Saturday, February 28, 2009

Me-dia Recomended by Me

Available Online for Free by Evan Roth

The last week for me has been spent mostly in or around hospitals with my youngest son continuing his hearing rehabilitation following cochlear implants. As well my thesis has entered a patch of heavy weather. These combined resulted in me spending most of the week offline. A strange experience. I have not been away from computers and the internet for such a long period of time since summer 2007 (a month in small town Australia, where phone modems and internet cafes still rule). The week offline gave me the opportunity to write out (with a pen and paper!!) a re-worked thesis plan. I still have to type ii up, but I think I may be on the way to solving the problems I have with my thesis.

The big news for this week is of course The Pirate Bay (TPB) trial. Oh my god! Could it be any more fascinating and entertaining. While I know a documentary is already available regarding the background and early stages of the trial, and another is in the making, someone should sign the rights to this story ASAP. Imagine Hollywood doing The Pirate Bay story. But then again...maybe not. On to the media.

AVAILABLE ONLINE FOR FREE: Selected works by Evan Roth 2003-2008.
The book was made entirely in Linux using open source software and open typefaces and is indeed available online for free.

Eric Bogle: The Autogram recordings
Eric Bogle (born 23 September 1944 in Peebles, Scotland) is a folk singer-songwriter. He emigrated to Australia in 1969 and currently resides near Adelaide, South Australia.
Several of his most famous songs tell of the futility or loss of war. Prominent among these is "And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda", written in 1972. The lyrics tell of the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) experience fighting in the Battle of Gallipoli. It has also been interpreted as a reaction to the Vietnam War. Another of his best-known songs, "No Man's Land", is also World War I-themed. This song is commonly known as "The Green Fields of France", a title it was first given by The Fureys, and which has subsequently been used in a lot of further cover versions. The song refers to the traditional Scottish song "Flowers of the Forest" being played over the grave of a World War I soldier. This song has been remade by Alec Beaton (with a Scottish soldier from "The Water is Wide"), Plethyn ("Gwaed ar eu Dwylo" (Blood on their Hands), sung in Welsh from "Blas y Pridd"), and Hannes Wader ("Es ist an der Zeit" (It is the Time)). American folk singer Charlie Zahm also has a version on his album "Festival Favorites".
Another notable song on a similar theme, but with a more contemporary setting, is the Troubles-inspired "My Youngest Son Came Home Today", with its tale of a young man killed during factional fighting in Northern Ireland. Cleverly, this song can be interpreted equally well as being about a Protestant loyalist or a catholic republican death.

Joseph Beuys - Transformer (Documentary dir. John Halpern, 1979)
This 60-minute documentary features avant-garde German artist Joseph Beuys and his unique sculpture art during a 1979 exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. The tape features Beuys' work, interviews with him, and footage of him speaking before the patrons at his Guggenheim showing. The main feature of the video is Beuys telling a little of his own history -- how his life changed when the Russians shot down his German airplane during World War II, as well as his opinions on art, mankind, the state of the world, and some of his artistic inspirations. This documentary captures the world of an artist at the pinnacle of his fame.

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge and Thee Early Worm - Early Worm ,LP,1968/2008,UK
Before Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV Genesis P-Orridge made a tape in 1968, at the age of 18. This is it.

“EARLY WORM” was pressed at Deroy Sound Services in November 1968 even though the actual single acetate copy has “copyright 1969” written by hand on the centre label. I was away at Hull University when it arrived at my home at 6 Links Drive, Solihull, Warks. So I took it back to Hull in the new year. I hand wrote the cover quotes from “SILENCE” by John Cage. It was recorded in the roofspace attic of the house during 1968 Summer and on a weekend trip home with Jesus Joheero (Joheero pronounced - Yo’ hero, i.e. Your Hero). The sleeve notes were hand written on typing paper. Xerox enclosed.

Gnaire Gill was Pinglewad’s girlfriend.
Joheero & Dr. Moses Tea are nicknames I gave John Shapeero.
Spiderman is Ian Evetts.
Jangel is my nickname for Jane Ray, my girlfriend at the time.
RFM is my father, Ronald Frederick Megson.
Pinglewad is my nickname for Peter Winstanley.

