tobias has a great post up about blogging. I don’t take issue with the thesis of the post, but there’s something there that I’ve been thinking about:
Blogs tend to not express or reflect on political action, taken or organised by the blogger; rather, the act of writing the blog is considered to be political and active in itself. Blogs are not reports. This is not a new position–it is the turf of the political writer (Voltaire, Rousseau, etc.).
This does indeed seem to be the position taken by many, probably most, political bloggers. However, I doubt that blogging is a particularly effective political act.
What has changed since the times of pamphlets is not just the speed of publication, but also the amount of information. I don’t really see the web as a very effective tool for propaganda and persuasion, except for perhaps the very most popular of web sites.
I don’t think indy Media or American Samizdat are going to win a lot of people over to progressive causes. Nor do I think Little Green Footballs is going to lure a lot of people over to neo-conservative views. But, what American Samizdat can do is serve as a medium for communication between “the converted.” It’s a great place to share information. The blogosphere in general serves as a way to share ideas and discuss them, but is limited to a fairly small audience. The real work of activism must come from other activities, and blogging is not an effective political act, and shouldn’t kid ourselves about it. That doesn’t make it any less worthwhile.
Did the Dean blog or Meetup really serve as ways to recruit new people to the Dean campaign? Maybe a few, but I think the real recruitment happened in the streets and in the big media. What meetup and the blogs did was organize, solidify, and inform the group. That is what blogs and the web in general are good for.
Another idea which it seems like someone must have come up with already: ransoming art/content/whatever.
The idea is simple: a content provider sets up a donation box and publishes material enough money has been made. It seems this may only work for someone with an established reputation as a good content provider, but as long as the goals set are reasonable it could work.
This solves a couple problems: it prevents there from being a toll box on the information superhighway as some people have put it (a real problem considering that what’s a micropayment in the US could be considerably larger in a third world country, where even getting internet access is very expensive). But it also encourages people who have the money to donate it.
I see this working particularly well for big name musicians… what if Trent Reznor says he won’t record another album until he gets a $6 million advance from fans? He’d probably get a lot of the money from just a couple of rich nin fans. Then he could release the album on p2p networks and completely bypass the entire label system.
But it could work for someone like E-Sheep Patrick Farley too. I would donate towards a ransom for a new E-Sheep comic.
Update: from the comments: Abe points to Street Performer Protocol.
I’m gonna do some idea-blogging over the next few days, trying to get some ideas out there for some feedback (or at least so I don’t forget them).
I’ve had this “games as musical interface” idea for a couple years. A number of “generative” and “fractal” music programs out there (check out this listing). Mostly the interfaces consist of typing in numbers, moving sliders around, or dragging something around the screen randomly. These don’t seem like engaging interfaces.
The idea of using games for an interface isn’t new: this guy has a 3D fractal music game: however, I’ve never been able to get it to run on my computer, and now I can’t even find the download on his web site. My idea is to use a series of constantly changing classic games clones – Pacman, Space Invaders, Tetris, etc. The position of different game objects act as the random data for a music and graphics generator, making it easy for almost anyone to create music and visual compositions; even if they’re not good with music or at playing games. It also creates a game in which the goal is not to “win” but to create interesting music. This could also work as a multi-player game, with the data being split between the two players.
One important aspect is that the “voices” should be configurable. Output to MIDI, or to a set of samples (a la MOD tracking programs) .
A bit of a head-trip feature I’d like to see in the game: the games constantly morph into each other. One minute you’re playing Tetris, moving a block around, and then suddenly the blocks you’ve stack start to look like a maze and your block is pac-man. Then ghosts show up and eventually the whole game is Pac-Man. You play this for a while, then it starts to turn into Space Invaders. Which then turns into Astroids. The changes are random, Tetris sometimes turns into Astroids or Space Invaders instead of Pac-Man.
Jeremy Winters doesn’t think Max/MSP is powerful enough to create something like this. I would like to see it done in Flash, but I kind of doubt that’s possible either.
Audience Participation in Music
More audience participation in music
Einsturzende Neubauten had a subscription program through their web site through which subscribers could watch and listen to the band’s studio sessions and then leave comments in a forum. So essentially they were letting their fans have a say in the album before it was completed. This wouldn’t work for a lot of bands, but it makes sense for Neabauten. Pigface should do this as well.
Some things Pigface have done: let audience members call up and leave messages on the office answering machine for use in an album (Feels Like Heaven, Smells Like Shit) and more recently let fans send in tapes and CD-Rs of them saying “fuck [something]” to be collaged on a Pigface record (not sure if that stuff ever got used). Also, they let fans vote online for which songs they wanted to hear on the “best of” album.
