Tag Archives: online

When “In with the New” Means Bringing Back the Old

The brass 1840s Petzval lens.

The brass 1840s Petzval lens.

The Petzval lens was developed in 1840. The brass fixture was pretty simple in design — especially compared to what’s available today — and its speed made it perfect for portrait shots. While it has been surpassed by many models after it and the digital revolution, Lomography has found a place for this oldie in today’s photo world… to the tune of over $1 million in donations to bring back the old.

So what does a lens from 1840 have to offer us now? Take one look at the results of this brass lens, and you’ll understand why some photographers still use some of the old models.

By flickr user Jonathan Wong.

By flickr user Jonathan Wong.

By flickr user Alan Butler.

By flickr user Alan Butler.

By flickr user hdll88.

By flickr user hdll88.

By flickr user micmicmor

By flickr user micmicmor

But Lomography has found a new crowdsourced way to raise awareness and funds to bring it back. The camera company recently launched a Kickstarter page to begin remaking this ancient relic for digital SLR cameras. The Kickstarter campaign currently has 11 days left and has raised $1,182,391 from 2,860 backers. Their goal was $100,000.

A New Market With this kind of a response, it begs the question — who’s pitching in? Where did this massive funding come from? Clearly Lomography has a sizable following based on their reaction from this project, but let’s think deeper. This kind of thing might catch on for other models and companies.

One of the most profitable e-deals in recent years involved the selling of a popular photo editing app, Instagram, to social media giant, Facebook. This merger solidified this trend’s potential, and Lomography’s Kickstarter campaign shows that it’s still growing strong.

An example of a typical Instagram photo with filter applied.

An example of a typical Instagram photo with filter applied.

Instagram appeals to anyone wanting to share photos, but specifically to those wanting to share photos that look like they were taken 50 years ago. The app’s photo filters allow the user to fake the look of an aged photo by accentuating colors or placing film borders around their iPhone snapshots. Why did this catch on? The same reason Lomography saw this as a viable crowdsourcing opportunity.

I’m Guilty…

It’s true. Even I have gone the way of Instagram. (The evidence: http://instagram.com/amklann) The app has been really denounced by a lot of photographers, but the tide is turning, and some are realizing that for anyone wanting to share their views, it’s worth trying.

The Future of This Trend

It’s no doubt that with the success of Lomography’s Kickstarter campaign, this trend will continue. The big picture: this shows there is major interest in old film technology being brought to digital world.

A fellow photographer on Deviantart who shoots with some old equipment suggested that the Kodak Aero Ektar lenses could be next. Not only are they cheaper than the reproduced Petzvals, but they have many of the same beautiful features.tumblr_ln5vhrgLV31qekrnyo1_500

Hey, we can dream! All of the photographers who either (like me) came about after the digital shift and were either too cheap or too lazy to pick up the old ways, or those who gave up their film equipment during the transition are no doubt excited for this opportunity.

What old equipment are you dying to use with your digital SLR?

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The imMEDIAcy

breaking news

BREAKING: Every time a nationally broadcasted disaster occurs, we are reminded of the shortcomings of mass media, particularly the need to get the facts first… even if they’re not correct. But we need answers. We crave crave imMEDIAcy.

April was full of a lot of shocking headlines, and the Boston Marathon bombings certainly caught the attention of the nation. As a member of the Massachusetts media, I was on especially high alert during the event, and as someone living not too far from the happenings, I was pretty shaken up. Still, in the aftermath of all of this, I can’t help but try to shed some light on the issue — not the act, but the response.

It’s All CNN’s Fault… Right? After the TV news station’s premature report that officials had a suspect in custody, CNN was blasted for their incorrect reporting. This type of thing happens every time. It’s just a question of who will blow it first. But here, we can’t honestly point the finger at CNN.