Pinglewad is also the name of a homemade, banjo-like instrument I built that sounded uncannily like a sitar, using a shallow biscuit tin and banjo strings, with drilled nails for machine heads and a plastic shopping bag as the “skin”.
The original tape still exists, as does a tape of the follow-up album that was called “CATCHING THE BIRD” and was the same people, but including the addition of Dr. Timothy Poston. However, it being old, cheap, analogue tape the oxide is probably very fragile as on other tapes from this and earlier periods. Transfer to a new master for preservation would have to be very carefully supervised as it would probably only go through the tape heads once before disintegrating.

Squadra Omega - two albums :: February :: 2009
Squadra Omega is an Italian psychedelic free-form jam band that knows how to bend your ears. From the first onslaught of sax, guitars and drums on Tenebroso I was spellbound. The 20 minute single track album was recorded in one live take with an intensity that few artists can keep going for that duration. This is a free improvisation spree complete with all the mistakes and risks that make this form of live art so…well…alive.

Anne Vada & Aki Fukakusa - Solrenning

This is a very cool record but the information I can find on it is very little. From the blog:

Cet album est le fruit de la rencontre improbable entre Anne Vada ,chanteuse classique norvégienne, soprano pour être plus précis et Aki Fukakusa, musicien japonais, bassiste de son état, tombé amoureux fou du shinkin, très rare instrument chinois à cordes. A ces deux musiciens viennent s'ajouter des flutes japonaises , quelques percussions et une guitare occasionnelle. Il n'en faut pas plus pour nous transporter dans un autre temps, baigné de sérénité mais aussi de mystère.

The blog Chenehuby which hosts the download has lots of other interesting music. Here is a video on Aki Fukakusa playing with a band, also very nice:

Japanese drone blues.

Jimi By Himself: The Home Recordings (1968)
Out Of Print 1995 CD. Not A Bootleg.
For years these tapes have made the rounds under different bootleg titles. But, Jimi By Himself: The Home Recordings, actually began life as a legitimate 1995 CD release - packaged inside the book, Voodoo Child: The Illustrated Legend Of Jimi Hendrix. Only 30 minutes long, this CD was created to push sales of the now out-of-print graphic novel hardback. It worked, too. Most bought the book just for this collectible.
Skeletal performances and great sound quality make for a fascinating listen to Jimi's Electric Ladyland demos. It's just Hendrix... in a Greenwich Village apartment with his electric guitar, notebook and tape recorder (and the occasional ringing phone). It doesn’t get any more up-close than this. The All Music Guide says it best; “What this lacks in typical Hendrix firepower, it makes up for in poetic delicacy. In some respects, these performances bring us closer to the tender heart of his work than the famous official versions.”

* 1983... (A Mermaid I Should Turn To Be)
* Angel
* Cherokee Jam
* Hear My Train A’Comin’
* Voodoo Chile/Cherokee Mist
* Gypsy Eyes

Elvis Presley "Complete Word For Word" (5 cd's)
Johnny says: "This is an oddball 5 CD set called "Word For Word". The box-set contains everything that was ever recorded of Elvis' talking voice from 1955 until 1977. You will get every interview, commercial, speech of any kind (you name it...) that was ever recorded during his lifetime. The concept for this release is that you will get every interview so folks, there's no music here. Press Conferences were released on the 2 CD-set "The Press Conferences". I'm aware that this will be interesting for the 'die-hard' Elvis collector only, hope you'll like it".

The die-hard Elvis fan or the digital sampler and maker of strange soundscapes or mashups. Every word from the richest hillbilly the world has ever seen.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Teaching with Wikis

I have been asked to give a presentation for the staff at the Department of Language Studies (my home department) on using wikis in teaching.

My introduction to wikis was from the incomparable Bryan Alexander, who visited Umeå University and HUMlab in 2003. Back then it was Wikipedia that was grabbing the attention of many.

