The Elmwood Post

Thoughts on design, media, and all things creative.



Feynman physics book for the iPad

Very proud of have been involved in the creation of a multimedia iBook for the iPad:

SIX EASY PIECES: Essentials of Physics Explained by its Most Brilliant Teacher

Richard P. Feynman, with Robert B. Leighton and Matthew Sands 

For more info, click this link, then click the blue "View in iTunes" button to see a better-looking description in iTunes, with sample pages.

From the preface:

“Special thanks to Thomas Luehrsen of Elmwood Studios for his visionary inspiration and creative expertise in leading the design of the "look and feel" of this iBooks textbook, and in producing the videos in this publication.”


Airborne user manuals

Love this factoid from The New York Times:
United Airlines said on Tuesday that it would give iPads to the 11,000 pilots who fly United and Continental Airlines planes.  The new iPads are being labeled electronic flight bags, or E.F.B., and the airline said they would completely replace the pilot’s paper flight manuals.

Really love this factoid:
Removing the additional weight on planes will also save United 326,000 gallons of jet fuel a year, or 3,208 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, the airline said.


Here is the whole story.



Final Cut Pro X is out there!

It's been a long 3 years in the making, but our work is out in the world starting today:

My part of it is mostly here:


The Revolution Will Not Be Televised—But It Will Be on Facebook and YouTube

I use this title of this post with apologies to Gil Scott Heron.

Heron's 1970 recording of  “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" still rings true today in an uncanny sort of way. But this post is really about an increasing trend in the 21st century: how certain technologies are having truly disruptive effects on all kinds of things.

This week marks the two-year anniversary of the protests following the Iranian presidential election which were nicknamed the "Twitter Revolution." Traditional media coverage of those events was effectively shut down by the regime. But young Iranians used social media to get around the the media blockade and censorship.

Most of the video that came out of Iran that summer was, in fact, web video shot on cell phones. That was probably the definitive instance of web video and social media totally replacing traditional media.

In my book, Creating Web Video (Peachpit Press, 2001), I wrote optimistically about how web video could might replace the models of film and television distribution that existed at the time:

Now, happily, you don’t need deep pockets to reach a potential audience of millions worldwide. All you need is a connection to the World Wide Web, a way to digitize your video footage, and the tools and know-how to make your movies shine on the small (very small) screen. The good news: That’s what this book is for. 

I did not realize at the time that, within a decade, millions of people would be carrying cell phones with built-in video cameras. And that they would upload their video content immediately to video-sharing websites with the worldwide audience to which I was referring.

Basically, the technology evolved and accelerated to make web video much easier to create and therefore pervasive.

Now to the recent events that compelled me to write this post:

The story begins in a small town Tunisia, where a young man, named Mohamed Bouazizi, was so fed up with the corrupt regime that, in protest, he set himself on fire in front of local courthouse. (He died from the burns 18 days later.)

His desperate act inspired local demonstrations in the tiny rural town of Sidi Bouzid.

Before the age of web video, the story would have ended there. (The state-controlled media in Tunisia would not have covered these local protests.)

But in an end-run around the iron grip of the state media, videos of the demonstrations and the associated police violence appeared on Facebook. Young people in Tunisia saw those visceral images on the web and they took to the streets to demonstrate against the regime. The nation-wide revolt forced the resignation and exile of Tunisian president Ben Ali.

These events in Tunisia inspired young people in Egypt, Libya, and other countries in the region. And again, protesters are using social media websites and web video of the protests to inspire ordinary people to take action.

In this chain reaction of popular uprisings across the region, web video producers are operating outside of the control that these regimes have over traditional broadcast television and other media. They have confirmed the power of web video.

The internet and Web video have been disruptive in the most extreme sense of the word. One could even argue that the technology enabled revolution in these countries.

When you want to see coverage of the next revolution, it is very likely that you will be watching it on YouTube or Facebook instead of on your TV.



Documentary Film: Infographics

OK, class, here is today's assignment:

Contrast and compare the information graphics in two of the most important documentary films of 2010: Inside Job, Charles Ferguson's investigation of the 2008 financial crisis, and Waiting for Superman, Davis Guggenheim's look at the state of public schools in the US.

 Here's a tip: One of these films squanders a great opportunity to create rich and meaningful graphics while the other one knocks the infographics ball out of the park!