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Jeff Carlsen
I'm a game designer and web guy for Apathy Games.
I'm a game designer and web guy for Apathy Games.

Jeff's posts

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Butterfly in the sky. You know the rest.

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In case you want to get in on the conversation.
Rethinking TV News: Part I -- What's Broken & What's Possible

Most TV news sucks. But I don’t want to dwell on that.

I’d like to see TV news be reinvented, yet I’m astounded so little innovation is occurring in the medium. That could be because TV news is still in better financial shape than print. It could be because in a highly competitive market, no one wants to leave the pack and risk failure trying something new. Still, network TV’s audience is lurching toward the grave; cable news is struggling; and Pew says that for the once-indomitable local TV news, “future demographics do not bode well.” Like newspapers and magazines before them, broadcasters need to change, to take advantage of opportunities to work in new ways, to fend off the digital competitors who are sure to grasp the chance to disrupt, and simply to improve.

TV news is stuck holding onto its orthodoxy of inanity. It wastes resources trying to fool us with stand-ups at sites where news occurred 12 hours before and where there is nothing left to witness or report. It repeats much, saying little. It adores fires that affect few. It goes overboard on weather. It gives us BREAKING NEWS that isn’t breaking at all but is long over, predictable, obvious, or trivial. It gullibly and dutifully flacks for PR events created just for TV. It presents complex issues with false and simplistic balance. It speaks in the voice of plastic people. It stages reality (no that guy in the b-roll isn’t really typing on his laptop). It has little sense of the utility of what it presents. And did I mention its pyromania?

But I don’t want to dwell on that.

I want to dwell on what TV could do well, on its strengths and opportunities. TV can summarize, sometimes too well perhaps, but delivering a quick overview of what’s happening is a useful function of news. It can curate, bringing together divergent reports and viewpoints. It can explain a complex topic and doesn’t have to dumb it down. It can demonstrate. It can convene the public to action. It can collaborate, having witnesses share what they are seeing and what they know. It can discuss and doesn’t have to shout. It can give voice to countless new perspectives now that everyone has a camera on laptop or phone. It can humanize without cynically patronizing or manufacturing a personality.

There are sprouts of innovation in television (folks I know working in video online object to it being called television but I say they should co-opt the word, the medium, and the form). That innovation is generally not coming from other media companies, for newspapers and magazines have made the mistake of aping broadcast TV when they should exploring new directions. And the innovation that is occurring doesn’t take the form of incremental adjustment to the familiar form of TV news. Instead, true innovation is unrecognizable as television. On one end of the spectrum, there’s the six-second self-parody of viral video shallowness that is Vine as news. On the other, there’s the TWiT Network (of which I am a part), where we geeks can yammer on about single topics — Google, security, Android — for devoted if small audiences for two hours.

When Katie Couric announced that she’d be moving to Yahoo and NPR’s Weekend Edition asked me to yammer about it, I took the opportunity to push my own agenda and wish that Couric and Marissa Mayer would reinvent TV news because they’re both smart; Couric knows the form so well she knows what to break; Mayer is a disruptive innovator; and Yahoo needs to be something new not merely something changed.

And so then I started asking some folks what they’d suggest. I asked TWiT’s founder, Leo Laporte, and after more than 10 minutes’ discussion on two shows — hey, we have all the time in the world — he said that instead of giving us the news — we already get that — he’d want to see Couric give us rich interviews with newsmakers. I like that. When Katie was on Howard Stern’s show weeks ago, I called in to ask about him having a pure interview show on TV, since he has had a remarkable run of amazing interviews lately. Besides Charlie Rose, who really does that on TV?

I asked Michael Rosenblum about reinventing TV news. He has reinvented his share of newsrooms, converting the old three-person crews to so-called one-man bands, teaching people how to tell stories with video and without the silly conventions of stand-ups, establishing shots, b-roll, and cotton-candy scripts. He told me about returning from the UK, where he taught a few dozen journalists at the Independent and Evening Standard how to gather video news with their iPhones. If they can do it, anybody can.

I asked Shane Smith, founder of Vice, which just announced the start of a new news channel in 2014, and he talked about the net’s ability to bring many new voices into the news.

Vice was smart enough to hire Tim Pool the guy who broadcast Occupy Wall Street live for 21 hours straight. Pool’s not sure what to call himself — a mobile journalist, a social journalist. Take a look at how he covered protests in Turkey, where he was the first journalist so far as he knows to broadcast live using Google Glass — the true eyewitness.

