- Plan a Trip Through History With ORBIS, a Google Maps for Ancient Rome – How come it took three weeks for me to hear about this mapping hack to help you understand travel routes and expenses in Ancient Rome? Maps, history, digital humanities — what's not to love? I only wish this existed for other time periods. Imagine how useful it would be for people writing historical fiction!
- Criminal Creativity: Untangling Cover Song Licensing on YouTube – A few interesting things here, including the little-known fact that you need a (nearly impossible to get, if you're an ordinary person) synch license to post a cover song on YouTube, and that ContentID can now identify cover songs, up to and including drunk guys belting out "Bohemian Rhapsody" in the back of police cars.
- Brodustrial: WWJD? – Via jwz: an industrial music performer discovers he's booked to play alongside some really nasty bigots. Asking, "What Would Jello Biafra Do?" he ends up calling out the racism and sexism of the other bands' lyrics, videos, and album art in a PowerPoint presentation — while opening for them. It's good viewing, but NSFW.
- bootlegMIC | Open Music Labs – A better mic for your iPhone, inspired by the crappy sound of all the concert videos on YouTube. Sold as a kit, the bootlegMIC is a small electret mic that plugs into your phone's headphone jack. Gain adjustment is done by swapping out resistors til you find one that works for your phone and use case.
- DJ Rupture’s Sufi Plug Ins – Great post about Western assumptions built into music software such as Ableton, and some plugins that challenge those assumptions.
A few weeks ago I asked around for recommendations of twitter people to follow who were at the intersection of tech and music. Consider this a set of “people to follow” recommendations if you’re interested in the same thing, as well as some highlights of recent things I’ve found via them.
(As an aside, can anyone suggest a good way to read a twitter list such as this one in such a way that it includes new-style retweets? It seems like Twitter itself screws this up, unfortunately.)
I’m strangely attracted to this topic. But I’m not sure what my attraction entails. I know that it’s definitely related to my fascination with LA and excitement for moving to LA. I also think that this could be a seed for a new digital project. The KCET’s project can be a start of what I conceived as an in-depth interactive investigation of the interconnections between music of the “underground,” immigrant communities, and place, to unfurl the hidden discourses behind the often-times white-centered punk rock narratives.
Got a song stuck in your head? Unhearit promises to unstick it for you. The catch? It does so by replacing it with something equally sticky. A Faustian bargain if I’ve ever heard one.
Brewster decided that he should keep a copy of every book they scan so that somewhere in the world there was at least one physical copy to represent the millions of digital copies. That safeguarded random book would become the type specimen of that work. If anyone ever wondered if the digital book’s text had become corrupted or altered, they could refer back to the physical type that was archived somewhere safe.
And to wrap it up, have a death metal parrot:
I keep meaning to post these things as I find them, so here ya go.
A fugue based on Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance”. The creator says, “This should show how counterpoint can be fun and up to date.” I’m not sure if it quite succeeds at that, but it is rather good.
While we’re at it, I love this cello cover of “Final Countdown”. In fact it has supplanted my previous favourite cover of that song, it’s just that good:
Rock out, Latvian cello dudes! \m/ \m/
Let’s close some of these browser tabs!
Youtube vs. transformative works
How I fought against a Youtube takedown and eventually won. The creator of a political remix vid criticising the under-representation of women in video games tells how her video was removed as “inappropriate content”, and how she fought back with the help of the New Media Rights group. (Via Laura Shapiro.)
YouTube needs a process (a transparent one even) informing us if our videos have been removed, why they have been removed and how we can file a dispute. It is absurd that I had to find a lawyer who had to contact YouTube’s lawyers just to get my 1 min video, which was wrongfully removed in the first place, back on YouTube.
Wikipedia and women
Last week, the New York Times published an article about the gender gap in Wikipedia editors. Sue Gardner, the Executive Director of the Wikimedia Foundation, has a great link roundup of posts relating to the subject.
Related: My friend Shane has launched WikiProject Women’s History, to improve Wikipedia’s coverage of women in history.
Anyone can participate, but I’d particularly love to see more professional scholars get involved. I know that there’s significant opposition to Wikipedia in some academic quarters, but I think that the information there isn’t going to get better unless people who actually know this stuff start pitching in. I’d really like WikiProject Women’s History to deploy a good quality scale that helps our students evaluate whether the material in any given entry is trustworthy for their own research. And, as I’ve already said, I think that competent undergrads can be involved in this work very fruitfully as a learning project.