A wiki is a Hawaiian word for "fast". A wiki is a page or collection of Web pages designed to enable anyone who accesses it to contribute or modify content, using a simplified markup language. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites and to power community websites. The collaborative encyclopedia Wikipedia is one of the best-known wikis. Wikis are used in business to provide intranet and Knowledge Management systems. Ward Cunningham, the developer of the first wiki software, WikiWikiWeb, originally described it as "the simplest online database that could possibly work" wikipedia

The strength of the wiki is it is very simple. A wiki is primarily a text based web page where editing can be done in a simplified markup language, sometimes known as "wikitext":

There is no commonly accepted standard wikitext language. The grammar, structure, features, keywords and so on are dependent on the particular wiki software used on the particular website. For example, all wikitext markup languages have a simple way of hyperlinking to other pages within the site, but there are several different syntax conventions for these links. Many wikis, especially the earlier ones, use CamelCase to mark words that should be automatically linked. In some wikis (such as Wikipedia and other MediaWiki-based wikis) this convention was abandoned in favor of explicit link markup, which Wikipedia calls "free links", for example with [[…]].

Changes can be made to the wiki either using an editing tool, with pictures and buttons to make changes or it can be written in code, which does not take long to learn:

Editing window of the teaching wiki I use for English A Realia

A wiki has the potential to be a highly collaborative tool where communal authorship (that can be based on group or individual work on campus or over distance)can be explored in learning. Any one who is registered with the wiki can author content on it. Content is saved, so any mistakes that may be made can be changed back immediately.

Webpage from a teaching wiki. The backup files are shown.

The use of a wiki in a course should be connected for a desire to encourage learner participation and presentation based learning. With a wiki students can organize themselves into groups, comment and discuss in forums, take up elements from the course and develop them further, comment and critique them. This is where the revolutionary aspects of wikis in the classroom come forward.

If a wiki is to be used to the full of its potential in learning and teaching the role of the teacher is changed. The teacher must be prepared to have their own work placed in a position where students have the opportunity to use it in a number of ways . By using a wiki as a platform in learning material can be added to the course by students, work that is discussed in the classroom can be altered or remixed by students. The course can be arranged to include this student input in the assessment or teaching plan.

Post Seminar

In the seminar I was joined by Satish Patel from Kalmar College, who has a lot of experience with using learning platforms in teaching. Satish told me about this video, Wikis in Plain English:

We discussed a number of potential applications for wikis, both as teaching tools and for coordinating research and teaching in the department. An interesting suggestion was made concerning using wikis as an archive for the writing process. Based on the way a wiki saves older versions of a text, one could use it to keep a record of a writing or research project. This could be done by a single author or a group. Patish recommended PBwikis and Wetpaint Wikis to get started. I have been using ProjectForum wiki and recommend it highly.

I hope to have further collaboration with Satish. As I was leaving university today I met a colleague who said he had just set up a PBwiki for his first foray into the world of wikis. I was very happy to hear it.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

RiP: A Remix Manifesto

In RiP: A Remix Manifesto, Web activist and filmmaker Brett Gaylor explores issues of copyright in the information age, mashing up the media landscape of the 20th century and shattering the wall between users and producers.

The films central protagonist is Girl Talk, a mash-up musician topping the charts with his sample-based songs. But is Girl Talk a paragon of people power or the Pied Piper of piracy? Creative Commons founder, Lawrence Lessig, Brazil's Minister of Culture Gilberto Gil and pop culture critic Cory Doctorow are also along for the ride.

A participatory media experiment, from day one, Brett shares his raw footage at, for anyone to remix. This movie-as-mash-up method allows these remixes to become an integral part of the film. With RiP: A Remix Manifesto, Gaylor and Girl Talk sound an urgent alarm and draw the lines of battle.

View the entire movie here

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Pirate Bay Trial and a Need for Digital Literacy

The trial of four men for copyright infringements that goes by the name of The Pirate Bay Trial is big news at the moment here in Sweden and it seems to be around the world. The methods employed for its coverage should be studied by journalism scholars. Live radio, enormous Twitter entries (some live from the defendants bench in the courtroom), blogs, RSS feeds, newspapers and television (and even a free download documentary) are providing an account of the trial. It is mainly the defense side of the trial which is utilizing the social and networked media technologies. In fact the deficit in regards to the digital literacy of the prosecution has actually surprised me. These are intelligent people and very well versed in the law, but they seem to be struggling to understand how a torrent tracker works. In fact one Swedish newspaper today said the trial was a fiasco, while another was trying to see what the goal of both the prosecution and the defense actually is.

