Why Arcade Fire Should Rule the World

Screen shot from the live, one-time-only, uniquely generated music video created by Arcade Fire when I inputed the address of my childhood home. The upper left box is the postcard I “drew” in real time during the video and will be sent to the address I grew up at.
Wrapping up this two-week conversation about healthy
Internet practices, I want to celebrate a project—online—that’s innovative,
artistic, exciting, and worthwhile.
Alt rock band Arcade Fire is very much “in the loop” when it
comes to social media and online presence, not to mention their utterly epic
discography and lyrics. But they also remember the feeling of snail mail. The
freedom to wander the wilderness of downtown. The sound of shoes slapping a wet
Pacific Northwest sidewalk. Their album, “The Suburbs,” is one of the
single-most powerful lamentations on the loss of innocence for those of us who
came of age before the Internet, cell phones, and 9/11.
Arcade Fire worked with Google and goodness knows who else
to create an online music video portal for their song “We Used to Wait.” When
you enter your address (of your childhood home, for instance), a music video is
spontaneously created, set to a backdrop of images from your childhood neighborhood and overlaid with multiple windows
running parallel narratives.
At the end of the one-of-a-kind music video, you get to
create a postcard using your mouse and it gets mailed to the home you grew up
at, providing the recipient with a link to a PDF of the postcard where they can
type a response to you. No video is alike, although the same song will play for
each person who enters his/her address.
Check it out
this weekend, if it feels fulfilling to you. I did it and it made me weep—I saw
the driveway I spent hours playing in as a child, the wet pavement of Portland,
the deep green of trees that shaded hours of my childhood playtime, the cracks
in the pavement the dogs leapt over whenever they dug out of the backyard.


The Internet isn’t evil. It’s an almost unbearably powerful
tool. These artists have done something incredible with it. Worth five minutes
of my weekend? Absolutely.

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