Hanneke du Toit

Check, leathers, gun-toting and roses: the revenge of the 90s

The 80's steadily digressed from gilt to guilt, and the after party in the 90's was nursing the hang-over. Queue grunge, and it's translucent, waif-like sister, heroine chic. Everybody looked like they hadn't slept or showered in months.

A nod to the nineties cult film: stylised violence set in bland suburban landscape – the short film promo for the new album by The Dead Weather.

BLAME IT ON THE ANTI-BOOGIE Dust off your docs, ditch the shampoo and wipe that smile from your face – the 90s are back.

Out dancing with friends a week-end ago, we were served a selection of alternative 90s chart toppers to groove to. The dance floor erupted in spontaneous ensemble-karaoke at the chorus of every “invigorating power ballad”. But something was missing: beats – about 55 of them, every minute. Half way into every song, the predictable, mid-paced tempo became boring. All you could do was to pull harder at your beer and wait for the next track.

A few die-hards always head-bang, but head-banging – that extreme form of nodding in agreement – does not by itself qualify as dancing, at least not in my deeply un-cool opinion. While you might well be able to come as you are, you can’t dance to the 90’s.

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Filed under: Trends, , , , ,

“Enough about me… what do you think about me?”

Second shadow: your personal information on display wherever you go. From the survey conduced by Matthias Böhmer.

Second shadow: your personal information on display wherever you go. (Image from a survey conducted by Matthias Böhmer.)

People say we are self-involved (and who are we to disagree?)

Critics of social media have been lamenting about its narcissistic and self-referential nature. Blogging and micro-blogging is considered to be nothing more than a time consuming, data intensive exercise in self-broadcasting. The medium can be employed for a variety of different purposes (in the way Twitter was recently used by protesters in the Iranian elections), but for the majority of users it is still a channel to tell the world that you are stuck in traffic / watching re-runs of Prison Break / at some franchised coffee bar having the most fabulous latte known to man. Stephen Fry tweeted tonight:

“I have been most remiss, tweetwise. Apologies. Thissing and thatting, whiching and whatting – a walk here, a lunch there and now a dinner.”

Everyone’s at it.

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Filed under: Social Media, , , ,

What’s so funny?

Comic Sans font, definitely inappropriate on a prostitute's call card.

Comic Sans font, definitely inappropriate on a prostitute's call card.

There is nothing funny about the recession, everyone is struggling. Print media, hard hit by a steep decline in advertising revenue and desperately involved in doing its own extinction management, is trying to get by in any way possible – short of prostituting itself. Which is just as well since not even sex is selling anymore. Walpaper magazine decided to embrace the state of affairs and commissioned designers to make typographic call-cards (like those pasted inside telephone booths) for their current issue.

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Filed under: Design, , ,

Rotten candy

Rotten Candy

There are some new kids on the block. A new wave of techno-savants are growing up and entering the workforce, interacting with technology as fluidly as with another human being. They lack the innate distrust of technology harboured by older generations, mainly due to growing up with computers. They multitask, attention spread across a variety of media streaming at the same time. Everything is instant, almost everything accessible. Traditional ideas on focus and attention span have all gone out the window. Interacting with technology on a continuous basis did not turn these kids into socially defunct, square-eyed blobs like our parents feared, but instead into highly efficient, inventive and communicative masters of media in the broadest sense.

So I was surprised at the buzz created around an article in the New Yorker on the Stanford Marshmallow Expriment.

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Filed under: New Media,

You had me at “Hello World”

The Sinclair ZX81 – with all of 1K of RAM.

The Sinclair ZX81 – with all of 1K of RAM.

What a wonderful 80’s headline. Power. Apparently that’s what everyone was into in the 80’s: power dressing, bouffant power coiffes kept in check by nuclear powered hairspray leaving a sticky film on power padded shoulders. Whether you were an American Psycho-esque inner city slicker with a corner office, or the teenage geek next door screwing around with bits of computer, the cats on Madison avenue figured that power was what you were after. And they were going to offer you that, whether it was actually present in the advertised product, or not. Because the funny thing about the ZX 81 is that it had 1K of RAM – remarkably underpowered even for its time. I’d imagine the guitarist of Kiss could negotiate more functionality out of his instrument (if you count trashing hotel rooms) than a prospective computer geek could extract from this basic little PC with 1 K of RAM. But as it turns out it was not power, but something closer to – dare I say it – love that afforded the ZX 81 its cult following.

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Filed under: Hardware, , ,

15 minutes of anonymity

As I sat down to register this blog, I yet again had to go through the rigmarole of picking user names, log-in names, nicknames and passwords. For the sake of simplicity I decided to stick to my good ol’ real name which I can look up in my passport in the unlikely event of ever forgetting it. I blogged under a pseudonym once before; to my mind for protecting the familia from the details of a few wild week-ends, but in the end it probably more accurately protected me from myself and my amateurish self-publishing. There is a lot to be said for the safety afforded by anonymity, but as the British blogging community realised last week, anonymity has suddenly become something of the past.

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Filed under: Writing Online, , , , , ,

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