Movie: Kurt Cobain About a Son.

About a son

Photo: Rod Yates, editor of Empire Magazine interviewing Michael Azerrad on his movie, Kurt Cobain About a Son.

Kurt Cobain looms out of the cinema screen like a melancholic Viking, ready to pillage our minds. Like the images of other dead celebrities, the image sets off thought patterns and we classify: drug addict, father, musican.

Like all narratives perpetuated by the one dimensional main stream media, he was also a son. A talented person with real problems, real skills and dreams.

A son of divorced parents, a common afliction of children of the late 20th century, this and the times haunted Kurt. The lyrics and music of Nirvana described the world of the US Pacific Northwest: dark with low hanging fog and cloud. This description also applies to his life, and the life of many of Generation-X. Cold war, AIDS, unemployment.

The movie, About a Son, is Kurt narrating his life in his own words. As captured by biographer, Michael Azerroth in 25 hours of taped interviews during 1992-3. The imagery paints a Washington state that Kurt lived in. A child of his parents, age and area.

Using Kurt’s own words, and showing the real life Aberdeen, Olympia and Seattle one gets a sense of the angst of Nirvana. Kurt also talks about his addiction via self medication to opiates to escape pain; depression and scoliosis.

The movie is about an ordinary person; it humanises a driven person. An complex artistic soul that expressed the nihilism of my generation.

Most importantly, Kurt touches the ultimate poison that is the cult of celebrity that has only grown in the last 15 years. Especially fighting the negative narrative.

Any Nirvana fan or member of generation X should see this movie.

Thanks to PopcornTaxi for bring this movie to Australia.

Follow the Eyeballs. And the Money.

Breakfast Bytes

At the Hill and KnowltonSurviving and thriving in the next decade – Technology PublishingBreakfast Bytes this morning, a group of eminent panelists in picture above, from the left:

  • James Tuckerman – Publishing Editor, AntHill. New relatively magazine about ideas, money and skills. Previously more print than online, but adding new online projects later in 2007.
  • Heather Craven – Director of Marketing & Communications, Circulations Audit Board,
    Australian Circulation Bureau. Sub-committee researching digital.
  • Brian Haverty – Editorial Director, CNET Networks Australia : Readers first, video and text style publishing.
  • Tony Sarno – Editor, APC. Adding new online APC projects later in 2007.
  • Peter Roberts – Managing Editor, BRW. Part of the Fairfax group, around since 1857. Noted that relaunched this week, and closed content model AFR Access continues.
  • Andrew Kirk, Hill and Knowlton: Chair

The theme from the morning’s panel and Q&A is that “there will be a mixture of online and print” and that “online and print” readers are treated as different readers by the big-names. My perspective as a corporate online/citizen journalist is slightly different.

Like the quintessential investigative journalists: Woodward and Bernstein learnt: follow the money. In the above listing of panelists, notice where their stated investment is going. It’s online.

From a traditional publisher’s perspective, the business is about employing journalists to gather hidden facts, connect, analyse and write stories. People buy the paper (atoms) to read the stories and maybe their eyeballs will stray onto an advertisement. The marketing groups of companies buy these positions on the paper in the hope that the right eyeballs are enthralled by the product and/or service – and buy the product. The core of a publisher’s job is managing the compelling content such that a specific audience is created that advertisers value.

The web is no different, except that anyone can be a publisher, and outsource the revenue side (advertising) to Microsoft or Google. Large publishers, such as Fairfax, are unhappy that their expensive infrastructure is subverted online: Peter Roberts mentioned twice that Google made $200 million in Australia without investing in the content-side.

Peter Roberts also commented on one of his competitors, Alan Kohler’s Eureka Report, having only an online mechanism but successful business model. My perspective is that Alan’s business is successful as he is seen as a respected and independent entity within Australia’s financial community. Alan Kohler is a trusted brand.

The Gadget Guy, Peter Blasina’s question near the end summarised the morning for me: What does the future really look like? Each of the represented panelist’s organisations (maybe with the exception of cnet) have their business strategies weighted toward print, and the brand-value that print brings.

Peter Blasina comes at this with credibility as a true multi-channel brand and personality: print, online and TV – and surmised that the coming generation will change the face of the print publisher’s world. And they know it.

