Thursday, December 13, 2012

D1 Radio Hour Beatles special

Excuse the shabby, rushed Photoshopping (on George's board, at least)! Tune in tonight for a Beatles special on The D1 Radio Hour at The Thursday Night Show, followed straight after by a live telecast from the Chap-Hop Christmas Ball!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

[Video] 'I Link, Therefore I Am'

In brief moments snatched between furious bouts of study and trying to stay on top of work (amongst a bunch of other things), I've managed to put another short film together - 'I Link, Therefore I Am', as displayed above. This short film was actually produced for two purposes - one, as a piece of coursework for the 'Theory and Practice of Interactive Media' module as part of the MA, and two, as a submission for the audio/video remix contest 'The Past Re-imagined as the Future'.

As a piece of coursework, it is intended to demonstrate an interaction with a couple of pieces of theory that relate to new media and the body. It is also aimed at demonstrating a different form of 'writing' than than traditional notion applied to an academic essay. As a remix contest submission, the film takes a couple of tracks from the Free Music Archive and clips from a handful of short films from the Prelinger Archive and creates something new with them all. 

The monochromatic style is inspired by old jazz LP covers. I searched for 'network' in the Prelinger section of the Internet Archive and came up with footage from shorts films commissioned by Bell and AT&T on the building of the American telephone network, along with material on telegraphs, radio and television - the old media networks on which the new media network of the Internet was partly built. This also hopefully neatly demonstrates the past being re-imagined as the future. 

The public voting part of the contest is open from November 12-25, so there's just over a week of voting left. At the moment, I've only had one public vote. If you like the odd blend of academic bluster and archival plunder in this video, please head over to the voting page and help me to up that number.

Any votes much appreciated. All contest entries can be viewed here.


Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Tokyo film and a Berlin slideshow

Due to the amount of stuff I've tended to load onto my plate, it's taken me two years to complete a project that runs to a total of just 21 minutes. I will bring the complete fruits of that project together in another post, but in this one I'm delighted to finally be able to present the last film in the 'Japan Shorts' series.

Above, you can find 'The Crossing', the fourth of the four short films I've been making with footage shot using a Flip Ultra HD camera on my last trip back to Tokyo (in 2010). This film incorporates footage from around Shibuya Crossing, probably the world's busiest pedestrian intersection and a heck of a place for standing and watching the people flow from. All of the films make use of Creative Commons-licensed music for soundtracks, and 'The Crossing' runs with Mario Mattioli's 'Granados: Spanish Dance n.2', sourced from ccMixter. There's also a reading (by me) of a really old Japanese poem (in translation, of course), a first attempt at voiceover in one of my recent films, and a few new editing styles that resulting from upgrading my video editor to a more recent version.

Hit me up in the comments below if you like or loathe the film. This page features the YouTube version, but it's also available to view with larger in-page screen estate on Vimeo. Ahead of the post that features all four, follow the links in the brackets to find posts on the other three shorts ('Makes The World Go Round', 'In Motion' and 'J-Journeys').

This short film really concludes a period of work that has been heavily influenced by my time in Japan. This period included three CD albums, one book, hundreds of photographs, and these four short films. Coming to the end of this period is really exciting as it means that other ideas which have been bubbling under in my mind for a long time are finally going to start having a little more space. However, it's going to be quite a while before I can get going on any more of these new projects. I have another year of my MA to go. I have another film project I'm working on, which is going to be four minutes longer in playing time than 'Japan Shorts' but will need to be finished in about an eighth of the time (it's a wedding movie). There's also, y'know, other life stuff going on too :-)

As I'm not sure when I'll be able to get the next post up on this blog, I thought I'd cheekily combine two posts into one and finish this with the photo gallery of pictures that I took in Berlin earlier this year (hadn't got round to putting them up here yet). A fantastic city with a great vibrancy combined with the deepest, darkest historical shadows - take a look at a few of my grabbed moments below.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Double trouble on a Thursday Night

Last weekend, D2's birthday drinks led to finally meting up with a few of the fine folks that make up the rest of The Thursday Night Show, including resident VJ (and gifted photographer) Whispers and Digit3, the man that brings the night to a close each week. Some fine fellows indeed. It's always good to put faces to avatars and chatroom comments, and having had the first off-air Thursday Night social should help with making proceedings a little slicker. There's talk afoot for a live social on a Thursday night itself at some point. Nothing's quite set in stone yet, but watch this space.

I'm somewhat thrilled this week to also be a featured photographer as well as having the set on the show. Tune in tomorrow night and see a few treats from my Japan image vault up on the canvas - as usual I'll be live in the chatroom throughout most of the evening too. 

One more exciting thing to announce for the D1 Radio set on tomorrow night's show - I'll also be chatting with my first guest interviewee! I'll keep his/her identity under wraps for the moment (gotta try and build a little suspense), but I can reveal that my guest is pretty multilingual and will be bringing a bit of sunny California to the show.

For those that missed it, here's last week's show...

