Friday, August 21, 2009

View From the Phlipside 082209

These are the scripts from my radio program which is heard Tuesday - Friday on WRFA-LP Jamestown.

My name is Jay Phillippi and I've spent my life in and around the media. TV, Radio, the movies and more. I love 'em and I hate em' and I always have an opinion. Call this the view from the Phlipside

Having grown up, at least in part, during the 1960s I have a native mistrust of large corporate entities. Corporate America, lionized during the '50's, became an object of suspicion, rightly or wrongly, in the culture shift of the '60's. I still carry some of that with me into the new century. So I am beginning to wonder about Google.

It wasn't that long ago that Google was one of the little guys, the counter culture guys, going their own way, doing their own thing. Fighting the man. And best of all, winning. Google emerged from the battles of the late '90s and early two thousands as the dominant name in online search. Heck their name even became an adjective. You don't just search for something online, you google it. Out of that came several other interesting and very useful tools. I love gmail and maintain separate accounts for my work and for my home. Google reader is my favorite way to keep track of the various blogs of friends, sports teams and other topics that I follow. I belong to several Google groups and store photos at Picassa which is Google's photo site. But with each additional service they offer Google takes on more and more the aspect of the Big Corporate Entity. And I feel that '60's counter culture itch start down my spine.

Well now Google would like to be your cell phone company. And that may be just too much. Google Voice has been an online service they've recently developed. Now there are smart phone apps for Blackberry and the Android OS being made available. Google Voice Mobile steps in between you and your cell phone provider. In fact when you use it (and you can chose to make ALL your calls from your cell phone via Google Voice) your cell phone number won't even show up, it's your Google Voice number. Now the downside of this is that you may have to listen to short advertisements to pay for the service but some studies show we just might be willing to do that. Given a recent study that shows we pay the HIGHEST cell phone rates anywhere in the world this might actually be a good thing, forcing the cell phone companies to get serious about making their services more affordable.

Which means Google is STILL fighting the man! All right. I'm feeling much better now.


Is there anything cooler than when it turns out the old guys were actually right? OK, maybe there's something cooler if you're not an old guy but hey this is my program and I'll designate what's cool and what's not. So this is the coolest news of the year.

Back when it became clear that the vinyl album was headed towards extinction (and let's pause a moment to note that while vinyl sales are only a tiny fraction of what they were they haven't disappeared yet. In fact I just saw that a guy I know who is a good 20 years younger than me was out buying some vinyl for his collection. Seems vinyl still has a little life in it) anyway, one of the things some of us "old guys" lamented at the time was the loss of the "other stuff" you got with a great album. First there was the classic album cover. Some truly incredible stuff was created just to for the cover of your favorite band. Compact Discs are really too small to recreate the effect in album art. Then there were all the liner notes. Sure you've got the little pamphlets in the jewel case for that info but again it's so small that you have to print very small. Let's face it, no one above the age of 15 really wants to try and read all that tiny little print.

Well it seems like somebody else has finally come around to my way of thinking. And it's a pretty influential somebody. Itunes is working with the four largest record labels to bring back the album. Seems that with the burst in digital music sales album sales (ie actual CDs) have tailed off sharply. Now folks just buy the individual tracks they know and like. The profit margin on single track sales are much lower than albums sales so the record companies are all in favor. Itunes will bundle an interactive booklet with liner notes, photos, video and more when you buy the album.

So let me put my two cents in from the music lover's point of view. The great thing about buying an album is the chance you'll discover a great piece of music that isn't released as a single. It's getting to know the band's music in greater depth. An album takes you beyond the shallow waters of hit music and brings you into the deep waters of loving music. Add in a great piece of cover art and what more could you possibly need?


You would think that I'd be all excited about the intersection of two of the media that we talk about here on the program. Nothing like bringing several of my passions all together in the same place, right? Well not so much. Even if you add in one of my favorite writers doing the script it fails to excite me.

Sometimes you just wonder what people are thinking when they pitch a movie idea. It's like the movie "Flash of Genius" from just last year. Somebody really thought that a movie about the creation of the multiple speed windshield wiper switch would make a great movie! It's something that virtually everyone is familiar with, if your car is 20 years old or newer you have one. It's the struggle of one man against the corporate giant. It lasted 4 weeks at the box office and was never heard from again. Want another example? How about "Tucker - The Man and His Dream" about maverick car manufacturer Preston Tucker. It made almost five times as much money as Flash of Genius and was still a bomb.

And I'm pretty sure we're about to see another movie just like it. Aaron Sorkin, one of the brilliant creative minds behind "The West Wing", is working on a script about the creation of, wait for it, Facebook. You've got to be kidding right? The story of the little social network that could, and did. Created by a bunch of Harvard computer geeks after one of them was dumped by his girlfriend. Imagine the thrilling scenes of writing computer code followed by equally engaging scenes as they try to get funding to take their network big time. People offer to buy them, they say no. People offer even more money to buy them, they say no again. People offer a billion dollars to buy them, they say no. Anyone still awake after just the description of the movie?

So here we sit. A movie, written by one of the better writers out there today, about a product that virtually everyone knows and lots and lots of us use on a daily basis. And I have no idea why anyone would want to make this movie. It's going to cost tens of millions of dollars (Flash of Genius cost more than 20 Million), with a topic that won't bring in any of the key teenage demographics and a subject that's not particularly interesting to adults either. Oh yeah this has hit movie written all over it. Somebody please send the financials for Flash of Genius and Tucker to Aaron Sorkin. Please?

Call that the view from the Phlipside

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, but they're involved in car chases as they turn down the offers for the company.