Sunday, July 26, 2009

New photos online

With a little bit of time to myself this week, I had all sorts of plans for making effective use of the time. In the end, life rather got in the way of my plans and I didn't get anywhere near as much done as I'd wanted to. However, I did at least manage to get a few hundred pictures uploaded that have been hanging around waiting to be shared with the world for a couple of months. As usual, they've all gone up on my Flickr site.

This album is a short one that may in time grow. Before I left Scarborough, I took a couple of PCs apart in order to destroy the hard drives (which is a really difficult thing to do, even with a hammer - they're pretty solid). I found a kind of mysterious beauty in the parts and bits of broken kit so took some pictures of them. It's not an original view I'm sure, but I felt that motherboards and chips resemble streets and cityscapes in miniature and was keen to try and capture that.

I took some shots of cables and wiring today, which I'll add to this album if they come out good enough.

Shortly after my wife and I moved down to Brighton, we spent a sunny Sunday in the rather pleasant village of Rottingdean, just a little further along the coast. While she had some company to keep, I took a wander around the village with my camera.

It was very a quaint place and somewhere that I hadn't really explored much in the past. A real old feel to it, with a sense that time might just have stopped there. It also has a famous windmill up on the hill that overlooks the village, setting itself out as a local landmark.

Her mother is also visiting at the moment, over from Japan. Aside from catching up with family, this also gives us a good opportunity to go out and do some touristy things too. I've chalked up two UK firsts this month.

The first of the above albums is taken from an afternoon spent at the Brighton Carnival 2009. It was a glorious day weatherwise and I'd never seen my hometown's stab at a splendid parade before. Admittedly, this particular version began in 2007 (when I was living in Tokyo), but it seems there have been carnivals in Brighton on and off since 1923.

We had a great vantage point, right near the tail end of proceedings, and got to see the whole thing. I was very impressed with the fabulous costumes that people went past in and we all got swept up in the lively atmosphere.

Last weekend, we got in the car and trooped off to Britain's best-known contribution to world heritage - the mighty Stonehenge. Again somewhere I'd never been, it was pretty impressive. More in a conceptual sense and a 'How did they do that?' sort of way I suppose, because when you get there it really is just a stone circle on an open plain surrounded by hordes of tourists. Mind you, on the stone circle front, there's not really anything else to beat it!

Not too far away from this country's most ancient piece of heritage was Avebury, another set of standing stones from roughly the same era. There were far fewer people there and the stones were more spread out, but it was a great little add-on for the day out. Pictures from both places can be found in the album above.

One more before calling it a day. The Brighton album has now almost doubled in size, with the addition of several new shots taken from this year's Brighton Festival and some summer beach fun too.

If you like any of the pictures, do please feel free to head over to the page and leave a comment - all input is much appreciated!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Brighton Carnival 2009

Yesterday's post was intended to be short, snappy and completed in next to no time - got to get me into the habit of blogging more often yet wasting less time when I actually do write something. In the end however, it actually took me about an hour and a half, which was far too long! As I'd like to have a little more community action around this blog, I realise it needs a little more input from me, so the art of writing snappier posts more regularly is definitely something I'll have to get sorted out.

I visited Brighton Carnival today, along with my wife and mother-in-law. It was the first one I've seen in Brighton and it was great fun - so lively. I don't think there used to be one when I lived here before, so it makes for a very welcome addition to the city's calendar. Who needs Notting Hill or Rio de Janeiro when Brighton Seafront's got it all (well, Rio might be nice)?

Following are a selection of photos from the day. This is turning out to be a great summer.

A reveller in bright costume, early on in the parade

Somehow based around a deck of cards...a fabulous outfit

No carnival is complete without a little input from death

Brighton + Carnival = 'Green Floats'

Spread those wings

The Brighton School Of Samba makes their presence felt

A carnival queen

Clown on a unicycle

Kids street dancing

One group makes it an anti-smoking campaign...

...and really gives it some with their message

Tiger kids with drums in orange

...and it's pretty damned proud of that fact too!

