Most of us take the web and websites for granted: we rarely think about the costs associated with setting up, running, and updating servers, or ensuring that the pages we visit will work reliably and safely. These are costly operations and the more users a web service has the higher the costs. It’s fairly safe to assume that if Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or Reddit charged users even a fraction of their costs they would have been unable to become the giants they are. Unlike in the real world, we have come to expect information and services on the Internet to be free. For most for-profit businesses this leaves little alternatives for profit outside of advertising. I don’t want to comment on the ethics, legality or impact on privacy and society that such advertising has. We know it’s pervasive and with the marriage of ever-improving algorithms and more time spent online, it will probably continue to become even more so. But advertising is one of only three ways (that I can think of) to make money on the Internet. The second is, of course, selling something whether it be e-commerce or a SAAS or anything else that individuals and companies are willing to pay for. The last way is the traditional non-profit model, however, it no longer powers charities and churches. It’s proven to be the most lucrative and the most viable.
Think about the last time Wikipedia adorned their header with a fundraising banner. If you’re anything like me you’ve probably closed that modal about a dozen times over the years without thinking twice. Yet, I use Wikipedia almost daily and have for years and they have never served me an ad or enforced a pricey subscription fee. We all use Wikipedia, don’t even try and deny it. What about Khan Academy? What about other non-profits that you may not think of? The Apache Foundation? Linux? Mozilla?
For at least 10 years I’ve used an FTP client called Cyberduck to maintain my website, every time you exit the application it asks for a one-time donation. I must have closed it hundreds of times without ever giving. About two years ago I bit the bullet and actually donated about $50 to Cyberduck, as a student it felt like a lot but I wanted to give back to a program that had given me so much. However great the sacrifice of $50 felt at the time, considering how long I’d been using the software it equated to a subscription fee of $5 a year! Not such a big sacrifice when you put it that way especially considering David V. Kocher and Yves Langisch probably spend more than 10 minutes a year maintaining Cyberduck.
This innovative model extends beyond just services and software products it is also applied to the content. More and more I’m seeing YouTube channels featuring a link to their Patreon accounts and why not? Making videos takes time and resources and making really good videos takes more time and more resources. If you really a channel’s content and are a regular viewer consider giving the creators a bit of compensation especially if they’re not big enough yet to be making a lot of money as YouTube partners.
I’m not saying that advertising is wrong or a bad model only that there are alternatives. One alternative is funded by your generosity, without which the lake of alternatives grows ever and ever drier. So this week give a few dollars to a non-profit website or service you use regularly and make it a monthly habit.
Good artist copy, great artists steal.
This is an oft-quoted saying, perhaps originally coined by Pablo Picasso but it’s hard to say since I’m willing to bet he stole it. But it’s not just a humorous saying, what Picasso was getting at is deadly serious. (In this post I’m going to talk a lot about art specifically but these principles can be applied broadly to any field where you create something, baking, software engineering, or laying bricks).
Within each of us, I think there is an inherent drive to create something new, to do things that no one has done before, or to take something that exists and twist it into something that did not exist before and is arguably better. This is not only the basis for creative expression but all progression generally. So, naturally, when seeking to exercise whatever creative instincts we have been gifted with we generally want to create something new, original and wholly our own. Today, I’d like to make a slight argument against this; this week take a work you admire and copy it 100%.
Seriously, lift someone else’s art, music or design this week. I’m not saying you should sell it, distribute it, or claim it as your own, that’s highly unethical. But I am saying that you should copy someone else’s work for your own personal education. You can burn if afterwards if you wish because the value of this exercise is in the creation process, not the final product.
I think it would be difficult to become a great artist in a vacuum, there is just too much to discover without help, I’m confident that any living artist would not be remotely as good as they are without generations of influences behind them. But studying the masters of art will only get you so far. From an artistic perspective, there is no substitute for putting pencil to paper and copying someone you admire. You will learn things that you could not have otherwise known from even the motion of your hand as you sketch.
Your results won’t be of much value to the world, selling them or passing them off as your own would be plagiarism. Even your most of your friends will look at your masterpiece and say, “Hey cool, but I like Turner’s better”. But that’s not the point. You’re not making this for the world. If you’re serious about your craft and you actually want to progress rather than remain stagnant it’s worth putting in a few hours a month to copy a work you like and in the process you may even teach yourself (without an expensive online class) some of the very techniques that the master originally used in creating the work.
