If the work is commissioned again, Caspar Helendale will return to life for long enough to die again, and another group will see him disappear. This rehearsed, repeated death reinforced the message he gave to “the gods”, the creators of the avatars there:- “We will outlast you all”.
Wonder if they’ve read Animal Man! (link via @dan_griffiths on Twitter)
There is a thought-provoking idea in pretty much every section of this danah boyd talk but this bit especially leapt out at me:
"People consume content that stimulates their mind and senses. That which angers, excites, energizes, entertains, or otherwise creates an emotional response. This is not always the "best" or most informative content, but that which triggers a reaction.
This isn’t inherently a good thing. Consider the food equivalent. Our bodies are programmed to consume fat and sugars because they’re rare in nature. Thus, when they come around, we should grab them. In the same way, we’re biologically programmed to be attentive to things that stimulate: content that is gross, violent, or sexual and that gossip which is humiliating, embarrassing, or offensive. If we’re not careful, we’re going to develop the psychological equivalent of obesity. We’ll find ourselves consuming content that is least beneficial for ourselves or society as a whole.”
The problem is that the kind of Reithian 2.0 approach implied by this leads to a devil’s bargain that (as a rock critic) has become rather familiar to me. Viz. how do you build an audience for the worthy content which isn’t partly unified and motivated by its contempt for the people who prefer the stimulating content? Even assuming you can define the two: in fact the act of defining is what leads to the separation of audiences. Solving boyd’s second problem (stimulation) can lead to an acceleration of her third (homophily).
For a “Top albums of the year” list, say. Assume you know who you want to participate.
FREE VOTING: All participants name a number of things, and their votes are tallied to produce an ordered list. This is probably the most common way of making a list, and the most common variant is for participants to order their lists to produce a standardised weighting. Other variants include participants alloting points to the things they vote for, or participants simply listing things and the results being based on a simple count. (These are, respectively, how the Pazz and Jop albums and singles ballots have been run.)
NOMINATION-BASED VOTING: This is a two-stage process: a list of things is created, and participants then vote for items on the list - most likely using one of the other methods discussed here. The list of nominations can be created in a number of ways - by committee, by submissions from participants, by other list-making processes, etc etc. The Poptimists end-of-decade polls are being run like this.
COMMITTEE: Items are proposed by individuals and voted on or off the list by committee. The committee might then decide on any ordering of the list. This is pretty much how Freaky Trigger lists (like the Top 25 Scariest Things) have been decided, except the individuals are all also on the committee.
FREE NOMINATIONS: Items proposed by individuals appear on the list with no power of veto. The list is either unordered, or ordered in a first-come first-served fashion.
BLIND AUCTION: Different individuals score different items. The highest scores given form the list. If you listed, for instance, the highest marks given over a year by Pitchfork magazine, you’d be using this method. A newspaper’s “XI of the Week” based on marks out of 10 for football players across different games is also doing this.
DIRECT RATING: All participants are asked to score all items and the average scores determine how the items are ranked. This is a potentially unwieldy method but is used in, for instance, sports like diving or gymnastics.
INDIRECT RATING: Participants are asked to trade items, or bundles of items, off against one another: perceived value can be determined from the results of these trade-offs, rather than being asked directly. This is how brands are often ranked in Market Research exercises, for example.
PREDICTIVE MARKET: Participants are asked to predict how OTHER participants will rank items.
ITERATIVE LIST GENERATION: A complete list is circulated, and participants can perform operations on the list within a set of rules (“remove one and add another”).
BALLOON DEBATE: The list is constructed negatively, by participants removing objectionable items until the required number is reached.
Of course some of these can be combined. Other suggestions gratefully received! A follow-up post is planned looking at the pros and cons of some of these methods.
Saying “There is no ‘broader culture’ to have a sense about” is sort of missing the point, in that like the existence of God, what matters is whether or not people ACT as if there’s a broader culture to have a sense about.
(The analogy isn’t perfect, since the existence of a broader culture is testable, and also since if enough people act like a broader culture exists, then it kind of does - which isn’t true of God unless you subscribe to some fairly esoteric philosophies.)
