Eurovisió 2008, l’anticultura?

No em vaig poder resistir veure gairebé sencer el festival d’Eurovisió 2008. Després de ignorar-ho els últims 2 anys o així hi havia prou suquet aquest any com per no perdre’s-ho. Les raons eren moltes i molt variades:

El dia que es va fer la final anglesa a la BBC casualment estavem amb un company -el Chris-, al pub de la BBC. Haviem tingut ‘pollastres’ a la feina i haviem anat a treballar en dissabte. Vam resoldre els “problemes” laborals, vam anar a un dels meus restaurants indis preferits de tot London, l’Ajanta Tandoori i havent plegat vam anar a remullar-ho al mític BBC Club.

BBC Television Centre

Aquell dia es feia la final de la selecció de l’artista que representaria a UK a l’Studio One del Television Centre i el pub es va anar omplint d’artistes. Bon ambient! Entre tots vam veure com l’Andy Abraham era l’artista seleccionat, que passava de escombriaire a defensar l'”honor” de UK a Eurovisió. Entre tot una gran nit a l’anglesa, “pints” i “chips” inclosos.

Una altra raó va ser el Rodolfo Chikilicuatre, òbviament. Els corredors d’apostes anglesos li donaven un 25-1 o sigui que per cada lliura esterlina que hi poses, si el Chikilicuatre guanya te n’emportes 25! No em vaig poder estar d’ensenyar als d’aquí un dels punts més forts de la nostra cultura… Em va resultar impossible transmetre les vibracions de l’humor català, però bé, l’intenció és lo que compta, no?

I finalment, perles com la proposta del francès Sebastien Tellier, grandíssim i eclèctic directe, encara més gran clip i una mica de música de veritat per variar. També destacable l’oferta turca, a mans de Mor ve Ötesi.

Aquestes tardes a l’anglesa, els descobriments musicals entre tota la brossa i la companyia de bons amics és la gràcia de tot plegat, no? Encara que el comentarista de la BBC de tota la vida, el Terry Wogan, digui que vol plegar

Innovation comes from many places, but it should be measured everywhere

Innovation is one of the buzzwords of the Media Industry. “We need to do more innovation”, “Innovation is one of our key assets”, “We need to bolster innovation” and so on are some of the catchphrases that are heard in our modern New Media cubicles and Web 2.0 meeting rooms.

The issue is obviously the focus of zillions of books, experts and analysts and is constantly being discussed by “experts” around the globe.

Recently some insightful fruit has dropped from the Web tree, in the form of the ‘11 innovation lessons from Blizzard‘ lessons consolidation article published on the Inside Innovation blog.

Quite interesting and to the point indeed, without any unecessary cruft or embellishment. There are a number of very relevant pieces of advice, too long to cover on a blog entry.

However, I would like to stress one in particular, namely “Statistics Bolster Experience”. That is highlighted in the article but it should deserve one on its own. In my years of working in the media business whenever any kind of metric of success -no matter how relative-, has been put in place it has been a invaluable tool to actually achieve that particular project objectives. Actually, these stats help the project managers know when to stop working on it, which I would say it is equally as important if not more.

It also shows when objective and trivial to acquire metrics are plainly ignored. Recently I paid a visit to a friend‘s office and we discussed Web design, CSS implementation and the importance of page weight. As a random exercise, we fired up the debug menu in Safari and examined the different loading sequences and rendering times of a number of sites.

We visited a site which shall go unnamed, but the main page did amount to more than 2.1MB! And that without any embedded video loading. Such a thing should never have made it live to clog the pipes of the net. In developing a professional Web page or portal, it would be very helpful to keep track of page weight as new features and content are added to pages. Just stick it into an Excel spreadsheet or Google spreadsheet or whatever.

Use simple metrics and breakdowns, for instance the different types listed by Safari should be okay: Total Size, Documents, Stylesheets, Images, Scripts and Other. Add average total loading time with cache turned off by firing the browser 4 times or so. Automate the process for extra karma points if you like.

Build a graph over time and note where major features were added, removed, optimisations made, etc. Once it starts to develop, the relevant questions will start to pop up in design meetings. “Does this feature really belong in the home page? Perhaps it would be better on a dedicated section…? Actually, we should set up a ballpark total weight target… Not that it should be an absolute figure but more of a set of ranges. Actually, can we measure some sites we like, to get an idea of reasonable figures…”. Behold! Reasonable discussion backed with real world data! Beware of unsubstantiated “opinions”!

Blizzard are showing their wisdom here by having stats part of their development cycle. Measure, graph, visualize, print or draw it on a board and watch the positive feedback cycle unravel… You will never look back.

The Dreamers – Els Somiadors

Corbs d’ulls negres
Volen en espiral
Fan que miri cap amunt
Cap a la posta de sol de foc
Alçen les armes amunt
Amb la caiguda de la foscor
Aquests són els dies, amics

Home superficial
Home superficial
Menja als portals
Amb el cap acotxat
Sempre en declivi
Ningú ajuda ja a ningú
Així que es fa petit mentres cavalquen
Sota el cel vermellós

Així va
Només un que cerca
Una ànima solitaria
L’últim dels somiadors

Home superficial
Home superficial
Parla amb les ombres
Mou les mans tremoloses
I sempre fa una mica tard
Per l’acabament del dia

Així va
Només un que cerca
Una ànima solitaria
L’últim dels somiadors

David Bowie – The Dreamers

The moons of Verthandi

Long I signed on the silver-sailed ships, the hundred-masted whose masts reached out to touch the st-st-stars, I, floating among their shining jibs with the Pleiades burning beyond the top-royal sp-sp-spar, but never have I seen ought like you! He-hethor am I, come to serve you, to scrape the mud from your cloak, whet the great sword, c-c-carry the basket with the eyes of your victims looking up at me, Master, eyes like the dead moons of Verthandi when the sun has gone out. When the sun has g-g-gone out! Where are they then, the bright players? How long will the torches burn? The f-f-freezing hands grope toward them, but the torch bowls are colder than any ice, colder than the moons of Verthandi, colder than the dead eyes! Where is the strength then that beats the lake to foam? Where is the empire, where the Armies of the Sun, long-lanced and golden-bannered? Where are the silken-haired women we loved only last night?“.

The Shadow of the TorturerGene Wolfe

There couldn’t be any other way to start this blog than quoting my favourite literary master Gene Wolfe, as read in the first volume of his masterpiece The Book of the New Sun.

Quoted are the words of Hethor, an unimpressive personage -possibly quite mad or at least very impressionable- met by the main character Severian during his travels. Hethor has just witnessed the performance of Severian and a cadre of unlikely chance actors led by one Dr. Talos. They have just finished a supposedly improvised theatrical performance of some depth and unknown significance. Is the newcomer just impressed by the fiction portrayed by that motley group of performers? Or does he somehow relate the fiction to truths too big, too terrifying to comprehend or accept as real?

Are these insane words from a fool or do they recollect epic voyages between the stars? Where is this mythical Verthandi place? Is it maybe one of the furies of fate? Has that person been driven mad by loss, by forsaking such an adventure for a more trifling existence? Have those eyes really seen the Pleiades framing the hulls of an armada of silver ships?

The master Gene Wolfe perhaps invites us to draw our own tentative conclusions. I contend that he entices us to challenge these passages, to be lost in thought for awhile, to explore them and imagine for a moment how the moons would look framed against that starscape named after Verthandi, a mythical being of fate.

Well, a blog is a perfect place to ramble about such things and many more. And I cannot think a better humble way to start that under the shadow of the master, so much like being under the shady safe haven of an ancient tree.