Copying something will help you to familiarise yourself with the conventions of a genre. For example, I’ve long been fascinated by the advertising of the 1920s and 1930s. For example, the beautiful Grand Prix posters created by French illustrator Robert Falcucci. As much as I love this style, I couldn’t possibly create an ad like this, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Largely, because I just don’t know the conventions of the era. These designers, illustrators, and printers were constrained by numerous factors, from the medium they used, to the cost of the commission; even what society considered to be an “acceptable ad” was a constraint. I have no idea about any of those things but by attempting to recreate my favourite ads from the time I have learned to see the world a little bit more like those who were originally creating these beautiful ads. By so doing I have in a small way become like those designers and am now slightly more capable something original in that same style.
So if you admire something but it boggles your mind, spend some time this week copying it. You won’t realise it at first but next time you sit down to create an original work you may well have, inadvertently, “stolen” a little of a great artist’s technique.
Below is my attempt at Robert Falcucci’s masterpiece as viewed by an iPhone.
The original Falcucci poster was taken from Benjamin’s Flickr account and is under Creative Commons Licence.
After a nearly four-year hiatus (from which I did not believe I would ever return) I have taken up the pen to resume my blog. A few semesters ago I was in a class that mandated all students keep a weekly blog. I was not too keen on this since our topics were dry and a bit redundant but it made me miss blogging. Also since I last regularly posted I have learned a lot about content creation and internet marketing so I’ve been wanting to try out my skills on myself before offering them to others.
In previous years my blog was a collection of semi-coherent ramblings about a plethora of subjects. My main focus now is on motivation and intentional living and how those things relate to business, design and life. I will be updating the blog faithfully every Monday morning with a little bit of motivation for you. This Monday motivation will be stories of people or products that inspire me and other inspirational thoughts that I come across throughout the week. Throughout the week I’ll be posting more sporadically on design, business and very occasionally web development, these weekly posts will be more in the vein of the ramblings that I used to post so if you’re interested in what I’m up to professionally then tune in, otherwise check the blog on Mondays for a little dose of motivation.
Lastly, this website is far from finished, in fact, according to Theme Checker there are about 30 changes I have to meet WordPress guidelines. But that is above and beyond what I can see with my own eyes. I’ve been working on this template on and off for about six months (the bulk of it was done in May) and for a long time I used it as an excuse to not publish anything. I realised that if I waited until perfection I would never post anything so I’m opting to begin posting on an unfinished website.
A few notes on this blog redesign:
The collaborations between Colin and myself are sometimes brilliant and sometimes less than. Whenever we get together (about once a year) there is a strong desire to shoot something, anything, and if a good story is not something we can brainstorm we resort to wandering the streets of Princeton and nearby Sourland Mountain with a kids bike and a couple of cameras.
More than anything else one could say this was a test of our SLRs, neither John or I had ever shot anything so long or intensive on our cameras so this was a good test just to see how they would hold up over the course of an intense shoot. I have to say I am very pleased with the outcome.
I spent about three days editing this (with a week-long venture to Rome in between).
Remember our little films look good in 720 or 1080 HD! Check it out on Youtube.
Below are some behind the scenes photos (second only to cool guys not looking at explosions are cool guys riding a little girls bike):
Everyone’s trying to get Will to quit…
Last week when I noticed a colonie of ants all over my sidewalk I never intended for it to become a thing. I wasn’t planning to make a video. I just love ants, seriously; they exhibit a degree of sociality present among few other insects, let alone animals. This also served a good test of my new SLR’s video capabilities.
After viewing the footage I quickly decided it was too good to waste and thought perhaps I could get some milage out of it. I also drew a sweet doodle in my sketch book which served as a title. About four years back I was at a popular Ontario Amusement Park once licensed to Paramount Pictures 😉 while standing in line with my good friend Talia; we saw a hill of ants so I pretended to be David Attenborough/”the voice of nature” whilst she filmed, I suppose this could be seen as a sequel with a sinister twist.
I was digging around in my computer-box-machine when I found some gold from yesteryear. Shortly before my mission I was working on turning a 2D image into a dynamic 3D image, it was going to be used as an intro to a specific part of my website set aside for doodles and random sketches. I never got around to using animation to make it 3D but I did a lot of photoshop on the original image and I was actually quite impressed when I found it the other day, take a look!
Original (don’t click on it it’s huge):
(Image courtesy of wikimedia)
Wow, I was filled with chills as I clicked “New Post” for the first time in almost three years! When I posted last I was about to serve a full time two year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. To find out more about my faith check out my page: here.
I returned in July 2012, and I’m sure when I wrote ‘Hiatus’ I was planning on picking up right away however I said “why”?. I started school, did two semesters (finals week right now actually, I should be studying), but as my ambitions and creations grew like a chestburster inside me I knew that it was time to get this rolling again.
To catch you up, because my photo on the about section and above is four years old here is a semi-recent photo of me in my buddy Mike’s ascot:
Certainly an under used fashion accessory by most of us, except Fred Jones, so I thought I’d rock it. Sorry for the photo quality, it was taken with the front camera on an iPhone which implicates that I took this photo myself.
