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Archive for the 'General' Category

South Boston Open Studios

Saturday, October 8th, 2005

Posting today from open studios in South Boston. Today, I’m presenting some installation alongside sculptures by my roommate Rebecca. We are open again on Sunday beginning at noon. See the South Boston Open Studios website for directions and a list of artists.

Spitzer reminds Sony BMG: Payola is illegal, silly!

Wednesday, July 27th, 2005

Sony BMG, one of the five major record companies, was called to task yesterday for the peculiar brand of racketeering called “payola.” This practice, as old as commercial radio itself, has continued unabetted despite several attempts to stop it. The etymology of the term itself is elderly – a combination of “pay” and “Victrola.”

In market environs as bereft of ethics as the recording industry, sophisticated criminal innovation is widespread. Modern-day blackmailers operate via the screen of third-party “independent promotion” companies who launder bribes. This cottage industry developed to support the “pay-for-play” tradition of pop radio after a major payola crackdown in the 1970’s.

Yesterday, encouraging news surfaced when New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer revealed that he had reached a $10 million settlement with Sony BMG after gathering “damning” evidence demonstrating their participation in illegal pay-for-play. Spitzer seems focused on continuing his pursuit of this cancer on our cultural landscape, citing a history of abuse:

Paying for airplay, which first came to light during federal hearings in 1959, is an abuse that has maintained itself over the years, Spitzer said. Employing former New York Yankees star Yogi Berra’s oft-repeated malapropism, he called the current state of affairs “deja vu all over again.”

Spitzer continued: “Payola is corrosive to the integrity of competition. It is corrosive to the music industry. It is corrosive to the radio industry . . . This is a story that has been told many times in the past. It is not new. It takes many different forms. But it is essentially the same scam where — instead of airing music based upon the quality, based upon artistic competition, based upon aesthetic judgments or other judgments that are being made by radio stations — radio stations are airing music because they have been paid to do so in a way that has not been disclosed to the public. This is wrong, and it is illegal.” — Sony BMG faces the music in payola settlement, Chris Morris and Alexander Woodson, Reuters, 26 July 2005

Coverage from Pitchfork Media includes painful quotes from internal email:

Another, from an Epic employee to a Clear Channel programmer looked like this: “WHAT DO I HAVE TO DO TO GET AUDIOSLAVE ON WKSS THIS WEEK?!!? Whatever you can dream up, I can make it happen.”

The next step is to move the magnifying glass over the radio stations themselves. As the odious practice of replacing human DJs with glorified iPods continues along the FM dial, and renewed attention to payola highlights anti-competitive activity off-air, protecting low-power FM is more important than ever.

Spitzer’s announcement is encouraging news for anyone wishing for greater diversity in the FM ecosystem. Let’s hope we can keep up this momentum!

Holiday from the Blogosphere

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

Several projects concluding concurrently are forcing this blog into hiatus until June. In the meantime, be sure to read Derek Slater’s criticism of Fort Culture. Ultimately, we seek the same result: an increased diversity of (compensated) voices. When copyfighters support the filesharing of copyright-protected content through either a tacit wink-and-nod or explicit encouragement, do we dilute the strength of our arguments against a limited-liberty future?

Copynight Cambridge

Tuesday, April 26th, 2005

Today is World Intellectual Property Day! People interested (and obsessed) with pushing for greater IP equity will be meeting to celebrate Copynight in several cities around the country. I’ll be in class tonight but Boston folks are gathering on Cambridge Common.

Gender and geography in a “global” debate

Wednesday, April 20th, 2005

Tonight, we discussed jurisdiction. The most intriguing question was raised right at the start of the classtime, is the internet truly as “global” as we like to think? The first caveat to the “global” tag is certainly found among barriers to access in many parts of the world. Secondly, how “global” is the internet experience for users in Saudia Arabia or China when we consider government censorship and filtration?

Tying this to the Download Debate I watched this afternoon, let me quote
from the blog of Siva Vaidhyanathan, an NYU Prof and speaker at the Cornell discussion

[Recently,] Yale had a wonderful conference on “global flows of information” yet almost every speaker was from North America (excluding Mexico and Central America, of course). There were a handful of Europeans and Israelis. […]

A year ago a great journalist did a big piece for a national magazine about the public-interest copyright movement. When he interviewed me […] He mentioned the same list of speakers […] Again, all men. […]

I told him about the great work of Rosemarie Coombe, Pam Samuelson, Jessica Litman, Julie Cohen, and of course Ann Bartow. […] Coming up fast: Sonia Katyal, Susan Crawford, Beth Simone Noveck, and Rebecca Tushnet. Among activists, Jenny Toomey, Wendy Selzer, and Carrie McLaren have contributed much. And the list beyond the borders of the United States is long and growing as well.

It is easy to pin “global” on to the internet because architecturally it has the potential to become “global” … but we are not there yet. Unless policy and code decisions are made that allow for equity in participation across the lines of gender, class, and geography, the internet will remain stunted in its democratizing potential.

Gender imbalance in academia is a problem that extends beyond the limits of those interested in digital media debate, in fact, as recent data suggests, it extends to the job market at large. I hope that over the next year, a community that is working to sustain democratic, participatory, enabling technology on a global scale can ensure that those same values persist through its own institutions.

British hax0rz stocking up on cocoa

Tuesday, April 12th, 2005

“More than 70% of people would reveal their computer password in exchange for a bar of chocolate [according to a survey of commuters passing through Liverpool Station last month.]” — Passwords revealed by sweet deal, BBCNews, 20 April 2005

All the more depressing when you consider the underwhelming nature of chocolate in the UK. Of coure for hot chocolate from Burdick Cafe, I might actually be tempted.

True love is the mixtape

Sunday, March 27th, 2005

Thurston Moore‘s piece in the latest Wired, The Best 90 Minutes of My Life is an ode to the mixtape. He name-drops obscure hardcore punk bands and even manages a dig at the forgotten lossy compression of mp3 format.

“Trying to control music sharing – by shutting down P2P sites or MP3 blogs or BitTorrent or whatever other technology comes along – is like trying to control an affair of the heart. Nothing will stop it.”

Nothing will stop it.


Wednesday, March 16th, 2005

In an effort to further split my online persona, I am initiating new space in the blogosphere. Rather than continue to mesh pop culture ephemera with growing academic interests at the long-running, I am taking the latter over here and bringing proper capitalization with it!

Please bear with me as I get the hang of using Manila. My deep affection for WordPress has made me somewhat blind to the alternatives.

Enjoy! I eagerly wait your first flame.