buying Ontario produce, etc. I figure, you can only vote at the ballot box every few years, but you can vote with your wallet every day.
So it was with good timing that I saw a TV commercial tonight for Hellmann’s Mayo and their new campaign, Eatrealeatlocal.ca, the premise of which is to encourage you to eat more locally grown produce and, more to the point, understand where your food comes from and the consequences that arise from getting it from there to your plate.
Pretty cool stuff, made even more powerful though the addition of Facebook and Twitter. The Eatrealeatlocal.ca site contains an intro that teaches you a little about where Canadians get their food and then invites you to log into your Facebook and Twitter accounts to sent messages to your friends about how you’ve committed to eating more local food. Hellmann’s has even set up a special hashtag for the campaign, #realfood.
Pretty interesting, and for me, timely. (At some point there will be a video there that will show a forum with Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger that I MC’d, hosted by the Hamilton Youth Advisory Committee, of which I’m a part.) The campaign site even lists farmers markets across the country, and invites you to submit the details of those not listed.
Does Hellmann’s have a reason for launching such a campaign, other than pure benevolence? Probably. Does it matter? Not really. Eating local produce helps the economy, the environment and allows you to support a homegrown industry, something that is increasingly more difficult these days.
We’ll see how the campaign goes, and whether it spreads very far virally. Either way, it’s a good message and a well done site. And it made me remember to buy mayonnaise.