In so many ways the prosecution is letting the side down by failing to embrace the very technology that lies at the center of the case. The prosecution so far (Day 3) has adopted a purely economic and legal approach to the case. Yesterday the prosecution dropped the charge of assisting access to copyrighted material (hjälpt till att ta fram exemplar av upphovsskyddat material), and what remains in the case is that "file sharers can exchange film and music with each other and therefore The Pirate Bay has committed infringement of copyright law" ( from DN: "att fildelare har kunnat utbyta film och musik med varandra, och därför har Pirate Bay begått brott mot upphovsrättslagen, enligt åklagaresidan.") This seems a tentative argument based on the nature of The Pirate Bay operation. If permitting access to copyrighted material is a crime then linking and search engines that return copyrighted material are a crime. Although linking has been successfully prosecuted in Australia (for a $360 million dollar claim by the same group behind The Pirate Bay trial) it was in a different context to the torrent index of The Pirate Bay (direct hyperlinking rather than torrent tracking). The Australian case went as high as to the Federal Court and was upheld. The goal of the prosecution seemed to be the ISP Comcen, with Music Industry Piracy Investigations general manager Michael Kerin stating

"This is a very significant blow in the war against piracy," he said. "The court has found against all the respondents. It sends the message that ISPs who involve themselves in copyright infringement can be found guilty. The verdict showed that employees of ISPs who engage in piracy can be seen in the eyes of the court as guilty."

In recent months the so called Pirate Law has been passing through the Swedish parliament and is set to become law on April 1 (no joke). According to the law the copyright holder can go to a court and obtain the identity of a person according to an IP address if they suspect an act of infringement has taken place, related to the address.

The prosecution is gambling with The Pirate Bay case. If the prosecution wins the Pirate Law will come into force in Sweden and the IP address of everyone in the country who has used the Pirate Bay could theoretically be available for further cases. The Pirate Bay may not be closed down (its servers are no longer within Sweden according to its spokespeople) but it could be prison for those charged with infringing copyright through its activities. The question of the damages of 115 million Swedish Crowns (13,141,156.89 USD) seems unlikely to be met. Although advertising may cost a bit of money I dont see how The Pirate Bay could generate such capital with the few adds they run on the site at any one time.

If the prosecution loose it will put back the campaign by large scale media publishers in controlling file sharing in Sweden (and a large part of the world) by years. The publicity from the trial will ensure The Pirate Bay gets even more peers. In short it would be a disaster for the prosecution.

For these reasons I am surprised that the prosecution has not been more careful with the technical aspects of the trial. At times the language the prosecutor has used in relation to the technical set-up of The Pirate Bay has been plain clumsy. I was speaking to some colleagues today (each of them working in digital media, literature and communication) and we agreed that the need for digital literacy has never been more demonstrated than by the lack of understanding for a distributed peer to peer network displayed by the prosecution.

While the demands of the prosecution are clear, the evidence they are using is not. Examples used by the defense from the trial include:

EU directive 2000/31/EG says that he who provides an information service is not responsible for the information that is being transferred. In order to be responsible, the service provider must initiate the transfer. But the admins of The Pirate Bay don't initiate transfers. It's the users that do and they are physically identifiable people. They call themselves names like King Kong," Samuelsson told the court.

"The prosecutor must show that Carl Lundström personally has interacted with the user King Kong, who may very well be found in the jungles of Cambodia."


Fredrik Neij's lawyer pointed out once again that no copyright-protected material ever passes The Pirate Bay servers. If The Pirate Bay is found guilty, a major search engine like Google (search for filetype:torrent) is too. Also, the figures on the amount of downloads the prosecutors use to calculate how much money they should get are inaccurate and should not be used as evidence in court. Not every .torrent download results in a successful file download.

