In search of the next Lost

Entertainment Weekly has an interesting article in their current issue about all of the shows written to be the next big Lost and how none of them seem to be taking off in the way the networks are hoping. I am watching FlashFoward, and it’s interesting, but most of the shows are missing a key ingredient to the formula…

The reason I got hooked on Lost was because I had no idea at first that it was a mystery. The first episodes seemed like a scripted version of Survivor (an interesting idea by itself) – and when strange stuff started happening, there were tons of “Wow, what the heck just happened?” moments. A mystery is a mystery because you don’t realize at first that’s what it is – you think you’re going along with life, an you start noticing little stuff that just doesn’t make any sense. You pull the string, and it all unravels into one big pile.

All of these Lost imitator shows – FlashFoward especially – are coming out of the gate with “hey look at this big mystery! We’re gonna solve it, yay!” scripts that just seem too self-conscious. When you have to tell people you’re really cool – probably not so much. Start by telling an interesting story first.
I don’t know that there’s any way to really “fix” this about FlashFoward – they started off on the wrong foot to begin with. It’s interesting enough, but the constant references to how mysterious all of it is – over the top.

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What motivates me

I’m not motivated by a bunch of platitudes about “finding the edge” and “exploiting your potential.” I’m not motivated by people who engage in competitive behavior with people they should be collaborating with. I’m not motivated by people who rest on their laurels and do the bare minimum to get by, or people who spend all their time protecting and polishing their egos. I’m not motivated by self-made, pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstrap jackasses who think they can do everything themselves, and screw what other people can contribute.

I’m motivated by people who are intoxicated by creativity, and who suck other people into their creative endeavors. I’m motivated by people who turn work into play and play into money. I’m motivated by people who collaborate, who engage, who strive to entertain. I don’t want minions. I want co-conspirators, partners in crime. Cohorts. I want to be in cahoots.

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On Monument Circle

One of my friends pointed out to me today that several of his and my photos that are posted on Flickr under an “All Rights Reserved” license are being pulled into the website – the “Official site of the Indianapolis Convention & Visitors Association.” You find some of them from this page – click on any of the icons that say “More Info > Photos” under each attraction. They are pulling in many photos taken by Flickr members from Indianapolis, and almost all of them are not licensed to be used this way.

Even if photos are published on Flickr, they are not licensed for other use without the permission of the photo taker unless that person has designated that they are under one of various Creative Commons Licenses. My photos are not, and should not be appearing on any site other than my own. Many other people’s photos are not licensed to be shared, either, and judging by the response I got from the ICVA, I suspect they didn’t get their permission to use them either.’s behavior is a copyright violation many times over.

When I discovered this, I immediately called the number at the bottom of the website (1-800-323-INDY) and left a message. Sadly, this is the only way to get contact of someone; there is no email or form to use.

I got a call back from a man named James Wallis (Wallace?) to whom I explained the problem. He was FILLED with explanations designed to convince me that there is nothing wrong with what they are doing. Among them:

  • Well, they’re on Flickr, so they’re in the public domain. (Norfolking Waypal. Not true. You have to follow Flickr’s licensing rules to use pictures.)
  • We’re linking to people’s accounts, so they get credit. (Lovely, but some people want more than credit for pictures they’ve taken. Some people want MONEY – hence the “All rights reserved” designation. If they wanted to share, they’d mark the photos with Creative Commons Licenses.)
  • We’re only showing a very small thumbnail. (Not true; they have a larger image that pops up if you click on a thumbnail image. Either way, use of the picture small or large without permission is wrong.)
  • We have lawyers that told us this is okay. (You have some bad lawyers, dude. I know better, and throwing this excuse out there hoping I don’t is not cool.)
  • We’ll take your pictures down right away. (Lovely – what about all the OTHER photos you’re using without permission?)
  • We’ve been doing this for a long time. No one has complained until now. (So, you’ve been robbing banks for a long time – doesn’t mean you get off when you get caught.)
  • Most people are quite happy when they see their pictures are featured on our site. (It’s sad that most people are sheep and don’t know their rights. I suspect many people would be happy to share their photos IF YOU ASK THEM FIRST. I might have. Maybe not – I have actually sold photos, so if they have some commercial value, I want money, even if it’s a small amount.)

