Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Your Verdict

Here are the results of the weblog evaluation questionnaire adminstered at the last lecture. It seems most people found it valuable, a strong majority thought it should be included in future semesters, and many of you felt it should be a semester-long activity. I find I agree - over a whole semester it could build up over time with less concentrated time pressure and be a space for out-of-class discussion and reflection on all aspects of the course content, not just the second half. I think more training sessions would help too if it can be arranged.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Don't Leave Me This Way...

Well, that's a wrap. I'm actually pretty darn impressed with the way the weblog task turned out, despite blogger's randomness and the forced nature of the task. If you take a look around you, you will see some fine thinking on music and society that wasn't on the web before this, and you'll see a learning community that had only a ghostly existence in tutorials before this. So well done to all of you.


For your own protection.

Couple of reasons:

1. Chances are, it isn't marked yet - its disappearance would therefore be quite bad.
2. Like all assessment, you should keep it even after it's marked in case there are any dramas and you want a remark, or in case we lose all your marks somehow and have to mark them all again.

Feel free to keep using this place as a hub, and stay in touch. It's been a blast.

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Assessment of Weblogs

While the guidelines on the official mstu2000 website say that your blogs will be assessed on the basis of entries made up to tomorrow (the 2nd of June), if you feel you have some catching up still to do and aren't ready to stop, you can keep blogging until Friday the 4th, and we'll mark them after that.

On that note, are some of you thinking of keeping your blogs going after this, perhaps allowing it to morph into more of a general interest blog? Or are you all going to down mice with a huge sigh of relief?

Let us know in the comments section of this post.

Music Industry Panel

Here's the allstar lineup for the music industry panel in the lecture timeslot tomorrow:

Feel free to invite your non-MSTU2000 friends along for what promises to be a lively discussion about how the hot topics of the course relate to creative practice and the industry.

Sunday, May 30, 2004

hipster bingo

Just to prove I can post trivia too, and just to ease the pain of the end of semester exam and assignment blues, I advise you all to go out somewhere subcultural and play hipster bingo.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Essay Due Date

Not having much late getting the due dates right this semester: while planning some stuff for the week beginning the 14th of June just now, I have just realised that this is of course a public holiday. The essay is therefore not due on Mon 14th of June but the next day - Tuesday the 15th, still by 3pm so as not to unduly burden the EMSAH office staff.

I can't update the official MSTU2000 website from home, but I'll fix it on Wednesday.

Friday, May 21, 2004

Remix Culture

At Horizon 0, my new favourite online journal (at least for the next five minutes) is an evocative piece on the forms and future of remix culture.

Samples from the Heap: Notes on Recycling the Detritus of a Remixed Culture by Bernard Schutze:
Mix, mix again, remix: copyleft, cut 'n' paste, digital jumble, cross-fade, dub, tweak the knob, drop the needle, spin, merge, morph, bootleg, pirate, plagiarize, enrich, sample, break down, reassemble, multiply input source, merge output, decompose, recompose, erase borders, remix again. These are among many of the possible actions involved in what can be broadly labeled 'remix culture' - an umbrella term which covers a wide array of creative stances and initiatives, such as: plunderphonics, detritus.net, recombinant culture, open source, compostmodernism, mash-ups, cut-ups, bastard pop, covers, mixology, peer to peer, creative commons, 'surf, sample, manipulate', and uploadphonix.
Only those who are not deeply irritated by postmodern theory should continue reading...

Challenge for Today

Here's a blog challenge for you: find one class blog you haven't engaged with much yet, and find something to say about it in your own blog, or leave a comment. There are some slow starters who are now doing interesting things, and I'm sure they'd love to know their efforts are getting noticed. And you haven't done so yet, leave a comment on the Show Us Yer Blog post below.

Looking for sources on your essay topic?

Not to sound all stern and authoritarian, but...

As you embark on research for your second essay, remember you need to engage with academic secondary sources, and you get marked for "integration of theory". A report or conference paper, or magazine-style online article, will not be weighted as highly as a formal, peer-refereed journal article, book, or book chapter. This doesn't mean "don't use web sources", but it does mean you need to carefully evaluate them and decide what status they have as evidence for your argument.

