31 December 02005

6 down, 994 to go

Trinity Buoy lighthouse with Paul MakepeaceReflector of Trinity Buoy lighthouseHere are a couple of pictures taken this afternoon at the Trinity Buoy Wharf lighthouse. It was six years ago today that Jem Finer's Longplayer composition started playing continuously, and it's planned to keep playing until 31 December 02999, when it will start to repeat from the beginning. I wrote more about Longplayer after my first visit in October 02003. By coincidence the Longplayer web site is hosted by Paul Makepeace, who also hosts this site, and it was good to see him at the lighthouse today — you can see him in the photo on the left.

Longplayer still runs on an old iMac — here's a photo of that iMac, and here's my full set of Longplayer pictures. Please consider making a donation to Longplayer to help keep it running for the rest of the millennium. Happy New Year!

28 December 02005

Great gigs in London for a tenner or less

This is normally a quiet time of year for gigs in London (as for on-topic blog posts) but one of the highlights of the first week in January is the Winter Sprinter series of gigs organised by Track and Field at the Water Rats Theatre (which claims to be the venue of Bob Dylan's first ever UK performance, in 01962).

This is the seventh year of Winter Sprinters, and it will be the third year Lucy and I have gone to one of the shows. The last two years we saw Herman Düne, and they're playing again this year, but tickets for that sold out in a few days, so we're going to see the show headlined by The Broken Family Band instead.

One of the great things about the Winter Sprinter shows is that you get to see three bands — some you know, some you don't — for under a tenner. Now there are some gigs I've enquired about in the last year where the surcharges alone — for (self) "service", (agency) "convenience" and mandatory stuffing of tickets into an envelope — were more than the face value of a Winter Sprinter ticket. (At this point I resort childishly to writing abuse in the Address and Credit Card fields and thus not completing the transaction.) With that in mind here are some other places where I've seen great acts at low prices.

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22 December 02005

Research on playlists and sharing as means of recommending music

The transition to online music distribution is occurring at the same time that consumers have an exploding number of sources of information about music, from established media sources to Internet-connected friends and strangers. As a result, getting the word out about new material, new bands or back catalogs is made more difficult for music marketers and artist promoters. Harnessing the instinct of consumers to share music and information about music and the communications tools available will be an important strategic thrust for music labels and distributors.

This comes from a research report about online playlist services by the Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Their twelve-page report — a free download (536 KB PDF file) — is based on a survey of early adopters of digital media.

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19 December 02005

MusicStrands: playlist sharing and music discovery

Last week MusicStrands launched a major upgrade that extends its scope by adding new ways to tag, discuss, and discover music — see the overview of the new features. This is moving in the direction of the MySpace music community — technically I think it's a step ahead of MySpace, but clearly lacks the latter's current buzz — so in some ways it's unfair to concentrate just on its playlist sharing features. But that is what I'm going to do here, as I didn't include MusicStrands in my previous reviews of playlist services.

To try out the new MusicStrands, I first created a new Philip Jeays 'imaginary celebrity playlist' (see more about this genre and more about Jeays), then I repeated my Neil Young playlist, to provide a direct comparison with creating the same playlist on other services. More about the details of these below, but first an overview of MusicStrands playlists, using my standard criteria.

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15 December 02005

Resonance FM — five more years

Congratulations to Resonance FM on being awarded a five-year licence to continue its broadcasts. Resonance is a 'radio art' station catering for minority interests (I like Peter Cusack's environmental recordings series and my friend Eric Namour's [no.signal] shows of ambient, improv and electronica music, for example), and it started broadcasting three and half years ago. It's only available over the airwaves in London, but you can hear it anywhere online. Here's the Ofcom press release.

Musical Battleground — article in The Spectator

My article under the title Musical Battleground is in the arts section of the Christmas issue of The Spectator, out today. It covers the remixing potential of digital media, using the BBC Creative Archive and The Grey Album as examples. Here's an excerpt:

But are the products of this 'remix culture' any good? Though technology has made it almost embarrassingly simple to re-appropriate media in the way that Kurt Schwitters and William Burroughs did more painstakingly, few of the works made with the new tools come near to matching those predecessors. Now that the means to collage and cut-up our news, audio and video are installed in many a suburban living room, the ends of these practices seem to have been shorn of the radical, disruptive credentials that were once claimed for them.
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13 December 02005

E-learning 2.0, whatever that is

What is E-learning 2.0? Well first of all it's a rhetorical manoeuvre by e-learning suppliers and consultants to distance themselves from the failures of the first wave of e-learning. Secondly it appears to be the bastard neologism offspring of e-learning and Web 2.0 technologies.

I only came across the term yesterday when I did some search-aided browsing to explore ideas for supporting informal learning with Web 2.0. The term doesn't have an entry in Wikipedia yet, which suggests that I'm not too far behind the pace, as surely someone will write one soon (after they've applied for the trademark).

In the spirit of what, no doubt, will be heralded by some as yet another 'new paradigm', I won't try and develop an argument about the topic or reach any conclusions; I'll just provide some links, some second-hand content and a bit of attitude. All you free-range learners can make some sense out of that, I'm sure.

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7 December 02005

Will Internet music radio have no competition?

"When given a choice between listening to music over the Internet or traditional radio stations, 54% prefer the Internet while 30% prefer radio," according to this research from Bridge Ratings. Is this a simple trade-off between the two, or, if it is that simple in the US, might it be different elsewhere?

I was reading The Future of Music recently, and was struck by the grim picture and grimmer forecasts it makes for traditional radio. However, the story the book told was just about radio and the US, which appears to be run by an oligopoly of characterless media conglomerates. The apparently dire state of traditional radio there has opened up opportunities for Internet radio and satellite radio that might not be so great if there were strong traditional broadcasters in the US market, as there in other parts of the world.

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5 December 02005

Why birds, and neanderthals, sing

The 'music instinct' is far more ancient than previously suspected, and neanderthals and birds may have been jamming before they were talking. But why do humans and birds converge on the same acoustic and aesthetic choices and why do babies respond to musical sound?

… quoted from the blurb for the Play on: a journey into the mystery of song event at the Royal Institution last week. Here are my touched-up notes from it.

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