I don’t entirely know what it is. I mean, I do —it’s a streaming channel that pulls the latest videos from 5 newspapers and 2 wire services. But I don’t know if anybody wants this sort of thing. It’s meant for cord-cutters. It’s an exercise in trying to make YouTube videos more presentable. It’s a little buggy, and I’m looking to you, YOU, the brilliant minds of Tumblr, to tell me why it sucks or is uninteresting to you.
I wrote down a great idea on a piece of paper the other day and now I can’t find it. (This is exactly why you should only ever type things into a Google Doc.) But in searching through a stack of notebooks, I stumbled across this passage. It’s a creative note to a composer from the singer-songwriter he was composing for, which I frantically scribbled down during a telephone conversation, since at this particular moment it was my job to be a messenger between the two. Here is the note:
one sound, 10 tracks
one note until the bridge
little bit of movement in the bridge, glimmer of tenderness, subtle loving moment of inspiration
“The first few years I was here… I would go to New York to visit family and friends. They would say, How do you like it? I would say, It’s really nice, and they would say, It’s got smog and earthquakes and so on. The first few times I would argue and say, No, it’s not that bad. By the fourth year they would start up and I’d say, You’re right, and tell your friends to stay right here. And that’s when I knew I was an Angeleno. As God is my judge.”—Vin Scully’s ode to summer in Los Angeles
"I know he was there in the crowd, somewhere," said Agent Cromwell. "I felt him.”
"Well, let’s find out," said Jones.
Jones typed command after command into his terminal. Dozens of images flashed in rapid succession on the screen array before him, a composite of every surveillance camera in the downtown Cincinnati area. Nobody in the room saw this as an Orwellian nightmare; all such moral objection vanished in the light of terrorism.
"Wait, stop!" yelled Agent Cromwell. "Go back to that one!"
Jones flipped back to a crowd outside the mall.
"Zoom in on that guy, the one in the red shirt."
Jones tapped some keys, and the computer beeped diligently as it magnified the image.
"Zoom in further."
The man in the red shirt filled the screen. At this zoom level, his face was blurry.
"Enhance." demanded Agent Cromwell.
The computer beeped as it sharpened the image.
Beep beep beep. The photo’s resolution increased, and sharpened more.
The man’s face became clear. Then some of his blemishes vanished, and his red-eye was reduced. The computer applied a satisfying HDR effect to make the scene a touch more dramatic, along with a lovely prefabricated filter, some yellow in the highlights with a lower saturation and increased exposure, that sort of thing.
"Oh look at that," said Agent Cromwell.
"Try it again!" said Jones.
The computer found a much better image of the man’s face and composited a lovely, smiling suspect for Agent Cromwell’s approval. Then it assembled a GIF of the man half-stepping forward and back. On a loop, the GIF gave the impression he was dancing.
Agent Cromwell clapped his hands, delightedly. “Where can I ‘like’ this?” he asked.
First, Google plans to automatically make your pictures better. A feature called Auto Enhance will analyze and apply tweaks to your uploaded photos. From what we’ve heard on stage, this will include simple adjustments like brightness, contrast, color correction, noise reduction, tonal distribution, and saturation, but it will also make some more intensive changes. One demonstration showed how Google detects faces and will automatically blur out skin there to hide zits, for instance.
There’s also something called “Auto Awesome.” By detecting the kinds of photos you take, Google is going to try to make other improvements. For example, if you upload a series of similar photos taken in a short period of time Google will automatically make an animated GIF out of it. If you upload a set of group photos it will stitch together one picture so that everyone is smiling. It will also make auto panoramas and HDR photos if you upload the right kinds of pictures.
The company is also going to pick out the best ones out of everything you’ve uploaded. By using algorithms, a feature called Auto Highlight will skip over blurry photos, duplicates, and underexposed shots, for instance, and choose the “best” photos to show off. Ideally, you’ll be able to upload 600 pictures from your vacation straight to Google+ and not worry about having to sift through and pick the best ones to share.
“There are few moments where we have the opportunity to win a battle against our own vanity in a medium that encourages constant self-promotion. The restraint of not using a real photo for an avatar even though I am EXCEEDINGLY BEAUTIFUL is a similar one of my monastic vows. To deny the indulgence of verification is a small gesture which holds religious meaning to me. We should not ask to be rewarded for our good deeds tweets in this life; we must have faith that God has boundless favs and RTs awaiting us in Heaven.”—Katie Notopoulos