Recreating my musical self with the aid of (community) gravity and other invisible forces

Comet Donati by Bond 1858
Image of the Comet Donati taken by W. C. Bond in 1858. The comet leaves its trail as it passes on its elliptical path through the solar system. Periodic activity can feel like long-period comets but perhaps not everything needs to follow such a long orbit.
I have had a somewhat unsettled relationship with making music for a long time. It has always been a passionate one, but it has often been difficult to the point of not being an active musician for many years at a time. I always seem to return though and I’m going through that process again now.

Perhaps because I’m a bit older and more self-reflective, if not wiser, I find myself watching this process as it is occurring and trying to make sense of it. When I was younger it didn’t need to make sense, it just happened, but perhaps I’m not as trusting or brave as I was then.

I have been prodded out of my comfortable isolated process by an interesting, intimate and introspective article by Clutch Daisy. Where’s Your Head At? looks at the effect of an increasing level of self-awareness in his creative process. (That’s my take on it anyway and I hope it’s at least partially accurate)

Clutch’s article has resonated with me because my current musical state is redolent with self-awareness. I haven’t made much music for ten years and the process of restarting is not an easy one in many ways. Simply justifying using the time is no simple thing as I could be spending that with my family or looking to fill it with more remunerative work.

In so many places heightened self-awareness inhibits action. Like a teenage boy in a new lumbering graceless body I’m contemplating the dance-floor and wondering how I’ll move. With my interrupted musical life it is simply a fact that needs to be dealt with though so I’m trying to incorporate the meta-process into the process somehow. Continue reading Recreating my musical self with the aid of (community) gravity and other invisible forces

Is Online Harmony Holding You Back?

"Argument" by Filipe Dâmaso Saraiva, made available under a Creative Commons Share Alike Licence
"Argument" by Filipe Dâmaso Saraiva, made available under a Creative Commons Share Alike Licence

There are many benefits to participating in online social networks. The ability to build a large network without geographical constraints gives access to support, insight, feedback and promotion opportunities in an immediate, easy and powerful fashion. There seems to be no downside apart from the time needed to engage with your online tribe, but there is an interesting problem lurking within the groups we create.

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, director of the Information + Innovation Policy Research Center at the National University of Singapore, has put forward the idea that our online networks may be harming our capacity for innovation. He may well have a strong point that needs consideration for anyone getting deeply involved in online networking.

In an article in the journal Science Mayer-Schönberger examines the impact of extended online networking on software engineers and concludes that this is, in part, responsible for the incremental pace of innovation in the open-source community. Innovation still happens but the curse of groupthink keeps the pace of change slow. Continue reading Is Online Harmony Holding You Back?

Two Cultures Clash

Original image from bayerberg via Flickr (cc-sa2.0 license)
Original image from bayerberg via Flickr (cc-sa2.0 license)

Two recent events in the world of technology and the internet serve to bring into relief the divergence between two ways of viewing the development of technology in general, the refusal of GoogleVoice apps by the iPhone App Store and the grant of a patent to VoloMedia for “providing episodic media” which seems to mean podcasting.
The question boils down to, is the internet a new territory that will require new practices to flourish or is it an analogue of existing media that will accommodate existing models and practices?

I feel this is a fundamental division of perception of the medium. The internet and associated technologies are often seen through the frame of existing media like publishing, broadcast radio or television. That correlational viewpoint has some value but with a very limited scope. Web designers have been pulling their hair out for years trying to get web pages to behave like printed ones and the parlous state of internet radio is largely precipitated by an attempt to apply a broadcast radio mindset to the levying of royalty payments.

TechCrunch reports that Apple is pulling all GoogleVoice enabled apps from the App Store. As Jason Kincaid states in his article this is probably being done to preserve Apple’s relationship with AT&T, the iPhone’s official carrier in the USA. The official reason reported is that these applications, “duplicate features that come with the iPhone.” Though AT&T deny any involvement and put the blame firmly at Apple’s door.

The statement from Apple is weak. Yes, you can make and receive calls on the iPhone. You can even send SMS and use a voicemail service, but you can’t access the advantages GoogleVoice particularly free SMS and cheaper long distance call rates. Perhaps what rankles most is that this move seems to be about preserving a commercial partnership and customer service be damned. Continue reading Two Cultures Clash