“Did Nin feel guilty about any of this? If so, she had a ready excuse: she was an artist, and artists didn’t follow rules. Hugo agreed, writing in his own journal that Anais was “not merely an artist. She is the definition of art. Therefore, she cannot make mistakes. Whatever she does with that instinct burning in her, and it burns unceasingly, an immortal flame, is right, becomes right, for it is she who does it.””—
This - more than somewhat critical, perhaps also unfair - portrait of Anais Nin kind of makes me want to see a schlocky film or miniseries mixing biopics of Nin and Ayn Rand. (I’m not the first to have had this thought.)
Rihanna is not the first superstar to have made a deliberately difficult album; Rated R is the latest in a proud history of implausibly cold, alienated and deeply personal works that includes Madonna’s Erotica,Janet Jackson’s Velvet Rope and, more recently, Kelly Clarkson’s My December and Kanye West’s808s & Heartbreak. What makes Rated R impressive and important beyond its captivating music is the way, against the usual rules of our current panoptic age, that Rihanna has seized back control of her public story. It follows her giving one of the most nuanced, impressive and inspirational interviews on domestic violence that any public figure has given - one that saw calls to the US National Domestic Violence Hotline increase by 73% in the days following it. On Rated R, Rihanna does not shy away from the ways in which she has been broken down - but ultimately this honesty reaffirms her own agency and the audacious way in which she rebuilds herself, all impenetrable granite and steel.
The Lex reviewing the Rihanna album, for Fact Magazine.
I felt I needed a label because I wanted to sell my brain. If I could package my brain up in a nice tidy product then I could stick a price on it and people would be more likely to buy it. And, to a certain extent, it worked – I’ve made a pretty decent living over the last couple of years – yet every time I describe myself as a Social Media Consultant a tiny part of me dies.
I can’t even begin to tell you how much I sympathise with this!
Frank Kogan is writing a decade-end essay and wants to know what ideas are floating around out there. Go help!
The thread already contains this - really terrific - point by girlboymusic:
The arc of pop music is long, but it bends toward weirdness. We started the decade with relatively neat ‘n’ clean stuff from ‘NSync and Britney and the like. And then we had this movement toward messiness — Avril and Ashlee and their rebellion against “cookie cutter” pop, Pink and Christina making grabs for credibility/authenticity/etc. with their confessional rock and assless chaps, Britney working with the sonically out-there Neptunes. ‘NSync randomly teamed up with rappers and then split so Justin could get all staccato with Timbaland and JC Chasez could release stuff like “Some Girls (Dance with Women).” B’Day happened. Missy Elliott was in there somewhere. Fall Out Boy and their long-titled ilk became the new teen pop. It became all about the clever, the quotably bizarre — a line you could put on your Twitter, stuff you could reblog. See: Black-Eyed Peas, The. See also: Racist, Das. And even now, on its last legs, the decade just keeps pushing toward the aggressively unique, the aggressively personal. Lily Allen. Katy Perry. Britney’s last two albums have been thinly veiled references to how fucked up she is. Rihanna’s latest is a not-at-all veiled reference to how her boyfriend beat her up before the Grammys. Lady fucking GaGa.
When asked about the similarity, Mr. Young said the Postal Service was never a model yet he considered the comparisons an honor.
But he also wasn’t too shy to note that he has profited from the other band’s recent absence. “They released a record in 2003, and that was it,” he said. “There was really nothing to compare it to until some one else came along and wrote the next chapter. Maybe that’s this record. Maybe that’s this band.”
Maybe this is another thing about the appeal of this particular music to people who write online — it’s in some ways a reflection? People on all sides are trying to muddle through their creative impulses with tools that allow for instant publishing/dissemination, and by extension the impulse to get something out overtakes the impulse to make something “right” in whatever abstract sense.
I think that’s very likely it. (talking about “chillwave”). “Perfect is the enemy of done” and all that - a big current in internet thought.
