Spider vs. Bee

Matthew Chatfield (aka The Virtual Ranger) makes some observations about the stylistic differences in presentation between nature programs on the BBC and on American television (specifically National Geographic):

And yet both clips were superbly photographed, both accurately explained some quite complex information, and both clearly provided good entertainment to their viewers. So why are they so different? . . . To The Ranger’s British eyes, this American clip seems almost patronising and childish in its presentation. And yet the content is little different; the difference is purely stylistic.

This is a phenomenon I’ve noticed time and time again.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy content on Discovery Channel and NG and others, but as The Ranger notes, their productions always seem to value drama and flash over forthright delivery of content.  I often find myself literally yelling at the teevee to STOP DUMBING IT DOWN.  For a 1-hour program, that’s 44 minutes of screen time for maybe 18 minutes of actual Scientific Content, with the rest of it being flashy CGI, poorly staged re-enactments, and dramatic voiceover filler1.

Given a choice between investing an hour of my time in a BBC program2 or an American equivalent, I’d take the BBC offering pretty much every time3.

  1. I can hear Peter Coyote intoning “Will man ever set foot on the Red Planet? Will our children colonize the stars?” Seriously, bleh.
  2. Horizon, for example.
  3. With the exception of perhaps Nova, but even that show is starting to lose a bit of luster.
posted 7/30/08 at 10:07am to Science!, Teevee · 0 replies · permalink


I’m feeling a tad overwhelmed today.  Here is my Tuesday status, by the numbers:

# of unread feed articles:  1392
# of unread emails in inbox:  214
# of read emails needing response:  112
# of unsorted items on MBP desktop:  97
# of unsorted items on MacPro dektop:  81
# of unread magazines in my house:  44
# of unreturned calls/voicemails:  29
# of new podcasts in queue:  27
# of unfiled index cards for current project:  24
# of looming deadlines:  3
# of days I have to get my shit together:  1

I know for some of you these numbers are on the low end.  But keep in mind that I’m never prone to panic, and I’m rarely disorganized.  And I’m almost always in complete control of my infosphere, no matter how entropic it may look to observers.  Yet for some reason today, I’m losing my head over all this undigested information.  Hmm.

posted 7/29/08 at 10:50am to Me me me, Random · 1 reply · permalink

Apple of the (past future) Future

1987 video imagining Apple tech in 1997:

(via PaleoFuture)

posted 7/28/08 at 11:49am to Mac nerdery · 1 reply · permalink

Escaping the ghetto

Science fiction writer Mike Brotherton writes a great piece about exposing SF works to a larger audience outside of the genre fiction silos that publishers put them into (i.e. “escaping the ghetto”), and applies a delicious takedown of Michael Crichton in the process:

In my opinion, however, he has three fatal flaws and my intellectual integrity prevents me from using him as a model for how to get science fiction to the wider public. His themes are consistently anti-science, he makes large and consistent errors in getting the science right, and he consistently insists he’s not just a writer but that his M.D. and his research gives him expertise on the science he gets wrong. Oh, and he’s a dick, too, writing one critic into a book of his as a child rapist.

Timely article for me, as I’ve been struggling with the issue of how to make my first foray into a genre work accessible to my “usual” audience and also legitimate with typical SF readers as well.

posted 7/25/08 at 1:02pm to Science!, Writing · 1 reply · permalink

First Draft Theatre

For better or worse, and based on my post from earlier today, I’ve launched 1st Draft Theatre.  Go have a look.  Better yet, submit something.

posted 7/23/08 at 5:20pm to First Draft Theatre, Writing · 0 replies · permalink