After Dreamhost’s servers were hacked my website disappeared; but it’s back, bug free and that’s all for now. As I start to rebuild something of a portfolio I will being posting it here, maybe someday I will do this stuff for pay again but for now “eis for fun”.
Dear friends, readers any anybody who happens to stumble across my website. For the next two years I will be serving a full time mission for my church: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (mormon.org). I will not be updating my site, taking any jobs or responding to my work email here on the site.
It’s a big commitment but I know that serving the Lord is the best thing I could possibly be doing with the next two years of my life. I know the truth of the work I am doing and can not be swayed.
Thanks and I’ll see you in two years.
A way back, before I had the artistic talent to paint a soccer ball I painted a sweet World Cup Bear at the Plaster Funhouse. This is probably painted around France 98′ so yeah, it’s old;
These are not necessarily all my favorite films nor would I say that I even consider all the films on this list to be some of my favorites, this is simply a list of films that will stay with me forever.
It should also be noted that I have tried to get a link to the original trailer for each one of these films, so enjoy those as well.
Not Spielberg’s best film technically, I’ll admit that. However I have vivid memories of watching ‘Jurassic Park’ at a very young age and thinking “I want to make movies”. I credit this film for getting me interested in making films and becoming a lifelong Spielberg fan.
The story’s a bit dated, and there are some moments I finch at just how dated it is however from a technical standpoint ‘Citizen Kane’ is one of the greatest if not the greatest films of all time. If your looking for story over style then I’d say by all means rent ‘Casablanca’ but ‘Citizen Kane’ will forever be stuck in my head as a technical masterpeace. Orson Wells did so much with a camera and effects that had never been done before he’s should almost be credited as more of an inventor then a director.
I watch a lot of films, a lot, this includes horror films and to be quite honest ‘Psycho’ is one of only a handful that actually gave me chills. It’s a masterpiece of film making and story telling and Anthony Perkins delivers one of the greatest performances of all time.
No Country For Old Men
This film will always stand out in my mind for it’s stark imagery and contrast of the beautifully cinematic Texas countryside and the brutal violence and bloodshed that splashes across the screen. The Cohen Brothers delivered a slow and meaningfully paced thriller keeping the frame wide, the camera locked down in true Roger Deakins fashion. Incredible performances from the large ensemble as well as a great original story by Cormac McCarthy also help.
The Sixth Sense
I leave a good film talking about it, I leave a great film wanting to go back and see it again the same night. Such was my experience with ‘The Sixth Sense’, the story is strong and the characters are compelling enough so that the film does not fall into the trap of just being one long set up for a 5 minute payoff at the end. I found this problem with a few of M. Night Shyamalan’s other films as well as ‘Matchstick Men’. The Sixth Sense has a killer ending that blows the viewer away the first time but it’s not all about the ending, the film is strong enough to carry it’s own on repeat viewings.
Back To The Future
Genius, absolute genius. Time travel has proven to be one of the hardest plot devices to pull off but Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale seem to have pulled it off as near perfect as any master peace. Of all the films on this list ‘Back to the Future’ (along with it’s inferior but still enjoyable sequels) is probably my most discussed. I have had endless debits about the implications of time travel whiten the reality of this film. Along with ‘Jurassic Park’ this is one of a few films I try to watch at least once a year if not more.
Saving Private Ryan
Truthfully when I think of this film I don’t even think about the beach scene, sure it’s graphic and incredibly violent but in the context of the film it’s not just violence for the sake of violence. There are a few scenes I will never forget; when a member of Waffen SS stabs a certain US soldier (name withed for spoilers) that scene is both brutal and tragic, one of a few times I have been almost moved to tears in a film. Another one of my favorite scenes is when the men are camped out in an abandoned church (I believe it’s a church) and there talking about their families back home one of the soldiers tells a story about his mother which is one of the most moving scenes I have ever watched. “Saving Private Ryan” is a master peace by every definition but be warned if you have not seen it: it is one the most realistically gory and violent films ever made.
Another film I have spent literally days of my life thinking about, the ethics of the DC pre-crime unit forcing one to ask the question “Is it right to arrest someone for a crime they will most likely commit even if they have not done so yet? And what if the system you trust turns on you? What if you are told you will kill someone you have never met in less then two days? These question make ‘Minority Report’ a great ethical debate, however it’s also a technical master peace as well. Janusz Kaminski’s brilliant use of light to create a modern sci-fi neo-noir. The bleach bypass of the film makes for beautiful almost black and white color. If I ever made a film half as thoughtful or half as beautiful as ‘Minority Report’ I’d be happy.
A Beautiful Mind
Perhaps it was because I did not know the story of John Nash or anything about the film when I first watched it, but I was absolutely riveted from start to finish. Great performances and amazing direction by Ron Howard (a director who in my opinion is severely underrated).