The 'Wow! factor' starts raising on the costumes front

Now that one's really quite spectacular

So much to carry around with you

The end of the parade brings out the boldest and best

A fine outfit you have, sir

Part of a complete dinner service

Positively radiant, my dear

Let it end with beats and rhythm, as it began

Another great Tokyo video via Jamaica (WN0021)

Tokyo & Yokohama - A High Speed Journey from Andreas Doppelmayr on Vimeo.

Following on from the last post of time lapse Tokyo footage comes another via the same source.

Andreas Doppelmayr, a Norway-based photographer and traveller, has put together the rather fabulous film above that shows certain highlights from both Tokyo and Yokohama. I was very impressed that he was able to get this much great footage after just a few nights in town and the film made me miss the crazy old place once again.

My source to these fine films is known as Jamaipanese, a Kingston-based blogger who seems to be Jamaica's number one Japanophile. We've chatted briefly over Twitter, but little else yet. I thoroughly recommend his blog though, for a different outsider's perspective on Japan.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Shelf Life get some new fans

When you're signed up to several internet services at the same time, a lot of the mail that fills your inbox tends to come from these sites. Out of the personal email that I get on a regular basis, probably only about 5-10% is from friends or family. Pretty much how it is with physical mail through the door really.

Like many of the sites that I have some kind of presence on (far too many according to my wife, and she may well have a point) I get a weekly email from, which tells me of the activity that's gone on at my Shelf Life profile. I've done very little in terms of promoting this profile so far, and that email usually tells me that nothing's happened since nothing last happened.

Today's email alerted me to Shelf Life having gained two new fans. Although it's easy to get pretty cynical after a while with social media ('Barack Obama is your friend on MySpace!', 'Madonna is following you on Twitter!', etc...oh really?), I was rather pleased with this little gem. After all, someone somewhere in the world had presumably dug my band's tunes enough to nail their colours to the flag.

The band also appears to be making a little bit of progress over at the iTunes Japan store. No idea who's buying downloads of our songs and no word from iTunes about it yet either, but I'm guessing that a maximum popularity rating must translate into sales somewhere down the line.

It seems to me that one of the many paradoxes of the web is that with user-generated content (UGC), you've still got to push and promote things that you do and make but at the same time it's far too easy to get distracted, waylaid and sent off in a different direction from that which was intended (thus making it harder to concentrate on one task, such as promoting some content).

As C&M put it, 'Build it and They Will Come' was never a good maxim for the web. While it's great that a creator in the internet age can bypass all the traditional channels of content distribution and connect directly with their audience (and therefore customers), without some form of effective promotion of that content, it's just another lonely file in a vast, vast ocean of bytes.

In the case of music, many artists have long been aware that the industry is stacked pretty heavily against them (see Courtney Love's famed diatribe against the music industry for further background, if you've not come across it before), and making a decent living from making music is about as easy as finding a large community of expat Americans in Pyongyang.

Even though the industry itself is still fighting hard in their losing battle against the existence of the internet, musicians of the digital generation are blessed like no other musicians that have gone before them. They can instantly connect to a global audience and set the terms themselves, without getting stung by contracts where they might scrape a few cents together over the years they produce their work. Most of this new generation would likely have little or no conception of how many hoops they'd have to go through and milestones they'd have to pass to even get a song played on the radio in the 50's or on TV in the 70's.

However, this amounts to absolutely nothing if there's no promotion behind it (possibly the best future path for savvy record companies is to mutate into online PR and marketing agencies, once they've monetised new models of operation, to help today's up-and-coming minstrels to get heard above the tsunamis of tunes available online). And the 'blip generation' gets so easily distracted by the myriad of media channels and producers of content all simultaneously vying for their attention that it's much harder for a band to both build a loyal core audience and to find the time to push themselves through all the channels open to them.

Still, if you're not expecting to make enough money from downloads etc that you'll be able to retire from the day job early, it's a great feeling to throw some tunes out there and eventually have them found and dug by someone!