Yearly Archives: 2009

on Twitter and national security

How did Twitter become crucial infrastructure? Seriously, wasn’t it just a month or two ago that Ashton Kutcher and Oprah threatened to drain all possible credibility out of the service? Wasn’t there much wailing and gnashing of teeth? So how did we get from there to the state department asking Twitter to delay a maintenance outage in order to support protests in Iran? I’m not making this up:

The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it had contacted the social networking service Twitter to urge it to delay a planned upgrade that would have cut daytime service to Iranians who are disputing their election.

Of course, Clay Shirky understands what’s going on. He gets it so thoroughly that he described exactly what we’re seeing now, in fascinating detail, a month ago. Appropriately, TED gives a video record of his prescient talk:

Shirky presents the idea we’re all getting a crash course on this week: it’s nigh impossible to censor media if everyone produces it for instant distribution. It’s the flipside of the social phenomenon The Onion has poked fun at so well. Now that we’re all capable of reporting, everyone is always sharing everything, whether we like it or not.

Scrippet (you know, for script snippets)

This is a test of the Scrippet plugin for WordPress, which would help me render bits of scripts and screenplays and such. I’ll be tweaking this until it looks OK.


SMITH stands next to BILLY, who is seated at his desk. Billy hands him a fat folder.


I don’t even think you’ll need a costume, Mister Vintage.


Nope. It’s like going home for spring break.


Except you’re supposed to have fun on spring break. You are going to have fun, right?


(opening the folder)

You should know, Billy. Isn’t there a high statistical correlation between me staying on a college campus and the simultaneous occurrence of fun?


Are you accusing me of forcing co-eds on you?

You might recognize the awful dialogue from The Last Domino, my cursed time-travel screenplay from Script Frenzy a couple years back.

in defense of the green screen (and perhaps killing it)

Lee shared this article and photo from Gizmodo today, and it resonates:

George Lucas, then vs now

On the left, Lucas surrounded by a ton of stuff from the first Star Wars trilogy, which ended with 1983′s Return of the Jedi. On the right, Lucas surrounded by the only object that mattered in his second Star Wars trilogy, finishing with 2005′s Revenge of the Sith: A green chroma screen.

I’ve been thinking about this in terms of television shows lately. On the one hand, using CG and green screens is so much cheaper that it allows shoestring indie productions to look as good as big studio stuff. (See the indie-to-SciFi show Sanctuary for an example.) On the other hand, green screens make it harder for actors to get involved, and there are lots of ways to get the visuals subtly wrong.

So here’s my question: do we actually need the green screen anymore? There seem to be lots of “extended super special restored director’s cut” editions of existing shows and movies now, and plenty of YouTube remasters of even the crappiest pre-digital video. None of that stock had green screens or motion dots or matchmove data, so why can’t we shoot new video without all those things?

As an intermediate step, would it be possible to dress a set the way you might for a stage play, then fill in the screen-quality props and sets digitally? Can actors look out a cardboard window at a black cloth with stars painted on it, but viewers see a porthole with galaxies whizzing past? That way, you don’t have to make the decision between the on-stage prop and the virtual one until you’re in the editing room. Who knows? You might just decide to leave the cardboard in.

Happy Towel Day!

A belated Happy Towel Day to everyone!

Dont Panic!

Don't Panic!

From Wikipedia (which, I remind all students, is NOT a source!):

Towel Day is celebrated every May 25 as a tribute by fans of the late author Douglas Adams. On this day, fans carry a towel with them to demonstrate their love for the books and the author. The commemoration was first held in 2001, two weeks after Adams’ death on May 11, 2001.