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
One could argue that Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ was the last great western. Sergio Leone’s dollars trilogy had already come, and John Ford’s far less gritty westerns were long dead. The story of ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ could almost be a metaphor for the dying western genre (if somebody could make a decent PG-13 western today I guarantee it would easily top $100 million domestically). It’s a fun and rowdy film that I consider to be something of a technical master peace as well.
Once Upon a Time in The West
If I had to pick what I would consider to be the ‘coolest’ film on my list it might be this one. Praised and remembered for a man with no name in a dollars trilogy people tend to over look this Sergio Leone gem. Amazing performances from Henry Fonda, Jason Robards, Charles Bronson, and the gorgeous Claudia Cardinale, shot with all the extreme close ups, huge wide shots and awesome gun slinging action that made the dollars trilogy epic.
The Good The Bad and The Ugly
It’s an argument near as old as the chicken and the egg: Eastwood or Wayne, I’ll weigh in for Eastwood 100% all the way. Clint Eastwood is the toughest cowboy to ever don spurs. The iconic images, wide barren landscapes, extreme closeups on the eyes and trigger fingers, and the awesome final showdown in the grave yard have made ‘The Good the Bad and The Ugly’ you don’t need me to explain it, just listen to Ennio Morricone’s score.
12 Angry Men
If you ever doubt that you can shoot an entire film in one room and still have it be a compelling master peace just watch ’12 Angry Men’.
Striking, terrifying, beautiful, violent and awesome. ‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ is quite the trip, blurring the lines between this world and several others, it’s a dark and twisted fairy tale with beautiful sets, props, lighting, and costumes. This film is worthy of being hung on a wall in an art museum.
In my mind Pixar is the best animation house currently in existence, and yes, it gives Disney in the 30’s and 40’s a run for it’s money. Pixar makes films with a formula but it’s not the same formula that say Warner Brothers uses to make summer blockbusters. It’s a formula of collaboration and perfecting a story before they ever begin working on the film, it’s a formula of what John Lassiter calls ‘sanding the underside of the drawers’. The dedication to art and story ensures that everything that comes out of Pixar Animation will be an enjoyable and heart warming film that will enthrall young and old alike without stooping to cheep humor. There all good films, but ‘The Incredibles’ is one of my favorites.
Often overlooked in the Humphrey Bogart, I’m not sure why I like this film so much more then say ‘The Maltese Falcon’ but I do. I like the claustrophobia that’s created by the hurricane outside the resort, I like the tropical setting and the idea of a vacation gone horribly awry.
Some Like It Hot
Hilarious, one of the funniest films of all time even if it is a bit dated in terms of content. The first time I watched I was even a bit surprised at what Billy Wilder and the writers were able to get away with in terms of content (lets just say the censors had larger snippers back then, heck back then censors still had snippers). Content aside, this is a hilarious comedy/gangster/musical.
Ever hear of ‘The Departed’ Martin Scorsese’s Oscar winning 2006 film? It’s actually an English remake of a 2002 film from Hong Kong, the film; ‘Infernal Affairs’. I’ll admit I’ve never seen ‘The Departed’ so that in no way colors my review. ‘Infernal Affairs’ is a master peace of cinema and an classic cat and mouse thriller. Thoughtful and action packed.
With ‘Memento’, ‘Batman Begins’, ‘The Dark Knight’ Christopher Nolan has proved himself to be one of the greatest living directors who’s capable of artistic integrity as well as delivering a commercially successful film. Of all his films I think ‘The Prestige’ is my favorite. It’s on that list of films I try to see at least once a year.
As Danny Boyle will tell you; when you shoot in India you can’t work the same way as you would in the States, Canada or England. You have to adapt to an ever changing environment. You can’t close a street, so you have to shoot with people on it, a crew members brother will show up one day, it’s absolute chaos. ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ embraces this. The Si 2k made for a very light and portable cameras in the tight environment which allowed Boyle to shoot fast and dirty this comes across in the frenzied pace of the film. Technical aspects aside, ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ is a brilliant, thoughtful and ultimately heart warming story.
All The Presidents Men
I had something of a toss up between this, ‘Michael Clayton’ and ‘The Insider’ but ultimately I chose ‘All the Presidents Men’ because it paved the way for the other two as well as dozens of conspiracy thrillers. The true story of the two young reporters who unraveled the Watergate Scandal. The tension builds slowly as the two reporters become and more and more paranoid reacting to the real threats all around them and they dig deeper and deeper.
Tell me what you think, agree, disagree, rant, enjoy. If you haven’t seen one get in touch and we’ll watch it together heh.
And now that I am out of adjectives I bid you adieu.