I was thinking, someone could setup an audblog and have people upload sounds form their cell phone to be used in collage or glitch projects. Or, mixed live at a laptop gig. I don’t know how modern programs like Buzz or Fruity Loops work, but it would be pretty simple to use an old tracking program (like Impulse Tracker or Mod Plug Tracker) and create some “patterns” in advance and then download samples using a venue’s wifi connection during the show and then plug them into the song. A soundtrack of the world in almost real time.
This message is for Brenden Simpson – I don’t have access to ICQ right now, and I’m never sure what your e-mail address is. But, anyone interested is welcome to reply.
While I’m waiting for the perfect Live Journal narrative idea and video graffiti idea to strike me, how about:
1. We write an outline, with say 10 landmarks (more might be necessary).
2. We setup a content managment system.
3. We take turns writing 250 – 500 word chapters.
4. We plan it out so that we alterate hitting landmarks.
5. The idea is, to make it challenging for the other guy to execute his assigned point on the landmark without doing ridiculous things.
6. Also, keeping consistent with characterization will be a challenge.
7. We should probably write the outline ourselves, but it would be fun to invite more people to play.
8. One chapter a week?
Thoughts on the Live Journal interactive narrative idea:
1. I don’t want to do “the story game” (where each person writes a piece of the story).
2. I don’t want to do a simple novel serialization like Class of 91 or a “writing in public” exercise like Listener by Ellis or Unwirer by Cory Doctorow and Charlie Stross. But, I wouldn’t rule out the idea of doing a project using Movable Type, a wiki, or some other collaboration ware. (Brenden, you game?)
3. I’m thinking of trying to work with non-fiction (to be true to the journaling purpose of the community). But I don’t want to duplicate the Fray or City Stories and the like.
4. I want to find some way to integrate filters, social network features, commenting and so on.
5. Perhaps a sort of non-fiction role-playing game? Or a game with “assignments” to be carried out in real life, and then reported on in the journal?
Just to collect some of my notes and materials in one place:
Current thesis: While the authorities are installing surveillance systems as mechanisms of control, rather than protection, the effects may have the opposite effect. “Surveillance society” may lead to a form of liberation.
The myth of the conservative point of view is that we have somehow lost a sense of family values in this country. On the contrary, the family may be one of the only values we have left – at least in spirit. What we have lost is a sense of community values, and the family is being asked to pick up the slack. Urban planning, housing projects, purgatorial suburbs, and poor communication combined to dissolve the natural bonds of community within a nation of immigrants. We became family units, cut off from one another, each as sad and unfulfilled as our neighbors, but afraid to admit the truth.
The prosperity of the post-World War II baby-boom era, by decreasing the obvious survival necessity for community values, destroyed what was left of the natural social scheme. Family values were really just a marketing concept, designed to sell the highest volume of products to the richest people in the history of the world. How do we get every single family on the block to buy a product – like a barbeque grill – when just one nice one would do for all of them, and probably be more fun? Instill a sense of competition among families. Be the first on your block. Woefully, this was done at the direct expense of community values. To keep up with the Joneses, you have see them as the enemy.
Those rich enough to do so rushed out to the suburbs in their station wagons; those who couldn’t afford to get out were left behind in the fiscally depleted urban wastelands. With family values an accepted morality, this abandonment was easy to justify. “Screw ’em. I’m helping my family. I love them, and no one can tell me not to get the best for them.” Just don’t look back at those cities. If you do, simply rationalize that their poverty is their own fault. “Besides, those city people don’t have family values.”
– Douglas Rushkoff, Playing the Future, p. 216-217.
While it would be simple (and probably racist) to suggest that these children “of color” are generally less privileged than their white counterparts, and haven’t yet developed a taste for the luxury of electronic mediation, I think there’s another reason for their apathy towards the electronic Gaian mind.
They already get it. Their cultures and spiritual practices are already infused with the notion that the world is a singular, coordinated being, and they have been patiently waiting for us to catch on.
Perhaps the Internet is merely Western Culture’s dry, white, electronic way to experience what most indigenous cultures have known all along: that we human beings are connected to one another, and in an ongoing relationship with the planet on which we live. It was Western culture, through marketing, television, imperialism, and ethnocentrism, that lost its sense of planetary community – so much so that to even mention such a concept gets one labeled as a hopeless New Ager.
– Douglas Rushkoff, “One World, First World”
- 3rd places, loss of community, no sense of place
- celebrities: in the pastoral life, everyone was a celebrity. now, very few people are
- what we want is recognition in a world where we are rarely recognized. also, we want to see other peoples lives. we’re “nosy” and “gossipy.” we feel disconnected.
- society of the spectacle
- housewife isolated from world, serves needs of only nuclear family – escapes through soap operas, talk shows
- exhibitionists, voyeurs, (exquisite corpse article), cam girls, blogs/live journals/galleries, big brother/reality TV
- Julia Scher
- Privacy: who needs it?
- Seitz: Transparent Societies Gibson on Orwell
- Previous privacy post