I tried, throughout the conversation, to point out that if they had only acted in Good Faith – if they had sent a message to Flickr users asking for their photos, they might have gotten not just permission – but people willing to go out and take pictures of stuff they’ve seen specifically for the site. People are taking pictures of the city because we like this place. If you ask us for help promoting the city, many of us would be happy to help out.

Hell, if they’d contacted me, I’d have pointed out that I have WAY BETTER photos
than the ones they picked – I have an entire collection – A Sense of Place – of pictures documenting my love affair with the Circle City.

Just act in good faith – be considerate, and don’t lie and make excuses when people call you out on your behavior. It’s disturbing that someone promoting the city could produce that list of excuses. If you love the city, love it’s citizens, too, and act on their behalf.

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Ruining It for the Rest of Us

I only follow a couple of podcasts regularly because my drive to work is relatively short, and I otherwise can’t keep up. But I happened to read about one particular episode of This American Life – entitled Ruining It for the Rest of Us – on a blog somewhere, and was interested enough to loop back and get caught up with that show. The Prologue was particularly interesting:

A bad apple, at least at work, can spoil the whole barrel. And there’s research to prove it. Host Ira Glass talks to Will Felps, a professor at Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands, who designed an experiment to see what happens when a bad worker joins a team. Felps divided people into small groups and gave them a task. One member of the group would be an actor, acting either like a jerk, a slacker or a depressive. And within 45 minutes, the rest of the group started behaving like the bad apple. (13 minutes)

A very interesting study — one person with a bad attitude can indeed spoil the whole barrel, even for people who have a good reason to want to succeed. Bad apple behaviors tend to pull the whole group down, and groups were only as successful as their poorest member. And one of the interesting things is that only one particular type of person was able to short-circuit the bad apple behavior in their study — one of the participants was the son of a diplomat, and was able to diffuse the behavior of the bad apple and lead the group.

I’d strongly recommend listening to that podcast – It made me think about my own behavior and how I react to others, both at work and at home.

I did some additional research and found the Journal where Felps published this report — Research in Organizational Behavior, Volume 27. Dunno if I’ll go ahead and order it, because I have lots to read already, but I thought it was really cool.

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The Power of Day Dreaming

The most common criticism I received when I was a kid was that I daydreamed too much, especially in class. Even though my classwork was high quality, staring off into space would set my teachers off all the time, and it was one of the things I was always very upset about, because it never felt like I was really doing anything wrong. And I wasn’t:

An article in the Boston Globe:

Although there are many anecdotal stories of breakthroughs resulting from daydreams – Einstein, for instance, was notorious for his wandering mind – daydreaming itself is usually cast in a negative light. Children in school are encouraged to stop daydreaming and “focus,” and wandering minds are often cited as a leading cause of traffic accidents. In a culture obsessed with efficiency, daydreaming is derided as a lazy habit or a lack of discipline, the kind of thinking we rely on when we don’t really want to think. It’s a sign of procrastination, not productivity, something to be put away with your flip-flops and hammock as summer draws to a close.

In recent years, however, scientists have begun to see the act of daydreaming very differently. They’ve demonstrated that daydreaming is a fundamental feature of the human mind – so fundamental, in fact, that it’s often referred to as our “default” mode of thought. Many scientists argue that daydreaming is a crucial tool for creativity, a thought process that allows the brain to make new associations and connections. Instead of focusing on our immediate surroundings – such as the message of a church sermon – the daydreaming mind is free to engage in abstract thought and imaginative ramblings. As a result, we’re able to imagine things that don’t actually exist, like sticky yellow bookmarks.

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