Monday, September 1, 2008

On My Mind

Sometimes I don't like people to see the man behind the curtain. I don't like them to know that something wasn't awesome before they saw it. You know, the things we had to tweak, the things we had to cut, that is inevitable. But now, I don't think it is just us. The whole world is so much about seeing behind the curtain and seeing how things are made and how they work and the extended cut, and what we could have done and what we didn't do and the alternate ending and you just, you kind of take it as part and parcel at the beginning...Because it's Eliza, and because it's me, we might suffer from it a little bit more. But those are high-class problems to have.
-- Joss Whedon on TV and DOLLHOUSE

I come from feature film directing. And I, for quite some time as an audience member, really appreciated the long form of serialized [television]... so, eight, twenty hours, whatever it is. Because I started to find the basic three act movie a little bit contrived and unsatisfying. It was just a lot of fun to watch twenty, thirty hours of one show like The Sopranos, like you were reading a book. And when we got into Battlestar Galactica there was a discussion about... obviously the network would have preferred more episodic shows, more stand alone shows. And Ron was very firm about that and resisted doing that. And when we did experiment with that, we failed. No one, the audience, really didn't seem to respond to those stories. They were more interested in the bigger arcs. They were impatient, so it doesn't matter how good a job I did at directing some of those sort of "bottle shows" as we call them. It was interesting to see how no one cared, (laughs) because they were so interested in the big story. I think the best shows we did, and maybe this is true about the best writing on television is when you get it all going at once, where you somehow manage to tell a story that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Yet keep the larger story moving. That's, I guess, the ultimate goal of television writing. And I think we sometimes did a good job, sometimes not such a good job.

...Essentially, television is about bringing people's faces in your living room. You come home, and who do you want to spend time with? Do you want to spend time with Bill Shatner and James Spader? Do you want to spend time with Eddie [Olmos] and Mary [McDonnell]? Do you want to spend time with Tony Soprano? It's sort of the last bastion of character. Look, I'm also very proud of the action and the visual effects, and I think Gary Hutzel and Mike Gibson are amazing. And when the shows are finished, by the time Bear [McCreary]'s done his music and the sound design is in, it's an amazing thing. It's a very exciting show. But if those little human gestures weren't there, that to me is what makes it. We are being inundated with comic book movies, waves and waves of them coming at us. And every time I see one, I am looking for that little human moment that's going to make me connect. Okay, it's a guy in a suit; but he is just like me in this moment. I get that. I don't have to save the world; but I get what he is going through with his friend, or that girl, or his boss, or whatever.


For me, it's a consummate creative experience...In many ways, the peeling away of the layers of this character is a revelation for me as well as for the audience, and I really have gotten into that. It's an amazing mind game...

I honestly think that with American television and shows like ours, and in some ways the paradigm was 'The Sopranos,' we are pioneering a true art form...It's like living a novel. When we went to Europe to do some publicity at the end of last year, from all over, they came up to us and said, 'The best writing on the screen now is coming out of American television.' It's kind of like a Golden Age.

-- Glenn Close on TV and DAMAGES

The cost of failure is the principal barrier to innovation...What the web has done, is it's just kicked the everloving crap out of the cost of organising people, so for example; we now make encyclopedias and operating systems the way that ants build hills. Imagine if you were going to erect a skyscraper, and the way that you were going to erect the skyscraper was by putting up a notice that said "I have this empty lot. If you happen to have any structural steel, architectural diagrams, furnishings, rivets or welding guns, and you'd like to come down and help me build a skyscraper there, I'd love to have you around, because we're going to build the skyscraper - it'll probably take about 10 years, and when we're done we'll all move into it." I imagine you wouldn't get much of a skyscraper out of it, but this is, in fact, more or less how we built both Wikipedia and Linux...when I hear people criticise Wikipedia, I often think that they're discussing a different Wikipedia than the one I access, which seems to be chock-full of incredibly useful facts, including the fact that sometimes people disagree very vehemently about what it is that has been presented... It's been a long time since I opened a newspaper and discovered a little sidebox next to the article that says "6 out of the 9 reporters in the bull-pen thought that this was garbage, but the Editor In Chief decided to run it anyway," but having worked for newspapers, I'm here to tell you that there's more than one article in today's edition of whatever newspaper you've just picked up that fits that very nicely."

-- Cory Doctorow's Cambridge Business Lecture,
"Life in the Information Economy" (July 22, 2008)

Want to save the world? Become a vegetarian! There are many reasons to change your diet – including increasing the availability of freshwater, sustainable land use, clean air, and more optimal use of energy...You can ignore the cruelty of slaughtering animals. You can ignore the devastating health impact of eating animals. You can ignore the great expense of buying meat products. Simply focusing on the devastating impact of meat production on the abundance of clean water, sustainable land use, and clean air should be enough reason for even the most ardent carnivore to reconsider their diet.

-- Brian Sager, Visions Of Tomorrow

We sometimes make the conceptual mistake of thinking that the way the Earth’s ecosystem is today is the way it will forever be, that we’ve somehow reached an ecological end-state. But even in an eco-conscious world, or one devoid of humans entirely, natural processes from evolution to geophysical and solar cycles would continue. The Earth’s been at this for a long time, literally billions of years; from a planetary perspective, a quadrupling of atmospheric carbon lasting 10,000 years (for example) is little more than a passing blip.

The fact of the matter is that, no matter how much greenhouse gas we pump into the atmosphere or how many toxins we dump into the soil and oceans, given enough time the Earth — and its ecological systems — will recover.

But human civilization is far more fragile.

-- Jamais Cascio, Visions of Tomorrow


grrl_unscripted said...

LOOOVE this! Moar "on your mind." All interesting topics/speakers and nothing I had read before *shock* <3

ProgGrrl said...

Ah thanks! This is the first of a continuing series, for dem braindumps.