Paul Andrews

Posts Tagged ‘danny macaskill’

How Danny MacAskill got famous

In Mountain Biking, Videos on December 29, 2009 at 8:43 am

For cycling fans, the New York Timesprofile on trials wunderkind Danny MacAskill is more reiterative than informative. We’ve known about the Scottish phenom for months. One point in particular needs clarifying, though.

The article attributes MacAskill’s celebrity to YouTube. While YouTube assuredly played a role in elevating MacAskill from a $9-an-hour bike mechanic to a (potentially) six-figure international icon, crediting YouTube for his transformation is like crediting photography for making Marilyn Monroe famous. The images were important. But a lot more was going on.

The way MacAskill became “known” is a telling case study of the ever-richer, ever-expanding information ecosystem of the Web. And by way of examination it also reveals in a microcosm why newspapers are in such dire straits, and there is nothing they can do to improve their lot, no matter how much career journalists like myself might wish it otherwise.

YouTube certainly made a key contribution to MacAskill’s notoriety. Once his seminal video was posted, the germ was in place. But YouTube is a vast wasteland of flickering pixels. In the Darwinian infrastructure of the Web, entire species of very good videos lie stillborn. MacAskill was just another lad with a few tricks till a Twitterer discovered him.

As a bike blogger, I keep a Twitter feed made up entirely of bike tweeters. There are a lot of them out there, the most famous being the Man Himself, Lance Armstrong. The most famous road cyclist, that is. The most famous mountain biker Tweeter — the category that Danny MacAskill more naturally falls under — may very well be a Laguna Beach-by-way-of-Kenzingen, Germany trials rider by the name of Hans Rey.

Not coincidentally, Hans Rey is, like Danny MacAskill, a trials rider. In fact, whatever heights MacAskill eventually attains, there’s a good chance that within cycling circles he’ll never match Rey’s august stature. A born self-promoter, Rey was making bike-trick videos before MacAskill got his first bike. So inventive and flamboyant was Rey that his full appellation became “Hans No Way Rey,” as in, there’s no way you can pull that one off!

Rey doesn’t tweet a lot, so when he does, the cycling world pays attention. On April 20, 2009, he posted a comment, “Dam check this out,” and link on a “whole new level” for trials riding. The link was Danny MacAskill’s original video, posted just hours earlier.

Hans Rey twitter feed

Hans Rey's original tweet on Danny MacAskill

(I couldn’t find Lance’s original tweet about MacAskill but recall it being somewhat later. A Web search suggests it was in May.)

Once the King had given MacAskill his Midas blessing, a Twitternado erupted. Within hours, nay minutes, retweets began flying around the Web. Suddenly MacAskill’s YouTube views began pinning the servers. Gradually (in Internet time, anyway, meaning by the next day) bloggers got into the act. Then email lists, public and private.

And, finally, aeons later, a newspaper.

YouTube was the source, yes. But in the multi-layered ecosystem of the Web, the source is merely the soil. What made MacAskill famous was the forest of referrals, planted by Hans Rey.

When newspapers ruled the earth, they were both the source and the referrer. They enjoyed a wondrous monopoly over how information was purveyed and received.

Today the Internet has not only bifurcated those roles, it has partitioned them further among numerous players — YouTube, blogs, social networks, email, IM, and on and on. Newspapers are hanging on as one of the players, but their role is irreversibly waning. After all, in the new online order of things, the Internet is the newspaper.

In “covering” the Danny MacAskill story, The Times links to Lance Armstrong, a MacAskill video, still photos and various other pointers. Tellingly, and most ironically, a key progenitor of not only the phenomenon but the art form as well, Hans No Way Rey, was not even mentioned.

Daily Roundup: Bike beating, Bike parking, Bike Corraling & more

In Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on December 29, 2009 at 12:56 am

Guy gets beat over the head with a bicycle … did the cops ask victim, “Were you wearing a helmet?”

The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog is tracking what happened to the neighborhood Bike Corral.

NY Times writeup on Danny MacAskill is also about how YouTube makes celebrities out of everyday folks … the way newspapers used to.

RC asks for help tracking down this weird unicycle. Never seen one, would love to ride one!

If you have the time BikeSnobNYC has the loquacity.

Daily Roundup: Moving Pictures

In Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking on December 28, 2009 at 2:47 pm

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, this would be a gimongous post. Enough said.

The bicycle as an anti-theft device.

A bicycle without a fork.

The bicycle as a levitation device.

Velo Vidyo: Some tasty bits from YouTube

In Mountain Biking, Videos on November 18, 2009 at 10:49 pm

MTBR’s Top Ten YouTube MTB vids:

My faves of the list:

Chris Duncan showing how to jump, good stuff. He’s right about the elbows.

The Klunkerz clip.

No. 1 is the much viewed Danny MacAskill urban trials clip. The others are mostly flash and crash.

Somehow the list missed my No. 1, the Hans Rey/Steve Pete Irish Pub to Pub rideabout, featuring the Cliffs of Death.

But for videos that we everyday mountain bikers with our good but unextreme skillz can relate to, you can’t beat the Pete Fagerlin gallery — especially the soundtracks.

PinkBike has the CBC video of the sad story of Sam Brown.

Daily Roundup: Missing Link tomorrow, Ells retreat, Tribute to Rider Down and more

In Bicycle advocacy, Bicycle Commuting, Daily Roundup, Mountain Biking, Obama Bikes, Rider Down on October 26, 2009 at 6:10 am

Tomorrow is “We Are The Missing Link,” a testimonial gathering to get the Ballard part of the Burke-Gilman Trail connected. Meet at Shilshole Avenue opposite 17th, just west of the Ballard Bridge. Yes it’s one ugly intersection. There’s an apres party as well. More at SeattleLikesBikes. You don’t have to bring your bike or even be a cyclist — the trail is for all non-motorized users! Just have a red blinkie and you’re set.

I’m not nor ever have been an Ellsworth owner, although I liked the Truth when it came out. Still, given its manufacturing headquarters in Vancouver, I feel at least geographical allegiance to the brand. And something like this makes me really wish I did own an Ellsworth, especially this time of year.

Rider Down But Only in Body Not in Soul: Mary Yonkers was some kind of cyclist. A wonderful tribute from SF StreetsBlog puts her life, cut short by a careless truck driver, in touching perspective.

NSMB gives trials wunderkind Danny MacAskill a once going-over.