Sunday, September 23, 2012

On sealed white boxes

I finally got hold of a copy of Final Cut Pro X this summer (paid for too). Initial impressions are that it's a fantastic video editing application, justifiably a leading industry standard and so many steps up from iMovie that it takes video editing to a totally different place when being done at home. Blah, blah, it's great, blah, blah.

Now the downer is, whenever I load it, I get the above error message before anything else happens, basically saying that the graphics card isn't good enough to handle this application. That little prompter isn't just something you can close and ignore - it impacts on what I'm trying to do with the application. So far (I've still done very little in FCP X), it's lead to dropping frames during playback, which is somewhat annoying. I would expect that as I get to know FCP X more, I'll find other quirks of being able to run the app but on a feeble video card.

I checked what the required specifications were for running FCP X and I needed an OpenCL-capable graphics card or an Intel HD Graphics 3000 or later. Didn't know anything about these, but the lowly card pre-installed in my machine is an ATI Radeon x1600 128 MB, which basically means that it's a bit of a seven-stone weakling as far as such processor-intensive activities as video editing are concerned.

Wanting to find out if I could replace the graphics card myself (as I'd done with the RAM in my apparently now-ancient late-2006 20" iMac, I searched a few forums then also called around a bit to see if this could be done. Brighton being the kind of place that it is, there are a lot of Mac users down here, which means that there are also a lot of support options beyond just going to the Apple Store and watching someone from the Genius Bar do a Google search. Thanks to the good folks at South Coast Computers, I had a very informative conversation with one of their engineers on Friday.

The short answer to this quandary is that I can't upgrade my graphics card. It seems that in this particular model, the card is welded to the main board - apparently not the case in all Macs and certainly not the case in most PCs. If I wanted a new card, I'd need a new motherboard too, and as I have zero experience in fitting Mac motherboards, I'd probably need to shell out on paying service fees too. All-in-all, I got given a ball-park figure of around £500. Given that this is roughly half the price of a new one (and I am not planning on getting a new iMac any time soon as in most capacities, it's doing just fine), I decided against it and will just have to live with things as they are.

I don't tend to gripe at Apple very much as even though there are many criticisms that could very easily be levelled at the company, as I'm rather fond of their products. However, this situation did leave me slightly peeved. I'm not an experienced engineer, but given a blog page with the photos of how to do something, I'm quite a happy hacker (having replaced an old iPod battery and the RAM in the iMac using that method, for starters), so would prefer to be able to do this myself.

I suppose that once you buy a sealed box that is not designed to be opened by most people, you should expect things like this. Still, it's nice to have the option, even if most people don't use it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Blue Mineday (WN0042)

At D1 Radio on The Thursday Night Show, I like to go for an eclectic blend of tunes in the playlist. The means oldies, new songs, mash-ups, remixes, tracks from all sorts of different countries...and a few choice covers thrown for good measure. This one might not get a look in on the show (until I figure out how to blend the audio from a YouTube video into the audio stream), but is a gem all the same - the Brythoniaid Male Voice Choir with a version of New Order's 'Blue Monday' (watch original video on YouTube), specially-commissioned for this weekend's Festival Number 6 in Portmeirion. New Order are one of the headliners, thus the cover.

More eclectica on The Thursday Night Show this week between 8-9, UK time.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Introducing The Thursday Night Show...

I've been rebuilding my DJ chops a little over the past couple of months with a slot on a new Internet radio venture called The Thursday Night Show. It's been great fun to sit and home and have my own radio studio whilst broadcasting over the 'Net. We've gone legit too being now fully licensed (better hang up my pirate flag then)!

The show runs from 7-12 UK time and there's plenty of great tunes going on to keep many different tastes accounted for. I'll be playing an eclectic set of old, new, stuff from around the world and in the commons, plus a few mash-ups, remixes or covers, and am on between 8-9 (D1 Radio). There's drum and bass plus old school house to follow from D2 Radio, HarviB and Digit3, and an equally eclectic set before mine from the newest DJ in the lineup - Ol' Father Shine.

Not only is there a broad selection of tunes, but we have resident photographers featured every week on the art canvas VJ'ed by Whispers and a live chatroom where listeners can chat with the DJs and other artists - all available through the website. There's also a Facebook page and a Twitter feed (though the latter's a little slow to get off the ground at the moment).

Some of the sets do end up online after the event (as with the below) for catchup purposes, but why not drop by when it's all live and say hi? Come and hang out online with The Thursday Night Show while this thing's still a small seed...

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Earth from the Space Station (WN0041)

It's been ages since I last blogged anything. Been a busy summer, wrapped up in all sorts of things - hope we reveal more at some point soon. In the meantime, in the absence of any new content from me, here's a fantastic short video of the Earth from the International Space Station. This is the sort of stuff that time lapse photography was invented for - go full screen!

