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,, 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.