The 75-Page iBook



Atlantic Records has taken an uncommon approach to using Apple’s iBooks Author — touted as a creation platform that will “reinvent the textbook” — by building an interactive ebook for rock band Shinedown‘s next album.

The 75-page ebook comes out March 27 to coincide with the Amaryllis album release and visually tells the story of the band’s new songs, creative process and cover art.

Photo courtesy of Atlantic Records

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Atlantic Records has taken an uncommon approach to using Apple’s iBooks Author — touted as a creation platform that will “reinvent the textbook” — by building an interactive ebook for the band Shinedown‘s next album.

The 75-page iPad ebook will be available March 27, coinciding with the Amaryllis album release. The ebook visually tells the story of the multi-platinum rock band’s new songs, creative process and cover art.

Frontman Brent Smith says the ebook, titled “FOR YOUR SAKE: Inside the Making of Shinedown’s Amaryllis,” revives the complete album experience, which changed when CD booklets and liner notes became less prevalent.

“With so many people getting their music digitally these days, they don’t always get to enjoy the full experience that you get by exploring physical CDs or vinyl albums,” Smith told Mashable. “I remember picking up Soundgarden’s Superunknown. For me, it’s a perfect example of an album that does an amazing job at connecting the artwork and packaging to the actual music.”

“No other major recording artist has done this yet, no other artist has told the story of an album like this before.”

The ebook is broken down into four parts and features never-before-seen photos presented in interactive galleries, as well as videos featuring detailed commentary from Smith.

Users also can discover the meaning of the lyrics through audio and visuals, and play with the album artwork designed by Atlantic Records creative director David Harrigan.

Atlantic Records roped in rock journalist Jonah Bayer to interview band members and pen the stories found in parts one and two of the ebook. Graphic artist Edith Levin designed each page.

“No other major recording artist has done this yet; no other artist has told the story of an album like this before,” says Mike Mignano, director of digital product development at Atlantic Records.

Mignano, who gave Mashable a hands-on demo of the ebook (see video below), says tools such as iBooks Author have allowed the label to create products in a way that wasn’t possible until recently. He adds that the label is also focused on experimenting with new products, such as apps and casual games, to give music fans experiences that don’t already exist in other mediums.

The Shinedown ebook will cost $5.99 and be sold on iBooks 2.

A Demo of Shinedown’s iBook

More About: apple, Atlantic Records, celebrities, Entertainment, iBooks 2, Music, Shinedown

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Photoshop Image

Researchers have finally come up with the answer to a question that’s plagued us all for years: “Just how much Photoshopping did that magazine cover model get?”

Researchers at the Department of Science at Dartmouth College have developed a software tool that can rate photographs based on how much they have been digitally altered with programs such as Adobe Photoshop. The proposed tool is part of an effort to bring truth to advertising and restore the perception of natural beauty.

“If the tool is used in the future, magazines and advertisements could have a warning label on images similar to a nicotine ad,” Dr. Hany Farid, a professor of computer science and digital forensics at Dartmouth College, told Mashable. “There could be a number at the bottom of the photo revealing just how much it’s been altered.”

Farid and Eric Kee, a Ph.D student in computer science at Dartmouth, published their research this week in the journal National Academy of Sciences.

The tool would work on a rating scale of one to five. Farid and Kee created a base metric by analyzing and statistically measuring results from various before-and-after photos. They then correlated these findings with a study group that was asked to rank the amount of photo alteration on a scale of one (very similar) to five (very different). This numbered metric could then be algorithmically applied to photos of, say, celebrities and models to reveal just how much photo-manipulation took place.

“The ubiquity of these unrealistic and highly idealized images has been linked to eating disorders and body image dissatisfaction in men, women, and children,” the paper said. “In response, several countries have considered legislating the labeling of retouched photos.”

Although some countries in Europe such as Norway and France have already proposed the concept of labeling altered images, it has yet to be approved. “If legislation to label altered photos is passed then it will be important to have the right technology to determine the extent by which a photo has been altered,” Farid said.

“If a magazine is only publishing pictures with ratings of five and you’re a model with a high score, there may be incentive for editors to lean back on excessive altering and not be so extreme,” Farid said.