The (not always) all-knowing wire service that is the Associated Press (AP) was first to tweet the false news. CNN just picked it up first. After them, a domino-effect of reporting — the New York Times (and ALLLL the media outlets they own, including the Boston Globe) and others including the one I work for, as the report trickled down from the source. In these modern times, and especially these times of tragedy and FBI searching, the audience is waiting. And newsrooms have to put out something. It’s that immediate craving for an answer that drives us to hasty decisions and CNN to a bad rap. Thanks, AP.

news

Sources? It’s a Secret. In that same vein, my mind was puzzled by a local TV station. The Wednesday following the event, newscasters in the area were still on 24-hour watch, showing a pretty boring shot of the Boston courthouse, rambling about potential leads, photos, etc. The area held their breath. And during that time, after the CNN misstep, one newscaster raised the question — “And you’re probably wondering. You hear us say all the time ‘our sources… our sources,’ but who are these sources we’re mentioning?” If only she had answered the question.

The newscaster and her sidekick stumbled around the answer, saying they didn’t want to give up too much about their secret methods. Anonymity never made any journalist look good, per se, but these anchors were clearly not prepared for the can of worms they had just accidentally opened. I’m sure “their sources” were on the right side of the misreported suspects, too.

The most listened to scanners on Friday, after the bombings. Note Wisconsin.

The most listened to scanners on Friday, after the bombings. Note Wisconsin.

Police Scanners During a crazy, frightening, unexpected event like the Boston Marathon bombing, responses can be impulsive. During the Watertown manhunt on Friday, tens of thousands turned to local police scanners, as the independent journo in all local citizens came out. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this practice, police scanners (harboring sometimes unverified information) plus Twitter, can make for some spotty, quickly spread information. (The general theme here.)

Scanners were eventually shut off to online listeners… and good thing. Just take a look at that screen grab via someone I follow on Twitter. Watertown, Wisconsin. Oh, the imMEDIAcy.


The Boyfriend Trend

Last week, I was doing something I usually do when mindlessly procrastinating – window shopping with the help of my internet browser. (I hope everyone picked up on that play on the word, “window.”) I never actually buy clothes online, but I love browsing around. I’m always too worried it wouldn’t fit just right. I’m kind of picky.

I came across one article of clothing that I particularly liked… so much that I was tempted to break my rule of never buying. The $80 price tag was the first thing that pushed me away, but that was not the end of my distasteful reaction of the jacket… or “Boyfriend Blazer” as the designer called it.

This brings me to a realm of clothing that has been problematic in my mind – the boyfriend attire that’s not actually for your boyfriend or anyone with a boyfriend. Where and when did this odd trend start? The all-knowing source of Wikipedia pointed me in one direction. In 2009, “…when actress Katie Holmes was spotted in public wearing Tom Cruise’s slouchy jeans after a Broadway rehearsal…” the trend really took off.

It all comes from females borrowing their boyfriend’s shirts, pants, blazers, etc. and making your wardrobe look one size too big. I guess modern fashionistas are ignoring the fact that some females have been dressing like this for decades.

But this idea is brilliant in concept. Women want comfort, but in order for them to buy into it, it needs to have another persona attached. Of course it’s not cool or acceptable for a woman to want comfort over looks for no reason. Now, they have one – in order to look like they have a boyfriend. Thanks, H&M. I’m all for clothes that are comfortable and male-inspired. Let’s mix things up a bit… but do we really need to call them “boyfriend” clothes? Can’t we just accept an androgynous trend coming on without ascribing it to our boyfriends?


It’s all about who you know

Stats of geographical source of LinkedIn members.

As graduation is getting closer, and I am forced to consider a “real” life after college, there’s one word that I can’t shake out of my mind: job. While “loan,” and “adult” are also high contenders, I’m finding myself increasingly thinking about what the hell I’m going to be doing for a living.

In the process of stressing out about all of this, I’ve started using LinkedIn, a website that is best described as Monster smashed together with Facebook. Sure it offers some really useful tools like hosting a spot to showcase your abilities and your resume. You can also become a part of groups that are relevant to your field and seek out potential jobs. Moreover, LinkedIn shows just how much we are defined by those we know, especially in terms of today’s job market.

One of the major parts of LinkedIn is connection with others. Past employers, fellow employees, family members, and college friends all add up to make your network. You can see what they’re doing, where they work, and who they know. It’s a very socialized version of job hunting, visually revolving around people instead of skills or job titles.

While I do think it’s healthy to put faces to resumes, it’s a weird environment.

Just like any other social networking site, you’re selling yourself. LinkedIn is your own arena to make yourself look as employable and knowledgeable as possible and to show how many people you know.

