Genii speaks Topic: Internet and magic

Discuss the views of your favorite Genii columnists.

Postby Rick Ruhl » 07/22/07 09:59 AM

Richard,

Since you and I are around the same age, I think I can define the similarities of how the Internet and the brick and mortor shops make up the best of two worlds.

1. Sales on Magic Web Sites - You are right, these are like the Brick and Mortor shops of the past.

2. Message web sites (like this): This is like the old days of writing letters from magician to magician, since normally a message is on one topic to a certain person, except that everyone can 'peek' at the letter and put their own opinion in.

3. One thing you missed was the real time video and audio provided through SKYPE, the messenger clients (MSN, Yahoo, AIM, etc), and the basic peer to peer voice and video over IP technolgy. This is your new meeting place to interact one on one or in a group in real time, wihtout leaving your home. All you need is a webcam and a mic.

For example, if you wanted to show me a move you described in one of your books, we could get on a VVOIP link and you and I could interact, like you do a magic convention or in a one on one session.

I could watch your hands, then you can show me the back view, watch my moves and tell me what Im doing wrong, all in full duplex and real time.

Since the webcam can move, we can get it at any angle.

This is what the new younger magicians are doing. Imagine if we could have had that technolgy when Vernon was alive. Real time training from the Professor, all around the world.

The new online "lecture network' is a first step in that direction, but I see in the near future, a market for the one-on-one or one-on-many interactive sessions that VVOIP provide.

The only thing that has changed is the physical meeting, but that still happens in the local circles... the young people still want to learn magic, and they are using the technology of the 21st century to do it.

We have the best of both worlds now, and I have embraced it since 1979, when we first got on Compuserve (then Micronet) and was able to communicate with the whole world from my home.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/22/07 10:58 AM

While I may not have mentioned real-time voice and video interaction, I felt it was included in what I said. The basis of the interaction is electronic, not personal. It separates and gives only a simulacrum of the personal interaction we got in magic shops.
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Postby Rick Ruhl » 07/22/07 04:59 PM

So I wonder if the next leap in technology (realtime Virtual reality) will bring that back. Not having to leave your home, but just go into a room with your friends from all over the world. The sights, sounds, touch and smells from a 3D vr would would bring that back.

My guess is you and I will see that in our lifetime.
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Postby Guest » 08/04/07 01:23 PM

Sadly, we spend a lot of time and money trying to create an electronic approximation of personal interactions when many of us don't even know our next door neighbor's names.

Even with the demise of the magic shop we can still get together, but it takes an effort. Trust me - the effort is worth it to create relationships, not just e-mail trails. Take the time to get to know a few of the guys in your area. Session, talk, laugh, in person and rely on the e-sessioning as a secondary method.

And, Rick, the day I start piping in the virtual smell of a magician is the day I need to get out of magic. OY!
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Postby Rick Ruhl » 08/15/07 09:53 PM

Well Ive found the first step.

It's called secondlife.com. You can make your character look like anyone, and you can do voice chats and sit in rooms with other characters.. it's pretty cool. We could make a VR magic area there and all gather for some good conversations in the shop.
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Postby Guest » 08/16/07 11:07 AM

Rick:

It must be lonely down there in Alabama! ;)

I take it you don't have a magic shop down there?

We're lucky to have a good brick and mortar shop in Raleigh, NC (The Magic Corner, owned by Jon Ferrante). There is no Web experience as good as hanging out in a shop, as others have said.

I guess it goes without saying that the Web has some advantages for people in remote areas. At the same time, I'm reminded of the multiple comments seen in books and articles over the years in which magicians describe their difficult but rewarding treks to shops in and out of state.

Shops are definitely a plus which is slowly evaporating. Hey, everybody, if you have a local shop.....shop there! Keep those guys in business!
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Postby Rick Ruhl » 08/18/07 08:10 AM

The only magic shop here in town closed down last month. The owner of it is a friend of mine and he closed it down for health reasons.

But when he had it open, we never had a gathering there. His personality had made alot of magicians in this area dislike him.

