Monthly Archives: October 2006

Will this work?

The World Changing blog has a scheme (Help us Hack the Publishing System) to raise the profile of their new book Worldchanging: A Users Guide for the 21st Century [by Alex Steffen, Al Gore (Foreword), Bruce Sterling (Introduction)], involving a mob purchase at Amazon at 11:11 (PST) on 1 November. I was havering about purchase myself, but this plot brings me to the brink. $22.50 to stick it to …erm… the publishing world? Probably worth it for the warm fuzzy feeling, and who knows? Maybe the blurb is right:

Worldchanging is poised to be the Whole Earth Catalog for this millennium. Written by leading new thinkers who believe that the means for building a better future lie all around us, Worldchanging is packed with the information, resources, reviews, and ideas that give readers the tools they need to make a difference…

on Tom Waits

Today’s Guardian/Observer has a fine piece on Tom, one of my favorite musicians, by Sean O’Hagan. Two inducements to read its entirety:

‘I didn’t just marry a beautiful woman,’ he says, ‘I married a record collection.’

‘It was like, “Am I genuinely eccentric? Or am I just wearing a funny hat?” All the big questions come up when you get sober. “What am I made of? What’s left when you drain the pool?”‘

YouTube music

If I was still teaching Cross-Cultural Studies in Music I’d do it quite differently, thanks to YouTube and other elements in the video revolution. Just take the example of Rajrupa Sen’s sarod (6:37 YouTube performance), and a second example (6:06) with even clearer view of technique. Or Ismail Tuncbilek’s saz and Husnu Senlendirici’s clarinet (6:34, with appreciative live audience), and a studio setting (5:51) for another view that concentrates more on the interaction among the players (and is pretty jazzy too). Or try Ram Narayan’s sarangi (5:15 –less than optimal video, but gives a clear view of a master at work). Or Michalis Tzouganakis’ laouto (2:15) or a less traditional example, Pali-Pali (5:05) …and/or this one, with dancers.
To see such performances makes such a difference in understanding and appreciation, and we can confidently expect more and more diversity of musical styles, and more experimentation. This cuatro example (1:55) is the tip of a potential iceberg of videos made by people practicing their instruments. I, for one, welcome our new musical overlords.

Trying TagLoops

In not much more than an hour I was able to put together the beginnings of a version of the Joe Wilner saga using TagLoops. I can think of lots of refinements to incorporate as I add more content, and some editing features I’d like to see in future versions of the utility, but these few minutes give a good idea of basic functionality, and lead me to all sorts of Grand Thoughts for other projects.

Try it out (probably takes a minute or two to load).


Alan Levine’s stream (and 70+ other finders) brought me Lucas Gonze’s survey of playlist formats (November 2003), including this introductory bit:

Playlists are comparatively simple objects. They are nothing but lists — here is the first song, here is the second. As a result they fail to excite the imagination of many people, because the expressive possibilities seem too limited. But from my background as a musician, arranger and composer, I know that the sequencing of aesthetic experiences has huge expressive possibilities. In my work on playlists I aim to help extend the expressive power of sequencing to objects on the world wide web.

This puts me in mind of Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity, naturally:

A good compilation tape, like breaking up, is hard to do. You’ve got to kick it off with a corker, to hold the attention… and then you’ve got to up it a notch, or cool it a notch, and you can’t have white music and black music together, unless the white music sound like black music, and you can’t have two tracks by the same artist side by side, unless you’ve done the whole thing in pairs, and …oh, there are loads of rules. (pg. 89 –in the film version, Rob goes into more detail)

This latter passage is about the rapidly-obsolescing medium of the audio cassette, but it has some applicability in the realm of remix tools. One such, still an alpha but pregnant with possibilities, is TagLoops (watch the tutorial to experience that sweaty-palms here-it-comes technotwitch. And see their example too). In six months or so, this sort of tool will be all the rage in remix culture.

Packin’ Vegemite

Cory Doctorow points us to this bloody marvelous story, with the money quote:

“The border guard asked us if we were carrying any Vegemite,” Mr Fogarty said.

…which implies Racial Profiling, or at least a line in the Border Patrol Manual: if it has an Aussie accent, ask the V question. Comforting to know that the Homeland is Secure against folate. The Ozzically Underendowed might wish to consult the Vegemite timeline.

UPDATE: This snopes bit puts the report in the ‘urban legend’ category, but reading the details (commercial ban, not personal-use) doesn’t really provide Relief. I still love the image of the Border Minion asking “are you carrying any Vegemite, mate?” when Crocodile Dundee appears at the Border.