Friday Follies: Jonathan Coulton Via Spiffworld

By September 21, 2007Friday Follies

Much set-up to this Follies, but it’s SO interesting what goes on in today’s Internet viral marketing/fan universe…

Jonathan Coulton is a singer/songwriter with a nice voice, an adept guitar, and a gift for lyrics that match heartbreak with humor, bringing monsters and science fiction space creatures along for the ride. He used to write software; now he’s the zombie fighting troubador for Popular Science magazine.

Coulton licenses his songs through something called a Creative Commons by-nc license, which allows people to make free use of his songs as long as they properly attribute them and don’t intend the product for commercial use. Fans take his songs and create music videos for them, posting them at YouTube and elsewhere, which draws more attention to Coulton’s songs, which he then sells via website downloads.

For example, a program manager at Adobe named Mike Spiff Booth uses software from the World of Warcraft online role-playing games to make Coulton-song videos at his website, If you like them, you can send some money his way via Paypal, and 50 percent goes back to Coulton. None of which would have made any sense 15 years ago.

The most recent project is a video to Coulton’s “The Future Soon” — the embedded clip above — another tale of love unrequited and cyborgs.

I’ll see her standing by the monorail
She’ll look the same except for bionic eyes
She lost the real ones in the robot wars
I’ll say I’m sorry, she’ll say it’s not your fault …
Or is it?

Thanks to Moe Lane for starting us down this path, which also involved a sidetrip to “The Legend of Black Heaven,” rock ‘n roll anime.

To watch this week’s Friday Follies, “The Future Soon,” click here. Plus an amusing extra, “Betty and Me,” click here.

BTW, Popular Science has a good piece on the hard science of video games: “Today’s videogames draw on sophisticated science like biomechanics, fluid dynamics and computational geometry to be lifelike and exciting.”

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