Web Design & Media Production

Google Search Stories: Ypsilanti’s SolarYpsi Project

YouTube and Google have a feature called “Search Stories” about people who are using Google’s search to find new ways of doing things. One of the people they profile is Dave Strenski of Ypsilanti, who you can learn more about in the video below.

Dave and some like-minded individuals created SolarYpsi in 2005 with the hope of making their hometown a solar power destination through tying solar power generation to the electrical grid.

Their web site showcases real-time reporting of electrical production via solar panels, tracking panels are located on top of the Ypsilanti Food Coop, the Riverstreet Bakery, Ypsilanti City Hall and an Ann Arbor Transportation Authority bus stop.

Here’s Google’s Search Story Creator in case you want to try your hand. Head over to absolutemichigan.com/solar for more Michigan solar information.


Why We Went Dark

Along with many sites on the Web, Absolute Michigan went dark on January 18th to protest a pair of truly awful bills that are on a fast-track for passage, the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) in the House and the Senate’s Protect IP Act (PIPA).

Neither of these new laws would stop piracy, which Absolute Michigan is opposed to. Both, however, would put control of online content in the hands of large entertainment corporations and the government, placing a giant burden on web media outlets like Wikipedia, WordPress, YouTube … and even little old Absolute Michigan.

With our Absolute Michigan, Michigan in Pictures and Leelanau.com websites all down yesterday, there was some time to think about the issue, and we’d like to share one thought: We live in a world very different from the early 1700s when Parliament enacted the Statute of Anne to address the concerns of English booksellers and printers (you can look it up … for now, on Wikipedia).

We are encouraged at every turn and by every consumer device to sing along to commercials, dance to the latest music and in general, swim in a sea of ever-present media. You can debate the pros and cons of doing that but it seems that expecting our candid videos, blogged observations or FacebookedTM thoughts won’t incorporate background music or samples, brand names is flat-out silly. We need intelligent and well thought out laws that recognize the modern world, and SOPA and PIPA definitely aren’t either of those things.

Click here to watch a short video or read more about this issue and please take a moment to contact your elected officials through the links we provide!

Future Midwest Conference this week in Detroit

Painting A Picture Of Optimism by DetroitDerek Photography
Painting A Picture Of Optimism by DetroitDerek Photography

Later this week (April 27-29) the 3rd annual  Future Midwest Conference kicks off in Detroit. It’s the largest digital business conference in the Midwest and  seeks to accelerate business and cultural transformation by uniting community passions with emerging technologies. In 2011, they’ve selected Eastern Market in Detroit as the conference venue. In this interview, conference co-founder Adrian Pittman explains that:

FutureMidwest is a digital business conference that focuses on the impact of technology in five areas:

  • Integrated marketing: How to integrate digital platforms into a well-rounded marketing mix
  • User experience: How to create an engaging experience across a variety of digital media
  • Mobile: How it’s impacting information exchange and user access and how to utilize it
  • Business Intelligence/Analytics: How to define metrics that matter most and apply them
  • Regional growth: How the Midwest is participating in the information age

future midwest

The conference features 2 full days of presentations, panels and exhibitions about technology, social media and how all of this ties into creating a new future for the Midwest. The 2011 conference debuts  Funded by Night, one-day competition to fund tech startups where 25 companies will create to will compete to win a $100,000 convertible note from two local venture capital firms Detroit Venture Partners and Ludlow Ventures.

Any video with a space cow in it has to be good, and the 2010 conference video is no exception!

Baffling Budget Beatdown: Axe to Fall on Michigan Film Incentive?

If you care about this issue, visit Tell Rick on Facebook or Rick’s Wrong (About the Michigan Film Industry Tax Credit). You can also try to contact your legislators and impress upon them the importance of this tool to Michigan’s future. If you have more ideas, post them in the comments below!

snyder-1-avengers-0The budget process has just begun, but already Michigan is feeling the pain with news that the big-budget movie featuring Iron Man, the Hulk and Captain America –  The Avengers has decided not to shoot in Michigan.