Friday, June 22, 2012

An insignificant human being

I suppose this is the end. This book is not a history book, but just the plain tale of an insignificant human being. Countless hosts are to be maimed, killed, wasted, ruined. For what? For Poland? For the Greater Reich? No. These are just the slogans that cover the whole damnable, wicked, crass stupidity. Great God in Heaven, why did you create Man just a little lower than the angels, just a little higher than the beasts?
(extract from diary of Ted Pates, 01/09/39)

Last month, I spent three days in Berlin. The occasion was a family reunion that centred around an uncle’s birthday, and which brought me together with many people I hadn’t seen in several years. I’d passed through Berlin once before, spending a few hours in the place whilst en route from Prague to Amsterdam in the late 90s, but this was my first change to actually soak up any of the ambience of the place.

Berlin is a city that wears its scars on the outside, as a place that has been location for such historically significant events as it has can only do. These days, it also has a great sense of what can be achieved when divisions no longer divide so deeply. Eventually, I’ll put the pictures up here, as I'm sure they will do the city far greater justice than my stumbling words can attempt to achieve.

Many years ago, following on later from the death of my grandfather’s brother Ted, I inherited a sheath of papers from this same uncle whose birthday we had come to celebrate. This set of mercifully-legible dot-matrix printed pages spanned September 1939 to March 1944, and contained Ted’s personal diary from World War II. I’ve always intended to do something with this resource, but haven’t known quite what.

By ending in early ’44, the diaries are also incomplete. Tracing the parallel story of his life with that of the development and conclusion of the war is not possible without the missing parts of the puzzle. To my great surprise during the Berlin trip, I had a conversation with a cousin where I discovered that she actually possessed some of the remaining parts of this journal. I found out today that her copies go up to August 1945, so although there will still be parts of the puzzle missing (Truman officially declared the war over in December 1946, and that leaves Ted’s perspective on a year and a half of aftermath still hidden from view), that is a much more complete picture than I have now.

I mention all this here and now because I am contemplating preparing an abstract to submit to a conference on ‘War and Life-Writing’ at Oxford University in November this year, and Ted’s work seems like a gift horse of a resource for making a contribution to this conference with.

The problem I have (aside from not having the complete diary or even having completely read through the years that I do have) is that I don’t know what to do for it. I’ve spoken at conferences before, but doing so at Oxford’s kind-of taking it to a whole different level. I guess that even getting accepted for speaking at a conference at Oxford is bit of a step up in itself. I’ve also given myself very little headspace recently in which to think up things like this, so I’ve a thing (the diary) and a place (the conference) but I haven’t yet got a ‘what to do’.

In scholarly pursuit, a question always marks a beginning. Possible research questions that this conference seeks to address include:

  • How do the genres of life writing (and/or film) mediate the experience of war?
  • How does war impact upon the genres of life writing?
  • What is the significance of the emerging digital genres of life writing for war representation (i-journalism, Twitter, social networking sites)?
  • What are the relationships between gender and life writings about war?
  • How can the phenomenon of missing or silent testimonies be theorised?
  • How do representations of war in the life-writing genres challenge or support ‘official’, governmental, or archetypal depictions? 
One of the interesting facets of Ted’s diaries is that he was a pacifist, as far as I’m aware throughout his life, but certainly during that war. Although British men were no longer court-martialled for refusing to fight by the late thirties as they had been during WWI, pacifism nevertheless remained a socially taboo position to hold, particularly when London’s skies darkened with Luftwaffe and a rising tide of solidarity against an external threat produced certain common positions amongst neighbours.

Would this stance of Ted’s be considered a ‘missing or silent testimony’? How indeed could that be theorised? When today it is possible to give voice to a peaceful opposition to conflict by tweeting live from the war zone, what implications does that have for the silencing of testimonies? What challenges do his representations of the war present for contemporary readings of the period, ‘official’ or otherwise?

I do not know yet how or whether this one will pan out, but it is certainly tempting to try and get something together for the conference. I’ll report back if I manage to put an abstract/proposal together for it, but in the meantime, if anyone has any suggestions for an angle of pursuit, feel free to add in the comments below.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Images from Sydney and New South Wales

Last year (and to my very great surprise), I was asked to go to Sydney on a business trip during the first month into a new job. I stayed in the Central Business District, slap-bang in the heart of the city, and although I worked fairly solidly throughout the two weeks I was there, I also managed to make good use of my moments of free time. Got a few friends there and a relative or two as well, so I made sure I caught up with a few folks and saw some great sights while I was at it - the Opera House, sunset over Harbour Bridge, Bondi and Manly Beach, the Blue Mountains

As I thought it would, Sydney shot up the list of favourite cities in the world to somewhere right near the top. I also got to set foot on Continent  # 6 for the first time - just Antarctica to go!

The job's been super busy ever since then and I also started my MA when I got back, so there's been all sorts of stuff that I've not had much time to catch up on. This summer's turning out to be a good chance to do some of the catching up that has been on hold for so many months. Last month, I finally managed to get a selection of the Australia photos online. Take a look at the slideshow above (link) and drop a comment below if ya dig 'em. As with most of my Flickr photos, these are free to use as long as I receive an attribution in return.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Disputing YouTube on copyright

I have republished a number of videos of TED Talks on my YouTube channel over the past few years, as I have wanted to share them, TED allows me to, and more eyeballs for my channel means the possibility of more eyeballs for some of my other videos. Whilst doing this, I have always been careful not to violate the terms of the licence that they are issued under.

