What We Like
If you had told us at the start of the summer that “Iron Man” was going to be good, we would have cancelled your subscription and banned you from the forums (OK, not really). But one of our editors broke down and saw it at the $3 theater and, believe it or not, it really was good! Casting Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark was inspired — the mythology of the original comic book definitely ascribed a dark side to the wealthy industrialist.
The movie sports an explosive beginning that immediately rewinds backward 36 hours to give a better sense of what a cad this man is before he’s plunged into Syriana. The depiction of Stark’s playboy lifestyle invites viewers to live vicariously through it rather than feel envious. Meanwhile, the film’s high-tech depiction of Iron Man in action makes the most of a comic book character that has at times been too clunky to do much with. (Notice there hasn’t been an Iron Man movie until now, and the character was created in 1963.) As an added bonus, Stark developing his power suit has Downey Jr. displaying comic interplay with his robotic assistants that gives “Wall-E” a run for its money.
The movie was well-cast overall: It was nice to see Gwyneth Paltrow do something cool again after seemingly doing little other than go to Coldplay concerts for the past couple of years, and Jeff Bridges was an awesome choice for the super villain. Particularly fun was seeing Tom Morello from Rage Against The Machine pop up briefly as a terrorist guard.
If there’s anything about the movie we’d quibble with, it’s this: There’s no way he could have built the first Iron Man suit in a cave, even with all those missile parts to disassemble and use. And Stark having everyone sit down at the first press conference was lame, but when a second press conference was called to explain away all of the carnage of the climax of the film, it provided a satisfying ending: Stark tossed off his officially prepared alibi to announce, “I’m Iron Man,” and then the film jarringly shifted to “Iron Man” by Black Sabbath blaring over the credits.
It was refreshing to watch a superhero trash his secret identity. The scene also mirrors the more recent mythology of the “Iron Man” comic itself, wherein Stark publicly revealed his dual identity as Iron Man six years ago.
You may be reasonably acquainted with a map of the good, ol’ U.S. of A., and you geography buffs out there may even be able to navigate east of the Atlantic (think back to fifth-grade geography class). But even if you consider yourself internationally savvy, you may not be familiar with this map — a treasure map of online communities, if you will. This fictional continent is where social networking giants such as MySpace and Friendster live happily ever after with virtual bigwigs such as YouTube, Yahoo, Second Life and Wikipedia.
The map is further divided into geographic quarters, as the folks at Strangemaps.wordpress.com elaborate: The north represents practical communities, the south is directed toward intellectuals, communities with a “real life” connection are over in the west, and the east is more focused on the Web itself. To see where your interests lie, check out the map, which features a “Do not use for navigation” discretionary warning. The original map was posted on Xkcd.com, a self-proclaimed “webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language.”
Networking on Ning
With the rise of social networking over the last few years, it seems like just about everyone but your great grandmother has a Facebook page. And the ever-growing Borg that MySpace and Facebook have become shows no real sign of slowing. In fact, that growth may even be accelerating.
Case in point is Silicon Valley start-up Ning which entered the social network space in February 2007. Ning is the brainchild of Marc Andreessen, who tech watchers will remember as the man behind Netscape, and Gina Bianchini, a former investment banker with Goldman Sachs.
Rather than compete directly with the network giants, Ning aims to tap into the fundamental drive that created social networks in the first place – our inherent drive to network and communicate with one another.
The company’s tagline is “Create Your Own Social Network for Anything,” and using their platform, would-be networkers can create their very own social network for free. According to a recent Fast Company article, the company estimates that they will have 4 million social networks hosted on their site by the dawn of 2010. Users create their own networks on whatever topic that strikes their fancy, whether it’s their favorite band, their love for 19th century French poetry or a freakish obsession with the Smurfs. And more and more businesses are tapping into the trend by setting up their own Ning networks.
There’s a network for just about anything, but some of the popular networks include OozingGoo, a site dedicated to Lava Lamp aficionados; a professional network for firefighters, emergency medical service workers and rescue workers called Firefighter Nation; World of Jah for Rastafarians across the world, and the unofficial Netflix member community at netflixcommunity.ning.com.