The first short film I ever did, an exercise in skeptic art

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/08/23

Unusual realities
That drove me straight down to my knees
Never thought I’d see things like these
If I had a dream
 
If I Had a Dream by Undercover
(from the album Branded, 1986)

Back in the late 80’s and early 90’s in Southern California (yes Seattle-ites, I am a Cali refugee, thank you for not closing your borders) – I worked with a non-profit music production agency that fostered the exploration of meaning through the creation of music.

Back then I would not have described it like that – we thought we were just making what we called, in naive retrospect, “Christian Rock”.

But much of who I am today – my love for complex stories and conflicted characters, stems from deep things people in that community taught me about life, art, relationships, and critical thinking.

One of the pivotal bands I got to interact with at that time was Undercover and one of their leaders, Ojo Taylor.

Undercover’s Branded album was, for me, one of the first pieces of spiritual art that wrestled honestly with faith, doubt, and skepticism.

Those of you who know me know that while I land on the Jesus side of things regarding The Question of God, I come to that conclusion after much wrestling of angels.

Like Jacob, my gait is informed by the limp of, and deep respect for, the skeptic’s heart.

(Which is one of the many reasons my son is name Thomas.)

In the spring of 1991, I took footage from a summer 1990 Undercover concert I video-ed in Redlands, California, back to the Media Center at Pepperdine and made my first short film – A video of the song “Time” from their album Balance of Power.

I had abandoned the television and radio production major that I went to Pepperdine to originally study, believing that I could learn things faster than the instructors could teach me by just doing projects and facing real world challneges, while making things I wanted to make.

I spliced in a bunch of public domain footage I took from some cool laserdiscs the university had, in order to draw the themes of the song out.

Last week, Ojo from Undercover found me on facebook. Then, this AM, my friend Jason pointed me to the video I made nearly 20 years ago.

Just looked at it for the first time in a long time and I am really struck by how much it is reminding me of things I had forgotten of my own journey.

It’s funny sometimes how much we don’t remember about ourselves.

Anyway, I thought I’d post it so you could take a look if you have a moment and get a glimpse of how I ended up being, ummm, me ;)

Time by Undercover, 1990



I’m joining Lilipip as Director of Business Development

Posted by bryanzug - 2009/08/03

Most of the web sites I’ve worked on over the last 13 years face a small set of common challenges –

  1. How do you get the attention of an audience already fatigued with information overload?
  2. If you do manage to grab attention, how do you compellingly connect people with your product, service, or concept?
  3. Finally, how do you keep it simple enough to not lose folks along the way – all while avoiding the pitfalls of boring and forgettable?

If you’ve been in a strategic web session with me anytime in the last 24 months, you’re probably sick of what I’m about to say.

But I’m gonna say it anyway.

Short, well-written, visually-memorable web videos are a stunningly smart thing to do on most web sites – they’re an effective way to deal with every one of the strategic communication killers I’ve listed above.

A bit about how I became convinced of this (and where it’s leading me).

Through my work producing Ignite Seattle video and capturing events like BarCamp, MindCamp, Presentation Camp, and Jackson Fish Market’s Small and Special conference, I’ve seen, time and again, how web video is much more than “TV on the internet”.

When done well, it enables people to teach things to other people – to spread knowledge and understanding where it needs to go – in ways that those of us who originate content rarely imagine as we create it.

Seeing friends like Lee and Sachi LeFever at Common Craft demonstrate how thoughtful visual explanations really can help people worlwide has been eye opening.

Beyond being all manner of cool, their “In Plain English” series has inspired me to examine how I can not only become a better “shedder of light” in my daily life – it’s also inspired me to consider how I can help other people do the same.

Which leads me to the title announcement of this post – as of today, I am joining Lilipip Studios as Director of Business Development.

For those of you unfamiliar with Lilipip and its founder, Ksenia Oustiougova, they are a Seattle startup that specializes in creating animated web videos about your product, service, or concept.

The best way to explain what we do is to show you – so I’ve pasted a video Lilipip did for Zappos above. Take a look at it to get an idea of the kinds of things I’ll be helping folks develop.

Also noteworthy is that Lilipip works with independent writers, illustrators, animators, voice-over artists, and musicians worldwide to produce this work.

As Ksenia and I became friends, it was clear that we share the same belief in the power of these sorts of videos. We also share a deep appreciation of small, special, sustainable approaches to business.

When Lilipip began to take off and it was obvious they needed to grow the team, my wife Jen and I began to seriously discuss re-configuring our lives to join a startup.

After much reflection, we decided to take a leap of faith and do it.

So, watch that Zappos video – And ping me if you know of anyone who could use one of these. We’ve got a great team and a proven process – with transparent pricing!

P.S. I’m not saying there’s a direct correlation between Amazon’s recent purchase of Zappos and the Lilipip video, because causal inference is hard – but casual inference, on the other hand, is quite easy.



Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/11/21

Kendall Guillemette and I are gonna get a discussion session together at Seattle Mind Camp tomorrow on sustainable work/life patterns. We’re calling it “Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns (…is Calacanis a Saint? Something Else?)”.

See flier below. Some seeds for the discussion —

  • How do you structure your work?
  • Is banking on a buyout like saying, “I’m gonna play in the NBA?”
  • What’re your successes?
  • Your epic fails?