Tomorrow the four accused are going to be cross examined. This should be interesting. While the three who are connected to the running of The Pirate Bay are clearly gifted in technical knowledge, their detached bravado may detract from their testimony. However if the prosecution attempts to pin them down on technical specifics, the defendants will probably have difficulty controlling their own laughter.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cyberpunk City in Second Life

Flythrough of INSILICO - the impressive cyberpunk city in Second Life..
Click to teleport:

Thursday, February 12, 2009

My First Academic Publication

A chapter I wrote with Stefan Gelfgren has been published in a compendium of texts entitled Learning and Teaching in the Virtual World of Second Life. Our chapter goes over the last two years of research and development we have put into the virtual online world Second Life in regards to learning and teaching in HUMlab.

The book, if you are interested, can be purchased here.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Meek Media for the Week

I have been lazy with recommended media on the web this week, due to work and family business. However I wanted to move the previous entry off 'the front page' so I will put up a few choices pieces I have found this week that provide learning and expansion. Speaking of the previous image, I was struck by it when I was watching a news broadcast online. Bald chunky middle aged farang men cowering in a hotel room in Bangkok after a raid by police. These men describe themselves as 'swingers'. I reacted because I am also a man...whatever that means. In this context I figured it means I share being men and in that I felt kind of sorry for them. Not because they were busted, but because they seem to be so desperately grasping on to the illusions of life. With their heads bowed, like in shame or silent prayer I thought of the poem by Steven Jesse Bernstein, No No Man Part One:

Midnight, and the sunglasses twirl. My injuries, a death plant warped in Hollywood rockery of juice cans and hypodermic needles. You're so cool, baby, you don't know what you need. If the jaundice comes up, get out of the traffic. A girl with an ass that hurts me all over again, I know that girl's ass hurts glass and pebbles crunching under her shoes. The movie goes on and the men go inside, hiding their bottles. These men look confused like fish getting clubbed on the pier.

There is no video of No No Man Part One I could find, but there is a video of No No Man Part Two:

"Now it is just what the No No Man wants that is valuable, which is green and covered with fingers." Bernstein was great. When the buying and selling gets too much, I see to return to poetry, music, trees, snow falling, laughing children. But I still feel. Here's some tips:

WFMU's Beware of the Blog: Lux and Ivy's Favorites (mp3s)
An interview and then 11 CDs of the favorite music of Lux Interiors and Poison Ivy late of The Cramps. All for download.

U B U W E B - Film & Video: Lev Manovich - Soft Cinema (2004)
"SOFT CINEMA: Navigating the Database is the Soft Cinema projects first DVD published and distributed by The MIT Press (2005). Although the three films presented on the DVD reference the familiar genres of cinema, the process by which they were created and the resulting aesthetics fully belong to the software age. They demonstrate the possibilities of soft(ware) cinema - a 'cinema' in which human subjectivity and the variable choices made by custom software combine to create films that can run infinitely without ever exactly repeating the same image sequences, screen layouts and narratives." Free - Songs: MP3 Downloads
Amazon has hundreds of free music downloads

Magic of JuJu: paging Mr. Dodd....
Seven hours of Coxsone Dodd productions...unbelievable! The Magic of JuJu is no longer active but it still has a lot of great things.

Saturday, February 07, 2009


"Men who look confused, like fish getting clubbed on the pier."
Steven Jesse Bernstein

Pirate Bay Trial Nears

"Jag KRÄVER en sal för MINST 150 personer, varav iaf 20 är reserverade för familj och närstående till oss åtalade, 80-100 till pressen och övrigt till allmänheten." email from Fredrik Neij
(I demand a chamber for at least 150 people, where around 20 are reserved for family and friends of we the accused, 80-100 for the press and the general public")

What promises to be the most important legal case so far in regards to peer to peer file sharing in Sweden is set to run from the 16th February to the 4th March 2009 in Stockholm. Four young men; Fredrik Neij, Per Svartholm Warg, Peter Sunde and Carl Lundström, are charged with "promoting other people's infringements of copyright laws" through the popular torrent tracker site The Pirate Bay. If convicted, the defendants face up to two years in prison and SEK 1.2 million in restitution (147,896.18 USD). The trial is going to be a strongly contested one. Many witnesses are promised by both sides. The Pirate Bay recently released an interactive map of the tracker activity on their servers:

The fact that there is relatively little overall activity in Sweden, with a small population, detracts somewhat from the severity of the crime claimed by the prosecution I would reason. However the relatively high percentage base of the population of Sweden that uses the torrent tracker is probably an embarrassment for the Swedish government.