“The little inconsistencies in musicians’ performances aren’t just glitches, though: They’re exactly what we respond to as listeners — the part that feels like “style,” or even like “rock.” The exciting part of guitar-bass-drum-voice music is the alchemy of specific musicians playing with each other, and the way those musicians’ idiosyncratic senses of timing and articulation and emphasis relate to each other.”—
This is the same argument Joe Carducci used to use about why dance music sucked - I am actually pretty sympathetic to it (in Wolk’s articulation, not Carducci’s), more than you might expect given my tastes. But I wonder if it explains my tastes to some extent: I suspect it’s part of why I like a lot of old rock and not a lot of new rock (though the stuff I DO enjoy, like Fall Out Boy, is doubtless guilty of TONS of this kind of sin - but I don’t relate to it as “a band making music together” at all). Luckily, there’s a lot more out there than rock for me to enjoy so I don’t feel the loss as keenly.
Carrie Brownstein leads a discussion with label heads from Matador, Merge, Sub Pop, Kill Rock Stars, Jagaguwar, and Saddle Creek. There’s a lot of interesting stuff mixed in with stuff you’ve heard a dozen times before, but the thing that interested me most — almost certainly because I have some involvement in it — is the discussion of how much power Pitchfork has in driving the success of some records. It’s a complicated thing. While Best New Music can really get people going, it only seems to work when the audience is already going to be interested. There are plenty of highly rated records on Pfork that the audience just seems to shrug off entirely. Also, as a person who puts a great deal of effort into writing for the site, it’s disheartening whenever people talk about how grades below a mid-7 are ignored entirely, in part because I know that’s true of so many readers. Internally, however, grades in the 6 and 7 range are considered to be positive scores!
5-7 pointers are also a lot harder to write. You’re either dealing with a strong but flawed record, which means you need to be convincing about its strengths and its flaws, or you’re dealing with a mediocre or generic record, in which case it’s just a pestilence to write about interestingly.
And yes, people don’t read them, but I don’t really care about that. The structure of web audiences mean that 90% of the audience of ANYTHING aren’t reading it, or they’re skimming it, or they stop a quarter of the way through, or whatever. That’s the devil’s bargain that comes with such a huge potential readership.
What I do is try to put something in every review I write that I think is actually an interesting point or idea whether or not you care about the band or are ever going to hear the record. I don’t always manage it but that’s the idea. Probably it says something awful about the times in which we live that I have to think of ideas as ‘easter eggs’ like this, but oh well!
Finished Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland yesterday - a romp of a book, 700 pages of politics and swearing in which, to be honest, very little of “the 60s” comes out well. I don’t really know if Perlstein’s central “Nixonland” metaphor stands up - in fact I don’t really even think I can summarise it that well: that Nixon’s populist politics of flattering people’s resentment created a new kind of division in America, maybe? It works as a way to frame a very entertaining book but as analysis - not so sure. I wasn’t convinced that this was something Nixon created rather than just something he was particularly good at.
But the book isn’t just about Nixon - it’s also a second story, about Nixon’s enemies - first the Democrat political machines, and then the New Left that looked to supplant them. Perlstein is a rare kind of historian in that he’s fiercely opinionated without actually coming across as partisan - if he’s on anyone’s side in this electoral narrative, it’s the much-abused voter’s. The political figures in Nixonland he treats with contempt, but it’s a shaded contempt: disgust (giving way to horrified laughter) at Nixon’s chicanery, boiling frustration at the nihilism and naivety of his opponents.
Two relevant lessons stand out. The first is that early adopters are cultural catnip but political poison. If you’re on one side of a big social change it can be incredibly difficult to empathise with people who are on the other side of it, and incredibly easy to underestimate their numbers or clout. So you downplay those numbers, and dismiss people as “not getting it”, because the change is inevitable, right? And this leads to the second lesson, which is that a strong narrative is the most powerful force in politics (or business or anything) but only as long as you don’t take it for granted. A strong narrative is like a winning novel proposal: a terrific first chapter and a powerful concept, but the risk is that the concept is so good you think the book will write itself, and surprise surprise it doesn’t, and the detail kills you.
Everyone’s missed the clever part of Rupert Murdoch’s broadside against Google last week. Murdoch said he’d block Google from spidering his websites’ content, and may use litigation against public broadcasters such as the BBC, who use material spawned in his papers. The conventional wisdom from web gurus was that he was off his rocker, and his comments were the last gasp of a Luddite. And that shows you what the conventional wisdom of web pundits is worth.
