Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Look away, I'm hideous!

Oh, to be a TIFF volunteer with nothing to lose. Did Madonna demand that volunteers turn away from her as she left her press conference or did she not?

Were it the former, Clay would no doubt make every attempt to meet the Material Girl. You know, just to piss her off. Apparently it's quite easy to do.

And this:

The only explanation I can think of is that Madonna is actually a Gorgon and she was looking out for the volunteers' own safety.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Hat. Boat. Hat boat!

DSC_0461, originally uploaded by claydevoute.
It's a picture of a boat. On a hat. In a picture of a hat on a boat. You get the picture.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Clearing out the backlog of drafts

A scan of a Paris Metro ticket. This one took me back to my old haunts around the Moveable Feast.

This draft was at least a year old.

No, I don't know why it would take me a year to post it, either.

Charlie Parker goes to Palo Alto

F. Scott Fitzgerald said "there are no second acts in American lives."

I came across the quote at the bottom of my movie poster for Bird, the Charlie Parker biopic.

The premise, I guess, is that U.S. innovators are so intense and their trails so new that they've nothing left when it's time to reinvent.

It certainly applied to Parker, who transformed jazz from music for dancing into music for listening before he died at 35.

Let's apply this to tech:

  • Microsoft: With Windows and the PC, Microsoft put computing in everyone's hands, but has struggled elsewhere. Revenues have tripled under Ballmer's reign, but do you know anyone with a Windows phone?

  • Yahoo! With the portal concept, Yahoo! made sense of the web when no one else could. That is, until a better search engine made portals irrelevant. Carol Bartz increased revenues almost 150 percent in two years, but besides sending mail, do you still Yahoo?

  • RIM: With the BlackBerry, RIM invented the smartphone and enabled productivity at all hours of the day. Then Apple built a better smartphone. The PlayBook is a powerful and beautifully made tablet, but it hasn't helped RIM stem the torrent of bad news or set the world on fire.

Microsoft, RIM, Yahoo: a few years ago all three were giants of tech. They were big and scary, now they're neither. They're more akin to those toothless old tigers you see at the zoo. 

There are exceptions:

Since his return to Apple, Steve Jobs proved it's possible to reinvent entire industries. Ditto IBM, which has been around for 100 years. Amazon has gone from selling books to selling everything and its cloud offerings host a range of new startups. Android's doing well, but the jury's still out on whether Google can "do" social.

My sense is that there's something about tech that makes it difficult for companies to evolve. Is tech more dependent on its leaders than other industries? Are too many of them one-trick ponies? Can anyone even really determine how tech will evolve?

I dunno. Any ideas?

Bird had some. Then he died.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Howl of the cube dweller

With apologies to Allen Ginsberg
I saw the best hours of my afternoon destroyed by
meetings, frantic, multitasked pointless,
dragging themselves toward another conference call at eight
asking for the login ID,
muddleheaded managers pining for the blessed elusive
synergy with strategic goals in the quarterly report,
who powerpoints and spreadsheets and stressed-out and burnt sat 
there stewing in the everpresent leverage of 
beige-grey cubes scanning across the inbox and voicemail 
contemplating scope.

Things that come to me on the drive into work

"U2 haven't been relevant since I grew pubes."

Rejected new slogans from Ottawa Tourism

Ottawa: It's just kinda there.
Ottawa: City of leftovers.
Ottawa: Three thousand civil servants, one million angry farmers.
Ottawa: Mostly harmless.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011