Recently though, I've been starting to get notices from YouTube/Google of a possible copyright violation. I have therefore taken the first tentative steps towards disputing this - partly to try and stop these notices, but also to stand up for my right to reuse a work I have clear permission to do so.

The text I used to dispute the claim is below:

I am disputing this claim because the original video was issued under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives license, which explicitly permits me to republish the video on the condition on compliance with the terms of the license.

In this republication, I have clearly referenced TED as the original source of the materials, I have not used the video for any commercial purposes (and consider that the serving of advertising against this video with contravene the license terms), and have republished the video in full including the advertising/sponsorship in the original file, and have thus not made a derivative work from it.

I believe that the republication of this video was made in good faith and in full accordance with TED's terms of use, as laid out in their usage policy page:

Interested to see what response (if any) I get from YouTube on this. If it seems worth doing so, I'll share the responses here.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Punk in China and Africa

On a visit to China back in 2004, as Beijing was demolishing its past in preparation for the then-pending Olympics, I was invited out one night to a punk gig. Ever open to things I've never done before, I jumped at the chance.

The gig was held in a small, sweaty club near the foreboding walls of the Forbidden City, not far from Tiananmen Square. Musically, it could have been the Kings Road, London, 1976 (not that I was actually there, mind you). What was more interesting, however, was the lyrical content. My host leant in and informed me that the vocalist was singing about the events in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Raised on my Westernised perceptions of China as I was, this came as a bit of a surprise to me. Whether this was a genuine act of punk-style rebellion or evidence of a loosening up of constraints on artistic expression I'll probably never know. Nevertheless, I was intrigued to note that this form of musical expression, with its rebellious shtick and politicised undertones, had spread this far. 

I knew that the likes of The Beatles had spread in influence way beyond just the West (banned in the Soviet Union, I believe), that Wham! had been the first Western band to play China in 1985, and that these days, all sorts of musical borders no longer stand tall as they once would have done. Still, Chinese punk rock, played in China, by Chinese musicians - this was a bit of a new one on me. Broadband certainly wasn't ubiquitous in 2004 (particularly in China) and although I'd started noticing more Chinese travelling abroad, I didn't think that the country had opened up to so many outside influences that much.

Wrong, obviously.

I was reminded of this moment when I recently came across the new film 'Punk in Africa'. In a very readable review, describes the film thus:
Punk in Africa examines the punk scene in Southern Africa from the 70s onward, an era in which apartheid was being challenged in South Africa with violent repercussions, civil war burned across Mozambique and Robert Mugabe began his massacres in Zimbabwe. At this time, a combination of musical catholicity, the urge to break out of the stifling patterns of the past, and an influx of (white) U.K. citizens lit the slow fuse that transformed Southern African music. It wasn’t an explosion, it was an uninhibited musical miscegenation, in which punk and native musical traditions met – and screwed in the bathroom at the youth club.
I've been very interested in African music for years and started getting into African psychedelia a few years ago. That young Nigerians would hear Jimi Hendrix and James Brown and be inspired to pick up electric guitars could only have led to some seriously cool tunes. That young Zimbaweans would do the same ten years later based on three chords and pogoing...well, music is music and a strong idea will spread to all sorts of unexpected places once it is out of the box. It can take on more intriguing turns though when fused with other local sounds, rhythms and musical customs.

Where the young punks of Southern Africa would have stood out from their British peers is probably the greater sense of urgency in their expressions. British and American punks might have been putting two fingers up to the old guard, but the Mozambicans were rocking out in the middle of a civil war.

Check out the official trailer below:

Once you've done that, here's 75 minutes of African punk, garage rock and ska tunes to keep you busy.

From the film's SoundCloud page:
This mix includes exclusive mashups and re-edits, and goes from Punk to heavily Africanized Rebel Rock to Post-Punk, Dance-Punk, Political Dub, Punk Step, 60s Afro-Garage Techno, Bass Music and beyond, features remixes of Congotronics and a couple of tunes not from the motherland, but surely in keeping with the Afro-Punk spirit.

If that wasn't enough for you, here's a mix of some of the roots of Southern African punk, with a little more vintage underground rock and township funk (also from SoundCloud):


Saturday, April 21, 2012

New film: 'J-Journeys'

More video.

It's great having spent much of the past two months working on a project to then be able to knock a different one out in about an hour. This short film, the third to feature footage shot on my last visit to Japan, takes a leisurely meander through Japanese suburbia as seen from a bus and a train. It also features a great mellow piano tune by Chris Zabriskie, which under by the unlikely name of 'That Kid in the Fourth Grade Who Really Liked the Denver Broncos' (sourced from the Free Music Archive and issued under CC-BY licence).

The film is more of a mood piece than a story (in other words, nothing much happens), but I rather like the pace of it. However, over 4 minutes is probably a little long for a web video where not much happens!