So as I'm getting a bit concerned about people apparently doing nothing but Googling for sources, I thought I'd draw your attention to Popular Music and Society, which is probably the best international popular music journal. There's also a very good Australian journal of popular music called Perfect Beat. And don't forget the library databases - you can often get full text electronic versions of peer-reviewed articles from the comfort of your PC, so it's just like Googling, only better!

Friday, May 14, 2004

this is what can happen...

When you post your thoughts online. Believe it or not, our lecture notes from week two form the theoretical framework for a presentation given to the Australian Injecting and Illicit Drug Users League about dance culture and drug use by Nicky Bath: Changing Scenes, Changing Trends (pdf file). Although I'm a bit disturbed that the speaker has taken my list of the mythic narratives of classic subculture a bit literally, it's a good example of the surprising ways your ideas can take flight and end up just about anywhere.

Thursday, May 13, 2004

Dance Music and the Local/Global Issue

And for those feeling left out by all the filesharing talk, here's an article from the e-journal soundscapes on dance music, the local and the global, and subculture theory:One continent under a groove: Rethinking the politics of youth subcultural theory, by Ben Carrington and Brian Wilson.

The outer-national identifications and trans-local collectivities of dance culture force us to rethink the theoretical concepts and approaches of cultural studies. But, how? Exploring this question, Ben Carrington and Brian Wilson here take us on a short trip from Chicago to Birmingham and beyond, trying to reformulate the problematic of the 'local' and the 'global'. To see the political implications of club cultures, they argue, we have to look at how the formations of post rave tourism fail or succeed in negotiating new spaces on the contested terrain of popular culture. Appadurai's concept of dimensions or 'scapes' here may prove useful.

From P2P Filesharing to Stream Ripping

Linking in with what Sue said in the lecture yesterday, past MSTU2000 staff member and web geek Axel Bruns reports:
As if the music industry didn't have enough to worry about: Slashdot reports that users are now Shifting from P2P to Stream Ripping - that is, using their computers to 'tape' online radio stations 24 hours a day. Quality is good (and getting better); song IDs enable sorting and selection of incoming songs - as broadband spreads and bandwidth increases, this virtually untraceable brute-force approach to downloading music might really become a viable alternative...
My Creative Soundblaster Audigy even comes bundled with an application called Audio Stream Recorder, that allows to to copy and paste in any URL (e.g. of a web radio stream), hit record, and then dump it to an audio editor where you can cut it up (or not) for your future listening pleasure. As Axel says, the increased takeup of broadband has allowed both higher quality audio streams and the resources on the other end to record large quantities of music.

Thoughts on this? I'm thinking particularly about the different sonic and cultural space of online radio as opposed to the interface of Kazaa or soulseek - which is more intense in terms of subcultural identity; or, which of them better enables musical exploration; or, which of them connects more to the ideas about online community etc. As well as all the obvious implications for Copyfight issues.

Monday, May 10, 2004

Sources on Filesharing

I notice there are a fair few of you interested in the filesharing debate, and thought I'd point you to some central resources. I freely admit they may be a bit skewed, and not in the RIAA's favour, but they should all be good background reading.

The Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF), an organization almost as old as the Internet, has put together a great resource site presenting their arguments about file sharing, and some ideas about how people can continue to download and share music, and artists can still get paid. Start here, and then go here for the full story.

Also, I was lucky enough to be at a symposium on digital music last year where the guest speaker was Fred Von Lohmann, Senior Intellectual Property Attorney at the EFF. There is a transcription of my scrawled notes at my personal blog, and for a version that makes more sense, you might like to check out the video of his talk as well.

I can also highly recommend Darknet and the Future of Content Distribution (MS Word doc) / (pdf) as a primer on the Internet underground and its implications for the established order.

Free Culture, Lawrence Lessig's new and highly influential book on the subject of copyright and "piracy" is available for free download in pdf format and really shouldn't be missed. Lessig is the man behind the International Creative Commons organization, which aims to develop alternative voluntary licensing for creative content such as music, bypassing the clunky, antiquated and repressive intellectual property regimes we have now. Example: artists can release their music with a sampling license attached - inviting mash-ups and remixes without inviting people to steal and resell their music. Check it out!

Blogger is Revamped

Those of you who have logged into blogger already today will have noticed that they have radically redesigned and updated the interface - including fresh new templates (go to template-->pick new), and the ability for people to leave comments on your posts! Which is too funny considering the amount of time we have all spent setting up haloscan comments in the last couple of weeks.