The future for publishers is where the eyeballs are. And eyeballs are not going to be in print, it is going to be online. Eyeballs stay longer where this is trusted value, and most importantly where there is a community. Reading a magazine is an almost high-latency feedback medium; where two-way interaction is slow if attempted at all.

Demographics of the eyeballs are changing to more online: younger readers being digitally native and older generations having more time to explore online; with more females than males desiring a community and interaction rather than passive acceptance; high bandwidth connection to permit TV, Radio and Print being equal online mediums.

Whilst I have no research to back this up, I am going to state it here. A common refrain from print publishers is that “Radio did not replace newspapers, and TV did not replace radio” as their backwards looking perspective on why online will not replace these old media. My argument is that the internet can replace the media styles: with web pages, podcasts and vidcasts. As Rupert Murdoch is quoted as saying: “Big media no longer controls the conversation” 

James Tuckerman knows his readers, and I think has a plan to create value in Anthill’s community. He understands the emotional connection that he has with his readership. James also stated there are “population lumps” at birth-years of 1949, 1974 and 1985. According to the ABS, there is another population lump in the 2005-7 range too. My suggestion is to watch Anthill as a publisher. They are starting a conversation with their community.

A Question about SecondLife, the current “craze” in Australia potentially due to a visit in meatspace by a Linden Labs persona, resulted in Tony Sarno saying that “many PBL management have visited SecondLife”. I fear it is because of the gambling dens rather than the community aspect. About 20% of the audience of largely PR and technology industry attendees had logged into SecondLife, of which most had logged in once.

So, in industry parlance, what is the tip-on for online? It’s the community. Community is the new Brand.

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Difference of Opinion: Digital Age

It has been an excellent week for the ABC. The Curtin “docu-drama” gave a portrait of a man of his time: Prime Minister John Curtin during the 1941 through 1942.

Last night, Jeff McMullan did a standard “journalistic show” wrapped as debate on new technologies, and the impact on community on “Difference of Opinion: Growing Up in the Digital Age“. Captured inthe freshness of the moment, this Podcast captured by Chris Saad of Particls. Discussion boards on the topic are interesting to read.

Another essence is that people’s online and digital life is real. It is a part of generation-y identity. The base-level morals and ethics still apply; and probably more so in a world that is flat and always on.

Billy Thorpe: Australia’s Loudest Man goes Quiet

There will be many Australian sharpie Baby Boomers very quiet today. The hero of loud, Australian Rock and Roll, Billy Thorpe, died at 60 of a heart attack over night.

I wonder if in this election year, the pollies will pull a State Funeral. I hope so, as the impact his music had on that generation surpasses many who get a State funeral.

ricky does 80s

As you are probably aware, the music of the 80s touches me in a special way. I am also a fan of “The Office”

To hear that Ricky Gervais (Mr The Office) was in a little known New-wave band, Seona Dancing, well, that just made my Saturday!

The music is a classic. Evidently they charted 117 and 70 in 1982/1984 and were big in the Philippines.

With lyrics like:

You’re losing out, now /
You scowl and shout /
Irrational accusations as I turn my head /
Your threats and trials /
My craven smiles /
Revolts you in your torturous insecurities

One wonders why they didn’t become as big as U2 or INXS!

Dan Brown plagerises Dan Brown

This week: Sydney / Lake Maquarie / Sydney / Auckland / Sydney.

Finished my third Dan Brown book, Deception Point. What is the Dan Brown Code? Simple:

  1. Slighly off-centre, strange yet handsome/beautiful primary character gets thrown into a “situation”.
  2. The “situation” has an echo in modern culture conspiracy theories or edge-case science fact
  3. The antagonist is the person closest to the primary character, or primary character’s new love-interest
  4. Cut chapters just short and leave the characters hanging. Forces the reader to “read on” and not put the book down
  5. Weave in some science fiction or myth as the central theme
  6. Obviously, the story ends with the primary character “winning” (happy ending) and scoring with their love-interest on the last page.

As a reader of Ludlum, Clancy and other thrillers, Dan Brown is missing some their “meat”. Maybe this is the nature of modern, post cold-war thrillers where the Soviets/China are no longer the central enemy?