— THE SOCIETY OF THE SPECTACLE

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The Internet has gone suitably Mad Men mental as Season 5, after a 17 month delay, finally returns to our screens (well, in the US anyway…). Having done a quick refresher of Season 4 this week, it’s quote easy to forget how brilliant the show is. It’s nuanced writing, it’s slow burn qualities (albeit diluted when you watch a few back to back), and of course, it’s obsessional attention to detail.

Newsweek has dedicated this weeks issue to the return of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce with these wonderful (and sometimes awful) retro ads for modern day brands. The brands that really nailed it? The ones that were around in that era. The collection shows how hard it is to do retro without it veering into pastiche. Having got a collection of vintage TIME magazines from around 1966/67, these ads really nailed the colours, and printing qualities, not just the art and copy.

The second thing that has broken this week is this weird fan mashup. 8Bit Mad Men is what happens when Choose Your Own Adventure, meets 8bit Arcade Game, meets 1960’s adland. Surprisingly, it works. It’s a hell of alot of fun, and is just another example of the devotion to detail that fandom of Mad Men generates.

Having read some of the preview reviews for the show, the quality of the two hour season premiere is undiminished. With so many questions left unanswered, and new plot-lines beginning to flower (Don & Megan etc…), it will be brilliant to see how the Mad Men evolve as the Summer Of Love approaches… (Which is nicely theorized in this article in the LA TImes; ‘How Groovy Will Mad Men Get?’)

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(Photo – Cabin Overlooking the Pacific by Mark Wickens)

Cabin Porn has spread like wildfire these last few weeks. Surely some of that is down to it’s title, (There’s no better link bait than porn is there?), beyond that, there’s actually something a little bit more interesting going on underneath this staggering collection of beautiful shots of Cabins. All collated, they start to reflect a rising sentiment that has swept over social networks (and therefore the ‘Digerati’) at the beginning of 2012.

“The Joy Of Quiet”

The article in the New York Times popped up towards the end of the 2011. It raised a very pertinent question at the end of a very exhausting year economically, socially, politically and crucially, technologically.  Have we lost the ability to enjoy peace and quiet?. An even handed argument for the profound benefits of technology, and social networks was presented, but also sounded a warning. In the whirlwinds of our technological advancements, we were in danger of losing our ability to switch off, to enjoy those moments of peace and quiet. To just be. That place where actually we can do some of our best, and clearest thinking.

At the end of a transformative ‘social’/internet enabled year for me, it really hit home.

It seemed as though I wasn’t alone in this reflection. ‘Quiet’ was something many of us had been ignoring. See, the idea of doing nothing in the 2010’s, especially in the peer pressure-24/7-content-factory that our social feeds have become are now persona-non-grata. Everyone is now multiple media node. (And as the article points out for teenagers, who have grown up with the web, this is even more true). No-one is off. People now even pay to be removed from their devices. I know that I personally have Freedom installed on the machine and on more often, ready and waiting to shackle the Internet’s Pandora’s Box of delights. But this is great for desktop, but what prevents you picking up the iPad or iPhone?. Nothing, but your own willpower.

Social connectivity is pervasive.

The article clearly hit home. Some of the people that I respect the most in my twitter stream posted it, many of the people that I know had made significant life choices in 2011 (looking at you UberBlond) wrote about the moment of pause that the article reflected. This unassuming article  stuck in the middle of the NYT, seemed to stop alot of people in their tracks. It resonated in other ways, in the way that many people had renounced their previous careers, to pursue something more, something that they loved and in that way, created their own level of quiet. Their own freedom. The article suddenly took on more multi-faceted elements.

At Christmas, the pace of media (naturally) slowed. A quirk of the British holidays (gawd bless ’em), meant that the time off was actually rather lengthy. I for one spent lovely languid days in a deserted London, catching up with friends, loafing about in the Cow in Notting Hill, escaping the East London fug, and generally taking shit out of fourth gear. It was great.

I also took a long hard look at how much I was sharing, (which in truth, had moved towards more talking as opposed to sharing as my interactions with multiple Twitter people, who I would now call friends, had evolved). I reflected on how much time I would refresh my feed, even if only for that extra new tweet on my phone. It was getting a bit nuts.

I vowed to try and create a space in 2012 for the Joy Of Quiet myself. Naturally in January, this can look like a hollow ambition, more akin to Protestant guilt than actual change. I’m skeptical of cold turkey. However, I do believe in moderation. That moderation through January has helped slowly subside that killer FOMO moment. I haven’t opened up Twitter on my iPhone since January 1. I have a renewed focus, more time to write, (and I mean write) things, like this. Long things, thoughtful things. (I know Mr Tait & Mr Kinsella are sharing the same sentiment with their blogging habits). More time to sit, read, listen to music, drift away, and wander. Things that I’ve loved doing from the moment I first moved to London. More focus on what I want to do and achieve in 2012. (Big moves, big things).

While I adore things like Twitter, and Instagram, and have been life-changing platforms for me, they also aren’t going anywhere, it’s OK to miss out, to keep quiet sometimes.

Which brings me back to Cabin Porn. If the Joy of Quiet was the written manifesto of evolved internet interactions is 2012. Then Cabin Porn is it’s visual doppelganger. Take a close look at these photos. The most interesting images here are not the beautifully stylised homes on Lake Tahoe or in an exclusive upstate enclave. They are the ones of little shacks, seemingly period pieces from gritty Westerns or rural Apalachian nowheresvilles.

Their remoteness, and therefore disconnectedness, is the true appeal. They are places to write, to create, to contemplate, to escape. They are the 21st Century communes. They remind me of a hippy utopia, or films like Vanishing Point. They are silence. Incredible, magical silence. Even with all the technological, social, economic and cultural upheavals around us, sometimes we just like to “Get Back to the Garden” (as Joni Mitchell put it). We would do well to keep these images in our mind, lest, go and explore them ourselves. Cabin Porn is the The Joy Of Quiet.

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I’ve been thinking about California (And L.A in particular) alot lately. What it would be like to live there, to enjoy the sun, and the open space, and experience that very particular brand of American cultural life. So it’s quite timely that I stumbled upon the delights of this timelapse film of 1 day in California, as it seems to surmise all that you could imagine is great about living there. Produced by Ryan Killackey, it had awesome art direction, as well as The music choices being pretty spectacular too. An awe-inspiring film, that is far superior to the ads that California itself did a few years back in my opinion.

UPDATE >> Here’s another timelapse, this time focussing solely on LA. Looks amazing, and also has a very different perspective on LA with it’s focus on downtown. Beautiful.

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