“They were all set to come here,” said Chris Baum of Film Detroit, a division of the Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau. When producers couldn’t get confirmation that they would still qualify for the incentives, they decided to pull out of the state, Baum said.

You can see Mitch Albom discussing the issue in a video below. He asks in  his excellent article on how (and why) Michigan should fight this if  any other field grew 100 times over — from $2 million to $225 million — in two years and if any other field kept our young, bright minds from leaving or brought more attention to the beauty and talent of our state. The answer is definitely “Heck no!” and  I think Albom makes a great case for what a baffling move this is on Snyder’s part to shoot our booming media production industry in the head. Mitch writes that the paltry $25 million allocated to the program will do little:

Either way, he kills the future of the film/TV/video game industry here. With such a low cap, few new projects will come. Many have pulled out in the last few days. Studios just washed millions down the drain. Folks who moved here to be part of a growing industry will leave again.

And we look like fools. Imagine a state that yells, “Come on in!”, leads the nation in a program — then three years later shuts it down. Would you want to do business here?

Learn about Snyder’s thinking right here and see how the Center for Michigan reads Snyder’s budget. One thing is sure – the numbers don’t add up, something that is puzzling given Snyder’s “Nerd” reputation. WLNS reports that:

Ernst & Young has found that Michigan’s film incentives generate nearly 6 dollars in economic activity for every dollar spent. It also shows the production of movies and TV shows in Michigan during 2009 and 2010 generated 812 million in economic output and more than 6,000 full-time equivalent jobs. A senate fiscal agency previously said the incentives generate 10 cents in new tax revenue per dollar spent. Governor Snyder’s budget proposal calls for the elimination of the film tax incentive program and orders a 25 million dollar cap on film credits starting later this year.

In case anyone is keeping track, that is well above the $3 figure we’ve heard for Pure Michigan. Here’s Mitch talking about the issue.

City Recycling + Film Incentive = Raleigh Michigan Studios

On Michigan in Pictures we recently wondered whether the road to Oz will wind through Michigan. Here’s a feature on where the Wizard’s balloon may land in Michigan.

Crow's Nest by Jeff Gaydash
Crow’s Nest by Jeff Gaydash

Great Lakes Echo has a cool series about City Recycling in the Great Lakes Region that looks at how brownfields and abandoned industrial centers are being reborn in our region. About a month ago, Courtney Morra wrote Former truck factory could make Michigan a movie star, an in-depth feature on the Raleigh Michigan Studios reconstruction project well underway at the General Motors Pontiac Assembly Center (video from employees on last day). LA based Raleigh Studios is  the country’s longest-running film studio with over 2 million square feet of production space. The project is slated for opening this year and  will add significantly to their capacity and create over 5,000 new jobs:

The studio will be equipped for 3D animation and special effects, and serve as a learning center for Michigan film students. Students are expected from the nearby Detroit College for Creative Studies and Oakland Community College.

…The new studio’s financing includes $11.1 million in Michigan Film Infrastructure tax credits, according to a report from Crain’s Detroit Business.

“The infrastructure credit was put in place to encourage the building of film infrastructure projects, including studios, sound stages and post houses,” said Michelle Begnoche, a communications representative from the Michigan Film Office. “Approved applicants receive a 25 percent tax credit against their Michigan business tax.”

There is a Raleigh Michigan Studios site that is apparently coming soon, but you can get information on the Raleigh Michigan Studios Facebook. There’s also a section at raleighstudios.com that includes a studio map, location,  a photo gallery and information about the unique design of 9 sound stages (175,000 sq. ft.) and support space. You can also get more at Raleigh Michigan Studios on mLive including this video tour & interview with the devleopers.


