Toe-tappingly depressing

So, how can you spice up really bleak statistics like recent stock market performances of major companies and the death toll of soldiers in Iraq? Make them into music, using that new darling of blog posts, Microsoft Songsmith (obligatory holy crap moment as I realize I’m linking to a Microsoft product I’m not hating on). See and listen to the results at WFMU’s Beware of the Blog.

Attack of the Killer Beets!

No, I’m not talking about the Beets, the great rock band from the Nickelodeon show Doug. (Couldn’t find a decent video of the classic “I need more allowance” from the show, but here’s a still, with music.)

I’m talking about genetically engineered sugar beets with Monsanto’s “Round Up” pesticide built right into them. Now, I’m not going to start a whole thing about genetically engineered food being awful, etc. ( I’ll leave that bioluddite verus brave-new-world stuff for my next novel!)(You think I’m kidding!!).

But I do think Monsanto is just horribly bad and awful, as are all the congresspeople who are in its pocket.

Here’s a petition to stop their latest assault on our food supply & environment. Not to mention, bodies. Sign it if you feel like it.

Evocative Performance vs. Information Transmission

An interesting thing happens when a medium has enough bandwidth to be a “rich medium.” It crosses a threshold from merely being an informational medium to being an evocative medium.

Consider radio, which was initially used to carry Morse code over the wireless tracts between ships at sea and shore. The entire communications payload of a message could be perfectly preserved in notating the discrete dots and dashes. Like digital media, the informational content was completely preserved regardless of whether it was carried by radio, telegraph, or paper. But when radio started carrying voice, there was communication payload that was not completely preserved in the context of other media. The human voice conveys more subtlety than mere words.

Thus far, the Internet has been mostly informational. We do use it to transmit individual sound and video presentational work, but the Internet platforms in these situations are merely the road on which these travel rather than the medium itself. (My kids say they are listening to a song or watching a video, rather than that they are using the Internet or that they are on-line. The medium is the music and video.)

So, what happens when an Internet platform supports voice and video, both live and prerecorded, and allows individual works to be combined and recombined and annotated and added to and for the whole process to be observed? Do “sites” become evocative? Do presentations on them become a performance art? Do we loose veracity or perspicuity as the focus shifts to how things are said rather than what is said? Here’s a radio performance musing on some of this and more.

I think maybe this is the point where the medium becomes the message. If a technology doesn’t matter because everything is preserved in other forms, then the technology isn’t really a distinct medium in McLuhan’s sense.

More Proof the RIAA Claims Are Bunk

Yet another study finding that P2P filesharing is not the reason people stop buying CDs, and that most music people listen to on their computers and MP3 players is legally obtained. More information here. Michael Geist, on of the genius people you never hear about in the U.S. because he’s like, you know, Canadian (actually, he’s from the U.S., but he lives and works in Canada) offers an excellent analysis here.

Of note, the study was conducted by the Candian Recording Industry Association, the RIAA’s Candian cousin, so one can assume that any bias toward result was in favor of finding that P2P is tantamount to theft.

Stay tuned…..

The Way Things Go

Der Lauf der Dinge is that film in which a whole series of objects cascade in a very long Rube Goldberg. (I understand many cultures have had similar cartoonists. I think its wonderful that where previous generations drew pictures, civilization has developed to the point where individuals can and do actually realize and record such fantasies.) You may have seen a take-off of this in a car ad.

I think the reason for our fascination with this has to do with movement carrying the action. You can have theme and variation without movement, and without physical objects. Consider novels, painting, music, and zillion other things. But here we have a case where there is nothing of interest at all except for the theme and variation expressed by the movement and positioning of physical objects. And it is fascinating. A reviewer has written of the film that it is like watching a Hitchcock film with objects instead of people.

I think this all relates to previous discussion on narrative and 3D.

[This is fallout from a session at OOPSLA.]