I chose to debut this film on Vimeo rather than YouTube this time. No reason, and it'll find its way onto YouTube as well, but always good to get to know another platform better.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The coming wars on computing

This video is of a speech given by Cory Doctorow to the University of Westminister School of Law, and hosted by The Guardian as part of their 'Battle for the Internet' series. In the talk, Doctorow proposes that the so-called Copyright Wars are merely opening salvos in a wider coming (metaphorical) war on general purpose computing. 

For anyone that wants to be able to retain control over what they can or can't do with a computer (which these days means most devices used in daily lives), there are some very compelling arguments here.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Survey call: [Twitter + #IATEFL = ?]

The next essay for my MA is due in very soon. For this one, I'm investigating the use of Twitter at conferences, using this year's IATEFL conference in Glasgow (Mar 19 - 23) as the case study.

As part of the qualitative research into the topic, I have put a survey together for people that used Twitter for participating in the conference. If you used Twitter during #IATEFL, please help me out with a few responses below.

The survey should take about six or seven tweets worth of your time to complete, and will be open for responses for the next two days.


UPDATE: This survey is now closed for submissions. Many thanks to those that responded.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Request for comments: 10 Laws on using the Internet for CDP

I usually spend so much time agonising over getting a blog post just right, with the optimum degree of formatting, linkage, etc. Sometimes though, you have to just type something and post it to get it out there.

I've been attending the 2012 IATEFL conference today, in parts (and via Twitter only). There's a couple of reasons - one, it was such a great experience last year when I actually attended that I couldn't resist going back again for more this year, and two, I'm writing a paper this term on the use of Twitter at conferences (more about that later). There's a pressing need to re-engage in ways that I might otherwise have been focused other things.

(still can't resist a rambling pre-amble as part of a blog post written on the fly!)

Anyway, the reason for getting this post together quickly is to make a request for comments on a topic. Whilst following the tweets for one of the sessions (on the #ELTchat hashtag), I ended up in a separate conversation with Karenne Sylvester about guest posting on each others blogs. She's invited me to guest post on her blog on the topic of '10 Laws of the Internet' from a CPD (professional development) perspective. This came about from an observation that the #ELTchat hashtag convesations also get spammed by companies keen to muscle in on a conversation.

I proposed an observation that 'where there's a will, spam will always find a way'. To extrapolate slightly on this, I'll expand it to 'Any new communications channel on the Internet will eventually become polluted by spam'.

I will not be the first person to state this, but I'll take it as Pates's Law if no-one else steps up to claim it!

The request: to help me out with my guest post, I'm inviting people to submit their own 'Laws of the Net' in the comments section here. I'll then bring it all together and take it over to Karenne's blog.

There are already other well-known 'internet laws', but I'm talking specifically about using the Net in a professional capacity. Can you help me make it as far as 10? If you come up with your own law, please christen it with your name too!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Rootmap & ccMixter

Following on from last month's conundrum over what to do for my MA practical project, I made my mind up quite quickly in the end and decided to go with the Lessig/ccMixter option. Given time constraints, etc, it seemed to make sense to go for something where the content had already been created rather than trying to also get a whole raft of new stuff made. On top of that, as a main theoretical component of the project will be drawn from Lessig's writing on remixes, a sound map of remixes of works that build on his words seemed like a pretty cool way forward.

It took weeks of trying to figure out how to get an audio player into a Google Map, but eventually I got there via the fantastic Map Maker tool at Donkey Magic (so simple too). However, I've also ended up having to skill-up on bits of HTML, CSS and Javascript to style the placemarks as I'd want them to be, which has added to the prep time.

Below is a sample of a couple of styled placemarks. Click on the lower one to hear Lessig's original spoken word file, which was used to launch this particular remix contest. Click on the higher one to hear one ccMixter community response to that file, a blues take from Admiral Bob. My project, which I've titled Rootmap, will be mapping the journey that the idea took - from one spoken word file on a website to around 70 full songs from several different countries.

The submission deadline for this piece of work is about a month away, so I do still have some time on my side. However, I'd expect that to go quite quickly and there's also another essay to be getting on with at the same time.

In the meantime (and something that I'd been meaning to do for a long time anyway), I've signed up to ccMixter and uploaded a few files to offer up for remix. The files are all mono vocal recordings/acappellas of a handful of lyric sets I've written over the past few years. There are no effects on them (nor music around them), as that is the format requested for the submission, leaving choices like that up to the producers.

It can make you feel somewhat naked from a musicianly point of view to publish such a part of a song without it being clothed in any of the rest of what might ultimately constitute a song! Still, I'm taking from others' work to create this project, and although the Creative Commons licences that the works are released under give me the right to do that, as with any community there needs to be some sort of balance between laws and practices. In other words, I'm getting so I think I should also give.

Going to each page of an artist that contributed a remix and clicking through on whatever links they've put on their profiles, I've managed to get something resembling locational data for most of them. I'm not looking for anything particularly detailed like full GPS co-ordinates as that's not the point of the project and I wouldn't want to plot uploads that closely (others may also not want their location published either). However, I'm aiming to at least have a city as a means of locating where the original remix contributor is from, in order to gain a sense of how far this particular idea spread and the scale of that journey.