In other words, people are step-by-step liberating themselves not from market capitalism as a means of obtaining consumer goods but from wage slavery in the worker-capitalist relationship.
And you can see that the basic architecture of this trend is fiercely and passionately contested. When I was in Finland, where they have quite a mild right-wing, the thing that the conservative politician I spoke to seemed really upset about was the idea that Finnish kids are spending too much time in university. Too many students in college! Too many of them getting master’s degrees! Sometimes people would even take time off from their studies to travel! Here in the United States a huge swathe of the pundit class seems to deem it outrageous that the Social Security retirement age hasn’t increased as rapidly as average life expectancy. Don’t people know that they were put on this planet to work! How dare we, as a society, take some of our increased productivity in the form of an increased measure of liberation from our employers rather than more material possessions? The public, sensibly, doesn’t see it that way. When life expectancy grows faster than the retirement age, humanity is making progress.
Meanwhile, it’s more possible than ever for people’s non-commercial labors to have a meaningful impact on the world. I think open source software is exciting. I think amateur mashups are exciting. I think digital distribution of albums recorded on the cheap by people playing music for fun while holding down day jobs is exciting. I think fan fiction is exciting. I think people who work at universities and other non-profits writing blogs to inform and entertain is exciting. I think people diligently recording the progress of their neighborhood and organizing for a better city is exciting. Wikipedia is, of course, indispensable these days and Wikileaks is doing a tremendous job.
I wonder where this will take us. At the moment the cohort of people with the most opportunity to engage in non-commercial activities—retirees—is the very same cohort that’s least inclined to avail itself of digital technology.
Eruthros posts about Xena: Warrior Princess with a decade or so’s perspective, recommending it while remaining critical of its problems:
Guys, I miss that show. I miss the strange and beautiful combination of camp and wtf and tragedy and drama. I miss the women who love each other that intensely. I miss women with emotional scars. I miss (my corner of) the fandom(s) where the most common pairings were Xena/Gabrielle and Xena/Callisto and Xena/Lao Ma. I miss the working-motherhood and the fighting and the joking and the parodies and the hugs. I miss Xena singing and dancing and leaping over people’s heads, and Gabrielle hitting everyone with sticks and writing it down later. I miss their despair and their tears and their hope and their joy. I miss the anachronisms, and the giant snakes, and the people in foam monster costumes, and the centaurs filmed only from the waist up, and the styrofoam monuments they borrowed from ST:TOS, and the fight scenes that completely ignore the laws of physics. I miss Xena and Gabrielle’s determination and their anger and their laughter.
I miss two ladies riding off into the sunset together after saving the day.
(Though on the other hand I do not miss the noncon-mystical-pregnancy and the sexual assault metaphors and the Orientalism and the weird Christian season and the way Gabrielle and Xena could say they loved each other but could never actually, canonically, be sleeping together.)
Meanwhile, Thingswithwings takes on queer (in)visibility in Harry Potter, Battlestar Galactica, and Stargate: Atlantis:
Basically I’m astonished at the sheer efficacy of the Dumbledore strategy: acknowledge a queer character in an extra-textual space (the internet, interviews, webisodes, specials, outtakes) so that everyone thinks you’re super-progressive and cool and doesn’t notice that hey, you still haven’t represented any queers anywhere.
Let’s not romanticize the past in which we had to wait for years and go uphill both ways to get our manga, okay? That shit isn’t nostalgic; that sucked. It sucked.
You city geeks had it easy, baby; the nearest used bookstore was one almost-large room and I was buying third rate sci fi where the high point was finding Mercedes Lackey–say it with me, that was the high point–and Anne McCaffrey and God help me that shitty Thomas Covenant series that I read in desperation because it’s not like there was a lot of choice there.
Yes, yes, the icky mainstream are all making your geek all less than special; those of us who, let me say this again, were reduced to rapey incesty Thomas of white gold ringness and the Gor novels unironically shelved beside the sci-fi aisle saw the dawn of Amazon.com, hulu, and bittorrent like the second goddamn coming, okay? I waited half my life to fall madly, desperately in love with a million things and Geek!Seperis of the dark days before the internet and access to Amazon would like to say, are you kidding me?
Phew, my browser is back under control.