Day 104: The Wilderness Downtown

1 Sep

Hello there! If this is your first time on the site, be sure to check out the about page at the top for more info on my project! Also, sign the guestbook (also located in the top)!

I know I said I was going to post some pictures of California for tonight’s blogpost, but I discovered something today that can’t go unnoticed.

Being a journalism student, we are encouraged to look into new technologies that could potentially change my career in the future. And being an arts journalist, I am in love with music and musicians who use new technologies for awesomeness (see my article on the band Gorillaz at the Oregon Voice… click to ch-ch-check it out).

So when I heard that Arcade Fire (one of my favorite bands) teamed up with Chris Milk for a Google Chrome sponsored project featuring HTML5 called “The Wilderness Downtown”, I jumped on that website faster than you could yell “FIRE!!”

The concept is simple enough: Chris Milk created an interactive music video for the Arcade Fire’s new song “We Used To Wait”, involving google maps and your own keyboard. I don’t want to spoil the experience for you, but it is more than just a personalized music video: it is an inside look into a system that is overlooked.

All you have to do is type in the address of the house you grew up in (or, if you can’t remember that, type your own address in there) and begin. It will pop up a few new windows here and there, but here’s the important thing: DON’T CLOSE THEM DOWN!!! That’s all part of the video. So let them pop up and enjoy!


If you have a very weak browser (as in you have frequent problems with your internet, or your connection is very slow) don’t try to watch this video. I know, it sucks to miss out but even my computer had issues with it at first (and my compy is pretty new). If your internet is pretty decent, then close down all other windows and applications open (save that word document and close that powerpoint) before watching. It’ll make it run smoother.

If you’re ready, click this picture to experience the Wilderness Downtown:

Click Here for The Wilderness Downtown

If you have clicked the link DO NOT SCROLL DOWN!

I’m serious.

If you haven’t clicked the link (or your internet is not too strong), I’ve provided a video of an example of the whole video right below. This is something I hope that you can see, even if you can’t experience it.

Don’t watch this video before clicking the link!

Anyway, here you go!

4 Responses to “Day 104: The Wilderness Downtown”

  1. margasaur September 1, 2010 at 11:13 pm #

    If you’ve watched the video, here are my thoughts.

    The main thing I want to say is this. Where I grew up, there was this big field at the end of the street and an orchard on the other side. We only went over there once (since it was considered “trespassing”) but I remember it clearly. It’s been about eight years since I moved to Washington, and now the orchard is clearly gone (you can tell from Google Maps). The area was cleared to create a new series of suburban homes, and it nearly made me cry.

    So when the video comes to the trees at the end, it made me cry. It was like watching the old orchard from my childhood memories taking revenge on all of us. It’s a bit of a scary thought at first, but it also makes me feel better.

    I absolutely love this video project and I am positively pleased that they put this much time and energy into an experiment like this. Bravo!!!

  2. margasaur September 1, 2010 at 11:14 pm #

    Also, side note, tomorrow I won’t have pictures as well. I have ulterior motives that must be addressed before the timeliness goes away!

  3. Josh September 3, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    I’ve been thinking about this piece and think that it suggests a few important lessons for thinking about the future of journalism too. At it’s most basic, what the “The Wilderness Downtown” does is point out a new way of telling stories online. It is beautiful, immersive, and engaging. It calls us to participate, to follow up, to stay engaged. It challenges us, inspires us, awes us. All of these are qualities we need in the news.

    I break this down in some more detail here:

    • margasaur September 5, 2010 at 10:52 pm #

      I completely agree! This experiment shows that we, as journalists, can take this technology and expand on the different markets that are going downhill right now.
      Online magazines can now be interactive and expansive in their design with this type of technology. I’m really excited for the future!

      Thanks for the comment! (and great article, by the way!)

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