Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Ben Folds, Pomplamoose at San Francisco MusicTech Summit

The San Francisco MusicTech Summit is taking place today. I had a chance to catch the Rebirth of Video panel streaming online, featuring a couple of my favorite musicians, Ben Folds (who played Los Angeles just last week) and Jack Conte of YouTube sensations Pomplamoose. They played clips showing the ways that these artists were pushing the boundaries of video online.

Folds' most recent bit was a riff on Chatroulette. There was a guy named Merton who looked and sounded a bit like Ben Folds and did improvised piano bits about people he would see through the random video chat of Chatroulette.


So, Folds took that to another meta level and did the same thing on stage at one of his concerts.


Folds talked about the empowerment that the new medium gives to artists. He said that there was a time when, to get your music out, you had to convince bigwigs at a record label. "Now there's no convincing anyone at the top about anything."


Facebook calls all-staff privacy meeting

Apparently the powers that be have recognized that something is rotten in the state of Facebook, as numerous users, bloggers and other commentators have spoken out over recent changes in Facebook's privacy policies. They've called an all-staff meeting on the subject of privacy for this afternoon at 4 p.m. Pacific time.

Facebook users are in a weirdly intimate relationship with the company, as they give Facebook more and more personal information which Facebook is leveraging more and more for its own purposes. There are compelling reasons to be on Facebook, most notably its ubiquity and ease of use when it comes to keeping track of members of your social circle. Facebook makes it difficult to opt out, and still holds onto users' information if they deactivate or even delete their accounts.


Google's attempts to save journalism

People in the journalism world have been panicking about the dire straits the industry is in right now. The Atlantic has a great article by the esteemed James Fallows called "How to Save the News." It's the latest in a long run of these kind of articles, in part because a lot of those writers are by nature close to the subject matter, but it's important not just for journalists but to all of us who want to be informed about our world.

One point the article draws out is that Google has been a big part of what's killed journalism, making it easy for people to find the exact information they want without wading through a newspaper or magazine. "Everyone knows that Google is killing the news business. Few people know how hard Google is trying to bring it back to life."

Some of the minds at Google believe that good journalism is good for Google, as it means they have more interesting content to link to. Google's CEO Eric Schmidt wrote an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal about how Google can help newspapers, and Google has set up ways to deliver more money to news organizations.


Legendary fantasy painter Frank Frazetta dies

Frank Frazetta, one of the most influential if not the most influential artist in fantasy artwork, passed away today. As a comic book fan, I came across his artwork there, as he did some comic book work, but his work included film posters, book covers, album art and more.

He was best known for his lush painted pieces, often with a dark twist to them. He painted classic characters like Conan the Barbarian and Tarzan. His "Death Dealer" was so iconic that a book was written specifically to go with his artwork.

He inspired generations of artists, and his influence can still be seen in fantasy, science fiction and elsewhere today.

You can see a wide variety of his work at fan site FrankFrazetta.org.

(Via Newsarama)