Will Gutenburg have the last laugh?

GutenbergInteresting post from Nicholas Carr about the state of the e-book business. As The Browser puts it, “We say we like books. And it turns out that we do. Sales of e-readers are slowing. Early adopters have adopted. Print sales are holding up well. Printed books may have more of a future than seemed probable even a year ago.”

As usual, these things are never as straightforward as the media would have us believe. I can easily see a place for both (we still have radio even though we have tv, we still have theatre even though we have cinema, we still have cinema even though- and so on and so on) and still love having both. Some of the competing business models can be a little frustrating, though; my Waterstones gift card won’t play nice with my Kindle, for instance. #firstworldproblem

(Via The Browser)

British People Problems

Buzzfeed has a list of 21 marvellous “British People Problems” that, unfortunately, seem to hit the mark quite well. The list includes:

I can’t help but think of people who take sugar as intellectually inferior.

and

A man in the supermarket was browsing the food I wanted to browse, so I had to pretend to look at things I didn’t even want until he left.

Yep, that’s me.

An Alaska Window

alaskawindowIt may be another simple-thing-building-up-into-something-interesting-through-daily-repetition art project, but I like the calm meditative feel of Mark Meyers’ An Alaska Window.

I live in Alaska in a log house that’s about 100 years old. It has these interesting, old (though not energy efficient), single-paned sash windows. They are at the foot of my bed and are normally the first thing I see in the morning. I noticed over the years that they are constantly changing with the weather and seasons, occasionally in interesting ways. They ice up in the winter, collect leaves in the fall, and occasionally steam up in the summer. So I started taking photos of them and the scene outside—mostly with the iPhone, but occasionally I’ll lug the dSLR up there. It has gradually turned into a minimalist personal project that’s become a reminder to myself that even the simplest things are interesting if you pay attention. I’ve found it to be good way to start each day, an exercise in seeing and visually exploring a single subject and noticing how it gradually changes over time.

(Via Petapixel)

Like seasonal crop circles

simonbecksnowartWe’ve all heard of crop circles, but how about something a little more seasonal? Colossal has a collection of photos from Simon Beck who, since 2004, “has strapped on a pair of snowshoes and lumbered out into the the freshly fallen snow at the Les Arcs ski resort in France to trample out his distinctly geometric patterns, footprint by footprint. Each work takes the 54-year-old artist anywhere between 6 hours and two days to complete, an impressive physical feat aided from years of competitive orienteering.”

To be the product, or not to be

In I’m Not The Product, But I Play One On The Internet, Derek Powazek sets us straight on a few assumptions we may be labouring under.

“If you’re not paying for the product, you are the product.”

I don’t know who said it first, but the line has achieved a kind of supernatural resonance online. And for good reason – it describes a kind of modern internet company that provides a free service. These businesses are designed to aggregate a large number of users in order to sell that audience’s aggregate attention, usually in the form of advertising.

But the more the line is repeated, the more it gets on my nerves. It has a stoner-like quality to it (“Have you ever looked at your hands? I mean really looked at your hands?”). It reminds me of McLuhan’s “the medium is the message,” a phrase that is seemingly deep but collapses into pointlessness the moment you think about using it in any practical way.

Which he does, and I’m now I’m not too sure.

Perhaps I should give street photography another go

streetMing Thein has a great post on petapixel on the ethics of photographing random strangers on the street and, as you’d expect, they are some wonderful shots throughout. It was interesting to read about some of the different techniques that can be used. I can’t remember where I first heard the line “If your photo’s not good enough, you’re not close enough”, but Ming has another way too.

There’s a slight snobbishness about shooting with a longer lens, too – it isn’t seen as being hardcore enough. In fact, these days, it seems if you’re not at f/8, hyperfocal distance and sticking your camera and flash right up to somebody’s nose, then you’re not really doing street photography.

There’s another approach, though. I think it’s much, much harder to shoot wide open with a relatively wide lens – say nothing longer than 35mm – and shoot without your subject knowing you’re there. This is what I like to call the stealth method – you don’t want to draw attention to yourself, and better yet, shoot without even bringing the camera to your eye.

I’d love to give this a proper go. It’s easier to blend in and look inconspicuous with a cameraphone than with a big lens perhaps, but the one I’ve got now isn’t up to much. I sense a post-Christmas shopping opportunity!