What are interesting to me are the differences between LinkedIn and other social networking sites. As with Facebook, users of LinkedIn can post things of interest, have a profile picture, and get updates about their connections.

When I first started using the site, however, I felt strange using the same practices as I would on Facebook. I didn’t want to use my same profile picture. Why? It’s not like my Facebook makes me out to be a crazy college party animal; in fact, I look pretty subdued in my photo, but for some reason, it just didn’t seem professional enough to use as my picture on LinkedIn. What am I supposed to use the posting for? On Facebook, I usually post articles about politics or videos that satirize the whole situation. I might send someone a link to an irrelevant cute cat picture or post my photos from a recent trip. Does any of that seem like a good idea on LinkedIn? No. So what do I do with this feature?

Funny how function of a website – even within the parameters of social networking – determines how we use and perceive it. It was also funny to see how hard all of my peers try to sell themselves. Yes, that’s the point of the game, but that doesn’t make it any cooler to play it.

Join LinkedIn and you'll look just like all of these happy professional people. Yay!


Twitter: Showing us that life is mostly pointless babble

In one of my classes, we’ve been discussing social networking and what it provides people. Twitter is an interesting case because its structure is so minimal. You’re limited to a few characters and the action of following or being followed. Compared to the multi-media competition of Facebook, Twitter seems useless. When I first got one, I didn’t really know what to do with it. Perhaps it’s due to my lack of a smart phone, but I really don’t have any use for Twitter.

Another interesting thing is what people choose to do with Twitter.

Given the Occupy Movement’s focus on self-mass media, we’ve been talking a lot in class about how this is changing the format of news. While I don’t consider the often anonymous, haphazard form of tweeting and digital word-of-mouth to be comparable to “news” we did have a good discussion about how news has found its way into arenas like Twitter. You can tweet anything you want. So, Twitter really shows us what we’re choosing to talk about. How much of our banter is news-based?

A recent, short-term study of tweets, or posts, on Twitter deemed 40% of them are “pointless babble.” 37.5% were deemed conversational and 8.7% as having pass-along (news) value. Self-promotion and spam stood at 5.85% and 3.75% respectively.

So, collectively, spam and self-promotion outweigh the news. Thanks, Twitter. Just one more reason why I’m slowing losing faith in modern media to do anything but distract us.


Amusing Ourselves to Death

Last week, in between worrying about two looming 20-page papers, I was watching the Daily Show because sometimes even cynical me needs a little sugar to help the medicine go down. As much as I love watching Jon Stewart sometimes his level of awareness makes me sad. Yes, he’s doing comedic routines on the news, and he’s a TV persona like so many others, but it seems like he’s sometimes a little put off by reality.

In the episode I watched, he brought attention to the email hacking and attempted debunking that surrounded the topic of global climate change at Climategate in 2009. At the time, it caused a lot of skepticism around the topic and suggested that scientists had been manipulating the data to show climate change; this caused a nearly 20% drop in the acknowledgement of climate change.

While networks had a “field day” during this time, no one bothered to mention that a study intended to disprove climate change, funded by Tea Party oil tycoons, the Koch brothers, actually reaffirmed the science behind it.

What, you may ask, was distracting the broadcast news groups to the point that they missed this gem of information? McDonald’s reintroduced the McRib sandwich. I’ll just give you a minute to let that soak in. Yes, today’s news is more focused on annual fast food specials than something that could very well bring us all to our demise (Although, I guess you could argue that McDonald’s could also bring us all to our demise).

So where does the title of this quaint Editor’s Corner come in? Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business is a book by educator Neil Postman written in 1985. In his book, Postman relies on the fictitious futuristic dystopias given to us by the great Orwell and Huxley. These books, however, are becoming more of a reality. The author leans more towards the world of Huxley’s Brave New World, in which the people medicate themselves into bliss and voluntarily give up their rights. Postman argues that news has become an entertainment source, and another form of distraction.

As scary as it is, we all need a serious wake up call – to global climate change, to what’s important, to what is detrimental to the sustenance of life as we know it. Without an importance placed on serious issues, the masses will just fade into the mindless babble of social networking, commercials, and reality TV. We very well may end up amusing ourselves to death… if the McRib doesn’t kill us first.


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