The next major step is getting in touch with the handful of ccMixter members that I couldn't find any form of locational data for and asking them if they're willing to provide anything towards that. I'm also planning to let all contributors know about the project once I've got a bit more to show for it. As Rootmap is a kind of re-imagining of a series of remixes, it would be great to involve that community a little more in the final work than just presenting their music in a different way. Still, I didn't want to start approaching anyone at ccMixter until I had a little something to give too (thus the pella uploads).

Really intrigued to see how this project's going to turn out (as well as what might happen to my tracks)!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Bird Step Sequencer (WN0040)

Love this one. In Kathy Hind's words:
By observing the resting of birds on telegraph lines, it was soon obvious how much the lines resembled a music score or piano roll. Thus, a computer-vision program was developed in order to scan a video of the birds behaviour to translate it into music, by triggering audio samples of a music box and a prepared piano in the same fashion as a modern step-sequencer.
Going along to see her talk about sound maps in London next month.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Making my mind up on a SoundMap...

I've not written about anything I've been doing for my MA yet here on this blog. This is partly because since I started the course, back in September 2011 (around the same time as a new job), I've been so busy in trying to keep up with both the job and things like the reading list that it's been very difficult to find the space for it. However, I think I've reached a point where a post has become necessary.

I'm sat here in a Mac suite at Sussex University, running Chrome stuffed with open tabs. My research trails, thoughts and ideas seem to be tripping over themselves as I try to solidify them into something that is going to actually be achievable in the time I have. A plan is needed, and sometimes plans only become clear when they're written down (or in this case typed out).

This term, I am taking a course called 'New Developments in Digital Media'. It's a blend of theory and practical work, and has been quite a fascinating journey so far. The practical side of it involves a couple of projects that utilise existing web technologies to come up with something new - basically, a web mash-up.

The first project was about learning how to do stuff in Google Maps. I put together a map that showed places around the world that I have visited, with a bit of content (mostly pictures) from each visit. The results of that are below:

View Visited Places in a larger map

Now it's come to the second one, which means ramping things up a little. I'm interested in soundmaps. I'm interested in remixes. What I'd really like to do is to offer a track up for remixing, and plot the results on a map.

Trouble is, this is way more difficult that just adding a bit of HTML embed code to a Google Maps placemark (which is essentially all the above is). 

I've got an old Shelf Life song which I have all the stems for. It would be fascinating to offer that one up and see what journey it took. Thing is, I'd probably need to dive in to an existing remix community and build up some relationships to get anything out of it, which would also involve putting a 'campaign' together around it along with having a load of extra stuff to write to go with it. That would take time I don't really have, even if the longer term benefits would be great (more engaging content for the project, people to work with on stuff in the future).

I really want to be able to create something like the Edinburgh Fringe map below, where the placemarks are clickable and will play an audio track when clicked. So far, I've not been able to find out how something like this could be done. It seems quite simple for people to contribute their recordings to the map (instructions here), by adding content via SoundCloud that has Fringe in the title and a location in the metadata. I fear though that getting it sorted out via the backend would mean having to get to grips with SoundCloud's API, and I'm not sure I'm ready (or got the headspace) to start getting to grips with deeper programming knowledge.

SoundCloud would be a fantastic platform to work with on this project. It seems that AudioBoo would also work well, and it also has a relatively easy means of getting audio content mapped by pasting an RSS feed URL from a user's account into a Google Maps page and changing the .rss extension to a .kml extension (being a form of geocoding that Google Maps understands), as in the Hong Kong sound map below:

Trouble with that one is that it doesn't seem to have the audio player element. Setting up some kind of RSS feed that people could submit tracks to a page connected with that feed which populates on the map would be ideal. All my research so far suggests that this would be far more difficult than it initially sounds.

I'll be leaning on Lawrence Lessig's 'Remix' for some of the theory that will be needed to back this project up. Lessig also donated a spoken word piece to the ccMixter community to launch his 'Strike The Root' project, which resulted in something like 100 tracks being created in a month. Mapping where those tracks were made would tie in very nicely with the theory element, but there is quite a bit of digging to find out the locations of a bunch of the contributors, and I still need to figure out how to embed audio in a Google Maps placemark (anyone know how to do this?).

All I know now is that I'll have to come to some decisions soon and start putting the work in, otherwise I'll get overwhelmed with yet another project that I take on which is too big to manage!

Any thoughts, comments, or help on the above will be gratefully received. Anyone interested in more cool sites where maps and sounds meet should check out the British Library's sound maps collections, Tracks On A Map, SoundSeeker or even CitySounds (not strictly a map, but cool all the same).

Saturday, February 04, 2012

10 Things About ACTA

Thought that 'the battle to save the Internet' was won with the defeat or shelving of SOPA? Think again. To paraphrase Clay Shirky from the last video I posted here, the price of a free Internet has to be eternal vigilance, it seems.

What's next? Here are 10 things about ACTA, an international trade agreement now signed by representatives from 31 states.