You can choose whether or not to add blogger comments in settings - if you haven't got haloscan set up yet, this would be the easiest thing to do.

Thursday, May 06, 2004

Show Us Yer Blog

It seems that almost all of you MSTU2000 bloggers now have some kind of thematic focus happening (although remember, it doesn't matter if your topics shift or jump around). In order to facilitate networking and discussion, I thought it might be an idea to somehow collate information on who is interested in what topics.

So I'd like to invite everyone to leave a comment on this entry. Tell us who you are and what you are interested in, and don't forget to give us the link to your blog (you can do this by filling in the URL field of the comments box or by just pasting the URL into the body of the comment). That way, everyone will be able to find blogs related to their interests.

And by the way, when you link to a cool resource you found via a classmate's blog, it's always good practice to actually link to the specific post in which your classmate mentioned the cool resource, rather than just mentioning their name. Because, just like in traditional academic publishing, we must always imagine that some stranger will come along and want to track the links (or information, or quotes) back to the source. In other words, links work just like references in an essay. Plus, linking to people when they do something interesting sends traffic their way, gets them noticed, and helps them to build a network.

Leaving comments, and enabling comments on your own blog, is another very effective way to get the network working. If you still don't have comments on your blog, and if trying to get comments on your blog is making you stressed, email me your blogger username and password, and your haloscan username and password if you have signed up at haloscan, and I will fix it up for you.

And don't forget about the FAQ/Helpdesk section on this blog.

Blog Design

Those of you obsessed with prettiness may like to check out this colour scheme tool or this one - they give you the hexadecimal colour codes for about a zillion different colour combinations - all scientifically worked out to guarantee colour harmony.

If you go into your template, you can replace the colours in the style part of the head section with colours of your choosing. e.g. black in hexadecimal is #000000 - so you could change all the black bits of your layout to white by changing replacing #000000 wherever it occurs with #ffffff (the code for white).

Or you could just apply a blogskin, which will also cover up those pesky ads for you.

But try not to get too obsessed - remember you aren't being marked on your html skills! It's content that counts.

Upcoming Lecture on Local Music Cultures

There's a talk coming up on the 19th May by popular music academic Phil Hayward that I would strongly encourage you to attend, especially if you are interested in the topic of "local" music scenes:

"Over the last decade Phil Hayward has been involved in research projects with communities in Pacific locations such as Lord Howe, Norfolk and Pitcairn islands, East New Britain, Ogasawara and the Whitsundays. Influenced by recent developments in community development, heritage studies, anthropology and ethnomusicology, he has attempted to establish 'active research' projects in these locations which involve external researchers responding to and facilitating aspects of local music cultures as part of the research process. This paper will explain the advantages, implications and potential pitfalls for such initiatives with reference to specific case studies."
The talk is co-hosted by the Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies (UQ), the Queensland Conservatorium Research Centre (GU), and the Musicological Society of Australia, Queensland Chapter.

Go here for full details.

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Print literacy vs. Network Literacy

Expat Australian new media academic and research blogging queen Jill Walker gave a talk late last year on student blogs:
"Weblogs are good as learning journals (searchable, writing practice, catching thoughts, intellectual workout, valuing one's own opinion, discovering interests, even recommended as therapy) but all these things could be done in a paper notebook - though the knowledge that other people are (or can be) reading is important.

What's more important to teach our students is network literacy: writing in a distributed, collaborative environment. "
If you are interested in learning more about this, read on....

Oh, and could you all please turn on update pings: Choose Settings>Publishing and select "Yes" for "Notify weblogs.com?". Why? See the entry "Tech Update" below.

What's hot this week

Some of you have taken to blogging like ducks to water, others of you have taken to it more like fish to bicycles. I thought it might be a good idea to draw your attention to some of the ducks.

Quite a few people have started to turn their blog into an online research, thinking and writing space:

Roxy is using hers to explore the relationship between rap and the media; John Goh has become lost in trippy animated graphics as he explores rave culture; Kane is investigating "the way online communities and fan sites can influence the media and sales surrounding certain pop acts" and invites comments.

Speaking of inviting comments, it's even more exciting to see some people attempting to build their own social networks around these blogs:

Matt is looking at the (legal) trading of concert recordings, and finds Tara's (gorgeously redesigned) blog on music activism to be closely related to his. Because Tara has added comments to her template, she now has the beginnings of a dialogue on the topic of filesharing going with Matt.