What Murdoch has done is say the unspeakable. He’s offered a roadmap for taming Google - and a re-ordering of everything we take for granted about the web today. He can’t do so alone, which is why his real audience included media and entertainment executives who lack the courage to think such heresies. But he invited the prospect that without its expensively-produced material, Google stops being the omnivorous destroyer of their livelihoods they suppose it is today. And this, in turn, means Google’s own investment decisions today may be horribly misplaced.
Good - or at the very least interesting - analysis of Murdoch’s paywall strategy from The Register.
At the same time, especially with regard to Stylus and Plan B and now Idolator, one finds a slow limiting of a burst of spirit that had had a good decade-long run, of balancing out the passion of writing and thoughtful debate via the vehicle of music — and quite often the subjects under discussion reached far beyond the notes heard and the lyrics comprehended — with an appreciation for the here and now, that engaged with music that was six seconds old as much as it was six decades, and sought to do so beyond the realm of simple yeas or nays or presumptions of one particular style of music ruling over all else.
Ned waxes elegiac over the passing of a critical era. It’s a gloomy way of framing it: I think there’s something in it, though. What I think happened is that a bunch of people who were fans of, or had been inspired by, print music writing in the 90s decided to have a pop at seeing how the stuff they’d been inspired by might work on the web. The source materials were stuff like (variously) Melody Maker, Sassy, The Wire, Village Voice, Smash Hits…
…and the answer, ultimately, was no, it mostly didn’t work, or at least not commercially. The “burst of spirit” you’re talking about was a transitional thing, I think. Stylus, I would say, is WAY more fondly remembered now than it was admired when it was going. Plan B is the same. Freaky Trigger’s relevance rested on NYLPM and was pretty much wiped out when MP3 blogs came along. ILX is splendid and wide-ranging and way better than it was a few years ago, but the barriers to entry are pretty daunting.
Idolator was good because it was being done by somebody who loved music, and who believed in music writing as something inclusive and intelligent and questioning, but who was also commercially aware and web-experienced enough to know that just ‘writing well about music’ wouldn’t necessarily mean much on its own. If Maura couldn’t make that site’s numbers work - and I do mean “if”: I have no idea if that was or wasn’t why they parted ways - I don’t know who could.
The two “transitional phase” sites that really have succeeded on their own terms are Pitchfork in the US (always a weird exception to anything, and I’m not even sure Ryan WAS inspired by any particular publication or type of writing) and Popjustice in the UK, which has managed to actually be a Smash Hits for its era. Of course, neither are as generalist as Idolator or Stylus. That particular dream is pretty much gone. But not, I’d guess, for individual listeners, who’ll pick their critical sources from a huge range of partisan voices which they can blend as their feed-reading leisure.
As ever, I am having a massive year-end albums catch up panic. I put out the call on Twitter for suggestions and got a lot (thank you all very much!). Obviously, the time to even consider any of these between now and the end of the year is limited. So now I turn to you lot: which are good? which are terrible? If I had to acquire only 4 or 5 which should they be? Tell me about these records!
(ones with * I have already in my “to check out” pile)
A Fine Frenzy, Amerie*, A-Trak (Fabriclive), Au Revoir Simone, Between The Buried And Me, Bibio, Black Meteoric Star, Blaq Poet, Blue Roses, Brad Paisley, Buddy and Julie Miller, Dam-Funk, Death, Demi Lovato, Division Day, Eleni Mandell, Fever Ray*, Freddie Gibbs, Geeneus, Gucci Mane (Burrrprint), Harlem Shakes, Invisible System, Jack Penate, Jarvis Cocker, Jeremy Jay, Junior Boys, Justin Townes Earle, K’Naan*, Lacrosse, Let’s Wrestle, Little Dragon, Maxwell*, Marco Polo & Torae, Meg & Dia, Me’Shell Ndegocello, Miranda Lambert, Moby, Nellie McKay, New Boyz, Nicolay, Olenka and the Autumn Lovers, Omar S (Fabric mix), Pill, POS, Phosphorescent, Rihanna*, Ryan Leslie, Shackleton, Slow Club, Soap & Skin, Soundtrack Of Our Lives, St Vincent, The Juan Maclean, The Very Best*, Tune-Yards, UGK, Wye Oak, YACHT
And - why not - what would your top album of 2009 be if you were making your list right now?
