Reasons to Love the Internet: The Rain Dance

Maybe you’ve seen the video embedded here before, but for me the first time was today, when a friend (@rhh) re-tweeted a link from Ze Frank, and all the tweet said was “how great is this.” I am a big fan of Ze’s from way back, so I knew it would be a link to something wonderful — and so it was. It was a video of some street dancers in Oakland, standing on a street corner in the rain and doing a variety of hip hop called “turf dancing,” with a combination of flips and spins as well as moonwalking and styling.

I watched it with my daughters and they wanted to know more about it, so I tried to track down who the dancers were and why the video was shot. It seemed obvious that the videographer knew the dancers would be there, but it wasn’t a music video — and why do it on some non-descript street corner, in the pouring rain? The YouTube clip said that it was from Yak Films, so I checked out the company and found the video was called “RIP Rich D” and it featured a turf dancing troupe called Turf Feinz.

But why that street corner, and why in the rain? I finally found a few links that explained it: first a link from a blog pointed me to Kottke, which had a link to Snarkmarket (which I highly recommend). Turns out the video originally went viral in July, when it got posted to some blogs (I missed it somehow). The street corner was where the half-brother of one of the dancers in Turf Feinz was killed in a car accident a few days earlier. The group decided to go and do a tribute dance in his honour on the corner where he died, and allowed Yoram Savion of Yak Films to go and videotape them.

I knew the video had a magical quality of some kind, but I didn’t know why. Learning the story behind it made it even more touching. Just another reason why I love the Internet. If your bandwidth can handle it, I encourage you to watch it full screen.

TVO’s The Agenda: The “Death of the Web”

I had the chance to be on a panel last Friday as part of TVO’s The Agenda, thanks to superstar producer and occasional blowgun-hunter Mike Miner (ask him about that last part, if you get the chance). Hosted by the reliably excellent Steve Paikin, the panel took a look at a number of recent topics, including the so-called “death of the web” — as predicted by Wired magazine’s trend-caller-in-chief, Chris Anderson — and the rise of the app economy.

Also on the panel were a pair of Jesses (one Jesse Hirsh, tech commentator, and one Jesse Brown, host of Search Engine) and Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School, the guy who pretty much invented the term “net neutrality,” and as it turns out a transplanted Torontonian. I really enjoyed the panel, so I’ve embedded the video here — not so much because I am in it, but because I thought some great issues were raised around things like the open vs. closed debate when it comes to technology, and so on.

Tim in particular made some excellent points about relying on private enterprises like Google to fight for openness and negotiate with totalitarian states such as China.