A good friend tipped me off to the site “Not so Pure Michigan” – which parodies the brilliant and popular “Pure Michigan” advertising campaign run by the state, featuring the voice of Tim Allen. Among the ribbing the parody site gives to U of M football fans, Grosse Pointe, and Construction Season is a parody of the commercials for well-known Michigan ambulance chase…err…civil litigator, Sam Bernstein.
Bernstein has recently begun featuring his children in his ads, as they’ve joined his law practice. That prompted this less-than-P.C. parody:
Here’s the thing though; the Bernstein Law Firm uses Google ads, and they show up on the Not So Pure Michigan site:
I’m not the only person to notice this either:
Advertising alongside a web video that ruthlessly mocks a handicap of one’s family member is either a brilliant bit of cutthroat advertising strategy, or an example of how clumsily wielding the power of the semantic web can go horribly wrong.
Either way, it’s another great reminder of the interesting times we live in.
Memes have long been the coin of the realm online, and now the tools are available for the average geek to act on his/her geeky impulses to mash the detritus of pop culture together to create new art forms. It looks like this:
Sword fights = Cool. Lightsabres = Cool. Sword fights + Lightsabres = Nerdgasm.
In the course of my academic and intellectual pursuits (read: goofing around) I ran across an entire subculture of Youtube mashups where digital video artisans (yes, I mean artisans) photoshopped lightsabres into movie swordfights. The process probably began with the Star Wars kid, and has gone deliciously viral. Here are my 10 favorites:
1. Count Roogan vs. Inigo Montoya (The Princess Bride)
2. Cap’m Barbosa vs. Cap’m Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl)
3. The Spartans vs. the Hordes of Xerxes (300)
4. Arwen vs. the Nazgul (Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)
5. Freddy vs. Jason (Freddy vs. Jason)
6. Deadpool vs. a Room of Thugs (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) – PS – I demand someone photoshop lightsabres over Wolverine’s claws IMMEDIATELY.
7. Indiana Jones vs. Egyptian Thug (Raiders of the Lost Ark)
8. Benjamin Martin vs. British Soldiers (The Patriot) – Incorporates blasters too! Sweeeeeet.
9. Beatrix Kiddo vs. O-Ren Ishii (Kill Bill)
10. Robin Hood/Little John vs. Prince John’s Thugs (Disney’s Robin Hood)
[Blog Title courtesy the Linkbait Generator]
Thanks to Grand Rapids Community College’s intrepid Media Technologies department, a recent presentation/training I gave to some GRCC employees on best practices for social media is now available on YouTube. It covers the what, why and how of social networking/social media using case studies from GRCC.
In the democratized, media-saturated era we live in incidents like the one that just happened to Domino’s Pizza (where two employees, Kristy Hammonds and Michael Setzer, videotaped themselves doing a variety of unsanitary things to customer’s orders) are inevitable. In fact, I can’t believe that this hasn’t happened more frequently.
The PR industry is wringing its hands over how to respond given how seemingly powerless large organizations are to stop these sorts of events. The solution is (as with many problems in the age of social media) transparency.
Here’s a couple free suggestions for Domino’s:
- Install webcams in all of your 8,500 kitchens and broadcast them in real time on your website so that customers can go peek in on the happenings at their local pizzeria to assuage their fears that some douchenozzle is snorting the shredded cheese into their Chicken Bacon Ranch Oven-Baked Sandwich.
- If you really want to do a good job of it – crowdsource enforcement: empower your customers by giving them the option to flag a section of video for further scrutiny (and possible criminal charges).
Given how cheap digital technology and cloud computing are, it likely won’t cost that much and you can simultaneously 1) recover from the negative perception, 2) build credibility by following up a promise with concrete action, 3) get a hot, cheesy promotional slice of earned media for being the first major fast food chain to adopt this safety measure.
The best part is that there’s really nothing startlingly-new about this approach; it’s the same principle as putting the kitchen in a restaurant within view of the customers.
Even if Domino’s did nothing but make sure the two miscreants end up on the business end of a lawsuit and criminal charges – that’s likely enough to restore their bruised image. That’s the way of the wired world: yes, it casts a spotlight on an organization’s negatives – but people are more open-minded and forgiving than we give them credit for when it comes to considering the context of bad PR (especially if an organization has built up credit by operating above-board and generally doing the right thing on a daily basis).
YouTube’s recent release of its “.EDU” site which features channels and content from educational institutions hints at a possible “open source” future for education (particularly higher education). Grand Rapids Community College has a thriving YouTube channel as a result of the excellent work done by our Media Technologies department (which produces content for the Grand Rapids Public Schools as well as a number of local colleges and universities).
In fact, GRCC is one of the heavyweights in the new YouTube EDU site (as others have noticed, including Time Magazine in a recent article titled “Logging on to the Ivy League”); it has more content up than Harvard and almost as much as MIT. Many of the four-year universities in Michigan don’t even have YouTube channels.
Watching the potential of online courses leads me to this question: what is the difference between an online course and a traditional course? This question is important, because as online course content from top-tier universities is increasingly available for free through the web – they’re going to offer some serious competition to other education institutions.
One of the things the web does best is to free people from the geographic bonds that hold them; you’re no longer limited to the offerings at your local mall, dating pool, or social circles. The same is true of education.
I see a possible future where students from across the US (and around the world) take online courses from the best faculty at the best schools, and the role of regional higher education becomes to provide the necessary support services, lab space, proctoring and resources for those students to become credentialed.
That is to say, your semester (assuming there’s still a need to keep rigidly-defined calendars, which is less and less likely) looks something like this:
- You fill your class schedule this semester with an online Chemistry class from M.I.T., an online English class from Yale, an online Social Science class from U.C. Berkley, and an online Ethics class from Oxford.
- You watch podcasted lectures, participate in collaborative group exercises with Google Apps, and interact with the faculty (or their graduate assistants) in immersive virtual environments.
- Then, when it comes time for tutoring, lab experiments or testing/assessment – you head to Grand Rapids Community College for the one-on-one instructional support and hands-on learning (which is GRCC’s true core competence as a “teaching” institution).
One particular aspect of that scenerio that is particularly promising in terms of creating a dramatic opportunity for regional education institutions is assessment. Currently the means we use to measure comprehension (standardized tests) are woefully-inadequate; they’re inherently biased with respect to culture and learning styles – yet they’re necessary in order to keep class sizes manageable while still being cost-effective.
If we’re free of some of those time constraints – suddenly a dramatic window opens up for personalized, one-on-one interview-style assessments of one’s ability to comprehend, master and think critically about course material.
The reasons this can’t be the near future are rapidly eroding away – which means that it’s an increasingly likely future. Something to consider.