Have just submitted my tracks of 09 list to Pitchfork. I’m not allowed to say what’s on it, or at any rate I’m not going to because the specific tracks (down at the lower end of the top 50 in particular) involve a certain amount of tacticality based on who the list’s for etc.
But I’ve broken it down based by genre because it interests me (and probably nobodt else) to see which broad styles of music had a ‘good year’ in my eyes.
British Urban Stuff* 12
Dance music basically**** 4
*cheaty category spanning everything from “post-dubstep” to Dizzee Rascal’s full-on pop direction. “Garage diaspora” seems a better way of describing it at this stage than “Hardcore continuum”. Basically loads of the London music I heard this year was amazing and I’m certainly no expert.
**weak year, this includes some fairly marginal cases.
***mostly lower end of the list, no particular song broke through as anthem or earworm, my highest-placed thing was a jerk track.
****house, balearic, bangin’ remixes of non-bangin’ songs.
Here's THE GAME: Grab the book nearest you. Right now. • Turn to page 56. • Find the fifth sentence. • Reblog these instructions & post that sentence • Don't dig for your favorite book, the coolest, the most intellectual. Use the CLOSEST book.
“Well, Harry… time for us to be off,” said Dumbledore at last, standing up and straightening his long black cloak.
“Took yeh from the ruined house myself, on Dumbledore’s orders.”
“She had quite a lot of sex appeal, too, if you really want to know.”
“In either case, the end result is one fearsome monster.”
“Or is this all nonsense?”
“Yes. It has often led him to be liberal and generous, -to give his money freely, to display hospitality, to assist his tenants, and relieve the poor.”
“The crest on the paper was a number of souls gathered round a mountain, with a little arch of text underneath.”
La mano che scrive sembra staccarsi dal corpo e si prolunga in liberta’ assai lungi dal cervello, che, anch’esso in qualche modo staccato dal corpo e divenuto aero, guarda dall’alto, con una terrible lucidita’, le frasi inattese che escono dalla penna.
[The hand that writes seems to disconnect itself from the body and to prolong itself so far from the head, that the head, too, in some way disconnected from teh body e changed into an airplane, looks down from above, with a terrible clarity; phrases unexpected emerge from the pen.]
“You feel any stinging spots?”
“I am Horus.”
An American Dilemma, the monumental study of the Negro and American democracy that was sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation, was the combined product of Myrdal, director of the project and principal author of the book, played much the same role that the chairman of the board of directors does in a large corporation.
Graceland’s staff take the notion of the mansion’s upstairs as sanctuary quite seriously (supposedly, the actor Nicolas Cage, who was married to Lisa Marie for three months in 2002, is the only non-family member to have ventured upstairs since Elvis’s death; if one believes rumors, even President Clinton was denied a visit).
I need to crack on with my own decade tracks list - have got delayed by needing to think about 09 tracks and albums. Anyway this is Jude Rogers’ blog of the decade, taking a more personal angle (which is pretty refreshing to be honest: one can have enough of general significance.)
These are the sites I enjoy reading the most at the moment, or learn the most from, or laugh at most, or something. They’re in alphabetical order.
A Grammar: This is Nitsuh Abebe’s tumblr, in which he is reasonable about things, Nitsuh-style. If you don’t know Nitsuh, he is a very smart guy who has a remarkable ability to pour the oil of good sense on the troubled waters of ILX (an Internet forum I used to frequent, m’lud) and here is where he does that without the crutch of ILX.
Apophenia: There are an awful lot of social media blogs around. This is probably the only one I would read for pleasure - not because danah boyd is an especially brilliant stylist (though she’s very readable) but because she comes across as a generous thinker as well as a good one, her posts almost always give me a new angle on a topic, and despite being a ‘web celebrity’ the blog never gives the impression of showing off.
