Tuesday, March 31, 2009

IPRED Arrives Tomorrow......Innovation Withers

From the youth wing of the Swedish Green Party: Ipred Unintelligence 400mg Stops technological development and cultural exchange. Reduces integrity. For politicians out of touch with reality

I mentioned to some non-Swedes today at work that the IPRED Law (Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive) will come into effect tomorrow. They were all surprised that such a law had been passed in Sweden. It was also discussed in worried tones around the table at our regular Tuesday lunch for doctoral students in my home department. The IPRED law is

"a file sharing law, which is based on the European Union's Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive (IPRED), will allow courts to order internet operators to hand over details that identify suspected illegal file-sharers.

Copyright holders would then be free to contact the file sharer in question and demand that they suspend their activities or risk prosecution."

As the English language Swedish news site The Local goes on to report, "Almost half of Swedes, 48 percent of the 1,000 interviewed, consider the law to be wrong while only 32 percent are in favour, a new poll from Sifo shows."

I am convinced that the IPRED law will have little effect on those who share files and have a reasonable degree of knowledge about the technology.

In Finland, where IPRED 1 has already been implemented a recent study has shown that it has not effected P2P file sharing practices:

The National Research Institute of Legal Policy of Finland (Optula) has just come out with the results of its large survey charting various illegal or forbidden activities among the Finnish 9th grade (15 year old) schoolchildren. This is already the sixth survey of its kind but interestingly the researchers included this year also unauthorized downloading among the 'forbidden' activities charted. The results show that net piracy is highly popular in this age group, topping the chart of illegal or forbidden activities. 29% of the study target group practiced unauthorized downloading daily, 69% had done it at least once during the previous year, and 74% had done it at least once in their lifetime. Two out of three persons reported having at least 100 illegally downloaded files on their computers. Two thirds of the downloaded content was music while movies was the next most popular content type.

These objectively credible results contrast sharply the propaganda material previously distributed by the Finnish copyright lobby organization Lyhty. Citing cherry picked details from its annual Tekijänoikeusbarometri (Copyright Barometer) study - the details and result data of which have never been published for scientific scrutiny - Lyhty has claimed that the new Finnish copyright law - which is an implementation of the IPRED1 sanction dircetive - has been effective in reducing net piracy in Finland. This claim has been further distributed internationally by IFPI lobbyists. However, Optula's fresh study shows that this claim is not true at all, at least among the younger generation. Net piracy is highly popular among the young Finns, and there are no signs of the new stricter copyright law managing to reduce it.

The Pirate Bay (several organizers of which are awaiting a judgment on April 17th regarding "promoting other people's infringements of copyright laws") have released IPREDator:

IPREDator is a network service that makes people online more anonymous using a VPN. It costs about 5 EUR a month and we store no traffic data. Our service is right now in a beta stage. we hope it will be released for the public before 1st of April. Sign up now to start using it as soon as we're stable. The network is under our control. not theirs. The pirate bay likes and knows real kopimism. and waffles. kopimi!

The Local (once again) explains the service further; "This type of service hinders outsiders from finding the identity of an individual behind an IP address, while helping Internet users effectively side-step laws which may prove inconvenient or unpalatable in their home country." Those users of P2P technology who do not deepen their involvement with the file sharing community, by adopting such cloaking technology as IPREDator will perhaps come to the attention to those enforcing the IPRED law.

The main issue with the effects of the IPRED law is the effect, as the Green Party image suggests (Ipren is a brand of aspirin in Sweden), it will have on the digital economy and culture of Sweden. In June 2008 the Swedish parliament passed the so-called FRA Law, "legislative package that authorizes the state to warrantlessly wiretap all telephone and Internet traffic that crosses Sweden's borders." The FRA Law combined with the IPRED Law does not contribute to the image of Sweden as a place were communication is private and secure. Any company or government doing business in Sweden will have the Swedish government as a third party in communication over digital (including mobile) networks. This seems like a nightmare scenario to me.

The effect of making the entire communication network of Sweden a surveilled network is of course large organizations taking their business elsewhere. The Russian telecommunication organization Rostelekom has said it will be now redirecting from Sweden.

Sharing all communication with government monitors is a strange outcome of anti-file sharing laws.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Some Media I have Been Enjoying

Prague's Franz Kafka International Named World's Most Alienating Airport

I wondered if the Franz Kafka International Airport video qualifies as fan fiction? The past week for me has been a time of renewed focus on my thesis. I am writing a new introduction, which will be the 'managerial agent' (a very tough guy) that will pull all the other chapters into line, get them walking tall and making sense. At the moment many of my chapters are surrealist loners with substance abuse problems and Dada sensibilities. They need to get with the program, straighten up and fly right. Time is running out. This week we begin the media recommendation with a series of help videos from the 1940s and 50 that I have been watching to learn self-improvement.

