Friday, January 25, 2008

Creatures and Viruses

After being showered in all the hype and frazzle dazzle for months now, I had finally found time this past Wednesday to go and catch a late show for Cloverfield.
It was great. I enjoyed every bit of it. My friends, however, could have used a barfbag.
I'll tread carefully around the topic of Cloverfield as my intentions are not to leak any surprises.

The film's effectiveness and success is a much more interesting discussion and is ultimately in my opinion what separates the making of Cloverfield from the last big box office hit. First of all, it is a production of JJ Abrams the mastermind behind hit TV series Lost and Alias. Think about it, this guy's got awards and trophies spilling out of his pants. Apart from being spearheaded by its creatively famous director, Cloverfield has also been GREATLY exposed through viral marketing. And it's through this method that molded the film to soar as opposed to a regularly advertised film.

"Viral marketing describes any strategy that encourages individuals to pass on a marketing message to others, creating the potential for exponential growth in the message's exposure and influence."

Taking on it's name, these type of marketing techniques spread like a virus, taking advantage of our vast and diverse online network to rapidly multiply and explode the message to millions across the globe. The origins are simple. It is a modern day word-of-mouth method delivered and enhanced by the speedy network effects of the internet. The most distinguishable aspect of this strategy and one I find most fascinating is the fact that it encourages and facilitates people who receive the message to pass it on voluntarily. This may take a variety of forms such as text messaging, video clips, images, and interactive games... making it very, very evil.

As for Cloverfield its marketing campaign was focused all around mystery, suspense and curiosity, creating the perfect environment for a viral message to grow. As far as I know, its original pre-production website ( was a hair-pulling teaser. The site contains no text, only interactive photos related to the film that you can pull around and flip over. For months, anxious fans across the world were trying to deduce these photographic clues to assemble together a broken story. Many had come down to different theories and creature lore, initiating further discussion from a larger following. And there's more! Fake company websites, interactive games, film teasers, and a fake newscast video all to further back up the developing plot line and provide extra explanation. As for the film itself, it was well done to satisfy what the viewer should be prepared for, assuming they had seen the trailer that was discreet in every manner but suspense and curiosity. However it was clever enough to leave room for more questions to be raised after the film. Myself and many others definitely had questions and we were starving to get answers. I had spent a fair hour or so right after watching the film, only to rewatch it carefully and do our own research to fill in the missing links of the story.

This is one movie that no doubt earned my praise. It created a huge buzz among online social groups prior to the flick. During the film, it gave hungry viewers a satisfying bite yet still dangled some loose ends in our faces and managed to maintain a flow of discussion long after the details have been spilled. The creepiest part is that we all have done this voluntarily.

Reviews of Movies We Haven't Seen: Cloverfield. 16 January 2008. Explosm!. 25 January 2008.

Wilson, Ralph F.,
The Six Simple Principles of Viral Marketing. 1 February 2005. Web Marketing Today. 25 January 2008. <>

Viral Marketing. 24 January 2008. Wikipedia, The free Encyclopedia. 25 January 2008


Sunday, January 20, 2008

Copying Shenanigans

During last Monday's lecture, our instructor Ian had raised some ideas and issues underlining the theory of remediation, and ultimately what itched in my head was not only the memories of old technology reinvented, but also the resulting advantages and disadvantages of new digital media.
We are living in a digital age and that's a fact. With our Ipods, wireless high speed internet access and 80 gigs of mp3s(it's actually porn) we reach no boundary. It couldn't be any clearer: the world has become our oyster. The communication of information has gotten so facilitated to the point where the quality and genuineness is threatened. Over information can lead to disinformation. But I digress.
Let me switch to the next track on my Ipod.
And so I wonder: What sort of issues can be born out of this creamy rich digital lifestyle?
Some of you have probably heard about our Canadian government's recent proposed copyright legislation. If you haven't, I encourage you to check out Fair Copyright For Canada
or the facebook group that initiated the commotion.

The problem here is that the government wants to introduce a Canadian version of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). This might mean that You and I may no longer be able to (legally) upload the favourite music we purchased to our dear Ipods. You and I may no longer legally be able to burn copies, even as a backup, of our dvds for personal use. Or perhaps recording a television show. The bottom line: They are proposing a type of copyright reform that will infringe on making personal copies.
However uniquely enough, the man behind the growing social outcry Michael Geist has dictated in an interview, when asked why he chose facebook as his medium saying "we live in a digital world of blogging and posting", and not surprisingly it had played a key role in bringing it all together. In the light of social activism, this situation might have been a lot different in the past. For example if you wanted to speak out, you might sign a petition or tell a few friends. Today such options like a facebook group might be the best method to galvanize and rally thousands across the country.

My only curiousity is why is the news media isn't all over this. Or perhaps I'm just not seeing it?