September 01, 2006

Just me and my girlfriend

My girlfriend and I spent part of tonight, in bed on our Mac laptops. Snapped this photo which I really like.
Photo 64.jpg

August 25, 2006

I <3 teh Intarweb

As per this genius.

August 01, 2005

Competition and the Interface Culture

My friend Branden let me borrow his copy of In the Beginning... Was the Command Line by Neal Stephenson. I finally got around to reading the essay (in book form) last week. I am not sure whether or not it is an original idea, but Stephenson writes about how we live in an interface culture. This was the most thought provoking idea in the whole book. If you are not familiar with the idea, simply put it is that we like to experience real things but mediated; television, video games, etc... rather than experience them firsthand. Stephenson uses Disney and computer operating systems as his examples, but after this weekend I think one of the most pervasive interfaces is sports entertainment.

I went to the U.S. Senior Open at the NCR Country Club and was shocked by how many others attended. For a long time I have been bothered by how many people spend so much time and money watching someone else play a sport. I got my tickets for free through a business, so I feel I can be pretty impartial in my opinion. I think most of the people that were there watching, currently play golf themselves which is way more than I can say about football/baseball/basketball fans. What hit me though is what a mediated event the golf outting was.

I appreciated how close fans could get to the players. In every other professional sporting event I have attended I have had to pay a different amount depending on how close to the action I wanted to get, but I got much closer to the golfers than any other sport would allow. The PGA does not allow cell phones at their events because it might distract the golfer, which I think is a symbol of how close the fans can get.

On with my point. I got to watch Greg Norman for a few holes. This was his second senior event as he just turned 50 recently. He was quite a fan favorite and I could not get a view of him tee-ing off. What I did get was a earful everywhere I turned about how great Norman was. While he was walking to retrieve his ball from the woods (bad drive) I heard several "Hey Greg"'s and "Nice shot Greg"'s from the crowd. Then the idea that entertainment in general might be the most mediated event in the history of man hit me.

Greg Norman hits a golf ball and he is the one who has all of the pressure on him. Not anyone in the audience. Everyone looking on is protected from embarrassment, which I'm sure is what they would feel if they were up there hitting the ball and it was a bad shot. And as obvious as this feels to say Greg Norman is playing as the entire audience when he is up there whether he likes it or not. Every person in the crowd is vicariously playing the same game he is. When he is on, the crowd feels good. When he has one bad shot, the crowd tries to stay positive. When all is going wrong they can safely abandon him (as the other golfers that were not doing so well had no following) and feel no pain themselves.

Extended to every form of entertainment and the icons they produce it is no wonder why so many people are willing to pay so much money to always be at the top and never feel embarrassed, while resting all of the pressure on someone else's shoulders. What I feel is wrong with this is the fact that the audience always loses out on an important part of the event, the failure. I think by being a part of the audience so much we begin to fear failure to the point where we make every event seemingly failure free. No kid is left off a sports team if he wants to play. And more and more I realize that people think they have the right to not be offended, which is simply not true and it is insane to think it possible. Anyway, just a thought.