How to be Well Groomed and Other Coronet Instructional Videos

How to Be Well Groomed (1949).Siblings Don and Sue show how they keep themselves well groomed throughout the school week and for their Friday night date. "Coronet Instructional Films were shown in American schools starting in about 1941. The company was an offshoot of Coronet Magazine, a digest-sized magazine that itself was owned by Esquire, Inc. Owner David Smart was deeply interested in visual education and the power of the film to teach and convince, and built a full studio on his estate in Glenview, Illinois, where at its height hundreds of films were cranked out each year. The films were sold to schools and libraries by a network of distributors and were quite successful -- in 1976 Coronet celebrated its sale of 1 million prints. Most Coronet films were shot in Kodachrome, but Kodachrome prints of many titles are quite rare. It was cheaper to purchase black-and-white prints, and most sales were black-and-white. For more Coronet history, see Ken Smith's excellent book "Mental Hygiene," published by Blast Books (www.blastbooks.com). "

UbuWeb Sound - Kathy Acker: Redoing Childhood (2000)

This is not background listening. Kathy Acker's work is not a love-it-or-hate-it proposition: it's a get-it one. Either you get it, or you don't. Redoing Childhood, excerpted from her book My Mother: Demonology, is in many respects the most accessible way to experience Acker. Her voice, cool and precise but with an almost invasive intimacy, gives her work clear depth and dimension, creating a full and rich landscape. Every so often, entire concepts spring from throwaway lines: "But this is the question: is it possible to communicate with another person?" "I've got a terrible need to write to you, and for you not to reply." "Virginity doesn't know its own name." And, in the midst of a panoply of sensual images that wouldn't be out of place in a Terry Gilliam film, there's this: "I don't know what to do about all I see and experience."

YouTube Edu
YouTube Edu lets viewers sort clips by school or number of views, and the schools offer content ranging from complete courses to campus events to information for prospective students. Currently, University of Minnesota commands the top spots, with videos on the science of “Watchmen” and HIV/AIDS advancements, but there’s also “Advanced Finite Elements Analysis,” a lecture from the Indian Institutes of Technology, and a mass performance of University of Kansas’s alma mater among the most-viewed.

Playlists and Archives for The Media Squat with Douglas Rushkoff

This isn't pure '60s or Whole Earth radicalism and self-sufficiency (though it's certainly related) but a 21st Century, cyberpunk reclamation of all technologies and social contracts as essentially open source, up for discussion, and open to modification. It's an application of the hacker ethic and net collectivism to everything, done in the spirit of fun and adventure.

Thousand Mile Song

David Rothenberg plays music with whales. Actual, living-in-the-sea whales. No, this isn't one of those corny '70s New Age albums with whale song sound effects dropped in. He actually traveled around the world, went out on boats, dropped a speaker and a mic into the ocean so he could hear the whales and the whales could hear him, and played clarinet along with their songs.
He may be crazy. He's the first to admit that. Since no-one knows what whale songs are for, he could be interfering with some important function they may have, like navigation. Plus, it's illegal. This possibly irresponsible activity led to the occasional confrontation, even shouting matches, with whale lovers he encountered on this scientific/artistic voyage.
His fascinating book/CD from last year, Thousand Mile Song, recounts his travels from the Pacific Northwest, to the Caribbean, to sub-Arctic northern Russia, listening to whale songs, playing along with them, and seeing what happened. Along the way we learn many fun-to-know facts about whales and their songs, e.g.: they have structure. They are not random noises. And these songs change - a whale will "write" a new tune, which will sometimes catch on with other whales, and they ditch the old songs. And different kinds of whales have different styles. Killer whale and beluga songs are as different as, say, punk and r'n'b.

Three CDs from Jopy
Ambient waves of sound. Good for the inner journey.

Awesome Tapes from Africa

This is an incredible blog. Going back to April 2006 this blog presents a treasure trove of some of the best music that has ever been made on planet Earth.

Nana Kwame Ampadu I and the African Brothers International
AGATHA at 250p From the liner notes: " In short, this beautifully performed and superbly recorded album is a fitting musical excellence from Ghana's longest-lived group. It's therefore not surprising that Nana Ampadu is the most brilliant musician and wonderful lyricist who works in a standard and modern format using traditional rhythms and innovations to give the best to his large audience. Nana Ampadu is always together with his people. The people with Africa Feeling."
Well, I could hardly put it any better than it is expressed on the back of this Makossa Records International pressing of the 1981 lp "Agatha".

