Wednesday, May 9, 2012

An Afternoon in the Life

There is something about New York City that will keep me from becoming jaded. I don’t know what it is, the vibe, the classic top-drawer scenes imbedded from old movies, or maybe that feeling that you are in the focal point of civilization as it exists in 2012.
I accepted the gracious invitation of a print supplier to a presentation of the latest programs for enhanced digital content management. That’s a mouthful, so to break it down, I saw demonstrations of Aysling’s Adobe, Woodwing and Picturepark systems. To break that down a little bit more, these are the latest, cutting-edge tools to manage enhanced, embedded interactive magazines viewable on computer tablets. I also apologize for that redundancy because “tablet” equals “computer” for those of us not old enough to remember floppy disks.
First I was wowed by the technology, how you can scroll with your fingertips across your tablet and choose videos and then within those selections more embedded videos, slide shows, audio and multilayered comment boxes, etc. Anyone with a tablet knows that these things exist but to see how they are created, managed, digitally tracked for the rights, edits, augmentation and corrections, was truly amazing.
Then to have this done in the heart of mid-town, 8th floor of the Time-Life Building just made it over the top. On the walls were the iconic photographs, some which were Pulitzer Prize winners, pictures that you’ve all seen somewhere, if not in your history books then on the pages of Time magazine or inside the classic, Life magazine. If you never heard of a floppy disk, you thought that they were pretty cool pictures. If you had a deeper sense of history, you were wowed by their importance. If you were a teenager for the Kennedy Assassination or caught Pink Floyd’s original  Dark Side of the Moon tour, you were blown away, as I was.
I was among the 50 attendees this afternoon. I am still a little kid, wowed by big windows. I couldn’t help a gaze out from the Eighth floor to look down on the Radio City Music Hall marquee and 30 Rock. A setting like that never gets old. I’ve been to many outrageous places, mostly benefits of business connections or at the behest of the newspaper I wrote for and I’ve had the good fortune of meeting the famous and infamous. This afternoon was one of those reminders that there is this strange world out there that I am allowed to glimpse from time to time..
The presenters flew in from  distant points, Japan, Hawaii and Switzerland. The hors d’ oeuvres were spectacular and the wine was great. All that was required of me was to show up.  But I did have to make some concessions. For instance, I couldn’t wear my trademark jeans. When I look back at my salad days in the 1970s and remember that I had to wear a suit to work every day, I pinch myself that I can work on Broadway in New York City in jeans, any and every day I choose. Okay, so I wore a pair of nice Dockers, and an ironed, dress shirt with double-pressed collars. To make myself completely legitimate, I wore a sport coat, not a dress one but a tight tweed pattern, more college professor than wino, down in his luck.  I am completely comfortable in that skin, rubbing elbows with the pinstriped suits, required by their employers to dress the part.
So in this setting, comfortably dressed, fed and quenched, I saw the future of the enhanced video magazine tablet. I was transported to another world, even if only for an afternoon. Tomorrow, according to Jackson Browne, I’ll get up and do the mundane again, pull on those jeans and struggle for the legal tender. But as iconic as the Time-Life building is, I smiled when I got into the elevator on my way out to Sixth Avenue, and saw nothing but rows of lights and polished aluminum. In my marble palace icon, I watch a flat screen TV while I wait for the elevator to reach my floor. All icons are created equal but some are more equal than others.

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