Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Piano Improvisor Merton + Random Webcam Chatroom = Viral Hit!



People go onto anonymous webcam chatrooms for a variety of reasons. Loneliness. Boredom. Sexual exploration. But to be serenaded by a hooded improvising piano-player was not one of them, until now.

Merton (not his real name) is now an Internet phenom. His video was seen over 4 million times in less than a week! On his Youtube channel, Merton wrote a note saying he was not Ben Folds, a semi-famous male piano player from Atlanta (of the band Ben Folds Five). As Merton's video became more popular though, some media insisted Merton and Ben Folds were the same guy. Playing up the joke, Ben Folds recorded his own "Ode to Merton" video in front of a 2000 member live audience, complete with hoodie and glasses.



Here is the very first interview with Merton on Mashable.

I love the combination of improvisational music performance and the randomness of the participants, with all of us watching. It's a bit like those old "You're on Candid Camera" TV shows, where a set of actors and a camera crew do things in front of unsuspecting people. Only now, none of the parties has to go anywhere in particular. Both sides of the chat could be anywhere, and the audience could also be anywhere. Imagine if two improv pianists in front of live audiences from random places in the world encountered each other on Chatroullette?

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posted by Brian at 12:13 PM 0 comments links to this post

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Google Gmail Marionettes!



Ahhh, Google. You keep impressing me. Now you have Geeks and Puppets coming together to demonstrate how the Gmail Email service can improve communications.

Previously, Gmail was invitation-only, but it has as of Valentine's Day, opened its doors to everyone. I highly recommend it over Yahoo! Mail Beta, a sluggish copy-cat. Although I have used Yahoo! Mail for years, the latest version is slowwwww and heavy if (like me) you have a decade worth of email. Gmail on the other hand, is nimble and has far better searching ability (it is Google, after all). I also like how its Chat client is built-in, unlike Yahoo which has a very heavy downloadable client with far too many features. Most of my friends are using Microsoft's MSN Messenger now (although the two are compatible) or Skype. A few are still using the ridiculous AOL AIM Instant Messenger. And fewer still are using the one that started them all, ICQ.

While we're on the subject, there are the Multi-IM clients, like the Mac-only Adium, the Open Source Miranda, and the popular Trillian.

All of these formerly smallish utilities are growing up to be mini-browsers; browsers are growing to become large applications. The eco-system on my desktop is getting a bit unruly! But I suppose that's the price to pay for a good competitive landscape. Otherwise, everything would be Microsoft.

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posted by Brian at 5:26 PM 0 comments links to this post