Sweden - the home of the Pirate Bay - is responsible for little over 1% (250,000 peers) of the tracker connections. Since Sweden has a population of approximately 9 million people, this is actually quite an accomplishment. These statistics are of course just a snapshot. They are updated frequently and vary depending on the time of the day. Torrent Freak

When considering that 2.8 percent of the total population of Sweden uses the Pirate Bay tracker it is a fairly high rate of penetration when compared to the 33% of all Pirate Bay peers that come from China. Around 7 million users, but only 0.5% of the population of China. The Pirate Bay is actually a blocked site in China.

Of course there is going to be a lot of legal argument about this sort of thing and the charge is one of "promoting other people's infringements of copyright laws" not how many other people where involved. But by this logic Google is equally guilty as it provides search facilities for countless numbers of torrents (well, actually 218,000,000 for the word 'torrent') and direct downloads. This is going to be a very interesting trial.

If you are in Stockholm from the 16th February why not head over to the Tingsrätt, Flemminggatan 14 as there seems there is going to be a carnival atmosphere outside. There is a plan to have the S23K-bus owned by the Pirate Bureau parked outside the court (it is not too late to donate) as an information center. There are sure to be other interested parties present.

More information on the trial from here (in Swedish).

Bruce Sterling | UX Week 2008 | Adaptive Path on Vimeo

Bruce Sterling | UX Week 2008 | Adaptive Path from Adaptive Path on Vimeo.
"paper as a network medium"
Bruce Sterling | UX Week 2008 | Adaptive Path

Friday, February 06, 2009

Crop Circle Pi to the Tenth

The most complex crop circle ever to be seen in Britain was discovered in June 2008. The formation – which measures 150 feet in diameter – appears to be a coded image representing the first 10 digits of pi (3.141592654). Astrophysicist Michael Reed said, “The tenth digit has even been correctly rounded up. The little dot near the center is the decimal point. The code is based on 10 angular segments with the radial jumps being the indicator of each segment. Starting at the center and counting the number of one-tenth segments in each section contained by the change in radius clearly shows the values of the first 10 digits in the value of pi.”

Lux Interiors has Left the Buillding (RIP)

The Cramps - Live at Napa State Mental Hospital

I am laid up at home getting over a savage flu virus that strikes and them seems to leave after 24 hours. This whole week has been taken up with my son's cochlear implants implementation. At approximately 9am on Monday Ben could suddenly hear. An amazing thing.

The one thing I wanted to observe for the week on this blog is the passing of Lux Interiors, the singer with The Cramps and writer of such psycho-noir classics as Under the Wires, Can Your Pussy do the Dog? and Bikini Girls with Machine Guns died on Wednesday:

Lux Interior, lead singer of The Cramps, passed away this morning due to an existing heart condition at Glendale Memorial Hospital in Glendale, California at 4:30 AM PST today. Lux has been an inspiration and influence to millions of artists and fans around the world. He and wife Poison Ivy’s contributions with The Cramps have had an immeasurable impact on modern music.

The Cramps emerged from the original New York punk scene of CBGB and Max’s Kansas City, with a singular sound and iconography. Their distinct take on rockabilly and surf along with their midnight movie imagery reminded us all just how exciting, dangerous, vital and sexy rock and roll should be and has spawned entire subcultures. Lux was a fearless frontman who transformed every stage he stepped on into a place of passion, abandon, and true freedom. He is a rare icon who will be missed dearly.

The family requests that you respect their privacy during this difficult time.

A sad day. Here are some choice cuts from The Cramps:

The Cramps-Can Your Pussy Do The Dog?

The Cramps - Bikini Girls with Machine Guns