Birdseed’s Tunedown: I never really got into the whole MP3 blog thing. I tend to have a reptilian approach to new music, where I swallow a vast amount of it whole all at once then spend a month or two digesting until my next binge: the daily schedule of the MP3 blog exhausts me. In what will come over as a somewhat backhanded complement, Tunedown escapes this fate by dint of the fact I hardly ever listen to the actual music on it. His beat is hard to describe without sounding like a wanker - basically he’s interested in localised takes on ‘urban’ music: so you have Balkan pop, Finnish bhangra, and lots of posts on his current obsession ‘tikitech’ (dance music using African signifiers as exotica-style kitsch). He teases out the contradictions and politics in this stuff nicely without ever coming across as less than an enthusiast.
Broadstuff: What I said about social media blogs goes double for tech ones, which tend to be self-regarding and myopic in the extreme. Broadstuff is my favourite by a long way - so what makes them stand out? A good filter: they won’t post stuff unless i. they think it’s interesting and ii. they feel they have an actual angle on it. Perspective: their background is consulting, economics and game theory, which are unusual and valuable areas for tech commentators. And cynicism: while they have the impatient mean streak common to a lot of tech sites (especially British ones), they’re less sourly superior than, say, The Register.
Further And Faster: My favourite market research blogs hardly ever update so I’m cheating a bit by listing John Griffiths’ one - he’s only partly a researcher, he’s also part of the ‘plannersphere’, a loose and large blogosphere of advertising and communication planners. The plannersphere promises much but in my opinion is often more style than substance - nice rhetoric, well illustrated and chunked into neat two-sentence paragraphs, but the ideas sometimes aren’t up to much. What I like about Griffiths is that he genuinely does seem to be an intellectual omnivore - looking for an angle (that word again!) on everything he encounters, refusing to compartmentalise.
My Heart’s In Accra: A fairly recent addition to my RSS, about “Africa, international development and hacking the media” - that’s as good a description as any of this wide-ranging blog. Again, it’s about the perspective and intelligence in its commentary on media, journalism, and what’s happening to information these days (all subjects I’m rather interested in).
Pulse Laser/Infovore: This is a bit of a cheat - the guy who does Infovore works for BERG, and Pulse Laser is their corporate blog. They do digital design-y stuff - the blog is mostly about the cool things they build - which is interesting, but why I’ve put Infovore on here is that he’s such a good link blogger: every day he seems to find 3-4 interesting things about online experience, games design, good visualisations. Link bloggers are at their best when they focus on stuff you are interested in but only know a bit about - it means the signal level is higher.
Pushing Ahead Of The Dame: I don’t often listen to Bowie these days but this song-by-song trek through his recordings is my favourite music blog right now. Of course his immensely variable career makes him the perfect candidate for this sort of exercise but even so this is really good stuff. The writing is crisp and intelligent, the judgements fine, and (a particularly rare skill this) there’s always just enough information. He’s just covered “Space Oddity” so it’s a good jumping-on point.
Sexy Executives: The concept behind Sexy Executives is very simple and funny and sometimes cruel: I was expecting to have got tired of it by now but, perhaps because I work in environments where sexy executivism is not unknown, I haven’t.
The Vids Are Alright: This is my friend Kat’s video blog. She reviews videos and does it very well. There honestly isn’t a lot more to say about it - all you really need for a great review blog is fertile source material, good judgement and a critical love for whatever you’re talking about.
The argument here seems to be: major labels would love to support better music but nasty reviewers don’t cover it when we do.
On the one hand he’s completely right: the fraction of music that gets written about is astonishingly narrow.
On the other hand a specialist independent label is going to suffer from this more than a major, because (even in these straitened times!) majors have bigger PR, marketing, and advertising budgets which they could, if they so wished, spend on all those worthy and uncovered releases. And indeed they do! Somehow, despite the outrageous critical neglect of the Dreamboats And Petticoats series, it’s managed to sell relative bucketloads with only its prominent supermarket positioning and huge poster ads to help it along.
Loads of my favourite music is and has been released on major labels but this particular ‘defense’ doesn’t hold up well.