Michigan Businesses using social media

Grand Rapids Chalk Flood 2009 by RichardDemingPhotography
Grand Rapids Chalk Flood 2009
by RichardDemingPhotography

The Detroit News has an interesting feature on how Michigan companies are learning to use Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and other social media sites. Social media advertising is projected to climb 68% to $7.5 billion this year and jump to $38 billion by 2015, so it’s definitely something that savvy business owners need to incorporate into their strategies. David Murray, president of the Social Media Club in Detroit, says:

“Honestly, companies need to stop looking at their customers as numbers, and they need to start looking at them as people,” said . “You want to make sure you’re not on Facebook just to be on Facebook.”

They discuss Nestle’s failure in the realm successes and talk about successes by companies like Ford and although they miss Michigan’s Twitter leader, Biggby Coffee CEO Bob Fish who uses his biggbybob Twitter to drive traffic as he drives around Michigan, they do feature one of my favorite Michigan companies, Moosejaw*:

Moosejaw has used Twitter numerous times to help customers replace stolen products.

After learning a customer’s coat was stolen, Moosejaw asked its Twitter followers to vote on a replacement. Two hundred votes later, the Madison Heights retailer shipped the winning jacket to the customer.

Social media provide an “opportunity to surprise customers and delight them with something unique,” Moosejaw spokesman Gary Wohlfeill said.

You can connect with Absolute Michigan on Facebook, join the Absolute Michigan pool on Flickr (there’s a great photo contest) and follow me on Twitter! Do you have a story about how YOUR business or organization is using social media?   Share it in the comments!!

* seriously – sign up for their email – you will laugh your head off!

Pure Michigan takes you behind the scenes of “Fresh”

Pure Michigan takes you behind the scenes of the filming of their new “Fresh” TV spot. The spots are done by McCann Erickson and it’s amazing to see what 30 seconds requires.

Many more videos from Pure Michigan TV at YouTube.

AbMich Mobile

Absolute Michigan mobile view!We’ve added support for mobile users including iPhones and Google Android phones. If you’re on a phone and want to look at pages in the normal Absolute Michigan template, there’s a link for that at the bottom too.

To do it, we used the WordPress plugin WPtouch – something you could probably use too if you’re lucky enough to have a WordPress blog!

Check it out and let us know how it works on your phone.

AMP and the Arsenal of Creativity

Untitled by vanessamiller
Untitled by Vanessa Miller

Vanessa has a great set of photos from
allied media conference oh8

Wiretap’s Jenny Lee has a great article called In Detroit: Arsenal of Creativity. It begins:

“Michigan will be the next film capitol of the world,” Clint Eastwood said in a recent interview following the release of his new film Gran Torino, shot in Detroit. The state’s generous tax incentives for film production have spurred a boost in jobs in a year that’s seen declines in nearly every other industry. While it’s exciting to see the rise of film-based enterprise in Michigan, we can’t rely on it, or any single industry to fill the enormous hole left by the decline of the auto industry. Amid the current crisis we have an opportunity to fill the gap in our region’s economy with diverse local initiatives, including community-based media, which thrives off the city’s creative past and present.

It continues and ends well as it does a great job of introducing you to Allied Media Projects (AMP) and looking at some of last year’s conference recommendations like building community wireless and broadband, cultivating local music and teaching media arts. You should go read it.

AMP hosts the annual Allied Media Conference in Detroit, which attracts North America’s most creative and skilled media makers and social justice organizers. The 11th AMC takes place July 16-19, 2009 – check it out!

Get your Green(s) at the Great Lakes BIONEERS Conference

SEEDS director Sarna Salzman talks about the Great Lakes BIONEERS Conference which takes place October 17-19th, 2008 in Traverse City, Michigan @ Northwestern Michigan College (click through to view in high quality). The music is “Greens” by Seth Bernard & May Erlewine from the very tasty disc Something Fresh. Hear more at earthworkmusic.com.

Sarna mentions the Independent Media Conference – there’s a link.