But the highest aggregate of brownie points this week goes jointly to cocktail expert David Stubbs and beat poetry fan Renee Yates. They have both done extremely snazzy redesigns including adding the ability for visitors to leave comments; they both have really interesting content about their research online, and between the two of them, they have started a cosy little blog dialogue. I encourage you all to burst in on their groovy little world and pester them to tell you how they got such good looking blogs.

So, that's what's hot...go fix what's not ;)

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Some braincandy

This call for submissions for a forthcoming book caught my eye: the list of possible topics for book chapters sound very much like possible topics for essays to me. Read on...
Cybersounds: Essays on Virtual Music Culture
Edited by Michael D. Ayers, New School for Social Research, New York City
Call for Chapters

There is no doubt that the Internet has the ability to shape and transform the art fields. The popular culture art forms- Film, Television and Music have found their specific homes in cyberspace, but out of the big three, music has found the most controversial space to say the least. In the post MP3 scare[*], this volume seeks to examine the role of cyberspace in the cultural production, creation and transformation in the way which society consumes and uses music in its various forms.

This volume seeks to examine music and cyberspace, utilizing theoretical perspectives from cultural studies, sociology, cyberculture studies, feminist perspectives and media studies

Suggested submission topics include, but not limited to:

How cyberspace challenges/confirms traditional production of music cultures
Online music (sub)cultures vs. Real Life (sub)music cultures
Musical genre manifestations online
Theoretical perspectives on the digitalization of music
Theoretical perspectives of consuming music through cyberspace
Case/Comparative studies of fan groups and fan identity in cyberspace
Quantitative studies on downloaders
Artist/Audience Interactions online
The Political Economy of Digital Music/Politics of Digital Music

Chapters should be submitted in Microsoft Word format, 12 point font, double spaced.
Essays should be in the range of 7500 - 10,000 words with references in ASA style.
Send submissions and inquires to michael.ayers@manhattan.edu

Monday, April 26, 2004

Tech Update: Pings

As well as providing easily updated links lists, Blogrolling.com has an added dynamic feature: you can set it to display a little message next to each link that has been recently updated.

This is potentially good for you because we should be able to look at the list of class blogs and see which ones have fresh content - which means the more you update, the more readers you will have. It is also good for your fellow staff and students because we can quickly and easily see which blogs have been updated since our last visit.

In order to turn on this update notification feature for your blog, go to your blogger interface. Choose Settings>Publishing and select "Yes" for "Notify weblogs.com?". Save changes.

What this does is tells the blogger server to "ping" the weblogs.com server, "telling" it that your content has been updated.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Weblog Training Session Debriefing

Well, we all survived yesterday's whirlwind training sessions - 4 groups in 3 hours learning how to set up and maintain a blog from scratch! Me having the flu probably didn't help, either. Remember, the advanced configuration instructions (how to add comments and links) are online.

In the sidebar on the right, you will see that I have now added a list of all the blogs I've received a name and address for. I did this quickly and easily using a free service called Blogrolling. Blogrolling provides an interface where you can enter the name and URL of a link you want to list on your blog. You paste some javascript into your template, and from then on, every time you update the list at blogrolling.com, it is automatically updated on your website too.

IMPORTANT: Please let me know via email if your blog is missing from the list, and also if you would prefer that I list it under your blog's title, rather than your real name.

So now that you all have blogs, what are you going to do with them? To get you started, here's a few suggestions for the first few days' topics: reflecting on the training sessions; trying to express what you think your blog will be used for; trawling the world of blogs and reporting back on what you think of it all; reflecting back on the first half of the course and your expectations for the second half.

By next week everyone should have enough good content on their blogs for us to start discussing things amongst ourselves, and getting that network I was talking about happening.

I have to give brownie points to Matt Roberts for a great first post.


I am anticipating more than a few tears before bedtime caused by the unfamiliar technical issues many of you have to confront.

Please post any technical questions or problems in the comments section of this post only, and I or one of your esteemed colleagues will help you.

This archive of questions and answers will end up being a kind of FAQ, and I will put a link to it from the right-hand menu so it will always be accessible.

If I ask you to email me privately to sort a problem out, please remember my email address has a 1 in it: j.burgess1@uq.edu.au