Category Archives: Music

Slides of my copyright talk available. Comments welcome.

I had a great time presenting my talk at the Play-jurisms conference this last Saturday. I stayed up late until 3:30 am to finish the slides for the talk.  Considering that I was typing away in bed while my wife slept, she was very understanding.  The talk didn't suffer for the fact I was up so late writing it, but no doubt I can improve it.  I did end up changing the title from what I had originally envisioned, but I felt the new title better matched the spirit of the conference.

You can view the slides as a pdf if you want.  Comments are most welcome.

Web users will have to pay for what they watch and use & Where do people find the time?

Clay Shirky wrote an interesting blog post about "The Collapse of Complex Business Models" (thanks to Boing Boing and TechDirt, among others).  Here is an excerpt:

About 15 years ago, the supply part of media’s supply-and-demand
curve went parabolic, with a predictably inverse effect on price. Since
then, a battalion of media elites have lined up to declare that exactly
the opposite thing will start happening any day now.

To pick a couple of examples more or less at random, last year Barry
Diller of IAC said, of content available on the web, “It is not free,
and is not going to be,” Steve Brill of Journalism Online said that
users “just need to get back into the habit of doing so [paying for
content] online”, and Rupert Murdoch of News Corp said “Web users will
have to pay for what they watch and use.”

Diller, Brill, and Murdoch seem be stating a simple fact—we will have
to pay them—but this fact is not in fact a fact. Instead, it is a
choice, one its proponents often decline to spell out in full, because,
spelled out in full, it would read something like this:

“Web users will have to pay for what they watch and use, or else we
will have to stop making content in the costly and complex way we have
grown accustomed to making it. And we don’t know how to do that.”

With that article in mind, it seems time to revisit another one of his articles, "Gin, Television, and
Social Surplus
" that I mentioned to my friend Amy last month and haven't gotten around to sending her:

I started
telling her about the Wikipedia
article on Pluto. You may remember that Pluto got kicked out of the
planet club a couple of years ago, so all of a sudden there was all of
this activity on Wikipedia. The talk pages light up, people
are editing the article like mad, and the whole community is in an
ruckus–"How should we characterize this change in Pluto's status?" And
a little bit
at a time they move the article–fighting offstage all the
while–from, "Pluto is the ninth
planet," to "Pluto is an odd-shaped rock with an odd-shaped
orbit at the edge of the solar system."

I tell her all this stuff, and I think, "Okay, we're going to
have a conversation about authority or social construction or
whatever." That wasn't her question. She heard this story and
she shook her head and said, "Where do people find the time?"
That was her question. And I just kind of snapped. And I said, "No
one who works in TV gets to ask that question. You know where the
time comes from. It comes from the cognitive surplus you've been
masking for 50 years."

how big is that surplus? So if you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit,
all of Wikipedia, the whole project–every page, every edit,
every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia
exists in–that represents something like the cumulation of 100
million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin
Wattenberg at IBM; it's a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but
it's the right order of magnitude, about 100 million hours of

Here is a talk he gave on his book "Here Comes Everybody" which elaborates further on the post's topic.

Looks like I need to pick up a copy of his book.

I’m not 20 anymore

When I was 20 I found the Throwing Muses.  I loved the band, got their tapes (yes it was that long ago), saw them wherever I could and probably pined for the lead singer/guitar player/song writer more than I should have.  They were my favorite band, bar none.

Since those days, the band has gone through its ups and downs, but it still keeps working.  During that time I bought their albums and attended their concerts.  I tended to go alone since few that I knew were interested in going.  They didn't play at places like Foxboro stadium, where we were hundreds of feet from them.  Instead, they played smaller venues where I could (and did) wade up to the front so I could be six feet from the band with no one to block me.  I could stand, singing to the songs (non-verbally of course), swaying to the music and enjoy the show.

I anticipated that last night's show would be the same.  They were scheduled to go on at 11:30, so after a dinner out with my wife, we headed over and encountered the end of the second band of the line up, 50 Foot Wave.  Now 50 Foot Wave is most of Throwing Muses, but trying a different style of music: noise rock as the Boston Phoenix called it.

Before Throwing Muses went on, I moved to the front to repeat the experiences of past concerts, while my wife stayed in back.  After nearly half an hour, something unexpected happened.  I decided that I didn't want to be there and we left.  Sure the cigarette smoke was gone from times past.  However, I found that I put more time into keeping upright in the sardine confines of the hall, trying not to block other people's views and trying to get a good pictures of the band.  Instead of enjoying the show and being in the moment as the Buddhists would say, I let myself get distracted.

Once I realized this fact, I noticed that I really don't like experiencing a concert essentially alone.  A concert is a social event, and not having someone with whom to share it takes away the charm.  When I went to see Solas at the Somerville Theatre, say, the fact that I had to sit in a seat meant that I was forced to share that experience with the family and friends with me.  I am the better for it. 

Throwing Muses is still one of my favorite bands.  However, there is no way I can pretend to be twenty even for a couple of hours.  I won't be going to any more Throwing Muses' concerts.  That song is done.

NOTE: The folks at the Screaming Females/50 Foot Wave/Throwing Muses merchandise table were really great including the guy who offered to give me some free ear plugs.  Thanks!  Also a thanks to the guy who told me to put down my camera.  He was in the moment, I was not, but without his request, I might not have had the insight I did.