1. 'Say NO to ACTA' video

 View on YouTube

2. From Wikipedia:
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a plurilateral agreement for the purpose of establishing international standards for intellectual property rights enforcement. The agreement aims to establish an international legal framework for targeting counterfeit goods, generic medicines and copyright infringement on the Internet, and would create a new governing body outside existing forums, such as the World Trade Organization, the World Intellectual Property Organization, or the United Nations.
The agreement was signed on 1 October 2011 by Australia, Canada, Japan, Morocco, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea and the United States. In January 2012, the European Union and 22 of its member states signed as well, bringing the total number of signatories to 31. After ratification by 6 states, the convention will come into force.
Supporters have described the agreement as a response to 'the increase in global trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works'. Large copyright-right based organizations such as the MPAA and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America were active in the treaty's development.
Opponents have lambasted it for its potentially adverse effects on fundamental civil and digital rights, including freedom of expression and communication privacy. Others, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, have derided the exclusion of civil society groups, developing countries and the general public from the agreement's negotiation process and have described it as policy laundering. The signature of the EU and many of its member states resulted in the resignation in protest of the European Parliament's appointed rapporteur (Kader Arif), as well as widespread protests across Poland.
Text available under CC-BY-SA licence.

3. Map of involved countries

Above and below images issued under CC-BY-SA licence.

4. La Quadrature du Net

La Quadrature du Net is an 'advocacy group defending the rights and freedoms of citizens on the Internet' who describe ACTA as 'one more offensive against the sharing of culture on the Internet'. Their main website is in English and French. Check the links to learn more.

5. 'How to act'

This wiki page from La Quadrature du Net details lots of actions that can be taken by those who oppose ACTA.

6. Petitions

A big one from and a smaller one for HM Government (UK). Another one from Access Now. Click on the screenshot below to go to their page detailing Europe-wide protests against the agreement on February 11th.

7. Rights Groups

We're getting to crunch time. The ball is now very much in the European Parliament's court. The good news is, that gives you a chance to say why we think ACTA is such bad news. Finally, a mechanism to influence the course of this international agreement.
Find out more about what Open Rights Group have to say about ACTA.

European Digital Rights says that ACTA will have 'major implications for freedom of expression, access to culture and privacy', and have launched a 'What's Wrong With ACTA Week'. The page linked to also contain briefing documents aimed at presenting the key areas that this agreement aims to cover. Another good booklet of theirs is 'What Makes ACTA So Controversial (and why MEPs should care)' - also available in many other European languages.

EFF talks about ACTA's 'global consequences' and more here.

8. Judgements

Judge: 17,000 illegal downloads don't equal 17,000 lost sales

9. Content Owners

EA Admits Pirated Copies Do Not Equal Lost Sales

Monty Python DVD sales soar thanks to YouTube clips

10. Infographic


OK, so here were my 10 things about ACTA. Some parts of this post are a little sketchy though. What legal decisions have you come across that favoured fewer restrictions on copyright rather than more? Do you know any other good examples of content owners that have benefited from a more open approach to their work, or who have 'gained from sharing'? Add your suggestions in the comments below and I'll update this post with any good ones that come by.

Monday, January 23, 2012

'Time Warner wants us all back on the couch..'

'...just consuming - not producing, not sharing - and we should say No'.

In the latest video from Globalism Films, Clay Shirky explains why SOPA/PIPA isn't dead yet.

Another TED Talk issued under a Creative Commons license.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Kisumu Mixtape - fines tunes from Kenya (WN0039)

A mixtape of 17 underground classics from Kisumu, Kenya, ranging from traditional guitar to blunted ass reggae to innovative hip hop.

Another gem here from the Free Music Archive, this time a delicious selection of tracks from Kenya. No words from me needed, just turn this up loud and shake your thing...

Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives (aka Music Sharing) License.