But the rating system would only work if all parties were on board, from the publishing world to legislation. “It’s not something you want to rush into,” Farid said. “Everyone would need to be in agreement and the right metrics and technology would have to be in place.”


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More About: adobe photoshop, celebrities, Photoshop, trending

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If your search page looks a bit more dramatic than usual today, it’s because Google is celebrating what would have been American dancer and choreographer Martha Graham’s 117th birthday.

The Doodle joins a growing canon of elaborate logos, this one including a dancer who executes six Graham-inspired dance routines to spell out “Google.”

Graham died in 1991 at age 96, according to The Guardian. She was a revolutionary in her sphere, choreographing more than 180 works that went beyond the bounds of traditional ballet.

More About: dance, google doodle, Martha Graham

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Here at Mashable, we subscribe to The Oatmeal, a web comic created by Matthew Inman. Launched in the spring of 2009, The Oatmeal is a true Internet success story, with the site seeing nearly a quarter of a billion pageviews in 2010.

Inman’s wry observations on the absurdity of life, both on and offline, coupled with humorous illustrations, are shared by thousands across social networks, and are about to get analog with a coming-soon book.

5 Very Good Reasons to Punch a Dolphin in the Mouth (and Other Useful Guides) is available to pre-order now. It offers 160 pages of Oatmeal-flavored fun (incidentally weighs about as much as a large handful of dolphin entrails), and is due on shop shelves on March 1.

We caught up with Inman ahead of his book tour to talk comics, cats, and computers, and to find out if we can continue to look forward to more of The Oatmeal’s tasty goodness in 2011.

Q: Considering that you think oatmeal tastes like ground-up senior citizens, how did you come to give your site that moniker?

I used to play a lot of Quake in the ’90s, and when I played online my handle was always QuakerOatmeal. Eventually that got shortened to just Oatmeal and it became my default username on the web.

When it came time to create a website full of my creations, it was really tough to name the site based on the material within the site. Calvin and Hobbes, for instance, has characters by those names — so that’s an easy choice. My comic has no recurring characters though, so rather than trying to name it something like, I just called it “The Oatmeal”.

Coincidentally, some of my favorite amusements all start with The, such as The Onion, The Far Side, and The Perry Bible Fellowship.

Q: A lot of your comedy is inspired by social media. (Well, that and polar bears.) What makes social media such a rich source?

Two things, mainly. One being that I tend to write about things that play a heavy part in my life. I use Facebook, Twitter, and all that other crap all the time, so it’s a fun and interesting medium to work in. The same goes for comics about design and website development — I used to be a designer so I’ve got a wealth to say regarding that particular topic.

The second reason being that I truly enjoy making fun of people who “do” social media for a living (whatever “doing” social media means). The space is saturated with them right now and I like making fun of their douchey Twitter profiles and “How to become a social media communitization engagement DARK LORD” e-books and all that other garbage.

Q. How long does it take you to complete the “average” comic? And, aside from the obvious CrapPrinterBundle.exe, what software do you use?

I’d say about 6 hours, so a day’s worth of work. On some of the more complex comics they can take a week or two if I have to research them, such as my guide to using semicolons or infographic about coffee. I use Adobe Fireworks.

Q. You are huge on Twitter and Facebook. Has it been gradual growth or was there one pivotal comic/quiz/moment that exploded into a giant rainbow of sugar-coated success?

It’s been pretty gradual, I suppose. The site is still only a year and a half old, so I guess in that regard it all happened pretty quickly. I would say that a big moment that changed was in October of 2009 when I basically got off my butt and started producing comics like crazy.

At that point the site was only a few months old and wasn’t getting enough traffic or revenue to support me, so I was still taking on client jobs. I decided to go full bore with it and produce loads of new material. Shortly thereafter, a few of the bigger comics that really put me in the spotlight around that time were 10 Words You Need to Stop Misspelling, How to Suck at Facebook, and Why it’s Better to Pretend You Don’t Know Anything About Computers.