A few weeks ago, Pool came to my class and then sat in my office and so I asked him about the future of TV news. Speculating together — having nothing to do with Vice’s future plans — he didn’t start talking about video. He started talking about people — witnesses and commentators and how to find the best out of them and connect with them — and about technology and about user interfaces. There I started to hear the beginnings of a new vision for TV and news in which video is just one tool to use.

So how would you reinvent TV news? What advice would you give Katie Couric? What advice would you give the next Tim Pool? At CUNY’s Tow-Knight Center, I’d like to embark on projects to rethink the form of TV news, its relationship with the public, and its business models. What would you like to see us do? Try not to dwell on mocking the form and its weaknesses — Ron Burgundy has done enough of that for a lifetime (plus a sequel). Try instead to imagine you are a young (reincarnated) William Paley with all these tools and all these possibilities at hand. What do you invent? In Part II, I’ll add my own wishes and speculation.

(This post with links: )

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And here on Google Plus, too.

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For videogame fans looking for people to follow.
*Video Game Circle*

This awesome circle is made up of Video Game Fans, Developers, And even a few brands. XboX, PS3, Nintendo AND PC are all represented in here. If you were notified you are in this circle (so share the love).. If you WANT to be in this circle let me know what system is your fav and what you are playing right now/working on etc.

Love me some gaming! Also here is my XboX circle if you are looking for a specific group. ->

#videogames   #xbox   #nintendo #ps3  

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I've been waiting for this for a very long time.
Folks, we've just officially released GIMP 2.8 after 3.5 years of work. It was quite a challenge, and we are very grateful to you for your support and understanding.

The release touches virtually every part of GIMP, from internals to UI, from tools to resources such as brushes. There are also some important API changes for developers.

We expect Windows build to be up really soon, and we hope that Mac builds will follow too.

Have fun with this new version: test it, report bugs, write tutorials or maybe even books, while we are preparing the next great release :)

I like how the new interface emphasizes pages in such a way to make topic specific public posting easier.

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Since I'm credited with the idea, and he did so much work, it's only right that I share.
Google Bar Concept (Version 3)

A few days ago, I uploaded an image of a concept for the Google bar that +Vic Gundotra and +Eddie Kessler (and the rest of +Google staff) could look at to improve the current bar. This concept came about because Google decided not to move forward with their drop down navigation menu Google bar (+Bring Back the Google Bar Drop Down), and because many of us do not like the black links bar ('sandbar').

+Jeff Carlsen brought up the idea about making the Google bar look like how Windows 7 allows you to 'pin' your shortcuts to the taskbar, and to use the existing Google+ icons as an example. I loved his idea, and ran with it to come up with this concept.

Our goal is to continue the trend of beautiful and clean design Google was heading towards.

The response to the image was amazing with many shares and +1's. I've taken the past few days to come up with cleaner conceptual images (I only took less than 10 minutes to create the original located here: and address some questions that were asked.

I hope you enjoy this concept, and more importantly I hope you +1 to show your support, reshare it with your circles (and also include Vic and Eddie in your post so they get notified), and if you are really dedicated...write a letter to Google and include these images.

Thank you again everyone for your wonderful are what makes Google+ amazing! :)
Google Bar Concept (4 photos)
4 Photos - View album

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This is a fun way to send a message: Play Half-Life 2 to tell Valve that you'd like to know what's up with Episode 3. Worst case scenario, it doesn't work and you've wasted time playing a fantastic game.

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Man, I'm looking forward to this!

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Tips for Google+ Newcomers (Please Share)

Google+ is open to the public now, so I'm reposting this. There is a flood of new people joining, circling, and posting without knowing how best to treat this service. It's different than either Facebook or Twitter, and so here are some tips to help get the most out of Google+.

Circles: Set up circles based on subject. For example, one about videogames and one about politics. This way, you can share things with only the people who care about the relative subject. Not only is it more respectful, but over time you'll develop active little clubs around topics of interest.

Don't be afraid to ask people what circles they'd like to be added to. They'll gladly tell you which topics they want to involve themselves in, and which they'd rather avoid.

Also, set up a circle or two just for following. There are often people you want to share and converse with that you don't want spamming your stream all the time (basically, a lot of people don't follow my first piece of advice).

Edit Posts and Comments: Not much to say here, other than it's possible to edit your posts and comments after the fact, either to correct errors or to remove something you shouldn't have said.

Follow people you don't know: You can add people to circles that haven't added you, though you'll only be able to see their public posts. Nonetheless, certain people, especially people famous in their field, gather followers that are worth talking to.

Basically, while Google+ can be a great place for communicating with friends and family if they ever come here from Facebook, it's an even better place for networking and topical conversation.

Lastly, this cheat cheat can help:
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