Bowie Snowboarding Whilst Playing Minesweeper

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The Times Square snowboarding video: Why it went viral

I think the first time I stumbled upon the notion that what looked like “instant success” from the outside was in fact the result of a lot of hard work in the shadows was when I read Scott Berkun’s excellent book The Myths of Innovation.

As observers, things that suddenly appear on our radar do indeed seem to come out of nowhere. But that says more about our imperfect relationship to the world than the inner workings of reality.

If you follow YouTube and youtubers, you’ll probably have heard of Casey Neistat. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t, until one of my students blogged about him. Well, he’s the guy behind the snowboarding video. He’s been at this for five years. He definitely has not “come out of nowhere”.

Bowie in the Studio and ZDTV Interview 1999.

I’m strangely having a hard time dealing with David Bowie’s death. All the more strangely because I didn’t really appreciate his work while he was alive. Anyway, I’m discovering it now, spending many hours on YouTube watching music videos and interviews.

I like this 30-minute video for three reasons:

  • in the beginning, we get to see Bowie settling down in the studio before the interview – casual, not-really-for-air footage; this is raw footage rather than the final produced thing, and I, as many, love peeking behind the scenes to try and catch a glimpse of “the person” behind “the artist”
  • the interview itself is about the internet, BowieNet, and the lyrics contest for the song “What’s Really Happening?” (the album is Hours…) – this is 1999, remember!
  • the last segment is the actual recording of the vocal track in the studio – Bowie at work, and we get to be the fly on the wall.

The real reason Microsoft invented the Minesweeper & Solitaire games

Really interesting example of gamification before it was hot – or how to use games to teach users basic interface skills. Try and guess, before reading the article. What did Solitaire and Minesweeper teach and exercise in these early days of consumer GUIs?

This reminds me of something I realised, a few years ago: smartphones and app stores (well, Apple) and little square thingies on the screen were finally teaching people what a “programme” (=application) was.

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