Songs We Taught The Mummies
First music from Devo and a collection of west coast proto-punk outfits with grinding guitars. Then seven fuzzy guitar garage style tunes from The Mummies:

The Mummies were an American garage punk band formed by Trent Ruane (organ, vocals), Maz Kattuah (bass), Larry Winther (guitar) and Russell Quan (drums). They are one of the most popular and influential bands within the garage punk scene.
Originally hailing from San Mateo, California, they soon tied in with San Francisco's The Phantom Surfers to create that city's burgeoning garage punk scene. With influences of surf rock, frat rock, and 1950s and 1960s garage rock bands such as The Sonics and more contemporary garage punk bands like Thee Mighty Caesars the Mummies eschewed the contemporary rock music of their time. Their first show was at the Chi Chi club in San Francisco in December 1988. The Mummies are especially known for their matching, tattered mummy costumes they wore on stage and their impertinent and insulting attitude that they brought with them. They created and promoted the concept of 'Budget Rock', which rejected professionalism and star status in favor of a simplified do-it-yourself aesthetic. As part of this concept they performed and recorded only on outdated and often damaged equipment. For a tour vehicle they used a garishly painted 1965 Pontiac ambulance. As part of their lo-fi manifesto, they released their music only on vinyl for many years, allowing 'official' CD format releases only in the 2000s. Billy Childish would later say that The Mummies were the only garage group he really loved.

Nine Inch Nails, Street Sweeper and Jane's Addiction EP
2009 tour sampler from these three bands. Classic tracks from Jane's Addiction with unreleased versions of Chip Away and Whores.

Joy and Strength to All.....

Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Morning Music

The John Spencer Blues Explosion: Talk about the blues

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Media professor/expert Paul Levinson on new media influence

"Conventional broadcast television is on its way down."

Philosophical interview about the state and future of the media with Fordham University's Chair of Communication and Media Studies, Paul Levinson. Levinson is the author of numerous fictional and nonfiction books including "Digital McLuhan" and "The Soft Edge" and has appeared in countless media venues from PBS to Fox to offer his insight on media issues. Levinson discusses the current exponential rise of new media and what this means for us all in terms of expression, information and challenge. He also discusses his thoughts on the iconic Marshall McLuhan and what he would think of the extraordinary digital age we live and now create in.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Voro Ergo Sum

In the week that has gone I have recovered from a nasty bout of the flu, written a new ten page thesis plan for my PhD, had a government-sponsored health check for my fortieth year on planet earth (very healthy it seems), written an exam for culture studies students, given a short presentation on wikis, arranged four groups of students to visit to HUMLlab and hanging with my amazing children. This is why blogging here has become less frequent. I hope this is a temporary situation, but if the new thesis plan is accepted by my supervisor (meeting tomorrow), I am going to be writing basically all day every day for quite a while.

And now post my recommendations for online media that I have seen head and read in the last week.

Leonard Cohen, Live From The Beacon Theatre

First, this concert is historic and a knockout. Leonard Cohen is a brilliant poet and songwriter. Second, Cohen may be coming to a town near you — details are in this recent blog post. If you have a chance to see him live, don't pass it up.

At 74, Cohen is no spring chicken. That said, his voice was in fine form and his stage presence is so graceful and passionate that you may rethink all those other great shows you've seen by younger artists.

This concert, from the gorgeous Beacon Theatre in Manhattan, finds Cohen revisiting a body of work that's more than 40 years deep and full of songs that have inspired every generation of songwriters since: "Dance Me to the End of Love," "Bird on a Wire," "Chelsea Hotel," "Sisters of Mercy," "Suzanne," "Hallelujah," "I'm Your Man," "Famous Blue Raincoat."

639 Free Songs for Download from Amazon.com

So much music. Not just junk either, songs by Sepultura, Bob Mould, Youssou N'Dour feat. Neneh Cherry, Meshuggah, The War On Drugs and a lot of music I have never heard of.

Four Films by Derek Jarman (1942-1994

Journey to Avebury (1971)

Garden of Luxor (1972)

Ashden's Walk on Møn (1973)

Stolen Apples for Karen Blixen (1973)

Studio Bankside, 1971. Jarman's warehouse loft on the Thames, populated by the creative "glitterati"-artists, designers, and musicians-that constituted his social circle at the time. Sloane Square (1974-76) using stop-frame filming techniques to record the artist's friends, companions, and working environment. Ashden's Walk on Møn (1973) and Sebastiane Wrap (1975) In the earlier film, ghostly images of men walking through a forest to a beach ringed by cliffs are superimposed with brilliant celestial configurations, while the later film presents a seemingly abstract shape that eventually resolves into a large reflective square set on a beach amongst sunbathing nudes. In the Shadow of the Sun (1974) stands as a culmination of many of Jarman's interests throughout the early 1970s, combining several short films shot over the previous years that express his interest in symbolism, alchemy and Jungian philosophy.