SOPA and PIPA - Learn more

Visited Wikipedia today to find something out, only to discover that it's blacked out? Wondered why? Read on (text reproduced from Wikipedia, under permission)...
Why is Wikipedia blacked-out?
Wikipedia is protesting against SOPA and PIPA by blacking out the English Wikipedia for 24 hours, beginning at midnight January 18, Eastern Time. Readers who come to English Wikipedia during the blackout will not be able to read the encyclopedia. Instead, you will see messages intended to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA, encouraging you to share your views with your representatives, and with each other on social media.
What are SOPA and PIPA?
SOPA and PIPA represent two bills in the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate respectively. SOPA is short for the "Stop Online Piracy Act," and PIPA is an acronym for the "Protect IP Act." ("IP" stands for "intellectual property.") In short, these bills are efforts to stop copyright infringement committed by foreign web sites, but, in our opinion, they do so in a way that actually infringes free expression while harming the Internet. Detailed information about these bills can be found in the Stop Online Piracy Act and PROTECT IP Act articles on Wikipedia, which are available during the blackout. GovTrack lets you follow both bills through the legislative process: SOPA on this page, and PIPA on this one. The EFF has summarized why these bills are simply unacceptable in a world that values an open, secure, and free Internet.
Why is the blackout happening?
Wikipedians have chosen to black out the English Wikipedia for the first time ever, because we are concerned that SOPA and PIPA will severely inhibit people's access to online information. This is not a problem that will solely affect people in the United States: it will affect everyone around the world.
Why? SOPA and PIPA are badly drafted legislation that won't be effective at their stated goal (to stop copyright infringement), and will cause serious damage to the free and open Internet. They put the burden on website owners to police user-contributed material and call for the unnecessary blocking of entire sites. Small sites won't have sufficient resources to defend themselves. Big media companies may seek to cut off funding sources for their foreign competitors, even if copyright isn't being infringed. Foreign sites will be blacklisted, which means they won't show up in major search engines. And, SOPA and PIPA build a framework for future restrictions and suppression.
Does this mean that Wikipedia itself is violating copyright laws, or hosting pirated content?
No, not at all. Some supporters of SOPA and PIPA characterize everyone who opposes them as cavalier about copyright, but that is not accurate. Wikipedians are knowledgeable about copyright and vigilant in protecting against violations: Wikipedians spend thousands of hours every week reviewing and removing infringing content. We are careful about it because our mission is to share knowledge freely. To that end, all Wikipedians release their contributions under a free license, and all the material we offer is freely licensed. Free licenses are incompatible with copyright infringement, and so infringement is not tolerated.
Isn't SOPA dead? Wasn't the bill shelved, and didn't the White House declare that it won't sign anything that resembles the current bill?
No, neither SOPA nor PIPA is dead. On January 17th, SOPA's sponsor said the bill will be discussed in early February. There are signs PIPA may be debated on the Senate floor next week. Moreover, SOPA and PIPA are just indicators of a much broader problem. In many jurisdictions around the world, we're seeing the development of legislation that prioritizes overly-broad copyright enforcement laws, laws promoted by power players, over the preservation of individual civil liberties.
How could SOPA and PIPA hurt Wikipedia?
SOPA and PIPA are a threat to Wikipedia in many ways. For example, in its current form, SOPA would require Wikipedia to actively monitor every site we link to, to ensure it doesn't host infringing content. Any link to an infringing site could put us in jeopardy of being forced offline.
I live in the United States. What's the best way for me to help?
The most effective action you can take is to call your representatives and tell them you oppose SOPA and PIPA, and any similar legislation. Type your zipcode in the locator box to find your representatives' contact information. Text-based communication is okay, but phone calls have the most impact.
I don't live in the United States. How can I help?
Contact your local State Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, or similar branch of government. Tell them you oppose SOPA and PIPA, and any similar legislation. SOPA and PIPA will affect sites outside of the United States, and actions to sites inside the United States (like Wikipedia) will also affect non-American readers -- like you. Calling your own government will also let them know you don't want them to create their own bad anti-Internet legislation.
Is it still possible to access Wikipedia in any way?
Yes. During the blackout, Wikipedia is accessible on mobile devices and smart phones. You can also view Wikipedia normally by disabling JavaScript in your browser, as explained on this Technical FAQ page. Our purpose here isn't to make it completely impossible for people to read Wikipedia, and it's okay for you to circumvent the blackout. We just want to make sure you see our message.
I keep hearing that this is a fight between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Is that true?
No. Some people are characterizing it that way, probably in an effort to imply all the participants are motivated by commercial self-interest. But it's obviously not that simple. The proof of that is Wikipedia's involvement. Wikipedia has no financial self-interest at play here: we do not benefit from copyright infringement, nor are we trying to monetize traffic or sell ads. We are protesting to raise awareness about SOPA and PIPA solely because we think they will hurt the Internet, and your ability to access information online. We are doing this for you, because we're on your side.
In carrying out this protest, is Wikipedia abandoning neutrality?
We hope you continue to trust Wikipedia to be a neutral information source. We are staging this blackout because (as Wikimedia Foundation Board of Trustee Kat Walsh said recently), although Wikipedia’s articles are neutral, its existence is not. For over a decade, Wikipedians have spent millions of hours building the largest encyclopedia in human history. Wikipedia is a tremendously useful resource, and its existence depends upon a free, open and uncensored Internet. SOPA and PIPA (and other similar laws under discussion inside and outside the United States) will hurt you, because they will make it impossible for sites you enjoy, and benefit from, to continue to exist. That's why we're doing this.
What can I read to get more information?
Try these links: 
As of midnight PT, January 18, Google has 3,740 articles about the blackout. Here are a few:

Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. See Terms of use for details.

Friday, January 06, 2012

'This Is Brighton' (WN0038)

First week back at work after Christmas. Made it to the weekend. Tired, but picked up on a Friday evening with the discovery of this little gem.

When I came across Sam O'Hare's beautiful tilt-shift/time lapse video of New York and a later clip of Tokyo, I thought to myself 'I'd love to do something similar on Brighton someday'. Little did I know that I'd not only get beaten to it by someone else, but that someone else was 13 years when he started making 'This Is Brighton'. Kudos to Caleb Yule - he's got a great future ahead of him.