Also cool — we plan to use an iPhone audio meter to insta-poll the crowd on what we should talk about (if it’s a decent size).

Special shout out to all those who need a refresher on “All Your Base Are Belong to Us”.

Seattle Mind Camp 5: Sustainable Work/Life Patterns



Participatory Narcissism and why Counting Crows has sucked since back in the day

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/03/22

So I finally got Mars Edit working again with my wordpress install (upgrading wp did the trick) and am getting back in the flow of posting as I come across interesting things.

One of my favorite bloggers, Jeff Atwood at Coding Horror quotes Maciej Cegłowski’s notion of Participatory Narcissism concerning a recent post by Paul Graham.

After a while, you begin to notice that all the essays are an elaborate set of mirrors set up to reflect different facets of the author, in a big distributed act of participatory narcissism.

Which is exactly why just about “everything” Counting Crows has done “after” their first album has sucked so bad.



New Job as a Technical Director at Methodologie

Posted by bryanzug - 2008/01/10

Started a new job on Monday. I have joined the wonderful team at Methodologie in downtown Seattle as “Technical Director, Interactive Manager”.

Methodologie is an incredible brand design firm with a great specialty in Corporate Social Responsibility communication and Annual Report design.

I get to work with an award winning interactive team and am looking forward to a great 2008.

Also to note — I’ll probably be posting less on elearning specific topics (when I post right :) — will be moving more toward the identity of the blog becoming “Bryan Zug’s Flat Hatter Collaborative”.



Have arrived at Web 2.0 Expo

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/04/15

I am at the Web 2.0 Expo at Moscone West in San Francisco this AM. Got here early to scope out the power and do a Sightspeed video call with Jen, Thomas, and Ruthie back in Seattle.

If you are here for the conference, shoot me a note or twitter me (bryanzug) and let’s hang out.

Am looking forward to Stowe Boyd’s 3 hour workshop this AM on ‘Building Social Applications‘. I hear he know his $#!7.

Also — the first Ignite session outside of Seattle is happening tonight at the Expo. Brady has put together an excellent lineup — including Justin.tv — should be interesting.

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CANCELLED: GTD Meetup for March 26

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/26

Tonight’s GTD Meetup where I was going to lead a discussion has been cancelled due to venue double booking.

We’ll be rescheduling and will keep you posted.

If anyone knows of a good alternate venue with wifi, please ping me so I can pass word along to Mike Wilkerson, the organizer.



Leading Discussion at Seattle GTD Meetup on Monday

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/24

I’ll be leading an informal discussion of some of the online project / task collaboration tools I’ve used at the Seattle GTD Meetup at 7 PM this Monday, March 26th at Hale’s Ales in Ballard.

Drop by and say hello — I plan on giving an overview of Basecamp, activeCollab, and my new favorite Vitalist.



Great Primer on Open Source Folkways

Posted by bryanzug - 2007/03/15

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that two good friends of mine here in Seattle were cross posting on their blogs about Flash/Flex momentum and how a healthy open source governance structure might be helpful in pushing momentum even further.

My natural question — have you guys met face to face? Wanna grab some food?

So last night I met Ted Leung and Ryan Stewart for dinner down at Ivar’s on the waterfront. Great time, great view, great conversation.

Though Ted and I both work in the tech industry and have been friends since Mind Camp 1.0, I had never heard him talk about his long history with open source communities and governance (Apache, et al).

All I can say is that I learned a ton about that and distributed project/team folkways in general.

Great, great evening.



I’ll Have a “Cappuccino U”

Posted by bryanzug - 2006/11/26

Via Harold Jarche this AM comes a link to a free pdf book called “Cappuccino U” (.pdf) by Jerome Martin and published by Spotted Cow Press.

It’s kind of a chronicle of diving into / developing “a new, personally-driven approach to learning”. From the Intro —

This e-book is about a new style of learning in which innovative people have combined new information technology with traditional ways of learning to develop a new, personally-driven approach to learning. It happens predominantly in “the third place,” a location that is neither home nor office. The third place is usually a coffee house, one which is designed to serve this particular audience.

People gather in their favourite third places to work, relax, visit and learn. They work independently and in groups. Some of them use computers which may or may not be linked to the web. Some are taking courses online; others are writing books like this one.

This is Cappuccino U.

Martin goes on to relate how he dove into a Faulkner class via Oprah’s Book Club —
I soon learned that Oprah has not only a book club but a classroom as well. By joining her book club (at no cost to me) I found that I had access to lectures about Faulkner and the books. I and thousands of other students were told that the lectures would be available over the summer. We were asked to read the books in the order I listed them and were informed by e-mail when a new lecture was available on the web.
He then does a nice summary on how education is no longer “acquired through vaccination” — that’s a nice phrase —
Some people feel that they have an education because when they were 22 they received a Bachelor’s degree, or they received a PhD when they were 28 (or, more likely these days, 38).

However, education is not acquired through vaccination or some sort of
anointment. We learn daily – or we have the opportunity to do so. Continuing education, be it formal or informal, is essential to our growth as individuals.

If our formal education has been successful we will have been vaccinated with a curiousity virus and will continue to look for new knowledge, not just because it is useful to us but because we have an insatiable desire to learn and become better at what we do.
Overall, it’s a nice short summary of where things are headed — both for our traditional teaching institutions and for career training.



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