With my mother newly back in the country after 3 months in one of the most gastronomically homogenous countries in the Western World, we decided that we had to take her to ‘somewhere Asian’ we narrowed the choices down to Thai (Claire and I are both completely crazy for Tom Kha Gai) or Chinese, and what with Canton being so fabulous, Chinese won out. Canton is one of those places where the more people you have, the better your dinner will be, with just 3 people along, we had to fake it by ordering waaaay to much food. It worked pretty well.
Saturday was Karajoz Great Blend day, Russell Brown‘s little micro-conference featuring a couple of cool things, a discussion panel, live music, and good coffee. It worked out great, I thought. Though I didn’t think the keynote speaker (Danah Boyd) did a very good job. She clearly had a great deal of knowledge in the field of community websites (MySpace specifically) but her presentation was so scattered – I mean, really completely without focus – that it made it hard for me to get anything out of her speech. The couple beside me lost patience with her a bit sooner than I did, the husband saying "This is never going to go anywhere, is it?" I couldn’t help but agree.
More confusing was the gentleman from TVNZ (I’m afraid I didn’t catch his name) who stood up to speak briefly about FreeView, the coming terrestrial/satellite digital TV platform. He started off very promisingly "FreeView is an open platform, you can use it, you decide what you want to do with it, and it’s easy to access." and then went on to outline the facts, which basically ruled out anyone normal having easy access at all (which I hadn’t even considered as a possibility until he hinted at it, before then taking it back off the table). In fact it’s quite expensive to pump your content into FreeView, though he wasn’t actually clear on the physical mechanism for how you get your content into the network — do you need to have your own satellite uplink? I have no idea. But you do need millions of dollars, serious resources, and loads of equipment.
I think FreeView could be a super great thing, with more channels potentially allowing for lots of niche content that doesn’t necessarily appeal to a lot of people, but those it does appeal to it does so enormously. For example, how about a 24 hours a day loop of New Zealand created short films? That would be really cool. Or a TVNZ or TV3 channel which just plays all their licensed Sci-Fi content all day and night? I’d love that. And obvious things like a BBC channel, though I don’t know what their licensing terms are like outside of the UK. If FreeView were to hire me to be their Mr. Awesome, I’d make it into a wonderful exciting service. After this guys very brief speech, I’m not sure how wonderful or exciting it will be at this stage.
Moving backwards through the Great Blend line-up, we make our way to the first people on stage, the guys from Misshapen Features who produced the parody piece Star Lords, a video mashup of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, which is some really great stuff, it starts off like one of those ‘Romantic Comedy of the year: The Shining’ or ‘TopGunBrokeBackMountain’ mashups that got suddenly popular a while ago, and then evolves somewhere along the way into a music video with Yoda and Gandalf busting mad break-dancing moves. A little over-long perhaps (though not in the same way as my Earth Sandwich thing was) but very funny for the most part – funny and eye opening. It’s interesting to see how similar a lot of Peter Jackson’s shots in Lord of the Rings were to the composition in George Lucas’ Star Wars.
A couple of other video pieces were shown, but nothing that compared very well to the ‘Star Lords’ main video event.
Now moving, perhaps confusingly, forwards in time…. Following the break after Danah Boyd’s keynote – during which I chatted with various people about sundry things, and Chris Knox about weird movies we’ve seen – there was a discussion panel featuring a handful of commentators (and a dude that was added to the panel at the last minute, and I think shouldn’t have been, sorry Matt). Robyn was up there, but didn’t really get much opportunity to share her thoughts. But the person that really stole the show, at least in my humble opinion, was Justin, the founder / owner / whatever of SkyKiwi a New Zealand Chinese Community website that is most interesting in that if you’re not Chinese, you’ve almost certainly never heard of it, and you definitely can’t use it. He was great, very funny in an extremely dry way – perfect deadpan – and very successful (Russell pointed out that SkyKiwi is currently pulling in over a million dollars a year in advertising revenue). I think we could have done with a lot more from him, and maybe a bit less from Danah Boyd (it might even have helped her, she’s clearly very bright and well informed, she just needed more focus).
We hung out and chatted with friends and others while SJD played, then decided that we all – well, Robyn, Simon & Lin – fancied a spot of dinner, so we made our way caravan style to Minsokchon for Korean only to find it closed, and newspaper up in the windows – I hope it’s just being refurbished, I loved that place and would be disappointed if they close, so instead we headed down to Dominion Rd for the second Chinese banquet of the weekend. Finishing about 1.45am, we dropped Robyn off on the way home, and hit the sack to watch some American TV.
All in all I’d say that it was a really good night out, and that Karajoz coffee is really good stuff. I’m not sure why we hadn’t tried it at home already.
Up at the crack of 6 hours later, I pulled out my mountain bike for some maintenance before kicking off to meet up with Louise to ride a mountain bike trail she’d recently discovered called the Manukau Hop. It was pretty nice, really great scenery, and no real challenge (no technical riding at all, mostly along walking trails) and we’ll probably have to do the trail again soon.
Today? Well, let me just say that any day on which you have lamingtons for lunch has to be at least partly good.