Q. How much of your success do you attribute to readers sharing your comics and quizzes via the social web?

Well, it definitely helps, but the real asset is the content itself. I continually disappoint marketers who interview me and hope to learn my secrets, and I end up basically saying “make things that people like.” With that in mind, I’d say it’s 80% the content, 20% the social media marketing.

I will say though that getting traffic from StumbleUpon and Digg were hugely helpful in the beginning, but now I’ve got an audience so I just try to focus more on continually putting out good stuff.

Q. With your book due to hit shop shelves in March, what’s next for The Oatmeal? Can we look forward to more web comics in 2011?

I’d like to do start doing animated shorts, but since I do everything myself it means I’d have to learn how to do that first, which is much more time consuming than regular cartooning. Also I really want to put together an iPhone/iPad/Android app — particularly on the iPad because that device is perfect for reading comics.

Regarding regular Oatmeal comics, you can definitely expect approximately ten buttcraptons of new material in 2011.

Q. Cats. Computers. The Konami Code. LEGO. iPride. Is it safe to say you are a bit of a geek?

Yeah, absolutely, but I hide it when I’m outdoors and/or in the presence of people who don’t eat 90% of their meals in front of a keyboard.

More Related Resources from Mashable:

The Origin of Twitter’s “Fail Whale”
Susan Kare: Interview With an Iconic Designer [GALLERY]
5 Funny Social Media Web Comics [PICS]
15 Great Geeky Web Comic Strips [PICS]
Top 16 Unusual Foursquare Badges

All images courtesy of The Oatmeal

More About: comics, funny, humor, interview, The Oatmeal, web comics

If your attention span was just too short to sit through all 112 minutes of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, you’re in luck, because a fan of the film has boiled down all the pathos and pings into 60 seconds.

Scott Pilgrim Director Edgar Wright actually tweeted out this video the other day — Wright also heralded the arrival of the film’s trailer back in March with a series of tweets reading: “Wait. What’s that? (looks into distance),” “(squints),” “Ah. I guess it was just a mirage or something.”

The fan-made vid, which is an entry into the Virgin Radio Fake Film Festival, is pretty similar to the original film, so if you’re in need of a shot of awkward from Michael Cera — and his stint as bassist for super band Mister Heavenly is doing nothing for the shakes — this should be a sufficient fix.

More About: humor, pop culture, scott-pilgrim

Thanks to the wonders of social media, nowadays talent scouts are more likely to find the next big thing online than at the mall. While MySpace was once the place to be discovered, video-sharing uber-site YouTube has since taken over as the wannabe pop star’s place to post.

Whether you’re an indie kid, a pop princess or a rising rocker, it seems pretty clear that uploading your performances to YouTube might well pay off — it certainly did for the folks in the video gallery below.

Here we bring you 15 talented uploaders who found fame via the video sharing site. However, this is not an exhaustive list by any means, so please share any artists you like that made it thanks to YouTube in the comments below.

1. Avery

Teen star Avery was a big YouTube hit in 2010 with both covers and original material. The latter netted her a Universal record contract (supposedly following a bidding war) after her videos were viewed by A&R folks.

2. Alyssa Bernal

Alyssa Bernal’s acoustic uploads got the attention of Pharrell Williams who was reportedly so keen to track her down, he contacted her high school. Eventually he got hold of her and signed her to Star Trak. She has since released an EP.

3. Justin Bieber

As many of you will know, Justin Bieber’s pre-pubescent warblings were spotted by a talent scout who arranged for Bieber to meet with Usher. The rest, of course, is now history.

4. Ysabella Brave

Quirky vocalist Ysabella Brave was signed to Warner Music Group’s digital label Cordless after her popular YouTube performances got her noticed.

5. Greyson Chance

Ellen DeGeneres championed young Greyson Chance after seeing his cover of a Lady Gaga song at a school recital on YouTube. After having him on her show, DeGeneres made Chance the first artist signed to her new record label. His debut single came out in October last year.

6. Esmee Denters

Justin Timberlake is the star sponsor behind Dutch singer-songwriter Esmee Denters. He spotted her on the site and she became the first artist to sign to his label. Denters is now working on her second album.