Containing two side-length ragas, this record, released on Mississippi "subsidiary" Change Records, was the first US release for noted singer and spiritual leader Pandit Pran Nath. Pandit Pran Nath (Devanagari:पंडित प्राणनाथ ) (3 November 1918–13 June 1996) was a Hindustani classical singer and teacher of the Kirana gharana (school), with a successful American career. Pran Nath collaborated with minimalist innovators La Monte Young and Terry Riley, and this record is a great example of the far-out, post-lingual aesthetic he helped to develop, and which was further explored by bands like Sun City Girls.

10 Classic Films from the Internet Archive
# The Kid (1921) - Here you have Charlie Chaplin’s first feature-length film that launched his important career.
# Nosferatu (1922) - A memorable adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula. A masterpiece from the era of silent films.
# The Phantom of the Opera (1925) - Another major classic (by Rupert Julian) from the silent film era.
# His Girl Friday (1940) - One of the better known comedies from the 1940s directed by Howard Hawks and starring Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell.
# Penny Serenade (1941) - A touching romantic comedy starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.
# Scarlett Street (1945) - Directed by Fritz Lang, otherwise known for Metropolis (1927) and M (1931), during his Hollywood stint.
# DOA (1950) - A film noir classic directed by Rudolph Maté.
# Panic in the Streets (1950) - Directed by Elia Kazan and starring Jack Palance.
# Beat the Devil (1953) - Directed by John Huston and starring Humphrey Bogart.
# Suddenly (1954) - A thriller featuring Frank Sinatra and James Gleason.

The Lost Electric Six Organs Of Admittance Album

This is the unreleased Electric Six Organs record. It’s a short record because the tape ran out on one song. I think of myself as fairly unsentimental. I am much more of a “fuck the good old days” kind of guy but listening to this for the first time in years the other day took me back for a moment to May 22, 2002. Usually when I listen to a record I’ve made or even happen upon a bygone rehearsal tape I can’t for the life of me imagine what I was thinking, where I was or why it was done this way. Perhaps it is because this tape is so raw and off the cuff but when I listened to it again I could really see the room, remember where everyone was standing, the lighting, the kind of beer we were drinking, for once I could understand where, why and how we did it.

Electric Six Organs.
Recorded in San Francisco, May 22, 2002

1.1000 Birds
2.Close To The Sky
3.Even If You Knew

Ben Chasny, Vocals & Lead Guitar
Noel Harmonson: Bells and Rhythm Guitar
Ethan Miller: Rhythm Guitar
Ben Flashman: Bass
Utrillo Kushner: Drums

Keep flying!!!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

The In-House Wiki

Continuing my exploration of the world of wikis, tomorrow I am going to lead a short discussion at our staff meeting on what a wiki could be used for by the staff of the Language Studies Department. We have been discussing the use of an in-house wiki to post information, write courses, arrange meetings and develop teaching material. I plan to show three wikis that are used for planning and organisation. These are:

The HUMlab Wiki

The Electronic Literature Group Wiki

Metamedia at Stanford Wiki

I hope to start a discussion around what sort of uses a wiki could be put to in our department.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Tibet 1959-2009

Video: The Yogis of Tibet
Since the invasion of Tibet over 50 years ago, China has systematically destroyed the Tibetan culture. One of the most profound losses is the tradition of the great master yogis. The entire system which supported these fascinating mind masters has been inexorably eliminated. In order to record these mystical practitioners for posterity, the filmmakers were given permission to film heretofore secret demonstrations and to conduct interviews on subject matter rarely discussed. This profound historical, spiritual and educational film will someday be the last remnant of these amazing practitioners.

Today on the fiftieth anniversary of the flight of his Holiness The 14th Dalai Lama from Tibet to India, the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, accused the Chinese Government of putting his people through "hell on Earth".

The Dalai Lama accused Beijing of "repressive and violent campaigns" that have killed hundreds of thousands of Tibetans and destroyed its cultural heritage.

"These 50 years have brought untold suffering and destruction to the land and the people of Tibet," he said.

China described the critical comments from the Dalai Lama as "lies" and insisted Tibet has enjoyed profound democratic reforms under Chinese rule.

In the landmark speech to commemorate 50 years since he fled Tibet, the Dalai Lama dispelled speculation that he would step back from the struggle for Tibetan autonomy. "To work for the cause of Tibet is the responsibility of every Tibetan, and as long as I live I will uphold this responsibility."

“Today, the religion, culture, language and identity, which successive generations of Tibetans have considered more precious than their lives, are nearing extinction,” said the Dalai Lama, 73, the spiritual leader of the Tibetans. SMH, NYT

Thursday, March 05, 2009

The Way to Work