What Are You Missing? May 12 – May 25
1) Star Trek finally found its way to theater screens on May 16, pulling in $13.5M domestically while gearing up for a big weekend that ultimately failed to meet expectations at the box office. That’s unfortunate, I suppose, but it’s hardly what you’re here to read. If JJ Abrams is worried about the low-ish take, maybe it’s because he had far grander plans for the property. If you’re still a little confused about the CBS/Paramount/Bad Robot stand-off, this short lecture should clear things up. Look for the Star Trek flamethrower just in time for the Fourth… And what’s Star Trek without the fans? Are you fan enough? Do you know why Starfleet Command is headquartered in San Francisco? Do you speak Klingon? Do you know why the reboots don’t measure up? Are you aware of just how close we are to Warp 1 (despite the stupidity of that headline)? Kirk or Picard? (Or Pike?) (It’s Kirk, and I have a compelling argument, if you’re willing to get into it in the comments…) And, because it happened, the Empire threw down with the Doctor.
2) I was wrong about “NeXtBox,” but at least the “Xbox 720” people were wrong, too. The Xbox One is coming, and word on the street is it wants to replace everything hooked up to your TV someday, or at least before Apple can. While that’s been Microsoft’s goal for some time now, don’t expect changing the device to change the service. If you’re like me, though, it’s still primarily about the games, so don’t trade in your 360. If you’re even more like me, it’s also about committing yourself to one brand over another, even if you own multiple systems per generation. Back in the day, I was a Sony person, thanks to Kojima-san and company. (That theme still gets me riled up…) Look for a gritty, futuristic War Horse reboot for the new home entertainment system (or not). And, because it can’t be stressed enough, won’t someone please think of the archivists?!
3) A few bits of news from the world of apps caught my eye since the last post, making me wish that I owned a smartphone. (App-arently – anyone? – I’m not contributing to the elimination of the Digital Divide.) First, everyone makes apps for iOS, even you (but not me). What’s available these days? Well, you can watch ABC and be counted at the same time. Or you could tell secrets to strangers. Or you could get your carefully considered drink on. Or…you could scare yourself silly incrementally. (Narratologists, take note.) Just trying to keep up with the latest thing? This little trick might help you out. It’s not enough to have the app, though; you’ve got to use it! For example, you, too, can be a Vine auteur with the right idea and a little attention to detail. And, in case you’re keeping track of how they’re keeping track, here’s a little information about how downloads get counted. Maybe someday I’ll be a statistic …
4) Johnny Lawmaker turned his eye on a few media giants over taxes since the last post. Apple CEO Tim Cook defended his company’s accounting practices on Capitol Hill. Elsewhere, Cook played up Apple’s plans to bring some of its manufacturing back stateside, which may or may not turn out to be a long-term commitment. Google suffered a drubbing from government officials across the pond and responded, “You make the rules, not us.” (I’m paraphrasing.) And because I don’t want Microsoft to feel neglected, I’ll pass along this story, too.
5) Back in the States, Google was making litigious eyes at Microsoft over the latter’s YouTube app for Windows Phone, which prevents advertising from standing between you and a chimpanzee riding on a segway, the dapper monkey, and Muppet Show bloopers. Microsoft had a cheeky response ready, but eventually the two companies made nice. Speaking of litigation and YouTube, no luck for copyright holders looking for a class action suit against the site. Oh, and happy birthday, YouTube!
6) While governments are trying to keep media and tech companies honest, the White House is dealing with some recent bad press (too easy?), which got me thinking about who’s watching whom and how. (It’s Ozymandias, using his supercomputer.) The New Yorker launched Strongbox and made the software (developed by the late Aaron Swartz) available to other news organizations. A Congressional caucus working on issues of privacy had some questions about Google Glass, and Google had preliminary answers. Meanwhile, the CIA continues to just act natural, the Aussies experiment with web censorship, South Africa finds another peaceful use for drones, and I’m eagerly anticipating 2015. To quote Ron Swanson: “It’s a whole new meat delivery system.”
7) In the span of two weeks, it became impossible to avoid hearing about Yahoo’s intentions to acquire Tumblr, speculation ran its course, the deal became official, and the analysis began. $1.1B is a lot of money, and I hope Yahoo gets what it thinks it’s paying for. It’s definitely getting what it knows it’s paying for.
8) Cable providers are circling Hulu. First it was Time Warner, then it was DirecTV, along with Amazon, Yahoo, Chernin Group, and Guggenheim Partners, which also happened to be advising Hulu’s owners about a possible sale as far back as mid-April. All of this reporting and speculation is incredibly premature, though, but isn’t it fun?
9) Speaking of TV, did you know there’s a renaissance on? If you’re feeling sluggish, perhaps this’ll anger up the blood: “Conformist, passive and disengaged was the traditional spectator – proactive, inquiring and interventionist is the new spectator.” Sorry… no more of that. What has been on many minds is binge-viewing. Don’t trip over the buzzwords sure to follow that discussion. “Hyperserial,” for example. And don’t forget the classics! Before there was Walter White, there were Pauline, Elaine, and Helen! Reboots all around, say I! Get ready for the PSAs, too: “When you binge, you’re not just hurting yourself.”
10) Speaking of binge viewing, as I write the final countdown has begun. Vodka rocks and toast all around! (Just like Tobias.) E-books continue to gain on real books, but (IMHO), sleek is not as sexy. Choose your poison to match the contents of your book/media shelves. Disney’s temporary insanity may have ended. The newest member of Wyld Stallyns has revealed herself. And physics continues to be awesome!