7. Dondria

So So Def Recordings founder Jermaine Dupri discovered Dondria on YouTube and offered her a record deal. Her debut album Dondria vs Phatfffat reached number 14 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart.

8. Kim Yeo-Hee

Kim Yeo-Hee, known on YouTube as Apple Girl, became popular with her covers played on iPhones. After viral success, record labels from South Korea, China and the UK attempted to woo Yeo-Hee and in the end she signed with Seoul-based Dreamhigh-Ent.

9. Andy McKee

Back in 2006, YouTube got Andy McKee seriously noticed – noticed to the tune of 35 million views. With a new album, Joyland, out last year, McKee is now on tour.

10. Terra Naomi

“Say It’s Possible” was the song that opened doors for Terra Naomi. A YouTube hit, she signed with Island Records in 2006, although she is now back to being independent with a fan-funded record in the works.

11. Julia Nunes

Julia Nunes, or “jaaaaaaa” as her YouTube fans know her, shot to online fame after posting videos of her singing covers and originals and playing the ukulele. Nunes has made three independent albums and opened for Ben Folds.

12. Chantelle Redman

UK teenager Chantelle Redman owes her YouTube success to her father who secretly filmed her singing and posted it on the video sharing site. After becoming the second most subscribed singer on the site, she signed a record deal with Agency Global Enterprises and has since released a single.

13. Ria Ritchie

Ria Ritchie’s story will sound familiar by now. After recording acoustic covers and uploading them to YouTube, she got spotted by UK musician Plan B who is producing her first album.

14. Mia Rose

Portuguese-British Mia Rose began uploading her music to YouTube in 2006. She was signed in 2007, has seen success in the UK and Portugal and has since moved to Los Angeles to further her career.

15. Cody Simpson

Twelve-year-old Cody Simpson (inevitably dubbed the Australian Justin Bieber) was spotted on YouTube by Shawn Campbell, a record producer who has worked with the likes of Jay-Z and Missy Elliott. Since signed to Atlantic Records, Simpson’s first single featuring Flo Rida was released last summer.

More Video Resources from Mashable

4 Ways to Find Legal Music for Your YouTube Videos
12 Fun Hacks for Getting More Out of YouTube
HOW TO: Become a YouTube Sensation
3 Things Any Video Needs to Go Viral
10 Memorable Viral Videos of 2010

Image courtesy of iStockphoto,

More About: List, Lists, music, music videos, video, videos, viral videos, web video, youtube

As reported previously, Piers Morgan and his team at CNN pursued an aggressive social media strategy to pull in viewers for Monday’s debut episode of Piers Morgan Tonight. The strategy included much live-tweeting, Facebook-posting and virtual badge-giving. But did it work?

The ratings, at least, were positive: 2.1 million viewers tuned in for Monday’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, according to numbers obtained from the show’s publicist. Another 1.27 million viewers watched Tuesday night’s episode with Howard Stern. Together, that’s a 160% increase in viewership compared to what Larry King Live pulled in last quarter (675,000).

The audience is also proportionately younger than King’s, particularly on the second night, when 43% (551,000) of the audience was made up of individuals in the 24 to 54 age category. Only 25% (170,000) of those who tuned in during King’s last season fell in that age bracket.

Reception on the social web has also been positive. According to social media measurement platform Trendrr, overall sentiment across news sites, Twitter and the blogosphere was largely positive (63%) during the show and in the two hours following the premiere Monday; 2% of posts citing Piers Morgan in that time frame were negative, while 35% were neutral.

Interestingly enough, tweets that mentioned Piers Morgan (“Piers Morgan,” @piersmorgan, #pierstonight, etc.) were incredibly positive (84%) the day of the premiere, while tweets that mentioned both Piers Morgan and CNN were still favorable (56%), but not by nearly the same margin.

While we can’t definitively prove that Morgan’s use of social media is responsible for the interest among a younger demographic, we suspect the attention he has generated on those platforms does have something to do with it. At the very least, the tweeting and blogging denizens of the web are responding positively to his efforts.

Image courtesy of CNN

More About: media, piers morgan, piers morgan tonight, social media, twitter