Saturday, January 31, 2009

Shelf Life soundtrack Climate Camp film

Shelf Life and New Model Army in environmental film soundtrack

'Roll Up, Roll Up' has been chosen alongside a track from New Model Army to appear in the soundtrack of a new film. Opening with the first track from Shelf Life's debut album 'Best Before End', the film is about the 2008 environmental protests against a proposed new coal-fired power station at Kingsnorth, Kent (UK).

'Covering Climate Camp' by Jason Parkinson documents the police response to journalists trying to cover the story for independent and mainstream news organisations. Reporters were faced with determined and consistent obstruction by the police, whose actions were roundly condemned by the National Union of Journalists and in industry media on the grounds of press freedom restriction.

Part One of the film can be seen above, Part Two can be viewed here.

The band has other material in their catalogue suitable for soundtracks for films about peace, environmental or activism issues. To contact Shelf Life about licensing tracks for soundtrack use, email shelflifemusic[at]gmail[dot]com.

Friday, January 30, 2009

John Martyn RIP (1948-2009)

The music world loses a fantastic musician today with the death of John Martyn, but we get to keep his tunes. Always a heavy drinker, he at least made it as far as 60.

Enjoy 'May You Never' above.
I don't want to know about evil. I only want to know about love.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Messages From America

Remarkable times. Messages come in from friends across the United States. A Bostonian currently in Hawaii reports:
CNN is doing all it can to stress this a 'transformative moment', going as far as to say the conservative era, ushered in with Reagan 28 years ago, is over and now we have the beginning (of a) progressive era. Obama is visiting homeless shelters and other community activists in DC, people are delirious. We haven't seen anything like this since Kennedy, and even that isn't quite an accurate comparison.
Another one writing from Texas says:
I’m a natural skeptic — I’m wary of anything that has too much of a following. I am wary of anything that has the ability to move others blindly. But also, I am a believer of rhetoric and persuasion...

In voting for Obama — the incoming 44th — I cast hope toward my future and the future of our nation. I redesign my version of the concept of hope and give it my own context, one that is unsure of the future, incapable of committing to the unknown, but willing to allow the unknown to occur beside me.
Two people of many urged to express their connection to the moment with the world.

Obama's inaugural speech was full of the soaring rhetoric that he has become characterised by and which only an American president could get away with. After the abject horrors of the past eight years, it was also very, very welcome in most corners of the globe. Go here for the full version or check the Wordle cloud below for a visual synopsis (courtesy of the BBC).

One last comment. Ever since election night 2000, things have been pretty tough going here on Planet Earth (as if they hadn't been before then).

So long Junior - you ain't gonna be missed. Man, have we all waited a long time to see the back of you!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Open platforms

Like many of the people who are more likely to be taking this text in on a screen rather than a page, I find that so much of my reading is done online these days. No complaints, obviously, it's my choice. The downside however, is that I hardly ever seem to get through a good book any more.

Before I got hooked on the Net, I was a voracious reader and even spent four years working in a couple of bookshops - heaven for a bibliophile. Once I got my first broadband connection in Japan, it was like a behavioural quantum shift. Books were still suitable for a while on long or packed train journeys into the heart of Tokyo, but even then they got superseded by cooler gadgets (a first iPod, a PDA, various Japanese mobiles).

Although it has taken me something like six months to finish it, I have recently completed 'Wikinomics', by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. Yes, yes, it was a book about the Net, but give me a break here, it was an actual book again! It was first published in the US in 2006, making the book two years old - an eon in Net terms. Nevertheless, when I skimmed over the reviews of the UK paperback edition earlier on this year, it caught my eye. Although I assumed that it wouldn't really tell me a great deal that I didn't already know about this 'brave new world' I spend so much time in, I might have a chance to pick up some extra titbits.

It turned out to be not only a fascinating read but a really useful guiding hand through this terrain I wander through daily. The book explains 'how mass collaboration changes everything' and that the internet (both in use and in potential) challenges existing business models in every single industry, from gold mining and motorcycle manufacturing to the culture sectors and genetic science. There is a slew of new vocabulary within and a vast array of pointers for hundreds of other potential discoveries.

This post, however, is not meant as a book review. It's more intended to share some of the wonders I've come across recently that wouldn't have happened without the 'wiki world'.

I shared one such discovery in the last post, the mashup video I created with an old Zamora song and some clips from the BFI archive. There's a few more treats I've discovered recently that I've had to either bookmark or download. I know that I'll come back to them eventually, when ready, but delving in now would require far more time on my hands than I actually have.

Having traded PhotoShop a year or two ago for the GIMP, an open source program that does pretty much the same thing, I occasionally wondered if there was something similar out there that functions as Illustrator does. Lo and behold, I found one. Inkscape is a free drawing and graphics package that allows me to have yet another piece of software sitting on my hard drive waiting for the time I eventually get round to figuring out how to make good use of it! One day, I will, but for the meantime, I merely post about it here to alert others to it.

Along similar lines, I also stumbled across Google's SketchUp program. It's a marvellous piece of software (again free, as it comes from Google) that enables users to create 3D models of just about anything their imagination allows them to come up with. I've dabbled with it a little already and it's certainly very simple to use. I haven't quite figured out how to successfully create animations in it yet, but when I do, that's another tool to add to the video maker's digital kitbag I'm gradually building up.

Finally, I've also found Mogulus, a company that allows you to easily create your own online linear TV channel. That's a whole other world that will take a very large amount of in-tray clearing to be able to get round to being able to make use of. Stay tuned for long enough though and you might find me launching my own station!

Before I close this post, I'll just mention a couple of other additions to this blog that I'd like to draw a reader's attention to. Now admittedly I'm not the most regular blogger. It can sometimes take weeks or even a month in between posts. Inspired by my wife, who seems to manage to maintain two daily blogs (although they are both in Japanese so I can't really read them), I intend to try and keep this up a little more often than I have been doing.

Over the past few months, I've been tweaking and adding to the additional features here. It's far from over and there is much to overhaul, but some of the groundwork has already been laid. I have an RSS feed at the top now, so visitors can subscribe more easily. There is an option to 'follow' this blog too, which so far has only one follower (thanks, idleformat!). I've also added a ClusterMap, meaning that I can see where my readers come from. In the last day, I've had my first visits from Brazil and Nigeria, which I'm delighted to see!

The only thing is, it's always nice to get a little more feedback on what's here. So, if you like what you find here, please feel free to subscribe to it, follow it or even drop me a comment on one of the posts.

Here's to building a community around this little hub. Happy New Year!