Do you want Facebook to take over your phone?

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Today’s smartphones essentially have software from Google (Android) and Apple (iOS) at the forefront. Which means, when you look at your phone, you’re looking at a bunch of apps. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, in announcing Facebook Home, wants to change that. “Our phones are designed around apps and not people,” he said. “So we want to flip that around.” (more…)


Amazing creativity in a stop-motion video

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I’ve been a fan of stop-motion videos since I was a kid, and lately I’ve been wowed by the ways still photographers have been creating stop-motion videos out of thousands of frames. As photographer Jonathan DeNicholas says at Vimeo, “This film is made entirely of stop motions stills…. It is a contest entry that required it to be no longer than 2 minutes and you can only shoot things you appreciate during the month of February. There are exactly 2,877 stills in this film hence the title.” (more…)

Photography, Tech

24 photos in one little book

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For this month’s book for my 12 Books project, I tried something completely different (well, different from the short story I published as a Kindle book): a tiny photo book. With Printstagram, you’re able to select 24 of your Instagram photos, then get three copies of your book for $10. The books are small: just 1.7 by 1.5 inches. But for the price, it’s a pretty good deal.

Photo book printing has been around for years, but now it’s even more automated and simple. With Printstagram, you don’t even get your photos from your computer’s image collection; you just type in your Instagram login, and Printsagram grabs your images. It’s almost what I’ve come to think of as an “instant book.”

But here’s what’s interesting: It’s also got something in common with the artist’s book — books designed and printed by designers, illustrators, photographers, and other artists. They’re made independently, the print run is small, and they’re intended as works of art. Though I don’t plan on selling my little books, I could see how a photographer might print, say, 50 of these, then sign and inscribe them, and offer them at $10 a pop.

Just another interesting opportunity in the evolving world of the book.

Tech, Writing

Welcome to the era of micro-communications

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I’m a fan of brevity, and in the era of status updates, of witty online profiles, of Twitter and Snapchat (an app for images your recipient can only view for seconds), there’s plenty of brevity out there. As I write in my column about micro-communications:

Put down “Infinite Jest.” Turn off “Citizen Kane.” Yes, people still read novels and watch movies (I do), but this is an age that’s increasingly enthralled with and defined by — very, very brief communications. Fueled by the prospect of a mega-audience of online followers, today’s micro-communicators spin out their pithy phrases and status updates at a mind-boggling clip.

And is it all junk? I don’t think so. As I say, “It’s easy enough to deride this, to see it as a sign of everything wrong with our culture. But let’s put that sort of thinking aside and agree on this: Among all of the dreck, all of those idiotic rants and pointless observations, you’ll find any number of micro-communication masters — writers, in particular — who are making the most of these new forms by crafting personas ideally suited to the online world.”

And if you’re wondering about Snapchat? Well, I wrote about that app, and other new photo-sharing tools, in another recent column.