But here in Alabama I have my good friends in town. Jim Grobe (who is having health problems too), Eddy Stanfield, Alan "Preacher" Jones and his newphew Cody.. and that's it localy (it's IBM ring 330, which is dormant because we only have the 6 of us (including my wife Sydney).

Of course I have my friends Bob Sanders, Michael Baker within driving distance, and Tabman had vanished into the studio in Ga since he got out of the magic Biz.

Im a member of Rings 194 (Huntsville) and Ring 25 (Birmingman), but is an hours drive from Florence to H'Vill and 2 hours to B'ham.

But I was also on David Litchman's MAGIC! bbs in the early 90's (that's where I met Pete and Tabman) and was there when ring 2100 was formed.

So to me, online and real life can become the same thing. I've met alot of friends here, who in real life have become even closer friends.

But to keep in touch, with the distances and the Brick and Morto's going away, online and in the future VR, will take the place of the magic store we loved and grew up with.

Im 47 years old, and I saw this coming in 1979, when I started with the online services with Compuserve (then called Micronet). As a 19 year old kid then, and visiting Eddie Trick Shop on the Square, I felt it would come to this in the long run.
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Postby 000 » 07/03/08 11:12 AM

Rick, did you ever 'get going' on second life.?..I like the idea of a meeting place there.
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Postby Richard Perrin » 08/05/08 02:00 AM

Anonymous,
Since you said Magic Corner in Raleigh (I've been there in the past. They don't stay in one place), NC. Would you please tell Steve Beam I said "hey" from Ring 184!
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Postby magicbar » 12/25/08 01:08 PM

I worked in a magic shop from 1979-1981 - Magic Emporium in Tarzana, (and Granada Hills) Ca. (the San Fernando Valley) Owned by Ken and Paula Gross. Ken was the 'real' guy behind it and he shared many thoughts with me about running a shop. About this time Earl Nelson was working at Hollywood Magic. It was a good time - Henning, Copperfield and Mark Wilson were great influences and the close-up scene was exploding in its Golden Age. Especially with the Magic Castle so close by. I also worked briefly at Magic World (in Chatsworth, CA) as a fill-in magic guy for a bit a few years ago but vids and DVDs had great influence and many came in showing tricks they copied off the internet. Magic World had already made the transition to primarily selling costumes and gag gifts just to stay afloat. The 'industry' got slick with a new breed of supplier/distributor and it was difficult to get unique items or non-standard prices.

Ken did lament about no sales when the guys were just hanging out but he liked having the guys around. He kept thinking of ways to simply make money from the guys hanging out like selling coffee and snacks or as he joked, 'charging rent'.

The good money came from the amateurs - the guys that were just buying anything 'new' or 'hot'. He knew most would never perform the material except to show a couple of close magician friends some half-assed attempt at what it 'should be'. The best money came from the kids that brought in their parents/grandparents and would buy all the latest stuff they saw the pro perform. He largely shut down the magic displays during October to make $ off Halloween. He told me that he'd make his entire annual rent from two weeks of Halloween sales.

He told me that 'real professionals didn't buy anything'. He didn't mean literally nothing but when these guys did come in they usually bought supplies like rope, streamers and stuff that wore out. The real pros he said were thinkers and got things made for them or made it themselves. They did buy some props but they already knew what the effect was. For them we didn't demo the effect, we let them examine the prop - big difference.

The one thing that you just can't get in an internet experience and I think it was touched upon above is the real-time interpersonal contact. Yes I can do a bulletin board or email exchange but it doesn't match both of us, props in hand, comparing positions or actually seeing the expression on your face when trying to explain something.

I commend places like the Magic Apple, Hollywood Magic or Magicopolis (those that I know of in LA area) for staying alive -each with their own appeals. And yes, to echo a statement made above, 'if you like these magic shops in your area, patronize them'. Make the effort to go there, maybe with a few friends and get your next purchase (many have events too) from there. It sounds too obvious but if you are 'in the market' for magic try actually going to a magic market (aka your local magic shop). Maybe have your magic club have their next meeting there.
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