- reminds you of what makes the original interesting (the way the DPs’ singers approach notes like a kid approaches stepping stones - each jump to the next an excitement and a risk.)
- puts its own stamp on it (Solange on the other hand takes stillness, and the zen ninja song title, seriously as an idea, gliding across the song with an Aaliyah-like poise)
- points up the virtues of the covering artist (I’ve seen a couple of Twitter comments muttering that she “turns it into a typical R&B song” - well, she’s an R&B act, but this is cloth-eared: the genre is rarely this detached. The song is a good match for her art-n-B approach, off kilter enough to attract a few new listeners in to her particular niche)
The monomyth structure works well in role-playing games. The structure of the hero’s journey perfectly fits the RPG structure of character development. It is easy to transform fiction with the structure of the monomyth into a RPG. Which is why there are lots of games based on Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, but no games based on, lets say, Jane Austen novels. A story like Pride and Prejudice simply doesn’t have the structure and the setting which would make a good RPG.
I would disagree with this. There is loads of text-based multiplayer storytelling going on online - RPGs that emerged out of fandom and fanfic communities, for instance. They are finely adapted to telling stories and because they’re driven by character interaction, not by action, the stories that result tend to be far away from Lord Of The Rings.
Similarly, live freeform RPGs have been telling stories with beginnings, middles and ends for years - having a time limit on your event will tend to lead you in that direction. These have even crossed over into the mainstream - it may not be common for a game to take Jane Austen as a structure, but Agatha Christie isn’t much less dialogue driven and “Murder Mystery Parties” have been going since the 80s.
Now, at the moment, commercial MMORPG games haven’t exploited that type of gaming because there’s no margin in it for them. But it’s far from impossible in an avatar-driven environment and I’d be amazed if we didn’t see that kind of storytelling flourish in virtual worlds.
Article on CMU covering a conference in Dubai in which music bizzers talked The Death Of The Album. People are still buying music (hooray) but what they’re buying is singles (erm…)
Don’t worry, say attendees, the album is still neccessary, because it structures the rest of the release cycle: promotional bursts, long tours with breaks to write, the cycles of an artist’s creativity.
But on the other hand all that stuff arose because of albums - the album wasn’t some kind of ideal response to those conditions. Things like 18 month tours between albums, or 4 month bursts of publicity, happened because they were the most efficient ways of profiting from a business model centred on the records, surely? If the album stops being the most important element of that model, everything changes around that.
Is there a model in pop or rock music for a singles-driven release, tour, and promotion schedule? Yes, absolutely: for years that’s what a lot of performers had. Look at James Brown’s early career - single after single, round after round of the chitlin circuit. It might not be an attractive option but it was a viable one.
This seems to reveal that conservatives are disgusting unhealthy slobs (30% eat no fresh fruit a week) and whose idea of exotic food is Chinese takeaway (94% WTF?)
Well, no. 27% eat fresh fruit “less often than weekly” - compared to the 21% of liberals who admit this. And a majority of conservatives, just like a majority of liberals, say “pan-asian/French fusion cuisine” is exotic. In a question which offered 3 choices, one of which was a gag.
I love Hunch to bits (or have done), but its questions are structured like Cosmo magazine quizzes in general. Their point is to entertain people, keep them on the site, and improve the decision making algorithms that back it up. Data they ain’t. (Even if the “data” seems to confirm my prejudices.)
To be honest as a researcher this kind of stuff pisses me off: it’s the worst kind of junk research put out for hits and PR giggles. Yes, there’s a small print disclaimer at the end and the conclusions are pretty reasonable but you’ve already gone through their cute table of findings, which mixes up “xx%” and “xx% MORE” with abandon (and ends up misleading people). So excuse my humourlessness on this one.
A long - but worth it - piece taking quizzical aim at Kevin Kelly’s “1000 True Fans” idea, looking not at the individual economics of it so much as the cultural impact of a world where “casual fandom” is a thing of the past.
(I don’t actually buy all these arguments - mainly because I don’t think casual fandom itself is threatened, just casual fandom as expressed through purchase. But they’re all worth examination.